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patmc
10-26-2008, 02:04 PM
From today's SWJ Roundup and Early Bird: "Army Needs Rebuilding" by Bill Maxwell, Washington Times, 26 OCT 08 http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/oct/26/army-needs-rebuilding/

A different look at the Army's retention and recruitment, focusing on desertion as a key indicator.


The result, some officials acknowledge, is that the Army is ailing, and the problem is reflected in the rate of desertions. More soldiers and enlistees are deserting in numbers that have not been seen since Vietnam, when the draft was in effect.

Anecdotal from my unit, there have been more AWOL cases the past two years, and they tended to be recent recruits with drug or discipline issues. Only one was a NCO that had many many many issues. I would not have thought to look at desertions as a basis to judge the volunteer force's viability as the Army is having a much bigger problem keeping quality people with years of service. His argument for better recruiting standards is pretty good though. I guess we're losing on both ends.


As desertions have increased, the Army has stepped up punishment, mostly as a warning to others. The overwhelming majority of deserters are handled administratively, given other than honorable discharges. This is especially true for those who desert during basic training. Soldiers who desert when their units are preparing to deploy, however, will more than likely go to prison. The standard sentence is two years, a far cry from the days when desertion during wartime was punishable by death.

I have yet to see this. The AWOL guys that do show up, even after Dropped From Rolls, tend to get a couple days confinement, if that, then out. Definately don't foresee any firing squads any time soon. Also, there was news recently about the trial for the LT from Washington that refused to deploy. He refused years ago, and he's still not resolved.

Schmedlap
10-26-2008, 02:58 PM
I think there are three variables at play here.

1) Marketing and recruiting. The Army sucks at the former, so the latter is suffering from low quality. As a result, we are attracting more of the wrong people. More of the wrong people = more AWOLs and desertions.

2) Attitudes toward service. Our culture gets more narcissistic by the day. Serve others? Forego riches and power in law, politics, medicine, business, or elsewhere? These concepts are making less and less sense to more and more high school and college graduates.

3) Incentivizing irresponsibility. Personal responsibility is almost extinct in this country because we create incentives for people to abandon it. Don't want to fulfill an obligation that you've incurred? No problem. Just abandon that obligation and we'll put you on a pedestal as a crusader, speaking truth to power, rather than regarding you as an overgrown child whose word means nothing. When you encourage a certain attitude or behavior, you tend to get more of it.

Ken White
10-26-2008, 04:36 PM
Re-read it and sniffed again. Minor political polemic couched as concern for the Army.

Desertion figures, as patmc says, prove little. As he implies, pursuing the few isn't perceived as worth the trouble and cost -- a minor contributor to schmedlaps astute observation that we have managed to incentivize irresponsibility. Some things are worth paying for even if big 'E' Economically unsound or inefficient.

His comment on marketing and recruiting is also apropos -- I contend that both are badly flawed and have been for over 30 years. Both still are using the WWI - interwar years - WW II, industrial models of trying to entice the low performers into the service because the high performers are 'better used elsewhere.' That's a recipe for mediocrity which we have continued to pursue against all logic. It is, criminally to my mind, an attitude that is espoused by the political leadership in both parties, by academia and -- wrongly -- accepted by the senior leadership of the Army. Low expectations will be met... :(

If the Army is to do what it needs to do then it must raise its sights and challenge people to prove they're good enough to hack it instead of luring loafers and convincing them they're adequate. That means higher standards, vastly improved entry training and less mickey mouse time wasting. It means not accepting mediocre performance. It means making the changes that a good many in the Army know need to be made. :mad:

We have a professional Army mired by draftee minded leadership, civilian and military -- and not at all helped by an incompetent and venal Congress.

That standard raising may be a bridge too far, sad to say -- it will certainly not sit well with those who insist on 'fairness' -- an absolutely ridiculous demand in view of the fact that life is not fair and combat surely is not...

Rob Thornton
10-26-2008, 05:36 PM
Ken,
Well said. Best, Rob

Entropy
10-26-2008, 05:52 PM
What Rob said. Very well said Ken.

Icebreaker
10-26-2008, 08:08 PM
Everyone and Anyone,

I am asking this question as a non-Military type.

I hear a great deal of discussion by "pundits" in the media about "National Service", which basically means bring back the draft. Let me state that I do not think this will happen, because it is politically impossible. When this issue is discussed I have notice a strange pattern - ex-Military types seem to oppose bring back the draft more then people who have only experience as civilians do.

I have heard a number of different proposals -

1. Bringing back a strictly military draft (seems to be the least favored by the chattering classes).

2. Having a National Service program like the Depression era - Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC). Either voluntary or mandatory.

3. Having a combination of #1 and #2, where you would be required to do service but could choose between the two options.

My questions are as follows -

Would bringing back the draft help out the issues discussed in the article?

Would it hurt?

Would brininging back some form of "National Service" help with the issues of narcissism discuss by other posters or would it just be the Government running people's live's for them?

What about my observation that former military seem to oppose the return of the draft more then civilians?

Currently, I am in the best-of-all learning situations - lots of questions and no answers. I want to get some input from people with real world experience.

Thank you for your input.

Uboat509
10-26-2008, 08:49 PM
Nothing good can come from bringing back the draft or any other mandatory service requirements. I generally hear the same arguments from those who are pro-draft. Something along the line of giving our youth an appreciation for service to the nation or some such as well as the obvious argument that it would help solve man-power issues. I always laugh at the idea that we can teach our youth appreciation for service by forcing them into it. I have to wonder if any of these people were ever youth? Our youth today do need to learn the value of service to something greater than themselves but a draft isn't gonna do it. It will help create a generation that is even more bitter and less likely to view service to the nation as a good thing. That's the philosophical argument against a draft. The practical ones are even harder to counter.
First, how do we pay for a draft? Even if didn't pay them we would still have to feed, clothe, house, train, equip and transport them and we are talking about a few million per year if we draft the ones turning eighteen. Furthermore you would have to have people to train, lead and manage them which means gutting another organization to provide those personnel. And all for what? To create a giant organization of malcontents? Trained malcontents? I'm just not seeing the upside.

SFC W

Ken White
10-26-2008, 09:04 PM
LINK (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=2628&highlight=Draft)

Go there and check down the thread, there are various answers to most of your questions. My opinions on your questions are below.
Everyone and Anyone,

I am asking this question as a non-Military type...I have heard a number of different proposals -

1. Bringing back a strictly military draft (seems to be the least favored by the chattering classes).Least favored by almost everyone. Aside from the involuntary service issues, practically it would introduce more people than the Armed Forces Could absorb. The US has over 4M males and females reaching 19 each year; take just males and figure 75% could pass the physical exam; that would be 3M draftees alone in the Armed forces -- we do not need and could not equip and pay that many.
2. Having a National Service program like the Depression era - Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC). Either voluntary or mandatory.Favored by many who are too old to have to go...

Same problem applies, too many people, you couldn't exclude females in such a scheme, thus you'd have about 3M persons for a year. There isn't enough work out there to productively employ them for multiple years.
3. Having a combination of #1 and #2, where you would be required to do service but could choose between the two options.Aside from the equity problem, you still have more people than we are capable of productively employing.
My questions are as follows -

Would bringing back the draft help out the issues discussed in the article?

Would it hurt?

Would brininging back some form of "National Service" help with the issues of narcissism discuss by other posters or would it just be the Government running people's live's for them?

What about my observation that former military seem to oppose the return of the draft more then civilians?Thus my answers would be:

No, it would not help -- and most of those 'issues' are really non-issues; he smoke screened a political point, his last statement.

Yes, it would hurt for the reasons above and the next two items.

The latter, it would be major government intrusion for little to no benefit and would be very unlikely to cure narcissism -- might make it worse... :D

Current and former military folks are generally opposed due to the reasons I cited plus the fact that it would almost certainly be unfairly implemented and executed based on all previous experience and mostly due to the far more critical fact that todays technology and techniques require longer service to master than a Draft would offer. Armies are not good places for social engineering. High tech Armies are particularly unsuited for it...

Entropy
10-26-2008, 09:18 PM
The greatest argument against the draft is that the American people do not want it nor are they likely to want it short of national crisis where some kind of existential security threat exists.

AmericanPride
10-26-2008, 10:54 PM
I'm in favor of a "national service" institution combining military and civil service. I think a fundamental part of the oft-cited narcissisism problem in the United States is the complete lack of a nationally-oriented experience and/or identity other than the Armed Forces. As far as Ken's argument regarding the complexity of warfighting, I put forward the idea that the combat arms branches remain exclusively voluntary in such a system.

