Wednesday, November 22, 2006

CHARLIE RANGEL'S DRAFT, "FORTUNATE SONS" AND WHY IT ALL WON'T WORK

Let's start in praise of Charlie Rangel for opening this debate. His idea is that, if there's a true, egalitarian draft, there won't be a rush to "optional" wars by the "fortunate Dads". Good Point, as far as it goes.

Due to a multiplicity of factors and culminating in the utter lack of trust in Nixon (although he damn sure didn't start the Vietnam caper), the Congress, reflecting the clear will of the American People instituted a mandatory lottery and ultimately went to all volunteer forces. Nobody believes that trust in the executive branch has been reestablished. A draft won't work unless and until that warm, fuzzy 1950's attitude toward gov't has been reestablished a draft will just build resentment and alienate young people.

We still do have mandatory registration, which is a form of stand-by draft. There is no national stomach for more than that.

I would love to see two years of mandatory service to country (Not necessarily military service--could be teaching at the Cherokee nation, being an orderly at a VA hospital, doing data entry at FEMA) but a uniform, "no exceptions" military draft will eventually be seen as a way for the "fortunate sons" to use better doctors or better lawyers or reserve connections. There will be no public support for it. That's kind of key in a democracy.

I applaud Charlie's attempt but I'm not for it going any further. (Cue Fogerty in the background.)

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33 Comments:

At 1:31 PM, November 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Representative Rangel's theory is that if all citi­zens faced equal prospects of dying in a conflict, support for that conflict would have to pass a higher standard. This theory assumes that the priv­ileged classes would be less willing to commit the nation to war if that conflict involved personal, familial, or class bloodshed. It also assumes that the existing volunteers are either ignorant or lack other options—that is, they are involuntary participants. One way to test this thesis is to explore the demo­graphic patterns of enlisted recruits before and after the initiation of the global war on terrorism on September 11, 2001.

The household income of recruits generally matches the income distribution of the American population. There are slightly higher proportions of recruits from the middle class and slightly lower proportions from low-income brackets. However, the proportion of high-income recruits rose to a disproportionately high level after the war on ter­rorism began, as did the proportion of highly edu­cated enlistees. All of the demographic evidence contradicts the pro-draft case.

 
At 1:58 PM, November 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The evidence that is at odds with the image, painted by some supporters of the draft, that the military exploits poor, ignorant, young Americans by using slick advertising that promises technical careers in the military to dupe them into trading their feeble opportunities in the private sector for a meager role as cannon fodder.

The caricature of conscription—a harsh reality of European militaries in the 18th and 19th centu­ries—lives on in the popular imagination, but it does not accurately represent the all-volunteer U.S. military. Indeed, the U.S. military's qualitative superiority is what makes it the most efficient and lethal combat force in history. In economic terms, high-skill human capital among troops makes the military more productive overall. There may be legitimate equity concerns that outweigh national security, but they will undoubtedly come at a cost or trade-off in productivity.

Research shows that the volunteer force is already equitable. That is, it is highly likely that reinstating the draft would erode military effectiveness, increase American fatalities, destroy personal freedom, and even produce a less socio­economically "privileged" military in the process.

 
At 3:40 PM, November 22, 2006, Blogger UMRBlog said...

I am honored to have both of the above thoughtful posts in this humble blog.

Thank you both for coming by.

 
At 3:42 PM, November 22, 2006, Blogger UMRBlog said...

1358,

The demographics of the voluntary military, taken as a whole show it to about as equitable as life, which is pretty persuasive.

 
At 3:48 PM, November 22, 2006, Blogger UMRBlog said...

1331,

Even if a universal draft were a deterrent to promiscuous warfare, there has always been ways for "fortunate sons" to beat it, all the way back to the Roman Empire.

Folks choose military service for a number of reasons. Many choose it because they want to test their mettle. Many bright folks do it to pay for college or voc. training.

When you add to that mix that the US Military never scrimps on TRAINING, you get the most efficient fighting force in the history of the planet.

