Shortage of Army Officers

From the above USA Today link:

The GAO report says officer retention has been a problem for the Army, in part because it "continues to remain heavily involved in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan." In 2005, 62% of West Point graduates stayed beyond their five-year active-duty commitment. That's as much as 30 percentage points lower than the rates for graduates of the Navy and Air Force academies.

Navy and Air Force graduates often remain in service longer because of flight training programs that require longer active-duty commitments than the Army, said Col. Kelly Kruger, director of West Point's office of policy, plans and analysis.

This is why the interservice attrition comparison which we have discussed earlier on this forum is not really a valid stastic.
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And another couple of interesting snippits:

"West Point graduates are also attractive to the private sector, Kruger says. "They're highly sought-after."

Jon Nielsen, West Point's highest-ranking cadet, says cadets know the toll that war is taking, but that hasn't deterred them. Nielsen, 25, says he had to announce the deaths of about 10 academy graduates to cadets in the span of a couple of weeks. Despite that, "You didn't have a flood of people heading to the gate to get out."

It would be better were it higher, but given the circumstances, and the choices available, a 62% retention rate for USMA graduates after their five year requirement sounds about right. The 38% that join the private sector continue to contribute to the health and welfare of the country, albeit in a different capacity.
That reminds me of some USAFA stats. USAFA is considered one of the best ranking business schools in the country...yet we have no business program. This is based on the number of grads that become CEOs, presidents, and such of companies. I'm sure it falls in place with USMA as well. Tell Hillary to shove it, the academies produce their weight in gold of top-quality officers AND citizens.
"Tell Hillary to shove it, the academies produce their weight in gold of top-quality officers AND citizens."

Did I miss a reference to Hillary in the article. Do I need to clean my glasses??
nosmileysforme said:
"Tell Hillary to shove it, the academies produce their weight in gold of top-quality officers AND citizens."

Did I miss a reference to Hillary in the article. Do I need to clean my glasses??

Hillary is ubiquitous in today's political/governmental calculus.
The Commissioner said:
Hillary is ubiquitous in today's political/governmental calculus.

Its true, shes everywhere saying everything these days. Did anyone read an article in the New York Times today? She claimed she would keep a reduced number of troops in Iraq, while assuming our troops would not mind either. I dont think she should speak so freely on the desires of the serviceman. But that is not even the part that annoys me. She is in my mind the worst type of politician. She would do anything to appease those who dont agree. She does not hold strong to her convitions in the face of adversity. And is a dime away from selling out to what she was preaching just a few months ago. By trying to please everyone you end up pleasing nobody. Considering Hillary and Barack as the democratic front runners I would say the donkeys should nominate Barack out of the overall interest of the nation.

But yes, this would be an awesome time to commission into the Army. I just hope the Army doesn't sacrifice the quality of the officers they mold in favor of quantity.
"Hillary is ubiquitous in today's political/governmental calculus."

I agree, along with a hundred other politicians from A to Z, but I've never heard her, or any other politician large or small, suggest the service academies aren't a worthwhile institution, and hence my question.

This hasn't always been the case and in early 1800's Davy Crockett, who hated West Point because he thought it was a place were the wealthy educated their children at the publics expense, introduced legislation to have the USMA abolished. But so far as I know that's not happening today and I believe the service academies have very strong support from the vast majority, if not essentially all, of the members of congress.

But as far as ChipAyten's statement is concerned, which strongly implies that Hillary is an enemy of the academies, I'm guessing it's just more Clinton bashing. If I'm mistaken Chip, please show me where and I'll write Hillary myself to express my outrage. But until I hear otherwise, and in the absence of contrary evidence, I'll assume Ms. Clinton has no negative stance with regard to the academies.
nosmileysforme said:
" But so far as I know that's not happening today and I believe the service academies have very strong support from the vast majority, if not essentially all, of the members of congress.

I think you are correct at this point in time. However, the undercurrent is there and always has been. I can recall a couple of times within the past 40 years or so where either some MOC or executive staff member has gotten a hair up his butt and pushed through the formation of a committee to study the effectiveness of the academies. I seem to recall one of the initial BRAC committee studies was the feasibility of combining all the academies into a single institution. And it will happen again. I could almost bet you that it will happen within a few years of the present conflict dying down. Therefore Chip's personal probably unwarranted attack does have historical precedence.

One probably thinks us old grads are partially senile when we wax nostalgic about plebe year and other long-gone bastions of the system. However, that is not the case. When one defends the academies, the only defense is the positive unique values that they bring to the developmental process of our young officers. This includes a rigorous plebe year melding with a viable upper class leadership system. It includes academic majors, namely technical and engineering, that prove both beneficial in the fleet and also prepare students for military-supported post graduate programs. Proactive SecNavs, anticipating this battle, will insist on high percentages of technical and engineering degrees. Lehman demanded 80%, England 70%.There is no outside requirement now, but when Iraq is done and the academies have to defend themselves again, there will be. We have to be different. Different in a positive manner.

