[Marxism] Does anybody feel a draft?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu May 26 17:15:49 MDT 2005


May 26, 2005
America's Recruiting Dilemma
By Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Retired Army Lt. Col. Charles Krohn got himself in trouble 
with his superiors as a Pentagon civilian public affairs official during 
the first three and one-half years of the Bush administration by telling 
the truth. He is still at it in private life. He says not to blame the 
military recruiters for the current recruiting "scandal." Blame the war.

"Army recruiting is in a death spiral, through no fault of the Army," Krohn 
told me. Always defending uniformed personnel, he resents hard-pressed 
recruiters being attacked for offering unauthorized benefits to make 
quotas. In a recent e-mail sent to friends (mostly retired military), Krohn 
complained that the "Army is having to compensate for a problem of national 

The Army's dilemma is maintaining an all-volunteer service when 
volunteering means going in harm's way in Iraq. The dilemma extends to 
national policy. How can the United States maintain its global credibility 
against the Islamists, if military ranks cannot be filled by volunteers and 
there is no public will for a draft?

Krohn's e-mail describes the problem: "Consider the implications of being 
unable to find sufficient volunteers, as seen by our adversaries. Has the 
United States lost its will to survive? What's happened to the Great Satan 
when so few are willing to fight to defend the country? Surely bin Laden et 
al are making this argument, telling supporters victory is just around the 
corner if they are a bit more patient. And if they're successful, the 
energy sources in the Mideast may be within their grasp."

Krohn says this reality is accepted by recipients of his message. It also 
meets agreement from active duty officers I have contacted but who cannot 
speak publicly. They ponder how an all-volunteer force can be maintained 
when generals say there is no end in sight for U.S. troops facing an 
increasingly sophisticated insurgency.

Krohn's message goes on to say that "the recruiting problem is an 
unintended consequence of a prolonged war in Iraq, especially given the 
failure to find WMD [weapons of mass destruction]." He therefore calls for 
a "national consensus to address the root causes" of the recruiting problem 
-- that is, the war in Iraq.

But the focus at the Defense Department has been on the excesses of 
desperate recruiters, 37 of whom reflected their frustration in trying to 
meet quotas by going AWOL over the last two and one-half years. The 
official response was a 24-hour stand-down in recruiting to review proper 
procedures. It also has been proposed that enlistments, now usually three 
to four years with a minimum of 24 months, be cut to 15 months.

The recruiting guru Charles Moskos, professor emeritus at Northwestern 
University who once suggested an 18-month tour, now says shorter enlistment 
will not help. He proposes restoring the draft, but that is a political 
non-starter. Democratic Rep.

Charles Rangel, who as a drafted soldier won the Bronze Star in Korea, is 
one of the very few members of Congress who advocate the draft. He does not 
hide his motive: a president would be politically unable to take a 
conscript army into wars such as Iraq.

In contrast, Krohn is a lifelong Republican who actively supported George 
W. Bush's presidential candidacy in 2000. He specified in his e-mail that 
"I'm not now blaming" President Bush or Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld 
for the situation. "We have a problem that transcends politics," Krohn added.

The current Iraq war is America's first prolonged conflict fought entirely 
with volunteers. It is a more professional and in every way a better army 
than the conscript army of Korean War vintage in which I served, or the 
conscript army that fought in Vietnam for seven years. The problem was 
signaled when the 9/11 attack on America did not generate the enlistments 
expected. Three and one-half years later, willingness to face personal 
peril in Iraq has faded.

That means the problem goes beyond mechanics of recruiting and the details 
of volunteer service and is found in the war itself. Paraphrasing 
Rumsfelds' comment about going into battle with the Army we had, Charles 
Krohn said: "The war we have now is not the war we started off with. It's 
much more serious."

Copyright 2005 Creators Syndicate

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