Uboat509
10-26-2008, 11:46 PM
I'm in favor of a "national service" institution combining military and civil service. I think a fundamental part of the oft-cited narcissisism problem in the United States is the complete lack of a nationally-oriented experience and/or identity other than the Armed Forces. As far as Ken's argument regarding the complexity of warfighting, I put forward the idea that the combat arms branches remain exclusively voluntary in such a system.

Hi AP,

How do you propose to over come the obstacles stated above such as the cost of such a requirement or the simple fact that forced service rarely breeds anything but contempt among those who are forced to serve? What about the requirements to provide a competent experienced cadre and staff for such a large organization, somewhere around three million members? Just putting one cadre member with every thirty man platoon you are looking at 100,000 cadre now add staffs and support personnel and you can see how huge this thing would be. Furthermore, either you would make them do a year which would mean that by the time they had finished what ever training the were getting they would not have enough time remaining to deploy with the military or they will will have little time to do anything meaningful for a civilian service corps. The other option would be to draft them for more than a year and now you have doubled the number you need to feed, house, clothe, train, equip and transport. Where is the money going to come from to pay for all that for 6,000,000 people? Maybe if the Air Force were to cancel one of their F22s but we know that that is not going to happen. :D

SFC W

Ken White
10-26-2008, 11:55 PM
I'm in favor of a "national service" institution combining military and civil service. I think a fundamental part of the oft-cited narcissisism problem in the United States is the complete lack of a nationally-oriented experience and/or identity other than the Armed Forces. As far as Ken's argument regarding the complexity of warfighting, I put forward the idea that the combat arms branches remain exclusively voluntary in such a system.morale and attitude problem in too many of the combat support and combat service support units for a variety of reasons, not least that they do a lot of hard and dirty work while getting little or no thanks -- and you want to add involuntary servitude to that? Sounds illogical to me.

I think your idea of volunteers only in combat arms would only exacerbate that. Not to mention that all the combat arms guys are now volunteers so what really changes?

I'd also suggest that narcissism is unlikely to countered by exposure to military service. I agree with you that in the US there is generally a lack of a nationally-oriented experience and/or identity but would suggest that isn't going to be changed by forcing teenagers to do something they'd rather not do. The teenage years are way past time for that problem to be addressed, that's a parent and elementary school thing; past ten years, you're pretty much wasting your time in that arena. The educational system in this country blew that in the late 50s in many but not all areas of the country due to a lot of silly social experimentation and it will not improve until that is rectified nationwide. Good luck with that...

The NKVD / MVD / KGB plan to soften us from within by fiddling with the educational system in fifteen year increments worked beyond their wildest dreams...:wry:

Added: Okay, so U Boat can type faster and is less wordy than I am; so what... :D

Schmedlap
10-27-2008, 02:13 AM
I think a fundamental part of the oft-cited narcissisism problem in the United States is the complete lack of a nationally-oriented experience

I think the latter is due to the former. Our society has incentivized mediocrity, irresponsibility, selfishness, and other immorality. That is what we sow and it amazes me that we manage to reap ANY smart, selfless, hard-working individuals cut out for military service.

To solve the narcissism thing by inducing more national service is to address the symptom rather than the cause.

AmericanPride
10-27-2008, 03:41 AM
I'm not entirely convinced that a conscript force is inherently inferior to volunteer a force, or that conscription (used broadly) is politically impossible. In a rough, 30-second mental review of military history, the Vietnam picture of conscription's effectiveness seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Mobilization begins at the top. What is the policy? What is the required capability and manpower? Where can those resources be found? Importantly, what powers are necessary to bring those resources together? Money, people, equipment, etc can always be found, whether through requisition, creation, production, or outright seizure -- it's just a matter of finding that particular political arrangement that has sufficient viability to sustain it. There's some truth to Napoleon's words that "men will fight for a little piece of ribbon". Even "mediocre, irresponsible, selfish, and immoral" people can shoot rifles -- as long as they're shooting at the people we want dead, I'm not particularly concerned. So I don't think a national service program is unsustainable, only that it requires a great national exertion to change from the status quo. What may not be possible is finding a competent, unitary, and effective political authority capable of creating that policy for the right time and place.

I think this is the most important question: is a "perpetual" war on terrorism a consequence of policy or is our policy a consequence of the enduring nature of the war?

Ken White
10-27-2008, 04:14 AM
I'm not entirely convinced that a conscript force is inherently inferior to volunteer a force...No one said that -- though having been in one many moons ago, I'm personally convinced that a force with conscripted troops will be less effective because in a democracy, politically it must be treated differently than a volunteer force. That different treatment means less adequate training (Mothers get upset when their kids get hurt -- they really get upset when their kid is someplace he or she doesn't want to be). There are other differences, including the time available constraint and equipment costs that were mentioned.
...or that conscription (used broadly) is politically impossible.Nothing is impossible, many things can be difficult. See below.
...In a rough, 30-second mental review of military history, the Vietnam picture of conscription's effectiveness seems to be the exception rather than the rule.What picture re: Viet Nam. Draftees did okay there, a large number did great. The problem with the Draft in Viet Nam was domestic, not combat related. The Draft was capable of producing far more people than were needed, thus a lottery and the unfairness of that and the deferment process. That and a generation of kids that were being told for the first time in their lives they had to do something they didn't want to do -- so they rebelled. Those were the Draft problems then, not performance.
...Mobilization begins at the top. What is the policy? What is the required capability and manpower? Where can those resources be found? Importantly, what powers are necessary to bring those resources together? Money, people, equipment, etc can always be found, whether through requisition, creation, production, or outright seizure -- it's just a matter of finding that particular political arrangement that has sufficient viability to sustain it. There's some truth to Napoleon's words that "men will fight for a little piece of ribbon". Even "mediocre, irresponsible, selfish, and immoral" people can shoot rifles -- as long as they're shooting at the people we want dead, I'm not particularly concerned.All true, sort of. But...
So I don't think a national service program is unsustainable, only that it requires a great national exertion to change from the status quo. What may not be possible is finding a competent, unitary, and effective political authority capable of creating that policy for the right time and place.That's the problem, isn't it?

As I said, nothing is impossible; many things are difficult -- and you just summed up the National Service difficulty. I also note you caveat with the right time and place. Do you have a recommended solution? Do you think it's needed at this 'time and place?'
I think this is the most important question: is a "perpetual" war on terrorism a consequence of policy or is our policy a consequence of the enduring nature of the war?Aside from the fact that has little or nothing to do with National service, I suspect the answer to that question varies greatly between individuals. IMO, there is no perpetual war but the current lengthy effort, more than a war as it involves US Law Enforcement and financial clout operating worldwide and out of media sight, was certainly begun due to policy failures.

Specifically, the failure of four administrations from both parties to realize that probing attacks from the Middle East over 22 years needed to be met far more forcefully lest they encourage escalation by the denizens of the ME who do not wish the west or the US well.

So I say the war is a consequence of policy failure by four Presidents from both parties and the current policy is an attempt to rectify that abysmal failure.

Schmedlap
10-27-2008, 07:16 AM
Even "mediocre, irresponsible, selfish, and immoral" people can shoot rifles -- as long as they're shooting at the people we want dead, I'm not particularly concerned.

That's the catch. You can't trust the immoral to shoot only the people whom we want dead. You need to micromanage and babysit them. Been there, done it, got the t-shirt, and gave the t-shirt to a displaced Iraqi. Units that I have deployed with sent home at least a dozen problem children whom we couldn't trust. We were better off without them than we were babysitting them in a combat zone.

Uboat509
10-27-2008, 09:20 AM
I'm not entirely convinced that a conscript force is inherently inferior to volunteer a force, or that conscription (used broadly) is politically impossible. In a rough, 30-second mental review of military history, the Vietnam picture of conscription's effectiveness seems to be the exception rather than the rule.

Whether or not Vietnam is an exception to the rule or not, and the jury is still out on that, it is our most recent experience with conscription. What makes you think that it would go better now? One very important difference between previous experiences with conscription and Vietnam was the enemy. In previous experiences we knew what we had to do to end the war and get our boys back home. We had to defeat Germany or defeat Germany (again) or defeat North Korea. It wasn't until we started going to war against an idea (Communism, Terrorism) rather than a country that things started to get murky.



Mobilization begins at the top. What is the policy? What is the required capability and manpower? Where can those resources be found? Importantly, what powers are necessary to bring those resources together? Money, people, equipment, etc can always be found, whether through requisition, creation, production, or outright seizure -- it's just a matter of finding that particular political arrangement that has sufficient viability to sustain it.