Still, I am reminded of a friend of mine from Scotland who says "When England Declares War, it is Scots who fight and die in it!"

 
At 4:45 PM, November 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Representative Charles Rangel (D– NY) claimed, "A disproportionate number of the poor and members of minority groups make up the enlisted ranks of the military, while most priv­ileged Americans are underrepresented or absent. "This claim is frequently repeated by crit­ics of the war in Iraq.

Aside from the logical fal­lacy that a draft is less offensive to justice than a voluntary policy, Rangel's assertions about the demographic makeup of the enlisted military are not grounded in fact.

Rangel's bill to reinstate the draft failed by a decisive vote of 402–2 in the House of Representatives in 2004. Rangel himself voted against it. He should not be praised for using class warfare and the race card.

 
At 8:54 PM, November 22, 2006, Blogger UMRBlog said...

Actually, there is a distinct demographic, but not the one CR thinks. Rural men are overrepresented viz urban.

I think this is a fair debate on the policy level of whether it's a deterrent to "optional" war. On the citizen impact, I kind of agree with you that it tends to create tensions over what, right now is a personal choice.

TYFCB

 
At 5:13 AM, November 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

UMR 8:54

In April 2005, the Chicago Tribune cited a statistic that 35 percent of those who died in Iraq and Afghanistan were from small, rural towns, in con­trast to 25 percent of the population.

This point runs counter to the picture, painted by Rangel and others, of heavy enlistment reliance on poor, black urban neighborhoods. Indeed, recruits are dispro­portionately rural, not urban, and as rural concen­tration rises, so does military enlistment.

 
At 5:38 AM, November 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony,

Just a thought or two on the subject.


Wouldn't we be setting ourselves up for some pretty serious financial ramifications with manditory service in the state of IL? Illinois has a veterans college scholarship program which allows all honorably discharged military personnel to attend IL state universities tuition free. (not disagreeing with the program as I think it is a wonderful program!) The large influx of veterans into the program could be financially crippling to our state.

One the other side of this argument, what a benefit to families in IL. After two years of service every citizen would be eligible to attend some form of State University. Everyone wants to figure out how to make our young people more effective in the workplace and more competitive in the world market. The large influx of college educated men and women into our society can only be beneficial to our state and nation.


My former college roommate was from Istanbul. Turkey has 2 year mandatory military service. He attended UIS, went to work as a computer analyst for Swiss Bank of New York, then started his own importing and exporting business in computer hardware. After a few years he had to leave the US to perform his mandatory service. He had to shutdown his business due to the fact he was not going to be able to oversee it for two years. It didn't matter that he was from a prominent family in Istanbul or that he was a sucessful businessman both here and in Turkey.

This is a very interesting topic with some serious advantages and disadvantages.

;)

 
At 9:19 AM, November 23, 2006, Blogger josephus said...

Tony, liked your post, too. The demographics of those who "volunteer" is less important, IMO, than the political reality that a non-conscription army is in effect a hired mercenary force at the disposal of the Executive Branch. The current system of non-transparent budgets leaves Congress capable of only nominal pro-forma oversight, and especially when Congress is in the hands of only one political party. Although this situation is relatively recent, one can still ask: When was the last time Congress declared war, as the Constitution requires, BEFORE the president ordered military forces into action?

 
At 8:58 PM, November 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Characterizing our military men and women – many of whom have sacrificed life or limb in defense of our nation – as "mercenaries" is wholly inappropriate. It is a vile and thankless description of those who are responsible for defending your life and right to free expression.

A professional wordsmith such as yourself should understand that mercenary troops have no loyalties, no ties and no bonds to any nation. They fight not for duty, flag or country but for selfish gain. They have no regard for political ideology and no respect for national interests. Often, at the first sign of resistance, mercenary troops turn and run.

None of these qualities describes American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Guardsmen. The young men and women who wear this nation's uniform are among the finest citizens this nation has to offer. With due respect, you should be ashamed for suggesting otherwise.

Did you enlist to ward off starvation or to find profit in killing?

 
At 9:36 AM, November 24, 2006, Blogger UMRBlog said...

