Saturday, January 06, 2007

Making the Army Better, and Insulating Against Drafts

UPDATE: I made some minor changes to this post, which was published late last night. I made some spelling/syntax corrections, and added links to reinforce points made.

Recently, A fellow national security blogger wrote the following in response to a post arguing against the notion that the United States Army is a broken organization:


The best way to prevent a broken army is to accept that we will be engaged in long dirty wars and restore the draft.


So back to the question at hand; to draft or not to draft?

I would choose the latter, hands down. The all-volunteer military performs superbly, and has proven to be a resilient force in the two theaters of operation where the U.S currently is engaged in combat.

As an active officer with sixteen years of experience, I would much prefer to command or support a force of volunteers, who serve of their own free will and volition; I do not wish to have the burden of administering standards upon troops of malcontents who stand on the line only because they have been ordered to do so*.

The blogger who suggested the draft argued for it on the basis of the open-ended struggle in Iraq; I would argue that Iraq and Afghanistan, if strategy is linked to resources and actors, can be reduced to what is commonly referred to as stability operations, or Foreign Internal Defense activities, in 2-3 years ; why sacrifice the character and culture of a well trained Army if objectives can be achieved without conscription?

If, through a surge and or political and economic activity, the violence in Iraq can be reduced considerably over an intermediate time horizon, then there is absolutely no resason whatsoever to consider a draft. As forces required to maintain order in Iraq decrease, the duration of time between conventional force rotations into theater increases.

A diminished level of societal violence would reduce the need for conventional forces enabling Special operations forces (SOF) to take the lead in military activities in theater. And then the US is one step closer to achieving its long term objectives.

SOF, especially Army Special Forces, are accustomed to long deployments outside the Unted States that lack fanfare or glory; if the level of violence can be reduced to the point where Special Forces deploy and work with Iraqi security forces steady state in an austere environment, then the US will be close to achieving many of its objectives in Iraq.

Let us conclude the post with a few more questions. Must the nation endure an unpopular draft to have an effective military apparatus that enables it to achieve major national security objectives? I think not.

If major tumultuous change is in order for any governmental organization or apparatus, then reform the State Department so it is more effective in engaging the problems of the 21st century post-Soviet world. State should be as engaged in Mesopotamia as any organization of the United States Military at this point; however, the Department's foreign service officer corps lacks the depth and expertise to be major players in this endeavor.

For shame.

Post Script Update: The support of the arguments proffered here bordered on the anecdotal, and was slightly tainted by opinion not effectively substantiated; the blogger known as 2164 (the Deuce) offered a defense of his views favoring the draft that was much more substantial than the defense of the volunteer force. Kudos to the points made for initiating a draft in the comments section. I am still vehemently opposed to it however, and plan to do more analysis before I comment on the subject here again. A spirited argument for what the 21st century military should be is coming, however!

* While not wishing to denigrate the service of those who were drafted over the years, here is an interesting anecdote, where economist Milton Friedman argued against the draft with none other than General William Westmoreland:

Milton Friedman was very persuasive. One of [an associate of Friedman's] favorite stories, which his widow, recalled in a recent interview, was of an exchange between Mr. Friedman and General William Westmoreland, then commander of all U.S. troops in Vietnam. In his testimony before the [Draft] commission, Mr. Westmoreland said he did not want to command an army of mercenaries. Mr. Friedman interrupted, "General, would you rather command an army of slaves?" Mr. Westmoreland replied, "I don't like to hear our patriotic draftees referred to as slaves." Mr. Friedman then retorted, "I don't like to hear our patriotic volunteers referred to as mercenaries. If they are mercenaries, then I, sir, am a mercenary professor, and you, sir, are a mercenary general; we are served by mercenary physicians, we use a mercenary lawyer, and we get our meat from a mercenary butcher."


An interesting characterization, to say the least.

2 comments:

2164th said...

Point-Counter-Point

W: "The all-volunteer military performs superbly, and has proven to be a resilient force in the two theaters of operation where the U.S currently is engaged in combat."

2164th. In most cases, elite units were always staffed with volunteers, eager to serve. Draftees would be in support roles. There is no evidence that they would not have performed equally as well.

W: "I would much prefer to command or support a force of volunteers, who serve of their own free will and volition; I do not wish to have the burden of administering standards upon troops of malcontents..."

2164th: Well trained draftess, properly screened for their role, motivated by good leadership were and will be as contented or discontented as an all-volunteer outfit. The entire USAF , The Green Berets and special forces were always volunteer outfits by plan and choice.

W: "Must the nation endure an unpopualr draft to have an effective military apparatus that enables it to achieve major national security objectives?"

2164th: The American public leads the world in whining. They want government benefits without taxes, plane trips without delays, food without getting fat and instant redress of every irritation and twinge in life with the use of a lawyer. Personal responsibility and duty are a necessary role for civic life. Every oar should be in the water.

At the present time, a game is being played with the use of way over-payed civilian contractors who can bitch and moan and leave at the drop of a hat. The National Guard program is being misused.

The American Public need to be educated that civic duties cannot be outsourced. Draftees could be used in every support field that is presently being filled by sub-contractors providing food service and transportaion and many others ( Including the absurd TSA) . Worthy and qualified draftees could elect to transfer to regular status and then they would no longer be draftees. The new draft system need not replicate the old. I would not be opposed to allowing draftess to buy their way out, say for $50,000. That would be far more honest than the past deferment system.

You finish your post with this:

"...If major tumultuous change is in order, then a BETTER suggestion would be to reform the State Department and the national intelligence apparatus so that they are more effective in engaging the problems of the 21st century post-Soviet world. The State Department and the CIA should be as engaged in Mesopotamia as any organization of the United States Military at this point; however, the State Department's foreign service officer corps lacks the depth and expertise to be major players in this stabnility operation. And the CIA has not significantly stepped up to the plate in Iraq or Afghanistan. For shame."

Cut "Better", paste "Additional" and we can go to print on that.

Regards, Deuce

Harrison said...

Feeling the Draft

We institute governments to protect people's rights; that is the primary function of government, which is why I argue so often against the use of government to take freedom away from people. But I should hope that even those who disagree with me regarding the basic purpose of government could agree that government exists for the people and not the reverse. That being the case, the idea that government can tell people to fight and die to preserve it is utterly wrong. If the government is not able to survive because people are unwilling to fight for it, than the government has no right to survive. To state that the government has the right to force us to take up arms to defend it is to completely invert the proper relation of the people to the government.