The Future of the All-Volunteer Military

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Training instructors at Lackland Air Force Base saluted with a ceremonial fly-over

Training instructors at Lackland Air Force Base saluted with a ceremonial fly-over. [Linda H. Rasch / Flickr]

The U.S. military has 1.4 million troops on active duty and another 1. 26 million in the Reserves, including 456,000 in the National Guard. We have 47,000 American troops stationed in Japan, 37,500 in South Korea, and 116,400 on bases all across Europe.

These numbers confront us with a stunning paradox: America has the second largest standing army in the world, and yet, is desperate for more troops. As the President announced his plans to add 21,500 troops to the 152,000 already in combat in Iraq, it was not entirely clear where he planned to get them.

There hasn’t been conscripted military service in the U.S. since 1973, but as the military moves thousands upon thousands of human chess pieces around the global board to meet its various needs, some people argue that a “backdoor draft” is already underway. For example: the military is making use of the long-established but usually rare practice of stop-lossing to keep enlisted men and women beyond their contractually agreed-upon period of active service, and is calling up reservists who may have thought their military careers were over.

What do these changes tell us about the wider goals and priorities of the military, and its future as a whole? How is the military coping with its need for more troops, and how are members of the armed services responding to these tactics? Are the problems facing the military just about this war and this set of demands, or does the shortage of troops bely larger problems in the structure of the military as a whole? Is there a way to redesign the all-volunteer military without pushing individual soldiers, their families, combat units to a breaking point?

David Segal

Director, Center for Research on Military Organization, University of Maryland

Co-editor, The Postmodern Military

Ralph Peters

Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel

Former Intelligence Officer

Author, Never Quit the Fight

Mark Zirkelbach

Deputy Adjutant General, Iowa Army National Guard

Extra Credit Reading

sixty-six, They say I will stay for an additional 4 months. And I say, “Roger.”, sixty-six.org, January 12, 2007: “Then I heard the news. Well, I read the news actually. I read it on yahoo. An email from someone I know State side confirmed it for me -my Brigade was to extend. Our guys started calling and emailing home only to find out their families had already been informed of the extension. Letters had been printed, signed, mailed, received and read before we had the faintest idea of what was going on. We were the last to find out.”

Suzanne, Tour Extension, Operation Norwegian Freedom, January 13, 2006: “About a week ago Marc and I were discussing a book I am reading – “Surviving Deployment”. The book mentions the phases and cycles of deployment including the phase I hoped not to experience – extension. Marc said I’d better read up on the chapter about tour extension.”

Fred Schoeneman, Cheese Dick, On Hiatus, June 2, 2004: “[When I was in the reserves,] I understood that Uncle Sugar owned me if it wanted me, and I knew what I was volunteering for. If he is charging that some of his men were lied to about this 8 year commitment, he should have them come forward.”

Andrew J. Bacevich, The Failure of an All Volunteer Military, The Boston Globe, January 21, 2006: “During the Vietnam War, thanks in no small part to the draft, the armed services had become estranged from American society. The all-volunteer force creation severed relations altogether.”

Gun-Toting Liberal, Pentagon: “New Rule” — Reservists and Guardsmen may be activated indefinitely, Gun Toting Liberal, January 12, 2007: “Why not just go ahead and sign up for active duty Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, or Coast Guard if you are willing to ‘volunteer’ to serve on active duty for (‘UP TO’) twenty to thirty years consecutively? At least, THAT way, you would be able to enjoy the full medical and retirement benefits that go to those who are willing to give the rest of their productive lifespans to the military without playing the ‘gambling game.'”

Thom Shanker, Reserve System Needs Change, Military Experts Believe, The New York Times, July 4, 2004.

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  • rc21

    The military exceeded it’s recruiting goals in the last report. Marines and Army had better than expected numbers. Not sure what it means.

    As someone who has served in the military,I hope they keep it all volunteer.

    The last thing a soldier needs in a life and death situation is someone at their side who does not believe in what they are fighting for.

  • mamer

    this is a very timely topic worthy of the type of discussion that Open Source will provide. I look forward to hearing it!!

  • joshua hendrickson

    It’s true that a soldier needs fellows at their side who believe in what they are fighting for.

    It’s also true that too many of those who do voluntarily join the military don’t adequately understand what they are fighting for. Believing in something isn’t enough; you have to understand it, too.

    At any rate, my hope is that the future of the all-volunteer military will be a future of wars far fewer in number and far more necessary in nature. But with the likes of the current White House in control, the immediate future is likely not to reflect that at all.

  • jazzman

    Joshua Hendrickson says: It’s also true that too many of those who do voluntarily join the military don’t adequately understand what they are fighting for.

    If those volunteers actually understood what they were being asked to fight for, they wouldn’t make good soldiers. The military depends upon personnel that doesn’t ask questions or challenge orders – as Tennyson wrote: Their’s not to reason why, Their’s but to do and die. I would venture to say that not only the volunteers are ignorant of what they are fighting for, but their leaders from the Sgt to the Commanders to the Commander in Chief (especially) are also ignorant. Theirs is a fight for abstract ill-advised ideologies that is pursued out of ego, xenophobia, a lust for power, and the “our ends justify our means” to accomplish that which diplomacy and intelligence (hah) would take too long in achieving.

  • rc21

    Here we go again! The soldier/sailor is nothing more than an ignorant person who blindly go’s into battle not even knowing why he fights. That is about the most condescending, stereotypical,ignorant thing I’ve seen on this sight in quite some time.

    For you information Jazzman (And i am speaking from first hand experience) People in the service are just as bright and intelligent as those who would never dream of serving. They read, write and sometimes they even watch the nightly news. They have opinions, they debate politics and they vote. During my time I remember having many lively political debates with friends. Talks would go on for hours. Just like on many college campuses. The only difference I guess was that we were actually in the area that we talked about, and had first hand knowledge with some of the things we discussed. Of course we were not nearly as smart as the college kids who sat at home and really knew what was going on in the world.

    People in the military are just like other Americans. What in gods name makes you think they are so ignorant?

    Is it because they may not all agree with your take on life? Do you have a problem with people who believe serving ones country is a choice that brings happiness and fulfillment? People join and fight for hundreds of reasons. Just as the people who don’t serve have hundreds of reasons.

    I’m sorry but it is you that is ignorant not the soldier/sailor

  • Ben

    If it is as is now unspoken but asserted in a post 9-11-2001 America, a fact that the mission of the US Armed Forces and Department of Defense is not only to be the best in the world in achieving military and combat objectives but also the best in coordinating the building of whole new foreign governments, economies, and national infrastructures – then the US military is easily too small and should be increased in scale to accomplish the mission. (Preferably increased through volunteer service, though that among other major differences was not the case with the often compared to Marshall Plan success.) Is it reasonable to expect the kind of results that apparently are expected by this administration and both the houses while using government services that were not designed or expanded to explicitly meet the purpose they now serve?

    Do the objectives, the plans, or the tools of implementation need to be examined more closely to project a better result?

  • For example: the military is making use of the long-established but usually rare practice of stop-lossing to keep enlisted men and women beyond their contractually agreed-upon period of active service, and is calling up reservists who may have thought their military careers were over.

    Technically this is non-accurate.

    When you enlist you enlist for eight years. However long your active duty enlistment is for, the remaining time you’re in the Individual Ready Reserve unless you opt for active Reserve service. This is spelled out in the contract you sign. Reservists should know better than ‘thought their .. careers were over’. As long as you’ve got the uniform and you’re taking the money, you can be activated.

    I will allow that it’s a crummy deal to be stop-lossed – it sucked in ’91 and it sucks today. And it sucks to be in the Reserve, do your time in expectation that the rules won’t change (say that you won’t be deployed on active service more than once every five years) and have the rules changed on you.

    ….

    I submit that we don’t want a large standing Army. The thought is attractive – our Army is non-arguably the finest yet seen on this planet in terms of reach and ability to own the battlefield. There isn’t another state that could stand up to the forces we can field – what a tool and what could we accomplish with them. Iraq is an extreme case but you don’t like that venture – what about Darfur? Land the 82nd and clean house.

    Republics with a large army will tend to use them – sooner or later they stop being Republics and become … something else. The New Model Army ruled England after Cromwell died – and they found Monarchy preferable than that, which might say something.