You're kidding right? In today's economy you want to try to come up with the resources to field a three million man Army/Civil Service Corps? Obviously the money is not in the current budget and John Q Public isn't going to stand for that kind of tax hike, so what gets cut to pay for it? Do we stop upgrading our equipment? Do we cut the pay of the professional soldiers? Do we stop taking care of their families?


There's some truth to Napoleon's words that "men will fight for a little piece of ribbon". Even "mediocre, irresponsible, selfish, and immoral" people can shoot rifles -- as long as they're shooting at the people we want dead, I'm not particularly concerned. So I don't think a national service program is unsustainable, only that it requires a great national exertion to change from the status quo. What may not be possible is finding a competent, unitary, and effective political authority capable of creating that policy for the right time and place.

If we had that we could solve a lot of our problems. Unfortunately, to paraphrase Dave Barry, it is impossible to get any two randomly selected Americans to agree on pizza toppings, much less anything meaningful. Look at the polls (Lord knows the politicians do). The "War on Terror" is well down the list of most peoples priorities behind the economy and other domestic concerns.

SFC W

AmericanPride
10-27-2008, 12:25 PM
Do you think it's needed at this 'time and place?'

I think it will be the right time and place in 4 - 8 more years, should the long war continue. Hence my question of: "is a "perpetual" war on terrorism a consequence of policy or is our policy a consequence of the enduring nature of the war?" IIt seems to me that as expensive as a perpetual war and national service may be, if it is a consequence of policy, then we have the option to change the policy in anticipation of the discussed problems. If, however, the perpetual war is imposed upon us, then what other choice do we have than to sustain the conflict?


You can't trust the immoral to shoot only the people whom we want dead.

True. That is why I suggested that in a national service institution, the combat arms be reserved for volunteers only.


In today's economy you want to try to come up with the resources to field a three million man Army/Civil Service Corps?

The resources are there. It's a problem of distribution and use. It would require the federal government to reassert its power over the monetary system.


In previous experiences we knew what we had to do to end the war and get our boys back home. We had to defeat Germany or defeat Germany (again) or defeat North Korea. It wasn't until we started going to war against an idea (Communism, Terrorism) rather than a country that things started to get murky.

That's a failure of leadership to define the enemy. That's a problem of context, and not of national service itself.


The "War on Terror" is well down the list of most peoples priorities behind the economy and other domestic concerns.

I agree. Necessity is the last and strongest weapon. Under what conditions become necessary?

120mm
10-27-2008, 02:32 PM
I've always been a fan of a foreshortened period of mandatory training for all, from which volunteers for more active forms of service are recruited.

No mandatory requirement post-training, and it serves as a point of indoctrination and recruitment for the various military services.

But if I were king of the world, I'd wave my magic wand and make professional police/military/politicians illegal, and force individuals in society to take turns doing either job.

I understand the impossibility of the last statement, but one can dream....

Rob Thornton
10-27-2008, 02:48 PM
Schmedlap said:


Our society has incentivized mediocrity, irresponsibility, selfishness, and other immorality.

Amen brother, and as the father of 5 the idea of social engineering scares the hell out of me. Ken's observation about a meritocracy vs. mediocracy is especially lucent. I think they are well thought of as oil and water. Institutional polices that try and serve both serve neither well, and are confusing. Confusion creates frustration and those that are looking for more clarity, for more opportunity, and who can, based on their potential will leave - sooner or later contingent upon their other interests and responsibilities. Unfortunately, the folks that often leave are the ones who would do well in a meritocracy, while those who wish to amble along find comfort, solace and well being in a mediocracy.

If you think you can get by on a mediocracy, then by all means go for it. The problem is you create the conditions where you are less likely to know how bad it fails you until it already has because the conditions to raise the potential of failure are no longer present; you've engineered it out of existence. National security is probably the last place you want to try to do something like that because the consequences may be final.

Best, Rob

Ken White
10-27-2008, 04:34 PM
I think it will be the right time and place in 4 - 8 more years, should the 'long war' continue.Should the long war continue, the issue of National service and thus a military Draft will solve precisely what problem in that 'war?'

I place 'war' in quotes because as I indicated, I think this is at the same time less than a war and more than one -- it is not a war, it is an ethnic conflict with worldwide intelligence, military and law enforcement ramifications induced by the appeasement oriented western civilizations tolerance of some pushy and fanatic purported Islamists during the period 1972-2001. If you have not yet read it, I suggest you obtain access to a copy of the Nixon commissioned Global Terrorism report produced in 1976 and as a result of the attack in Munich in 1972 - LINK (http://www.americanintelligence.us/News/print/sid=2756.html).

Your desire for a Draft to me indicates a need for mass; the only major military advantage conscription offers. What do you propose to use that mass for?
Hence my question of: "is a "perpetual" war on terrorism a consequence of policy or is our policy a consequence of the enduring nature of the war?" IIt seems to me that as expensive as a perpetual war and national service may be, if it is a consequence of policy, then we have the option to change the policy in anticipation of the discussed problems. If, however, the perpetual war is imposed upon us, then what other choice do we have than to sustain the conflict?I think 'perpetual' is a quite significant over statement and would submit that even if true, adding to the cost of said 'war' by going to an unnecessary added expense of conscription that will produce a large quantity of military personnel that are not needed is somewhat counterproductive.
True. That is why I suggested that in a national service institution, the combat arms be reserved for volunteers only.Said combat arms are already served by volunteers -- what would you use the rest of the conscripted persons for?
The resources are there. It's a problem of distribution and use. It would require the federal government to reassert its power over the monetary system.Perhaps, the issue is whether that's the best use of resources and if so why. To my knowledge, you have not yet explained why national service is a good idea in practical versus esoteric and idealistic terms.
That's a failure of leadership to define the enemy. That's a problem of context, and not of national service itself.Not totally true. WW II conscripts served for the duration plus 6 months in a somewhat existential (certainly large and all encompassing by any definition) war. That aided in the development of military and battlefield competence significantly and there was little difference discernible in those area between draftees and regulars at the end of the war.

Since then, there has been no need for such harsh terms of service and the politicians left the two year, peacetime draft term in place. Can you provide any reason why they should not have done so?
I agree. Necessity is the last and strongest weapon. Under what conditions become necessary?Fair question. Barring a significant miscalculation by one nation or another, a very slim possibility, I can foresee no conditions in this effort that would provide such necessity. You apparently do see such a necessity or possibility if not a probability; could I ask what, precisely, that is?

jkm_101_fso
10-27-2008, 05:14 PM
For the record, I'm not in favor of a draft unless absolutely necessary.

1. I think one of the greatest mistakes of the Bush Administration was the failure to ask for "a call to service" on the evening of September 11, 2001. Not a draft; but a challenge to the young men and women across the nation to serve in the defense of their country. This request from the Commander-in-Chief would have resonated across the country. I absolutely believe that. It was the one opportunity, before the situation became partisan, to appeal to the youth of this nation to serve. Instead, the President told people to shop more. What a disappointment.

2. One constant we hear in society today regarding the War on Terror is that most the country is not personally invested in the war. It only affects the military and their families. Say what you will for the draft, but this would not be the case if a draft did exist. Everyone would have a vested stake in the war; their sons.

3. One of the greatest failures of the national Draft was deferments. We allowed the wealthy to be exempt. If the draft would someday be needed, we could not allow the sons from the wealthiest families to get out of it.

4. I graduated with 50 people in my high school class. Of the 23 males in my class, I cannot think of one that would have dodged a national draft. Sometimes, I don't think we give enough credit to the American people, particularly the youth. I have had many of my old classmates and friends tell me that "I would go" if they were drafted. I believe them. Granted, I think there would be some considerable resistance and possibly riots in the streets if the draft was brought back. Most of that would probably on the coasts. The majority of the nation would suck it up and do their duty. To caveat that, I believe that some of the young men we draft would be our best performers. Kids don't avoid military service because they can't hack it or don't have what it takes. It's just foreign to them and they tend to stay away from what they don't know.

5. I would argue that our country's sense of nationalism started to wane once we established the all-volunteer force and abolished the draft. Because no one HAS to sacrifice. No one bears any burden unless they choose too. I think this is simple logic; if there is no sacrifice, then there is no loyalty.

6. Although I think the all-volunteer force works just fine, a part of me wonders how well a partially-drafted force would work and if the nation would support it.

