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Thread: Army Officer Commercial

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    Default Army Officer Commercial

    I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this on TV just the other day. The US Army showcasing itís heritage and actively trying to recruit officers... who woulda thunk it?

    Video

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    Thumbs down When they see our commercial they will go to our facebook page! Brilliant!

    The Army, proving once again, that it doesn't understand how to recruit, retain and develop junior Officers.

    I'm not really sure what specific demographic they had in mind as this method seems to be aimed at people who don't have USMA, OCS, or ROTC available as an option to them (as each have their own robust recruiting for their target demographic). Iíve heard the theory that this aimed at getting individuals who already have a degree and are not satisfied with civilian employment (unemployment?) to enlist under 9D or get a direct commission if applicable.

    Iíve always been skeptical of the argument that the Officer Corps is in direct competition with Corporate America for college graduates Ė theyíre in direct competition with college admissions and enlisted recruitment as the choice to use ROTC or USMA is made back in high school. The notion that there is the untapped pool of people who passed up multiple chances to serve their country, but since earning a degree are just waiting for someone to ask if they want to be an Officer, is flat out silly.

    Its going to be interesting to see if this program works. It will be even more interesting to see how the Army spins the results.

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    Default skeptical but

    Honestly, when I read about this campaign earlier in the week, I was a little skeptical. That video was better than I expected though. Was much better than previous, "Hey, you'll get job training and teamwork experience that you can use later in another job." That said, I don't think it will solve the shortage of officers (some on this board state we are already overstrength in officers, and maybe we are, but the 2 Battalions I served in were always short and fighting for people).

    For years the Army denied or explained away that there were not enough LTs or CPTs staying in. Now not enough CPTs, MAJs, and even LTCs are staying for duration. The Army claims it is because of the expansion of BCTs, not retention. Maybe, but some of the best and brightest I went thru OBC with are now working on the outside or in grad school. Many in my recent CCC course are planning to do another deployment, finish out that bonus contract, and then move on. The problems keeping those already in are greater than attracting people already out of school and working/or not.

    None of the officers I've served with joined bc of a commercial. It's nice that the Army is recognizing that officers do more than drink coffee and do paperwork, but I don't know if this campaign will achieve the desired goals. Maybe more Officers working as recruiters that can actually explain to students what is involved in ROTC/OCS/USMA and what life as an officer is like (more than the current Gold Bar LT recruiter and a CPT or MAJ per ROTC BN or temporary Home Town Recruiter). I did a Yahoo search for Worcester, MA and Army ROTC and emailed the address I found. The ROTC recruiter, a CPT, gave me an honest, but patriotic speech, and asked me if it sounded good, and it did. You need more than commercials to get students to give up their college routine and be a Soldier and Student. Most don't think the sacrifice is worth it. That's a problem deeper than advertising.
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    It would also help if the Army didn't do everything possible to culturally exclude people from the coasts from coming in.

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    Thumbs up Kudos

    Just a cover (hat, beret, etc.) tip to the Army from a retired Marine - I liked the video and in retrospect - is heads and tails above earlier efforts dating back to, well, forever.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Massengale View Post
    It would also help if the Army didn't do everything possible to culturally exclude people from the coasts from coming in.
    I'm not sure what you mean. Can you explain?
    Last edited by SWJED; 08-06-2009 at 04:26 PM.
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

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    I'm not sure what that means either...

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default What they said, Massengale.

    I too wonder what you mean...

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    Question I would wonder

    It would also help if the Army didn't do everything possible to culturally exclude people from the coasts from coming in.
    But since you make quite clear "exclusion" and "coasts" it seems quite likely your alluding to Lifestyle Choices. Do I get a cookie
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    I'm referring to the Army commissioned officer culture (especially at the company grade level) being primarily southern/midwestern. NASCAR, fishing, pickups and dip v. hybrids and theater. Binge drinking (or teetotalling) v. wine with dinner. The assumption that everyone is married. The assumption that non-SM spouses are either homemakers or have careers that can be plied even in the most remote locations. Etc. And then an unspoken (and sometimes spoken) assumption that people on the coasts aren't really Americans and that cosmopolitan officers are weird.

