Sunday, October 02, 2005


Why? Many reasons: a war, economy good, resistance to the military by parents and zealots growing. Congress at leasts wants the Army to expand by 50,000 more while the military can hardly maintain the status quo. Where are they going to get these fifty thousand? In other words, the Army is in a hurt. Afghanistan and Iraq are long term commitments and there seems to be no let up in either war. The Generals give these rosy pictures but who believes them anymore. Not anybody I know. So, what to do!


In a perfect world, we would not need an Army but unless horses start to fly and the Democrats and the Republicans lay down together in the Biblical concept of Lions and Sheep, forget it. There's a real lesson for us here. I've been pushing the idea of AllServe for years and feel mostly like a voice crying in the wilderness. However, I am beginning to see a crack in the intransigent views. Congress, gutless as they are, will not even consider a draft. And, when the draft issue was raised, it was merely symbolic. However, all of this is missing the boat, big time. If we had an AllServe approach to Universal service, the draft, for instance, would be only one small aspect of the total picture. We would be limited only by our own imagination. We could have teachers corps, peace Corp, domestic service, minic many of the programs that the States or Cities already have in place. Military service would only be a small portion of it.

This idea doesn't even sound radical, merely practical. Would young Americans join the military in great numbers? Sure. We've already seen the evidence in crisis: in fact, many of our volunteer Army now were recruited after 9-11. The most famous recruit, of course, is the now deceased, killed in battle, Pat Tillman. A million dollar NFL contract would not deter him. And, despite many obstacles, it was his choice. Even though now, there is a question on how he died, this does not take away from his sacrifices. And, it would not deter many other Americans. All the AllServe would do for many is nudge them toward what they want to do anyway. There would be no deferments.

This idea is exceedingly more feasible than initiating a military draft which may become a possibility. And, we are at the point where we can give no credence to those like Rumsfelt or the Generals who run the recruiting program. They have failed and all their pronouncements are not going to make it any different. Our present military is woefully undersized for the commitments we have undertaken. We are incredibly lucky that we have not had to deal with a truly major conflict.

What if by some stretch of the imagination, we had to take on a major power like China with its unlimited manpower. They could easily overwhelm us, creating unthinkable options like nuclear. Without getting into strategy, an AllServe needs merely to think in terms of numbers. The benefits to an AllServe Universal Service are legion. One, above all, however, is the unifying factor. In our extremely divisive country, we need something to unify us. What better than youth, 18-26, with a common experience. An AllServe would provide such an experience.

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