Friday, May 13, 2005


Most Americans support the troops to do their fighting for them for sure. Uncle Sam desperately needs new soldiers. How is the best way for him to find them? This was the lead sentence in a story in the NY Times on the critical nature of the recruiting problems for the military. The Army has missed their goals for enlisting America's youth for several months. And, the forever successful and stalwart Marines, have missed their goals for three months in a row. What portends are dire scenarios if shortages reach a stage where truly national security is in peril. In my view, "the powers that be" have only themselves to blame anyway. The military is treated somewhat like the "play thing" of the President and the "illegitimate son of Buffalo Bill" by most Americans who give any thought to the military anyway. They do support as long as it is not their sons and daughters.

The article in the Times tried to help the military with a few ideas, none of which were useful in my opinion. Appealing to the "jobs and training mentality" is definitely not working. For almost the entire life of the Volunteer Army, this has worked. No longer. Once on a planeload of soldiers heading to AIT (advanced individual training), I casually asked about why they had joined the military. To a person, it was training and job skills, educational expenses after the military, and their best offer at the time. Patriotism was never even mentioned.

Idea number (1) Basically, use all sorts of measures now to appeal to young men, especially peer pressure, the opposite sex--smart TV ads, etc. Dumb! Wasting money on advertising with Nascar and in popular magazines are not going to get America's young men to enlist. Give me a break. Already, our voluntary military has reached out to the lower socio category of our populace. We don't have lawyers, doctors, chemists, Indian Chiefs sons and daughters now serving. While the Volunteer Army, up till now, has worked in terms of numbers, it no longer is, given the shortages faced.

The dumbest idea, however, appears to have come from some author of a book called, The Kinder, Gentler Military: How political Correctness Affects Our Ability to Win Wars. (2) She wants to privatize nearly everything outside of the infantry. In other words, let's outsource everything except those who die. If the NY Times article has conveyed her ideas correctly, what she doesn't have a clue about are the workings of the military in combat. You can't take some military contractor and give him/her the dedication to support the troops doing the fighting. There's aspects to the military that defy logic and esprit de corps is one of them. Esprit can't be outsourced. Sure, it might sound good to some civilian sitting in an armchair at the Pentagon but it won't work and will actually hinder. Stupid, stupid.

Almost equally as dumb is an idea of letting illegal immigrants fill the ranks of the military. Now, wait till Lou Dobbs hears this. (Lou is an anchorman on CNN who appears to have made his entire mission in life ridding the borders of illegal aliens). It is bad enough for us to have a volunteer Army where only a small portion of the people incur the risks. What about taking people from another country and letting them fight America's wars. This takes the Volunteer Army to a new level of mercenaries. Now there's some real patriotism, put people in harm's way simply because they are poor and want a better way of life. Why don't we go to the projects in Baltimore and offer the drug dealers the same amount of money they're making to get their troops to enlist. (Idea of Baltimore comes from the TV show, The Wire, which shows the Baltimore drug scene--could be any large city).

All of these silly ideas are surfaced simply because we don't want to face the problem that in order for our Armed forces to solve this problem, we have to admit that what is happening to us now is the result of a lack of foresight and designing a fair and objective system for all of America's young people to serve their country. AllServe. Some may choose the military. Others can choose a variety of things: the Peace Corps, Teach America, other possibilities of which we haven't even thought. In the final analysis, AllServe, problem solved.

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