Tuesday, January 25, 2005

All Volunteer Army is UnAmerican

About twice a week, I get together with about six or eight of my buds. One is a dentist, another a retired hiway patrolman, one a precious jewel dealer, an architect, a retired fireman, a businessman. We are a bunch of old white guys. What makes us a little different in my opinion is that we are Americans who are involved and invested in what’s going on in our country. We care. All but one has served in the military. Recently, our discussion centered around the military draft. I presented my idea of Universal Service or AllServe. Our dentist didn’t have much to say since he was fairly new to the group. Most of these guys had heard everything I had to say anyway. So, I asked the dentist, “Doc, what do you think about the military draft?” I’m for it he shot back. Wow, my one buddy said, “I think I need to make you guys a pair of matching earrings.” Then came the big question. “OK, that’s good but are you for it for your own children serving.” HESITATION.

I had been this route before and knew the questions to asked. Many people are for military service especially if it does not involve their own children. The Draft as a philosophical issue is one thing but involving their own family is another. Upon further prodding, my doc buddy said, “Yes, he did believe in it for his own children.” This is not totally pure as it is not in real time but I do understand. But, for now, this is good enough.

The doc’s main thing is that the draft would be great for all the disenfranchised kids in America. Those with no prospects, hanging out on street corners. Nothing to do. The Military Draft would be their ticket to a future. I agree, it surely is one element of the importance of the Draft. My good buddy, the retired hiway patrolman, a former Marine, related a military war story about something he called the Motivation Platoon in boot camp. When a young Marine in boot camp wants to quit or is messing up, anything that the drill sergeant deems that would mean he is not conforming to what a Marine should be, he is put into the motivation platoon. In the Motivation Platoon, he is given a gigantic hammer and literally sent all over Camp Pendleton breaking big gigantic boulders into little boulders. A few days of this and these guys are motivated. They move back to regular training and complete it and are truly proud of themselves. Does this happen? I thinks so. And, guess what! The unmotivated suddenly become motivated. I can’t remember the book but it came out a few years ago on the mentality of the Marines in turning youngsters with no purpose into Marines: Sempi Fi!

Recently, in Congress, several Congressman called for a return to the draft. It really wasn’t a serious effort. Relatively, politically motivated with no idea that the proposed legislation would pass. It didn’t and was mostly a sham. The President says the Draft is not needed. These generals keep parading on TV talking about how successful the Volunteer Army is; and some DOD (Department of Defense) weenie consultant volunteered how infeasible the Draft is because it would take years to get geared up. What they don't “get” is that there's more to the reinstatement of the Draft than” bodies.” How about service to country, sacrifice and of course, AllServing--the rich and the poor. All would serve, 18-40.

What we have in the Volunteer Army is incredibly unrepresentative of our democracy. Downright unpatriotic. We have a small segment of our society bearing the burden of war. The best examples are minorities: 25-35% of active duty are minorities while in the population, minorities represent 12%. Why? Many reasons, probably but for years, the military has been a gateway for minorities to get equal chances, escape the dregs of segregation and poverty and advance on an equal playing field. When I was in Korea in the eighties, at my Camp, we had five African American Sergeants Major. Three of them were female. Each had inspiring g tales about how they had overcome and how the military had given them a chance. This is great. And, while wonderful, illustrates the lack of representation in our military. AllServe is now.

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