  • If those volunteers actually understood what they were being asked to fight for, they wouldn’t make good soldiers. The military depends upon personnel that doesn’t ask questions or challenge orders – as Tennyson wrote: Their’s not to reason why, Their’s but to do and die.

    I’m just a Marine – Tennyson, wasn’t he in the Air Force?

    But no – I can’t speak for the guys and gals in the service now but when I enlisted (not that long ago) we were taught to obey only lawful orders, that it was our job to question what we were being told to do. Oh, not in a way that would disrupt good order and discipline but if an order came down that violated the laws of warefare, ROE or just plain human decency it was our job not to obey it.

  • rc21

    It’s right in the UCMJ. It is actually an offense to follow an unlawful order.You are tought this in boot camp.

  • I think there is an easy solution: contract out heavily overseas. Why just hunt for recruits from America’s poorest neighbourhoods? Why deprive impoverished peoples around the world the chance to enlist, get fed, get an education and visit many foreign lands. Who knows, they might even get stationed back home if the US invades. To encourage officer-class candidates, a green-card could be offered as an incentive. This new multicultural force would itself be an international coalition of the willing, so no more need to bribe countries such as Poland or Norway to send troops to try and make imperial enterprises seem legitimate. Also, human traffickers could be hired to help recruit overseas, thus reducing costs. In the end, why do the messy and dirty work youself if you can pay someone a whole lot less to do it for you?

  • In the end, why do the messy and dirty work youself if you can pay someone a whole lot less to do it for you?

    The concept you’re describing is ‘mercenary legions’ and Machiavelli had some things to say about how unwise a choice that would be.

  • rc21

    sidewalker; The military does not just ”hunt” for recruits in poor neighborhoods.

    They recruit the whole nation. Many poor people see the military as a way to better their lives. It gives them a chance to leave poverty. There are many people from middleclass and upper class backgrounds in the military.

    The ignorance,and sterotyping by people on this sight with regards to people in the military is astounding.

    From Josh ”They don’t adaquately understand what they are fighting for”. Jazzmon thinks they are all ignorant. and now sidewalker claims the military just hunts for recruits in poor neighborhoods.

    Whats next ?I keep waiting for the bloodthirsty, gun toting, Bush loving, southern redneck post.

  • OliverCranglesParrot

    rc21: “The ignorance,and sterotyping by people on this sight with regards to people in the military is astounding.”

    http://www.radioopensource.org/saudi-arabia-mysterious-ally/#comment-38117

    rc21: “In these halls of academia nothing but hate for America, the West, and Jews is taught. The students eat it up with the help of professors like Ward Churchill, Juan Cole etc,”

    Glad to see you follow your own advice…

  • Robin

    re: rc21’s point about meeting recruiting goals, I know recruiting standards is an issue that will probably come up in this show. According to one person I’ve talk to, they’re not scraping the “bottom of the barrel,” but standards have changed to help ensure they meet their recruiting goals.

    sidewalker, you kid about enlisting “foreigners,” but apparently they’re already talking about it.

    Thanks for helping to clarify the way the Reserves work, Brian Dunbar. I’m still trying to understand all the different reserve branches and the way they work myself. What I was referring to in part was the way that people are being called up from the IRR and how that’s affecting peoples’ lives and families.

  • Tom B

    When a corporation finds trouble finding a large enough workforce with the quality necessary to ‘get the job done’, what does it do? One, it expands its recruitment overseas and forgets quaint notions of nationality. Two, it outsources non-critical activities to firms better able to provide services (accounting, human resources, etc). Three, it improves productivity by substituting machines for humans, multiplying the effectiveness of the remaining employees. Four, it incentivizes: it pays bonuses — right down to the production worker — for those exceeding targets. Five, it methodically culls the worst producers and uses this threat to motivate those not fired. But above all, a modern corporation sets strategic goals and holds top management personally responsible for implementing the strategy. Fail, and you are O-U-T. Compare this ruthless corporate operating environment to that of the U.S. military. Then, ask yourself, will hiring more people help, or is that simply a short-term expedient? — I find it weird that US troops in combat radios don’t all carry cellphones and Tasers, and that the inhabitants of hostile areas aren’t all implanted with RFID tags so they can be identified, tracked, sorted, and (if needed) exterminated. Also, CCTV coverage like the system covering London could supplement RFID tracking. The list of technological solutions NOT being applied to warfare is truly amazing!

  • nother

    Our government has announced plans to enlarge the volunteer military. As someone who has studied military recruiting and been recruited myself, I can tell you there is only one way they can recruit more soldiers, money.

    Congress just approved a doubling of Army signing bonuses, meaning a new recruit could earn $40,000 just for signing on the dotted line. The amount is $20,000 for new reservists. An active duty soldier with a hard-to-fill job who meets all the right criteria could $90,000 for re-enlisting.

    So we are at a point where the money incentives are increasing and the “cause” of the fight is becoming more abstract. It’s at this convergence that a fear of mine begins to smolder; a fear of our Army becoming a type of mercenary army. My nephew is training in Alaska right now for the fighting he will soon do in Iraq. He has been told to not discuss politics or even think about it. It sends a shiver down my spine to know that he will march into that war zone with no bedrock cause to fight for. Deep down I know he’ll tap into his patriotic sensibilities built up from a combination of real heroism in his school history books and jingoistic bravado of the pervasive TV commercials he’s encountered.

    But my mind reverts back to that Japanese soldier crying in the new movie “Letters from Iwo Jima.” In the heart-wrenching scene, the boy breakdown when he realizes he is about to die for “nothing.” My gut tells me that when my nephew finds himself staring down that household door, ready to kick it in; Or driving down that hazy street gazing at every isolated garbage can with a warped intimacy, knowing it my be the last object he’ll see on this earth; my gut tells me he will at that point finally ponder the politics, and wonder – if he might die for “nothing.”

    Oh, he will fight on; I have no doubt about that. His strength of will and courage makes this uncle beam with pride. But that slight hesitation of wondering – might be his demise. It’s like a baseball or football team with no chance at the playoffs, they are still professional and they will still play hard, but with less to play for, they generally lose.

    So when I think about how those bastards in Washington, who dodged the draft, have co-opted my nephew’s courage for their self-aggrandizing ideologies, and given him nothing to “play for,” I’m disgusted.

  • rc21

    Oliver, sorry to inform you but the Saudis have financed many middleastern schools of study on American as well as British college campusess, and yes many have a distinct anti american and anti jewish/Isreal agenda.

    Let’s try and stay with the subject of the all volunteer Army.

  • 1st/14th

    People who join the military do it for many reasons. I have had talks with many friends and family about joining the military, and I have talked some into joining and some into not joining. For the right person, it could be the best decision of their lives, and for others it’s the worst mistake they could make. Lowering standards on fitness and background can be offset if you get the right person in the position. PT and discipline can turn a lazy couch potato into a lean mean killing machine.

    Allowing immigrants to earn citizenship is a wonderful thing, my father and uncle are both Vietnam veterans and were Polish citizens who earned their citizenship, one in the USN and one in the USA. No better way to instill the type of values we need in a burgeoning immigrant community than a baptism by fire, in a manner of speaking.

    But, I just love how the discussion here always devolves into the worst elitism has to offer. “They may be brave but as one who studied comparative literature at Brown these kids don’t know what they are doing”. Trust me, the “patriotic bullshit” and “jingoism” may seem like a marketing pitch until you have lived it.

  • 1st/14th wrote: Trust me, the “patriotic bullshit” and “jingoism” may seem like a marketing pitch until you have lived it.

    Um, the person you are responding to has lived it. Why do you assume he hasn’t?

  • This is a tough subject for me. My father was a military officer. He did 20 years and retired. He was sent to Vietnam in something like year 15. I hated what I saw it do to him.

    Plus, I don’t believe in violence as a problem solving tool. (though I do see how difficult it can be to think of another solution in situations such as Darfur.)

    That said, It seems to me that if we are going to have a military because we believe it is vital to our national interests, then we everybody should have to participate. (being in the military doesn’t necessariy mean ending up on the battlefield. There are pleny of support role – engineering, etc.)

    While, some may say that poor people see the military as an ‘opportunity’, one can also argue that the military opportunistically preys on their disempowered station in life. I have a 19 year old stepson who lives in the city. The relentless calls, mailings, approaches at the mall, etc. which are done with some ‘misleading’ friendliness make sure that these boys find the military attractive. Perhaps even their ‘only’ ‘good’ option. Children in families with a better economic position are less likely to think risking their lives is the only ‘good’ option.

