Leaders Tie Re-enlistment Success to Camaraderie, Support
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2005 Re-enlistment rates for the Army and Marine Corps are the highest they've been in a long time, specifically in units with high deployment tempos, military leaders told the House Armed Services Committee here today.
Testifying at a committee hearing, titled "Your Troops: Their Story," the leaders said that soldiers and Marines re-enlist because they believe in the mission they are performing, and they feel comfortable knowing their families will be taken care of while they are deployed.
"Our soldiers know that while they're deployed, while they're forward, they don't have to worry about what's going on at home," said Army Col. Robert Abrams, chief of staff, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
Re-enlistment rates are highest among married soldiers and Marines, who make up the bulk of the force, the leaders said. The troops re-enlist knowing they will go back to Iraq, but it doesn't change their determination, they said.
"These guys and gals are in it for the fight," said Brig. Gen. John F. Kelly, legislative assistant to the Marine Corps commandant. "That's where they want to be and what they want to do."
Deployed units have strong support systems for families, including family readiness groups and unit rear-detachment personnel, said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Neil Ciotola, set to become command sergeant major of 3rd Corps, Fort Hood, Texas. Soldiers understand that they have the backing of elected officials and from most of the American public, and they don't ask for anything more, Ciotola said.
"We don't want anybody's sympathy. We understand what we get ourselves into, especially after we've re-enlisted one time," he said. "All we want is support."
The high re-enlistment rate in units that have deployed multiple times can be attributed to the camaraderie that forms between soldiers who have been in combat together, Abrams said.
"There is a bond amongst warriors who have been through the worst of the worst that lasts a lifetime," he said. "Our boys saw a lot of tough stuff; that's what keeps them together."
While re-enlistment was high in Iraq, where there were significant financial incentives, the rate didn't drop after units came back to the U.S., Abrams said. That can be attributed to the quality of today's servicemembers and their sense of duty, Ciotola said.
"The soldiers understand the seriousness of the fight that we're engaged in," he said.