    The other branches don't seem to have this problem...it's Army specific.

    In 2004 over 40% of new Army officers were from the south. 18% from the midwest. 18% from the northwest. 18% from the west. the number from the northeast is too small to measure. even on the West Coast there were something like three ROTC grads out of the U Cal system last year. 34 out of NYC total in 2006 in comparison to 200 from Alabama.

    http://columbiamilitary.blogspot.com...ics-urban.html

    http://www.military.com/NewsContent/...126186,00.html
    Last edited by Massengale; 08-06-2009 at 06:57 PM.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Speak to Mom...

    Is that culture you refer to an Army imposed culture or is it the culture of your 40% South plus 18% Midwest and perhaps a few of the others preferring those cultural icons to the alternatives you cite? I think there's a correlation versus a causation problem there...

    On the wives and such, again what is the national, not the culturally elite, norm? On that topic, recall that military forces are by nature conservative and slow to change. The wife and wife / career issues have been around since the early 70s -- that they are still a problem is an indicator of the often glacial pace of military social change. I doubt that will ever go away -- and, FWIW, the other services have that problem as well.

    You might also consider that the South has been over represented in the Army only since the Draft ended. I think that says something about the presence of a willingness to serve that is more in evidence in some parts of the nation than in others.

    On the ROTC issue, is that not in part due to the fact that belonging to ROTC -- more particularly Army ROTC -- on many campuses is not at all politically correct on both a faculty and peer basis? Recall that many Ivy league schools opted out of hosting Army ROTC in the late 1960s and now do not want to let it back in -- ostensibly due to objections to Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

    The paper by COL Wendel which you linked is, I think accurate and I agree with his recommendations. He, I think is missing one critical point which I address below. He makes a few statement that allude to it around the edges, this one, for example:
    "Mutual distrust between the nation's political elites and military leaders could ultimately undercut American foreign policy, making it more difficult to use force effectively."
    That sentence is notable for its understatement...

    You correctly point out that the same social conduct attributes do not apply to other services; that is a residual of the New England born and widely disseminated idea that the Army was the refuge of thieves and scoundrels whereas the Navy and to a lesser extent, the Marines were somewhat socially acceptable (too many seafarers in New England to reject the Navy totally ). The Navy is presumed by most in this country to be a socially acceptable profession -- barely so in a few circles but still acceptable. The Air Force is slightly less acceptable, then the Marines and the poor old Army is at the bottom, the social sewer as it were. That has far more impact on persons from the coasts (and from tertiarily educated families nationwide) entering the services than do any of the things you cite.

    That attitude in part reflects the historical opposition to a standing Army in this country and it partly reflects the strong anti military / antiwar bias present in Academia which has been imparted to many students over the past 30 plus years.

    However, it is far more a reflection of social change in this country. As recently as fifty years ago, kids pretty well left home for good at 18 or thereabouts and Dad broke their plate to remind them it was tough world and they had to be able to take care of themselves. Since then this nation has been effectively 'Momized.' Moms do not break plates, on the contrary they welcome their offspring back even unto the 30th or 40th year; encourage it, even -- and the Moms of America do not want their Sons and Daughters in a socially questionable organization and absolutely do not want them in a position to engage in close combat with unsavory people.
    Last edited by Ken White; 08-06-2009 at 07:49 PM.

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    The Army, proving once again, that it doesn't understand how to recruit, retain and develop junior Officers.
    Iíd argue that this commercial is a step in the right direction, at least marketing wise. Actual recruitment/applicant processing/ candidate mentorship is a different story.

