The Army’s Report Card

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The Army has just surveyed more than 40,000 of its people about how it’s faring, and gives itself an A, or something pretty close to it.

The Army Profession (AP) Campaign Annual Report (where do they come up with such titles?) spells out how the service has been able to come through more than a decade of war pretty much intact. There were lots of tough articles – including some in Time – several years ago, warning that the Army was approaching the breaking point. Even though untold numbers of individual soldiers snapped, and some units did, too, the service as a whole bent without breaking. Notes the study, done by the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (“TRAY-dock“):

The good news from this study is that at its core, the Army’s professional health remains solid. Unlike the post-Vietnam era, the “pride, soul, and heart” of the Army remains strong…All cohorts of the Army share a strong sense of service and sacred calling. Nine out of ten survey respondents replied that they were proud to serve in the Army, that they had a deep commitment to serve the nation, and that they believed in placing duty above their own needs.

Andrew Exum, who led Army Rangers in Afghanistan, and now soldiers on at the Center for a New American Security, summarizes the study at World Politics Review:

The survey makes explicit what has been implied in defense policy conversations for the past several years: The all-volunteer force, which was never intended to fight a decade of continuous conflict, has nonetheless succeeded beyond all expectations in Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of maintaining its health and professionalism. High-profile stories such as Staff Sgt. Robert Bales’ massacre of civilians in Afghanistan have convinced many Americans and others that a decade of war has broken the Army and Marine Corps. But military officers are quick to point out that Bales is the exception, not the rule, in an Army in which 51,270 other soldiers have seen four or more combat deployments, and in which an additional 81,000 soldiers on active duty have seen at least three.

To sum up: Hoo-ah!