Prev | List | Random | Next
Is it still fair to bash the NY Times? Have they been declared "too easy" by the blogosphere for 2005? Should we establish a rule like "only brand new bloggers can pick on the NY Times, it's just too damn easy?" Honestly, sometimes I'm reluctant to point out the foolishness that passes for news and commentary there. It's becoming increasingly akin to correcting my children - an exercise I also find I sometimes can't resist. In the kid's case, however, I still have hopes they'll learn something from the experience. The Times? They already know everything there is to know about everything. Forgive me for shooting the sitting duck, the fish in the barrel, but under the headline "The Army We Need" the Times has written an editorial calling for the Army they need.
The Pentagon is beginning to resemble a desperate farmer who feeds his starving family the seed corn meant for sowing next year's crop. To keep enough boots on the ground now, it is sacrificing the ability to retain the leaders of tomorrow. As overdeployment has become chronic, promising young officers are opting not to re-enlist. When new crops of young people graduate from school, they will be less willing to combine their civilian careers with service in the Army National Guard; recruitment is already down almost 30 percent. The Regular Army is hurting too. Despite enlistment bonuses, it has had to speed up its reporting schedules, sending new recruits straight into basic training.
It's an editorial, so these folks are entitled to their opinions, but a few factual matters could add a bit of weight to their arguments:
1. Officers don't enlist. Enlisted members enlist. Hence the term "enlisted".
2. All new recruits go "straight to basic training" - hence the term "basic" training. Skipping basic training would be the sign of an Army in a hurry.
Now, more than half of the Regular Army's fighting forces have either served in Iraq, are currently there or can expect to be on their way soon, along with a substantial fraction of the Marine Corps and historically high proportions of the Army National Guard and Reserves.
Really, only "more than half" of the Army has been in Iraq, is in Iraq, or will soon be in Iraq? I've got to say it's amazing what half an Army can do. (Albeit when aided by substantial fractions of Marines.)
By the way, did you know that 100% of the Army has been through some sort of basic training?
I've debunked the more recent "demoralized military" claims here and will refrain from doing so again. See that post if you're upset about the "points" the Times makes in this exercise in silliness.
Imagine a day when the Times recognizes that the army it needs is an army of readers, and wonders where they went.
And lest I be accused of tramping on the rights of free speech of the NY Times editorial board, I state here and now for all the world to see that I have no problem whatsoever with people who are utterly ignorant of the military writing editorials for the NY Times. It's their right as Americans.
It's what we fight for.
I am not at all involved in the military, know very little, but even =I= knew that #2 was a crock before I read what you said. "Sending recruits straight into basic training"? Hello McFly, anybody in there? Where are they supposed to send them first, a sensitivity workshop?
TeriPosted by Teri at January 3, 2005 09:42 PM
1. Officers don't enlist. Enlisted members enlist. Hence the term "enlisted".
You are Evil :)
I found it difficult to get past this line.
I sort of stopped breathing and haven't really started up again.
Thanks for making my Monday.Posted by Cassandra at January 3, 2005 09:47 PM
Actually, you laugh, but if some people get their way, we'll be sending our recruits to Sensitivity Workshops even BEFORE basic training.
We already have these stupid yellow cards in some branches of the service that recruits can hand to DI's if they feel "stressed". It's like a 'time out'.
I keep wondering if they'll be issued a yellow card in combat - I'd like to see them hand one to the "insurgents"...
"Oh Mr. Insurgent, you big handsome fellow you... I'm really not feeling up to combat today... do you think we could give this whole combat thing a raincheck?"
"Thanks EVER so much..."
Sorry, I know I'm being a punk, but this sort of thing really worries me.Posted by Cassandra at January 3, 2005 10:04 PM
When I joined the Marines some years back, I signed a contract in August and went to boot camp in December. Obviously, I didn't go "straight to basic training." People joining the reserves used to be able to drill for several months (they were called "poolees") before going to boot camp.
