They'll Be Home For Xmas (2005? 2006?)
The Pentagon is increasing U.S. troops in Iraq to a new high of 150,000. That's up from a current 138,000 and media accounts say the boost will come largely from extending tours of duty from a year to 14 months. There's somewhere between 20,000 and 24,000 troops from other allies in Iraq, says the Seattle Times, which includes these cautionary comments in its account:
Lawrence Korb, who was assistant secretary of defense for manpower in the Reagan administration, said the tour extensions could come back to haunt the Army when soldiers in the affected units have to decide whether to re-enlist.
"This is the worst way to do it (increase the force), because by not putting enough troops in there and extending the people who are already there, you really demoralize people, particularly around the holidays," Korb said.
Whole thing here. As you may recall, former (cashiered?) Army chief of staff Gen. Eric Shinseki was on record saying that 300,000 troops were necessary to secure post-war Iraq.
The issue of troop retention is unclear to me. Intuitively, it makes sense that fewer people would enlist or re-up during an active war that's not unambiguously a defense of the United States mainland. But then there's Donald Rumsfeld's claims on the subject, too:
As it stands today, the active Army and Marine Corps continue to exceed their recruiting goals despite the high pace of activity. Retention is also doing well. Particularly striking are reenlistment rates for units that have deployed overseas. Of the Army's ten active-duty divisions, nine are exceeding re-enlistment goals by five percent or more.
That's from late October, in a talk about why the draft was a dead issue. Read Rummy's whole statement here.