- The Washington Times - Friday, September 22, 2000

Army gripes

The Army hired a private research firm to travel out in the field and find out why so many soldiers are quitting. We obtained a copy of the company's final report submitted to the U.S. Army Research Institute. Nearly 10,000 officers and enlisted personnel responded to the survey. The top reason for so many resignations is the Army's open-ended peacekeeping missions overseas.
Here are some revealing answers to the question, Why are you leaving?
A lieutenant: "The incompetence of higher-ranking officers; specifically their concern of making the themselves look good and not properly taking care of the soldiers. I would honestly not want to go to war now with the leadership I have seen above battalion level."
Another lieutenant: "The largest problem affecting retention of junior officers is the perception that the senior leadership is completely out of touch with soldiers and their needs. Ticket punching and 'looking good' are the priority."
A senior enlisted man: "The biggest reason I will retire at exactly 20 years is because the civilian and senior military leadership is so out of touch with reality. They are more concerned with votes or their next star or civilian job than that of the welfare of their soldiers."
A warrant officer: "We are doing too much, moving too fast and I predict more exits. Soldiers will sacrifice much, but without some hope of a family life, they will not stay."
A captain: "Will terminate my active military service so that I can be a husband to my wife and a father to my children."
A major: "This is not the Army I joined. I joined an Army whose mission was to fight our nation's wars… . Today, the context is [the] mountains of Albania? Bosnia?"
Another major: "I do not trust the senior political leadership and do not support our involvement in the Balkans and Yugoslavia operations. This would not stop me from deploying but I do question the motivation behind going."
A lieutenant: "For an Army that is supposed to be the best in the world, the quality of equipment, tanks and other combat vehicles, is not only old but the ability to get parts to accomplish a field exercise is like requesting parts for a nuclear bomb."
A staff sergeant: "Soldiers are coming out of basic training without the level of discipline that is needed to survive combat, due to the softening of the Army. The kinder, gentler Army will not work."
The Army is using the data to figures out ways to keep soldiers longer.

Hold on

The Senate is playing cat and mouse with the CIA over the stalled nomination of John McLaughlin, a veteran analyst, to be the No. 2 agency official. Various senators have placed a "hold" on Mr. McLaughlin's nomination.
Sen. Robert C. Smith, New Hampshire Republican, had held up the nominee until yesterday. He wanted the CIA to produce records on U.S. prisoner-of-war and missing-in-action cases. At least one other senator is secretly blocking the nomination over various intelligence issues, we are told by congressional and administration sources.
The backstage nomination battle has been under way for several weeks. Each time CIA lobbyists succeed in getting one senator to remove his hold, another senator steps in and adds a new one.
"There's a shell game going on," said one U.S. official close to the dispute.

Final fling

Assistant Defense Secretary Edward "Ted" Warner is having a final fling as the Pentagon's top strategy official. The assistant secretary of defense for strategy and threat reduction is leaving his Pentagon job a week from today.
Instead of working on the major military force structure review now being organized by his office, Mr. Warner instead fled Washington on an official junket to South Africa. He is scheduled to return today after the 11-day trip, ostensibly to discuss joint military planning with the South African military.
In reality, Mr. Warner brought his wife along for what we are told was a "phenomenal boondoggle" to Southern Africa given to him as sort of a going away present from the Pentagon. Of course, the American taxpayer is paying for it.
"The best I can tell there is no reason for this trip," said a senior U.S. national security official. "This smacks of sort of a soft landing for him."
Pentagon spokesmen confirmed that Mr. Warner's wife accompanied him on the visit, but insisted the trip, with stops in Johannesburg and Cape Town, was for "very legitimate business," namely defense planning. The delegation included six officials.
What kind of defense planning?
The U.S. military cooperated with the South Africans on a recent humanitarian assistance operation, therefore there is a need for defense planning, the spokesman said.
The spokesman, however, acknowledged that U.S.-South Africa military cooperation "is not an active, thriving thing."

Intercepts

The U.S. military has failed to confirm reports that an Iraqi fighter crossed into Saudi Arabian airspace last week. A military source tells us no Iraqi plane showed up on Airborne Warning and Control System radar. The original report had come from a "secondhand" intelligence source, he said.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki is set to present a dire picture of the service's problems with the current defense budget request, according to officials familiar with his draft Senate testimony. Gen. Shinseki's plans for force transformation "will collapse" unless the Army budget is increased. Also, there will be major problems with spare parts for equipment. The testimony is set for Wednesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Pentagon insiders tell us that the Joint Chiefs of Staff are in a quandary over how to publicly discuss readiness problems. If they lay out the shortages candidly, they risk the wrath of Al Gore and the White House, both of whom are belittling George W. Bush's criticism of military preparedness. But if the chiefs hold back, they risk the ire of congressional Republicans who control defense dollars, and of troops in the field who know the real story.
The Senate Budget Committee staff has compiled numbers showing the extent to which President Clinton cut the defense budget at the same time he was sending troops on a record number of peacekeeping and war missions.
The committee's calculations show Mr. Clinton slashed arms spending by $102 billion over the last five-year budget submitted by his predecessor, George Bush.
"Assertions that the defense budget cuts of the Clinton administration were initiated by the Bush administration are simply not supported by the data," says a staff report. "The Clinton-Gore team took $100-plus billion more out of defense resources than the Bush administration had planned."
U.S. military personnel are using the euphoria-producing designer drug "ecstasy" in greater numbers, according to Army Col. Mick Smith, science and testing officer for the Pentagon's Office of the Coordinator for Drug Enforcement Policy and Support. Col. Smith told the American Forces Press Service that ecstasy use has "increased markedly."
The Pentagon conducted 2,273,998 urine drug tests in fiscal 1999, according to Col. Smith. The results: Marijuana positives, 12,006; cocaine positives, 2,839; methamphetamine positives, 807; ecstasy positives, 432; and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) positives, 325. Service members caught using drugs are subject to discharge or imprisonment.

• Bill Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at gertz@twtmail.com. Rowan Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at scarbo@twtmail.com.

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