Anxiety is spreading through the class of 2014 at West Point as they are slated to graduate into a military that is rapidly pulling out of military conflicts, The New York Times reports.
The military drawdown means it’s unlikely that many graduating officers will get combat experience. This lack of experience means future graduates may not have as many opportunities for career advancement as those officers who did enter combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.
This current wind-down closely parallels the U.S. Military experience at the end of the Vietnam War.
“As Vietnam was winding down, young officers were begging to go there so they could get the coveted combat infantry badge,” Col. Robert Killebrew, a defence expert at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, told The New York Times. “It’s not so much a thirst for glory as a professional impulse. When you’re a soldier, if the game is going to be played, you want to be there.”
The combat infantry badge is just as important today as it was after Vietnam. Officers who were commissioned in time for deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan will be significantly more likely to receive command assignments in conflict zones than their currently graduating counterparts.
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