Sunday, May 22, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

Asparagus, the first tomato of spring tonight. Thank God for the Reading Terminal Market!

Meanwhile, guess who's leaving the Army? All the officers who've been fighting in Iraq.

KILLEEN, Texas — Army Capts. Dave Fulton and Geoff Heiple spent 12 months dodging roadside bombs and rounding up insurgents along Baghdad's "highway of death" — the six miles of pavement linking downtown Baghdad to the capital city's airport. Two weeks after returning stateside to Ft. Hood, they ventured to a spartan conference room at the local Howard Johnson to find out about changing careers.

Lured by a headhunting firm that places young military officers in private-sector jobs, the pair, both 26, expected anonymity in the crowded room.

Instead, as Fulton and Heiple sipped Budweisers pulled from Styrofoam coolers next to the door, they spotted nearly a dozen familiar faces from their cavalry battalion, which had just ended a yearlong combat tour in Iraq.

The shocks of recognition came as they exchanged quick, awkward glances with others from their unit, each man clearly surprised to see someone else considering a life outside the military.

"This is a real eye-opener," said Fulton, a West Point graduate who saw a handful of cadets from his class. "It seems like everyone in the room is either from my squad or from my class."

More than three years after the Sept. 11 attacks spawned an era of unprecedented strain on the all-volunteer military, it is scenes like this that keep the Army's senior generals awake at night. With thousands of soldiers currently on their second combat deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan and some preparing for their third this fall, evidence is mounting that an exodus of young Army officers may be looming on the horizon.

These officers have, in most cases, more counterinsurgency experience than any of their superiors. And they are the people the Army most fears losing.

"The undefined goals of the war on terror [translation: No WMDs] are making it really hard for the Army to keep people right now," Fulton said.

Yet Tuohey, who was promoted to captain upon returning to Ft. Hood, said he was not sure whether he would stay in the Army when his commitment ended next year. He said he was tempted to work on Wall Street.

It's not the money he's after. It's the fact that an Army that was gutted after the Cold War was promising him a future of perpetual deployments fighting a war that could last for decades.

That is not a future he is sure he can commit to.

"What's the end point?" he asked. "When do you declare victory?"
(via LA Times)

Man, if only the 101st Fighting Keyboarders would sign up. Or Jonah Goldberg.

Seriously, though, how on earth could the "planners" of the "Global War on Terror" have forgotten that an endless war, with no path to victory defined, and "no clear goal" might not be what the soldiers who signed up to serve their country volunteered to do?

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