The False Allure of the Draft

Universal Military Service would be a disaster for the Army. As long as I’ve been reading blogs, I’ve seen commenters arguing that the nation should bring back the draft. For several reasons, this would not be advisable. The electoral political problems are outside the scope of this post, but suffice it to say that there is not popular political support for the idea. But if there were some crazy confluence of opinion that  brought it about, the supporters of the idea would quickly come to regret the decision.

Almost every discussion of universal military service claims it would be beneficial to the youth of America to serve the nation. But that isn’t the metric by which these things are measured. The only valid question is “does this improve the defense of the nation?” I’ve railed against social engineering in the service where “diversity” is proclaimed as a good in and of itself, and a goal that must be reached. No one has ever shown me the metric by which diversity makes a unit more combat ready. Most of my audience is politically conservative (as am I). How can we argue against using the military as an agent of social engineering in the case of diversity, then turn about and argue for a massive shift in our defense posture based solely on the desire to engage in social engineering of our own? If the draft isn’t implemented to improve the combat readiness of the Army, why do it? And if the draft can be shown to hurt combat readiness, doesn’t that mean that any supposed benefits to society are not worth the price?

The foremost problem with the idea of universal military service is that there are just too many people in the country compared to the size of the Army we’re willing to support. Our active Army is currently somewhat more than half a million troops, and a roughly similar size for the reserve components. Roll in the other branches of the service, and the total comes out to just under 1% of our population. For the Army to maintain its strength, it currently recruits roughly 1% of the seniors in high school, and a similar number of recent graduates.  If we were to truly implement universal military students, we’d be looking at inducting somewhere around 47% of high school seniors. That’s a massive number of people, far beyond any capacity for the army to house, let alone train.  How many male seniors graduate each year? And how many divisions would that amount to?

Further, large swaths of this population of seniors is unsuited for military service.  Many suffer from health issues that would make them liabilities more than assets. Large numbers graduate from high school with such poor reading and math skills as to be virtually untrainable for even the most minor technical fields. Far too many have already had such encounters with law enforcement demonstrating the lack of moral fiber to be successful in the service. And of course, there are an enormous number of young Americans that are just too fat to make good soldiers. Under the current standards of service, just finding sufficient numbers of people qualified to serve is a challenge. What would we do with those people that are unsuitable? Our options would be to either drastically change the standards of service (thereby lowering combat readiness, and saddling commanders with troops that just can’t do the job) or exempt those unqualified under the current standards of service, and in effect, punish those folks who do meet the standards by forcing them into the service while others who made poor choices (ate too much, smoked dope, broke the law, failed to study) are rewarded with an exemption from service. That’s a perverse incentive system there, and one almost guaranteed to have unhappy second order consequences.

Any large increase in the number of soldiers will cost enormous sums of money. That’s money we just don’t have, and frankly, I don’t think the Chinese are all that willing to finance a large expansion of our military right now. Faced with a large increase in the end strength of the Army, the choice would be to raise and equip units to the standards we employ now, in terms of equipment and supporting logistics, at ruinous costs; or to raise large numbers of formations that are primarily infantry based, with a lesser standard of equipment and support (and probably lesser standards of training as well- training dollars and space to train troops ain’t cheap). But what would we do with these large, poorly equipped, poorly trained units? Are we willing to have two levels of competency in the Army? Regular units that are equipped and trained as they are today, and then large draftee units that, if committed to combat, would be certain to sustain higher casualties, and less likely to achieve their missions? I think not. It would neither raise the combat readiness of the Army, nor would it be fair to those people drafted.

Indeed, as much in favor as I am of a larger Army, what would the mission of all these units be? Having a large Army sitting around doing nothing isn’t very useful. It smacks of the worst sort of government make-work.

If we can’t accept ALL the available manpower into service, then the draft ceases to be Universal Military Service, and instead becomes Selective Service. But who would decide who would be selected? Almost invariably, a series of exemptions would be carved out that would allow either deferment or exemption from service. How likely is it that those exemptions would lead to the wealthiest, most privileged finding a way to avoid an unpleasant couple years of service, while the poorer (and more minority laden) slices of America would be more likely to be called to the colors? It was largely because of this injustice in how the draft was implemented that we went to an all-volunteer force in the first place.  Further, loading up the Army with tens of thousands of inductees that feel that they are paying a price that the elites of the country don’t have to would build resentment. Tell me how that would help raise esprit de corps and contribute to combat readiness. Nobody ever said life in the Army was fair, but usually troops realize they’re getting screwed by the fickle finger of fate, not their friends and neighbors.