    Also, one can’t help but wonder if the people in this administration would opt for war of choice if 1)they had ever fought in one; and b)their own children would be forced to go.

    I think the question of ‘wanting to be there’ would be addressed by a strong sense of national patriotism that is instilled when everyone has to serve. But I don’t know. Doesn’t Israel have required service? Can anybody speak to how effective that is?

  • rc21

    allison, you make some good points, but remember the military recruits like any other bussiness, Obviously they want to make their product seem atractive this only makes sense. It’s really just marketing 101, nothing more and nothing less.

    They recruit the whole country, but obviously common sense as well as statistics tell them they may have better luck with people who see the sevice in a positive light,or as a means to better themselves. As opposed to say some kid from a rich suburb who has plans to enter an elite private college.

    You may think the military opportunistically preys on the poor, but it,s really not that way. While I was in the service I had the chance to do temporary duty with the recruiting office in my home district. They recruited all the towns in the area, rich and poor. They just had better results in the poorer and middleclass towns. Although there was also a bit of moderate sucsess in the wealthy towns

    Your right Isreal does have mandatory service and they also have reserve service after active duty. The reserves meet on a much more regular basis than the US reservist does.

    It would be nice if all Americans felt an obligation to serve, but thats just not the way it is. I’ve never held anything against people who don’t believe in serving their country. As long as there is no draft we all have the right to choose.

  • tbrucia

    Point of clarification: Serving in the military involves obeying orders radiating from the political class (Commander in Chief). Serving in the military may or may not have anything to do with serving the granfalloon known as ‘the country’. The political class has objectives which may or may not have anything to do with the interests of the much broader coalition of interests called ‘the nation’. In short, assuming that obeying orders and executing military operations plans has much to do with serving the interests of the American public is stretching things! Let’s not confuse serving in the military with serving the country…. two different things.

  • tbrucia, thanks for that important clarification. It salutes something I cannot understand about American national pride. Please allow me to speak freely.

    Why is it so important to be patriotic to this amalgamation called the nation-state? If it really followed a “by the people, for the people” principle, I might understand the attachment, but since it is mostly beholden to interest groups, I can’t understand the emotional side of the relationship. Use it and try not to be used by it. Is there any more to it than that?

    Also, why must you applaud the “service-wo/men”, even though you don’t agree with the administration that sends them to war or its purpose? People are dying in coal mines, but you don’t pay them much consideration, even though they help protect the American way of life and they don’t kill innocent foreigners in the process. What makes people in the military so brave and heroic? I don’t see them defending the home soil, unless it is within the bounds of empire. In which case they are just the eager workhorses of political masters.

  • OliverCranglesParrot

    Robin posits: “As the President announced his plans to add 21,500 troops to the 152,000 already in combat in Iraq, it was not entirely clear where he planned to get them.”

    Is Bill Arkin confused or obfuscating so he can participate in the media pile on?

    It all makes grand sense from 40,000 feet.

  • OliverCranglesParrot

    sidewalker the psychological dimensions involved in answering the questions you are posing (not to mention the potential of getting hammered for asking them) are so vast and beyond the reach of current human capacity that it might be more fruitful to scale the problem down to something a bit more manageable. They’re not illegitimate questions, but they are likely to inflame the very human beings you are seeking to understand to the point that no productive dialog can take place. They do contain a tenor of antagonism which may lead to some reflex response. Perhaps this is the goal of the task? Just some cursory thoughts. BTW, I’ve been digging the haiku…proceed with my best wishes…

  • Thanks Robin for the link. Let me say I was half serious. I figured it had to be on the minds of some military managers. Of course I think is appalling that the US needs to grow its army any further and that it would sell citizenship papers for the life-blood of foreign soldiers.

    OCP, am I going to get charged for insubordination? If so, I retract my questions. Thanks for heads-up.

  • rc21

    To sidewalker,Thanks for the honesty, I think there are many more people who feel the same way as you. They just won’t admit it. Don’t coalminers also help kill civillians? Those nasty fossil fuels kill thousands every year, at least thats what the enviros tell me.

    As to Robins link about recruiting foreigners, How could any progressive leaning person be against this? I thought we were a nation of immigrants. Are we not fostering diversity and multi culturalism with this program. If progressives are in favor of letting illegal immigrants gain citizenship,than what could possibly be wrong with letting them earn citizenship legally by serving a hitch in the military.

    I can only conclude that a racist xenophobic person would be against this program.

  • OliverCranglesParrot

    “OCP, am I going to get charged for insubordination?”

    Not my determination to make, though I imagine it’s highly unlikely.

  • jazzman

    rc21For you information Jazzman (And i am speaking from first hand experience) People in the service are just as bright and intelligent as those who would never dream of serving. They read, write and sometimes they even watch the nightly news. They have opinions, they debate politics and they vote. During my time I remember having many lively political debates with friends… People in the military are just like other Americans. What in gods name makes you think they are so ignorant?

    For your information rc21, you are obviously ignorant of the definition of ignorance. It means to be unaware or uninformed either in general or about a specific topic. It has NOTHING to do with intelligence or lack thereof. There is an old saying: The difference between ignorance and stupidity is: Ignorance is curable.

    The majority of those in the armed forces are 25 years old and younger; couple that with the dismal record of American public schools (the graduation requirements and curricula get laxer by the year) plus the general lack of life experience and ambivalent mental conditions which make the young more easily directed, these all combine to support the general thesis that ignorance abounds in this demographic especially. Most Americans in this demographic are ignorant (it’s not just limited to that demographic either) of history, philosophy, civics, and foreign languages (English), not to mention math, science, geography and comparative religion, so logically those in the military are as well.

    If the military wants to train someone to fight and kill for them then it’s to their advantage to have recruits who don’t yet have strong opinions regarding ethics or morality and are therefore more easily manipulated. As to the statement they are just like other Americans, you are correct: They are in general likely to be ignorant and in the particular, we are all ignorant in many respects.

    rc21 As to Robins link about recruiting foreigners…I can only conclude that a racist xenophobic person would be against this program.

    If that’s the only conclusion that can be drawn, perhaps ignorance is to blame. Maybe those who oppose violence, and if not, oppose the ceding of our putative defense to mercenary interests would oppose this asinine idea. Those who sell their allegiance to one interest will likely sellout to a higher bidder should the opportunity arise.

    Peace to ALL,

    Jazzman

  • herbert browne

    a couple of things… Re: ..”How is the military coping with its need for more troops..”

    It’s a good idea to discriminate between “needs” and “desires”- especially when the active party is as powerful as the Pentagon people. The ideology which fosters the fact of 116,000 U.S. troops in Europe needs challenging. It’s expensive to keep USAF golf shoes on the greens along the Adriatic. If the Army hires KBR lackeys to peel spuds in Turkey (& god nose where else), why not hire skeleton crews of the same (foreign nationals, generally- they want the best deal possible- just like California farmers do) to man the Euro bases while the soldiers go off and do some soldiering? Okinawa- and even S. Korea- aren’t likely to crumble if the U.S. forces stockpiled there were to go to an active theater, somewhere… and if some crumbling occurred, it’d most likely reflect the will of the local people, ie a democratic moment in their lives.

    I’d approve of a Total Draft- EVERYbody has a 3 year obligation to government service- with the caveat that it offered work beyond the military sphere (infrastructure improvements, environmental enhancements, VISTA & peace corps assignments, etc) to those who object to being part of a branch of the military services. Perhaps that’s what it will take to get some “justification” for Universal Healthcare in this country… and at least people from all over the land would have a chance to meet- and examine, and exchange- cultural proclivities.

    It seems like “we” have hit the Bigtime, re mercenaries (and other non-citizen warriors)… and that our “enemies” around the world (you know- the ones who ain’t For us, so they must be Aginst us) begin to resemble the Revolutionaries of 18th Century America. I do recall the Hessians, that Washington crossed the Delaware to engage, were only in it for the money… We could even examine the expansion of Rome- and its aftermath- for telling narratives with modern applications.

