The Army Reserve is in trouble. It has only 70% of the captains and lieutenants it needs, while officers’ resignation requests have grown from 15 in 2001 to 370 this year.
Here’s a handy chart from the Seattle Times.
And here are some snippets from their article on this problem.
The Army Reserve is facing an extreme shortage of company officers, a situation aggravated by a surge in resignation requests.
The shortage — primarily of captains — has seriously reduced the capabilities of the Reserve, and continued losses will further reduce the readiness of “an already depleted military force,” according to an Army briefing document submitted last month to Congress.
Army Reserve resignation requests have jumped from just 15 in 2001 to more than 370 during a 12-month period ending in September. To preserve its leadership ranks, the Reserve increasingly has rejected resignation requests, forcing some officers to stay on even after they have fulfilled their initial eight-year service requirement.
The resignation requests are another sign of a military under strain during the protracted war in Iraq, where more than 40 percent of the U.S. forces are drawn from the ranks of Reserve and National Guard.
If an officer’s specialty is in short supply, the Reserve may opt to reject a resignation even if the soldier is not on active duty in Iraq or scheduled for any such deployment. So far this year, the Army has rejected more than 40 percent of the resignation requests of lieutenants and captains.
“Exercise of this discretion is potentially controversial because it invites claims of involuntary servitude and arbitrary action,” stated the briefing document submitted Nov. 16 to Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn.
In one case reviewed by The Seattle Times, a Reserve Army captain was unable to resign after he completed 11 years as a commissioned officer that included a 2003-2004 tour of duty in Iraq. While in Iraq, the officer said the thought of resigning once he got home helped to get him through a difficult year.
“Sadly, that was not to be,” said the captain, who requested anonymity. “This matter has become increasingly black and white to me: We are either a volunteer army, or we are not. I fail to see how I can be considered a volunteer at this point after I have been denied an opportunity to move on with my life.”
Currently, the Reserve has staffed only 70 percent of the 18,719 officer positions for lieutenants and captains.
Captains, who may command companies of up to 160 soldiers, are in the shortest supply. The Army Reserve has openings for 14,629 captains, who typically serve seven years as junior officers prior to appointment. As of September, the Reserve had only 8,583 captains — about 59 percent of the target, according to an Army document obtained by The Seattle Times.