Sunday, April 29, 2007

Feel a Draft?

So the new head of the US Army wants to accelerate the growth in the number of forces to 550K by 2010 instead of 2012. Besides the obvious method (don't get them killed off quite so fast), any ideas on how to do that short of a draft? I mentioned a couple of weeks ago a column from Charles Krapheimer suggesting that as the most powerful country in the world, there was no reason we couldn't fight in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and North Korea all at once. I have no idea where he thought we were going to get the troops to do it - I know of two choices: draft and mercenaries.

Historically, dependence on mercenary armies is a pretty dependable sign of the end of that nation. Either you're over-extending or you're fighting battles that have no public support (or at least not enough support to risk their own lives). Both are damn fine indications that the end is near. The reinstitution of a draft is not too far different. Conscription in the US has primarily occurred during all-encompassing conflicts like World War I and World War II - the Cold War-era continuation of the draft was an anomaly. Even if you continue to bring in new recruits, the continual increase in length of deployments and the clear mismanagement of the war is causing high numbers of West Point grads to leave as soon as their commitment is up and the loss of midlevel officers is going to make training and leading those recruits a bit difficult.

It's clear to me that it's way past time to get the hell out of Iraq and revamp our military forces so that they are prepared for when they're really needed in our defense. A military draft or higher dependence on Blackwater and other contractors are both ugly alternatives that we should not find acceptable.



At 3:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can expect the mercenary dependence to increase, because any pol with half a brain--which is most of them--can see that a draft is a complete non-starter. Anyone who pushes for one guarantees a mobilized and angry group of 18-t0-26-year-olds will come out to vote for his opponent in the next election.

Alternatively, we could quit sending our troops to places where the U.S. electorate doesn't support their presence. But that's crazy talk.


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