    All this talk about “not following illegal orders” just went out the window, as far as the trial of the dissenting officer from Ft. Lewis, in Washington, is concerned, who based his case on the illegality of the War in Iraq. Lt. Witada was told by the Army judge (Colonel… ?) that he can’t use that as a defense, no matter WHAT the Geneva Accords may say. So, illegal orders from REALLY HIGH UP are beyond challenge? Kinda like the way Politics trumps Science, the closer one gets to Washington DC? Guess so… & it sucks, bigtime… ^..^

  • rc21

    jazzman, So what you really meant was people in the military are just as smart as every other American, It’s just that all Americans are ignorant and under educated. Thanks for that news flash.

    I find your statements incredible, Now you tell me that the military is looking for people who don’t have strong opinions on ethics or morality. Really you know this for a fact. You are basically saying the American soldier has a blank slate emotionally and mentaly, nothing more than a robot. Please tell me what you mean by manipulated. Did the military manipulate you? I was never manipulated in any way shape or form while I served.

    Do you have any idea how hard it is to get into the service academies. Morals and ethics arev ery important,as well as a strong academic background.

    What branch of the service did you serve in. You seem to know so much about the American soldier.

    As to letting foreigners serve as a means to gain citizenship. I stand by my statement .Only racists or people who believe in totally restricting immigration would have a serious problem with this.

    One last point. The vast majority of servicemen/women. never see combat. Their jobs involve many things from cook to surgeon, mechanics, storekeepers, truckdrivers,engineers,etc.. Most people in the Navy and Airforce hold noncombative job’s I think you have been watching far to many war movies. Your opinions on the military and the people who serve really give me a laugh.

    But what do I know I’m just an ignorant,amoral person with no ethics who is very easily manipulated. Absolutely unbelivable.

  • rc21 But what do I know I’m just an ignorant,amoral person with no ethics who is very easily manipulated.

    Really .. rc21 you really want to send me your paycheck. No no, you really do. Thanks!

    herbert browne why not hire skeleton crews of the same (foreign nationals, generally- they want the best deal possible- just like California farmers do) to man the Euro bases while the soldiers go off and do some soldiering?

    One thing to recognize is that the forces you’re talking about are units that can be drawn upon to replace the currently engaged units when they pull back and begin their deployment cycle.

    This is a new idea for the Army but the Marines have spent the past thirty years (or more) with an expeditionary mode of operations. The basic idea is that for every unit deployed you need two more – one about to go, one training. You can skimp – for a while – with one training/deploying and one engaged but this leaves you little reserve for other needs.

    Example I was stationed in Okinawa 90-91. We missed the war. Not to worry! As I and II MEF left the theater III MEF deployed forward to pick up the slack. We got the job of picking up the toys and sending them home.

    Note that I didn’t get to go to the Gulf then, either. As soon as I MEF deployed back to the East Coast the general order freezing personel transfers was lifted and I moved along to my next duty station.

    There is also the case that a surplus service member (we’ll pick on the example of a a cook at MCB Pendelton) can be used elsewhere – say if all of the field cooks with 2/2 in Afghanistan are blown up in a potato peeler mishap. S2 gets on the phone and yelps. The machinery grinds and soon the cook is told he’s got 12 hours to pack up his things -he’s now reverted to his primary specialty of ‘field cook’.

    You can’t DO that with KBR hires. I will allow there might be some slack, but on the whole, there really isn’t.

    Perhaps that’s what it will take to get some “justification” for Universal Healthcare in this country… and at least people from all over the land would have a chance to meet- and examine, and exchange- cultural proclivities.

    How do you see that? I served with guys and gals from all OVER the place. Reformed thugs from LA, guys from Honduras, a naturalized limey, good old boys from Georgia … why don’t I believe that Universal Healthcare is a good idea?

  • jazzman

    rc21 says: jazzman, So what you really meant was people in the military are just as smart as every other American, It’s just that all Americans are ignorant and under educated. Thanks for that news flash.

    Apparently the ignorance persists. I stated most Americans (not ALL) are ignorant of specific areas of knowledge (IMO due to a sub-standard K-12 educational system – i.e., undereducated) and if intelligence is Gaussian then the military and civilian populations’ intellect is likely similarly distributed.

    rc21 You are basically saying the American soldier has a blank slate emotionally and mentaly, nothing more than a robot. Please tell me what you mean by manipulated.

    I never mentioned emotions, but I will say that young adults in general are a volatile bag of emotions compared to their older counterparts, primarily due to the spiking of hormonal secretions which levels off as the body ages. I never implied a tabula rasa state of mental affairs regarding those young adults, but absent strongly held values, manipulation (call it training, inculcation, group think, or brainwashing) of such (ambivalent) individuals is more readily accomplished.

    rc21 I was never manipulated in any way shape or form while I served. Manipulation is often subtle. The true art of manipulation is getting subjects to believe that it was their idea all along.

    rc21 As to letting foreigners serve as a means to gain citizenship. I stand by my statement . As do I

    rc21 The vast majority of servicemen/women. never see combat.Their jobs involve many things from cook to surgeon, mechanics, storekeepers, truckdrivers,engineers,etc.. Most people in the Navy and Airforce hold noncombative job’s

    Those jobs are being outsourced at a rapid rate to companies like Haliburton and other foreign bidders; however the non-combatants have made the moral choice to abet and support those who may be ordered to engage in violence against others.

    rc21 Your opinions on the military and the people who serve really give me a laugh. But what do I know I’m just an ignorant,amoral person with no ethics who is very easily manipulated.

    If you find humor in my opinions, that’s great. I attempt to inject levity into my posts while being totally serious. Ignorance may be bliss but awareness (especially self-awareness) contributes to personal growth.

  • nother

    To the “volunteers” it’s a job, to the “insurgents” it’s their life. To take it a step further, the following speaks to why we are doomed in Iraq.

    Before the hostage Jill Carroll was released she did an interview with an Iraqi insurgent.

    “The American soldier comes from America. He left his country, his family, his children, and his wife. He cannot see them, maybe six months or more. This is very big problem because they are men…. The mujahideen, [we] can [leave] our homes for 20 minutes, hit the American soldier, and come back home. So we [have fought] continuously now three years, and we can continue 10 years or more. But Americans cannot continue one year. It is impossible.”

  • rc21

    Jazzman,I’m not suprised by your condesending and illinformed opinion of those in the military. It’s a common theme I hear from my liberal friends,(not saying your liberal)

    You pontificate about a subject that you have little or no experience with. I was in the military for 10 years active and reserve. Yet you know so much more about the makeup of the soldier and what actually takes place in the military than someone like me who has actually lived the life 24 hours a day.

    Where does this hubris come from? The reason I laugh at your comments is because they are the typical over exagerated caricature that I so often hear coming from people who are unknowing.

    I tell you most servicemen/women never see combat. You respond that they have made a moral choice to support and abet those who may be ordered to engage in violence against others. What the h–l is that supposed to mean. Do you see that as a bad thing? My take and I’m sure most of the people who have served would say they have made the moral choice to serve and protect the nation from those who would seek to destroy and enslave us.

    Your subtle digs about the military and those who serve are quite common, I wish you could be a bit more honest like sidewalker.

    As Brian Dunbar alluded to in his post the military is made up of all kinds of people black,white, Asian, Hispanic, liberal,conservitive, young, old, smart, not so smart, Democrat, Republican, independent, rich, poor. People in the military are no better and no worse than other Americans they just do a different type of job. You have a right look unfavorably upon them, but unless you have actually served, ( A question that was asked but not answered) your comments are not drawn from actual experiences,Mine are.

  • rc21, I have a couple of questions for you.

    First, do you think you can easily separate questions of morality and ethics from behavior and action? I ask this because you say in the post above that, and I quote, “People in the military are no better and no worse than other Americans they just do a different type of job.” Please correct me, but I read this to say that there is little connection between what you do day in and day out and who you are character-wise. Jazzman seems to be saying (also correct me, please) that the majority of people carry out the job of protecting/attacking (more on that below) or supporting those who protect/attack because they are generally not bad people but “ignorant”.

    Second, you say, “most of the people who have served would say they have made the moral choice to serve and protect the nation from those who would seek to destroy and enslave us.” What I want to know is why, against the overwhelming facts of history, you can believe this? Here I am thinking about all the aggressions carried out by the US military over the past 150 or more years, including Iraq, Vietnam, Panama, the Philippines, etc. I Just can’t see how these fit into the more legitimate reason for military service of “protecting the nation.” That is, unless you think protecting the nation actually means protecting US imperialism.