I don't know for a fact that the military is having problems retaining officers, but since you decided to harp on the fact that they got the lingo wrong, I assume they are correct. You seem ignorant enough to work for the Times yourself.
In general, the National Guard allows "joes" to go to one drill before basic. Sometimes they still split AIT.
I'm not certain how all the service do it.
I do know the reason people don't go straight to basic after taking the oath is because Fort Benning, Paris Island and other facilities like these have a surge of people coming in right after graduation and then thru the summer.
This war is not changing when recruits go to train, except chaning the emphasis on what they train on.
Obviously the Times slipped up here, but that's not news.
Don't beat on Blogger, he's freezing his butt off tonite. Baghdad is chilly!
MaxPosted by max at January 3, 2005 11:20 PM
The clear intent of the Times (if you bothered to read the article) is to imply that something has changed drastically and that the military is now "speeding things up" to somehow rush people through the process.
That's ridiculous. My husband was an XO and CO in 2 recruit training battalions in the early 1990's and new recruits showed up, got their hair cut and started training right off the bus. Nothing has changed since then.
Yes, some recruits may drill a few times before showing up for recruit training. That hardly makes it the norm.
The Times is trying to make a conspiracy out of nothing and you, apparently, wish to assist them in this endeavor.
The military is not having any problem recruiting - a fact you'd never be able to tell from reading the Times' misleading article.
It's full of misleading tripe. For instance, this:
"This growing crisis is not due to a lack of preparedness on the part of military brass, but to the ideology on which preparedness was based. Before Iraq, Pentagon dogma - supported by most Republican politicians and many conservative Democrats - held that United States troops were war fighters. Peacekeeping and nation-building were jobs for Old Europe. Well, that was then."
The military's job is what the administration says it is: period. Try cracking a fricking history book, you ignoramouses.
"Washington needs to increase it's recruitment bonuses..." Hellooooooo...
**Have these people done any research lately?** We're paying top dollar in critically short MOS's. They're idiots.
The Times doesn't have the first clue what the military wants or needs. They need to pour themselves a nice big cup of shut the helk up.Posted by Cassandra at January 3, 2005 11:31 PM
That "you" was directed at clark - I hadn't seen your comment yet, Max :)Posted by Cassandra at January 3, 2005 11:33 PM
And have been paying extra for certain MOS's FOR FRICKING YEARS. I've been working around Air Force in Montgomery AL for 15 years. Every so often a 2 or 3 stripe Airman would go on a short tour to Saudi or Kuwait, come back home, and go buy a Corvette. They re-enlisted overseas, got a reenlistment bonus equal to two years salary because they were in some field (like computers) where the military is having to compete with the civilian job market, didn't have to pay income tax on it (because they were overseas), and came back. $20,000 bucks tax free, hootie-hoo! And of course, being young and stupid, promptly went and spent it on the hottest chick magnet (usually guys here) they could afford.Posted by SDN at January 4, 2005 01:03 AM
The "go straight to basic training" line appears to refer to various delayed entry programs in which soldiers don't report to basic training immediately when they sign on the dotted line. Normally, the Army enters each fiscal year with a fairly large number of recruits "in the bank", so to speak - soldiers that have already enlisted but who are not due to report for basic until the new fiscal year. As I understand it, the Army entered this FY with fewer recruits "in the bank" because it pushed more recruits quickly into basic training in the last FY. This gave the Army a larger trained force pool earlier. For one year, this practice will affect the Army's nose counting when it comes to reaching recruitment goals. If the Army continues this policy AND the goals don't change AND the number of recruits don't change, then paper pushers will see a return to normal balance sheet after one year.
Stay warm, there, it that desert wind.Posted by Thunder39ancient at January 4, 2005 02:02 AM
All you need to know is to take a trip to NYC and NJ to their offices and production facilities, walk around the the parking lot at one of their "parties" at Christmas, and go to one of their parties in "The Hamptons" in the summer.
You will find very few blue, and no red DOD stickers.
