Cutting Officers

ArmyBy Andreas Kuersten

A recent piece from the New York Times on officer cuts in the Army has raised some interesting concerns about how this downsizing is being carried out.  The article, however, appears to lack necessary data and points to premature conclusions.

The piece states that officers who began as enlisted soldiers are being inordinately affected by cuts, and alludes to them being targeted.  Yet the article itself presents information that makes the latter unlikely.

The cuts are determined by officer performance and potential future contributions.  Officers who were prior enlisted tend to be older and have served longer than those commissioned immediately and of the same rank.  Former enlisted officers also tend to have contributed more in terms of the investment put into them and be at levels where they will receive pensions (full or prorated) if let go.

What this means is that prior enlisted officers are likely to: (1) have significantly less to contribute in the future, (2) have more substantially repaid Army investments in them, and (3) be less negatively impacted if not recommissioned.  With these factors in mind, we can see that the Army is attempting to most efficiently reduce the size of its officer corps.  The metrics by which it is carrying this out, however, appear stacked against prior enlisted officers.

There does not appear to be anything malicious being undertaken with respect to these individuals, as the Times suggests.  But the Army should adjust its determination methods so that those who have devoted so much to it are not inordinately impacted.  Perhaps deployments and other measures of experience and competence that prior enlisted officers possess more in abundance should factor more heavily in the decision matrix.

Picture: The U.S. Army (Getting a hand) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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