Things have changed since Davy Crockett. Throughout the entire 20th century, the academies were among the leaders in top-tier undergraduate institutions to educate first-generation college graduates. I haven't heard any recent statistics, but historically around two thirds of academy grads fall into this category.

Bottom line, in relation to academy survival, a little paranoia might not be a bad thing.
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I'm not sure Hillary is "an enemy of the academies" per se. In her book, Hell to Pay, Barbara Olson reported the fact that Hillary tried to join the Marine Corps after her graduation from law school. On the other hand, I haven't been able to find any reference to her repudiating or disagreeing with her husband's famous quote, "I loathe the military," when he tried to avoid the draft. She, like any successful politician, wants to appeal to voters on both sides of an issue.

Politics is that one career field where we truly are judged by the company we keep. No knowledgeable observer of Hillary will disagree that her base is largely composed of people who, given a choice between increasing defense spending or non-defense spending, will lean toward non-defense.

I believe if it were proven to Hillary that the component of the nation's military officer demand currently supplied by service academy graduates could be met by additional civilian university ROTC graduates at a lower cost, then she would vote to downsize the service academies. The tradition or excellence of the service academies would not be an overriding concern if there was an opportunity for her to shift resources from the military to social programs.
I had never stated or implied that hillary was an enemy of the service academies or the military in general. I just dont believe she would be a good fit as our president.
"Tell Hillary to shove it, the academies produce their weight in gold of top-quality officers AND citizens."

ChipAyten, my most profound and sincere apologies, I was completely wrong. You never said anything of the sort. It was Hornetguy who said that! I think it's worse than a simple glasses cleaning for me.

Hornetguy, care to shed some light on any connection, real or alleged, about Hillary and the service academies?

USNA69; I agree that the academies will be scrutinized by those who grossly underestimate the value they provide to our nations security and society in general, and it's inevitable they will fall under attack from time to time. When that happens it will up to those better informed to defend these institutions, as has always been the case. Yes, paranoia and vigilance is a good thing, but unsubstantiated statements, rumors, and attacks on those not guilty only serve to divert attention from real threats. I'm not particularly a fan of Hilary, but clearly she's the same person as her husband.
Chip, I too apologize. Smiley, any correlation between politics and academy survival was purely coincidental. Just pointing out that it can be a concern.
The above thread kind of got off topic but I came across this year old article this morning.

It is from the USMA archives and has an interesting bit of statistics that, if the Commissioner is correct, Hilliary probably should not see:

In 2001, but before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, 9.3 percent of the Army’s young officers left active duty at their first opportunity. By 2002, the number of those junior officers leaving at their first opportunity dropped to 7.1 percent, and in 2003, only 6.3 percent opted out. But the number grew to 8.3 percent in 2004 and 8.6 percent in 2005.

The statistics are even more striking among West Point graduates, who receive an Ivy League-quality education at taxpayer expense — and, in the view of many senior officers and West Point alumni, owe the nation and the Army a debt of loyalty beyond the initial five years of active duty. The retention rate at the five-year mark for the West Point class of 1999 was 71.9 percent in 2004, down from 78.1 percent for the previous year’s class. And for the class of 2000, the retention rate fell to 65.8 percent, meaning that last year the Army lost more than a third — 34. 2 percent — of that group of officers as they reached the end of their initial five-year commitment. That is the highest rate of loss over the past 16 years among West Point officers reaching the five-year mark. For young officers receiving their commissions in 2006, the Army will guarantee slots in the most sought-after branches of the service — aviation, armor or intelligence, for example — in exchange for an extra three years in uniform.

Assuming a five year active committment for the entire class, the Army Officer Corps for the Army Officer Class of 2000 as a whole is 8.6% attrition while for WP grads it is 34.2%.

This is telling me that OCS and ROTC students are being commissioned much more inexpensively and for the right reasons but many, if not most, high cost WP grads are just looking for a free Ivy-League-quality education.
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"....but many, if not most, high cost WP grads are just looking for a free Ivy-League-quality education"

USNA69; can you provide evidence for this conclusion, or is this just another one of your ill conceived and thoughtless statements? I sincerely doubt you are in any position to judge what goes on in the mind of a West Point graduate.

And again I'm missing the Hillary connection, but since it seems to be a theme with this thread I think Senator Clinton can easily understand and appreciate that the West Point graduates are strongly motivated in their decisions by a life long commitment to higher education. Being the extraordinarily intelligent woman she is Hillary won't have any difficulty grasping the issue and comprehending the benefit to the nation of the current program to retain junior officers. Many, if not the most, of the West Point officers have postponed a graduate degree in order to serve their country; when they can both satisfy their desires for continued education and to serve their country they've responded in groves. From that same article:

"The incentives resulted in additional three-year commitments from about one-third of all new officers entering active duty in 2006, a number so large that it surprised even the senior officers in charge of the program.

But the chance at a free master’s degree persuaded Brandon J. Archuleta, a West Point senior, to sign up for an extra three years in uniform. “Education is extremely important to me, and I know I want a master’s degree at the very least,” Cadet Archuleta said. “The Army has a wonderful relationship with some of the top-tier graduate schools, especially in the Ivy League. I want to attend a school of that caliber.”