There is no practical way to implement a draft that would improve the combat readiness of the Army.  I remain extremely proud of my service in the US Army. I strongly believe that most people that enlist will benefit from it. And I can recall more than once as a recruiter meeting young men and women that I wished I could compel to serve. I thought they would be an asset to the Army, and  I thought that such service would benefit them as well. But there is no way devise a conscription that would be free from abuse and still help the Army recruit, train, equip, field and sustain a force second to none.

15 thoughts on “The False Allure of the Draft”

  1. Brad, you fall into a common trap in this post. You are correct we don’t need “Universal” military service for the active services. Personally, I’ve never pushed that, and no one I know, or have read, does either. Frankly, your post is simply not persuasive.

    It is true not everyone is medically suited for military service. This has always been the case. Same with intelligence. We didn’t call it the “Moron Corps” when I was in, but we certainly shared the sentiment.

    Still, the system you support is inimical to republican virtue and is not sustainable in a free Republic. We are already seeing the effects of the free ride from people that think they are entitled simply because they were born here. No responsibility, just bennies.

    Rome was lost because of the loss of the Republic. It took awhile, but it was obvious that Rome was degraded by the time of Christ and they were just running on inertia and momentum. We reached that point during the 70s because enough weenies were elected, some, ironically, veterans of WW2 (McGovern, a good example, was an 8th AF pilot in England), to raise hell because the little babies didn’t want to get shot at. While Vietnam was indeed noble, it was a policy war that resulted because of the malfeasance of Truman at the end of WW2 and during Korea. I think Vietnam was worth fighting, but Johnson did not go about things correctly, and because teh draft was in effect mommies babies were afraid of some flying lead. Simply put, they were cowards.

    Having said that, many of those who fought Vietnam had voted for the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Many were for it before they were against it, and those same people agitated others to commit lawless acts that bid fair to destroy the military (my father retired because he’d had enough of the late Vietnam Air Force).

    I’ve said that to say this,

    Many are glad to vote AUMF because they have no stake in the fight. Many oppose such, not because such is bad for the country, but they simply don’t want the country defending themselves. A large body of trained manpower is needed for many functions and if we had maintained the founder’s vision, spooling up for things like WW2 would not have been the tough haul it was. It is also *very* likely we would never have had to fight it because not only would we have been able, as Yamamoto put it, place “a rifle behind every blade of grass,” but we would have been able to do it almost any place we chose to go. Also, WW1 would not have been fought by us as too many congresscritters kiddies would have been called up to risk life and limb.

    Beyond not having to fight as many wars, society tends to more disciplined when military service is more general. Few people realize how much influence the military had on the 50s and early 60s.

    What I think should happen is the states need to fully re-establish their Militias. Every able bodied and minded young man is trained to the level of Infantry AIT during his Junior and senior year summers. He is then assigned to his state militia where he serves until he reaches the state’s top age for Militia service. If he wants to go active then you have a kid that is already trained to Infantry standards and he can then undergo specific MOS training for something else if he wants something else. The Marines probably would not accept such training, but that would be their choice. I’d let a kid bypass the training if he signs for the Marines in his junior year, but he will revert to Militia status once off active duty, unless he attains retired status from the Marines. The Navy would have specific service training they would need to dish out, but that would be along the lines of a transition course.

    You would not need anyone on active duty beyond what we have now. The State Militias, however, would bulk up. Essentially, everyone physically and mentally qualified would be trained. Period. They would not have to go on active duty, but they would be subject to call up if needed in time of war. Those times would be rare as no one is likely to want to pick a fight with us. China included. They remember what we did to them in Korea with a far smaller, and less advanced, establishment than we have now.

    One last thing. No service, no honorable discharge, no vote. When your service has ended, and you have an honorable discharge in hand, you get the franchise. Not until. During the time in you learn real American History, not the bilge taught in schools these days, and you learn what you would be fighting to defend. The discipline alone will make a huge difference in society. Learning why the discipline is needed, will make an even larger difference.

