“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Marching away from the Army.

Young officers leaving Army at a rapid clip
By Bryan Bender
WASHINGTON - Members of the U.S. Military Academy's Classes of 2000 and 2001 are choosing to leave active duty at the highest rate in at least three decades, a sign to many military specialists that repeated tours in Iraq are prematurely driving out some of the Army's top young officers.
Of the 903 officers commissioned upon graduation in 2001, nearly 46 percent left the service last year - 35 percent after their five years of required service and 11 percent over the next six months, according to statistics compiled by West Point. And more than 54 percent of the 935 who graduated in 2000 had left active duty by January, the statistics show.

The retention rates after mandatory duty are the lowest since at least 1977, with the exception of members of three classes in the late 1980s who were encouraged to leave as the military cut back after the Cold War.

In most years during the last three decades, the period for which West Point released statistics, between 10 percent and 30 percent of graduates opted out after five years.

The rising exodus is blamed on a number of factors, including the economic lure of the private sector. But interviews with former West Point superintendents, graduates and retired officers pointed to another reason: the wear and tear on officers and their families from multiple deployments.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D., R.I.), a member of West Point's Class of 1971, attributed much of the drop in retention to "the operational tempo," referring to the high pace of overseas deployments since 2001.

West Point spokesman Francis J. DeMaro said he could not explain why more young officers were leaving the Army, and declined to comment further.

The military academy has started offering graduates new incentives to keep them from leaving at their first opportunity. For example, West Point now guarantees graduates the home bases of their choice, as well as a chance to go to graduate school, if they commit to serving three years beyond their five-year commitment.

Reed likened the departure of West Point graduates to the situation during the waning days of the Vietnam era, when "at the five-year mark you were losing a lot of officers because of the wear and tear."

West Point graduates in that era carried a heavy load. Many members of the Class of 1966, for example, served as platoon commanders in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. By the early 1970s, "a full third of the class was out or dead," said retired Col. Daniel M. Smith, a member of the Class of 1966.

But the Iraq war, with its repeated tours of duty and often-shifting military objectives, appears to have dissuaded more graduates from continuing their military careers - even as the Army has stressed that West Point training has become more important in an era of high-tech warfare.

And rising the numbers do not reflect those who may have been forced to stay longer than five years under the wartime authority known as "stop loss," in which the president can order troops with critical skills to remain on active duty.

The numbers also do not show how many of those who have left may have joined the reserves or National Guard, DeMaro said. A total of four graduates from 2000 and 2001 have died on missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark, another member of West Point's Class of 1966, said the significance of the departure of West Point graduates could not be overstated.

"There is a lot of development that goes into" molding these unique military leaders, he said in an interview. "There is no way to get them back."


  1. Can't help thinking of the screaming "conservatives" would be doing if Clinton tried to get away with any number of the disasters of GWB.
    The idea of using and abusing the Military to death in "The Long War" w/o being decent enough to even replace worn out hardware...

    And for once I agree w/Leslie er Wesley: Unless West Point is a waste of time, it is a Collosal Waste to burn through all those grads.

  2. We have to put an end to this idea that if we give up our homes we will get something peaceful from terrorists,” said Yishai Hollender, a spokesman for the Yesha Council, which represents settlers in the West Bank.

    “Have we learned nothing from our history, from Lebanon, from Gush Katif?” he added, referring to the largest bloc of settlements, Harvest Bloc in Hebrew, to be removed from Gaza and to Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. “We have hope that there is or will be quiet, but there never is.”

  3. "“Who do we have to talk to any more?”
    he said.
    “There is no Palestinian government. They call it a government, but it is not a government, it is a collection of groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.”
    That's W and Condi's language.
    Just like the translation site:

    "Arab Terrorists to English Allies."

  4. "Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, was the only one of the three leading Republican contenders to mention the issue at the Lincoln Day dinner, pressing an increasingly restrictive view.

    Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who until recently joined Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, in pushing for a compromise in overhauling immigration, has moved away from a lead role on the issue in the Senate.

    In Mr. Giuliani’s case, his aides acknowledged that most voters do not know how aggressive he was as mayor in pressing for ways to allow more immigrants into the country.

    It was a role he seemed to cherish, becoming a national leader for the cause of welcoming immigrants in the 1990s. To the surprise of many people in both parties, he also spoke passionately about helping those here illegally become citizens, advocating for $12 million to start a city agency that would assist those seeking citizenship. He vigorously defended the city’s policy of forbidding city employees, including police and hospital workers, from asking a person’s immigration status."


  5. Hi Bub,
    I need my appendix removed.
    You speaka de English?

  6. Take a breath Doug...

    remember ..inhale..exhale..inhale.....exhale

  7. From a good source POWERLINE

    Why do they do it?

