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1/25/2018 7:38:29 AM
Posted: 6/24/2002 6:44:52 AM EST
The National Review June 24, 2002 Our Readiness Problem And the need to draft. By Stanley Kurtz http://www.nationalreview.com/kurtz/kurtz062402.asp Let's review. Less than ten months ago, Manhattan was turned into a war zone, as America suffered the greatest attack on its civilian population by a foreign enemy in history. The Pentagon itself was struck, with serious damage and loss of life, and the White House may have narrowly escaped destruction. Since then, the United States has successfully fought a war in Afghanistan — a war that had been completely unanticipated. But significant numbers of American troops remain tied down in that country. In the meantime, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has flared into a de facto war, most likely abetted by foes seeking to distract us from a move against Iraq. As this was going on, India and Pakistan moved to the nuclear brink, in a confrontation that still has the potential to cause many millions of deaths — perhaps the greatest short-term loss of life in human history — and to destabilize all of South and Central Asia. And as all this was taking place, it became evident that our European allies had neither the will nor the ability to project significant force beyond their borders. It is equally evident that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and even Turkey — our key allies in the Muslim world — have no wish to see us enter Iraq, and will give us minimum, if any, help in that effort. Now we learn that a mere month ago, the Joint Chiefs of Staff discouraged the president from an invasion of Iraq on grounds that a deployment less than half the size of our forces during the Persian Gulf war would push our military capacity to its outer limits. And still no one is even talking about augmenting our volunteer forces, much less instituting a draft. Is it conceivable that we can safely face a world situation this pervasively dangerous and unpredictable with armed forces much smaller even than during the Gulf War? Isn't the fact that we are already being pressured to forgo an invasion of Iraq because we lack the manpower to safely carry it off the biggest story in the country right now? Are we not living in a dream world? Why is no one talking about our lack of military preparedness? The most perceptive commentary on this situation may have been penned by country singer Charlie Daniels, who wrote in a song shortly after September 11, "Oh, the winds of war are blowing/ and there's no way of knowing/ where this bloody path we're traveling will lead." Dead on, Charlie. That's exactly why we need more troops. It says everything about our dilemma that Daniels had to pull out of a July 4 appearance on PBS after the network — the publicly funded network! — rejected his song. The other day I had an interesting chat with a Democratic consultant. Turns out this fellow had a strict policy of avoiding any television or radio interviews that might ask him to take a position on the question of invading Iraq. Just like his party, he was too internally divided to take an open stand on the question.
Link Posted: 6/24/2002 6:46:23 AM EST
It didn't used to be that way. Remember when candidate Jack Kennedy berated Vice President Nixon for a "missile gap?" The missile gap may have been bogus electioneering, but then, so is the hysterical attempt to paint Attorney General Ashcroft as Joseph Stalin. It's not the truth of the cooked-up accusation that matters, it's the direction. If the Democrats weren't still hobbled by the spirit of Vietnam, they'd be on the president's back right now for allowing our force levels to sink so low. But of course, if the president didn't have to worry about the antiwar impulses of the Democrats, our armed forces wouldn't be in trouble in the first place. We take this political calculus so for granted now, it's easy to forget what the pre-Vietnam national-security consensus was like. Whatever else September 11 changed, it has not yet brought that consensus back. The Democrats silent acquiescence in the president's war policies is superficial. And the difference between real support and the Democrats restive search for an antiwar angle is the difference between American security and American vulnerability. When I wrote about these issues last week in "New World Realities," I received an unusually large number of thoughtful and informed messages from readers. Let me tell you about some of them. Last week I noted that war on terror's unanticipated demands on domestic defense and overseas "force protection" were key factors in the military's manpower shortage. Not only do we now have to guard our borders and our nuclear-power plants, we have to guard our troops themselves from overseas terrorist attacks. A reader married to an army engineer described the problem of force protection as it began to manifest itself during the Clinton administration's downsizing of our military. This woman's husband was stationed in Germany in 1998 and 1999 during the Kosovo conflict. In short order, his base moved from Alpha (open post) to Bravo (every vehicle's occupants checked for ID) to Charlie (ID's checked and vehicles randomly mirrored and searched), and occasionally to Delta (complete post lockdown), especially after terrorist bombings in Africa. After 12-14 hour days as an army engineering technician, this soldier was added to the force-protection roster to guard gates, check ID's, and patrol perimeters. This sort of extra duty persuaded this soldier, and many of his friends, not to re-up. In other words, even during the Clinton years our troops were stretched to the limit, over-tasked by force-protection patrols and rotating deployments to trouble spots like Bosnia, Kosovo, and Kuwait, with little break between,. We've been losing good recruits because of all this. And now the problem has been multiplied several fold by still greater force protection and domestic-guard duty requirements.