For those of you that are on the World Affairs Board, here is that discussion:
http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/showthread.php?t=47505

Steve Blair
10-27-2008, 05:25 PM
4. I graduated with 50 people in my high school class. Of the 23 males in my class, I cannot think of one that would have dodged a national draft. Sometimes, I don't think we give enough credit to the American people, particularly the youth. I have had many of my old classmates and friends tell me that "I would go" if they were drafted. I believe them. Granted, I think there would be some considerable resistance and possibly riots in the streets if the draft was brought back. Most of that would probably on the coasts. The majority of the nation would suck it up and do their duty. To caveat that, I believe that some of the young men we draft would be our best performers. Kids don't avoid military service because they can't hack it or don't have what it takes. It's just foreign to them and they tend to stay away from what they don't know.

Gotta agree with this. It's all too easy to watch network TV and lose track of the average people in this country who actually make it work from one day to the next.


5. I would argue that our country's sense of nationalism started to wane once we established the all-volunteer force and abolished the draft. Because no one HAS to sacrifice. No one bears any burden unless they choose too. I think this is simple logic; if there is no sacrifice, then there is no loyalty.

I would disagree with this for a number of reasons. When the US was arguably at its most nationalistic (say the post Civil War period through 1940...avoiding the blips caused by the two world wars) we had NO draft. None. Zilch. Zero. And the military was an object of neglect and disdain in many quarters. It's better to say that we re-established the all-volunteer force, because that is what we've had for the bulk of our history. The draft has always been a fluke, and an unpopular one to boot. The level of sacrifice on the part of most citizens was very low, at least in the terms you're talking about.

Declining nationalism has, I think, more to do with Ken's social engineering in the education system, the constant self-flagellation that Americans seem so enamored with (it's one of our great strengths, but it can be taken too far from time to time), and the blurring of lines between our culture and others that rapid communication systems makes possible.

jkm_101_fso
10-27-2008, 05:35 PM
I would disagree with this for a number of reasons. When the US was arguably at its most nationalistic (say the post Civil War period through 1940...avoiding the blips caused by the two world wars) we had NO draft. None. Zilch. Zero. And the military was an object of neglect and disdain in many quarters. It's better to say that we re-established the all-volunteer force, because that is what we've had for the bulk of our history. The draft has always been a fluke, and an unpopular one to boot. The level of sacrifice on the part of most citizens was very low, at least in the terms you're talking about.

Good point, however, the draft was still a possibility at those times. People weren't comfortable in the fact that there was no way their son would be sent to war, unlike now. Those two "blips" (two World Wars) reminded people during that period that sacrifice was still necessary, unlike today.

I do think there is much merit in Ken's points. I agree with you there.

MikeF
10-27-2008, 06:47 PM
4. I graduated with 50 people in my high school class. Of the 23 males in my class, I cannot think of one that would have dodged a national draft. Sometimes, I don't think we give enough credit to the American people, particularly the youth. I have had many of my old classmates and friends tell me that "I would go" if they were drafted. I believe them.

FSO is on point. Back in 2003, I spoke to my younger brothers high school football team. Outside of the Army recruiter that walked the halls of the school, I think that I was the first soldier most had met. Of that team, one went to westpoint, another to annapolis, and three enlisted. They later confided that my talk encouraged them to serve.

The more I talk to my brother and his friends, the more I realize that they want to do something to serve, but they don't know what to do and they don't know how to do it.

They have never been asked.

v/r

Mike

Steve Blair
10-27-2008, 06:59 PM
Good point, however, the draft was still a possibility at those times. People weren't comfortable in the fact that there was no way their son would be sent to war, unlike now. Those two "blips" (two World Wars) reminded people during that period that sacrifice was still necessary, unlike today.

I do think there is much merit in Ken's points. I agree with you there.

Actually the draft wasn't at all possible prior to 1914 or so, due in no small part to the furor caused by the riots during the Civil War. There was a lingering faith in the power of state volunteer units (and later the National Guard) to augment forces (in fact it was state troops and special volunteers that filled the ranks during the Spanish-American War).

I think you need to look deeper than the threat of the draft to the main causes for such 'volunteerism' (and mostly in state or special units...the Regulars usually remained understrength). The sense of Manifest Destiny, though mocked today, was still strong then. It was more of a social calling, combined with the 'thrill' of experiencing conflict.

Points to consider, at least. I've never quite bought into the draft as being either a natural state for the United States or that it was really a good motivator for service. The historical record seems to suggest strongly that there are other factors at work.

Tom Odom
10-27-2008, 07:49 PM
Steve

I agree with your points that a volunteer military has been the "natural" state (my words) of the US military as a whole for most of its history.

But I would say to you that in the times when the Nation was in crisis --Civil War, WWI, and WWII--it ultimately served the nation well. The Civil War was very much a metamorphasis for the nation in more ways than just military service and in that regard does not fit in the same mold of a single nation responding to the call. Korea and Viet Nam I would suggest resumed and continued what WWII had put in place.

In discussion of whether we are in Long War that threatens our way of life then I agree with what others have said. The nation as in the nation's youth have not been asked. I see that as a sign of a lack of commitment on the behalf of those leading, not those who have not been asked or required to serve.

Tom

Steve Blair
10-27-2008, 07:52 PM
In discussion of whether we are in Long War that threatens our way of life then I agree with what others have said. The nation as in the nation's youth have not been asked. I see that as a sign of a lack of commitment on the behalf of those leading, not those who have not been asked or required to serve.

Tom

Quite so. Having or not having a draft won't make much difference until those leading "grow a set.":wry:

Ron Humphrey
10-27-2008, 08:19 PM
Anytime I hear someone seriously looking@ bringing back national service as mandatory requirements get very nervous

They probably want to do more than we should be.

Ken White
10-27-2008, 09:50 PM
it served us well and the guys who got drafted mostly did their thing and did it well. There is no other way to get a large mass -- if that is militarily required -- of people into the fight.

Having said that and having lived around the Navy and Marines from 1932 until 1940 and from 1946 until 1950 with no draft and recalling not only service but civilian and national attitudes, Steve is also correct:
Actually the draft wasn't at all possible prior to 1914 or so, due in no small part to the furor caused by the riots during the Civil War. There was a lingering faith in the power of state volunteer units (and later the National Guard) to augment forces (in fact it was state troops and special volunteers that filled the ranks during the Spanish-American War).I'd submit it was also not possible between the world wars; post WW II the Cold War -- and the way it was couched to the nation and the bi-partisan effort that it became -- made it possible until Viet Nam showed the political (NOT military) fallacy of the concept in less than major existential war in a democracy.
I think you need to look deeper than the threat of the draft to the main causes for such 'volunteerism' (and mostly in state or special units...the Regulars usually remained understrength). The sense of Manifest Destiny, though mocked today, was still strong then. It was more of a social calling, combined with the 'thrill' of experiencing conflict.Exactly; I'm old, I can remember the US before the mantra of big government and dependency on the government (and thus an attitude of "it's not my yob...") became prevalent. Today's lack of involvement and interest in the Armed forces is fault of said Armed Forces as well as of sweeping general and not always beneficial societal change. If the Armed Forces were smart, they'd have an outreach program that relied on the Reserve Components -- but that would mean giving them another mission, more money and some clout and thus is unlikely... ;)
Points to consider, at least. I've never quite bought into the draft as being either a natural state for the United States or that it was really a good motivator for service. The historical record seems to suggest strongly that there are other factors at work.Agree strongly. The myth of 'national service' of some sort sounds good to some -- it does not sound at all good to others and its record world wide is mixed at best. Here, it has not fared well and is highly unlikely to do so. A draft is an effective military tool when needed; the rest of the time its better left alone as it creates more problems than it solves. It emphatically will not convince the majority of teenagers to be good citizens (said as a guy who's raised four of 'em who finally outgrew their teenage insouciance -- though I have not outgrwon mine... :D).

sapperfitz82
10-28-2008, 12:35 AM
I would agree and go one futher (a father of six that is).

The nature of our profession today (highly specialized and very complex) does not len itsself well to the short tours that are inherent in draft armies. This has only become true in the past few years. It will be even more so in the next few as we religiously leverage technology to make up for our average lack of testicular fortitude.

I would be in favor of such a mandatory service with say, the State Dept, compellees we'll call them. And they could do may be, FSO type work unless the qualify for something better. Degree holders only I think. Money wise, they wouldn't need much if they were living in a trailer in the desert. And if they're bitter, who cares! Exemptions for military service. SD could use the bodies, Lord knows that would bring an influx of talent.

Might free up some military too.

sapperfitz82
10-28-2008, 12:41 AM
Should have said I would agree with Rob.

Actually errors abound in the previous post and I blame them entirely on medication and a lack of sleep.

