Saturday, April 05, 2008
AFFORDING THE VOLUNTEER ARMY
WHAT'S HAPPENING THESE DAYS WITH THE VOLUNTEER ARMY? For one thing, even the casual observer can tell you that they are to the wall: fighting two wars and political leadership that couldn't find their posterior in a snow storm.
A few things we know: the standards of education have been lowered and we have kids who have been given a pass as to felony arrests. This isn't to put these soldiers down--most perform well and who can be against giving some youngster another chance. However, the fact exists that most volunteers probably come from homes across America who are strugglng; kids who don't have lots of other options. I constantly read where a youngster will say about his reasoning for joining the military, "My parents couldn't afford to send me to college." I know several who are in this category. The very insightful book, AWOL spells this out.
We have an educated officer's corp by in large, to include graduates of the Service Academies (West Point, Annapolis, etc)for which we foot the bill. And, many of them immediately leave once thier obligation is up.
And, for those of us who care and have some knowledge, we applaud our Volunteer Army and the job they're doing which is fantastic. But, the elephant in the room always is the fact that so few Americans are truly invested in our fine young men and women soldiers. So, what can we say about American investment as a whole--yes, really great to support the troops but it is easier when we don't have "skin in the game." Hypocritical? We can't blame those who don't serve as we have a Volunteer Army that we have touted for years as being incredibly successful. Two wars have shown us that there are gigantic holes in the Voluntary Army philosophy, in addition to the fact that our kids who have the fewest options choose the military.
Over the years, I've writen hundreds of letters to politicians, various Captains of Industry with my idea of AllServe. Rarely have any of them responded. It is not politically feasible and they surely don't have the moral backbone. There's really nothing to be gained in what one of my friends called, "forced volunteerism."
We have 1.4 million active duty soldiers and another 1.26 million in the Reserves, including 456,000 in the National Guard. We have 47,000 American troops stationed in Japan, 37,500 in South Korea, and 116,400 on bases all across Europe. A more practical course is coming, I fear: we will be simply unable to financially afford a volunteer military.