December 23, 2006

The draft scare.

Suddenly, a lot of people thought the Bush Administration had a secret plan to reinstate the draft.
What prompted all this was a Hearst wire service article noting that the Selective Service was making plans for a “mock” draft exercise that would use computerized models to determine how, if necessary, the government would get some 100,000 young adults to report to their local draft boards.

The mock computer exercise, last carried out in 1998, is strictly routine, Selective Service officials said, and it will not actually be run until 2009 — if at all. The exercise has been scheduled several times in the last few years, only to be scuttled each time because of budget and staffing problems, and Mr. Flahavan said he would not be surprised if it was canceled this time around, too.

No matter. With President Bush saying that he wants to increase the size of the Army and the Marine Corps, the military strained near the breaking point and the secretary of veterans affairs suggesting publicly this week that a reconstituted draft could “benefit” the country, even the notion of a mock exercise seemed to strike a nerve.
Supposedly, the blogs went wild. I didn't notice that and am not seeing it on Memeorandum (which is my favorite way to see at a glance what's going on in blogdom).

The subject of the draft came up on the "Week in Review" radio show I did yesterday with Ed Garvey. You can listen to that if you want to hear somebody -- Ed -- state the typical alarmist position and me respond that the only people who support a draft are those who are anti-military. [ADDED: This part begins at 14:31.]

32 comments:

David said...

The days of compulsory service are over unless there is a world wide conflagration that involves superior numbers (China's billions) of adversaries.

Anti-military sentiment on liberal campuses notwithstanding, a volunteer military guarantees a smart and motivated force for each of the branches.

The draft scare has less to do with the military where Duty, Honor, Country inspire patriots and warriors! Fear of the draft is a subconscious and visceral reaction to a minority who fear commitment, authority, responsibility, and accountability. Transferring those fears to the military is a feel good way to assuage actions which, in most cases, are seflish, narcissistic, and a worship of nihilism.

AllenS said...

"You can listen to that if you want to hear somebody -- Ed -- state the typical alarmist position and me respond that the only people who support a draft are those who are anti-military."

As a former draftee (1966), I agree.

Dave said...

I agree that a voluntary military creates a superior cadre of officers.

But.

Both Israel and Switzerland have compulsory service laws and their militaries are generally considered world class. What is it about their populations that allows this to happen?

AllenS said...

When has Switzerland ever fought in a war? How on earth could they be considered world class?

Anything less for Israel would be annilation.

Dave said...

AllenS: don't confuse neutrality with incompetence.

See this information on the Swiss Guard.

Gahrie said...

Switzerland was considered an excellent source of soldiers for centuries. That's why they still guard the Pope to this day.

Cedarford said...

Draft? When we got rid of the Draft for a volunteer Army, it was twice as big as it is today, and ending the Draft was always predicated by those who voted for it with the idea it would return if the volunteer military was not sustainable or the vital interests of the USA - in ensuring strategic supplies, defending our allies, defending ourselves necessitated a restoration to a larger military.

The volunteer military is showing signs of strain and becoming something not intended.

1. 60% of Reservist eligibility for the next 5 years has been burned up in Iraq missions to spell a desperately overtaxed, understrength active duty militay. Some Reservist specialties are 100% burned out and there is talk of forcing them to serve past the deployment to active status limits Congress imposed.

2. Some critical active duty components are on their 4th, 5th combat tours. Many are saying their effectiveness is decreasing from lack of training for other missions they are tasked with (you cannot do nightime assaults if you haven't trained for one in 2 years because you are stuck at a Ramadi guardpost). Many report that the extreme wartime tempo 1/500th of America is on while normalicy reigns elsewhere is beginning to kill marriages and family ties.

3. There is no truth to the claim of some Draft opponents that only modern, sophisticated volunteer professionals with elite training acquired over years can man a Ramadi guardpost or drive a truck full of supplies or a hummer on IED booby-trapped roads.

4. The Volunteer military has meant that only a narrow strata of Americans now fill the bulk of volunteer military staffing, mostly from Red areas. Children of the elites no longer serve so the Elites and Deciders no longer have a personal stake in the risks or the price of inaction (meaning if oil is blocked and oil goes to 10 bucks a gallon, they still drive). And the military is unwilling to chance the investment being a volunteer entails in the kids of the underclass. Whole regions of America, like New England, look down on military service or ROTC as a career.

5. Scorn of the military, ROTC, jROTC has become a cult in many Blue bastions. They somehow have disconnected personal security and the continuing of the global economy to the work our military does. That oil and gas will always flow in abundance to them with or without a strong military. "Homophobia, American atrocities!!" is their mantra, "we support Our Troops" a facile dodge. They have a misbegotten belief that what energy America produces in the Red States that Blue bastion environmentalists didn't block will be shared and shared alike in a major war.

