Attrition: Faster Promotions For Steadfast G.I.s


January 31, 2006: The U.S. Army is having trouble keeping junior officers. This has been a growing problems since the 1990s. Initially, it was caused by generation gap issues, with younger officers not feeling that their superiors were backing them up. For example, the "Zero Tolerance" attitudes, that came in during the 1990s, led to micromanagement, and unhappy lieutenants and captains. That tended to go away after September 11, 2001. But new pressures showed up after the invasion of Iraq, with the constant rotations making it hard on young officers with families. It became harder to keep these young officers in. Actually, a lot of the more senior officers began getting out after twenty years, rather than staying in for 30 (to get more rank, and a much larger pension.) The result has been it is now easier for the junior officers to get promoted. The number of officers the army can have, at each rank, is set up law. But when there are fewer candidates, more of them get promoted. Historically, about 75 percent of eligible captains get promoted to major. Last year, 97 percent made it. Some 70 percent of eligible majors usually make it to Lieutenant Colonel, last year it was 86 percent. Another factor is that so many of the eligible officers have combat experience. This means they have been given the ultimate test in the military, and passed. Many officers who had a hard time dealing with combat, got out. This means that the next generation of battalion commander will be some of the best in generations.


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