    You don’t agree for very limited reasons. Yes, draftees are a bit harder to control. Sergeants don’t like that, but it’s part of the game. It’s their duty to do so. No sane individual wants to be where they can be killed or maimed, but the maintenance of a free Republic requires such from its citizens. However, seeing it just from the standpoint of your job in the military is myopic. The Military serves the Republic, not the other way around. Trying to have it any other way will get you the type of degraded society we now have. Withing 5 years you are going to see the final result. It is going to be very ugly, and the Army is, for all practical purposes, going to be destroyed.

    1. There’s a word for what you’re proposing. It’s called a timocracy. Literally it translates as “rule by the worthy.” It was first implemented in Athens under the Solonian Constitution. There it calculated an individual’s worth to society based off how much grain they produced.

      Heinlein proposed, and Tom Kratman reinforced, what you’re proposing. Service=franchise. I’m curious though, if franchise would come only after honorable discharge from the State Militia, wouldn’t the voting pool be limited to everyone over 50? Or are you suggesting discharge from Federal military service as the requirement?

    2. “Starship Troopers” was set under a “World Federation” and as such all military service was Federal Service. What I’m proposing is more along the lines of the Swiss System, which is what the Founders wanted here. What I propose is that Militia service and Federal service would be the same for the purpose of the franchise. And, yes, the electorate would end up being at least 47 years of age, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

  2. While I won’t successfully make the case, nobody has yet…
    I am personally not for a draft. I am also not for universal military service. While I agree that nobody should get a free ride, the fact of the matter is that the military cannot and should not absorb huge swaths of young adults, many of whom are unsuited to military service, as Brad rightly sums up. Where I take exception to Brad is that he fails to extend the argument convincingly as to why a system of exemptions/deferments etc is indicative that the draft would not work. The idea that “we can’t take all, so we shouldn’t take a few” is a logical fallacy. The draft worked before, and there is no reason why it wouldn’t again, if reinstated. Draft boards existed to make the hard decisions. So what if some people get over, that is the nature of life. Quartermaster also brings up nice-but-impractical ideas, such as no-service no-franchise. I like it, but it is never going to happen, largely because society has changed drastically since the 50s-60s where you accurately describe the postive impact of military service on society in general, but also because of the impracticality of universal service. I agree with much of your sentiment about the decline of American society, but….
    The military does not exist to instill discipline in young adults, but to defend the nation. (This assumes that you ascribe to the idea that the armed forces are not for social experimentation: whether for DADT or to strengthen the youth, it is all the same.) Bottom line is that the military is built to the right size (by someone’s analysis, and within budgetary constraints) to defend the country against forseeable threats. If and when the threat is greater than can be met by the volunteer force, then conscription/draft will have to be reinstituted. This will not be universal service, and it will be selective in who it takes into the service, and it will be politically unpopular. Enough rambling from me.
    I would like to see some clarification on the following comment: “I think Vietnam was worth fighting, but Johnson did not go about things correctly, and because teh draft was in effect mommies babies were afraid of some flying lead. Simply put, they were cowards.” I see four possible groups: parents, those who were drafted, those were subject to the draft but not called up, and those who sought to avoid the draft. Which do you see as cowards?

  3. Esli writes:Where I take exception to Brad is that he fails to extend the argument convincingly as to why a system of exemptions/deferments etc is indicative that the draft would not work. The idea that “we can’t take all, so we shouldn’t take a few” is a logical fallacy. The draft worked before, and there is no reason why it wouldn’t again, if reinstated. Draft boards existed to make the hard decisions.

    I’ll admit that my supporting arguments were kind of weak. But I do remain convinced that any supposedly fair system would quickly be gamed to skew the results of a draft to exclude those people who’s families are politically connected, thus putting an unreasonable burden on those in the lower socioeconomic strata. Does anyone honestly believe that draft board members, who would likely be political appointees, would not be tempted to view their position as an opportunity for patronage?

    Quartermaster writes: I think Vietnam was worth fighting, but Johnson did not go about things correctly, and because teh draft was in effect mommies babies were afraid of some flying lead. Simply put, they were cowards.

