Private's Stripes Going Once, Going Twice: How Much to Serve Your Country?

| Tue Feb. 19, 2008 8:15 PM EST

Fred Kaplan, at Slate, keeps on giving us the bad news about what the war on terror is doing to the military. Along with epidemic suicides and ever-lowering recruitment standards, now they're offering new recruits $40k bonuses, more than the $30K they're offering to battle-scarred captains to reup.

So, which is worse: raising an army of sorta mercenaries or flipping vets in for the long haul the bird?

There's just so much that's worrying about the pernicious effects of this "100 years of war" it's hard to know what to bemoan first. Kaplan:

every good junior officer I've ever met gets very uncomfortable when the discussion turns to this topic; they emphasize, sincerely I think, that they're not in the military for the money; that fair compensation is appreciated, but they could make a lot more as a civilian if that was their goal. Putting so much emphasis on cash bonuses tends to draw people whose primary aim is making money—and who aren't talented enough to make the same kind of money in the civilian world.

I thought we learned in Viet Nam that it was a mistake to ignore the junior officers. You know, the ones closest to Joe Private.

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