The elimination of our professional army - Mountain Buzz
 

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Old 02-05-2009   #1
 
Durango, Colorado
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The elimination of our professional army

For the majority of American history our country relied on a draftee army. Everybody fought together, regardless of race or socioeconomic status. The entire country was behind the effort 100%. Thats how we fought WWI and WWII.

Today, our professional army consists largely of minorities and people from low income backgrounds. It is wrong and undemocratic that these groups disproportionately shoulder the duty of fighting and dying for our country.

A draftee army would keep politicians from authorizing uneccessary wars because such a large cross-section of the country would wind up fighting.

Our army wouldn't fight wars with not enough men in order to minimize the impact of a war on the country to maintain political popularity.

We wouldn't spend such a huge percentage of our GDP on maintaining a huge standing army.

Its been surreal watching the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan unfold. Ordinary citizens haven't been asked to do much to support the war effort. I donated a cell phone, but there has been nothing like the total social mobilization that surrounded World War II for example. A draftee army would involve everybody's relatives and would be much different. Instead of watching a small relatively invisible section of hte population go off to die, we would fight together.

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Old 02-06-2009   #2
 
Down by the River, Idaho
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People fight harder when they want to be there. It is what it is.

WW2 was different. We were attacked. The Country rallied. Our current situation is does not evoke the same feelings.

Besides, we Americans have become increasingly fat, lazy and spoiled more and more every generation. WW2 generation is called the "greatest generation" for a reason.
Us? We are all sheep....

The Boston Tea Party happened b/c of a 14% tax! Now, we let them take our Constitutional rights away, with the unpatriotic Patriot Act, and say nothing! We are to busy watching "American Idol"!

It is not our military that has the problem. It is our society and values.
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Old 02-06-2009   #3
 
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Our current situation doesn't evoke the same feelings because Iraq didn't attack us. A draftee army sets a high and neccessary standard of clear and present danger to national security in order to start a war. We wouldn't be in Iraq if we had a draftee army. Afghanistan wouldn't be a problem because we wouldn't just have 20,000 soldiers there. Besides, if we had a draftee army and did invade Iraq, we'd have gone a long way towards solving our obesity problem.
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Old 02-06-2009   #4
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It's not true that "most of our history" featured conscripted armies. Most of our wars did, but not most of our history...

I also seriously resent the continued red herring that people in the military are minorities and the poor who had no other option (that's not directly what you said, I don't think, but you referenced that notion).

Has anyone ever stopped to consider what the military offers to an 18-year old? Kids enlist because they want what the military offers. That's why I enlisted, coming from a middle class background.

The military offers very sound, very important economic benefits, not merely of a short term (ie. your period of enlistment) variety. Indeed, the economic benefits, even for a mere 4-year enlistment, are better than anyone can get from almost any economic background.

But kids don't enlist for the long term benefit so much as the perceived value of a significant 'rite of passage.' Of the main things I wanted was an adventurous experience, the opportunity to see the world at least a little bit. Of course, I joined in peacetime during the Cold War.

In today's environment, these young men, like all young men throughout human history, desire a chance to measure themselves against an objective standard of manhood. "Can I face chaos and survive." The young are culturally and temperamentally predisposed to miscalculating the nature of mortality. Still, for men especially, entering that environment is attractive because it gives you a measure of yourself.

I have met only a handful of veterans who feel that their military experience wasn't one of the most important decisions they ever made. Of those I personally know who regret their enlistment, two lost limbs, and I can't judge them for their retrospective analysis.

The others I can say without equivocation were losers who merely needed a place to displace blame for their own poor work ethic or incompetent decision-making skills.

Modern history shows that volunteer militaries are disproportionately more effective in every meaningful category. They commit far fewer atrocities. They suffer fewer casualties. They win more engagements with the enemy. Conversely, the inefficiency of draft armies means more death and destruction in any conflict.

What's problematic about American military engagements today, in my estimation, is two things. First, the deployment cycle for non-Total War (i.e. World War II/American Civil War) is damaging to the fitness of the army (for a variety of reasons I won't go into here except that we essentially do not have a large enough volunteer army to sustain operations at the pace we are operating).