Joe doesn't need me to defend his use of language but he did not refer to individual service members as "mercenaries". He described a force that has what I'll call "vocational" considerations.

It wasn't an unfair policy comment and wasn't directed at any one person's desire to serve.

I take your point and appreciate your defense of american soldiers but it seems to me you went from Joe's "Macro" to your "Micro" without acknowledging they were not mutually exclusive. Now I'll step aside and let Joe do whatever he will with this.

TYFCB

 
At 11:47 PM, November 25, 2006, Anonymous Rob Mellon said...

Let's not kid ourselves here - there are virtually no soldiers from the upper economic crust. Those who are fighting are from the lower and lower middle class - from both urban and rural backgrounds. Why try to undermine an argument by focusing on some tertiary point? The point is that lower and lower middle class men and women are doing a vast majority of the fighting. While I agree with the point that the all-volunteer Army offers the U.S. with the most efficient fighting force - that does not mean a conscription force would be incapable. The training that the U.S. provides is still the best in the world. My concern is the current use of the active military and the Guard and Reserve forces. We have soldiers that are on their third deployment in the last five years - that is completely ridiculous. In the last 50 years the NG unit in Quincy has been activated for federal service only once – during Vietnam. The Quincy unit is about to be activated for the second time in five years. You can talk about service all you want, but that type of deployment schedule places enormous pressure on military families. As for the veterans’ benefits in the state of Illinois - that is not a major issue. One simple vote of the General Assembly could rectify the situation - require at least four years of active military service to qualify or require that the soldier volunteer to be eligible for the benefit. I am not in favor of a draft, but we cannot have it both ways. If we think it is necessary to have troops spread all over the world - more soldiers are needed. I have suggested adding an Army division and an additional USMC brigade. In addition, the SOFs could be doubled. That would provide forces necessary to alleviate the burden. I would also double the combat pay – the military deserves it. In the end, we can beat our chests and wave the flag, but it is the young men in women, mostly from lower and lower middle class families, that are bearing the burden.

 
At 1:20 PM, November 26, 2006, Anonymous Potstirrer said...

Rob Mellon,

There are so many holes in your essay that it takes breaking them down to reply.

“Let's not kid ourselves here - there are virtually no soldiers from the upper economic crust. Those who are fighting are from the lower and lower middle class.”

And your point is what? The military was not designed to be a “normal employer”.

“While I agree with the point that the all-volunteer Army offers the U.S. with the most efficient fighting force - that does not mean a conscription force would be incapable.”

The above point has already been proven false. You can’t take “drafted” soldiers and force them to be efficient.

“We have soldiers that are on their third deployment in the last five years - that is completely ridiculous. In the last 50 years the NG unit in Quincy has been activated for federal service only once – during Vietnam. The Quincy unit is about to be activated for the second time in five years. You can talk about service all you want, but that type of deployment schedule places enormous pressure on military families.”

When you voluntary sign your enlistment contract nowhere does it state how many times you may be activated. Let’s take your statement one step further, let’s unionize the military and part of the union contract can be only one deployment. Good luck!

“One simple vote of the General Assembly could rectify the situation - require at least four years of active military service to qualify or require that the soldier volunteer to be eligible for the benefit.”

So are your suggesting a four year draft commitment? If not then the one’s who are drafted would receive no state benefits.

“I have suggested adding an Army division and an additional USMC brigade. In addition, the SOFs could be doubled.”

And these divisions come from where? Drafted soldiers? Good luck!

 
At 2:31 PM, November 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's not kid ourselves here - there are virtually no soldiers from the upper economic crust. Those who are fighting are from the lower and lower middle class - from both urban and rural backgrounds. Why try to undermine an argument by focusing on some tertiary point? The point is that lower and lower middle class men and women are doing a vast majority of the fighting.

That's simply not true.

In addition, the SOFs could be doubled. That would provide forces necessary to alleviate the burden.

