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Sergeants ain't social workers

With Congressman Rangel's latest excursion into silliness -- the reinstatement of the draft -- I find myself having to write a piece I never thought I would have to write. It seemed so simple and fundamental that it was one of those things that didn't need saying, but apparently there are people out there (see the comments on Kim's piece for some prime examples) who don't grasp some true fundamental facts about the military.

1) The military's sole duty is to protect America, Americans, and American interests. Everything it does should revolve around those basic points, and anything that does not fit into that category, by definition, detracts from those obligations.

2) The primary tool of the military to achieve those goals is force. Not necessarily violence, but force -- the determination to use violence if necessary, but also any other means to achieve its goals, if those means will achieve the goal more efficiently than violence.

3) The end of mandatory conscription -- the "draft" -- and the institution of an all-volunteer military was, like racial integration, a severe shock to the system of the services -- but, ultimately, one that proved a tremendous advantage to the military. By limiting service to not only those who were willing to serve, but eager and had to prove themselves worthy, we increased the efficiency and morale of the armed services geometrically. Thanks to advances in training, weaponry, support technology, and doctrine, I think it is safe to say that a single US soldier of today is worth at least a dozen soldiers of World War II vintage in combat -- and today, the notion of "a single soldier" (or "An Army Of One") is as obsolete as a Colonial-era musket.

4) The biggest problem our military has ever experienced has been the good-intentioned idiots who see the military as a social laboratory, or a "representative" of America, or a social agency. Far too many times the military has been sent into situations where its primary duties simply don't apply -- recently, I'd have to cite Somalia. It's been well over a decade since the Battle of Mogadishu, and I still don't understand what the hell our forces were doing there in the first place, from the CNN-covered amphibious landings up until the White House-ordered retreat in the face of the enemy.

The military is NOT intended to be "representative" of America. Rather, it should be representative of both the best and worst of America -- simultaneously an exemplar of our finest citizens (and, occasionally, non-citizens) selflessly serving our nation, and a concrete example of the full power and fury at our command. These are the true heirs of The Greatest Generation, the men and women who saved the world from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan -- but did so by killing literally millions of people, including women, children, and other civilians. The deaths of the innocent was hardly the goal or intent, but a simple, brutal necessity.

5) Under current conditions, we have passed the point where wars are won or lost based purely on numbers of bodies in uniforms. Since World War II, we have invested tremendously in the concept of "force multipliers" -- elements and factors that increase the effectiveness of military units.

For example, flying fuel tankers that can re-fill aircraft in midair. Suppose you have a target you need to attack. Your bombers only have a range of 500 miles. That means that only air bases within 500 miles can be used. But toss in some tankers, and suddenly bases 1,000 miles or more away can take part, because their bombers can refuel to and from the attack without having to land.

One example has been the use of the Stealth bombers. They are flying their attacks from halfway around the world because they can refuel to and from the target as needed.

For another, greatly improved communications. One small group of soldiers can do the work that used to take several squads to perform, if they can readily communicate with scouts and other surveillance units. Five groups of enemy approaching? If we can locate each precisely, that one group can take them on -- and take them out -- one at a time, then move on to the next with little fear of being ambushed.

In the above-mentioned Battle of Mogadishu, the casualties were staggering -- the Somali attackers suffered over 1,000 killed and 3,000 wounded, while we suffered 19 killed and 82 wounded. Our force of 160 stood against literally THOUSANDS of attackers -- and for every one of ours we lost, they lost over 50.

And the military is doing pretty good at meeting its recruitment goals. Some months are better than others, but overall they're doing all right.

Most importantly, the people who would know the best -- the military themselves -- don't want the draft. There are still a few "lifers" who remember the bad old days when the services were chock-full of members who simply didn't want to be there and were counting the days until they could get the hell out. They were bad for morale, and led to a LOT of disciplinary problems.

For the vast majority of today's service members, they see their service as not an obligation, but a duty and a calling. They are in the armed services because they WANT to be, and they have worked damned hard to get there and stay there. To listen to the motivations behind those who advocate the draft, it is clear that they see military service as a burden -- and want to use it to "punish" those who they call "chickenhawks" -- those who support the current war, but do not serve themselves. One factor they never seem to take into account is the perception of those currently serving -- they understand the underlying contempt for the military behind that attitude, and want nothing to do with it.

The fundamental notion behind those who are calling for the return of the draft is simple: they want the war in Iraq over, and are willing to do pretty much anything to achieve it. If that means inflicting catastrophic damage on our armed services by burdening them with tens of thousands of unwilling inductees, destroying the 30+ years of progress by our Professional Military, then that's a small price to pay for ending the war.

