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Saturday, August 11, 2007

On the Heels of the Miltary in Schools Discussion

I had heard Lt. Lute, the White House's war czar on NPR yesterday. Here's a Washington Post article on those statements. The issue is whether the government can continue on in Iraq without a draft. From the article:

"Today, the current means of the all-volunteer force is serving us exceptionally well," Lute said. "It would be a major policy shift, not actually a military but a political policy shift, to move to some other course."

He said the repeated deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan affect not only the troops but their families, which can influence whether a service member decides to stay in the military."

The White House reply:

"National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Lute's comments are consistent with President Bush's stated policy in regard to any potential use of the draft. "The president believes an all-volunteer military serves the country well, and there is no discussion of returning to a draft," Johndroe said."

Central to keeping their recruiting goals (which they are currently making but barely):

"New to the Army recruiters' tool kit is a "quick-ship" cash bonus of $20,000 that goes to recruits willing to go to basic training by the end of September. Army officials said the bonuses began July 25 and that it is too early to know their influence, but they hope it will push some recruits to enter the Army sooner than they had planned, boosting numbers for the end of the year.

Other bonuses have been increased, including a maximum $20,000 cash bonus to recruits who want to sign up for a two-year enlistment, a bonus that has been boosted twice this year, from an original bonus of $6,000 before May."

There was also this article from the AP about Democratic legislation to guarantee troop time between deployments that President Bush threatened to veto. From this article:

"Under the Pentagon's current policy, active-duty troops typically serve deployments of up to 15 months, with a year at home in between. National Guard and Reserve ground units generally can be called up for as long as two years, to be followed by six years at home.

Bush's war adviser, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, said Friday the Pentagon needs to reevaluate deployment lengths."Come the spring, some variables will have to change - either the degree to which the American ground forces, the Marines and the Army in particular, are deployed around the world to include Iraq, or the length of time they're deployed in one tour, or the length of time they enjoy at home," Lute said in an interview on National Public Radio."

Bush complained that Tauscher's bill would put arbitrary constraints on Pentagon commanders. But Tauscher noted that the measure includes waivers enabling the president to disregard the required intervals between troop deployments in the interest of national security."

General Petraeous, the commander of forces in Iraq, recently told Congress troops would likely be needed in Iraq for another 9-10 years.

I believe that the White House will say over and over again that the volunteer forces work but the reality is that they don't mind if officers float this balloon of the draft saying it is a military option (but is a policy decision). This, of course, is very unlikely to happen in a Presidential election year and you won't hear it from the candidates on either side. (But the generals seem to be indicating that by spring 2008 something has got to give.) But after the election, someone is going to have to make a decision about the future of Iraq and our place in it (do we pull back or stay somewhat indefinitely) and, ultimately, if it means having to draft soldiers to serve that choice.

I bring this up not to argue the war (no thanks) but as a "put this on your radar now" - it IS going to be an issue that will be likely to trickle down to our schools and the students in them and it won't limited anymore to just what schools recruiters go to. It will be who gets drafted.

4 comments:

WenG said...

I just wonder if a draft is actually being mentioned in the same spirit as that of Rep. Rangel, who wants a draft to effectively end the war, because history shows that once you start a draft, you're in "the last throes" of support for it, even among die-hard supporters. But I agree with you, something to keep on the radar, especially since our current preznit promises the war will continue even after he's gone.

Charlie Mas said...

I was discussing the possibility of a draft with some friends last night, and none of us believed that a twenty-first century draft could be gender specific.

This then led to a discussion - and the discovery of broad support for - a period of national service for all young people (other than those unfit to serve) in either the military, the Peace Corps, Americorps, or some civic role (education, law enforcement, infrastructure, etc.). There was some concern about the cost and the potential loss of jobs, but much more enthusiasm for potential benefits - particularly the benefits to the young people from travel and responsibility.

Roy Smith said...

I think the issue of gender specificity will keep any draft proposal from becoming reality in the near future. My reasoning is this:

1) Women have made HUGE gains in being treated equally in the armed forces in the last 20-30 years. Most, if not all, of those gains would be sacrified if only men were drafted. Since women comprise about 15-20% of the current active duty force, suddenly telling them all that they are less valued than their male counterparts is a recipe for huge morale problems.

2) On the other hand, if women are drafted as well as men, I think that there are huge portions of middle America that otherwise support the war, the President, and military service (for their sons) that will flat-out mutiny at the idea of their daughters being sent off to war.

Roy Smith said...

I hope that my opinion on the unlikeliness of a draft wasn't a thread-killer, if there is a discussion to be had otherwise on this topic.

One other thing that occurred to me is that if you have a middle or high school student, believe a draft is a real possibility (and it might be, in spite of my argument - the military is under severe stress right now), and have moral or ethical opposition to military service such that you would want your children to pursue conscientious objector status, then it may be in your childrens' best interest to start documenting that sooner rather than later in case a draft does someday become reality.