recruitment

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 was win-win.

Points Made For Universal Service
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.

2)Fighting wars 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?

4)If the 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.

5)We 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, 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 much!

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.

American 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 Iraqnam mismanagement.

The Volunteer Army is not working. It is time to figure out another course and the time is NOW!
____________by JA
June 11 2005
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