And it's more than a little ironic: during the Viet Nam war, the anti-war side cited the ending of the draft as one of its major goals. Today, their heirs are the ones calling for its return, again in the name of ending a war they oppose.

It took years for the military to overcome the shock of the end of the draft the last time, and even longer for the determination that it was, ultimately, for the good. Lord knows how much damage its return would cause, or how long it would last, and how long it would take for us to recover this time.

I don't think we will have to find out, but I've been wrong before.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Sergeants ain't social workers:

» bRight & Early linked with First Cup 11.20.06

» The Thunder Run linked with Web Reconnaissance for 11/20/2006

Comments (23)

It's not just the inductees... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

It's not just the inductees who have a bad attitude it's all those who enlist under threat of the draft. This nation must protect our professional military from those who would damage it in any way, be it the return of the draft or the gutting of funds.

I can only wonder what the ... (Below threshold)

I can only wonder what the impact will be on recruiting and re-enlistment with folks like Rangel, Murtha, Pelosi, Durbin, Conyers, Kerry, et al in charge of Congress loudly and publicly denigrating everything related to the Iraq war over the next two years. All we hear about is bugging out in Iraq (thank you so much, Mr. Murtha), defunding the military (thank you so much, Mr. Kucinich), impeaching the commander in chief (thank you so much, Mr. Conyers), insulting our forces in the field (thank you so much, Mr. Kerry), accusing our own troops of war crimes (thank you so much, Mr. Durbin), declaring the war unwinnable (thank you Mr. Kissinger), forcing our troops out in 4 to 6 months (thank you Mr. Biden)...and the list goes on, not even mentioning the constant criticism from the press. Rumsfeld wanted no part of what the Democrats have in store for the next two years and pulled the ripcord. I can't say I blame him.

Why would anybody want to volunteer to serve in the military in this climate? The hysterical schoolgirl politicians and lawyers are back in charge of military operations, just like in Vietnam. We're about to surrender and betray every commitment we've made to the Iraqis and characterizing our own troops as incompetant thugs. 3000 soldiers have died for nothing, according to the libs. While the Democrats are crowing and boasting about their "mandate from the people", what message are we sending our troops?

Wanna bet what happens to re-enlistments and new enlistments? Anybody? Anybody? Beuhler?

One minor quibble with your... (Below threshold)

One minor quibble with your commentary on the concept of force multipliers. If your hypothetical bombers have a range of 500 miles, I'd suggest not attacking a target at a distance greater than 250 miles, assuming that you want them back, in the absence of aerial refueling capacity.

But yes, beyond that, you pretty much have nailed it down. We scarcely need a bunch of unwilling nitwits in the military.

One of the reasons the mili... (Below threshold)

One of the reasons the military do not want a draft is the wasted time and expense of having to train and supply draftees, knowing that they would have to replace them within a couple of years. It's easier to maintain a force of volunteers, than to have to maintain a revolving door of draftees who do not want to be there.

bobdog...A correction... (Below threshold)

bobdog...A correction

Our troops have been tried and convicted in the media and by members of Congress for being 'bloodthirsty' and 'cold blooded murderers' (Hersh and Murtha).

Durbin only called our troops 'Nazis'

Hermie, you've got it right... (Below threshold)

Hermie, you've got it right. One of the mistakes we made in Vietnam was the 2 year draft and the 11 month combat tour. We replaced the Permanently Amateur Military with the Volunteer Military back in the 70's and to good effect.

It was still the liberal hand-wringers and the hysterical woe-is-us media that lost Vietnam, not our troops. (Thank you, Mr. Cronkite.) Ho Chi Minh understood this and milked it to victory. Bin Laden knows it all too well and has based his strategy on it. And he's going to win, but not for Kissinger's reasons. We've already surrendered in Iraq; we're just waiting for the paperwork.

Who can blame bin Laden? It's one thing to have to face a well-equipped and determined American military. It's quite another thing if you know that American military can't count on support from the very people they volunteered to defend. All he has to do is keep the fires burning and wait a few months.

Rangel in his Dem friends w... (Below threshold)

Rangel in his Dem friends want to destroy the American military. (They don't really want a draft to defend America, they want it to weaken America.) Yet, these were the politicians elected by a majority of Amerian voters earlier this month.

We, as a nation, are facing serious trouble, not because of the Rangel's of the world, who should be seen as a joke, but by Americans voters who are either too ignorant or don't care about our survival.

Well written Jay.A... (Below threshold)

Well written Jay.

