wombat_socho (wombat_socho) wrote,

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Not filling up the breach with our commissioned dead

There's an interesting post at the Canadian blog Flit, which often has stuff to attract the military-minded, and the post in question talks about the historically low rates of Army officer casualties in the Iraq War. According to the numbers they're using, these are running about 9%. As Flit points out, this is below the casualty rates from Vietnam, where the officer deaths were 11.3% of all fatalities.

The post goes on to speculate about the various reasons why the officers aren't dying like they used to (better technology, enemy attacks affecting NCO and enlisted troops more, structural reasons pushing more officers to CONUS, replacement of military leaders with managers) but misses the elephant in the living room.

The big difference between the Army that fought in Vietnam and the Army fighting in Iraq is that in Vietnam you had units primarily composed of draftees led by officers on six-month tours, whereas in Iraq there are no draftees and officers rotate with their troops in and out of the country. No military sociologist worth his salt thinks the former was a good idea; it did horrendous things to unit cohesion, morale, training and thus effectiveness, all of which are documented to a fare-thee-well. This is one of the reasons SecDef Rumsfeld and the generals have been so adamant about not bringing back the draft, even though recruiting is lagging this year. One of the clues that might have led Flit to the conclusion above is the fact that officer casualties in the National Guard are higher, almost certainly due to the lower readiness/training levels in Reserve units. (Been there, done that, so don't argue with me, mmmkay?) Also, the officer casualty rates in the Polish/Ukrainian units, which are still staffed by draftees in the finest traditions (sic) of the Warsaw Pact, are drastically higher than even Reserve/Guard casualties: 37% for the Polish & Ukrainian officers vs. 20.4 for Reserve Component officers of which 13% belong to the National Guard, which is contributing most of the combat forces.

The comparison of RC/Guard officer deaths in Iraq to those in Vietnam is just dumb; no significant RC/Guard units served in Vietnam due to political reasons, which is also something you can pull out of any half-ass history of the Vietnam War.
Tags: military stuff
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