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Drafty Reasoning

I've been thinking a bit lately about the push to reinstate the draft, and I've had a few thoughts.

First up, I find myself wondering if those who are pushing for the return of the draft are willing to say that it was a mistake to abolish it in the first place over 30 years ago, and those who fought -- and won -- to do so were terribly wrong.

It's painful for me to admit, but they were right -- for all the wrong reasons, but right nonetheless. Ending the draft was one of the best things that ever happened to both our military and our nation, and my political forebears were wrong to fight to sustain it as long as they did.

Of course, that's granting the current draft-pushers a certain level of sincerity. I don't think that's fully merited.

I've read a theory in a few places that makes a lot of sense: the people who are pushing for bringing back the draft aren't interested in the least in improving the military or our nation as a whole. They just want to get the US out of the war in Iraq, and the only idea they have is to look back on the last time that was tried successfully -- in Viet Nam -- and recreate their model for success.

Then, they got numbers on their side by enlisting many of those who were looking at military conscription, and decided that they had an alternative. they assimilated the anti-draft movement into the anti-war movement, and built it into a winning coalition.

This time, there is no draft, so there is no ready-made group of people willing to take a stand with them. Our military consists entirely of men and women who want to be there, who have proven that they are worthy of being there, and are still pretty damned gung-ho about their mission. (I read recently that one of the units that's seen the most action in Iraq filled its re-enlistment quota for the fiscal year a couple of weeks ago.)

So, what to do? Well, why not bring back the draft, so they can whip up a fresh batch of anti-draft people they can develop into full-blown anti-war and anti-military people to flesh out their ranks?

Here's how the pro-draft people can convince me of their sincerity:

1) Announce that the ending of the draft back in the 1970's were absolutely wrong, and those who fought for it did grave damage to the United States military and the nation as a whole.

2) Make the draft a Constitutional amendment, making it that much harder to overturn once they get their quotas of anti-war activists filled.

As I said, I don't give them any credit for sincerity. And every time they open their mouths, I feel even more and more confident in that presumption.


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Comments (17)

Wasn't it Charlie Rangel wh... (Below threshold)
John F Not Kerry:

Wasn't it Charlie Rangel who pushed for it and then voted against it when it came up in a nonbinding resolution? Classy.

We keep hearing comments on... (Below threshold)
GianiD:

We keep hearing comments on how its a privilege to live in the US, those that succeed have an obligation to others, etc.

Its its a privilege for some, its a privilege to all, some just take advantage of the opportunity, some dont.

Why not mandate a 1 YR public service at age 18. That could be in a number of things, military is one idea, but parks and recreation for summer programs, local public service programs, even Peace Corps type programs abroad. These would all need to be completed by age 20.

And, it could be served 3 months at a time for anyone going to college.

I'm at least partially in f... (Below threshold)
pennywit:

I'm at least partially in favor of reinstating the draft, but mainly because anecdotal evidence of an exodus of captains from the service worries me.

--|PW|--

The 13th amendment should b... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

The 13th amendment should be updated to make it clear that forced or coerced service in the military is a form of slavery and outlawed.

Man for man the all volunteer military is by far more effective than the prior partial volunteer military. If the country needs more volunteer then it needs to offer more incentive and do a better job of taking care of veterans.

Incentives don't have to be all monetary, or all paid for at once. Veterans should get extra points when applying for jobs, education, and government contracts. Such benefits shouldn't be restricted to government or public institutions. Every private institution owes it's existence to the freedoms purchased by the sweat and blood of veterans, if not in this war then from prior wars. Veterans should be a protected group more so than any minority. Veterans should be exempt from federal and state income taxes for every year they served on active duty, double for every year they serve in a combat zone, and for life if they suffer a permanent injury while in a combat zone. Veterans should be able to enter or exit jury pools at will (the pools, not the juries themselves).

If the day every comes when the nation can no longer find enough young men and women willing to fight for it, then it doesn't deserve to survive.

Reinstituting the draft wou... (Below threshold)
irongrampa:

Reinstituting the draft would be the end of our military as we know it today. I have to think this is in the back of draft proponent's minds, certainly in the forefront for the true military haters.