Link Posted: 6/24/2002 6:47:16 AM EST
Is a draft the only solution? A number of readers suggested that before resorting to a draft, the president do something that may not have been done in 104 years. In 1898, during the Spanish-American war, President McKinley issued a formal "call for volunteers." The idea of a call for volunteers is supported by Elaine Donnelly, of the Center for Military Readiness. Donnelly believes that a draft should be undertaken only in case of a national emergency, in which we clearly lack the ability to replace such combat troops as may be casualties, or who otherwise cycle out of combat duty. Donnelly believes that the administration and the Joint Chiefs need to be more honest about the damage done to our military readiness by the downsizing of the Clinton years. She also believes that, more than anything else, want of money may be holding the president back from issuing that formal call for volunteers. The lion's share of the Pentagon's budget goes to pay and benefits for soldiers, and a significant increase in the size of an all-volunteer military would be enormously expensive. Would a call for volunteers really work? Maybe. But maybe not. Note that the supposed spike in recruitment right after 9/11 turned out to be imaginary. If 9/11 couldn't draw in more recruits, how much more likely is a presidential appeal to succeed? The point about the imaginary nature of the post-9/11 recruitment bonus is made by Charles Moskos and Paul Glastris, who have put out the most informed (and so far as I can tell, virtually the only) call for a reinstitution of the draft since September 11. The relative advantages of an expanded volunteer army and a draft are difficult to sort out. Opponents of the draft point to the poor quality of coerced troops; the need to channel military resources into training large numbers of short-term troops; and the requirement of the modern, high-tech military for long-term, professionally trained troops. Proponents of the draft argue that desertion and dishonorable discharge is actually more of a problem with volunteers than with draftees; that a draft tends to pull in better educated troops; and that drafted troops could be assigned domestic and force-protection patrols, freeing up the professionals for combat. Draft advocates point to massive savings in pay and benefits over an all-volunteer force, but draft opponents argue that the savings of a draft would be small, given the present size of the military welfare state. But of course, the real issue is political. A draft would panic the country, launch a divisive debate over such issues as deferment policy and whether women should be eligible, and likely sweep the Republicans from power. No matter how expensive or troublesome, a mere call for volunteers would do none of these things.
Link Posted: 6/24/2002 6:48:02 AM EST
So then, why hasn't the president issued a call for volunteers? Something more than money is at stake, I think. The premise of a call for volunteers is that, if the summons doesn't work, we resort to a draft. But that puts us right back in the political soup. And that is why neither the Joint Chiefs nor the administration are being frank with the American people about our readiness problems. A call for volunteers would be an admission that we do not have enough troops. That admission, all by itself, would be sufficient to raise the specter of a draft, and that would send the president's approval ratings plummeting. There's just one tiny little problem. Politics or no, we are not prepared for this war. The attack on Iraq could set off any number of unexpected military problems that would tax our already overstretched forces beyond their limits. Last week, I mentioned a few. Last month, on NRO, Adam Mersereau laid out several more. So either we go into Iraq on a bet that there will be no serious complications, or we fail to invade Iraq for want of military readiness, without even acknowledging to ourselves that this is the reason. And if we do go in and suffer an emergency in which only a draft can provide us with combat replacements, will there really be time to pass the legislation, resolve the tough questions about deferment and women, train the troops, and get them to the field in time? Let me offer a suggestion, one that came from a reader who sang the praises of the Junior ROTC. The JROTC appears to be a tremendously positive program for building character, citizenship — and military readiness — among America's youth. And of course, there's the college ROTC itself. What if the president were to call for institution of JROTC programs in every American public high school? Above all, what if the president were to insist that any college or university that takes even a penny of federal money must make a place for the ROTC? This move would neither entirely solve the military's problem, nor necessarily forestall a politically explosive discussion of military readiness. But it is a reasonable stab at a halfway house. If not in the short term, then at least in the medium and long term, growth in JROTC and ROTC might solve much of our manpower needs, and do it with volunteers. And presidential interest in these programs would be a clear, but also a somewhat safe and oblique way to publicly raise the issue of our manpower needs.
Link Posted: 6/24/2002 6:48:36 AM EST
The impact of a major presidential effort here — with real withholding of federal money to colleges as a penalty — would be huge. The press would be on it, big time. No doubt we would see some demonstrations and screaming on the Left, but in the end I think the president would easily win this fight. And the cultural impact would be enormous. But let us return to the real issue. We are not prepared to handle the all-too-possible consequences of an invasion of Iraq. Nor are we prepared for all the other imponderables that the war on terror holds, a war that will likely be with us for years or decades. Someday, somewhere, we may pay the price for our lack of preparedness. Indeed, we may even shirk what is necessary in Iraq because our leaders understand that we are not prepared. And yet the political barrier to doing something about our lack of military preparedness is immense. The problem, at base, is the question of what sort of country we have become in the wake of Vietnam and the sixties. So in the end, the real war and the culture war are the same war. — Stanley Kurtz is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
Link Posted: 6/24/2002 6:58:33 AM EST
The same simple-minded analysis we see with regard to all government spending. Perceived problem = spend more money = raise taxes + borrow more. We spend more than enough right now in the military. We need to spend it wisely. Close unneeded bases and facilities, take a hard look at worldwide troop deployments, look at using the troops we have more efficiently. The tooth to tail ratio is incredibly low, and even worse if you consider both the uniformed services and DoD civilian employees. And still the actual warriors spend way too much time on admin, post detail, and parade ground duties. This kind of whine really illustrates how there is absolutely NO ACCOUNTABILITY FOR RESULTS in our government.