As one who began his 20 year naval career in 1981 I can assure you the first few years were a constant battle weeding out the malcontents, drug addicts and those there to avoid prison.

Once that was done, and only then, did the Navy turn into an effective fighting machine.

With people like Reid, Hano... (Below threshold)

With people like Reid, Hanoi John, Turbin Drubin, Rangel and Peeeloshi in charge and the possibility of a dimwit president I recommend everyone in the military be prepared to get out in the first quarter of 09, and I tell every young person that ask (and a lot do) to stay away from the military for the time being. Why take a chance of being put in a combat situation and then abandoned after doing an excellent job. The dim's will abandon (Battle of Mogadishu) every person that has or is serving during the WOT. All current members getting out would force the draft. Let the dimwits propose the draft bill, let the dimwits pass the draft bill. Republican should abstain from every vote and the only comment they should make on the issue is 'no comment'.

Everyone used to say that 'brainwashing' was not possible. If you look at the left wing today you will see it is not only possible, it is highly effective. Average Americans have been turned into anti-American robots by the educational systems in this country. Every democrat in the country is programmed to make the same statements time after time. Don't think so, watch the news (they are continuing to program the weak minded public) and listen to the 'one' brain rants of half of the American public.

The military does not want nor need the Draft but the Daffy Ducks of the world like Rangel/Peeeloshi/Turbin Durbin/Hanoi John, and the other do nothing members of congress will eventually get the support of the brainless and the draft will be back.

Retired military/Volunteer

Chucky Rangle sometime i wo... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

Chucky Rangle sometime i wonder if he dont need a insanity test to see if he isnt losing his sanity or is he just saying that to get lectted somewhere

That article is pretty muc... (Below threshold)

That article is pretty much right-on Jay.

For what it's worth the current Selective Service system would be administering any future Drafts if needed. The "Draft" is no longer the standard for military service but is reserved as a tool to be used when needed.

When you register for the Selective Service, you are, for all intents and purposes, registering for a future "Draft". This was put into law by the "Military Selective Service Act", signed by *gasp* former President Jimmy Carter on June 27, 1980.

For those that are interested go give the www.sss.gov website a good read, it will dispell alot of urban myth regarding what the Draft "used to be" and what it actually is today.

Jay,Spot on with y... (Below threshold)


Spot on with your analysis. As a veteran of the All Volunteer Army you are correct about the opinions of active duty towards a draft. It would do nothing to improve the military services.

If Rangel really wants to help the services he can get congress to raise the personnel ceilings in order to add a couple or more divisions, and make sure the budgets are robust enough for the military to continue to be the best. Both are easier then enacting a draft nobody wants.

One upside of a draft (ironically) is it would get a much higher level of minorities and underprivliged into service, which seems to be what the democrats want.

When something is voluntary... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

When something is voluntary, you can safely assume that the people who volunteer are the ones most interested in doing whatever the task is. Human nature tells us that making anything involuntary increases resentment of that thing. People don't like being forced to do something. Even people who might otherwise be inclined to engage in an activity can become opposed to it.

Just look at the article that Kim posted yesterday. Conservatives who dislike the government taking their money in taxes are perfectly willing to donate money to charity in large amounts. The difference? One is voluntary and the other is not.

We all know that Rangel is grandstanding here. His stunt didn't work the first time and it won't work this time.

The biggest problem our ... (Below threshold)

The biggest problem our military has ever experienced has been the good-intentioned idiots who see the military as a social laboratory, or a "representative" of America, or a social agency. Far too many times the military has been sent into situations where its primary duties simply don't apply...

So what is it about our military that tells you it's mission should be nation building? Or even could be nation building? What are we doing in Iraq?

Rangel's intention to reins... (Below threshold)

Rangel's intention to reinstate the draft would then set him up to play the race card by claiming that a "disproportionate" number of minorities are being drafted.

He's such a hypocritical p.o.s. I just want to HURL!

It has been said that the b... (Below threshold)

It has been said that the best way to test the fairness of a suggestion is to turn it on it's head.

Attach a rider to the military draft legislation specifying that congresspeople and senators will henceforth be DRAFTED from the legislators and senators of the individual 50 states.

Is this then fair?

You know, I think ScrapIron... (Below threshold)

You know, I think ScrapIron's got a hell of an idea. Let Rangel introduce his draft bill. And let Kucinich introduce his "Defund the war" bill. Let the Democrats pass it by themselves, with abstentions across the board from Republicans.

Let the Democrats go on record for a change, all by themselves, just before Bush vetoes both bills. It would reveal volumes about what they really think is important. They want the spotlight; give it to them. For once, they won't be able to blame it all on the evil Republicans when it gets laughed off the news all around the world.