    I'm not really sure what specific demographic they had in mind as this method seems to be aimed at people who don't have USMA, OCS, or ROTC available as an option to them
    Itís aimed at everybody: high schoolers, college students and grads since the commercial made a point of showing soldiers in OCS, ROTC and WP gear.

    (as each have their own robust recruiting for their target demographic).
    I disagree with you here. The Army doesnít do nearly enough to recruit for OCS at least it didnít about a year ago when I was researching the subject. A majority of teens and 20 or 30 year olds donít know the difference between enlisted and officer, much less the different officer accession routes, especially OCS. Even if they knew, they are likely to encounter an enlisted recruiter who will try to tell them they have to enlist and serve first in order to become an officer.

    Iíve always been skeptical of the argument that the Officer Corps is in direct competition with Corporate America for college graduates Ė theyíre in direct competition with college admissions and enlisted recruitment as the choice to use ROTC or USMA is made back in high school.
    The choice to apply for the USMA is made back in high school. Cadets decide to join the ROTC at different times; some before college, other during their freshman, sophomore or even later years.

    The notion that there is the untapped pool of people who passed up multiple chances to serve their country, but since earning a degree are just waiting for someone to ask if they want to be an Officer, is flat out silly.
    How is it silly? I canít find the PDF at the moment and the Marine Officer site has been changed but there was a breakdown of all the USMC commissioning sources and Iíd say about 20% were OCC graduates (people who already have degree in hand).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Is that culture you refer to an Army imposed culture or is it the culture of your 40% South plus 18% Midwest and perhaps a few of the others preferring those cultural icons to the alternatives you cite? I think there's a correlation versus a causation problem there...

    On the wives and such, again what is the national, not the culturally elite, norm? On that topic, recall that military forces are by nature conservative and slow to change. The wife and wife / career issues have been around since the early 70s -- that they are still a problem is an indicator of the often glacial pace of military social change. I doubt that will ever go away -- and, FWIW, the other services have that problem as well.

    You might also consider that the South has been over represented in the Army only since the Draft ended. I think that says something about the presence of a willingness to serve that is more in evidence in some parts of the nation than in others.

    On the ROTC issue, is that not in part due to the fact that belonging to ROTC -- more particularly Army ROTC -- on many campuses is not at all politically correct on both a faculty and peer basis? Recall that many Ivy league schools opted out of hosting Army ROTC in the late 1960s and now do not want to let it back in -- ostensibly due to objections to Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

    The paper by COL Wendel which you linked is, I think accurate and I agree with his recommendations. He, I think is missing one critical point which I address below. He makes a few statement that allude to it around the edges, this one, for example:That sentence is notable for its understatement...

    You correctly point out that the same social conduct attributes do not apply to other services; that is a residual of the New England born and widely disseminated idea that the Army was the refuge of thieves and scoundrels whereas the Navy and to a lesser extent, the Marines were somewhat socially acceptable (too many seafarers in New England to reject the Navy totally ). The Navy is presumed by most in this country to be a socially acceptable profession -- barely so in a few circles but still acceptable. The Air Force is slightly less acceptable, then the Marines and the poor old Army is at the bottom, the social sewer as it were. That has far more impact on persons from the coasts (and from tertiarily educated families nationwide) entering the services than do any of the things you cite.

    That attitude in part reflects the historical opposition to a standing Army in this country and it partly reflects the strong anti military / antiwar bias present in Academia which has been imparted to many students over the past 30 plus years.

    However, it is far more a reflection of social change in this country. As recently as fifty years ago, kids pretty well left home for good at 18 or thereabouts and Dad broke their plate to remind them it was tough world and they had to be able to take care of themselves. Since then this nation has been effectively 'Momized.' Moms do not break plates, on the contrary they welcome their offspring back even unto the 30th or 40th year; encourage it, even -- and the Moms of America do not want their Sons and Daughters in a socially questionable organization and absolutely do not want them in a position to engage in close combat with unsavory people.
    "Is that culture you refer to an Army imposed culture or is it the culture of your 40% South plus 18% Midwest and perhaps a few of the others preferring those cultural icons to the alternatives you cite? I think there's a correlation versus a causation problem there..."

