Thursday, June 09, 2005


Military Recruitment has gone South based on everything we read. The NY Times recently did an editorial called, The Death Spiral of the Volunteer Army. Pretty good title and I hope they are right! What I have been lobbying for is the return of the draft as part of a Universal Service option. The Volunteer Army worked when there was no war. Kids could go in with the idea of money for college, learn a skill, maybe even see a foreign port or two. Plus, most of them had little prospects for the outside anyway or if they did, couldn't figure out what the prospects were. Parents liked the idea of the military: get the kid out of the house, instill some discipline, teach independence. It was win win.

For years, military recruitment has been a "piece of cake." With the arrival of Iraq, in particular, the cake has turned to stone. We could cogitate our navels for lots of reasons but the idea of maybe chasing some educational money while dodging bullets in Iraq has caused a little loss of appeal. Thank you very much! For years, the Army has had its pick of the numbers of available males, by all accounts, to be around 60 million with the military quota as something like 80,000. What has gotten the old "pucker factor" up is that the Marines, who have great looking uniforms, can't even get their few good men.

American youngsters are no dummies! They read or listen to the news, check out the net, talk to their friends, and although the brass constantly says we are winning, they are looking at the numbers: over 800 Iraqis killed last month and the death toll of Americans creeping up and up. And, recruitment has lost maybe their key ally--parents who are no longer seeing the military as an option for their youngsters. Even if Mary Lou and Johnny could stand a little discipline, they prefer them alive.

The Guard and Reserves have even greater woes in recruitment. For years, the Guard has been called out in Stateside emergencies while allowing plenty of time for a little "grab ass" and swigging a few brews. Suddenly, they are in Iraq, expected to soldier full time. What is this? They didn't sign up for war. And, they have taken a hit for being involved in most of the black eyes in Iraqnam mismanagement.

The Volunteer Army is not working. It is time to figure out another course and the time is NOW!

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