Uboat509
10-28-2008, 02:15 AM
I wouldn't say that lack of testicular fortitude is the main issue. Rather I would say that the military is simply reflecting the society from which it is drawn. As a society we have become entirely dependent on technology. We need some sort of high tech gear to enhance virtually every aspect of our lives. For crying out loud, in this country basic cable is considered poverty. If there is a problem then there MUST be a technological solution. It is only natural that that attitude would spill over into the military.

SFC W

In the interest of fairness it should be noted that I am in no way immune to this and have, in fact, already forgotten what it was like before I had my iPhone.

120mm
10-28-2008, 01:00 PM
I wouldn't say that lack of testicular fortitude is the main issue. Rather I would say that the military is simply reflecting the society from which it is drawn. As a society we have become entirely dependent on technology. We need some sort of high tech gear to enhance virtually every aspect of our lives. For crying out loud, in this country basic cable is considered poverty. If there is a problem then there MUST be a technological solution. It is only natural that that attitude would spill over into the military.

SFC W

In the interest of fairness it should be noted that I am in no way immune to this and have, in fact, already forgotten what it was like before I had my iPhone.

When I read posts like this, I thank my father, grandfather and the old Germans I grew up with for raising me in the 19th century.

AGBrina
10-29-2008, 01:47 PM
A national program, intended to encourage young people (say, 2 years' time between the ages of 18 and 27) to spend a period of their lives, that is devoted to the service of their country, is a good and wholesome thing; but I don't believe that it should be mandatory, especially in a Democracy. If the rewards for national service were tangible, and were of the kind that would continue to reward over the course of a lifetime, there should be plenty of volunteers for such service, even in a time of war.

What I have in mind is an "Affimative Action"-type program. "Veterans" of such service should be placed at the top of every list for positions within the Federal Government, including for politically-appointed positions. Further, there should critical review of staffing, and should be adverse consequences to the head of any department or to the elected official, whose proportion of personnel who have served in such a way, is below average.

If such a program/affirmative action plan could be enacted, I imagine that a significant number of the graduates of the finest schools, as well as most of those with political ambitions, will see national service as an increasingly attractive way to start their careers. It would be up to the Federal Government to apportion these volunteers according to the needs of the country. In times of war, the military could lay claim to a larger portion of these volunteers than would be needed when there is no conflict. Yet, because of the unique appeal of military service, there should be plenty of youths pereferring to serve in uniform rather than to serve as social workers.

selil
10-29-2008, 02:44 PM
I'm a proponent of national service but as being suggested it is a band-aid on arterial bleeding.

We already have a socialized gerrymandering in excess of 13 years national service program in the k-12 public (and private) school system. The entirety of the k-12 system is about teaching citizenship, government organization, and indoctrinating students into the American experience through educational strategies.

To say that since the late 1960s that system is an abysmal failure as rampant nannyism policies of the 1960s (Think Dr. Spock and the welfare of children policies) through the creation in the 1970s of the national Department of Education (overbearing legislative non-representative of best practices in education oversight), into the post-psychic mumbling of momma Regan creating "just say no" and resulting in an entire probation and parole incarceration generation for doing what the Regans did in the 1960s. When you look at the "just feel good about yourself and the grades will come" policies of the 1990s and the wickedly illogical no child left behind (NCLB) of the current administration I'm only left with the radical impression that we are lucky we don't have more mouth breathing sycophantic ignorance oozing down the streets in baggy jeans and sideways caps.

If you want a stronger Army give children in public school a chance.


Repeal or remove psycho socialistic feel good legislated mediocritization policies and make an education challenging and rewarding for its own sake.
Reject mega-school processes and just in time business practices of centralized education and put the high schools back in the communities instead of making them "lords of the flies" prisons and warehouses of humanity.
Repeal the pseudo Puritan-Victorian behaviorist moral platitudes and backdoor prohibition policies that has created the incarceration generation and resulted in a public school criminal insurgency.
Repeal or sunset no-child-left-behind legislation that creates racist classist policies of discrimination based on funding practices that impact primarily disenfranchised minority members of society by decreasing funding on schools that can't afford the tools to be successful already (great logic in NCLB).
Demand accountability in corrupt political institutions (think Chicago Public Schools as an example) that have more administrators (Marxist bourgeois class) than teachers (proletariat producers) and insure that everybody teaches or they don't have a job.
Don't accept empire building from petty bureaucrats who hold your children hostage to standards and policies guaranteed to primarily create failure and does not make education a primary goal.


If you want a strong Army, a prepared citizenry, a healthy country, a free living while crime free society, and are willing to accept that the utopian myth of police state is a failed policy guidance you have to start with the beginning not the end. Freedom means that crime will occur, and educating people means they will question authority. There is no real reason for government to truly create a highly educated population. Requiring national service at the end of high school is the current equivalent of painting a turd.

Sure you can come up with examples of excellence, but you must look at the over all to see the direction of society. Down around the median and mean the outlook is pretty scary. The United States active duty military serving is around .5 percent (or 1.5 million) of the total American population (300 million aprox.). You want a strong military you need to raise that median/mean a LONG ways.

I don't think anybody in the military would accept centralized-control, centralized-execution as a viable military strategy in a continental battle for the hearts and minds of a diverse population. But, that is exactly what we have created with the last four decades of educational policy and specifically with NCLB. The children of today are NOT stupid. The children of today are as smart or smarter than anybody in previous generations (research suggests attention spans and long term memory are shrinking while puzzle solving and logic are increasing a dichotomy to be sure). It is a failure of the adults and policy makers to provide even an adequate education and a moral failing of society to stop watching television and make the next generation a priority instead of American Idol or Dancing with the Stars.

You want a strong Army you need a strong country. You get both of those with a strong citizenry. Fix education and you will fix the Army. It is a simple system. It is a complex political morass that will fix itself in time. Time is always the final arbiter of failure to take action.

zenpundit
10-29-2008, 03:46 PM
The only thing I care to add to Sam's excellent - and sadly, all too accurate critique of the problems with our educational system - is that standards for prospective teachers should be markedly raised. When GPA requirements for those intended to teach 90% of the citizenry are invariably the lowest on campus of any professional school, that puts into place a negative feedback loop that guarantees the perpetuation of systemic mediocrity.

[BTW, that situ is not unintentional - plentiful, cheap and mediocre is an educational personnel policy of the states going back to at least the 1940's when they were expanding teacher's ed programs at state universities and land grant colleges from which many state universities grew. Probably good enough in 1938 when most of the population did not need to graduate High School to be gainfully employed, productive, citizens. Not so good in 2008]

Cavguy
10-29-2008, 04:21 PM
The only thing I care to add to Sam's excellent - and sadly, all too accurate critique of the problems with our educational system - is that standards for prospective teachers should be markedly raised.

To attract high quality teachers, you must make the pay worthwhile. Most teachers make 30-40k a year, just above a manager at Wendy's. You can't expect world class instructors at that rate. Why would a smart college student choose a degree path where he could barely afford to raise a family on the pay?

I come from a family with a number of teachers, over the years each has left teaching for higher paying professions (all ed related), not because they hate the classroom, but because the money just wasn't worth the cost.

It's also easy to blame teachers, but numerous studies show that the home environment is the biggest predictor of academic success - all the studies showing that houses with lots of books have higher achievement, same for houses with college educated parents, etc. The moral is that families that value education will have kids who perform better. Frank fact is that many parents don't help their kid succeed at school, and blame the teacher/system.

selil
10-29-2008, 04:34 PM
The moral is that families that value education will have kids who perform better. Frank fact is that many parents don't help their kid succeed at school, and blame the teacher/system.

You've identified the feedback cycle but that is changing. Uneducated people produce uneducated children, but children who are exposed to multiple positive sources at school, church, community easily overcome that. That is the purpose behind numerous inner city programs.

These are not easy issues and for every solution there are other huge problems that have to be identified. The only realistic solution is to by analogy handle the big rocks first, then the smaller ones, then the sand, and get to a better than we have currently solution.

This is a huge problem for society that directly impacts our ability to field an effective, resilient, technologically sophisticated Army.

Ron Humphrey
10-29-2008, 04:34 PM
I've always found one of the best indicators as to what kind of a teacher your dealing with is the parent teacher conferences.

If what I hear is ( Ok here are the areas that (child X) is having problems with) then I start to cring.

If the conversation is more about ( Here are the areas that I need you to help your child with and heres how) Then I get that warm fuzzy they really give a darn feeling.