    Neither. it's the result of self-selection. And the Army keeps going back to the same wells digging deeper and deeper.

    As for the South being more willing...I'd say that's primarily a result of that being where the bases are. It's a heck of a lot less of a culture shock for a young LT from Alabama to end up at Polk than one from Manhattan. I'm an American who grew up overseas and in NYC. Quite frankly, I feel a lot more comfortable and at home (and have more friends and family) in Rome or Paris or London or Cairo than I do in Texas. There are millions of Americans like me. Where the posts are is going to be a harder sell than to a southerner who is assured of mostly staying at home (when not deployed). So the Army becomes a much easier sell to southerners than to the coasts (who by the way aren't just composed of "liberal elites" but also millions of first generation immigrants...a traditional military favorable category that the other branches manage to recruit quite well).

    And why is it that the Army advertises during NASCAR races (or so I'm told) but not during golf? Isn't that self-fulfilling?

    Many of my peers back in NY are multilingual, uber-well-traveled, educated and in excellent physical fitness. Many of them are willing to do something of public service for much less than private-sector money. They often end up in the foreign service or at Langley. But being unmarried, usually not Christian and a heavy traveler (the DOD pass/leave policies are obviously archaic and asinine) does not fit into Army culture, not well at all. The Army doesn't consider them and they don't consider the Army.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Massengale View Post
    "Is that culture you refer to an Army imposed culture or is it the culture of your 40% South plus 18% Midwest and perhaps a few of the others preferring those cultural icons to the alternatives you cite? I think there's a correlation versus a causation problem there..."

    Neither. it's the result of self-selection. And the Army keeps going back to the same wells digging deeper and deeper.

    As for the South being more willing...I'd say that's primarily a result of that being where the bases are. It's a heck of a lot less of a culture shock for a young LT from Alabama to end up at Polk than one from Manhattan. I'm an American who grew up overseas and in NYC. Quite frankly, I feel a lot more comfortable and at home (and have more friends and family) in Rome or Paris or London or Cairo than I do in Texas. There are millions of Americans like me. Where the posts are is going to be a harder sell than to a southerner who is assured of mostly staying at home (when not deployed). So the Army becomes a much easier sell to southerners than to the coasts (who by the way aren't just composed of "liberal elites" but also millions of first generation immigrants...a traditional military favorable category that the other branches manage to recruit quite well).

    And why is it that the Army advertises during NASCAR races (or so I'm told) but not during golf? Isn't that self-fulfilling?

    Many of my peers back in NY are multilingual, uber-well-traveled, educated and in excellent physical fitness. Many of them are willing to do something of public service for much less than private-sector money. They often end up in the foreign service or at Langley. But being unmarried, usually not Christian and a heavy traveler (the DOD pass/leave policies are obviously archaic and asinine) does not fit into Army culture, not well at all. The Army doesn't consider them and they don't consider the Army.

    As for the marriage thing: Army officers used to get married later in life than equivalent civilians. Not so anymore. I'd suggest that's a result of where officers are from.

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    Default Military culture is changing

    Not all for the best, but change is inevitable. Ken, JT and some of the others can remember officers' clubs, "calls" on commanding officers, "mandatory" officers' wives' clubs, etc. Social life was much more focused on the base, the unit, etc., than is apparent today. Most of our families were exposed to diverse foreign cultures. But that was then and this is now.

    As for ROTC, I think that the detractors have a serious cart and horse problem. We close programs, not to exclude part of the population, but as a business matter. Look at it this way -- if I can produce 34 widgets for x amount of money, or over 200 for the same amount, which operation am I going to keep open? Having worked the famous MIT magnet program (5 schools), I'm just not buying the "build it and they will come" model. I do think that the effort to recruit highspeed folks who didn't or couldn't participate in ROTC is a worthy effort and I look forward to seeing how this all pans out.