Dave said...

See also this information about the general Swiss military.

Gerry said...

I am guessing only the furthest left of the far left, really out there blogs went nuts about it.

Which would explain why the Times was so aware of it.

I wonder when these folks will start bombarding the offices of Charlie Rangle and other Democrats who are actually proposing reinstating the draft.

AllenS said...

The last battle (1792) these wimps fought in, they got their asses kicked. Then, on July 29, 1830,
the Swiss regiments, fearful of another massacre, were withdrawn or melted into the crowd. They were not used again.

Here's a fact that you won't find on wikipedia: AllenS has killed more men in one day, than the Swiss guards have since the 1800's. Take a look at the picture posted of these men. They are wearing what is commonly called clown suits. This 60 year old Ojibwa Indian Warrior, armed with only my tomahawk could take those two clowns out, pronto.

Anonymous said...

What I don't get is why all of our warbloggers aren't recruiting foot soldiers for the clash of civilizations. Can't say as I have ever seen a post, or a link, to help join the fight.

You would think Instapundit, with his huge traffic, would be better served to recruit, rather than hold study groups from his readers.

dick said...

Cedarford and others,

Take a look a today's Boston Globe. There is an article in there where the Massachusetts Army National Guard just announced that they got over 50% more people volunteering this past year than they even set up as a quota. Does that sound like the New England people are dodging this? Does that sound like the red staters are the only source? I assume you will agree that Massachusetts is hardly what one would call a red state.

I note that the only ones talking about a draft are the LLL dems who are trying to use it as an election ploy. They are also the ones who claim that the current volunteers are predominantly people who could not get a job or who are otherwise disadvantaged. Shame that the statistics don't agree. The military has a higher than average number of graduates, higher than average wage background, the ethnic makeup is very close to that of the country at large. The military officer corps has a great number of people with advanced degrees. In fact, to get beyond captain in the Army you need an advanced degree. Guess that doesn't fit the model either so it gets lost in the shuffle by the demagogues.

downtownlad said...

Cedarford - By your silly logic, I could just as easily say that it was the Red Staters are the ones who supported this war, so it only seems fair that they actually fight it.

The process has been entirely fair thus far. It's a volunteer army. They signed up for it. They should stop complaining if they no longer want to serve. People have to be responsible for their decisions.

Sure - soldiers put their life on the line and for that they should be commended. But so do police officers and firemen. So do people who build skyscrapers. So do trapeze artists. I don't see a difference. They all chose to work in a risky field. Nobody forced them to do it.

Seven Machos said...

Is that Naked Lunch bringing up the "why-don't-war-supporters-join-up?" canard? I'm frankly surprised it took 10 or so comments, but you win the prize, Naked Lunch. For attempting to advance unoriginal and unproductive thought in a partisan and oafish manner, you are the Tool of the Day.

How does it feel, Lunch? How does it feel to add nothing to a conversation and, in fact, to subtract from it through bland and unoriginal mediocrity?

No one on the right is advocating a draft. Charlie Rangel is the only politician who wants a draft. The Left seems to badly want a draft because they think it will make conservatives look bad. Or something.

Seven Machos said...

I agree with Downtown Lad. Militaries are for killing people and breaking things and there is chance of being killed if you join the military.

There's job at the post office.

downtownlad said...

The right should be calling for a draft - if they actually want to win the war.

Obviously the number of troops we have is not cutting it. Why not call for a draft, get double the number of people in Iraq and finally install some order over them?

Oh yeah - because George Bush is a wimp.

Seven Machos said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Seven Machos said...

Then I don't agree with Downtown Lad but he helpfully proves my point: the left in this country is calling for a draft and is simultaneously shocked -- SHOCKED! -- at the prospect of a draft.

We don't need a bigger army to do the killing of people and breaking of things necessary to win in Iraq. We need a more Jacksonian foreign policy tolerant of death and destruction. I can't put it any more starkly.

The left in this country will never go for that. God forbid we should have death or property destruction or prisoners of war in war.

AllenS said...

Right on, Seven.

AJ Lynch said...

AllenS said:
"AllenS has killed more men in one day, than the Swiss guards have since the 1800's"

Thanks AllenS for a great reminder why I love the internets. I'd never read your unrefutable point in my daily snooze. They never take their gloves off unless they are bashing the evil Bushco.

Joe Baby said...

Interesting thread, especially considering the awesome power of the American military is run on volunteers (cue Matt Damon), whereas the spit and polish show army of Switzerland uses conscripts.