Steve Blair
10-29-2008, 04:36 PM
To attract high quality teachers, you must make the pay worthwhile. Most teachers make 30-40k a year, just above a manager at Wendy's. You can't expect world class instructors at that rate. Why would a smart college student choose a degree path where he could barely afford to raise a family on the pay?

I come from a family with a number of teachers, over the years each has left teaching for higher paying professions (all ed related), not because they hate the classroom, but because the money just wasn't worth the cost.

It's also easy to blame teachers, but numerous studies show that the home environment is the biggest predictor of academic success - all the studies showing that houses with lots of books have higher achievement, same for houses with college educated parents, etc. The moral is that families that value education will have kids who perform better. Frank fact is that many parents don't help their kid succeed at school, and blame the teacher/system.

Gotta agree with this, and also add that many of the support staff at colleges and universities (who often have a great deal to do with a student's success or lack thereof) get paid on average less than that $30-$40k. Many campuses pay carpenters more than they do department administration staff, who often end up serving as de facto academic advisors and even counselors for the students in their programs.

That pet rock aside, I have to agree 100% with the family factor. We get kids here who come out of some bad local schools, but they come from family farms and ranches and know how to work and plan. They can often overcome those early academic shortcomings because of their background and willingness to do the work needed to succeed. By the same token we see kids who don't have that sort of background coming from "top" schools and tanking out because they don't have the character to succeed without much hand-holding.

We certainly need smarter money in our education system, but we also need parents who are willing to skip that gym workout or work social function and put some time into their kids (and I don't mean scheduling yet another soccer game or some other 'forced fun' activity). Again, it's not one of those "either/or" questions. You need elements of both to succeed.

Uboat509
10-29-2008, 04:37 PM
The only thing I care to add to Sam's excellent - and sadly, all too accurate critique of the problems with our educational system - is that standards for prospective teachers should be markedly raised.

If you want to do this then you need to raise teacher pay. When I was at Polk the off-post schools were having a really difficult time finding qualified teachers. Most of the those who did graduate local teaching programs then went elsewhere to teach so that they could get better pay or at least not have to stay in Leesville. That is anecdotal but I doubt that it is an isolated case. My wife looked briefly into teaching until she started making friends with some local teachers. The teaching profession as a whole seems to be caught in a downward spiral. They are overworked and underpaid which, of course, makes teaching and unattractive prospect for young college students which then makes them more shorthanded, which then makes it more difficult, which makes it less attractive to young college students and so on. My daughter's kindergarten teacher was a really good teacher but she was nearing burnout after only about five years. She had too many kids per class, she didnt make all that much money, but the worst thing, I think, for her was the parents. You can tell when a parent takes the time work with their child at home and when they abrogate their parental responsibility to the school. I could see the frustration when I would talk to her. My son is in third grade and there are children in his class who still cannot write simple sentences. It is easy to blame the teachers for that but you have to consider that that there are WAY too many children in each class and it takes damn near an act of congress to hold a child back, and again if the parent takes the time at home to work with the child then it can alleviate the problem but too many parents would rather abrogate their parental responsibilities to the state and then complain when the state fails to do the job that they should be doing (in fairness I should note that in some households the parents are working two and three jobs to make ends meet and they barely have time to sleep, much less anything else, I understand that, I'm not talking about them. There are plenty who do not fall into that category).
I guess my point at the end of all this ranting is that the state certainly needs to do more to make teaching an attractive career choice but the parents have in equal responsibility to do their jobs as parents and not abrogate all responsibility to the state.

SFC W

Uboat509
10-29-2008, 04:40 PM
Apparently I type slowly and everybody else was thinking the same thing I was and got there first.:)

SFC W

selil
10-29-2008, 04:51 PM
Apparently I type slowly and everybody else was thinking the same thing I was and got there first.:)

SFC W

Looks like it!

Can we agree that this issue (education) is indicative and causal of the issues that the military is having recruiting and training the future soldiers and sailors of the nation?

Ken White
10-29-2008, 05:32 PM
Selil's Post #36 above is pure gold -- I disagree with him on the desirability of National service but the rest of that comment is spot on!

Only thing I'd add is restore the ability of Teachers to discipline unruly students. Personally, I'd go for corporal punishment, many may not -- they should come up with an alternative and Cops are not a good solution.

CavGuy makes some very valid points, correctly pointing out the home environment is a part of the problem and its effect is significant. The home environment started tumbling as a result of the late 60s and the 70s educational 'reforms.' We damaged beyond repair a generation or two of parents of whom seem incapable of guiding -- and disciplining -- their children. It'll take a generation or two to repair that terrible damage.

We're paying most educators and staff about $30-50K per year as Steve also says. We're paying Major League Baseball Players a median salary of about $750 - 800K -- what's wrong with that picture?

U-Boat's comment reminds me of a Brother in Law who was a Teacher, left the field to make more money, did so but missed teaching and tried to return only to discover he couldn't get hired in any of several school districts because it was cheaper for them to hire new college grads rather than an experienced teacher with multiple advanced degrees. Weird NEA / AFT rules are the cause of that -- and those two organization were the cause of my sister in Law abandoning teaching altogether...

Lastly, Selil again:
"Can we agree that this issue (education) is indicative and causal of the issues that the military is having recruiting and training the future soldiers and sailors of the nation?"

I certainly agree that it is -- along with our foray into risk aversion as a national pastime. :(

Rob Thornton
10-29-2008, 07:20 PM
I think Sam nailed it. I am of the opinion that when you exchange the teaching of established values, skills, and ideas for a program of social engineering you not only embark on an experiment with your future, but you erode your ability to consider causality. This is in part due to sunk costs, and in part due to pride, e.g. if you question such a momentous set of decisions, then what else did you get wrong. The relationship to national security is the issue of engineering something that is largely incongruent to you interests, and the world at large. Oddly enough, this is also one of the imperatives in a number of related areas, you should try to understand the environment and consider the range of potential outcomes before acting.

The election has provided a number of opportunities to discuss the way our system works, and the dangers from acting on emotions. What follows is non-partisan by the way. Weve gotten into the roles and responsibilities of our branches of government, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and the sacrifices and stakes involved with preserving our freedoms. My 6th Grade son has not gotten any of this in school, and it concerns me greatly. The education of my own children, and the time it requires me to ensure they go forward with the tools to succeed and preserve our country for themselves and their children weigh heavily in my own choices. In that regard, it is not just a recruiting issue, but a retention one. It is not just a question of a deficit now, but of a future one. These are problems that DoD can not do much about, but are contingent upon our society to recognize. DoD leadership can and has raised the issue, both with regards to the available slice of population from which are military is drawn as a physical issue, and with regards to their education, but they are very limited in how they can affect it.

At root I think this is a cultural issue, because unless you make a convincing argument, the political default seems to be self interest. I am not referring to political as in party affiliation, but as in the interaction between people. There has in the past Id argue been mechanisms which pulled larger segments of the U.S. population away from individual self interests and into groups which demonstrated their value based on what could be accomplished through participation and volunteering. There were good reasons for such groups, and in some cases there still are. These groups include social groups, religious groups, sporting groups, etc. The military is such a grouping, it takes an Army, a Navy, an Air Force, etc. to defend the things we value when we stop believing that we need protecting, or start believing that we are the source of conflict, or believe that the world is none of our business, we weaken the military both in funding and in other resources because we decrease the value we place on it.

The popular reasons for investing in institutions such as these seem to me to be diminishing due to a number of reasons. Technology certainly ranks among them, who needs to go outside and play real basketball in the less than perfect weather, or risk not measuring up on the court when you can be inside on the computer and live out your fantasy basketball player? Even attributing causality to technology however is something of a misnomer. It is also about relevancy and understanding sacrifice. We have bred intolerance not only to risk, but to the idea that nothing worth our while should involve the idea of sacrifice, and that by chance that it does, that sacrifice should be the responsibility of someone else, preferably some nebulous entity to which we give some portion of our attention and income. These are entities which foster community, but ones which insulate us. The idea that such entities are necessary evils and that they require our attention to ensure they dont become our master seems like too much work. Sometimes I wonder if were too domesticated, too comfortable.

I remember when I first came back from Iraq and went downtown with my kids to get an ice cream. It was far more than just the scenery which looked foreign; it was more then just transition from one environment to another; it was a bit like being in a petting zoo. It scared me more than being shot at, because the things I though I was protecting by being there were suddenly at risk at home.

Best, Rob

zenpundit
10-29-2008, 07:42 PM
Cavguy wrote:

"It's also easy to blame teachers, but numerous studies show that the home environment is the biggest predictor of academic success -"
Agreed. Far and away most predictive. The number two variable according to research though is teacher quality.