But the second issue problematic to Iraq and Afghanistan is that the American public, and the American media in particular, have abrogated their responsibility to investigate, consider, and understand what 'the precious few' are being asked to do. We are a society surfeited on saturated fat, corn syrup, and sound-bite. As a culture, our hallmark is to be distracted from issues of substance toward flashy lights, from cradle to grave, to be amused to death.

If people cared, Demos, we wouldn't allow these things to happen.
The problem is not that our military is volunteer.
Our problem is that our society doesn't care.
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Old 02-06-2009   #5
 
Florence, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Demosthenes View Post
For the majority of American history our country relied on a draftee army.
Not True

Quote:
Originally Posted by Demosthenes View Post
Everybody fought together, regardless of race or socioeconomic status.
False. Blacks often had their own units. Race relations in US military history were not always harmonic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Demosthenes View Post
The entire country was behind the effort 100%. Thats how we fought WWI and WWII.
And Vietnam too, right?



Quote:
Originally Posted by Demosthenes View Post
Today, our professional army consists largely of minorities and people from low income backgrounds.
What exactly are you basing this on?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Demosthenes View Post
A draftee army would keep politicians from authorizing uneccessary wars because such a large cross-section of the country would wind up fighting.
Perhaps, but this is a huge assumption based in zero fact.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Demosthenes View Post
Our army wouldn't fight wars with not enough men in order to minimize the impact of a war on the country to maintain political popularity.
Our army fights when and where it is told. It is the job of THE PEOPLE to address the political viability of a war.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Demosthenes View Post
We wouldn't spend such a huge percentage of our GDP on maintaining a huge standing army.
This is really your issue, isn't it? I asked you once before if you would dissolve the military and you chose not to answer the question. BTW a draftee army would still be a "standing army". You are fond of that term, so I'm assuming it is a standard phrase on the Huffington Post or dailykos.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Demosthenes View Post
Its been surreal watching the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan unfold.
Yes, it is hard to grasp from one's living room.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Demosthenes View Post
Ordinary citizens haven't been asked to do much to support the war effort.
Wrong. Ordinary citizens are stepping up to the plate all the time, without anybody telling them to. If you're talking about making everyone plant freedom gardens, I'm not sure we're at that point yet.

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Originally Posted by Demosthenes View Post
I donated a cell phone.
Thank you for your service to our country.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Demosthenes View Post
A draftee army would involve everybody's relatives and would be much different.
This is not true. Plenty of people/families get out of wartime service during a draft. Isn't that one of the great arguements against Bush/Cheney?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Demosthenes View Post
Instead of watching a small relatively invisible section of hte population go off to die, we would fight together.
Here's the bottom line. I don't want people like you in uniform because you "have to" be there. I want you to want to be there, to have volunteered to be there.
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Old 02-06-2009   #6
 
timbuktu, Colorado
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Demo, Myself and 5 of my friends from high school all joined the Army Reserves at the same time, during our Junior year. We literally went to the recruiter the same day and graduated from basic on the same day. We all came from middle class families and went on to graduate from college. We all did this because we felt an obligation to further ourselves without relying on our parents bank roll. Every last one of us, now have families and successful careers. No one regrets their decision or have any ill feelings towards those of you who decided not to serve. If anything I feel sorry for those of you that haven't served, it's an extremely enriching experience. You should consider volunteering, it would be an educational experience for you.
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Old 02-06-2009   #7
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I'll back up what Helio said with a recent personal experience.
Quote:
But kids don't enlist for the long term benefit so much as the perceived value of a significant 'rite of passage.'...In today's environment, these young men, like all young men throughout human history, desire a chance to measure themselves against an objective standard of manhood.
I had a student several years ago who couldn't wait to graduate so he could enlist (marines, I think) to see the world, bring justice and peace to the Middle East, and get revenge for 9/11 (in his mind). This is a student from an upper socioeconomic class family who is a staunch Republican. He used to come to my classroom at lunch so we could argue politics.

