Apr 212004
 
Authors: Joe Marshall

Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett might get drafted next year

… by the Army!

Due to the increase in violent resistance to the U.S.-led

occupation of Iraq and decreasing international support of the

campaign, American military might is being stretched paper-thin.

The Department of Defense unveiled a plan this week to keep

short-term troop strength in Iraq at more than 135,000, and at the

same time Congress mulled over ways to increase the long-term

strength of the U.S. military by 30,000-plus soldiers.

While the congressional debate is mostly centered around ways to

recruit and finance an extra two divisions of troops, Sen. Chuck

Hagel, R-Neb, recommended Tuesday that Congress consider

reestablishment of a military draft.

Does this congressional consideration mean you should renew your

passport? Not yet. The November election should give those of you

who don’t mind saying “eh?” at the end of every sentence ample time

to pack.

What should arouse your emotions is the fact that a supporter of

the war in Iraq is presenting the draft proposition as a solution

to a very critical problem facing our military. The radical nature

of the problem and its proscribed solution are each a testament to

how deeply involved we are in this conflict and what achieving

victory might cost.

David Segal, director of the University of Maryland’s Center for

Research on Military Organization, is quoted in the Christian

Science Monitor as saying, “Our volunteer army is closer to being

broken today than at any point in its 30-year history.” Segal

elaborates further by explaining how the U.S. military no longer

uses reserve troops for their intended purpose – as reserve

troops.

While some reserve troops are always a necessary part of any

major deployment for the U.S. military, an over-deployment of

troops usually results in those who volunteered for duty seeing

their tours suddenly extended or, in some cases, doubled. When

combined with falling enlistment rates because of waning public

opinion of the conflict, our overburdened army risks becoming what

Fox News’ Peter Brownfield calls a “hollow force,” or a military

lacking enough volunteers to maintain its commitments.

Congress faces a formidable task in trying to keep its volunteer

army standing during this drawn-out conflict. With spending already

plagued by a record deficit, Congress is having to make ever

sweeter the pay increases and/or bonuses offered to those who

enlist and reenlist.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a member of the Senate Armed Services

Committee, has even recommended scrapping funding for the F/A-22

fighter. After 15 years of development costing nearly $40 billion,

the F/A-22 is scheduled to enter service next year and is slated to

replace almost every tactical warplane in the U.S. military

arsenal.

Sen. Hagel’s proposition is not the first time since Sept. 11,

2001, lawmakers have considered the possibility of a draft, but it

is the first time the idea has been floated because of its

perceived merit and not because of political protest.

Two bills calling for a reinstitution of a military draft, HR

163 and SB 89, were proposed in 2003 and are currently buried in

committee awaiting the apocalypse. These bills, however, were not

written in favor of a draft but instead to condemn the action

against Iraq. The bills’ sponsors, Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and

Sen. Fritz Hollings, D-S.C., intended to highlight for Americans

the potential consequences anything less than a flawless victory in

Iraq might bring.

After more than a year of occupation, errors have been made and

there is no clear victory in sight. Support of the occupation is

quickly fading both at home and abroad, as is the morale of

soldiers on the front line.

Do I think a reactivation of the draft is inevitable and just

over the horizon? Not necessarily. As long as we aren’t compelled

to topple another third-rate despot and as long as our campaigns in

Iraq and Afghanistan don’t spill over into neighboring states,

we’ll be just fine.

If any of the above does happen, though, I’m just gonna hack off

a couple toes on my left foot. Or volunteer for the Coast

Guard.

Joe is a senior majoring in history. His column appears every

Thursday.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.