  • jazzman

    rc21 says: Jazzman,I’m not suprised by your condesending and illinformed opinion of those in the military. It’s a common theme I hear from my liberal friends,(not saying your liberal)

    From the American Heritage Dictionary: A Liberal is a person who is:

    1a) Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.

    1b) Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.

    I believe that my philosophy and behavior hyper-typifies these definitions and make no apologies. As far as my “condecending” and “illinformed” (the quotes are condescending) opinions of the military, I stated that public schools are in general sub-par and made a statistical observation which stated that intelligence is likely normally distributed in a population. I said NOTHING critical about the military, only US Education standards.

    rc21 You pontificate about a subject that you have little or no experience with.

    I “pontificate” about philosophy, physics and pacifism (see my profile) with which I have a great deal of experience, I did make a slight foray into biochemistry with the emotional analysis (with which I have less experience.)

    rc21 Where does this hubris come from? Education, a long life and critical analysis.

    rc21 I tell you most servicemen/women never see combat. You respond that they have made a moral choice to support and abet those who may be ordered to engage in violence against others. What the h–l is that supposed to mean. Do you see that as a bad thing?

    I see 1 set of morals as absolute, the rest as individual value judgments. If those military non-combatants believe their prime motivation is protecting the country from those who seek to destroy and enslave us then they are motivated by FEAR. I neither condemn nor condone their personal motivations which are unique to each; I believe them to be well intended though less than ideal.

    rc21 Your subtle digs about the military and those who serve are quite common, I wish you could be a bit more honest like sidewalker.

    The subtleness perception is self-generated, I salute all consciousness no matter where it is in its psyche’s growth experience. If you were more like sidewalker we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    rc21 As Brian Dunbar alluded to in his post the military is made up of all kinds of people black,white, Asian, Hispanic, liberal,conservitive, young, old, smart, not so smart, Democrat, Republican, independent, rich, poor. People in the military are no better and no worse than other Americans they just do a different type of job. Thus my thesis that they form a normal distribution.

    rc21 You have a right look unfavorably upon them, but unless you have actually served, ( A question that was asked but not answered) your comments are not drawn from actual experiences,Mine are.

    I don’t look unfavorably on individuals unless they violate Absolute Morality and even then I just believe they are misguided. I look unfavorably on policy (particularly the current administration’s) and while I understand the psychological methodology of military training I don’t favor it either. To answer your question: I was thankfully classified 4-F after my army physical during the Vietnam debacle and was not subjected to conscription.

    As always Peace to ALL,

    Jazzman

  • tbrucia

    Slightly different angle… My wife and I have noticed that very few blacks show up on TV in the ‘killed in Iraq’ memorial photos. Whites and then Hispanics seem to vastly outnumber the blacks KIA. This is strikingly different from the military I served in during the Vietnam era! Is the military not only becoming more religiously Protestant fundamentalist, but also more ‘white’? It would be interesting to see some graphs…

  • herbert browne

    (Brian Dunbar)- … why don’t I believe that Universal Healthcare is a good idea?

    Is it because you don’t want to share the Veterans Hospital with the rest of us? I don’t know, Brian… but I’d love to hear what’s wrong with the idea. My premise was that, if everyone spent a few years doing the gov’t’s bidding, then maybe we’d all be as entitled as government employees to that kind of treatment. It’s similar to my feelings about Social Security, ie if members of Congress were enrolled in the SS system, instead of having the gravy train that they’ve currently gotten (gratis of former members), then there’d be no “problems” with Social Security funding… ^..^

  • herbert browne

    (rc21)..”My take and I’m sure most of the people who have served would say they have made the moral choice to serve and protect the nation from those who would seek to destroy and enslave us..”-

    OK… and, as someone free of any psychological manipulation, do you determine who that is? Or do you take it on the authority of others who may be in a position to know more about that than you do? With all due respect, the idea of going off 12 time zones from home to pull down on a bunch of people who have been bombed back to the Stone Age because they’re sitting on top of the Industrial Lifeblood of my society (and are hating me for wanting it from them) isn’t a good fit with my parameters of someone who’s likely to “destroy and enslave” (not necessarily in that order) anyone I know personally. There was a tune around here (Tacoma, Wa) that i heard, right after this serial killer (the Green River killer) copped a plea that kind of got to this:

    “Ya strangle 48 hookers/ go to prison for life// ya shoot 48 Iraqi civilians/ in 6 months ya go home to your wife (chorus:) Ain’t war a bitch?/ and ya never get rich”// (repeat) etc. It was called “The Ranger Rag”- probably because we’re close to Ft. Lewis…

    It’s a h**l of a dichotomy, all right- seems like a huge level of stress- to have to be both professionally paranoid, AND slightly schizophrenic, to make the transition out and back again… ^..^

  • I have one more question rc21. Why do think it is racist to not want foreigners serving in the US army? By foreigners, I mean their political affiliation is to another nation-state, not to the US. This does not mean they need be racially or ethnically different, and since the US is a salad-bowl of all the world’s ethnicities, it is more than unlikely they aren’t. Does this mean that you think all foreigners are racially different from “Americans” in some way? Is it not political rather than racial discrimination to deny them service in the US military because of their non-American citizenship.

  • rc21

    So many questions. First sidewalker I should say people are xenophobic for not wanting foreigners to gain citezenship through military service. I think I said that earlier. The opinion I seem to get from you, Jazzman, Herbert Browne, and others is that people in the military are misquided, under educated,ignorant, and easily manipulated. ”They know not what they do” They are somehow simpletons or morally and or ethically under developed. All because they participate and belong to an entity that you deem at best unnecessary and at worst criminal. I could just as easily say you have been manipulated by leftist educators and media. and that it is you who is morally and ethcally underdeveloped. It is you who fails to see how the military allows us to keep our freedoms.

    You also bring up Iraq, Panama, Phillipines, Vietnam as acts of agression carried out by the military. What about The civil war,ww2 Korea, the first Iraq war.

    Vietnam was a war based on good intentions,It went bad for several reasons. I really would not care to debate them as it could go on for days.

    Educated people can make reasonable rational arguments for and against almost all the wars we have fought. Without the military you may not enjoy the freedom you have today. As a matter of fact our nation would not even exist in the way that it currently does.

    Jazzman You seem to be a pacificst so our philosophies on life,morality,and ethics are different. We see things differently. I’m glad you are a pacifist the world would be better with more. I try and take a more realistic view(My opinion from travelling the world) and acknowledge that there are people who want to kill and enslave others. While in Egypt,Tunisia,and other MidEastern countries I met many. So a strong military is needed. We will not change each others opinion, so I’ll stop trying.

    tbrucia; You see more whites than blacks killed in Iraq than VietNam. Why do you assume they are all protestant and religously, fundementalist. Does the news state John Smith a fundementalist Christian was killed in combat, or do you just assume this, I’ve seen the same news shows you have where they list and show soldiers killed in Iraq and I never once heard any mention of their religous affiliation. Some may be Catholic some Lutheran some athiest. You make quite a broad and uninformed judgement I would say. I do agree that more whites than Blacks have been killed I also see quite a few Hispanics.

    Did you know that Blacks actually died at a rate less than their populatin % during Vietnam and they served at just about the same % of their national avg.

    I like many others was suprised to hear this but the stats came out last year I believe. The media sure had us fooled. I also thought Blacks served and died at a rate higher than their actual % of population. It go’s to show you how the media can manipulate things.

    In closing I have nothing against people who dislike the military or those who serve. Or just think we are a bunch of naive fools. Your entitled to your opinion I guess I probably feel the same about you. Sorry about any spelling/punctuation errors I’m in a hurry .

  • tburcia

    Slightly different angle… My wife and I have noticed that very few blacks show up on TV in the ‘killed in Iraq’ memorial photos. Whites and then Hispanics seem to vastly outnumber the blacks KIA. This is strikingly different from the military I served in during the Vietnam era! Is the military not only becoming more religiously Protestant fundamentalist, but also more ‘white’? It would be interesting to see some graphs…

    Hard data would be good. All I have is anecdotal which is a horrible way to actually know anything, I will agree.

    What I have observed is that minorities will choose the military for a career and are over represented in the non-combat arms specialties. Your average white dude from the sticks sees the military as less of a career option and more something you do after high school for a few years. These guys are attracted to the combat arms specialties which would incur a larger proportion of casualties.

    I don’t think we’re seeing a WASP-y military – quite the opposite.