The question is what is the... (Below threshold)
hcddbz:

The question is what is the problem the draft is to solve? Is it increase the number of men and women severing. If that the case i would suggest that government start having after school military programs to provide information on what the military is it histories traditions, scarifies and what it career in the military can offer. Since congress is taking about a forced service it seems that providing information on what joining the military can provide and letting people make up there own minds would be a better alternative.

Mac,

There are already number of benefits available to veterans.
In the past the government has suspended federal income tax with holding on men and women deployed into combat. Also some state governments also will suspend state income tax for active duty personal.
http://www.military.com/benefits/veteran-benefits/veterans-employment-preference-points

http://www.va.gov/

The questions is can some of these be improved on? Of course they can so let have congress spend time looking into getting the VA the funding and resources that it needs instead of wondering about baseball. Until the federal government fixes the healthcare it provides to the warfighter and veteran universal health care is a non starter. (I would also add the Native American since by law we are to provide free health care to them as well)

When I joined the Navy it was about service and sacrifice. I wanted to repay USA for allowing my family that immigrated here freedom. It is precious gift and by joining the Navy was my way of saying thank you and if I died to ensure others of that freedom so be it. Our men and women who serve should be taken care of. However they should be doing it for those two primary reasons. Cause when we transition from peace to combat operations I do not want to hear "I joined for GI Bill, VA Loan, or ... "

Those pushing the draft are... (Below threshold)
CarlF:

Those pushing the draft are missing a key component in the Iraq War that they had in the Vietnam War... piles and piles of service members coming back in body bags.

A volunteer professional military gives you just that, professionals. Think about your own profession. Do you think people who were snatched from one profession and forced to do another would be very effective? As a software developer, I can imagine that, in addition to some pretty bad software, companies would be swamped with complaints of carpal tunnel, eye-strain, lower-back problems. I don't even need to mention the trauma suffered by former construction workers as they take on that jaundiced skin tone that only years under corporate flourescent lighting can give and the walls of their cubicles get closer and closer each day.

The same would be true for our military, but instead of paper-cuts and poor posture, many draftees would come back in body bags AND many of our professional veterans would be more likely to come back in body bags as a result of the draftees.

That's why I eye anyone proposing a military draft with a great deal of suspicion.

hcddbz,Let me clar... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

hcddbz,

Let me clarify. Veterans would earn income tax exemptions, which they can elect to use at any time in their lives. For example, someone who was in for 4 years and served 2 of those years in Iraq would get 6 years worth of tax exemptions that they can use at the time of their own choosing.

Many young people going into the military have ambitions of working in good jobs once they leave the service. Many will save their tax exemptions until they are in their 50's. That spreads out the cost of rewarding veterans for their service. It also gives then future incentives to be the most successful they can be; good for them and good for the nation. And, yes veterans health care must always be a high priority for this nation.

Cause when we transition from peace to combat operations I do not want to hear "I joined for GI Bill, VA Loan, or ... "

This is where we seem to disagree. We're asking young men and women to serve us and maybe to give their lives in that service. How much is a life worth? How much is a person's own life worth to them? We can do all I said above and much more without the benefits becoming the principle reason young people join the military. Sure, some have no other opportunity, but that's true now. Just because some downtrodden young people hold their own lives cheap it doesn't mean we should.

If it were up to me veterans would get to vote twice in all elections. Those who served this nation should have more say in how it's run.

How about bringing back the... (Below threshold)
jdgjtr:

How about bringing back the draft just for the people who missed it the first time? "

Sure, some have no other o... (Below threshold)
hcddbz:

Sure, some have no other opportunity, but that's true now. Just because some downtrodden young people hold their own lives cheap it doesn't mean we should.

I do not look at the military service as it currently exist as being cheep. I ddi not join for the money I doubt many do. I did not join be cause I could not go to college ( i was accepted to 3). I joined to serve my country. If it were not for medical I would still be there.

The military life teaches one many skills that when applied to civilian life is beneficial. Many companies look at military service as plus. If one is whole when they are out of the military there many opportunities to available to them. The number and type depends on the job and skills learned in the service.

The biggest issue is those who are injured either physically or mentally and it is here where the VA need to step up to the plate. This is where the country much make sure we take care of these war fighters.

The survivor benefits is another area that can be looked into.