    OBTW -- been slogging through rice paddies in the far East and hanging at the opera in Vienna (hardship tour), and there are a bunch of us around who don't fit your preferred stereotype.
    Last edited by Old Eagle; 08-06-2009 at 08:27 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
    Not all for the best, but change is inevitable. Ken, JT and some of the others can remember officers' clubs, "calls" on commanding officers, "mandatory" officers' wives' clubs, etc. Social life was much more focused on the base, the unit, etc., than is apparent today. Most of our families were exposed to diverse foreign cultures. But that was then and this is now.

    As for ROTC, I think that the detractors have a serious cart and horse problem. We close programs, not to exclude part of the population, but as a business matter. Look at it this way -- if I can produce 34 widgets for x amount of money, or over 200 for the same amount, which operation am I going to keep open? Having worked the famous MIT magnet program (5 schools), I'm just not buying the "build it and they will come" model. I do think that the effort to recruit highspeed folks who didn't or couldn't participate in ROTC is a worthy effort and I look forward to seeing how this all pans out.

    OBTW -- been slogging through rice paddies in the far East and hanging at the opera in Vienna (hardship tour), and there are a bunch of us around who don't fit your preferred stereotype.
    I get the economics behind ROTC. But that also assumes that all ROTC candidates are equal. That 200 cadets from Podunk State are equivalent to 200 cadets from NYU (who come from across the country in reality). In our current operational environment, where COIN and cultural sensitivity are key, that's a false assumption I think.

    My "stereotype" was specifically of company grades...there's a reason for that. And I stand by it. And when we still have CPTs discussing "haji" and "man-dresses"....I'd suggest that young officers from more diverse backgrounds might turn out to be force multipliers over that (very low) bar.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I think you sort of answered your own questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Massengale View Post
    Neither. it's the result of self-selection. And the Army keeps going back to the same wells digging deeper and deeper.
    Yes, but is that self selection or going to a well that provides bodies when other wells do not?
    As for the South being more willing...I'd say that's primarily a result of that being where the bases are.
    Certainly true -- recall they are there for three reasons, good weather (relatively, thus more training time per year); unoccupied rural real estate when they were built; not nearly as many environmental hangups and worries as the equally numerous posts that were in the north and west before the enviro / anti -war types congealed to shut them down.
    I'm an American who grew up overseas and in NYC. Quite frankly, I feel a lot more comfortable and at home (and have more friends and family) in Rome or Paris or London or Cairo than I do in Texas.
    Totally understandable. Reaffirms my point, to an extent. The problem is that there's no way, short of en existential war that there will be post in the norht or far west.
    And why is it that the Army advertises during NASCAR races (or so I'm told) but not during golf? Isn't that self-fulfilling?
    Certainly, to an extent -- but again, dry wells aren't of much value. You're focusing on officer accessions but the NASCAR ads are focused on Joe.
    The Army doesn't consider them and they don't consider the Army.
    True and what neither of us can answer is the Chicken - Egg aspect of that. My guess is the Army tends to concentrate on what it thinks it can get and your friends are not likely candidates for accession so it doesn't, as an institution, waste much effort on trying to gather in people who are likely to be concerned about socialization and the caliber of people they may associate with. State and Langley are too of the most 'liberal' agencies in the government, the Army is perceived as being among the most 'conservative' and is therefor unattractive to many, IT is conservative but the people in it are not, they pretty well reflect the nation ideologically; the Army knows this but can see little point in trying to convince many to get very few.

    There is also the fact that many of your peers likely consider the Army to be stodgy, not conducive to innovative though and stifling to young go-getters. It is and isn't but the perception that it is rules. I don't think the Army is deliberately eschewing attracting urban elites to the organization -- I think it just realizes that few will come, so why waste time and effort...

