With the election out of the way America is beginning to have two long delayed intelligent discussions (sigh). One is about the role of government in our society (social security transformation debate); this discussion might even eventually involve a discussion of "the problem of the weak".
The other discussion is about the Draft. (Capitalized by intent.)
I've posted on this a few times. I never bought the story that the Draft was not a cost-effective approach to building the military; there are many jobs required in a modern military that do not require elite combat skills or even combat capabilities. Some of these jobs could be best filled by drafting adults from ages 25 to 55, and giving them a few months of training in a new "support military" group.
I've also mentioned previously that I thought one of reasons Rumsfeld launched the invasion of Iraq with insufficient forces was that he knew there weren't enough forces to do it "right" (meaning three times as many soldiers). Rumsfeld tried the fudge the difference by carving Iraq up with Turkey, when that fell through he opted to go with what he had.
Now Phil Carter, a blogger, lawyer, journalist and veteran has written an article on the Draft with with Paul Glastris for the Washington Monthly. Here's the bottom line:
America's all-volunteer military simply cannot deploy and sustain enough troops to succeed in places like Iraq while still deterring threats elsewhere in the world. Simply adding more soldiers to the active duty force, as some in Washington are now suggesting, may sound like a good solution. But it's not, for sound operational and pragmatic reasons. America doesn't need a bigger standing army; it needs a deep bench of trained soldiers held in reserve who can be mobilized to handle the unpredictable but inevitable wars and humanitarian interventions of the future. And while there are several ways the all-volunteer force can create some extra surge capacity, all of them are limited.There's one very good reason that Bush/Rumsfeld don't want a Draft. They know that if we'd had a global Draft in place, involving the elite and their children, we still would have invaded Afghanistan -- but there's no way in hell we'd have invaded Iraq.
The only effective solution to the manpower crunch is the one America has turned to again and again in its history: the draft. Not the mass combat mobilizations of World War II, nor the inequitable conscription of Vietnam—for just as threats change and war-fighting advances, so too must the draft. A modernized draft would demand that the privileged participate. It would give all who serve a choice over how they serve. And it would provide the military, on a "just in time" basis, large numbers of deployable ground troops, particularly the peacekeepers we'll need to meet the security challenges of the 21st century.
America has a choice. It can be the world's superpower, or it can maintain the current all-volunteer military, but it probably can't do both.