People don’t want to join the US military. If they did, they would sign up for it, and the dwindling enrollment numbers are proof of this. It is a problem the military is taking seriously, but not without calling for ‘changes’ while at the same time blaming the citizenry:
There is no doubt that there is a serious problem in manning the American military. The problem is not the military’s. The problem belongs to the American people and Congress.
In 1973, the soon-to-be most disgraced president of the United States implemented the all-volunteer force (AVF) and did away with conscription — a political and social act to atone for the sins of the most unpopular war in our country’s history and an unfair military draft. So, today, 330 million Americans lay claim to rights, liberties, and privileges that not one of them is obligated to protect and defend. So, this task falls to a small portion of Americans, largely from the third and fourth socio-economic quintiles, to discharge on behalf of a nation of limited-liability patriots.
Maj. Gen. Malcom Frost, the former commander of the Army’s Initial Military Training Command, said that “the next existential threat we have…is the inability to man our military.”
Recruiting problems historically are most acute in the Army; it is the canary in the coal mine. Last year, the Army’s initial recruiting goal was 80,000 enlistees. Early in the year, that was reduced to 76,500. The Army ultimately enlisted 70,000, a shortfall of 7,600. Of the 70,000 recruited, 10 to 12 percent required waivers of existing “standards” and 1.9 percent were Category IV (CAT IV) recruits who scored between the 10th and 31st percentile on the Army’s aptitude test. A 2005 Rand Corp. study identified that CAT IV soldiers perform between 20.4 and 30.0 percent less effectively than higher scoring recruits. Thus, the Army had a quantity and a quality failure, despite offering unprecedented enlistment “bonuses” that are disproportionately attractive to the lower socio-economic classes. The other services are experiencing problems in specific functional areas: pilots, cyber warriors and special ops, as examples.
Over the past 18 years of “endless war,” the Pentagon has adopted numerous measures to prop up the AVF. These measures included: repeat deployments that violated long-standing dwell time policies; stop-loss, a “back door draft”; unprecedented enlistment and reenlistment bonuses; lowered enlistment standards; and the use of prescription psychotropic drugs to deal with service members’ emotional and psychological stress. We had too much war and not enough warriors, but the American people and Congress declined to consider conscription, leaving the problems to the Pentagon and the 1 percent of the population willing to serve in the military.
In addition to the measures noted above, numerous pundits, consultants, think tankers and military personnel professionals have recommended measures to enhance recruiting. The recommendations include increasing the number of recruiters (the Army already has approximately 9,000), increasing enlistment bonuses (already up to $40,000), expanded use of social media, increased access to high schools for recruiters, and direct commissions for technical specialists. All of these may help, but will not fix the problem as the pool of Americans qualifying for enlistment is declining from the current 30 percent, and the propensity to serve also is declining from the current 15 percent.
One proposal that may do more harm than help is to enlist immature, non-deployable 16-year-olds into our military who are unlikely to succeed in basic training or make it through their initial term of enlistment. These are the 10th graders in your local high school. Perhaps Winston Churchill was right when he said that “Americans will always do the right thing, after exhausting every other alternative.”
A fair, efficient, sustainable, legal and proven alternative to fix the military recruiting problem is readily available: conscription using a lottery based system with no exemptions and no deferments.
Consider the arithmetic. Approximately 4 million Americans turn 18 each year, but only 30 percent of them can meet the minimum requirements for enlistment, leaving 1.2 million able to serve. The propensity (willingness) to serve is approximately 15 percent, leaving 1,020,000 able but unwilling to serve, and 180,000 able and willing to serve. Each year, the military must recruit about 150,000 enlistees. If conscription were implemented, many would still volunteer but it is reasonable to assume that a higher quality force could be generated from a pool of 1,020,000 than from a pool of 180,000. Standards could be raised, enlistment bonuses eliminated, and thousands of recruiters returned to combat units. Conscription would restore the military’s single greatest source of competitive advantage for high quality talent with civilian employers.
Statements of “existential threat” and alternatives such as recruiting 16-year-olds may be a clear indication that it is past time for a fact-based national dialogue as to whether the AVF is working and will work in the future based on fairness, efficiency and sustainability. This is an issue that impacts not only national security, but also the social fabric of our democracy.
Excuse me, but this is not a “problem” that “the American people” have, nor is it something they “must address.”
People join the military often times out of a love of country and a desire to fight for its welfare. They rarely join the military with the intention of fighting:
-Endless wars with no clearly defined objective other than neo-colonialism without formal colonial status
-For the financial benefit of private corporations and their stockholders in New York and London
-For the ever-changing desires of the Israeli lobby that veritably controls most Congressmen through money and threats of blackmail
Children are not tools that can be used and disposed of, yet this is how the military at large and many of the interests who use the military around the world for the benefit of US and Israeli economic interests see it. They are real people who parents spend almost two decades of their lives caring for and raising, watching them grow up and preparing to pass on their legacy to them. They have their own souls, personalities, lives, experiences, memories, hopes, dreams, and potential for the world.
All of these things can be destroyed by a twenty-five cent bullet fired by a soldier in some god-forsaken cesspool in the middle of nowhere by a soldier fighting “the invaders,” which are the Americans who were sent there not because of “defending America” as they were told and many genuinely believe, but because rich families like the Adelsons, Bushes, Cheneys, Chernicks, Rockefellers, Rothschilds, Shillmans, Steins, Warburgs, and a host of others see financial gain to be made for their private profit that is subsidized by taxpayer dollars and the deaths of the soldiers on the ground. One only needs to look at Afghanistan, where in the name of “fighting” the US-supported Osama bin Laden the US invaded Afghanistan only to spend and continue to spend her resources on securing the private interests held in extracting and refining Afghanistan’s rare-earth mineral deposits for the last two decades.
This is also not a new story either. It repeats in many generations and cultures, where poor people are sent to suffer, die, and then for those who survive often to suffer for the rest of their lives in the form of horrible memories, guilty consciences, and destroyed families in order to indulge the insatiable greed of many wealthy men.
There are enough people in the US who understand this at some level. The Vietnam War was a reminder for many soldiers and citizens alike of this, and the existence of Vietnam veterans and their suffering is living proof still for those who do not wish to believe.
The reason the US military is having a “recruiting problem” is not because of the citizens. It is because of the particular wealthy individuals and families in banking and industry who control the government on behalf of their often criminal and subversive interests. The unquestioned majority of soldiers who join the military do so to risk their lives and possibly die for the presumed values that the US is supposed to stand for under the leadership of the President, not for companies such as the Stein Bank and certainly not under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu.
Perhaps the war hawks could consider going to the battlefield themselves, or sending their own children.
Well, perhaps they can’t. After all, anybody could get at least FOUR deferrments, no?
Sometimes wars need to be fought as a part of fallen humanity living in a world after Original Sin.
But that is only some of the time.
Most of the wars that are fought don’t need to be fought, and those who start them know this is usually true.
With language like this coming from the military, and talk of allowing sixteen-year-olds to enlist, means that the thoughts of reviving the draft are not far off. Indeed, those who stand to profit from war the most will not hesitate to drive support for the draft as the world draws closer to war. That is, a draft which excludes their own children, which they will make special arrangements for.
In the words of Smedley Butler, “to hell with war,”
and all of the pigs who enable it.