    Why do the Democrats stand for defeat? John at Power Line says the answer is hatred:

    In truth, the Democrats have needlessly put themselves in a rhetorical hole with their talk about "losing" in Iraq. They would be much better served to argue (as some do, of course) that the game is not worth the candle: that our security interests are not sufficiently at stake in Iraq to justify more than a year's worth of further costs. This argument would avoid the valid charge of defeatism. Moreover, it would be consistent with the Democrats' policy of setting a deadline for withdrawal.

    If we have already lost in Iraq, then it is irrational to continue funding the war for another year. On the other hand, it is logical to say that we haven't yet lost in Iraq, and that we have enough security interests there to justify some further effort and some additional costs, but that those interests are sufficiently peripheral that if another twelve months aren't enough to bring success, the costs have exceeded any potential benefits, and we should pull the plug.

    So why do so many Democrats persist in defeatist rhetoric which alienates millions of voters, has little empirical basis, and is inconsistent with their own policy prescription? I think this is another case where the Democrats' Bush-hatred has gotten the better of them. To take a rational approach to evaluating our progress over the coming months, the Democrats would have to acknowledge that we do have security interests in Iraq and that President Bush's policy may yet be vindicated. This, they cannot bring themselves to do. Rather than arguing for a policy that a substantial majority of Americans may well accept, they prefer to antagonize millions of voters while at the same time making nonsense of their own Congressional votes.

    Hate can do funny things to politicians.

  8. Very disappointed to hear of Giuliani’s active subversion of the law when it comes to immigration. This will probably cost him the Presidency.


    I think it is more than that. There is a commercial I have seen in which some old baby boomer sitting in a fancy office says he is going to use some service {I forget what it is} so that he can stick it to the man. His young assistant says But sir, you are the man. To which the old boy responds, Maybe.

    I think liberals have found themselves in a world in which they are the man. They are the people running the World Bank with all of its phenomenal corruption. They are the people responsible for the United Nations with its corruption and incompetence on display every day. They are the people who railed against the likes of Saddam Hussein for years, only to rail against the United States even more. The truth is if they have to choose between the leader of the free world, the President of the United States and some tin pot dictator with a swiss bank account...they are more than likely to choose the dictator.

    For years, they played the rebellious teenager speaking truth to power and now they find they are the power. And guess what? They are no better than the other guy. That is what is eating at them. They know they can't reason with the Iranians or the Syrians or people like Hugo Chavez or that nutcase in North Korea. They have shown time and again that all they can do is declare defeat and demand reform. They are good at the defeat part, after all it is some other poor bastard who is sitting out on that limb they are sawing off, but the reform part...not so good. They will spend a lot more time complaining about Wolfowitz than they will the 800 billion lost to corruption at the World Bank. After all, if they go after the Mugabes of the world they will lose the support of those dictators. Better to let them line their pockets and pretend not to notice the kickbacks. Just blame the poverty on capitalism and free trade and ignore the obvious thievery.

    They will not demand anyone go to jail over the Food for Oil scandal even though it made a mockery of the United Nations, an institution they show reverence for. No, they will go suck up to Assad and pretend he did not kill the political opposition in Lebanon. They will turn their back on democracy in Iraq. They will whine about the Patriot Act, but they will demand we talk to the Mad Mullahs who are proud of the fact that they publicly execute women of ill repute. They will worry over global warming and the supposed end of the world, but they will not deal with the threats that face us in the here and now. They don't know how.

    The Democrats woke up in the world of the 21st century and discovered they are the man. And all they know how to do is bitch. And while bitching might be fun, it doesn't fix a damn thing

  10. The officers that left did the US military a favor. The US military is better off without such people.


    The money quote....

    The Democrats woke up in the world of the 21st century and discovered they are the man. And all they know how to do is bitch. And while bitching might be fun, it doesn't fix a damn thing

    (Sunday brunch, all the neighbors get keyboard time..quite egalitarian...more champagne sparrowhills, thanks)

  12. Well, No Shit, Sherlock, 50% don't want to "Get their Ass Shot Off."

    Whatta Serpriz!

    I guess what we're left with is the "Crazy Fuckers" that might make good soldiers.

    Am I missing something?

  13. Quick..change the thread....

    Sunday Brunch group picture ..which one is the leader, the Omni-Habu?

    Sunday Brunch Group


    In our never ending quest to illustrate just how impossible it is for sane human beings to take the Hajis seriously, we bring you this:

    American commanders cite al-Qaida’s severe brand of Islam, which is so extreme that in Baqouba, al-Qaida has warned street vendors not to place tomatoes beside cucumbers because the vegetables are different genders, Col. David Sutherland said.