There is no way to double SOF; by attempting to rapidly increase SOF manning levels, the overall quality of the communities would suffer. The reduced quality would lead to lower retention of the experienced, pre-doubling operators and lead to widespread institutional distrust. BUD/S is difficult not only as a mechanism to weed out the weak and uncommitted, but it also serves as the foundation for all SEALs. Cracking that foundation will destroy all that is built upon it. Make no mistake, there is no other way to increase graduation rates.

 
At 5:15 PM, November 27, 2006, Blogger UMRBlog said...

1431,

In general on the supply/demand of SOF, I agree with you but there is a way to increase graduation rates that does not reduce standards and that is to introduce more "gateway" and hardening training. It was done in a lot of forms during Vietnam and a lot of good men who couldn't have gone straight from the farm to Basic to Special Ops, hardened and then went Through training.

To be sure that wouldn't create the numbers Rob is talking about but it is a valid way to increase numbers without sacrificing standards.

Good discussion. I'll be way from the computer most of the next couple of days but I'll try to stop in and moderate comments a couple of times.

Have at it.

 
At 6:17 PM, November 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SOF Enduring Truth #3: SOF cannot be mass-produced. There is no easy formula for creating special operations personnel. Experience-a key element of special operations capability-can only be produced over time.

The Naval Special Warfare Center which runs Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training (BUD/S) has been for years doing everything it can, short of lowering standards, to increase the number of graduates from this most difficult course.

No matter what they have done or tried, the graduation rate at BUD/S remains at around 30% of those that start the program. 70% failure rate, consistently over 40 years! I don't know, but I suspect that the Q-Course (SF), and Indoc (PJ/STS) is stuck at a similar percentage of graduation (higher than BUD/S of course!)

 
At 10:45 PM, November 27, 2006, Anonymous Rob Mellon said...

My points are clear and do not need in-depth analysis - there are virtually no upper class people serving in the military. There is nothing more to it than that. That was the point, and one that I did not bring up by the way. Your attempt at dismantling my argument is futile – I have history on my side – ignoring that only makes your points weaker. As for the extra division - how on earth did we survive during the Cold War? Where are we going to get the extra division? There were 18 Army divisions less than 20 years ago - guess what - NO DRAFT. If we could sustain eight more division in 1980 I think we could make room for one more now. The United States Army has performed with volunteers, and it has been very successful with conscription. The U.S. could not have won the Civil War, WWI, or WWII without a draft. Moreover, I never said there should be a rapid increase in SOF. I also did not and would not advocate changing Special Forces training requirements and standards. I said there should be an increase, and I do not see the world changing enough in the next day or two to change my mind. Do you not think SOF are the best forces to combat the current threat? Of course there are ways to increase graduation rates over the next decade. Just because we can't do it right now does not mean that it cannot be done. I guess I just have more faith in America than you do. We could keep armored divisions in the Middle East for the next 20 years to be a huge target for insurgents. Does that sound like a good option? I want to make one point clear – I am not in favor of a draft – I was simply stating that the U.S. military could be successful irrespective of the manner in which the soldiers enter service. I am not going to argue about the veteran benefits – I am not in favor of cutting veteran benefits even hypothetical ones. You seem to be missing my point and I guess I have to take the blame for not making myself clear. The current way of looking at this argument has not produced results on the ground – I am merely trying to bring some different viewpoints to the discussion. If we cannot at least consider different options – we are doomed to mediocrity. For the soldiers currently serving in hostile environments, that is not good enough. Every idea I have starts with the average soldier in mind - if I thought for one second that maintaining the current plan would make their job easier – I would be onboard 100%.

 
At 8:57 PM, November 28, 2006, Anonymous Rob Mellon said...

I understand that SOF training is difficult and should not be watered down, but would it not stand to reason that if 100 personnel enter SEAL training 30 or so will make it to graduation. That would mean if 200 entered training 60 would make it. This cannot be done in a month or even a year, but maybe in five or six years. The U.S. could double the size of SOF within a decade. If I were to get SOF commanders to tell me that the plan is not possible I would certainly be willing to change my mind. I just do not see the threat changing substantially over the next 20 years. We need military personnel that are best equipped to meet the current challenges. My idea is not going to be easy and the numbers may not be reached since I would never advocate lowering standards, but if we can increase SOF by 50% we still would be better off.

