Tuesday, March 18, 2008

JMO - The Draft

Last August I wrote a post about the draft. And now I want to revisit it because I haven't heard this subject being discussed in the debates with the candidates. It's the unspoken idea about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We'l either talk about it now, except the candidates don't want to touch it, or sometime between this fall and early next year.

Almost all the now retired generals are saying what the active duty generals want to say but can't or won't, the military, especially the Army, is running out of resources, both people and equipment. And they're saying by sometime this summer or fall, the Army will be exhausted, and without an influx of new equipment and new people, we can't sustain the number of troops in Afghanistan or Iraq.

We would have to borrow troops from other assignments around the world or get new troops. The quota system isn't working as the Army lowers standards well below the acceptable minimum standard to get recruits, offering enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses, and pushing their new sources into legal and illegal immigrants. All the while we're overlooking our biggest resouces, the Army already knows.

Which is? The youth, those 18-26 year old men. The Selective Service Act has never expired so every man has to register when he turns 18. So the database is already there to start the draft, and all the Army needs is authorization and funding from Congress. It can't be done with a Presidential order, only Congress can authorize the reauthorization of the draft and then approve funds.

Ok, enough about it, my point? Why aren't the candidates talking about the troops and the problems we're facing with our troops and equipment in the future? I keep hearing about the war, the terrorists, the Iraqi government, the money, the importance of the troop strength, and on and on. But nothing about how long we can sustain this level of involvement.

Why? I don't know. Fear for votes? Likely. But where's the truth? They're not addressing the facts and reality. And the situation or circumstances where the draft would be and likely is the solution to the problem of troops. And my view on it? Like it matters?

Well, i've been there, done that. I faced it when I turned 18 in 1967 and when I lost my 2-S student deferment to being 1-A and within months of being drafted. I sweated out the first lottery draft in 1968 and become just inside the first list of birthdays which will be drafted. Not can be but will be. I faced the reality of the major decision in my young life, to enlist, be drafted or do something else.

While I'm totally against the draft for what it does, supply troops to an unjust, illegal, and unnecessary war, I'm against it because it never is fair or just. It's biases to the less economically and academcially advantaged. I'm against it because it's a power and control issue by the government in the name of their international political agenda.

But I'm also for it for one basic reason. It incites people to act. It did in the late 1960's to help change the public view of the Vietnam war. I'm for it because it will galvanize a generation, or some of it, and will polarize all of it too. But more importantly, it will bring everything to the forefront, into the public discussion.

And for that I'm for it. I want a debate about it. I want to know how the candidates view the draft and if it's something they'll consider if it's needed. I want to know what they think. They'll be the commander-in-chief of the military, so I want to know if they want it and will use it.

I want to know the truth of their view than their campaign rhetoric. A lot of young lives depend on it. I speak for them as someone who knows and understand what the draft means. So, dear candidates, it's in your court.

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