The West Point graduating class of 2006 responded at levels even higher than anticipated by senior officers at the military academy, with 352 of the 875 seniors — 40.2 percent — signing on to the program as they approached the date in late May when they would be commissioned as second lieutenants. “It is an amazing response,” said Lt. Gen. William J. Lennox Jr., the West Point superintendent. “It has exceeded how I thought the class would respond.”

“One of the salient issues in this information age is that if they are going to be competitive when they leave the Army — whether at the 4-year mark, the 10-year mark or after 20 — they have to maintain critical skills,” General Hagenbeck said. “They want to have graduate schooling.”
USNA69; can you provide evidence for this conclusion, or is this just another one of your ill conceived and thoughtless statements? I sincerely doubt you are in any position to judge what goes on in the mind of a West Point graduate.

I think the numbers speak for themselves. Service wide for the officers with mandatory service expiring in 2005, 8.6% chose to terminate their service. For West Point graduates, the percentage was a whopping 34.2%. Same uniform, same Army, same war. Why the huge difference in retention? Additionally, I am assuming the 8.6% includes the WP skew. Omit the WP attrition from the 8.6% and it will drop, lets say just for discussion purposes, to 4.2%. That leaves the WP attrition 30% larger than the rest of the Army.

There is one reason to go to OCS, to serve one's country. In reality, there is one reason to go AROTC, since they can resign, go to the student loan office, and continue in the same school, military obligation free, and that is to serve one's country. Therefore, it is safe to assume that of those who simply want to serve their country, somewhere in the vicinity of 4.2% will decide in their inital obligation, that it is really not for them. So, an additional 30% of West Point grads leave for another reason. What is it? The only thing I can think of is that they have achieved their initial goal of a good free education and are ready to move on. Help me with some additional reasons.
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The reasons that West Point graduates had left the army in larger numbers has already been enumerated, and the fact that they now stay when offered a graduate education has also been satisfactorily demonstrated.

The article states that, "According to Army statistics, 718 signed up to choose their career track, 289 contracted for the graduate school opportunity — 257 of them from West Point — and 117 wanted to pick the location where they, and their families, would be based."

Eight-nine percent of the junior officers who chose the eduction option were West Point grads; clearly eduction is very high on the list of priorities for West Point graduates. Not surprisingly, live-long education is a notion strongly encouraged and reinforced at West Point.

The article goes on to explain that the graduate education tuition is limited to a maximum of $13,000 per year. Any member of the army that contributes to his or her own army sponsored education fund, combined with the GI bill essentially all are eligible for, can have far superior benefits without any obligation for additional service whatsoever. If your premise that many, if not most, of the West Point graduates were looking for a free Ivy League quality education were true, you would not find over 40 percent of the West Point class signing up for the additional years of service. They would simply use the no-obligation offer of graduate education already available for them. AND THEY WOULD HAVE EARNED IT, JUST LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE.

As for a free education, shame on you. Over fifty West Point graduates have given their lives in the service of their country in Iraq and Afganistan. If the statistics for the army in general holds true, several hundred West Point graduates have also been wounded; many grievously. I think we can put the notion of a "free education" to rest; you more than most should know better.

Had I made your earlier statements, and after I had stopped kicking myself for my gross ignorance, I would be apologizing to the entirety of the Corps right now, not digging myself a deeper hole. And I know a bit about apologizing having made many myself for far smaller offense.
nosmileysforme said:
The reasons that West Point graduates had left the army in larger numbers has already been enumerated

But not the fact that prior to the latest masters degree program, WP grads were leaving the service at 7 times the rate of ROTC and OCS grads.

If you will notice, the program you are describing is presently being put in place to combat the situation which I described that was happening in 2005.

It would seem to me that your observation that the Army is enticing grads with more education is kind of like giving an education "junkie" an education "fix". I would think that is an argument that I should be making, not you.

Just to bring you up to speed, I am almost positive that the GI bill is not available to ROTC and Service Academy graduates.

Additionally, if you wish to continue this discussion, please do not stoop to patronize our war deaths and wounded, just to prove your point.

The humor of the master's degree program and my total amazement that it is working is the fact that their obligation is increased to 8 years. Additionally for every month of grad school, they must repay the government three months of active duty. Since the typical grad school is two years, they will owe an additional six years, which means they cannot leave active duty for 14 years. If they would take the time to check the bios of current officers, most competitive officers by the 14 year mark have a grad degree anyway without the obligation requirements. That 89% of the Army officers who have selected this are WP grads could be the subject of a whole other discussion.:smile:
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I would like to see a set of statistics on how many people were driven away from this Service Academy Forum by just a few prima " " 's. You did a fine job on driving away most of the Air force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine Academies posters. Why don't we just go for West Point now.
Wow, amazing post. Over the past year I have survived explaining rapes, alleged rapes, dancing speedos, amateur movie makers, bad marching, and lots else without ever once having to resort to inane personal attacks. I guess I am more secure in my school, its leaders, and my fellow alumni being able to do the correct and proper thing than others seem to be.
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