    Try “psychotic” instead.

    So which veggie gets to wear the burqa? And does it require four tomatoes to legally testify against a cucumber accused of rape? We’re all confused here.

    In other news, by Imperial Decree, all killed Hajis are henceforth to be buried naked with their butt-cheeks sticking up out of the ground.

    This is to assist the fledgling Iraqi infrastructure by providing easy access to bicycle racks everywhere.

  15. harharhehehe--glad to see you in a good mood, Habu.

    Can a cucumber dismiss a tomato at will? How ripe must a tomato be before it's picked?

  16. "I think it is more than that. There is a commercial I have seen in which some old baby boomer sitting in a fancy office says he is going to use some service {I forget what it is} so that he can stick it to the man. His young assistant says But sir, you are the man. To which the old boy responds, Maybe."

    One of my finest moments was telling one of my 'radical' professors, who was insisting that our latest left-wing speaker hadn't challenged the establishment enough, was that she was the establishment.

    I keep my politics to myself publicly, so she thought I was a fellow left-winger. Coming from me, out of the blue, her head almost exploded.

  17. Bob-L,

    Heck I'm always in a good mood. Surrounded as I am with good friends who enjoy a nice place to come and watch the Jewelry Channel on hi-def TV.

    It's good to see Rufus on the site too. If I tell Possumtater he'll have a story for Rufus I'm sure.

    Damn sure hurt losing that Blue Angel yesterday. I lived in Laurel Bay which is the housing area for Marines stationed at MCAS Beaufort.
    I pretty much know where that F-18 went down.

    I witnessed an F-4 Phantom auger in at about 700mph straight nose down attitude. Left a big crater in the ground and the largest piece I could find was the nosewheel landing strut, wheels not attached.
    The good news was that the driver and his RIO got out at the last possible moment. They were banged up but lived to laugh again.

    Every day above ground is a great day.

    F4 Phantom Aircraft Pics

  18. One of my high school mates actually made the Blue Angels. He was an Annapolis grad like his father. Big star around here. Later he flew for the airlines. I remember him telling me one time about when the entire Air Force demonstration team went in, all four or five planes, all dead. It's follow the leader I quess and if the lead man makes a mistake they all pay. They are just looking at the wing tip of the plane leading them. That must have been thirty years ago.

  19. Great pics; proof that a "brickbat" will fly if you give it enough H.P.

  20. I can't find that Crash I'm thinking of, maybe my memory is a little faulty. Maybe it was some other group. Anyway, it's dangerous work.

  21. Oh, Deuce, Great Link while ago on the Vinod Khosla article. While it's true that he is, to some extent, talking his book, he is one of the smartest men in the world. BTW, he's the guy that's building the Big "Cellulosic Ethanol from Forestry Products" Refinery in Ga.

    Here's a related article about Chinese Car Companies Going Green.

  22. Bob, I think that might not have been an American team. Maybe Canadian?

  23. Deuce, regarding that Energy Post you put up. We've been watching FWLT over at Kudlow's.

    There are thousands, if not millions, of boilers that will be replaced in the coming few years.

  24. These Iraqis just ain't the sharpest pencils in the pack. Don't Fence me In - Or Can you say "KABOOM!?"

  25. Rufus, it gives a new meaning to 'shop till you drop'.

    Slow learners for sure. Nobody should be around those markets with anything larger than, say, a coffee cup.

  26. It was a US Team.
    Thunderbirds, I think.

    Make No Mistake: This Is War
    Michael Chertoff

    Never liked Chertoff, (esp on border) but this ain't bad.

  27. Congress' answer to Virginia Tech Shooting: Gun Control Legislation

    U.S. Congress may act to keep guns from mentally ill

    Prompted by the Virginia Tech massacre, a U.S. Congress reluctant to tackle gun control may pass limited legislation to help keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill, lawmakers and aides said on Sunday.

    "Given the horror that happened at Virginia Tech, I think there's a real chance of passing this," said Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, told "Fox News Sunday."

    A Republican leadership aide agreed, telling Reuters, "If there is a consensus, and it is in lieu of knee-jerk draconian measures, (the chances are) probably really good."

    ... The proposed bill would provide money to the states to help update the national instant-check background system with mental-health adjudications, which ban firearm purchases.

    In the House of Representatives, Rep. Charles Dingell, a Michigan Democrat and gun-rights proponent, has teamed up on such legislation with Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, a leading gun control advocate.

  28. Wu wei: Congress' answer to Virginia Tech Shooting: Gun Control Legislation...U.S. Congress may act to keep guns from mentally ill

    Yeah, those pinko liberals, wanting to take guns away from people who would otherwise be sitting in a closet rocking back and forth and scribbling their nihilist manifestos with crayons.