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Army gripes

The Army hired a private research firm to travel out in the field
and find out why so many soldiers are quitting. We obtained a copy of
the company’s final report submitted to the U.S. Army Research
Institute. Nearly 10,000 officers and enlisted personnel responded to
the survey. The top reason for so many resignations is the Army’s
open-ended peacekeeping missions overseas.

Here are some revealing answers to the question, Why are you leaving?

A lieutenant: “The incompetence of higher ranking officers;
specifically their concern of making themselves look good and not
properly taking care of the soldiers. I would honestly not want to go to
war now with the leadership I have seen above battalion level.”

Another lieutenant: “The largest problem affecting retention of
junior officers is the perception that the senior leadership is
completely out of touch with soldiers and their needs. Ticket punching
and ‘looking good’ are the priority.”

A senior enlisted man: “The biggest reason I will retire at exactly
20 years is because the civilian and senior military leadership is so
out of touch with reality. They are more concerned with votes or their
next star or civilian job than that of the welfare of their soldiers.”

A warrant officer: “We are doing too much, moving too fast and I
predict more exits. Soldiers will sacrifice much, but without some hope
of a family life, they will not stay.”

A captain: “Will terminate my active military service so that I can
be a husband to my wife and a father to my children.”

A major: “This is not the Army I joined. I joined an Army whose
mission was to fight our nation’s wars. … Today, the context is (the)
mountains of Albania? Bosnia?”

Another major: “I do not trust the senior political leadership and do
not support our involvement in the Balkans and Yugoslavia operations.
This would not stop me from deploying but I do question the motivation
behind going.”

A lieutenant: “For an Army that is supposed to be the best in the
world, the quality of equipment, tanks and other combat vehicles, is not
only old but the ability to get parts to accomplish a field exercise is
like requesting parts for a nuclear bomb.”

A staff sergeant: “Soldiers are coming out of basic training without
the level of discipline that is needed to survive combat, due to the
softening of the Army. The kinder, gentler Army will not work.”

The Army is using the data to figure out ways to keep soldiers
longer.

Final fling

Assistant Defense Secretary Edward “Ted” Warner is having a final
fling as the Pentagon’s top strategy official. The assistant secretary
of defense for strategy and threat reduction is leaving his Pentagon job
a week from today. Instead of working on the major military force
structure review now being organized by his office, Mr. Warner instead
fled Washington on an official junket to South Africa. He is scheduled
to return today after the 11-day trip, ostensibly to discuss joint
military planning with the South African military.

In reality, Mr. Warner brought his wife along for what we are told
was a “phenomenal boondoggle” to southern Africa given to him as sort
of a going away present from the Pentagon. Of course, the American
taxpayer is paying for it.

“The best I can tell there is no reason for this trip,” said a
senior U.S. national security official. “This smacks of sort of a soft
landing for him.”

Pentagon spokesmen confirmed that Mr. Warner’s wife accompanied him
on the visit, but insisted the trip, with stops in Johannesburg and Cape
Town, was for “very legitimate business,” namely defense planning. The
delegation included six officials.

What kind of defense planning?

The U.S. military cooperated with the South Africans on a recent
humanitarian assistance operation and therefore there is a need for
defense planning, the spokesman said. The spokesman, however,
acknowledged that U.S.-South Africa military cooperation “is not an
active, thriving thing.”

Hold on

The Senate is playing cat and mouse with the CIA over the stalled
nomination of John McLaughlin, a veteran analyst, to be the No. 2 agency
official. Various senators have placed a “hold” on Mr. McLaughlin’s
nomination.

Sen. Robert Smith, R-N.H., had held up the nominee until yesterday.
He wanted the CIA to produce records on U.S. prisoner-of-war and
missing-in-action cases. At least one other senator is secretly blocking
the nomination over various intelligence issues, we are told by
congressional and administration sources.

The backstage nomination battle has been under way for several weeks.
Each time CIA lobbyists succeed in getting one senator to remove his
hold, another senator steps in and adds a new one.

“There’s a shell game going on,” said one U.S. official close to the
dispute.

Intercepts

  • The U.S. military has failed to confirm reports that an Iraqi
    fighter crossed into Saudi Arabian air space last week. A military
    source tells us no Iraqi plane showed up on AWACs radar. The original
    report had come from a “second hand” intelligence source, he says.

  • Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki is set to present a dire
    picture of the service’s problems with the current defense budget
    request, according to officials familiar with his draft Senate
    testimony. Gen. Shinseki’s plans for force transformation “will
    collapse” unless the Army budget is increased. Also there will be
    major problems with spare parts for equipment. The testimony is
    set for Wednesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

  • Pentagon insiders tell us that the Joint Chiefs of Staff are in a
    quandary over how to publicly discuss readiness problems. If they lay
    out the shortages candidly, they risk the wrath of Al Gore and the White
    House, both of whom are belittling George W. Bush’s criticism of
    military preparedness. But if the chiefs hold back, they risk the ire of
    congressional Republicans who control defense dollars, and of troops in
    the field who know the real story.

  • The Senate Budget Committee staff has compiled numbers showing
    the extent to which President Clinton cut the defense budget at the same
    time he was sending troops on a record number of peacekeeping and war
    missions. The committee’s calculations show Mr. Clinton slashed arms
    spending by $102 billion over the last five-year budget submitted by his
    predecessor, George
    Bush.

    “Assertions that the defense budget cuts of the Clinton
    administration were initiated by the Bush administration are simply not
    supported by the data,” says a staff report. “The Clinton-Gore team
    took $100-plus billion more out of defense resources than the Bush
    administration had planned.”

  • U.S. military personnel are using the euphoria-producing designer
    drug Ecstasy in greater numbers, according to Army Col. Mick Smith,
    science and testing officer for the Pentagon’s Office of the Coordinator
    for Drug Enforcement Policy and Support. Col. Smith told the American
    Forces Press Service that Ecstasy use has “increased markedly.”

    The Pentagon conducted 2,273,998 urine drug tests in fiscal 1999,
    according to Col. Smith. The results: Marijuana positives, 12,006;
    cocaine positives, 2,839; methamphetamine positives, 807; Ecstasy
    positives, 432; and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) positives, 325.
    Service members caught using drugs are discharged or imprisoned.


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