Although the U.S. Army’s recently introduced program of “indefinite re-enlistment” is touted as a means of improving the service’s highly-publicized lagging retention rates, at least one soldier says the new policy has turned him into a virtual slave.
“In 1999, the Army re-instituted slavery. Oh, they don’t call it slavery, that would be too obvious. No, they needed a new age kind of label for their scheme. They called it indefinite re-enlistment,” Sgt. First Class David Gloer told WorldNetDaily in a phone interview from Korea, where he is currently serving with the 751st Military Intelligence Battalion.
Maj. Gen. Thomas W. Garrett disagrees and calls indefinite re-enlistment a success story.
“We believe implementation of the indefinite re-enlistment program is good for the professional NCO Corps, good for the Army, and good for our country. It will bolster the professional NCO Corps image while providing a sense of security for those soldiers committed to the Army; enhance our Army’s retention rates; and assure we have a strong backbone to support our national military strategy,” said Garrett, commanding general for the U.S. Total Army Personnel Command, or PERSCOM, in a statement issued last year.
|Sgt. David Gloer says he is a slave of the U.S. Army.|
According to Garrett and Army documents, Army soldiers with 10 years of more of active service must re-enlist for an indefinite term, rather than for a specified number of years.
“The program will be mandatory and apply to all regular Army soldiers in the rank of staff sergeant to command sergeant major who are eligible for re-enlistment and have at least 10 or more years of active federal service on the date of re-enlistment. Soldiers pending a personnel action, such as a MOS medical retention board or reclassification action will be permitted to extend their enlistment for short periods,” explained Garrett.
Gloer claims the Army has taken the drastic step of forcing soldiers to re-enlist under the new program because “the Army has found itself unable to meet recruiting or retention goals.” Garrett disagreed in his statement and claims the Army is not having a problem retaining good soldiers. As recently as last summer, Garrett said the Army has been exceeding its re-enlistment goals for initial and mid-term soldiers.
“This ensures continued high personnel readiness during some turbulent times,” Garrett wrote in a letter to soldiers. “We do need your support, however, to meet our goals to retain those soldiers whose active duty obligation ends this fiscal year.”
One solution to the Army’s retention problem that was implemented is the Indefinite re-enlistment Program. Under this program, soldiers with 10 years or more of active service who re-enlist must do so for an indefinite term. The Army says that this program is to provide soldiers with “greater flexibility,” and that once those soldiers have completed their remaining service requirements, they will be able to request to leave the service whenever they wish. The Army says further that it will approve those requests, regardless of commander’s recommendations, based on Army strength levels.
“After re-enlisting for the indefinite program, a soldier will request voluntary separation or retirement, provided all service remaining requirements have been fulfilled, in a manner similar to officers,” explained Garrett.
|Sgt. David Gloer says it is too difficult to raise five children on Army pay.|
Gloer put in a request for retirement in June 1999, asking for a retirement date of June 2000. He was turned down by every officer in his unit.
“I wasn’t worried,” he recalled, “After all, there was no justification to disprove my retirement. My job (98G40 Korean linguist) was over-strength and I was working outside my specialty. I was certain that the checks and balances would take effect and common sense would prevail,” said Gloer.
He was wrong. Gloer says he requested and received two investigations by the office of the Inspector General and four congressional investigations.
“It became clear that there are no checks and balances. If you have a problem with the Army, you write to your congressman, who sends a nice form letter to the Army. The Army sends a nice form letter back, after investigating themselves and pronouncing themselves innocent — naturally,” explained Gloer.
Gloer will have 20 years of service as of June, including 13 years in Korea. He was told by the Army that he cannot retire because he hasn’t been in Korea long enough, he said.
The indefinite re-enlistment program was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton as part of the 1997 Defense Authorization Bill. Only the Army has instituted the program.
Gloer is not the only one who has run into problems trying to retire from the Army. He is currently organizing others who have run into problems with the hope of organizing an effort to change the law.
Indefinite re-enlistment went into effect in October 1999, and Garrett says it is “one of the Army’s best initiatives to support retention of our career noncommissioned officers.”
Gloer says it is slavery.
“I hope that anyone considering indefinite re-enlistment will think twice. Once you sign that paper, you’re not giving up two or three years of your life. It’s ’till death do us part,’ baby. And you can’t quit — ever. Slaves can’t quit — they must be sold,” said Gloer.