They really do not have a clue, because they don't serve, their parents didn't serve, and unquestionably their children WON'T serve.
That is why the NYT is cluesless. They are a blind man describing and elephant.Posted by CDR Salamander at January 4, 2005 02:28 AM
Clark? What the hell are you talking about? Greyhawk write for the NYT? I don't know what you're smokin' but it obviously has clouded your judgement. Hawk is a righteous dude and damn sure stand up guy! His lovely wife is a highly intelligent lady that keeps the blog rolling singlehandedly while Hawk is deployed. You're barking up the wrong tree with your criticism! Two finer people and real Americans you're not likely to meet than these two.
Come to think of it though, it'd be nice to have someone in the lamestream media that actually knew the difference between Soldiers and Marines! Or the difference between a M4 and A2. There you go Hawk! Megabucks as the "Military Liason" at the NYT! ;-)
I tell you, it's hell when you get KIA reports from an AO through the MSM that your loved one is deployed in and they can't even tell you if they are Soldiers or Marines. You'd think they would have someone on their editorial staff that had a wee bit of a clue before they go publishing crap like that! You wonder if that knock on the door will come at any moment when it doesn't have to be that way. The MSM sux! On so many levels!!! :-(Posted by JarheadDad at January 4, 2005 05:12 AM
Well, if I may play Devil's Advocate here for a minute...
Instead of jumping on the "obvious" i.e., technical, ignorance of the reporter, I think you would do your readers a service to address the *underlying concerns* of the piece (because, after all, that is what a great many of its readers will absorb).
Is there a "speeding up of processes" that implies that "all is not well" with the Iraqi offensive? Is it critical? Long-term, short-term? A major worry, or a minor snafu?
Do NO enlisted become officers? Very few? Some? Is this an issue or non-issue?
I could go on, but I hope you get the point. As a new reader to your blog, my thought was -- he (you) is arguing semantics, without dealing with the real subject.
I think you would serve the cause of enlightenment/elucidation better if you would address the underlying criticism, rather than going for the cheap shoot-down (which doesn't influence anyone who's read a blog in the last 6 months and realizes that the MSM is wide open for that).
Yes, I'm asking you to do their homework for them, to reframe their argument better than their own reporters can -- but, in the long run, you will be forced to hone your own argument, and present a more thoughtful response to the point *they should have made*: Because the world deserves it, is why.Posted by cj at January 4, 2005 06:30 AM
Reprint of a brief passage above:
I've debunked the more recent "demoralized military" claims here (http://www.mudvillegazette.com/archives/001907.html) and will refrain from doing so again. See that post if you're upset about the "points" the Times makes in this exercise in silliness.
Anyone writing about an "Army we Need" should at least be vaguely familiar with the Army we have. The Times is not. I'm not playing with minor points - I'm demonstrating they don't comprehend even the fundamentals.
Other than very specifically pointing out that they're referring to Active Duty vice Guard/Reserve forces The Times offers no further clarification of their "straight to basic" statement. I'm a twenty-year veteran, and the comment seems pointless to me. We can speculate all day about what they meant and if it matters, but since they didn't bother saying so we can't really know. But that just reinforces the point that their editorial staff has failed to write a coherent essay.
Does that failure matter in today's world? Apparently not. But perhaps this is another example of the Times rushing people into positions on their staff for which they are ill suited or not adequately prepared. We've certainly seen that this year.Posted by Greyhawk at January 4, 2005 09:22 AM
I'm so flattered. Lovely, it was that bright yellow smiley face picture wasn't it. My best profile. And Highly Intelligent, well they say those that don't speak can seem more intelligent than those that do. I better cut back on my posts. ; )
Well cj, let me just address your point from the POV of a lifelong military wife and daughter:
It doesn't speak well for the accuracy or the professionalism of the Times if they CAN'T EVEN GET BASIC, EASILY-CHECKABLE FACTS STRAIGHT, now does it?
