Peace Time: August 21, 1999

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Uncle Sams Secret Army of Children Along with the 1.7 million men and women who wear the uniform, Uncle Sam also has a secret army that numbers more than a million souls and consumes a surprisingly large chunk of the defense budget. Were talking about the children of active duty military personnel. Every year more than 13,000 military personnel aged 21 or younger became parents, and added a new recruit to the Department of Defenses vast army of dependent children.

DoD Dependent Children
Age Cohort

Number

To 5 years    500,000
  6 - 11    430,000
12 - 18    293,000
Total 1,223,000
         

This army of children places a considerable burden on DoD financial resources. For example, DoD which already operates nearly 10,000 child development, day care, and school-age care programs serving about 200,000 children through 12 years of age, and plans to expand its facilities to serve nearly 100,000 more. Although parents with children in such programs do pay for these programs ($40.00 a week for basic enlisted personnel, more for higher paid personnel), most of the cost of these operations comes out of DoD funds. Add to this the cost of maternity and pediatric services, which are delivered at a nominal sum, plus the cost of operating or subsidizing schools and outlays for Uncle Sams secret army of children became quite significant.

August 21; NCO Shortage Plagues Army: As the military "draw down" continues, and as personnel retire, the Army finds itself increasingly short of NCOs. In order to meet the need, the Army is changing personnel policies to permit more rapid promotion to sergeant and staff sergeant. In May 1999 the Army had 3,300 vacancies in the various grades of sergeant in 70 MOSs, but only 1,000 soldiers were promoted to sergeant that month. In fact, the pool of corporals and specialists eligible for promotion, formerly about a third of all personnel in those grades, is now down to about 17-percent, as previously eligible personnel have had their promotions accelerated.

To meet this need the Army has reduced the promotion waiting time from 90 days to 60 days. That, the processing of a soldier's promotion, including paperwork and boarding, which formerly took 90 days, has been cut by a third. It is hoped that this will permit about 10,000 additional promotions to sergeant between May and September of 1999. ---A.A. Nofi

 


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