Servicemen and women are facing increased pressures to continue their military careers. The drawdown in Iraq, the coming drawdown in Afghanistan, and efforts to constrain growth of the Department of Defense budget are leading to lower end-strength authorizations. These events are occurring while the armed forces are experiencing record retention because more servicemembers are clinging to the security of a military career over the uncertainty of civilian life in a struggling economy.
Lower personnel requirements and higher retention have resulted in force-shaping efforts to meet end-strength ceilings. Those efforts have led to—and will continue to—the forced separation of thousands of officers and enlisted personnel. The enlisted force, with less income and generally less education, is bearing the brunt of these initiatives.