Hell of an idea.

You're 100% right about the... (Below threshold)

You're 100% right about the draft of course.

And Sergeants aren't social workers... they're more like den mothers. ;-)

The First Shirt being the surpreme den mother.

As a 24 year member of the... (Below threshold)

As a 24 year member of the all volunteer Air Force, I personally don't want to see a draft. I think it would be counter productive. If the politicians want to help the military, make them serve with the military. A person who has never experienced what the Troops go through cannot possible understand what the Marine is thinking when the bullets are flying over head, or what the Soldier is feeling when a young "civilian" runs up wearing a dynamite vest and blows away half his platoon as well as a crowd of innocent bystanders.
You want to Draft someone, make it a law that if you want to be a politician than you have to either have served in the military, or your children/grand children have to serve while you are in office. With power comes responsibility, it is time that those in office faced up to those responsibilities. If you are willing to place others lives in danger then you should be willing to place your own life (or your own flesh and blood) in the same danger.
Of course I could be Biased since most males in the history of my family have served in one service or another.

Drew, I generally agree tha... (Below threshold)

Drew, I generally agree that Rangel's draft law is nothing but a political spite fence, and I've got a huge plateful of skepticism about his real motives. I suspect it has more to do with vicious politics than our national security. Same for Kucinich, Conyers, Murtha, Kerry, Levin, Biden and the rest of the Copperheads in congress. A few of these guys actually served, so I don't think military experience guarantees anything reliable.

I can only wonder what our troops are thinking about all this. Like Lucy and Charlie Brown's football, these guys gave up a lot for what they believed was a just cause and because they believed the country needed them to do it. And for what? How about the Iraqis? This will be the second time in a generation we skedaddled and left them high and dry. How about the rest of the middle east? How much stock will they put in our word next time some creep kills his way to power in the Gulf. What is America's word worth, anyway? Apparently not much, and not much longer than one election cycle.

John Kerry was accidentally correct back when he was a snide aristocratic jerk in front of Congress: "Who wants to be the last American to die for nothing?" He's about to answer his own question.

Lincoln had it easy compared to Bush.

I the Iraqis are supposed t... (Below threshold)

I the Iraqis are supposed to make it on their own, to succeed or fail, I'm waiting for the anti-war left to start insisting that our disadvantaged start pulling themselves up by the bootstraps.

Or explain why they're suddenly all libertarian, law of the jungle, when it comes to people's lives.

Guys...I was the XO ... (Below threshold)
Big Al:

I was the XO of a Army basic training company in 1970. Yes they did not want to be there, but I concluded the experience helped about 60%; it had no effect on 30%; and 10% were hurt by it. Good or bad?
Yes, it is expensive to keep on training draftees, but we went into a colonial war in Iraq with an imperial Army. Good or bad??
And when do the feelings of Army officers count when it comes to the convenience of volunteers? Again good or bad??
Also a draftee company gets a good mix of troops. In one training cycle a total of 21 trainees failed the pre-test. My CO said "Get them through!!". I remembered we had 21 college grads, so I grabbed them and assigned them one-on-one. A total of 20 passed the final test.
So, even though I am a Republican, I applaud Rep Rangel's support of "shared sacrifice". When was the last time any Democrat asked for this??? Or for that matter any politician??? So as you can see I support the draft-look at Israel, but I fear that only an invasion from outer space would bring it back. Or just maybe a revolution in Mexico. My thoughts

While I acknowledge some po... (Below threshold)

While I acknowledge some politicians served in the military, how many of them served as an enlisted draftee? I bet the majority of them were officers and damn few of them had actual combat experience. And i dont count Kerry's 90 days on the river as an actual tour of combat. Any credability he had was lost when he pulled the stunts he did on his return. Actually I believe that his protesting was done while still an Officer in the Navy and as such he should be still elligible for a courtsmartial, Treason during wartime doesnt have a statute of limitations does it?
My son is currently serving on active duty and he thinks the whole draft idea is BS, to quote him "last i checked, Im not a minority, and Im not Lower income, I VOLUNTEERED to defend my country, so others could live their lives. Not so you can f*** it all up by FORCING people into the military where they will refuse to do their jobs because their being FORCED and it will end up getting ME, MY FREINDS, AND MY FAMILY possibly killed."
I think he sums it up quite nicely for a 19 year old.
The way to improve the military is to pay them better, Support them better, give them the weapons and equipment they need and let them do the jobs they are trained to do. And stop playing armchair general or insisting they need this new system just because it is built by your pet project.






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