    Is it because you don’t want to share the Veterans Hospital with the rest of us? I don’t know, Brian… but I’d love to hear what’s wrong with the idea.

    I’ve never seen the inside of a VA facility and don’t plan on it. As far as I know I incurred no service-related disabilities.

    My premise was that, if everyone spent a few years doing the gov’t’s bidding, then maybe we’d all be as entitled as government employees to that kind of treatment

    I don’t feel specially entitled to any VA benefits. If you find someone who does, you can ask them.

    I don’t disagree that everyone should have healthcare – but I suspect that a massive government-run system is the wrong way to go about it.

  • Potter

    Why the Strongest Armies May Lose the Newest Wars

    From William Grimes Review of the book “the Utility of Force”: (quote)

    Right now in Iraq the mightiest army on earth is being fought to a standstill by insurgents using rocket-propelled grenades, rifles and improvised roadside bombs. This should not come as a surprise. In nearly every respect the war in Iraq fits a new paradigm of conflict that has been operative since the end of World War II, although military and political leaders have been slow to recognize it. Until they do, conventional armies, applying conventional wisdom, will continue to misapply their power and risk defeat at the hands of seemingly inferior enemies.

    This, in brief, is the hypothesis put forward by Gen. Rupert Smith in “The Utility of Force,” a closely argued, searching textbook on strategy and the efficient use of military power in the post-Cold War era. General Smith, whose more than 40 years of service in the British Army has included command positions in Northern Ireland, Iraq and the Balkans, maintains that the world has entered a new era dominated by nebulous, open-ended conflicts that are as much political as military.

    Modern armies and their civilian masters are ill suited to win these new-style conflicts, largely because they fail to recognize that the old conceptual model of all-out industrial war between nation states has evolved into what General Smith calls “war amongst the people” — political struggles in which combatants do not wear uniforms, mingle with the people and battle as much for hearts and minds as for outright victory on the battlefield.( endquote)

    I would love to hear Gen. Smith speak about this. Perhaps this should go in your pitch-a- show but it is closely related to this topic.

  • rc21

    Potter I tend to agree with your comments.Of course you must remember we are only using a small percentage of our forces in Iraq. If we took our troops out of Germany S.Korea etc we could probably prosecute this war in a better way. But as you said things are more political now.

    Brian your comments on the racial and etnic breakdown are pretty much what I also saw .Obviously a generalization I think somewhat accurate.

  • pryoung

    General Smith is only about 50 years off the mark, which by the abject standards of current punditry would seem to make him a genius. Didn’t Mao Zedong lay this whole strategy of assymetrical warfare and politics out very clearly for all to read in the 1920’s? And didn’t Gandhi’s movement defeat the British Empire by redefining the conflict as a political/spiritual, rather than military one? Indeed, weren’t the Boers already embarassing Smith’s predecessors in the British officer corps by drawing the world’s strongest army into a guerilla war stalemate in Southern Africa in 1900?

    Then of course there’s the Algerian War, Vietnam, etc. etc. which don’t require so strong a rearview mirror to bring into view.

    It’s beyond shameful—it’s murderously negligent—that our military and political leaders are “slow to recognize” the lessons of these previous imperial conflicts. All the more reason for citizens to defer to none of these elites in making decisions about war.

  • rc21

    The Boer war -Commando

  • rc21, thanks for addressing my questions. You mentioned xenophobia and racism, so I just wanted to clarify your argument.

    As for the role of a military, I don’t see it always as unnecessary or criminal, that depends on the particular geo-political circumstances. I can see that the need for a military if a nation is actually under threat of invasion and occupation, though I would prefer violence as a last measure.

    The problem I have with your position is that you find convenient explanations for illegal US military aggression. You seem to think there are people everywhere who want to “kill and enslave” or “destroy and enslave” Americans. This is seems highly xenophobic. First, with the world’s most expensive and armed military, at this point in time this is not a possibility, and, second, I would argue most of the antagonism you sense in the world is the direct result of US military and economic aggression.

    You are obviously an educated and thoughtful person, but I really wonder why you cannot reflect critically on the actual behaviour of your military under various circumstances.

  • pryoung

    Indeed, weren’t the Boers already embarassing Smith’s predecessors in the British officer corps by drawing the world’s strongest army into a guerilla war stalemate in Southern Africa in 1900?

    Define ‘stalemate’. The war ended with the British empire absorbing the two republics that started the conflict, albeit with self-government in 1910.

    It’s beyond shameful—it’s murderously negligent—that our military and political leaders are “slow to recognize” the lessons of these previous imperial conflicts. All the more reason for citizens to defer to none of these elites in making decisions about war.

    Which leaders? The USMC ‘Small Wars’ manual was first drafted in 1920 (I think – right decade) when the Marines were fighting the Banana Wars in Central America. That drew on lessons learned from the Phillipine Insurrection in 1900. It’s not – I submit – that the military doesn’t know how to fight these wars but that the guys who actually direct how the military operates are sometimes slow to listen or allow political considerations to override the best method to win the current war.

    Which may be what you’re saying of course.

  • rc21

    To sidewalker; I’ll try and explain. First it’s not my military it’s our military. Second, when someone enlists or is drafted they dont get to pick the wars they will fight and the wars they won’t. They take an oath. Iv’e been out of the service for awhile so I can’t remember the exact words.( Maybe Brian can help). But I think you get my point.

    As to the past I won’t argue that at times we may have acted in ways that we should not have. People bring up the Phillapines quite a bit. Honestly I’m not to knowledgebale on that war. I better do some research. But I think in most cases there is a defensible and valid argument for our military aggression. You may not like the argument, and I’m sure your reasons for not using the military are just as valid. for example Iraq. You could say S.H.never invaded us. He did not have wmds,and our invasion has led to more death and more terrorist groups being formed. All of which I agree with. On the other hand I could say Almost every legitimate politician and intelligence gathering group throughout the world thought S.H. had wmds, or was trying to get them. The UN had 17 resolutions authorizing force. S.H. was a brutal dictator who tortured and murdered his own people and practiced genocide. This is something the civilized world vowed to never let happen again.

    So there we have it 2 reasonable and valid arguments for and against the war in Iraq,. Obviously for brevitys sake I tried to really condense the whole thing,but you get my point.

    The antagonism I sense twords America is real. It mainly comes from MidEastern extremist muslim groups and it not only threatens the US but most of Western Europe. I’ve spent time in the MidEast and this is not a new development back in the 70’s and 80’s terrorist groups were growing and becoming more powerfull. Now we have terrorist nations run by lunatics. Iran is a prime example.

    I hope that explains things a little. I’m not here to debate the pros and cons of a specific war, or war in general and I have no real problem with people who detest the military. I also don’t think that people who served need to be treated like heroes. They did there job just like they were supposed to. Some do herocic things some never do more than a store clerk. What I really don’t care for is all the posters who seem to think people who join are ignorant.morally,and ethically,under developed and easily manipulated. What is really being said in a nicer way is ”people who join are really fu—-g stupid morons”.. Most of these people have never even been in the military. On this I must disagree. sorry.

  • davispeter

    Make it a law that every person, upon reaching the age of 18, be required to spend 3 or 4 years in service to the country: military, domestic and foreigh peace corps, or other that is determined to be valuable.

  • Cranky Boomer

    Hi All:

    I am coming to this discussion a bit late…. I guess that is what “old” people do — get behind a bit. I scanned most of the replies posted here and I have the following thoughts.

    Force rarely solves political problems. I thought the “might makes right” syndrome had died off, but it came back and reinfected a whole new generation.

    The All-Volunteer army idea scared me back when (1973) and still scares me. I prefer the draft. I felt my generation bought into the notion way too easily because of their feelings about the Vietnam war. It scared me because it had the potential for being akin to a mercenary military force… you know, doing the bidding of the “commander” and not the bidding of the people. In a sense, that is what we have.

    I felt the All-Volunteer army would strengthen the military-industrial-political complex, and it has. How has it? It has made it easier to go to war and easier to stay in a war that has dubious justification. It has allowed the elitists, mega-capitalists (those who gain from war) and other powerful people (who gain from war) to lobby and leverage for war more or less “risk free.” That is, their sons, daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters would not be at risk for the actions that they contemplate which more-often-than-not enhance their bottom lines.