    I too would like to see some clarification of this statement. While I don’t believe that draftees would make the best material for an army, I also know that the VAST majority of people who were drafted stepped up, served honorably, and in many instances, far above and beyond the call of duty. Indeed, I hold a particular respect for those Americans who, called upon by their fellow Americans, stepped up to do a job that they didn’t want to do, and did it magnificently.

    My concern as a former NCO regarding draftees isn’t so much that Sergeants would have to lead people that didn’t really want to be there. My concern is that a selective service would quickly become skewed to the point that Sergeants would be trying to lead less than the best and brightest that we see today, and instead struggle to lead people that are ill equipped to serve, AND don’t want to be there. Those Sergeants would salute the flag, take charge, move out, and do their utmost to execute the mission. But making their job harder by design isn’t the way to improve combat readiness.

    QM, you also argue for a massive state Militia organization. For what purpose beyond instilling military discipline in our youth? And at what cost? There’s a reason we got away from that model. Simply put, minimally trained, large troop formations are useless on the battlefield. We proved that conclusively in 1991. They are a liability, not an asset.

    As to such a large body preventing our fight with Japan, that’s utter hogwash. The challenge in WWII wasn’t raising a large Army, it was equipping that Army, and finding a way to transport it to a theater and support it once there. That’s an industrial challenge far more than a manpower one.

    And while we might argue the merits of a service/franchise connection, it remains completely out of the realm of reality. So in addition to putting every male in the state militia, we’re going to add every female as well. Or are we to deny them the franchise? And what do we DO with all these females? Do we excuse them from call up for pregnancy? Won’t that encourage unwanted pregnancy? Do we make them show up even if pregnant? Won’t that cause an unsustainable drain on our military health care service? And what do we do for those folks who just cannot be utilized in the service? Tell ’em that we live in a representative republic, but they don’t get a vote? Taxation without representation much?

    1. Sure, I agree that the resultant draft, in execution, would be “gamed” by the populace; it always has been. I am not saying that the draft would be equal, it would not put in rich/poor, white/black/hispanic/asian male/female in proportion to their numbers in society. If ever the draft became necessary, it would do what is designed to do: put the requisite number of healthy males into the armed forces. The majority of them would be bettered by their service, and would serve credibly. Some portion would cause great turmoil for their military leadership, and as always, the majority of the country would step up and do the right thing, even though they wouldn’t like it.

  4. “QM, you also argue for a massive state Militia organization. For what purpose beyond instilling military discipline in our youth? And at what cost? There’s a reason we got away from that model. Simply put, minimally trained, large troop formations are useless on the battlefield. We proved that conclusively in 1991. They are a liability, not an asset.”

    I find this interesting Brad. I suppose Benning trains people so poorly that you were useless in the scheme of things?

    “The challenge in WWII wasn’t raising a large Army, it was equipping that Army, and finding a way to transport it to a theater and support it once there. That’s an industrial challenge far more than a manpower one.”

    Brad, this is utter BS. It was very painful to raise and train the nearly 16 million that served. With a proper militia regime, much of this would be mitigated. The industrial challenge would have still been there, but we met that one with a lot of pain. About as much as raising the Army and Navy to fight those ships.

    As for your contention that we would have fought WW2 anyway, I’ll still adhere to my position. WW2 was one of the major outcomes of WW1, Wilsonianism and the western democracies’ weakness. With teh ability to bring large numbers to the flag at short notice people don’t mess with you. Germany sincerely feared Switzerland and they were able to stay out of the war as a result. Hitler ordered planning to invade Switzerland and was warned off by the General Staff.

    I need to add, however, that FDR really wanted us in the war. Given a strong militia system where everyone is subject to combat, mendacious politician are more strongly controlled. The troops, in my observation, are far more politically aware than the general populace and putting things over on such people tends to be far harder. That is a major reason why politics tended to be far more moderate when a larger proportion of the population had served.

    “And while we might argue the merits of a service/franchise connection, it remains completely out of the realm of reality.”

    Presently this is true, but it does not have to remain that way. Reality ha a strange way of changing. If it does not change, however, kiss the US goodbye. We are very close to that no matter what, anyway.

