09 April, 2006

Good news, bad news

Good news: Via Americablog, I learn:
Bush has caused a worrisome officer shortage in US Army:

The Army expects to be short 2,500 captains and majors this year, with the number rising to 3,300 in 2007. These officers are the Army's seed corn, the people who 10 years from now should be leading battalions and brigades.

"We're ruining an Army that took us 30 years to build," Republican maverick Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., told a group of reporters at a recent conference....

The Army denies the shortage is a crisis, but its top civilian, Francis J. Harvey, acknowledged concerns, telling the Washington Post: "We are worried."

Americablog, being a posse of Democratic Party partisans who find it more important to attack George W Bush than to think about what they consider good for the world, is predictably concerned. Oh no, they write. Now how will we invade Iran? For my part, I think the decline in military recruiting is great news.

Bad news: A country that lacks troops and officers but has thousands of nuclear missiles might not be such a good thing after all.


A country that lacks troops and officers but has thousands of nuclear missiles might not be such a good thing after all. 

Uh yeah. .you stole the words right out of my mouth.

Also, a lack of natural-rising officers may lead to the overpromotion of lesser talent*, and further weaken any common sense the military does have.

*sorry, I know the word talent in this case is a bit weird.


Posted by Saheli

Well, for the lesser ranks, they've already lowered their standards, as Slate has pointed out , and this has its consequences:

The pattern is clear: The higher the score on the aptitude test, the better the performance in the field. This is true for individual soldiers and for units. Moreover, the study showed that adding one high-scoring soldier to a three-man signals team boosted its chance of success by 8 percent (meaning that adding one low-scoring soldier boosts its chance of failure by a similar margin).

Smarter also turns out to be cheaper. One study examined how many Patriot missiles various Army air-defense units had to fire in order to destroy 10 targets. Units with Category I personnel had to fire 20 missiles. Those with Category II had to fire 21 missiles. Category IIIA: 22. Category IIIB: 23. Category IV: 24 missiles. In other words, to perform the same task, Category IV units chewed up 20 percent more hardware than Category I units. For this particular task, since each Patriot missile costs about $2 million, they also chewed up $8 million more of the Army's procurement budget.


Posted by judevac

That is such a shit study. Four numbers that close could well just be drawn from a random distribution. Also, as I make it out by your figures, this study cost $200 million. Meanwhile, at its high point, the Human Genome Project cost $437 million. This does not even begin to compare. Why are we making such shit investments in our country? Fuck the military. Also, fuck nukes while we're at it. $35 billion a year for stockpile maintenance? THAT is a total shit investment. 

Posted by saurabh

What, Saurabh, you think that $35 billion might be better used by giving everyone on the planet clean water and childhood vaccinations?  

Posted by hedgehog

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