I'm still giggling over the thought of the Swiss opening up some whoop-ass. They may have the most finely trained military in the world but it never leaves the garage. Romanian miners and Balkan cigarette thieves inspire more fear.

Cedarford said...

By your silly logic, I could just as easily say that it was the Red Staters are the ones who supported this war, so it only seems fair that they actually fight it.

No, because your truly silly logic of only demanding people favoring protecting the country taking the risk and duties of defending it (so you and less able or cowardly folks could avoid risk and hardship and skate w/no sacrifice) would naturally lead to a soldier Caste. Soldiers who, as they have done throughout history - would finally end up concluding that if they alone faced disproportionate hardships and casualties on behalf of a country, they deserved disproportionate privileges. Ending with them pointing their guns at you and saying only those who have served will have votes, get a fair chunk of the wealth, be judges, and be allowed to be in whole sectors of public office.
(See Heinlen's "Starship Troopers", see "European Aristocracy", see "Samurai")

Seven Machos - No one on the right is advocating a draft.

Actually, many of us are looking at the future, the mounting crises in the world - and concluding a Draft may be unavoidable if a wider ME war starts or N Korea or Iran get really stupid.
When the Draft ended, it was always with the understanding it would be resumed if the volunteer military failed, we couldn't afford it anymore, it became harmful to society, or a national emergency arose that volunteers couldn't handle or the number of volunteers was insufficient for the needs.

When the Draft was ended, there was no Constitutional Amendment pledging eternal freedom of being Drafted was a perpetual Right. There was no law passed by Congress saying it was criminal, immoral, and illegal to one day return to a draft and inconvenience the self-centered and timid.

Even in WWII, when we were attacked and a compelling need to fight was obvious to all, we still had to rely on the Draft to get 9 million of the 16 million served. And 2.5 million who only elected to volunteer because the alternative was to be a draftee in a less preferable spot.

Seven - We don't need a bigger army to do the killing of people and breaking of things necessary to win in Iraq. We need a more Jacksonian foreign policy tolerant of death and destruction.

That was Rumsfeld's fatal error, knowing that his high-tech special supersoldiers could conquer a much larger force, but then failing to think through how a force 1/20th the size of a standard occupation force for Iraq's size could hold the country AND transition from high-tech warrior specialities to low-skill garrison and occupation duties a Draftee 3 months out of Boot camp could do as well. We lost control of order. And while blowing up cities might have intimidated, the normal experience has been that Attila the Hun tactics turn the survivors against you and into insurgency supporters.

Seven Machos said...

Cedarford -- While you occasionally say something profound, you are mostly an anti-Semetical blowhard of the John Birch/Pat Buchanan variety. I don't really consider you on the right. I consider you exactly the type that William Buckley strove so mightily to purge from the ranks of the respectable right.

And while blowing up cities might have intimidated, the normal experience has been that Attila the Hun tactics turn the survivors against you and into insurgency supporters.

Well. I'm glad we haven't taken such a wrongheaded approach. There might be support for an insurgency otherwise.

AllenS said...

Right on, Seven.

Ann, your analysis of the conversation, is still correct.

Anonymous said...

We don't need a bigger army to do the killing of people and breaking of things necessary to win in Iraq. We need a more Jacksonian foreign policy tolerant of death and destruction. I can't put it any more starkly.

The left in this country will never go for that. God forbid we should have death or property destruction or prisoners of war in war.


So in your opinion, endless occupation of countries requires no more, or no less bodies, and that the left is dictating rules of engagement in Iraq, and foreign policy run, and hatched by neocon thinktanks. All this, and the left wasn't even able to muscle a measely minimum wage hike through?

I'm going to take a wild guess and say you didn't arrive at this position from anything you've read, or heard from any military planners. But if a righty says something on Althouse, it must be true right.

And I wasn't asking John Hinderaker and Glenn Reynolds to fight, they have important reporting to do. But you don't find it all odd that NONE have ever asked their readers to help join the fight against Islamofacism? No goarmy.com links? We're all supposed to fight with our keyboards?

downtownlad said...

That's right Seven - You think I'm on the "left" because I'm gay.

It's completely irrelevant if I favor the abolition of the income tax, if I favor the death penalty, if I'm pro-life.

Under your homophobic mindset - if you're a gay - then you're the equivalent of a communist.

How utterly simplistic your worldview must be. The same world where there are WMD's in Iraq and the Iraqi people have welcomed us with open arms.

Cedarford said...

Seven - Unfortunately for you, you are not much of an insightful thinker - a flaw of yours that Downtownlad was able to see and call you on your 2003 timewarp of thinking. We are seeing that small numbers of hightech supersoldiers reduced to the same level of war fighting technology as their foe once the occupation started - are not able to get control, not able to restore security, not able to understand the country they patrol from their megabases. They have also proved to be ready meat for the IEDs if they venture out, no matter how many billions the US spends on "high tech solutions" to a WWI era weapon.