    “So in addition to putting every male in the state militia…”

    Sez who? Why would the standards for the mentally unable be relaxed? Why should they be? Do we wish to continue the PC rubbish that is dominating our politicians as we read and write here? And, give me one good reason why the franchise should be continued for the distaff side? The bale effects of female suffrage are self evident to anyone that looks at how government spending and divorce rates have gone through the roof with the rise of feminism. Once more we are dealing with the nonsense the left has shoved down our throats and needs to be ended before it destroys us. While many women would object to being placed in the same category with the mentally unable as far as voting is concerned, many women would also breathe a sigh of relief. As for the squeals against it, I could care less. Engineers are nasty people in that we look at problems and propose solutions. If people don’t want to listen, they pays their money and takes their chances. A majority of the time, the get what they deserve, and normally it ain’t pretty.

    In Proverbs 22:3 we find,
    “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, But the simple pass on and are punished. ”

    I’ve never seen a compelling reason for military service by women. We had the auxiliaries during WW2 and through the late 70s and they did good service doing non-combat jobs and freeing up men for combat service. OTOH, only a barbaric country will intentionally place women in harm’s way. Such a country is not worthy of defense, and will be unable to rally a large enough portion of its men to defend such a regime except by deceit or compulsion. Under such circumstances you will see serious resistance by people like myself and my son (My son got out as a SSG and was convinced the military was in deep trouble with women’s service in combat support positions, and combat arms such as the MPs and Aviation a very serious mistake, but symptomatic of a far deeper rot).

    Frankly, Brad, I think you will get your way, but the end will not be pretty and the US will go to its end. What you cite as problems are mostly red herrings as far as the military goes, but they are symptoms of deep rot in the US body politic.

    1. So tell me more about your Swiss-like Militia System? Who would be responsible for boot camp level training? What would become of the National Guard under this plan? Would the President have control over the State Militias?

      I think the only constraint for service should be mental facility. If one is a quadriplegic and blind in both eyes, but still wants to serve, then a place should be found. Counting the hairs on a caterpillar by touch, for example. 😉