I'm not blaming the teachers per se BTW - I'm speaking from inside the belly of the beast here, just as Sam is - I'm pointing to a necessary step for systemic improvement. Raising standards at Ed schools will create across the board teacher shortages and force a raising of salaries and other short term political and logistical pain for states and school districts. But gains will come with that pain.

There's no magic way to avoid biting this bullet that I can see - when pay rises to remediate a shortage, X % of ppl who would have been engineers, software programmers, lawyers and so on will enter classrooms instead. We have a lot of bored CPA's in America who passed on teaching math because that career will pay a mortgage and send kids to college.

Ken White
10-29-2008, 08:01 PM
...
At root I think this is a cultural issue, because unless you make a convincing argument, the political default seems to be self interest...Distressingly true...
The popular reasons for investing in institutions such as these seem to me to be diminishing due to a number of reasons. Technology certainly ranks among them, who needs to go outside and play real basketball in the less than perfect weather, or risk not measuring up on the court when you can be inside on the computer and live out your fantasy basketball player?Great example; fear of failure -- or just fear of not looking cool or whatever -- seems to be terribly important to many of the teen and twenties I know.
I remember when I first came back from Iraq and went downtown with my kids to get an ice cream. It was far more than just the scenery which looked foreign; it was more then just transition from one environment to another; it was a bit like being in a petting zoo. It scared me more than being shot at, because the things I though I was protecting by being there were suddenly at risk at home.Heh. Yep, been there, done that.

Come to think of it, don't know why I said 'Heh,' it isn't funny...

Schmedlap
10-29-2008, 09:56 PM
How about this?

1) If you want a federally subsidized student loan, then you actually need to do something for it: military service, Americorps, Peace Corps, something similar to "work study" that actually involves actual work, etc.

2) If you want a Pell Grant or some other giveaway, see above.

Almost everyone whom I go to school with is paying their tuition by way of a federal student loan. I think there is a sound rationale that can justify the economic and social benefits of this, despite my economically conservative leanings. However, I question how many people actually need those loans because they seem to find an endless supply of funds to booze it up, eat out, buy lots of new clothes, and engage in other non-essential activity. Incredibly, they all whine that they are not eligible for LARGER loans to cover their expenses. It seems that we are funding their lifestyle, rather than their education. We've got such an entitlement mindset in this country.

Ken White
10-29-2008, 11:45 PM
but I could agree with that. Not could -- Do agree. Good idea.

Where do I sign?

slapout9
10-29-2008, 11:57 PM
We've got such an entitlement mindset in this country.


That is it!!! We have Rights and Entitlements in this country but not one talks about the flip side of Responsibility and Duty to earn those rights:mad:

Schmedlap
10-30-2008, 01:44 AM
... when we stop believing that we need protecting, or start believing that we are the source of conflict, or believe that the world is none of our business, we weaken the military both in funding and in other resources because we decrease the value we place on it.

That should be made into a billboard.

Happyshooter
11-05-2008, 12:19 AM
I have yet to see this. The AWOL guys that do show up, even after Dropped From Rolls, tend to get a couple days confinement, if that, then out. Definately don't foresee any firing squads any time soon. Also, there was news recently about the trial for the LT from Washington that refused to deploy. He refused years ago, and he's still not resolved.

That is a special case pointing more towards the total lack of any ability on the part of the military legal system.

You don't get the finest or smartest lawyers working for the .mil. Then add that fact that most 'defense counsel' at best do a half ass job of defending enlisted guys caught with porn or drugs, and more likely the 'defense counsel' is about three inches short of actively railroading their clients.

Once the military justice system was up against a crew of honest real life defense lawyers they got owned badly. The government actually spiked the case after screwing up the pre-trial agreement.

I suspect the Lt in question will never do time, and it is because the military JAGs really can't win against a defense lawyer that is doing his job.

Ken White
11-05-2008, 12:27 AM
stacked to protect the rights of the accused...

Little of both, I suspect. Military lawyers are like Privates and Generals or like military doctors or even like civilian lawyers. Some are better than others; a few are great, a few are pathetic and most are average.

jmm99
11-05-2008, 04:56 AM
The Ehren Watada case is not a good precedent on which to base general conclusions. Besides being a high-profile case, it is a complex case from the standpoint of military, constitutional and international law. Besides all those issues (in the original court martial), the case involves some complex habeas corpus issues (in the Federal District Court case following the original court martial).

This is an interesting case (to me; since similar cases came up during the Vietnam War), but I will spare you a blow by blow analysis. For those who might be interested in more, here are some links.

A long Wiki discussion, which seems well sourced (60+ links), is here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ehren_Watada

You will find the webpage in support of the 1/LT (started by his mother according to the Wiki, sourced to a Seattle Intelligencer article) here.

http://www.thankyoult.org/

Ken and others here will love the list of the 1/LT's supporters - it will increase your blood circulation and lung capacity, thereby prolonging life.

The filings in the habeas proceeding before Judge Benjamin Settle are here (links to .pdf files).

http://www.thankyoult.org/content/view/2/77/

The Seattle Times article on Judge Settle's 21 Oct 2008 ruling that double jeopardy barred 3 of 5 counts - because of the military judge's improper handling of the stipulation between the government and Watada - is here.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008295492_watadaruling22m.html

You will have to take this on faith in my opinion - which is, that perhaps 1 in 100 (more likely 1 in 1000) lawyers would be competent to handle this case on either side of the brief.

That brings me to a point that fits (IMO) very generally into the theme of this thread.

---------------------------------------

from Ken
... civilian lawyers. Some are better than others; a few are great, a few are pathetic and most are average.

My first impression was "that's logically correct" - "right on Ken !" But, then I got to thinking a bit deeper. Now, the "most are average" statement is logically and statistically correct, if the population follows a standard bell curve. In the case of civilian lawyers, I don't believe that is the type of curve (based on experience and a lot of MSBA statistics, which would make boring reading here).

What I come up with (even looking at all lawyers generally) is a double-humped curve - a smaller group of above-average lawyers and a larger group of below-average lawyers. The "average lawyer" lies between the two humps. That becomes more apparent when we realize that not all lawyers are fungible.

There are many areas of the law in which I am totally incompetent - the last time I saw them (if at all) was in cramming for the NY and MI bar exams nearly 40 years ago. The lack of competence shows up even in areas that are related to areas one knows well.

Recently, I had a matter where I completed about 95% of the work for a "nice guy" client. We hit a couple of remaining areas (related) where I simply didn't know the law; but more importantly, I did not know what the operational realities were - how the law is actually applied.

Could have faked it (and collected some ill-gotten $) - or spent many non-billable hours learning a skill set I would never use again. The correct choice was to refer to a lawyer, who happened to be a specialist in the areas making up the remaining 5% of the matter.

So, when one looks to specific legal skill sets, the curve would be very double-humped - a small group of real pros and a much larger group of rank amateurs as to that particular skill set. That should be no surprise to folks here, where the military obviously has its own specific skill sets.

Now, tis true that some specialities are quite generalized. For example, a good trial lawyer, with both civil and criminal trial experience, should be able to handle most litigation.

But, even there, there are areas where one shouldn't go. I would not try a divorce case because I have never been counsel of record in one (have advised divorce lawyers on non-divorce areas relevant to the cases). The military seems similar (based on what I have gleaned from reading the military posts here).

-----------------------------------
I have stated elsewhere that the military has to deal with more difficult problems than do lawyers (who primarily deal with micro, as opposed to macro, situuations - the micros are usually less "messy"). Thus, this civilian concludes that civilians should tread carefully in attempting to "rebuild the Army, Marines, etc."

And, just in this civilian's opinion, I don't think the "Army needs rebuilding". I do think that the Army needs some serious decompression time for personnel - and some serious refitting efforts for equipment.

I also agree with many of the other comments above that point to the need to "rebuild" our society as a greater need.

We shall see what President Obama will do about that, with solid Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. The voters will have a chance to review that in 2 years and 4 years.

Ken White
11-05-2008, 05:35 AM
Should've spelled it out, pet-ard. Sigh.

First, I was not commenting on the Watada case; I agree with you -- it was a monstrosity. Every time anyone in DoD decides to "make an example" of someone, they pretty well screw it up. The Army should've just nailed the guy for an Article 134 violation; Field Grade Article 15 and assigned him to Tooele (http://www.google.com/search?q=tooele+army+depot&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a). Too many inexperienced JAG Officers (or their Commanders...) will try to stack charges and that's usually not very smart. Then, IMO, the Military Judge copped out. I'd also suggest that the case, even though I was not referring to it does in a sense bear out my comment about extensive protection for the rights of the accused. Regardless, Watada is yet another case of plenty of egg for many faces...