If you server 20 years you can retire with 40% pay it should be moved back to 50% also their Exchange and other medical bennies.
For vet that do not do the full 20 their are GI Bill, VA home loan, and educational credits for military training, points for civil service job and other items given to vets. For war vet their additional items.

hcddbz,I'm well aw... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

hcddbz,

I'm well away of the current GI benefits and short comings. The all volunteer military is by it's nature professional and smaller than one based on conscription. We are asking our troops to spend more time in combat zones than anytime since WWII with multiple 15 month deployments. I for one don't believe we are over compensating them, not even close. As you pointed out, someone who puts in 20 years should get 50% retirement pay, exchange and medical benefits. The nation also needs to step up to the plate for those who are injured either physically or mentally.

You wanted to serve your country, but everyone who joins the military since the end of conscription does so for their own reasons. Some join for the challenge, some because in their families it's tradition that all men serve, some server to make something out of themselves, some server because all their friends are serving. They all serve this nation, some to the lose of life and limb. Who's to say that your reasons are any better than someone else's reasons?

Military service should be so highly regarded and rewarded that more young people want to join the military than the military needs, so that standards can be kept high.

My sister in law (an old SF... (Below threshold)
Larry Crane:

My sister in law (an old SF hippie) told me we should bring back the draft because the current military does not represent the population as a whole, and the current military is not as smart as it was during the Vietnam war. After I got up from falling off my chair I told her the current military was much more inteligent that the current population, and she must want a return to slavery.
Reading the blog and comments I can see that she might want the return of the draft to relive her protest days in the Haight. What a lunch box.

I am a proud Navy veteran with a son now in OCS.

Who would want to administe... (Below threshold)

Who would want to administer basic training to a randomly selected set of American 18 year olds?

I would not underestimate, ... (Below threshold)
ras:

I would not underestimate, as a factor in this, the desire of the self-anointed to have a standing army of young serfs to work on the latest vanity projects.

If the US gets into it with... (Below threshold)
galoob:

If the US gets into it with Iran or if trouble breaks out in Korea or anywhere else, or even if the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drag on, the discussion about the draft will not be an abstract philosophical one, like this one. The draft will be back, like it or not, as it will be the only way to fill the ranks, absent a Foreign Legion.

Why? The Army and USMC are at their max right now, and the Navy and USAF increasingly retooled and burdened by missions on the ground. There is a steady trickle of stories about fatalities and wounded veterans.

Also, over the last 20 years, the military has drawn more and more on a segment of the populace in which military service is a family tradition. Among this warrior caste, the extreme burdens are being pushed back against. The "word of mouth" is not good and the anger about repeated deployments growing. These families are now likely to have members killed or with injuries or PTSD among them.

And then there is the question of veterans' opinion of the competence of their leadership and the quality of care and veterans' benefits now available.

Enlistment in the Army or USMC in any combat or combat support specialty almost guarantees two years in Iraq or Afghanistan, and a likely stop-loss if you get "caught" in a deploying unit at the end of your enlistment. You might also get called up from the IRR for further tours until your eight-year obligation is ended.

After awhile, it gets harder and harder to get people to join under these circumstances.

PWI'm at least pa... (Below threshold)

PW
I'm at least partially in favor of reinstating the draft, but mainly because anecdotal evidence of an exodus of captains from the service worries me.

And drafting hordes of unwilling teenagers will fix this how?

galoob
Enlistment in the Army or USMC in any combat or combat support specialty almost guarantees two years in Iraq or Afghanistan, and a likely stop-loss if you get "caught" in a deploying unit at the end of your enlistment. You might also get called up from the IRR for further tours until your eight-year obligation is ended.

When I enlisted in 1984 there was no Afghanistan or Iraq - but it was understood that as a grunt I would see some form of action. Indeed my peers saw service in Central America, the PI and other garden spots. It wasn't 'war' in the sense we have now but there were bullets going around.

Just saying.

Brian,I don't thin... (Below threshold)
galoob:

Brian,

I don't think the occasional deployment to the "PI" or Central America in the 80's at all compares to the intensity of what happens in Iraq now.

After all, how many were killed or wounded by hostile fire in that time period? About 19 KIA in Grenada, 23 KIA in Panama. Both over in days. Lots more in Beirut in 83, to be sure, but nothing like facing the day to day threat of a 15 month deployment to Baghdad now.

And PI? WTF are you talking about? More danger from STDs there than bullets.

Just saying.




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