Some things are cut-and-dried. Some things aren't black and white. The least we should expect from professional journalists would be that they should get the facts right. That seems just elementary competence, to me. A little matter of trust. Or perhaps just caring enough to do a job correctly.
How can we expect them to provide serious commentary on difficult issues if they can't even be bothered to get the straightforward stuff right?Posted by Cassandra at January 4, 2005 01:23 PM
In other words, to really belabor the point...
If they're careless in the small things that are easy to check, why on earth should we believe they will take the time to get the hard things right?
What does that say about their credibility? Their knowledge of military issues? Their competence to comment on military affairs - which they obviously haven't taken the time to become informed upon?Posted by Cassandrat at January 4, 2005 01:26 PM
A few weeks before Christmas I got a call from the NYT. They said they were going to deliver 12 weeks of the paper for free as a Christmas present! Just last night my family was discussing why we were getting that rag in the house every day. I told my family that we were getting it for free. We concluded that it still wasn't worth it until my son pointed out that he had been using it in the fireplace with terrific success!Posted by babs at January 4, 2005 01:52 PM
You didn't address the substance of my comments:
1 That there is (or at least was, when I was in) oftne a substantial gap between when someone signs up, and when the go to training. So the Times was not wrong on that point.
2 That Greyhawk focused on the Times errantly referring to officers as "reenlisting" which lead me to assume that the military is having a hard time retaining officers, since he didn't address that issue.
I'm sure that both Mr. and Mrs. Greyhawk are wonderful people and that they have a superior knowledge of things military than the people at the Times, but that doesn't automatically make them right about everything.
well gee, when I enlisted way back in '74 I could've been sent straight to basic, but chose instead to delay a month so as to be home for Christmas. If I hadn't chosen to delay, I'd have bent sent straight on. Perhaps the powers that be knew way back then that they'd be hurting for bodies in 2005?
Junior officers not sticking around? That's different from anytime in the last 20 years, how, exactly? It may be news to the Times, but it's not new news.Posted by JSAllison at January 4, 2005 02:39 PM
"You seem ignorant enough to work for the Times yourself. - clark"
That statement has nothing to do with the NYT article. It is a personal attack and you are calling a 20 year man "ignorant" on military matters and giving the benefit of the doubt to the NYT editors and reporter over Hawk. What's wrong with this picture?
Let's look at that paragraph again and see where your "assumption", over substantiated fact from Hawk, comes from:
"The Pentagon is beginning to resemble a desperate farmer who feeds his starving family the seed corn meant for sowing next year's crop. To keep enough boots on the ground now, it is sacrificing the ability to retain the leaders of tomorrow. As overdeployment has become chronic, promising young officers are opting not to re-enlist. When new crops of young people graduate from school, they will be less willing to combine their civilian careers with service in the Army National Guard; recruitment is already down almost 30 percent. The Regular Army is hurting too. Despite enlistment bonuses, it has had to speed up its reporting schedules, sending new recruits straight into basic training."
Show me anywhere in that paragraph where all these assertions are backed up by facts. NOT ONCE in this article are proffs offered for any of these assertions. "A desperate farmer eating seed"? Give me a friggin' break. The NYT wouldn't know how the recruitment process worked if it bit them on their ample asses! "Recruitment is down 30%"? Says who? It looks as if they are discussing the National Guard but the way the statement is worded it's rteally not clear. You know yourself that there is a constant turnover, more so in peace time than war time, of Junior Officers and Enlisted. Nothing has changed but it makes great scaremongering and that is THE point of Hawk's post. If you care to dispute his take on things then have at it with your own experience and facts. Hawk is NOT conjecturing or offering "opinions" as the NYT article is. He's boots on the ground and giving the straight dope. Period.
