Thursday, April 12, 2007

Voting with their feet

Dan Drezner linked to this interesting Boston Globe article on the West Point Class of 2001. West Point graduates are commissioned as 2nd Lieutenants and are obligated to serve at least five years on active duty. Some have longer obligations after graduation due to the branch that they choose, additional training or educational opportunities that they may pursue and a couple of other curlicues. Finally, some who have only a five year active duty obligation may be assigned to units with stop-loss orders currently in effect. So how do these officers compare to past West Point classes in the collective decision to stay in the Army and face multiple year long or greater combat tours?

" According to statistics compiled by West Point, of the 903 Army officers commissioned upon graduation in 2001, nearly 46 percent left the service last year -- 35 percent at the conclusion of their five years of required service, and another 11 percent over the next six months. And more than 54 percent of the 935 graduates in the class of 2000 had left active duty by this January, the statistics show.

The figures mark the lowest retention rate of graduates after the completion of their mandatory duty since at least 1977, with the exception of members of three classes in the late 1980s who were encouraged to leave as the military downsized following the end of the Cold War."

So the bulk of junior officers who self-selected as being extremely hoooyaahh for the Army are leaving in droves at the earliest possible moment. In March, at Fester's Place, I noted that the Army will be facing a mid-level officer crisis for the next six to ten years as its internal quality management metrics are falling apart. The Army is promoting anyone who has a pulse and time in grade, but the bulk of the officers who typically would have been promoted are leaving. The officers who are remaining are either the extremely competent and highly dedicated/motivated individuals who the US Army would have promoted anyways as they are the ones who should be leading a massive and complex organization OR the officers who do not have too many good options in the civilian world and normally would be bounced from the promotion stream far earlier than they will now.

No comments: