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Fri May 13, 2005 6:34 PM EDT

USA Today reports that Army recruiters are working 80-hour weeks to meet monthly enlistment quotas, and they still aren't getting anywhere. Which is why the Army is now offering a 15-month active-duty enlistments. This is the shortest enlistment time ever. And it's a bad idea. As military personnel expert David Segal notes, "Fifteen months is not enough time to learn complex tasks in a high-tech army." The Army is already relying on the National Guard and Reserve to fight in Iraq—often giving them but a few mere days of warning before being shipped off. The problem with this should be obvious by now: fighting the insurgency in Iraq is hardly a conventional war. Anyone sent in to the situation needs to have adequate training and preparation.

National Guard and Reserve soldiers compose over 40 percent of the occupation force in Iraq (and about 25 percent of the fatalities). Under the new Army offer, enlisters would still have to serve in the Reserve or National Guard following their 15-months of active duty. So, I'm assuming that there's a pretty good chance they'll get called back into active duty as soon as their first 15 months are up. It's just disingenuous. And that's a really bad thing to be with people who are signing up to defend this country.

It's not in anyone's best interest to have a slew of people signing up for something they aren't prepared to do. What kind of reinforcement is an angry, scared kid who thought he had signed up to be a medic going to provide in a combat situation? You just aren't going to have good morale if you're tricking enlistees into a situation in which they may die for their country—and morale and conviction or no small matter when fighting the insurgents. Note: "The [foreign fighters] came here to die," said Sergeant Chuck Hurley, commander of the team that battled the insurgents in the one-story house in Ubaydi, 25 kilometers from the Syrian border. "They were willing to stay in place and die with no hope," he said. "All they wanted was to take us with them." The reason the insurgents are so effective is because they firmly believe in their cause, and believe it worth dying for. The Army, and the administration, would do well to take note of this.