In the event, my comment on the UCMJ was purely generic and not case specific. As was my comment on several categories of others and not just Lawyers intended to be generic. I am hoist by my own pet--whatever that thing is -- because I went quick and lazy with a generalization. I'd have gotten away with it had I not included the word Lawyers... ;)

Let me remind you that as I have pointed out before, I am not member of the Bar and thus am supposed to be allowed a certain laxness in speech. I am also old and feeble and should warn you that your continued persecution of the geritric set is probably being noted by Prez Elect Obama's minions.. :D

That said, I bow to your impeccable logic:
"...What I come up with (even looking at all lawyers generally) is a double-humped curve - a smaller group of above-average lawyers and a larger group of below-average lawyers. The "average lawyer" lies between the two humps."I would further submit that your Bactrian curve applies not only to the counselors at Law but to all the categories I cited, including Private and Generals and to most of the world in most things. Scary, huh? :wry:

Icebreaker
11-05-2008, 05:46 AM
First of all let me thank everyone who responded to my question about possibly bringing back the draft. I got a great deal from the responses (facts and perspectives that had not occurred to me).

Secondly, one of the reason I asked the question is not only the need to rebuild the Army, but also that President Elect Obama has said that "national service" will be a big part of his administration. See below to a link to his position on the issue:

http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/NationalServicePlanFactSheet.pdf

I realize that what a politician says and does are two very different things. However, the "brain trust" behind his campaign has been talking about "national service" for years. Many of the people who have been talking about national service frankly mean it as a form of social engineering (see a book titled "Bowling Alone" for some background on it).

The official position is much more realistic, and along the lines of what was discussed - You provide "X" amount of service tro the country and receive educational benfits for it. I have no problem with this, but having worked for the Federal Government for 25 years I can attest to the fact that federal programs are like Frankenstein's Monster - they get out of hand fast and do a lot of harm.

I do not know what we will get but I am hoping for some that adds real value to the country.

Thirdly, in the area of education my father was a public school teacher for 47-years (cancer and heart disease forced him to retire). He always said that two things caused all of the problems with the eductaional systems:

1. The schools were given too many things to do. Along with education they were suppose to be social workers, therapists.... All of this diluted the real mission of school and education lost out.

2. The parents usually could not have cared less. He coached the high school football team all those years and at the end of the season you would not believe how many parents did NOT bother to come to "Awards Night". My fathers comment was always - "What else do those losers have to do that's more important." That's my Dad.

Thanks again

Schmedlap
11-05-2008, 11:59 AM
... President Elect Obama has said that "national service" will be a big part of his administration... The official position is much more realistic, and along the lines of what was discussed - You provide "X" amount of service tro the country and receive educational benfits for it.

Here is a big problem with that. We already give away educational benefits for nothing. Rather than create new benefits that are predicated upon "service" (an interesting twisting of the definition of service), we should start requiring "service" in exchange for the benefits already conferred upon people who are paying for their education with federal funds, pell grants, federally-subsidized student loans, et cetera. I can attest that, as someone who has attended four universities (two private and two public) that almost all people who receive federal funds and/or subsidized loans do not need the assistance. They just take it because they can. Somehow, in spite of their professed "need" they are able to go out to the bar almost every night, spent a couple hundred dollars per week on dinner, and have a surprising amount of leisure time.


I realize that what a politician says and does are two very different things.

I pray for that to be the case in this election. It disturbs me when the country acts so irrationally as to put one party in charge of the Executive and Legislature branches, regardless of which party that may be. This year was the culmination of years of anti-Bush sentiment driven primarily by the Long War and exacerbated more recently by the credit markets. Fear and ignorance.


... in the area of education my father was a public school teacher for 47-years... He always said that two things caused all of the problems with the eductaional systems:
1. The schools were given too many things to do...
2. The parents usually could not have cared less.

My father (not a teacher) always said that sending your kids to school is one of the worst things that you can do because they pick up the bad habits of everybody else's rotten kids. I'm now living in a small city in a location that has never really had a booming economy, even in good times. In my opinion, it has nothing to do with economic policy, laws, location, resources, et cetera. It is entirely attributable to this locale being inhabited overwhelmingly by people who fit perfectly into the stereotype known as "white trash." When I go out for a run, I pass through some residential parts of the city and it is appalling. Every day, I see enormously overweight women screaming obscenities at one another as their numerous ill-behaved children, who look like they haven't bathed in days, run around in the street. Those kids don't have a chance. And when they go to school, I strongly suspect that other kids pick up some pretty lousy habits and language from them and otherwise have their learning process severely disrupted.

jmm99
11-05-2008, 07:58 PM
from Ken
I would further submit that your Bactrian curve applies not only to the counselors at Law but to all the categories I cited, including Private and Generals and to most of the world in most things. Scary, huh?

not really - so long as those who are not really experts in an area (a majority of any diverse group) apply the Eastwoodian philosophy: "A man must realize his limitations".

From what I see here (based on reading a lot of posts by you military types - I came here after all to learn something about COIN; not to preach about law), the military types here are pretty good at realizing their own limitations and looking to others for the expertise that they need.

In fact, if anything, you military types are almost too self-critical - discussions of Iraq and Vietnam are examples in my mind. I keep saying to myself - "give yourselves a break". It (Iraq) is and it (Nam) was a very difficult situation(s) in which singular "solutions" do not and did not readily present themselves.

-------------------------------------
The important question in my mind is how to "rebuild" the civilian part of the equation; that is, can politicians and policy makers be taught Eastwood's gem - and to engage in constructive self-criticism ? Strikes me that "Lessons Learned" and its process should be passed on from the military to the political world - not the other way around - since that world seems rarely to employ limitation or self-criticism.

Of course, there is some reluctance by soldiers to become too involved in the political process - and that is a good thing as applied to partisan politics. But, the US has had a long history of the military feeding into the policy-making process - either directly or indirectly (via former military). The US soldier has not been solely an "instrument to execute policy" (paraphrasing another recent thread). In this area, we seem to differ from our cousins, the British.

I believe that is exemplified by looking at the military backgrounds of British PMs and US Presidents. Did that, and came up with this.


UK PMs Military Experience (12/52 - just below 25%)

1721-1801 3/14 - Pelham (brief), Pitt the Elder (brief), William Petty (col. regular)

1801-1902 - 2/18 - Liverpool (col. militia), Wellington (!)

1902-2008 - 7/20 - Baldwin (2lt. militia), Churchill (2lt.to ltc. pre- & WWI), Attlee (maj WWI), Eden (cpt. WWI), MacMillan (cpt. WWI), Heath (ltc WWII), Callaghan (RN lt WWII).

List is here (but each linked bio has to be checked for military service).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Prime_Ministers_of_the_United_Kingdom


POTUS Military Experience (31/43 - just below 75%), now 31/44

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_Presidents_by_military_servi ce

The longest "dry spell" for military types was the period from William Howard Taft through FDR (6 pres. - hmm..., and which included WWI and WWII).

I believe it is a fair inference that each country has its own culture governing interplay between the military and civilian sectors.

120mm
11-06-2008, 01:31 PM
The Army should've just nailed the guy for an Article 134 violation; Field Grade Article 15 and assigned him to Tooele (http://www.google.com/search?q=tooele+army+depot&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a).


Ummm. I've been assigned to Tooele. Does that mean I screwed up somehow and noone told me?

But I get your drift...

Ken White
11-06-2008, 03:31 PM
but the Air Farce has dibs on that... :D

patmc
11-06-2008, 03:49 PM
My father joined the Air Force during Vietnam, and being from Brooklyn, NY, did not adapt well to Lackland and Shepard AFB in Texas. He volunteered for every assignment worldwide, including Thule to get out of Texas. They compromised and sent him to a Thailand base that did not exist, and the recent interdiction on the Trail post discusses the sensors they dropped. At the Bob Hope show my dad attended, Mr. Hope opened with, "They wouldn't tell me where I am right now, but apparently when Ho Chi Mihn farts, you hear it."

Never volunteer, except for Greenland.

Steve Blair
11-06-2008, 04:01 PM
Ah, yes...Thule.... The only place that might be worse is Minot....

"Whynot Minot?":eek:

Tom Odom
11-06-2008, 04:06 PM
Ah, yes...Thule.... The only place that might be worse is Minot....

"Whynot Minot?":eek:

Or

"Minots are frozen!"

and here I am at Fort Plok...plok being the sound of cow pucky hittin the ground