The army is losing its best and brightest. West Point, the alma mater of American generals going back to Ulysses S. Grant, has seen a relentless rise in the number of officers who leave at the earliest opportunity. Whereas only about 35% of the West Point class of 2000 had quit after five years, for the class of 2001 the proportion rose to 46% and for the class of 2002 to 58%. Retention problems are particularly severe among captains and majors with 11-17 years’ experienceâ€”the potential future military leaders. The army currently has only half as many senior captains as it needs, and forecasts that it will suffer from a shortfall of 3,000 captains and majors (out of a cadre of 52,000) until at least 2013. The maximum age for recruits has been raised to 42, and fitness and educational standards have been lowered.
Last week’s Economist has a whole section on possible changes in American foreign policy after November 2008 .