A Raise for Special Forces

One of the most worrisome trends of Rumsfeld's tenure as Secretary of Defense is the increased reliance on private military corporations (PMCs) to function in rolls traditionally taken by the United States military. Basically, it's Rumsfeld's way of slimming down the military to be a more mobile and responsive fighting force that is heavily reliant on Special Forces. Ironically, many of these PMC's employ former Special Forces officers, having drawn them away from the US military with lucrative salaries. So, in effect, Rumsfeld's efforts to make the military more Special Forces-ish, has had the unintended (yet predictable) consequence of depleting the number of veteran Special Forces officers. This shouldn't be a surprise, since unintended consequences are pretty popular with anything this Administration decides to do. So, I wasn't too surprised to read this in yesterday's New York Times:
The Defense Department has approved a series of incentives for members of elite Special Operations Forces who remain in the military, including a $150,000 bonus for the most experienced and highly trained combat personnel who promise six additional years in uniform, military officials said Saturday. The pay and incentives package was devised to stem an exodus of senior sergeants, petty officers and warrant officers to higher-paying civilian security jobs in places like Baghdad and Kabul, just as they are needed to continue playing a pivotal role in combating terrorists and training indigenous security forces worldwide. "Our investment in these professionals is great, and the experience gained through years of service makes them invaluable assets to our nation's defense," said Lt. Col. Alex Findlay, a personnel officer with the Special Operations Command. "Younger replacements can be trained, but experience is irreplaceable in the current worldwide war on terrorism."
This should have been done from the start, since many former Special Forces officers have already made the switch. And why shouldn't they? Even with the increased incentives, PMC salaries are still higher. The real solution is to recognize that we can't keep outsourcing military duties to private companies, because the free market will always pay more than what the federal government can pay for the same position. This will mean that we have to increase the size of the military, and it might also mean we'll have to start using the military more wisely. Both of which are not bad ideas, in my opinion.