As for a soldiers duty - you are correct a soldier is obligated to accomplish the mission even if that means multiple deployments. I know that soldiers are loyal and will do their duty - I am not looking at this from a soldier's perspective, but from the decision makers perspective. I think that the leaders that are making the decisions have an obligation not to take advantage of that loyalty and sense of duty. Asking soldiers to go on three deployments in four years is taking advantage of their loyalty.

 
At 9:31 AM, November 29, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob

The plain fact is that the income distribution of recruits is nearly identical to the income distribu­tion of the general population ages 18–24.

You also said we should DOUBLE the size of special forces not INCREASE.

Consider your argument dismantled.

 
At 4:20 PM, November 29, 2006, Anonymous Potstirrer said...

Rob Mellon,

How many is “virtually no upper class people serving in the military?” And you still haven’t made your point. Is having more upper class people in the military going to make it more efficient? Gives some fact and figures. What is the history you have on your side?
How do you plan to sustain these extra division you say we need? Defense spending currently consumes the smallest portion of the gross domestic product and the smallest percentage of the overall federal budget since before Pearl Harbor, where is the money coming from to sustain this force?. “The United States Army has performed with volunteers, and it has been very successful with conscription. The U.S. could not have won the Civil War, WWI, or WWII without a draft.” For someone who states they are not favoring a draft you sure use the terms “draft and conscription” quite often. No argument here on the point that we could not have won Civil, WWI-II without a draft. Unfortunately, the patriotism displayed during those times has diminished.
Is keeping armored divisions in the middle east for the next 20 years a good option – Yes if that is what is needed. Change the rules of engagement for force protection, let the military do what they are trained to do, not what some politician sitting in Washington wants.
As far as the training the military receives it is the best in the world and improving daily. I received, for 25 years, the training that the military offered. In closing let me state that the military is not a “job” the quicker people get that out of their minds the better. Quit using generalizations in your essays and maybe people will see your point.

 
At 10:42 AM, November 30, 2006, Anonymous Rob Mellon said...

Doubling the number of SOF would be an increase – one does not exclude the other. I stand by my original statement of advocating the doubling of all special operations forces. There is nothing to dismantle. I also have no desire to prolong the discussion of the lack of wealthy people serving in the military – if the statistics indicate the military is a perfect cross-section, so be it. As for the draft – it no longer exists and I do not support its implementation. My comments were merely indicating my faith in the military. I have faith in the current force – that faith would not waver if the draft were instituted. Turning this into a discussion about a draft is getting way off track. My concern is with the current structure of our forces and if it is the best structure to assure success in the global war on terror.

Keeping a large number of soldiers in Iraq, especially heavy forces is dangerous. The cost alone of maintaining a force that size in a hostile environment is astronomical. Funding just the maintenance operations in Iraq is costing $2 billion a month - that is money that is not being spent on new technologies or conversion plans like the one that I have suggested. There has even been talk of ending the Joint Strike Fighter program to pay for operations in Iraq. This war could prevent a decade of technological advancements. Keeping mechanized forces in Iraq is not in the best long-term interest of our country. I have no idea, but how much money does it take to operate a division like the 10th MTN Division? Is it $2 billion a month? I doubt it. So for the money that we are spending on maintenance alone in Iraq, it is possible, we could operate an additional Army division – without increasing defense spending. The funds for maintenance operations comes from emergency funds – we would have to make those permanent and apply them to the creation of new units. I am not opposed to increased defense spending, though. We are shackled by traditional ways of thinking. We need to break those paradigms to solve some of these pressing problems. The current administration does not have the ability to do this. It is imperative that we do it though - our security is at stake.

 
At 11:53 AM, November 30, 2006, Blogger UMRBlog said...

Rob--

Taking on the back half of your last one, that is the irony of Rumsfeld. The war his neocon fellow travelers craved unded up preventing the modern, mobile coordinated military he was trying to produce.

