Stars and Stripes reports on the striking concerns of Army Vice Chief of Staff Richard Cody, who warns that the all-volunteer force we have now is stretched thin, that recruiting is "showing cracks", and that our present active military are not being adequately cared for. We have heard this kind of warning in political debates, but this is the first time I've seen such high-ranking military officials offer such a dire short-term outlook.
In the end, says Cody, it comes down to simple questions like, “What kind of Army do you want to have? Is service to this country important to you?”Hmmm, the same kind of doomsday language Republicans use about leaving social security unchanged. Somehow, I put more faith in the Major General's words.
“The all-volunteer force is close to breaking right now,” said retired Maj. Gen. Edward Atkeson, now a prolific author on military affairs and a senior fellow at the Institute of Land Warfare. “When it does break, that’s when you’ll see the draft come back.”
Atkeson said cracks are already showing with the use of stop loss to keep troops in beyond their active contracts and massive reserve mobilizations.
“The worst-case scenario is that things just continue as they are.”
Is there any doubt that some form of draft will eventually have to be implemented to avert a total military breakdown? Every month I see new stories about recruiting goals not being met, and no new stories about troop deployments decreasing. And this growing deficit promises to arrive much quicker than 2041. Why does this real crisis not warrant more reform-minded attention than social security? What is the Bush plan? Hope we can get out of Iraq in time to regroup and replenish?
I can think of 2 ways to make volunteer service more attractive:
1. Compensate military appropriately. Higher pay, better, more reliable benefits.
2. Make it less likely that they will die or lose eyes, arms or legs. Start with being more careful, deliberate, and honest about which conflicts we join, or start.
(tip of the hat to Doug for sending a link to this story)