Quote:
What's problematic about American military engagements today, in my estimation, is two things. First, the deployment cycle for non-Total War (i.e. World War II/American Civil War) is damaging to the fitness of the army (for a variety of reasons I won't go into here except that we essentially do not have a large enough volunteer army to sustain operations at the pace we are operating).
I ran into him the other day and he has now served two tours and is still proud of his military service, however, he has just enrolled in college and is trying to begin his civilian life and just got a potential call to do a third tour. He doesn't say anything about the fairness of it, only that he enrolled at a community college because he's not sure when he'll be deployed again. I could see that as proud as he is of serving, he's ready to move on with his life. He also insisted that the job they did was worthwhile. I didn't feel like I had the leverage to argue that with him as I once did in my classroom.

I am certain that this young man is better equipped to serve than anyone who might be drafted. One of the primary reasons countries win wars is because of the faith of their people in the cause for which they are fighting.

People from wealthier families have better access to education, therefore giving them opportunities for military positions that are not in a combat zone. Conscientious objector status eliminates others. And defecting to Canada is still an option. A draftee army would never truly put everyone on the front lines together. People who enlist at least have that to bond them, if nothing else does.
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Old 02-06-2009   #8
 
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Ah, military service. Messy, messy bidness. I have my own conflicted take on this.

The draft ended in 1973. As a person who was adamantly opposed to the Vietnam war, I can tell you I was relieved. While I ridicule Cheney’s deferments and Bush’s stateside “service,” I definitely would have sought deferments or if necessary adjusted to a more northern climate.

In 1975, just before I turned 18, Ford ended draft registration. Too cool. Didn’t even have to get a draft card.

But what if the draft hadn’t ended, my deferments were rejected, and I somehow couldn’t have snuck across the Canadian border? Would I have been a “good” soldier? No. I wasn’t just opposed to the Vietnam war, I was a curmudgeon who had “authority figure issues.” Still do.

Guess what? With a draft you get lots of people like me tossed in with people who actually like being in the military. There’s a recipe for unit cohesion!

The best argument for reinstating the draft is the notion of shared sacrifice. With the all-volunteer army, we have become complacent. Somebody else is doing the dirty work and most of us can go on our merry way, largely unaffected by the grim reality of war. The other argument for a draft is the unfairness of the burden of fighting being shifted to minorities and the poor. OK, but in Vietnam, rich white boys got college deferments and safe stateside “service” alternatives to being infantry grunts. In Vietnam, African-Americans (then 11 percent of the U.S. population) accounted for 16 percent of Army casualties in Vietnam in 1967 (15 percent for the entire war).

Today’s all-volunteer army is not a completely representative “snapshot” of America: only three of five soldiers are white; two of five are African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American or Pacific Islander. But it wasn’t proportionate during the Vietnam era draft either.

Rather than reinstating the draft, I think some sort of compulsory national service is a much better solution. Young people could choose to serve in the military or in a non-military capacity. Had this existed when I was younger, I would have chosen a non-military path.

Keeping a standing army is costly, but in today’s world, it’s a necessity, and has a deterrent effect, at least in regards to containing the ambitions of state players. But it has little or no deterrent effect on non-state players. I have argued that the “war on terror” will be “won” by a combination of special forces, quality intelligence and the generous application of soft power. But part of the reason that Afghanistan now has pockets of Taliban control is due to limited forces clearing insurgents but not maintaining an ongoing presence in those once-cleared areas. Combine the lack of security presence with the failure to more aggressively pursue infrastructure projects, and one can see how the insurgents have an opening to reemerge.

It’s not a simple either/or situation. It’s complicated and messy.
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Old 02-06-2009   #9
 
timbuktu, Colorado
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Here's a really good read on the topic... put's everything in real terms instead of perception.

Who Bears the Burden? Demographic Characteristics of U.S. Military Recruits Before and After 9/11
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Old 02-06-2009   #10
 
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demo I sure hope you would be drafted in this war. you could fight next to me.

demo how did you come up with this idea in the first place?
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