I don't know much about what's going on with the Army recruitment figures but I do know the Corps is over their recuitment figures by a bunch. Allot of qualified young men have not been able to even get accepted because of the Corps quotas. Junior Officer re-ups are above average. Not below by "30%". The rollover is about the same as it always is and I know for a fact that Marines are constantly being deployed at a higher rate then ever before. It has not hurt recruiting one damn bit! I have a son that will be on his 4th deployment by the Fall. Including two floats. Beats the hell out of pulling Gate Duty at Lejeune! We are AT WAR and I'm quite sure delayed entry is being tinkered with according to MOS and BN replacement needs. Nothing has changed as this is SOP for the military throughout our history. It damn sure is no friggin' "deficiency" or massive "speed up" as the article states. What a load of two hump camel excrement!!!
There's too much "assuming" going on 'round heah! :-o
This article is nothing more than another attempt to create doubt and diversion from the truth. And yeah, you attacked someone I admire and respect on a personal level so I responded in kind. Argue the facts if you want to have a serious debate. Hopefully your questions have been answered in full!
I guess it boils down to faith and trust. You either believe Hawk or the NYT. Guess who I believe? ;-)Posted by JarheadDad at January 4, 2005 03:54 PM
Clark just wants to have a pointless argument.
Give me back my jacket! I said you could borrow it, not keep it!Posted by Parker at January 4, 2005 03:59 PM
Let me shoot anoter fish in the barrel. All recruits *DO NOT* go to "Basic Training" I went to *BOOT CAMP*; before fighting the first JFK's war 38 years ago.
How many folk that work at the NYT were ever in the military? I think an honorable discharge disqualifies anyone from working there.
The economy has improved quite a bit over the last year and shows every sign of continuing to improve.
Normally recruiting gets harder in an improving economy because more people get out and less get in because of the economy.
If anything recruiting should be quite a bit less for those applying for the active duty forces.
The reserve/national guard etc. is a separate issue. I can understand how recruiting would be lower because the activation rate appears to have changed with more units being sent overseas.
I apologize if my terminology is incorrect.Posted by davod at January 4, 2005 06:47 PM
Do we really want to educate the NYT? It could be a dangerous thing...I still remember when some guy at the Pentagon must have won a bet and got the female correspondent to the Pentagon from CNN to say "pussy coma ta-tas" on the air three times.Posted by anon at January 4, 2005 07:51 PM
Since the NYT focused on the Army, then they should check their facts. Retention in the officer corps
has always been an area of concern as junior grade officers are lost after doing their four and getting out. They have completed their obligation to the military in return for their college education. But nothing like spin to pave the way for the draft to be reinstated, right?
Next, deferred training has and will continue to happen. It is like Greyhawk said about skipping training that it will be an Army in a hurry.
I know this because my dh commanded a BTU and they always had summer surge starting in the spring and tapering off in the fall and winter months, and was in command when 9-11 happened.
The enlistment bonuses have been paid for years in understrength critical MOSs. Maybe you weren't in an undermanned MOS.Posted by Cricket at January 5, 2005 02:46 AM
On the subject of National Guard recruitment: RAMMER at http://www.blogoram.com (full disclosure: the blog where I write) pointed out to me that, if all the other services are meeting and exceeding their recruitment goals (and they are), that makes National Guard recruitment harder, because they're drawing from a common pool.
Let's look at two eager recruits, Robert and Bill. Both want to serve their country. Robert is 22, has a wife and two kids, and is just getting started in his career. He's willing to do what his country asks of him, but would prefer to serve near home. Bill is 18, has no connections, and is eager to get out and see the world.
In peace time, Robert will likely go for the Guard, and Bill will likely go for one of the other services. But in the current situation, where Guard troops are much more likely to serve overseas, Robert is going to look more closely at the other services, and see if there might be a better fit in terms of recruitment benefits and his career aspirations.
I doubt this explains the entire National Guard recruitment shortfall. I'm certain it explains some of it.
(The first time I tried to submit this comment, the comment system rejected it for questionable content. The content in question was that Robert was referred to by his common three letter nickname, starting with B. Call me naive, but I can't see what's questionable about that.)Posted by UML Guy at January 5, 2005 09:17 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(26) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)