So, this guy
is getting some attention, for alluding to the draft more positively than any non-crazy person has in a while. I've seen his quotes taken way out of context suggesting he's straight-up saying we should start pulling numbers next month, which isn't the case. He claims that our all-volunteer system is working excellently at the moment (or some such, and I disagree) but that in the future the draft should never be disregarded as an option.
Anyway, we're seriously short on soldiers. IIRC, our own doctrine recommends a 1:50 ratio for counterinsurgency occupations (EDIT: this would be, and would always have been, 500,000 troops in Iraq), and even assuming you should count every IA/ING soldier I think we come up short. We certainly didn't have what we needed going in (which at least one guy
pointed out, and was shouted down). He also said something I think applies right about now: ""Beware the 12-division strategy for a 10-division Army. Our soldiers and families bear the risk and the hardship of carrying a mission load that exceeds what force capabilities we can sustain, so we must alleviate risk and hardship by our willingness to resource the mission requirements."
Yeah, I think our strategy at the moment is really
ignoring the actual size of our military.
So we're coming up to a crossroads pretty soon. The 15-month tours of many units will be coming to an end, at which point to maintain the same force level we have now (is it still a "surge" if it's indefinite?) we're looking at either increasing tour length (18 months?) or decreasing dwell time (8 months?). We're probably also looking at another round of National Guard deployments, since regardless of whether it continues the "surge" has overextended the active duty forces. There is, IIRC, already one brigade that has done two deployments in only four years...expect a few more (including possibly mine) to be in this same position by '09. This is an insane
optempo for reservists, who are expected to maintain civilian careers...after all, upon returning from combat they're kicked to the curb to fend for themselves. At least they get to draw unemployment.
Anyway, I'll try to avoid tangents. What the fuck can we do here? Increasing the size of our military (both active and reserve) seems like it might be a sound plan. Of course, that requires a larger pool of willing recruits than we have now (we're already, for instance, throwing $15K bonuses at reservists
for re-enlistment just to maintain current strength). A draft is generally dismissed, and largely for good reason (full disclosure: I believe we are at the point now that, if
we're going to have a selective service system at all, it's time to use it). Which leaves only a drastic
reduction of forces in Iraq, like yesterday. We simply cannot maintain 100K+ soldiers there without subjecting our forces to an unacceptable optempo.
Who says it's unacceptable? The Pentagon, for one. Their goal is, and has been, to have active units doing 12-month deployments with two years as home, and reservists doing 9-month deployments (with three train-up...compared to the 12/4 we do now) once every six years. They point to combat stress, which is reaching unacceptable levels...particularly in the Army...leading to issues both at home and on the battlefield.
The gist of this? Our all-volunteer force, despite what General Lute thinks, really isn't working at the moment. The problem? Even if we "expanded" our forces, we don't have enough volunteers to fill them. Military service is seen by a majority of the population nowadays as "somebody else's" job. Able-bodied men (and women) who vehemently support military action would never even consider
darkening a recruiter's door. Society isn't suggesting they do it (except the occasional disgruntled vet), and our government certainly isn't either. So a tiny fraction of the population continues to bear the brunt of a policy that a vast majority at one point agreed with (invasion), and a large majority still
agree with (anything but immediate withdrawal).
Oh, and before people start comparing sacrifices and service, what I'm talking about (the brunt being borne): spending more time in the desert than at home, for years on end, and then all too often losing an arm or a leg (or a life) on your second or third tour. Police don't face anything near this, nor do wilderness firefighters, soup kitchen workers, or your local elected representative.
My suggestion? Ideally, we somewhat expand our standing military (ground forces specifically) and largely
expand our reserve forces (particularly the Guard, which for those who don't know is where the "combat" troops in the reserves mostly come from...the Reserves are mostly support units), and try to change the attitudes of the average American that military service is just something those other guys
Of course, that takes some time...and 18-month tours or 8-month dwell times are just around the corner. So plan B? Start pulling numbers. Like, a division or two worth. Yes, I realize that nobody likes plan B. But honestly, I don't trust the last two generations or so to get on board with plan A, either.
TL;DR: The tiny sliver of our population silly enough to still consider military service is getting fucked...hard. In order to stop this (and prevent it in the future) we need to expand our military and you (yes, you
, not the non-existent guy behind you) need to actually consider joining and stop coming up with excuses. That or we need to stop our foreign expeditions, including the current one that you (yes, you, not the guy behind you) likely supported at the outset and you (yes, you, not the guy behind you) probably at least lukewarmly support continuing until some fuzzy date into the future. By stop, I mean reduce troop strength to a fraction (like, 1/something) of its current size...and next rotation, not "someday." That, or a draft. And we all love
that idea, right?
STL;SDR: You may not realize it, but soldiers nowadays are getting fucked. Hard. So fucking take five minutes out of your day to go fucking read it...it's the least you can do. Then go back to drinking your latte or whatever.
Disclaimer: both because I'm busy today and because this subject turns me into a gigantic asshole, I'll try not to be the driving force behind any discussion here. Go wild, kids.