Baghdad Reenlistment

Byline: | Category: Iraq, Military | Posted at: Thursday, 3 July 2008

BAGHDAD – As you get away for a long Independence Day weekend this evening, you might want to give a little thought to an event taking place in Baghdad tomorrow.  Eleven hundred Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines–the equivalent of two entire battalions–are celebrating the 4th of July by re-enlisting in the midst of what many call an “unpopular” war.

It is thought to be the largest mass reenlistment ceremony in the history of the United States military, and is twice the size of last year’s event where 588 military members reenlisted.  The ceremony will be held in the Al Faw Palace which once belonged to Saddam Hussein.  During a practice beneath a 40-foot high American flag today, nearly the entire marble floor of the immense rotunda of the palace was covered in a sea of camouflage uniforms representing all branches of service.  Even the rehearsal was an awe-inspiring site.

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No matter the timing, people reenlist for various reasons.  But during a war there are often two.  The first is financial.  Many reenlistments make the military member eligible for bonuses that can range from a few thousand dollars to forty thousand or more.  Since bonuses earned while deployed in a combat zone are exempt from federal taxes, reenlisting in Iraq can save the service member many thousands of dollars.  However, even if the extra money is why one might consider reenlisting overseas, actually reenlisting in the middle of a war only happens when the service member likes his job, his unit, and his mission.  That is the second, and more important, reason why most people who reenlist overseas, do so. 

It is perhaps counterintuitive, but it is the military’s deployed units that often have higher reenlistment rates.  Years ago on a deployment to Kuwait I saw it myself in my own unit.  Soldiers were actually excited to be doing what they joined the Army to do.  Our cavalrymen fired more rounds from their tanks and Bradleys and drove their vehicles more miles in just a few months while deployed than they did in years of garrison service.  Upon their return home to Fort Hood life for Soldiers and officers returned to the mundane: police calls, days spent toiling in the motor pool, and staff work.  Lots and lots of staff work.  Boredom, even more than deployment, made reenlisting less popular.

To be sure, the military could use a little more of the mundane and familiar these days.  Families are hit especially hard in this era of recurring long deployments.  A larger Army—the active component was nearly fifty percent larger at the tail end of the Cold War—along with a bigger Marine Corps are certainly necessary in order to share the deployment burden more broadly.  Until the time comes that the military expands (if such a time ever comes), it is these 1,100 who have volunteered to go into the breach.  Again.

And that is why it is all the more important that you pause a moment to think of and thank those few among us who serve and who volunteer to continue to serve.

UPDATE: 

A report of the ceremony.

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9 Responses to “Baghdad Reenlistment”

  1. Right Wing Nation » Blog Archive » Code Pinko Won’t Like This Says:

    [...] from Bob Krumm: As you get away for a long Independence Day weekend this evening, you might want to give a little [...]

  2. Brian H Says:

    What the ceremony needed was a rousing chorus of “Barbara-Ann”!
    ;)

  3. US Military Re-enlistment Ceremony Takes Place in Iraq « The Political Page Says:

    [...] Top Clicks bobkrumm.com/blog/?p=1928 [...]

  4. Sharon Cobb Says:

    I look forward to President Obama bringing all of you home safely and as quickly as possible.

    Be safe,
    Sharon

    Ed: You forgot one more: “victorious.” Whichever one wins in November better bring us home victorious.

  5. lpara Says:

    And that Sharon will leave you unsafe. duh

  6. John Hardy Says:

    I retired from Active Duty in November 1991. When I saw this news report yesterday (July 4), it made me quiver with raw and unadulterated pride. It made me wish like never before that I was back in uniform. ‘Nuff said?

  7. John Hardy Says:

    Sharon, not picking on you :) Maybe Obama is sincere and maybe he can make intelligent and mature decisions. But quite frankly, politics be d*mned. If I understand correctly, we went into Kosovo because 119 bodies were found. Multiply that number by 200 and you’ll have the single city of Basra in 1991 post-Desert Storm. So if “Iraq 2″ was so wrong, why was Kosovo so right? Someone may correct my errors in detail or memory, but I’m sure that my reasoning is on the money.

    You go boyz.

  8. Becky Light Says:

    Wow. Very emotional.The whole ceremony was amazing and left me feeling vry proud to be an American.So sorry the news media didnt think it important enough to let the rest of our country know, what this means to all of us.
    Thanks for sharing this.
    Becky

  9. Darlene Etue Says:

    I was amazed at the re-enlisted ceremony in Iraq on the Fourth of July. It really makes me proud to be an American! My husband is retired Army and he re-enlisted in Vietnam. I hope and pray that whoever becomes President in the November election will do what is best for our country and our soldiers. If our soldiers jobs are done in Iraq then bring them home, if not then let them finish the job victoriously!! God bless America and our soldiers!