Link Posted: 6/24/2002 7:23:27 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/24/2002 7:34:42 AM EST by Benjamin0001]
We spend more than enough right now in the military. We need to spend it wisely. Close unneeded bases and facilities, take a hard look at worldwide troop deployments, look at using the troops we have more efficiently. The tooth to tail ratio is incredibly low, and even worse if you consider both the uniformed services and DoD civilian employees. And still the actual warriors spend way too much time on admin, post detail, and parade ground duties.
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That isn't going to fix the problem . The problem is the US armed forces are undermanned by about 1.0 to 2.0 Million personnel.. The Merchant marine fleet has been left to rot...So we have virtually NO SEALIFT CAPACITY FOR THE ARMY/LOGISTICS. So here we sit at the brink and nothing is being done about the State of our military... This looks like a war that could possibly be bigger then Europe and the problem is time.. Yes that is the big one ... If it is not fixed , we are gonna have our ticket punched. Democrats have the screwed up belief that the existence of a Military causes war... So naturally they cut ours to the bleeding point and just left it to bleed... And so here we sit, in the same shape as England in 1941... Only there is no America to come and save our ass... We are it, we are the big dogs and we are still half asleep and not even half ready.. If the defense budget had been left at cold war levels we would be sitting on 1.5/7 Million army personel alone, we would have 36/40 fighter wings at least and 15 Super Carriers.. That is a fact as that is what Pre 90 force projections had us at through 99.. We would be in far better shape then we are in now. We would have had in excess of 100 B-2's instead of 12/20. Did you know that the Defense budget is still less then what it was in 87 by 30/40 billion dollars... And that isn't even in '87 dollars if it were then the gap would even appear more extreme and more alarming. Benjamin EDITED TO ADD: Democrats took a saw to the defense budget and expected the soldiers to say, "Ah , its a mere flesh wound." Bullshit... We can't fight a two front war... But If we have to fight in the middle east in the best of circumstance it will be a two front war, in the worst of circumstances we could end up fighting in a few Middle Eastern Countries, along with Egypt, Taiwan, and Korea... The worst case scenario is not likely, but...
Link Posted: 6/24/2002 7:42:09 AM EST
Fact of the matter is, If we go into Iraq it will probably have a cascading effect... We have to be ready for that... We are now in a situation where you either pay the band leader now, or pay the band leader later, but we are gonna have to pay, and like or not , we are gonna have to dance... Ben
Link Posted: 6/24/2002 8:15:30 AM EST
Originally Posted By Benjamin0001: The Merchant marine fleet has been left to rot...So we have virtually NO SEALIFT CAPACITY FOR THE ARMY/LOGISTICS.
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Well, this is being addressed. It's called the Military Sealift Command. It's purpose is to provide all logistics for ALL the armed forces. It started by taking over Navy auxiliary ships such as AOs and APs, etc, refitting them for civilian crews. They are building new ships as we speak. Part of the plan is having prepositioned ships throughout the world with each ship dedicated to one of the armed services equipment. Of course, there will me more than just one ship per branch, but each ship will be dedicated. I am currently in the process of trying to go to work for them.
Link Posted: 6/24/2002 9:31:50 AM EST
It's been this way for quite a long time. Both Republican and Democratic administrations. You can't blame it all on Clinton (alot yes, but alot on the Republicans as well). Money drives the train in defense spending, and if it isn't sending money into some Congresscritter's backyard it isn't getting spent. Training money and deployabiilty concerns are invisible and the first thing to get cut when some high dollar project is threatened that happens to be made in five different states (all strategically located to bring Congressional power to bear). As for deployablity, we don't have it. We haven't had it for a long time. The USAF has only enough airlift to support a single Brigade of the 82nd. Not the whole Division. Cargo planes bring in money to Congressional districts, but not as much as the multi-million dollar fighters, or the billion dollar bombers. I served under Republican administrations. We could not deploy more than a couple of divisions in less than 6 months. That's why Operation Deasert Shield was so damn long. It took forever for us to move everything we needed. We certainly don't need another million men under arms. What we need is a restructuring of what we already have. The end of the Cold War left us with the strongest and best military in the world. Despite budget cuts, etc. that gap has only increased because everyone else in the world has cutback even more. Nobody else even bothers to spend money on new technology, but we still do (because it brings money into Congressional districts). We simply need to realize that this war will require a different way of winning it, and simply organize to win it. Ross
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