You are also like many conservatives who have somehow become convinced that total kneejerk support of Israel no matter what it does is a moral obligation - and anyone that questions the propriety of placing ANY country's interests above America's gets called a bigot.

Fortunately, the pack of idiots calling for a widening conflict through a "cakewalk war" or "easy surgical bombing" of Iran to help "Our Special Friend" is dwindling by the day. And no matter what sort of money is spread around Washington DC, I doubt it is enough for the US to become complicit in a surprise Israeli strike that would try and drag the US into a major ME conflagration.

The discredited Neocon wing of the Conservatives have lost most of their power. The PNAC/Likud/Neocon plan of using American military power to preserve Israel's land grabs and its WMD monopoly has partially failed and Americans are more interested now in getting stability than expending vastly more blood and treasure to make the ME safe for Israel and the dubious ideal of "Arab Islamist Democracy". In dangerous times, we simply cannot abide leaders or fellow conservatives with dual national loyalties.

Choose, Seven.

Mr. Forward said...

Just before the 2004 election Ed Garvey wrote on his web site, "You can bet if Bush is re-elected there will be a draft." I wrote back "You're on. 50 bucks. January 20, 2009." I'm looking forward to spending Ed's money.

Revenant said...

We are seeing that small numbers of hightech supersoldiers reduced to the same level of war fighting technology as their foe once the occupation started - are not able to get control, not able to restore security, not able to understand the country they patrol from their megabases

Attempts to pacify Afghanistan were made using both the "flood it with zillions of conscripts" and "use small numbers of highly-trained troops" methods. The former was a catastrophic failure; the later has mostly worked so far.

Maybe the small-force thing isn't working in Iraq. That doesn't mean the big-force thing would. The most obvious result of putting more US troops in Iraq would be more dead US troops and more dead Iraqi civilians (less training = less able to tell friend from foe).

Revenant said...

Can't say as I have ever seen a post, or a link, to help join the fight.

I assume that incoherent sentence translates as "I've never seen a post or link with instructions on how to join the fight".

Even if it was true that warbloggers don't tell people how to join up (which it obviously isn't), there's the little fact that there are regular ads on TV, radio, and in the paper encouraging people to sign up and telling them how to. I would suggest that anyone who isn't smart enough to find their way to a recruiter's office probably would be better off getting a job more suited to his intelligence level -- janitor, maybe, or Daily Kos commenter. :)

hdhouse said...

I think we should have a limited draft. In true GOP fashion and tradition, it could be only for the lower half of the income scale. You know, those deadbeats who don't pay ANY taxes. Just drains on society I say. Cannon fodder for the ages.

Only exemptions would be if they bought a Porsche in the past 2 years, had 2 or more kids in private school and were either married to or had a GF named Buffy.

Bruce Hayden said...

What seems to be missed by many advocating a draft here is that if we still had the size of military that Bush 41 had for Desert Storm, we wouldn't be having these problems. It was the Clinton "Peace Dividend" that, for example, cut the number of active Army divisions in half that resulted in a military that isn't big enough for the current job.

But note - the Desert Storm military of almost twice the current size was also entirely volunteer. It isn't a question of whether we can find enough volunteers, but rather, whether we want to pay for them.

The other problem is that you can't grow the military overnight. The Army's position is that it can safely grow by about 7,00 or so a year and continue to maintain quality. And coincidently, that is how fast it is expected to grow over the next couple of years.

The problem is not at the bottom levels of enlisted or officers, but rather at the mid to senior NCOs and the field grade officers. These have to be carefully nurtured over an extended period of time (a decade or longer) (and this is why the Iraqi military is taking so long to fully come online).

One of the things that seasoned and experienced personel at these levels provides is that American lives are saved. A lot of people have talked about how fast we were able to build a military during WWII. But what they ignore is that throwing our men into combat with unseasoned and inexperienced NCOs and officers killed a lot of them. Yes, we didn't have a choice then, but we do now, and the American people are not willing to live with even a fraction of the level of fatalities that they did back then.

In any case, we are in a position that if we did reinstitute the draft and bring in a lot of unwilling and untrained soldiers, we couldn't effectively integrate them into the military any quicker than we could add them through volunteers - unless we were willing to live with a much higher fatality level than we are right now.

I should also note that the military is pretty uniform about opposing the reinstituted draft. As more than one soldier has asked, how can you trust the guy at your back, if he isn't there voluntarily?

Also note that another problem with a draft for the military is that a large number of the jobs there now take too long to train for. By the time they had finished training, their enlistment would be up or almost up.