WASHINGTON, April 10 (Xinhua) -- Young U.S. Army officers, including growing numbers of captains who leave as soon as their initial commitment is fulfilled, are bailing out of active-duty service at rates that have alarmed senior officers, The New York Times reported Monday.
Last year, more than a third of the West Point class of 2000 left active duty at the earliest possible moment, after completing their five-year obligation, and graduates of reserve officer training programs at universities are also increasingly leaving the service at the end of the four-year stint in uniform that follows their commissioning, the report said.
It was the second year in a row of worsening retention numbers, apparently marking the end of a burst of patriotic fervor during which junior officers chose continued military service at unusually high rates.
Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the U.S. Army has had a far more difficult time in its recruiting than the other services because the ground forces are carrying the heaviest burden of deployments -- and injuries and deaths -- in the war.
In 2001, but before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, 9.3 percent of the Army's young officers left active duty at their first opportunity. The percentage dropped to 7.1 percent by 2002 and to 6.3 percent in 2003. But the number grew to 8.3 percent in 2004 and 8.6 percent in 2005.
To entice more to stay, the Army is offering new incentives this year, including a promise of graduate school on Army time and at government expense to newly commissioned officers who agree to stay in uniform for three extra years. Other enticements include the choice of an Army job or a pick of a desirable location for a home post, according to the report. Enditem