    Back in the days of ROTC most everywhere, of it being an only mildly derided (as opposed to today's fairly heavy derisory efforts) and a lottery based Draft, there were many more folks from the north and west. Now it's voluntary and they don't seem disposed to volunteer...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Massengale View Post
    I get the economics behind ROTC. But that also assumes that all ROTC candidates are equal. That 200 cadets from Podunk State are equivalent to 200 cadets from NYU (who come from across the country in reality). In our current operational environment, where COIN and cultural sensitivity are key, that's a false assumption I think.

    My "stereotype" was specifically of company grades...there's a reason for that. And I stand by it. And when we still have CPTs discussing "haji" and "man-dresses"....I'd suggest that young officers from more diverse backgrounds might turn out to be force multipliers over that (very low) bar.
    So where would PoDunk State be located? Considering the Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, state of Michigan, university "U" of lake Michigan represent the FIVE largest engineering and sciences state sponsored concentration of schools on the PLANET.

    Of course cultural sensitivity is important and care and stewardship of the environment are also important.

    I unfortunately want that dirty, nasty, cursing, blood thirsty army that smiles after the kill. While helping little old ladies across the street, working in the most technically advanced army on the planet, and discussing the philosophy of Kant and Jung while doing civil affairs.

    That's what we do here in fly over country that forgotten by coastal elitist metropolitan wasteland of hard working, hard playing, folk.

    You know, right there next to PoDunk University. Heck I work at one of those PoDunk U's. What do we have to say for it? Oh, the most astro-nuts launched out of the atmosphere, Ameila Earhardt, Sully don't wanna swim to New York, a variety of captains of industry, many soldiers and sailors (captains of the Wabash), and lots of corn. Of course my campus is so far out in the sticks the nearest burg is that tiny little town called Chicago. You know that place where first run theater often beats Broadway?

    No culture, but lots of corn here on the shores of Lake Michigan.

    But hey, in other news this fall we are opening an ROTC on our campus.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Yes, but is that self selection or going to a well that provides bodies when other wells do not?Certainly true -- recall they are there for three reasons, good weather (relatively, thus more training time per year); unoccupied rural real estate when they were built; not nearly as many environmental hangups and worries as the equally numerous posts that were in the north and west before the enviro / anti -war types congealed to shut them down.Totally understandable. Reaffirms my point, to an extent. The problem is that there's no way, short of en existential war that there will be post in the norht or far west.Certainly, to an extent -- but again, dry wells aren't of much value. You're focusing on officer accessions but the NASCAR ads are focused on Joe.True and what neither of us can answer is the Chicken - Egg aspect of that. My guess is the Army tends to concentrate on what it thinks it can get and your friends are not likely candidates for accession so it doesn't, as an institution, waste much effort on trying to gather in people who are likely to be concerned about socialization and the caliber of people they may associate with. State and Langley are too of the most 'liberal' agencies in the government, the Army is perceived as being among the most 'conservative' and is therefor unattractive to many, IT is conservative but the people in it are not, they pretty well reflect the nation ideologically; the Army knows this but can see little point in trying to convince many to get very few.

    There is also the fact that many of your peers likely consider the Army to be stodgy, not conducive to innovative though and stifling to young go-getters. It is and isn't but the perception that it is rules. I don't think the Army is deliberately eschewing attracting urban elites to the organization -- I think it just realizes that few will come, so why waste time and effort...

    Back in the days of ROTC most everywhere, of it being an only mildly derided (as opposed to today's fairly heavy derisory efforts) and a lottery based Draft, there were many more folks from the north and west. Now it's voluntary and they don't seem disposed to volunteer...
    I think we're probably in general agreement.

    1. My concern is that there are severe second-order consequences to the Army and the nation as a result (you have alluded to this as well I think).

    2. Considering the conflicts that we are currently in; four LTs with the wrong mentality may well do more harm and less good than one LT with the right mentality.

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