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The Top 5 Reasons Soldiers Really Join The Army, According To Junior Enlisted
Americans join the Army for plenty of reasons: for country, family, and honor. According to a new study of enlisted soldiers, however, a core motivation is relatively simple: for money.
A RAND Corporation exhaustive survey of 81 soldiers between E-1 and E-4 suggests that the choice to enlist is influenced by two overlapping factors: institutional ones like family and duty, and occupational ones like professional development and job stability.
But while 37% of soldiers identified cited both institutional and occupational reasons for joining the Army, a full 46% said they enlisted due to purely occupational reasons; only 9% said they joined for entirely institutional ones. (Interestingly, those who did cite service as a calling were mostly medics.)
In other words, the overwhelming majority of respondents had economic reasons for joining up; for most enlistees, it seems military service is a job first and a calling second.
According to the RAND study, the primary motivations for enlisting include:
- Adventure and travel: Perhaps Matthew Modine was onto something in Full Metal Jacket when he commented that he "wanted to meet interesting and stimulating people of an ancient culture... and kill them." 42% of soldiers joined up to get the hell out of Dodge. “I've been in Kansas the majority of my life, so I figured if I joined [the Army], I'd have a greater chance to go out and visit new states and new countries," one soldier told the RAND researchers.
- Benefits: A significant number of soldiers (32%) called military benefits a major motivation for enlisting: health care, active-duty tuition assistance, and post-service support structures like the GI Bill. Military service is a "lifeline" for some Americans, the researchers note, citing one single mother who joined "just because I had my son and I needed the benefits, I guess you could say."
- Job stability and pay: Nearly a quarter of soldiers had a simple explanation for their decision to enlist: They “needed to make money," especially given the economic turmoil the country's faced in recent years. "The Army can provide me with great education benefits, great career benefits later on," one soldier told the researchers. "So... why not start that and do that, instead of just working at some dead-end job that's only paying minimum wage, maybe $10 an hour when I can go and get fantastic benefits?"After weighing the factors, another added, "I was like, well, why not, and if I stay in for 20-plus years [I can] retire at 40. So it seemed like a good deal to me, especially in the economy we're in."
- Escaping a negative environment: For many, the military isn't just an economic lifeline — it's a sociopolitical one. "I guess I just joined to get out of the situation I was in, didn't really see myself going anywhere," one soldier told the RAND researchers. "Yeah, [I feel like the Army has provided that for me]. The kids that I grew up with, out of the group that I hung out with, two of them are in jail and then the three either passed away or disappeared."
- Job training: Many of the enlisted soldiers chose the Army over other service branches "because it allows enlisteesto choose their MOS before enlisting," providing an extra incentive for those who see the military primarily as an economic vehicle, according to RAND: "Participants stated that this provided them a bit of autonomy and allowed them some idea of the role they would be expected to play once their terms of service began."
Ironically, those soldiers who cited occupational incentives for enlisting over sacred ideals tended to stick with military service in the long haul, though soldiers who saw the Army as a career "tended to cite institutional motives with more frequency than those who did not," the researchers write. Just because the military service is a job and not a calling doesn't mean enlisted soldiers aren't planning on kicking ass at their job.
Well, maybe not too much ass. When asked why they chose to pursue the Army over other service branches, a few soldiers responded that they "felt the Marines were 'way too hardcore,'" according to RAND. "One respondent recoiled from joining the Marines after his Marine recruiter became overzealous and tackled him during a game of ultimate Frisbee."
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"You know, when I came here, three years ago almost, Gen. Mattis told me, 'Sir, we're very low on ammunition,'" Trump recalled on Monday at the White House. "I said, 'That's a horrible thing to say.' I'm not blaming him. I'm not blaming anybody. But that's what he told me because we were in a position with a certain country, I won't say which one; we may have had conflict. And he said to me: 'Sir, if you could, delay it because we're very low on ammunition.'
"And I said: You know what, general, I never want to hear that again from another general," Trump continued. "No president should ever, ever hear that statement: 'We're low on ammunition.'"
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At least one Air Force base is waging a slow battle against feral hogs — and way, way more than 30-50 of them.
A Texas trapper announced on Monday that his company had removed roughly 1,200 feral hogs from Joint Base San Antonio property at the behest of the service since 2016.
In a move that could see President Donald Trump set foot on North Korean soil again, Kim Jong Un has invited the U.S. leader to Pyongyang, a South Korean newspaper reported Monday, as the North's Foreign Ministry said it expected stalled nuclear talks to resume "in a few weeks."
A letter from Kim, the second Trump received from the North Korean leader last month, was passed to the U.S. president during the third week of August and came ahead of the North's launch of short-range projectiles on Sept. 10, the South's Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.
In the letter, Kim expressed his willingness to meet the U.S. leader for another summit — a stance that echoed Trump's own remarks just days earlier.
Constant deployments broke the Air Force's B-1 fleet. Now the service is facing a major bomber shortfall
On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.
In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.
A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.
The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.