Here's the lead story in this morning's print edition of USA Today:
Guard, Reserve short on recruits
...The nation's largest auxiliary forces — the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve — are beginning to have trouble meeting their recruiting targets.
As of April 30, the Guard was nearly 6,000 recruits short of where it needed to be on that date to meet its Sept. 30 target of enlisting 62,000 soldiers, Pentagon statistics show. If the Guard can't reverse the shortfall, it will mark the first time since 1998 that it has failed to fill its ranks.
The Army Reserve is also lagging behind and was more than 700 soldiers short of where it needed to be in April to meet its Sept. 30 goal of 42,000.
Defense officials and civilian analysts say the numbers demonstrate that the unusually intense use of part-time soldiers over the past year and a half is beginning to seriously affect the Guard and Reserve....
"I think it is reasonable to conclude that people are looking at the last 19 to 20 months of mobilization and they are voting with their feet," says Tom White, a former secretary of the Army. "I think we're seeing the leading edge of a problem."
...The demands on National Guard and Reserve troops, most of whom have full-time civilian jobs, have been unrelenting. Some units, including military police and nation-building soldiers known as civil affairs specialists, have been on active duty almost constantly since the Sept. 11 attacks....
Several thoughts come to mind:
* This is typical of the contemporary management class, isn't it? They hire people at one level, dump the responsibilities of higher-level workers on them without actually promoting them or giving them raises, and assume enough of them will just grumble and take it.
* Bush does this and still maintains the reputation as the commander-in-chief who's loved by his troops, in contrast to his evil peacenik predecessor. Did Clinton shortchange reservists? If he did, he didn't do it in a period of permanent war. And if recruitment of reservists fell short in 1998, remember that that was during a roaring economic boom. (And yet recruitment goals were met in 1999 and 2000, apparently.) Conditions for reservists are now alienating potential recruits despite lousy economic conditions.
* This is really a disgrace. Bush wants massive simultaneous troop deployments in more countries than he himself can find on a map, yet he and Rumsfeld pretend that we can have domino wars (and the subsequent occupations) without the use of big, big numbers of full-time servicemembers. That requires lots of taxpayer money -- and maybe a draft -- but the administration won't say so. (America, of course, doesn't want a draft or higher taxes.)
* The worst enemy of this administration is itself. Democrats are too pitiful to mount effective opposition, and the public is still largely pro-Bush -- but the administration's ability to carry out the neocons' mad imperialist plans is threatened by Bush's utter refusal to grasp the fact that things cost money, and by Rumsfeld's fixation on the idea that the military can do anything it wants with low troop strength.
Sooner or later, this will all come crashing down on their -- and our -- heads.