    If there is NO RISK to the powerful, there is no disincentive to put other people’s lives at risk for the purpose of the almighty dollar (or some other ideological or political rationalization). The All-Volunteer army allows that exact greased-track and if you don’t think that conflicts of interest about money (or stubbornness) don’t have influences on people’s thinking… think again. Unless there is a risk to the powerful, there is no check on their power.

    Even though this Iraq War is more unpopular at this point than the Vietnam war ever was while troops were in Vietnam, there are practically no protests. Why is that? The main reason there are very few public protests is that the pool of those at personal risk for the actions of the powerful is so small — It is just those who know and love those who have volunteered for service. Such a small group cannot mount much of a protest — after all, they “volunteered.” We discount their risk because they “chose it.” How superficial can we be?

    Unless we have a personal risk in a matter, we will generally NOT be responsive. That, my friends, is the huge downside of a “semi-mercenary, all-volunteer” military force. It isolates the personal risk and allows the powerful a more-or-less free ride.

  • RobertPeel

    I come from a military family. Each generation of my family has served in the military from the French and Indian War,Revolutionary War and Viet Nahm.

    It was made clear to me as a child that the founders never envisioned a permanent military establishment. Militias were the model. The Cold War produced what Eisenhower described as the military/industriadlcomplex.

    The emphasis after the cold war was a drawing down of the military as the post cold war benefit. The use of military was seemingly transformed for global peace-keaping and humanitarian efforts. I support Charlie Rangles desire to talk about a draft as a way of having a national conversation about the future of the military and american power.

  • OliverCranglesParrot

    This may (or may not) address some of sidewalkers questions in a more general explanation:

    The Idea of a Local Economy

    “Communism and “free-market” capitalism both are modern versions of oligarchy. In their propaganda, both justify violent means by good ends, which always are put beyond reach by the violence of the means. The trick is to define the end vaguely – “the greatest good of the greatest number” or “the benefit of the many” – and keep it at a distance.”

  • jazzman

    Right on OCP – succinct and terse as usual – keep em’ coming.

  • jazzman

    Cranky Boomer Your analysis vis a vis the volunteer vs. conscripted army is well reasoned and reinstituting the draft is likely a pragmatic way to achieve public investment in the uses and abuses of military intervention (as RobertPeel notes Charles Rangel supports this position – and when I heard him propose it, my already dim opinion of his ideas grew dimmer.)

    While public engagement in affairs of state is necessary for dynamic democracy, the means to that engagement may run the gamut from enlightened self/public interest to terrorizing the populace (the preferred means for the last 6 years – using the specter of terrorism to affect policy thru fear.)

    You say The All-Volunteer army idea scared me back when (1973) and still scares me. I prefer the draft.

    This is a FEAR based preference which ironically seeks to mitigate one fear with another (the irony is that it isn’t – FEAR tends to beget itself.) In order to assuage your fear of unrestrained military adventurism for gain by those with little or no personal risk in the equation, you would introduce a mechanism to instill FEAR on the part of the not only the architects (elitists, mega-capitalists, politicians etc.) but those who are or would be drafted.

    Whereas this scenario might act as a governor to dampen a hasty commitment of troops, I don’t believe FEAR based incentives are ideal or serve the commonweal. A voluntary military is ideal as it is not FEAR based, but comprised of those who are acting in their own perceived interests. It may be due to patriotism, vengeance, or an opportunity to better one’s lot, but it’s their choice and primary responsibility.

    A society that codifies conscription is a society that is desperate and fears for its existence and as you so aptly noted at the start of your thesis Force rarely solves political problems. so ALL diplomatic means should be exhausted before resorting to it. Not that I ever condone violence for any reason – even self preservation.

    Peace,

    Jazzman

  • OliverCranglesParrot

    From the SOTU: Strengthening Our Military

    Right back at ya Jazzman. Off-thread: Thanks for the sad but pertinent news regarding Alice Coltrane.

  • OliverCranglesParrot

    BTW, I cannot take credit for that incisive description of one aspect of the current situation. It came from the document I linked. Here’s a bit more that addresses some of sidewalker’s questions:

    “These assumptions, so far as I can make them out, are as follows:

    8. That it is all right for a nation’s or a region’s subsistence to be foreign based, dependent on long-distance transport, and entirely controlled by corporations.

    9. That, therefore, wars over commodities – our recent Gulf War, for example – are legitimate and permanent economic functions.

    10. That this sort of sanctioned violence is justified also by the predominance of centralized systems of production supply, communications, and transportation, which are extremely vulnerable not only to acts of war between nations, but also to sabotage and terrorism.”

  • jazzman

    rc21 says: Jazzman You seem to be a pacificst … I’m glad you are a pacifist the world would be better with more. I try and take a more realistic view(My opinion from travelling the world) and acknowledge that there are people who want to kill and enslave others

    On the one hand you seem to think the world would be better of with more pacifists, (with which I agree) but you also think pacifism is unrealistic because you FEAR that violent people want to kill and enslave other people. This is a reaction to secondary (subjunctive) information. You are in no danger of those people killing or enslaving you, yet a primary information fight or flight response is physically generated (in your case, a fight response) the chemicals released by the endocrine system (back into biochemistry) have no means of dissipation (except via violence) and can contribute to stress-related syndrome.

    rc21 To sidewalker; I’ll try and explain. First it’s not my military it’s our military.

    The military you describe is a creation of your mind that you generate anew every time you present your opinions (this is true for all of our opinions) and therefore the military you present to ROS and sidewalker is wholly yours except as sidewalker creates his own perception of the military you adduce (as do we all) and in that respect it does become our military. See the William James thread for clarification, but I think you mean ours in the United States’ sense.

    rc21 The UN had 17 resolutions authorizing force. S.H. was a brutal dictator who tortured and murdered his own people and practiced genocide. This is something the civilized world vowed to never let happen again.

    Yes the UN was strong-armed into authorizing force in those (and most) bellicose resolutions but the force agreed to by the UN should be a UN force (I don’t agree that force was or is necessary though I’m aware that’s arguable and a minority position) and not a pre-emptive, and for all intents and purposes a unilateral invasion by United States and close historical allies (with whom a common language is shared.) The civilized world who vowed to counter violence with violence did so under the aegis of the UN so they who voted for this option should be charged to carry out the ill-advised “end justifies the means” policy.

    rc21 What I really don’t care for is all the posters who seem to think people who join are ignorant.morally,and ethically,under developed and easily manipulated. What is really being said in a nicer way is ‘’people who join are really fu—-g stupid morons’’.

    I reiterate: As a normal distribution, the populace is ignorant in general and we all are in particulars NOTHING has been said with regard to the set of people who join the service that does not apply to the public at large. Young people in general are moral and ethically underdeveloped and more easily manipulated than those older and more set in their ways and those who make choices to support questionably moral & ethical premises must live with the consequences. The only ones who say anything about “stupid morons” are they who defend illusions of their own creation.

  • sana

    Does not an all volunteer military which allows us the luxury of supporting the killing of others, by others, for a cause which we, ourselves, are not willing to die for, set up a system in which we are too ready to believe that the sacrifice of others is worth the price? Too good to be true, I think, and possibly deliberatly so. Otherwise, why would the authors of these ‘necessary’ military actions not require the rest of us to pay for them, now? From the start, i could not trust such an illogical and unfair scheme.

  • iowanative

    This war from the beginning was designed to be militarily short, with civilian contractors following closely on the heals of the armored engineers and doing all the susequent reconstruction. It was meant to be a windfall for Haliburtan and others who were to be the ones to impose democracy on Iraq, thereby reaping all those marvelous capitalist rewards that are the hallmark of any true western democracy. This was the plan of Cheney and Rumsfeld, who, with the help of Chalabi fooled way too many people, including Colin Powell, and, of course, everything went horribly awry. To be having a discussion on the merits of an all-volunteer military vs. conscription, based on this particular conflict, is unfortunate because the American public has been misled from the very beginning about why we even went to war, and the reasons have been repeatedly redefined and spun to suit the administration’s purposes. If anything, this mess points to how we (through Congress) need to have more oversight on where and when we go to war. We should be more reliant on diplomacy and less on military aggression, and before we decide that we can throw away the lives of our young people through military conscription, we had better make damn sure we are doing the right thing and that we are not alone in doing so. Perhaps we do need to have a national conversation on how we can serve our country, but it should be triggered by altruism rather than by nationalism or imperialism.

