[Marxism] "we now have very, very low propensity to enlist"

David McDonald dbmcdonald at comcast.net
Sat May 28 15:08:28 MDT 2005

Michael Hoffman, a founder of Iraq Veterans Against the War, made an
interesting point about recruiting that bears on the two-recruits-a-month
number that has surfaced several times, in the media conference with General
Rochelle and in NYTimes articles on the recruiters stress and cheating.

Hoffman points out that June and July are the prime time for recruiters.
This makes a lot of sense. Few kids are going to drop out of high school or
college in the middle of the year, compared to those who wait until the
academic year is over.

 This was a media conference by the general on the occasion of the standdown
last Friday. It began with his statement about "values" but he did answer or
nonanswer questions rather revealingly, IMO. The original is here:


Consider the following statement by General Rochelle at the media

 GEN. ROCHELLE:  Well, let me tell you that right now, through April, we are
6,600 below the glide that I would -- that would place us right on par with
achieving the mission.  I'll simply leave it at that.  That's the regular
Army side -- mission.

If you put this together with the information provided by Michael Hoffman,
the situation for the military is far more dire than reported. Consider that
General Rochelle admits to a deficit of 6,600 recruits FOR THE ARMY ALONE.
Assume that Air Force, Navy and Marine shortfalls probably make up a similar
number. I don't know if half the recruitment ordinarily goes to the Army,
but take that as an estimate. It follows that the total shortfall must be
somewhere on the other side of 10,000 this year to date. We know, from other
sources, that there are a total of 7,500 recruiters for all the services. If
recruitment were even spread out over the year, at two per month per
recruiter, each of the 7500 recruiters ought to have recruited 10 people
thru the end of May, for a total approximating 75,000. If the shortfall of
10,000 (which I am assuming) is measured against 75,000, it is very serious
but becomes devastating in June-July-Aug.

Suppose, in line with Michael Hoffman's information, that the average
recruiting for Jan-May is just one person per recruiter per month, yielding
an expected recruitment of 37,500 for Jan-May. The trouble get very serious
because a similar level of recruitment failure for June and July and August
will yield far higher absolute numbers of missed recruits and a greater
problem for the military.

My opinion is that the military itself is laying the groundwork for the
resumption of the draft. There have been numerous pieces of information
released by the military in recent weeks that indicate the military is
owning up to the impossibility of continuing the US current level of force
engagement under the system of voluntary enlistment. First, a high military
official in Iraq offered the opinion recently that the war is not going well
and that the US will need to be in Iraq at the current force level for
"years." I take that as a coded communication meaning that stopgap measures
such as stop loss (involuntary draft at the end of a soldier's term rather
than at the beginning) cannot be extended to the end of the conflict,
because the end of the conflict is not in sight or predictable. Second, the
same officer said that it is not possible to contemplate a reduction of US
forces in Iraq under current conditions, which he did not think were going
to change at least in that respect.

Third is the recent standdown, highly publicized in the media. But why? Read
General Rochelle's media conference from the beginning to the end. There is
absolutely not a single new thing in it. Under persistent questioning from
the media, the general was unable to indicate a single change that the
military intended to follow from the standdown. Rather, the standdown was
called, according to the general, purely to re-emphasize the importance of
the Army's values to the recruiting process.

Here is what the general cited as the eternal, unchanging values of the
military: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and
personal courage. This is what everybody in the recruiting business took a
day off to re-familiarize themselves with. In other words, the military came
up with absolutely nothing to propose that the recruiters do differently.

I am led to believe that the entire exercise was boilerplate to publicly
advance the military's decision to fight for the resumption of a conscript
army. Reasons:

1. While the civilian leadership of the government fears conscription like
Dracula fears the light, that is not so for the military. As the general
points out, this is the first-ever conflict of any serious proportion and
duration which the US militrary has had to fight with a volunteer army.
Plainly, from the military point of view, it is not working. The military is
interested in perpetuating itself  regardless of the civilian leadership of
the US. Although immensely conservative it is not above pursuing its own,
separate goals when these come into serious conflict with the desires of the
civilian leadership. If it perceives that a given situation will harm it
irreparably, it will move to change its relationship to that situation.

2. The military leadershp has never liked the Rumsfeld high-tech army
approach. Despite their fascination with the high-tech instruments of
destruction, they still believe that massive numbers of troops are required
to sustain the US's position in the world. Of course they dig body armor,
kevlar helmets and all sorts of high tech stuff, but their real program is
evident in the flattening of Fallujah, where they flat-out let the Marines
do their thing. Reporters are still not allowed to see or photograph those
results. The military wants bodies, and when they tell the civilians they
need 250,000 bodies minimum, as Shinseki did in advance of the war, they
want 250,000 bodies and they don't want to have to take shit from a maniac
like Rumsfeld. And they are not at all above pressing the point when the
results show they were right and Rumsfeld wrong.

3. Troops are currently immensely expensive to recruit. A conscript army
makes that problem go away. That would mean the military could have their
troops and their toys. The fact that this presents an insoluble problem for
the civilian leadership is not the military's problem. Their problem is
achieving victory. Bush has said so many times that the force level in Iraq
is dependent on what the generals ask him for that he will be powerless to
resist them if they say they gotta have more troops, and they can't get them
without conscription.

My conclusion is that the counter-recruitment campaigns current sprouting up
all over the US are the core of the actual fight against the war. Those many
people who want to do something concrete to impede the war effort should
give their attention to this work. Further, the young forces fighting
recruitment in their schools and the Iraq veterans telling the truth about
the war are the real leaders of the antiwar movement. They will move to the
center of antiwar action. It is to these forces that we should orient
ourselves, it is from them that solutions to the problems of broad coalition
formation will come.

David McDonald

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