Military Recruitment has gone South based on
everything we read. The NY Times recently did an
editorial called, The Death Spiral of the Volunteer
Army. Pretty good title and I hope they are right!
What I have been lobbying for is the return of the draft
as part of a Universal Service option. The Volunteer
Army worked when there was no war. Kids could go in with
the idea of money for college, learn a skill, maybe even
see a foreign port or two. Plus, most of them had little
prospects for the outside anyway; or, if they did, they
couldn't figure out what the prospects were. Parents
liked the idea of the military: get the kid out of the
house, instill some discipline, teach independence. It
years, military recruitment has been a "piece of cake."
With the arrival of Iraq, in particular, the cake has
turned to stone. We could cogitate our navels for
lots of reasons, but the idea of maybe chasing some
educational money while dodging bullets in Iraq has
garnered little appeal for joining-up. Thank you very
|Points Made For Universal
|1)The draft that Americans
faced before the voluntary army was both a
democratizing influence on American society and
a meaningful check for wars like Iraq which are
questionable at best. |
should not be left to those for whom civilian
life does not offer any better opportunity.
3)When the country's security is
genuinely at risk, why should the most
privileged members of society, those with the
most to lose, be exempt from the sacrifices that
need to be made in its defense?
nations security is genuinely at risk, but
political leaders want to wage war anyway, the
difficulty of conscripting the children of the
well to do can have an important and
constructive influence on policy.
got into Vietnam using volunteers and we got out
after middle-class moms, terrified at the
prospect of seeing their sons drafted and killed
in that senseless conflict, started protesting.
6)Are we so desperate as a country to
maintain a volunteer Army that we must rely
either on lowering standards or looking, God
forbid, to desperate and patriotic immigrants to
fill our armies?
7)If a draft is
unthinkable, what about simply mandating an 18
months or less national service requirement for
all young adults between 18-26 years of age. The
service could be performed either before or
after college (South Korea and Germany does this
very successfully) and include military and
non-military options. This might motivate some
who would never otherwise consider serving in
the military to do so. And, those choosing the
military would be compensated more and given
benefits for their potential of being in danger.
For years, the Army has had its pick of
the numbers of available males, by all accounts, to be
around 60 million, with the military quota as something
like 80,000. What has gotten the old "pucker factor" up
is that the Marines, who have great looking uniforms,
can't even get their few good men.
youngsters are no dummies! They read or listen to the
news, check out the net, talk to their friends, and
although the brass constantly says we are winning, they
are looking at the numbers: over 800 Iraqis killed last
month and the death toll of Americans creeping up and
up. And, recruitment has lost maybe their key ally:
parents who are no longer seeing the military as an
option for their youngsters. Even if Mary Lou and Johnny
could stand a little discipline, they prefer them alive.
The Guard and Reserves have even greater woes in
recruitment. For years, the Guard has been called out in
Stateside emergencies while allowing plenty of time for
a little "grab ass" and swigging a few brews. Suddenly,
they are in Iraq, expected to soldier full time. What is
this? They didn't sign up for war. And, they have taken
a hit for being involved in most of the black eyes in
The Volunteer Army is
not working. It is time to figure out another course and
the time is NOW!