    2. QM: I see your argument boil down to: 1. Mandatory service in state militia or federal service (I presume USANG or USAR remain options too); 2. More men under arms make the government less likely to use it; and, 3. Women should have their rights to vote stripped away while all men should have the right to vote, but only after completion of military service (if I recall from a previous post). After I read Starship Troopers, I thought that was a cool idea. Reading your post, I have decided that this would truly represent the end of the United States as it was founded, and want no part of it. I am curious if you actually advocate the things you say, or merely state it as intellectual thought.
      See below for some commentary/opinion on your above post.
      -“I find this interesting Brad. I suppose Benning trains people so poorly that you were useless in the scheme of things?” Ad hominem, but funny.
      -“Brad, this is utter BS. It was very painful to raise and train the nearly 16 million that served. With a proper militia regime, much of this would be mitigated. The industrial challenge would have still been there, but we met that one with a lot of pain. About as much as raising the Army and Navy to fight those ships.” Brad is correct: it was much easier to raise any number of soldiers/sailors than to build the necessary equipment and field it for that formation. Particularly earlier in the war, with the need to re-tool or establish the entire industrial base of the nation. Training the force, though, was the real long-pole in the tent. But this point is moot for modern warfare anyway, since current equipment is drastically more complicated and would take even longer to procure and train with. Bottom line, as Rumsfeld said, we are going to war with what we have, not what industry will assemble in a couple of years. We could field an army of trained recruits, and have nothing with which to arm them.
      -“…. I’ll still adhere to my position. WW2 was one of the major outcomes of WW1, Wilsonianism and the western democracies’ weakness.” True enough.
      -“With teh ability to bring large numbers to the flag at short notice people don’t mess with you.” True in theory; recall Yamamoto’s comment that “we have awakened the sleeping giant” or whatever it was.
      -“Germany sincerely feared Switzerland and they were able to stay out of the war as a result. Hitler ordered planning to invade Switzerland and was warned off by the General Staff.” We were ATTACKED by Japan (not Germany, obviously), despite our huge manpower/industrial potential because they assumed they could knock us out before we could maximize it. Same way Germany thought it could beat France and then Russia in WWI. Industrial capacity and manpower that are unrealized potentials are not a present threat. Same thing with your State Militia. If they can’t be mobilized and equipped, they are a potential threat at best. Current economic and military realities mandate that your State Militia would not be adequately trained or equipped. Having trained the USANG for two years, I know how hard it is to give them a modicum of training and the Militia would be worse.
      -“The troops, in my observation, are far more politically aware than the general populace and putting things over on such people tends to be far harder. That is a major reason why politics tended to be far more moderate when a larger proportion of the population had served.” In my opinion, troops are not more politically aware. Regardless, in your words the other day, the military serves the republic, not the reverse. We serve our civilian masters, for better or worse. I don’t believe that politics being more conservative when more people had served is a causal relationship, but a demographic one. The most liberal groups today are statistically minorities and college-educated white females. These groups have increased dramatically since the halcyon conservative days of yore.
      -Brad-“And while we might argue the merits of a service/franchise connection, it remains completely out of the realm of reality.” QM-“Presently this is true, but it does not have to remain that way. Reality ha a strange way of changing.” Do you actually believe that this could happen? Be imposed, actually? I challenge you to describe the set of political/cultural/social circumstances that would exist that would allow this to occur, either by voluntary relinquishment or through governmental fiat.
      -“If it does not change, however, kiss the US goodbye. We are very close to that no matter what, anyway.” The United States will not cease to exist if we don’t adopt Heinlein-esque standards of franchise; however, it just might end if we come to the point where we strip the vote from the majority of people. Adding in mandatory service via federal or state military service negates the reason Heinlein advocated for franchise through service, which was that you volunteered to serve, not were compelled to as you advocate. Are you going to mandate that people vote, too?
      -“ Why would the standards for the mentally unable be relaxed? Why should they be? Do we wish to continue the PC rubbish that is dominating our politicians as we read and write here?” I am not sure what you are saying here, but it appears to read that you are saying that mental standards should be relaxed to serve? I am totally against that.
      -“And, give me one good reason why the franchise should be continued for the distaff side?” Because it is the law of the land as adopted by high enough percentages in all of the states to be enacted as an amendment to our constitution. I find that to be a compelling reason.
      -“The bale effects of female suffrage are self evident to anyone that looks at how government spending and divorce rates have gone through the roof with the rise of feminism. Once more we are dealing with the nonsense the left has shoved down our throats and needs to be ended before it destroys us.” How is this going to be ended? At the barrel of a gun? While I agree with most of your concerns about society, the fact is that we are a republic. We, the electorate, have chosen these people that have made these decisions, laws, policies, regulations, etc. Until we VOTE in people that are of like mind, we will put up with it. That’s how it works here.
      “While many women would object to being placed in the same category with the mentally unable as far as voting is concerned, many women would also breathe a sigh of relief.” Women that would breathe a sigh of relief that their voting right was stripped from them…..currently don’t vote. I don’t believe that more than 1% of women would “breathe a sigh of relief.” As for my wife, she votes the way I do, which probably matches your voting pretty closely, and you are not going to take her right to vote. Period.
      -“I’ve never seen a compelling reason for military service by women. We had the auxiliaries during WW2 and through the late 70s and they did good service doing non-combat jobs and freeing up men for combat service.” You just pointed out an excellent reason for women to serve.
      -“OTOH, only a barbaric country will intentionally place women in harm’s way. Such a country is not worthy of defense, and will be unable to rally a large enough portion of its men to defend such a regime except by deceit or compulsion.” So the US is unworthy of defense, barbaric, and unable to man our armed forces except through deceit or compulsion? However, you propose compulsory service.

    3. I think Esli addresses pretty much every point I wanted to make in response, and I am pretty much in alignment with him.

      The one point I wanted to address was implying that Ft. Benning did not train its infantrymen well. In point of fact, it does what it is designed to do very well. But the question is, what IS it that Benning trains soldiers for? OSUT training is merely a gateway. It provides a young infantrymen with just the basic individual skills for an entry level infantryman. That baseline of competence is designed so that a soldier can join a unit, and be able to participate in the UNIT level collective training that gives our infantry forces their edge. OSUT training is just the beginning of the formation of a competent force. Think of it as putting the rough cut on a series of stones that a master jeweler will later polish and assemble into a beautiful ring or necklace. It’s a necessary but not sufficient condition. But to take a large mass of the population, run them through 14 weeks of training, and then release them to inactive status means that you have a force that has little combat power, and would be a liability on the battlefield.

  5. “So the US is unworthy of defense, barbaric, and unable to man our armed forces except through deceit or compulsion? However, you propose compulsory service.”

