Wednesday, April 11, 2007

$1 Billion Bonus Campaign Buys our "Voluntary" Military as they continue to be abused and misused!

This subject of increasing Military Bonus's to entice troops to reenlist hit home last week and I am personally very confused and full of conflicting emotions. I will explain my own conflicting feelings with this in a moment because some of these people are trapped because of their families as my son feels he is.
First, The struggle to entice Army soldiers and Marines to stay in the military, after four years of war in Iraq, has ballooned into a $1 billion campaign, with bonuses soaring nearly six fold since 2003. The size and number of bonuses have grown as officials scramble to meet the steady demand for troops on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan and reverse sporadic shortfalls in the number of National Guard and Reserve soldiers willing to sign on for multiple tours.
Besides underscoring the extraordinary steps the Pentagon must take to maintain fighting forces, the rise in costs for reenlistment incentives is putting strains on the defense budget, already strapped by the massive costs of waging war and equipping and caring for a modern military.
The bonuses can range from a few thousand dollars to as much as $150,000 for very senior special forces soldiers who reenlist for six years. All told, the Army and Marines spent $1.03 billion for reenlistment payments last year, compared with $174 million in 2003, the year the war in Iraq began.
The AP compiled those and the following figures for this story. I do agree with Col. Mike Jones, who oversees retention issues for the National Guard that fighting and wining a war is expensive. But I hate to say it because a couple of my sons are in this but they are not going to win this as they describe "win." They are wasting our money!
The higher Bonuses as you know are coming as Bush's needless war drags on and I know my own son who is or was a lifer expressed last week that many soldiers are leaving the military under pressure from families who fear the rising death toll and are weary of the lengthy and repeated overseas deployments.
Incentives have skyrocketed in The Guard and Reserves alone from about $27 million in 2003 to more than $335 million in 2006. While the Army paid $600 million last year alone.
My son for one is becoming weary after multiple deployments all over the world and needs a break. But he will not get it I am afraid. Last week he expressed after being extended once already in Afghanistan that he would be delayed a little longer because something "big" was coming down.
His wife too is weary. She would like Jim home for the birth of their next Daughter and he would like to enjoy his children but the kid feels trapped now as he watches the military being misused and abused and wonders what is next. I am right now listening to Gates saying the Military isn't broken or recruitment goals would not continue to be met.
I wholeheartedly disagree. It is broken and will get worse. These huge bonuses are too tempting for many troops to overlook. Jim thought of getting out after losing many friends but having another child makes the $45,000 Bonus he will receive for Reenlisting as ranking EOD make him hesitate at getting out.
It is unconscionable to me for Defense Secretary Gates or anyone else to say our voluntary fighting force is working or that our troops knew they would be extended over and over or would be returning multiple times in Bush's failed war in Iraq.. However they are Patriotic and love their Country but I really have to wonder how voluntary they are right now?

James Joiner
Gardner, Ma

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