Issue Date: September 20, 2004
More sailors want to stay in uniform
Morale is high across military, DoD survey says
By Vince Crawley
Times staff writer
Troops are working longer hours and deploy more often than in the recent past, but a Pentagon survey taken during the height of last autumn’s Iraq insurgency still showed high morale and increased satisfaction with military life.
One key exception: Army soldiers, bearing the brunt of the Iraq campaign, show declining desire to remain in uniform compared with a July 2002 survey, taken during the lull between the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions. Slightly fewer Air Force members also said they were likely to stay in. On the other hand, a growing number of sailors and Marines said they would like to stay in uniform.
An increasing number of troops — 35 percent — also said their spouses or “significant others” want them to leave active duty.
But overall, 50 percent of all service members report being “satisfied with the military way of life,” and another 12 percent said they were “very satisfied.”
Results of the active-duty survey are markedly different from the findings of a recent survey of reservists, taken in May, which showed widespread declining morale in reserve units, regardless of whether they were mobilized.
The Status of Forces Survey is administered regularly by the Defense Manpower Data Center and is used by policy-makers to gauge attitudes of service members.
For example, Pentagon deputy personnel chief Charles Abell said his staff constantly monitors data to look for eroding re-enlistment rates or other signs that the extensive pace of combat deployments is undermining the all-volunteer force. The Iraq operation has involved hundreds of thousands of service members in the largest sustained combat mission since the volunteer force was created at the end of the Vietnam era.
Results of the November 2003 survey were provided by the Defense Manpower Data Center at the request of Navy Times. Findings include:
• Overall, 62 percent of service members said they were satisfied “with the military way of life,” while 18 percent were not. The overall satisfaction rate was one percentage point higher than in the July 2002 survey.
However, last fall’s survey showed a slight decline in satisfaction among soldiers, with 56 percent saying they were satisfied and 24 percent saying they were not. Air Force members were the most satisfied, at 71 percent.
• Service members said they worked beyond their “normal duty day” an average of 111 days in the previous year, compared with 87 days in the 12 months before the survey in July 2002.
Soldiers reported working long days most often, an average of 136. Sailors said they worked “overtime” an average of 90.6 days; Marines 124.5 days; and Air Force members an average of 93.9 days. All those figures were significantly higher than in 2002.
• All told, 57 percent of service members said they were “likely” or “very likely” to remain on active duty, versus 58 percent in 2002. Back in 2002, 58 percent of soldiers said they were likely to stay on active duty. That number dropped to 50 percent in last fall’s survey.
• In the 2002 survey, 28 percent of service members said their “spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend” was in favor of their leaving active duty. In the November 2003 survey, on which the question was worded slightly differently, 35 percent said their spouse or “significant other” favored them leaving active duty.
A separate survey of reserve and National Guard personnel conducted in May showed significant declines in key morale indicators, such as willingness to stay in uniform.
The overall percentage of reservists who say they intend to stay in the military dropped from 73 percent to 66 percent over the past year. Figures were even worse for reservists who have served in Iraq, with fewer than half of Army and Marine Corps reserve component members saying they were “likely” or “very likely” to stay in uniform.
Thaat's cause they don't want to leave their buddies behind.
I dont think he was talking about the Greek Navy
(It's an old old joke about the high re-enlistment rate in the Sub force)