In the past three weeks, more than 6,000 U. S. Army captains have accepted payments of $25,000 to $35,000 to serve three more years.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates approved the incentives last month as a temporary measure to retain “a generation of junior and mid-level officers and NCOs who have been tested in battle like none other in decades."
The money is paltry compared to the billions involved in fighting the war in Iraq, but it sheds light on the human costs of our continuing presence there.
"In the Army there has never been anything like this in memory," said Col. Paul Aswell, director of officer policy for Army personnel. "The bonuses are...a measure of payback to the family. They get this windfall to ease some of the pain of service in this environment."
The Washington Post reports a Brigadier General’s comment: "For a young family, these captains have known nothing but war and nonstop deployments. No amount of money can compensate me for missing...my daughter's first play.”
No taxpayer will begrudge this “windfall” for those who pay the real price for prolonging a pointless war, but anyone with financial qualms might want to compare an Army captain’s salary of up to $60,000 a year with the $445,000 it takes to keep a Blackwater guard there.
Honorable service is much cheaper to buy than the efforts of those who besmirch the nation’s reputation by killing innocent civilians.