  • Cranky Boomer

    Dear Jazzman and All:

    In my opinion, fear is a great motivator and a reality that we can mess with and modify in many ways, but jumping off a cliff should probably always have a fear component, otherwise, we wouldn’t have lasted long as a species….

    The loss of the draft was the removal of the last real speed-bump in the way of the military-industrial-political complex. I think we are cowards for not insisting on a draft. Unless the powerful and the privileged risk something by going to war, there are no other real disincentives for them — it’s all somebody else’s kids or grandkids.

    I think we underestimate the downside of keeping the risk pool so small when it comes to war. Our own self-interest allows the powerful a greased-track to war because we, ourselves, are so afraid of being part of the risk pool.

    They knew it when the all-volunteer force came about in the first place. The not-so-hidden agenda of the all-volunteer force in the first place (1973) was to stifle dissent within ranks and without ranks. The military and the nation had just experienced tons of dissent. (rightly so)

    The best way to “stifle” dissent is to smooth feathers… give them something they want. Well, what we wanted has a higher price than we expected and far wider downside ramifications than we anticipated… kind of like a deal with the devil — you know, most of us are “safer” (not part of the risk pool), but our country is not because the powerful can more easily move into war with less fear of radical dissent.

    Believe me, I was in the draft, I know what it feels like to be part of the risk pool in a time not unsimilar to now. Believe me, being part of the risk pool motivates you to get off your butt and get radical about bad decisions by the powerful that put YOU at risk.

  • jazzman

    Cranky Boomer Says: In my opinion, fear is a great motivator and a reality that we can mess with and modify in many ways, but jumping off a cliff should probably always have a fear component, otherwise, we wouldn’t have lasted long as a species.

    I agree that fear is a powerful motivator and that it can indeed be “messed with” i.e., exploited. As I previously wrote in the Post Game: Fear Factor thread: http://www.radioopensource.org/post-game-fear-factor/#comment-18729#comment-18729 , Fear is the most primal emotion known to humans – therefore the cultivation and exploitation of fear is a well-worn tool (as old as mankind) to control those who can’t see that their fear is in the driver’s seat making decisions.

    I don’t agree that “jumping off a cliff” always does or should have a fear component. If one empirically observes the effects of gravity on some mass and the consequences of abruptly interrupting its action after the mass has been traveling from a weak gravitational influence to a stronger one depending on the travel speed and composition of the interrupting medium, intelligent decisions and rationality rather than fear keep most of us from jumping (save BASE thrill seekers – who don’t seem to fear as long as their calculations prove out.)

    Again I think you are correct in your analysis of “having a dog in the fight” vs. standing-by, motivates the “dog owner” to action to mitigate risk (thru fear of consequences for fear and intimidation work temporarily but a durable motivation is preferable.)

    While you may justify those means to your end, I don’t believe manipulating (forcing by dint of threat of incarceration or other violence) young persons (or anyone else) into a situation where fear is the motivation to rebel, is moral, desirable or ideal.

    I don’t know how you define “radical” dissent but in this theoretical democracy (representative republic) the agreement was to use the ballot box (no matter how easily corruptible) and the constitutional freedoms (no matter how trampled) to effect change and not violence.

    Hold the powerful accountable through the system or use the system to change it, if people aren’t motivated to get off their butts, then they support the status quo tacitly and must accept the consequences of their decisions.

    Using your personal FEAR (of lack of control regarding other humans’ predilections) to espouse the manipulation of the general public thru fear is no different in principle than the GWB/Neo-con’s fear-based manipulation our representatives (who should have known better) and the populace thru the specter of WMD, terrorists, and other axis-of-evil bogeymen to achieve their “end justifies the means” goals.

    I am probably your approximate age and was drafted but failed the physical. It wasn’t fear that motivated my actions regarding Vietnam but conviction that the conflict was a mistake and way less than ideal. Violence or threats of it are never ideal and the best way to counter such situations is to love peace, live in a peaceful manner and lead by the example of one’s life.

    Peace thru NO FEAR,

    Jazzman

  • rc21 There is much that still puzzles me, but I appreciate our back-and-forth.

    OCP Thanks for the links. The article on Local Economy brings in the whole question of Lebensraum or living space, what ecologists call carrying capacity. The need to satisfy the insatiable want deeply programmed into us by the psychological warfare of advertising has to be linked to the military excursions and campaigns required to secure access to resources and markets and to protect trade routes. Following this argument, we can say that global capitalism requires a global security force to maintain inequitable and unsustainable over-use.

    ROS staffGreat show. It would have been easy to address the question of the need for a more expansive US military, and shows on this should be warmed up, but that would have diverted our eyes from this informative view inside the box, however alarming it is.

    Ralph Peters mention of the love of military life as an explanation for high troop moral reminded me of the poll results on American values written about by Michael Adams in American Backlash: The Untold Story of Social Change in the United States. Adams’ market research firm, Environics, has conducted the survey every 4 years since 1992 and it has found a significant increase in the acceptance of violence in day-to-day life. Americans who agreed with the statement “A little violent behavior relieves tension”, increased from 15 per cent in 1992 to 27 per cent in 1997, 31 per cent in 2000 and 32 per cent in 2004. Of males aged between 15~24, this was 55%. To put this in perspective, only 11% of Canadians, for instance, agreed with this statement in 2004 and only 22% of Canadian teens.

    For the statement “It is acceptable to use physical force to get what you want”, 39% of males aged between 15~24 agreed. Overall, numbers agreeing with this second statement increased from 9 per cent in 1992 to 17 per cent in 1997, 24 per cent in 2000 and 23 per cent in 2004.

    http://www.tvo.org/TVOsites/WebObjects/TvoMicrosite.woa/wo/PTj0jvGpJ8OtVWtoUA6g30/21.0.0.83.45.26.25.13.1.1

    http://www.penguin.ca/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780670063703,00.html?sym=EXC

  • OliverCranglesParrot

    Thank you Cranky Boomer, jazzman, and sidewalker. I enjoyed the thoughts and the links. After reading the fear factor thread and the American Backlash link, I think my anxiety index is now pegged off the meter! (kidding, of course).

  • pdluce

    sidewalker:

    The reasons you present for calling rc21 a “xenophobic” are not sufficient evidence to merit this comment. Xenophobia is the fear of strangers and rc21’s comments are not reflective of this. The fact that he may feel antagonism from other countries is an opinion and view, not a stated fear. The term xenophobia is strong in refering to strangers, rc21 is quite specific about who he feels is antagonistic towards America, making these people defined and not strangers. Even if the US Military actions are the reason rc21 believes that we should be worried about these people doesn’t mean that this is a fear of the unknown, rc21 rather has a specific concern and feels that the US military is taking appropriate action to take care of it.

  • pdluce

    Cranky Boomer:

    I am younger than you and would potentially be impacted if there were a draft instilled today. The comment you made, “In my opinion, fear is a great motivator” is not necessarily true in all cases, especially this case. If a draft were to occur, I may express my dissenting opinions but it wouldn’t be out of fear, it would be out of principle. If the expressions of myself and my peers weren’t effective I would ship out for war on my scheduled date and stand strong for our country. It is not fear that motivates in a situation such as this and a draft wouldn’t change that. People are taking action now, look at the November election, and people will continue to take action but it is out of principle and morals. If a draft were instilled tomorrow that action may increase, but it would not be for fear of going abroad, it would be out of principle that the government was forcing people to do something they didn’t believe in. The merits and existence of a draft are trivial in this circumstance, people will stand up for their principles, rights, and morals, especially the right of choice no matter the situation.

  • Ralph Peters mention of the love of military life as an explanation for high troop moral reminded me of the poll results on American values written about by Michael Adams in American Backlash: The Untold Story of Social Change in the United States.

    I’m just now getting around to listening to the podcast. Violence is, yes, one reason to have an army but (in my opinion) being able to apply that violence is not what ‘love of the military life’ is about.

    It’s about competence.

    Generally speaking the military excels at building teams and getting stuff done. There is little in the civilian world to compare with this. You’ll find civilian organizations that do this well and you can tell this by their retention rates and high motivation.

    But not many of them, and their competence can be fleeting.

  • GBNELSONJR

    As a new site member i would like to say Hello. I have not yet seen a post that touches on military pay. My father might have earned $100/month in WW2.My highwater mark in 1976 was about $400/month.What pay could a young man or woman now expect from our military? Are the financial rewards in line with the risks and sacrifices that an Infantryman or Marine must face? If not, why not?

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