, 2007
| Over 2 Million Served |




Home | Notes
Archives | Search
Links | About

Julia Gorin
The America Show
Episode 4
Jesus and Mordy
Watch Video Now


Conservatives Are From Mars, Liberals Are From San Francisco
by Burt Prelutsky

America Alone
by Mark Steyn


The CRO Store




  Rangel Resurrects Draft Debate
by J. F. Kelly, Jr. [writer] 12/4/06

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) is at it again. He wants to reinstitute the draft and says he will introduce a bill to do so next year. This time, at least, he’s being a bit more obvious about his motives, saying that perhaps our leaders will be a bit more reluctant to get us into wars if their own sons and daughters are likelier to serve.

It’s true enough that the politicians get us into wars that the young people, usually someone else’s kids, have to fight. The fateful decisions that lead to bloody wars are sometimes made by politicians with little or no military service, much less combat experience, and whose children also usually choose other career paths. Give Mr. Rangel credit for reminding us of that.

J.F. Kelly, Jr.

J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]

Rangel’s other arguments for the draft, however, are totally without merit. He asserts that the all-volunteer force (AVF) attracts a disproportionate number of minorities and people from the lower end of the socio-economic scale who lack the opportunities that the more affluent youth have. However intuitively correct this popular conclusion may seem, the statistics simply do not support it. Demographically, the military services correspond quite closely to the American population as a whole. In terms of intelligence, academic achievement and crime-free records, moreover, military recruits appear to have a decided edge on their civilian contemporaries.

About 97% of all service members are high school graduates and their math and science abilities tend to be higher. The services are, in fact, attracting their share of the best and the brightest of our high school and college graduates so they can afford to be selective. While standards are sometimes adjusted to deal with fluctuations in supply and demand, they must remain high overall because of the complexity and technical demands of service jobs and training.

Despite occasional recruiting dips, the services will continue to be highly selective, barring all-out mobilization, because the training opportunities and benefits offered by a military career or tour of duty continue to attract sufficient numbers of talented young men and women who not only wish to serve their country, but to acquire valuable skills and experience that they can utilize in civilian life. Military compensation, when medical, retirement and other benefits are included, is competitive with many sectors of the economy and for career personnel, retirement benefits are superior to most. (If anyone doubts that they are deserved, they should consider the rigors of military duty, the combat risks and the family disruptions and separations.)

I was a student at the Army War College when the draft was discontinued in the late 1960’s. The issue was hotly debated and all the arguments against an army of mercenaries were trotted out. A leading concern was that an AVF would not represent a cross-section of American youth. It was feared that minorities and children of poor families would be over-represented and that they would bear the brunt of the casualties in future wars. That has turned out not to be the case. While the services helped lead the way in racial and gender integration and equal opportunity, the demographics today pretty much coincide with those of the rest of the population.

In the nearly forty years of the AVF, some things have definitely changed. Professionalism, capability and technology have greatly increased. Freed from the time-consuming process of dealing with large numbers of draftees who did not want to be in the service, who were counting the months, days and hours left on their enlistments and who often held careerists in contempt, the services could focus on professionalism and war-fighting capabilities. Much of the low-skill, manpower-intensive, grunt activity was eliminated or contracted out and every billet had to be justified as militarily essential. The military services became leaner but also more capable; more “tooth” and less “tail”. They consisted entirely of people who chose to be there, not those serving involuntarily.

Such a force is, of course, expensive. To compete with industry in a robust economy requires that we pay fair compensation. But reinstating the draft after forty years would be expensive, too. The payoff from one or two year enlistments would probably not justify the expense of training draftees to do something productive and the cost of the restructuring necessary to deal with large numbers of draftees. Moreover, an embarrassingly large number of American youths would not meet the mental and physical standards unless they were significantly lowered as would be necessary in the event of all-out mobilization, something our current military strategy hopefully will preclude.

Mr. Rangel’s underlying reason for calling for a return to the draft remains, as before, an anti-war argument and an attempt to limit the government’s future ability to engage in preemptive wars as an option. He should be honest about this motive and let it stand on its own merit instead of using draft legislation as a device to achieve his political objectives. CRO

copyright 2006 J. F. Kelly, Jr.



Apple iTunes
Apple iTunes
Apple iTunes
Apple iTunes
Apple iTunes
Applicable copyrights indicated. All other material copyright 2002-2007 CaliforniaRepublic.org