The war has already cost us at least ten years of innovation. The trick now is not to turn it into 20. (And, for those of you scoring at home, that is not an argument withdraw now.)

TYFCB

 
At 2:03 PM, November 30, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The war has already cost us at least ten years of innovation.

How do you know this?

 
At 3:44 PM, November 30, 2006, Blogger UMRBlog said...

It is one part my opinion, one part following Rumsfeld's own statement of intent when he came into office and one part fair inference from Rummie's own words in State of Denial.

If we were 20 years behind in January of 2001, ya think we've caught up while we're fighting first a land war, then an insurgency?

TYFCB

 
At 5:57 PM, November 30, 2006, Anonymous Potstirrer said...

Rob Mellon,

What does it cost to keep troops in Europe, Japan, Korea? Why are we still there? I say we pull those troops out! There’s your money you need to sustain your new divisions. But then again we wouldn’t need anymore divisions if we pulled out troops out of these areas.
If you increase defense spending what programs are you proposing be cut to fund the increase in defense?
Your statement about the current administration answered all my questions. You don’t like Bush, your against the war in Iraq, he’s doing it all wrong and you have the answers but you don’t know what they are or how to do it better. “ I voted for the war, before I voted against it” famous last words.
Thanks for the debate. When you can present facts instead of generalizations I will be happy to continue the debate.

 
At 9:16 AM, December 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

UMR 344

Do you think there has been any "innovation" based on putting theory to practice in the battle space?

I would venture to say many lessons have been learned, although it would be diffuclut to put an actual number of years ahead it has put the military.

 
At 12:27 PM, December 01, 2006, Anonymous Rob Mellon said...

$2 billion a month on maitenance in Iraq alone and the talk of scrapping the Joint Strike Fighter - that does not sound like we are moving in the right direction.

 
At 1:48 PM, December 01, 2006, Blogger UMRBlog said...

0916,

You make a fair point (It was one of the arguments the old pentagon made for being in Vietnam). Contact testing of both methods and hardware does have value.

Problems with your theory are essentially three. First, we don't really need any contact testing for our combined infantry efforts. We are already the best in recorded history at land acquisition by force. Second, most of the innovative GEAR isn't ready for field testing yet, let alone warfare. Third, practicing nation-building and ducking so as not to take sides in a civil war advances no future military mission of the United States.

We have learned to work better in the field with the intel agencies and we've gotten much better at prisoner control in combat theaters(Thank you, Aghanistan!) but those things are not the essence of a lighter smarter, better combined force.

I suggest here that the laboratory we're in now is not equipped to test the things about which we intend to innovate. The more important work of long-term improvement was interrupted or disrupted by a war of choice. That's the tragedy of Rummy, he didn't get to keep at the one task which suited his talents.

 
At 7:28 PM, December 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suggest here that the laboratory we're in now is not equipped to test the things about which we intend to innovate.

What kind of "things" are you talking about?

 
At 10:54 PM, December 03, 2006, Anonymous Rob Mellon said...

"Your statement about the current administration answered all my questions. You don’t like Bush, your against the war in Iraq, he’s doing it all wrong and you have the answers but you don’t know what they are or how to do it better. 'I voted for the war, before I voted against it' famous last words."

I have made very specific proposals on numerous occasions here, in public, and on other blogs. During the 17th nomination process I offered a 10-point plan for improving the condition in Iraq. I posted that on my website. It was there for anyone to read. What did Phil Hare or Andrea Zinga’s sites have to say on Iraq? No 10-point plan I can tell you that. Please don’t throw me in with others; I have tried very hard to be as specific as possible. I have no desire to argue about how we entered the war – I am only concerned about what needs to be done now – that is how I approached this discussion.

 
At 7:43 AM, December 04, 2006, Blogger UMRBlog said...

Anon 1928,

Read the top half of the post. It's the context for the things about which we don't intend to innovate.

TYFCB

 
At 5:28 PM, December 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

UMR 743

That's not what the question was, but OK .... nevermind.

 

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