June 3, 2005
Faced with recruiting problems, the U.S. Army has decided to make company and battalion commanders share the pain. Effective this month, and for the next twelve months, battalion commanders will no longer have the authority to get rid of soldiers with drug, alcohol, weight, discipline, performance or pregnancy problems. Higher authority will now decide if troublesome troops are to be kept in uniform or not. For over a decade, the quality of army troops has been greatly enhanced by allowing battalion commanders to decide if a soldier was unfit for service. Company commanders could recommend that a troublesome trooper be dismissed from the army, and the battalion commander usually went along with that. Now the army is going to try and rehabilitate troops with problems that, in the past, were up to the individual soldier to deal with. The army has lots of rehab programs to help, but basically, the individual either got it all together, or lost their job.
The number of troops the army will keep with this new program probably wont amount to more than a few thousand. But the problems for company and battalion commanders will increase considerably. In any organization, a few individuals cause the most grief for the boss. Now the company commanders, in particular, have more grief to deal with. The rest of the troops wont be too happy with this new policy either, as the troublesome troops cause more problems for them as well.