    Certainly do, but you leave out quite a bit when you respond in such a flippant manner. We would no longer place women in harm’s way.

    Brad and Esli, I know that training the ARNG is a tough proposition, and I’ve never said otherwise. Same with the ARes as well. Can’t escape that fact. The fact remains the NG and Reserve stood between us and defeat in WW2 and allowed us to augment the small active branches quickly when we first went to war.

    Yes, AIT is a gateway. I don’t claim otherwise. That’s true of all service schools. You’re training is never finished until you retire. Having said that, however, a full militia system would also carry out training. It would also be leavened by people returning from active duty that did not retire. Even given Esli’s experience with the ARNG, things don’t have to be as bad as he makes out. I was in a very good NG Armored until that would not have had any hesitation about going into combat with them. We had several officers that had come out of active duty units that were of the same opinion. NG units don’t have to be sorry. When they are, it will be mostly because of the leadership. The reserve component units that have been called up for ME service have, I understand, suffered higher casualty rates than the active units. This is to be expected of green units. I think if you look at the rates of active units when they were first exposed you will similar results.

    As I have pointed out you guys will get your way. The problem is we are watching the Republic die. It may already be dead. The populace is basically cut off from the responsibilities of citizenship and have acquired a an entitlement mentality. Female suffrage, the degradation of the military by including women in combat support, and soon into combat units themselves, not to mention the sapping of the overall moral strength of the troops by placing queers in the ranks, and you have a recipe for failure. Those are some of the reasons I tell young men to stay away from the military. It is deeply degraded now, and is about to get far worse.

    History is not kind the opinions both of you hold. I understand why you hold them, but I can not agree with you. While I wish I were wrong, the system is squarely on the path Rome and Greece trod. We have managed to last longer than either of them did on this path because of factors that did not exist for them. The end will be the same. This time, however, the entire world is going to suffer for it.

    Esli, I have no idea what units you’ve been in, but every unit I’ve even been in has been far more politically aware than the civilian world. The troops we hosted in our home when we were in Germany, draftees almost to a man, were more aware than the civilians we knew.

    I’ve said all I intend to say on the matter.

  6. QM:
    Nothing meant to be flippant. I actually prefer that women not be in the military,prefer DADT remained in effect, and would also prefer some form of compulsory service. I concur that military service conveys a greater sense of maturity, responsibility and conservatism in their “byproducts” (being veterans, regardless of wartime service or no). My USARNG opinions come from 1. serving with them for 1 year after I ETS’d from RA; 2. evaluating units all over the western US for two years; and, 3. seeing them in Iraq. I would agree with you that they (USARNG) seem more mature and aware then their active duty brethren. I do not believe that this political awareness extends to the general population of active duty soldiers fresh out of high school. I have talked to them for years because politics is an interest of mine, and, while keeping within the bounds of proper civil/military relations, I have been apalled at their lack of knowledge. (The fact that they are generally politically more conservative, or that they dislike a president/senator/congressman does not demonstrate a politcal awareness, only an uninformed-but-correct political stance.) Many senior NCOs and officers are more aware than their civilian counterparts, though. My active duty unit experience spans 1986 until now (less 4 years for college), and includes positions from rifleman to the XO of a heavy Brigade Combat Team at 8 different army installations, and three trips to Iraq. Despite my personal opinions, I recognize that the current economic, societal, cultural values and standards within the country will not change. Women will continue to serve, they will always have the vote, there will never be universal military service, and the country is indeed in dangerous, but in my opinion not fatal, times. As a matter of fact, call me crazy, but I am currently optimistic for the political mood and prospects for the country as a whole. I too have said all I will say, having answered some questions you seemed to raise within your comments, and I appreciate having been made to think a bit for the last 12 hours…

    1. Oh yeah, QM, I concur with you on concerns over the leadership in the ARNG. My opinion is that the soldiers were quite often motivated, receptive and trainable. The leadership was who was most set in their ways, resistant to training, unwilling to push their soldiers to train hard, and often suffered a we/they mentality at odds with everyone else. Sadly this was always to the detriment of the soldiers. It is worth nothing that the vast majority of senior leadership in the ARNG divisions was sacked and replaced before going into combat!

Comments are closed.