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Is the Army Playing a Shell Game?

by TChris

The Army knew that it couldn't meet its goal of recruiting 8,050 new soldiers per month, so in May it lowered the goal to 6,700 recruits. Despite vigorous efforts to persuade high school seniors to enlist, the Army missed the new goal by 25 percent.

Because of a series of recent incidents in which Army recruiters were found to be breaking or bending rules to meet their monthly quotas, two senior Army officials acknowledged that the shift in May could leave the impression that the Army was playing "a shell game" with its recruiting figures, shifting its goals to make the numbers look better than they are.

The officials claim that impression would be "unjustified." Supporting that impression, however, is this:

The Pentagon has delayed until Friday the public release of May recruiting figures for all the armed services, a decision some military officials say is an effort to minimize what has become a drumbeat of bad news for the Army and the Marine Corps at the beginning of each month.

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Parents Balk at Possible Reinstatement of the Draft

If they try to bring back the draft, as the parent of a draft-age son, and as one who actively protested the draft the last time around, you can be sure I'll be in the front lines of screamers. Markos of Daily Kos, as an appreciative enlistee and veteran of Gulf War I, makes a persuasive case against the draft. And parents across America are now getting ready to holler loud.

I think the "special skills" draft will be first. And with all the troubles recruiters are encountering, it may not be long off. [Here's a piece on a recruiting scandal in Colorado reported last month where a high school kid went undercover and got tapes of recruiters offering to help him a pass drug test and get a phony diploma. As a result, the Army shut down 1,700 recruiting stations for a day.]

Read the 2003 official memo (pdf) on the Special Skill draft. If you are under 34, with special medical, computer or language skills, or the parent of one who is, be very afraid. Women also will have to register under plans being considered. And Canada will not be an option.

Other good reads:

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Bush Won't Rule Out Military Action Against Iran

President Bush told NBC News tonight he won't rule out military action against Iran.

President Bush said on Monday he would not rule out military action against Iran if that country was not more forthcoming about its suspected nuclear weapons program.

"I hope we can solve it diplomatically, but I will never take any option off the table," Bush said in an interview with NBC News when asked if he would rule out the potential for military action against Iran "if it continues to stonewall the international community about the existence of its nuclear weapons program."

We don't even have enough soldiers to finish the job in Iraq. Who will he find to go to Iran? Still think there won't be a draft? It's time to take the blinders off.

Update: Seymour Hersh's New Yorker article is available online.

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Back Door Draft Proposed

We warned it was coming, and so it begins - the back door draft:

Army leaders are considering seeking a change in Pentagon policy that would allow for longer and more frequent call-ups of some reservists to meet the demands of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, a senior Army official said yesterday.

Reservists are being used heavily to fill key military support jobs, particularly in specialty areas, but Army authorities are having increasing difficulty limiting the active-duty time of some normally part-time soldiers to a set maximum of two years, the official said. He described the National Guard's 15 main combat units as close to being "tapped out."

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McCain Criticizes Bush on Iraq: Says Planned Troop Increase is Insufficient

Sen. John McCain refused to give President Bush his vote of confidence on the Iraq war today, saying that his recent plan to increase troops will not be enough:

McCain told "Fox News Sunday" that more troops probably will be required to protect polling places during next month's elections, prosecute the fight against the insurgency and help reconstruct Falluja, the volatile city where U.S. forces have been conducting an operation.

And the problem, when you react, you have to extend people on duty there, which is terrible for morale. There's a terrific strain on Guard and reservists. If you plan ahead, then you don't have to do some of these things.

"The military," he said, "is too small."

So what are the options? Put your head in the sand if you want, but here's how it looks to us:

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More Troops Needed in Iraq...Where Will We Get Them?

The New York Times today makes the case that Fallujah demonstrates we will need substantial troop reinforcements in Iraq. Pentagon officials seem to concur. They say it's possible that the 82nd airborne may pick up the slack:

But a third option -- drawing all or part of a brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division on emergency standby in the United States -- has emerged as increasingly likely.

Sounds like a bandaid to us--a real short-term solution. The reality is that Army recruiters are having a tough time fulfilling their quotas.

With troops stretched thin, with rumors swirling about a return to the draft, the nation's volunteer Army must reinforce itself — and demonstrate its capacity to reinforce itself, quickly and robustly, come what may. If the Army can't make do with volunteers, as it's done for all but roughly 35 years of its 229-year existence, then it will need to conscript.

It seems like common sense. If we need more troops and they aren't available, how else but through use of the draft will we get them?

Update: Check out this post I wrote over at 5280-on recruiters and recruitees--the hunters and the hunted.

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Louisiana: Young Drivers Must Register With Selective Service

16 may be too young to serve in the military, and there may be no draft coming (according to Bush, at least) but that hasn't stopped Louisiana from thinking ahead to when there may be a draft: In order to get a driver's license, those as young as 16 must register with the Selective Service

There may be no "plans" for a national military draft, but that hasn't kept Louisiana from registering teenagers too young to serve in case conditions change. During the recently concluded presidential campaigns, the major candidates repeatedly said they had no plans to resume compulsory military service.

Their promises were not reassuring, however, to Larry Chevalier of Glenmora who was alarmed when his 16-year-old son Nathan had to register with the Selective Service System in order to get a driver's license.

When was this law enacted? In 2003:

the Legislature passed Act 373 in the 2003 session dictating that all males aged 15 up to 18 seeking a first-time driver's license or an OMV identification card must register with Selective Service.

[link via What Really Happened.]

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Minn. Citizen Gets Draft Board Training Notice

I received this e-mail today from someone in Minnesota who provided his name and telephone number:

About a year ago, the reality-based blogs started noticing how the Selective Service System was looking for volunteers to fill up county draft boards, nationwide. I signed up, and was accepted to the Hennepin County Draft Board. And just got a call Sunday, telling me to set aside January 8 for a day's training.

Is this happening elsewhere?

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Sen. Tom Harkin on the Draft

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin weighs in on the potential for a military draft:

President George W. Bush may or may not have a secret plan to reinstate the draft. But this is besides the point. The deteriorating facts on the ground in Iraq, plus the Bush doctrine of acting pre-emptively and unilaterally against hostile regimes, will soon leave him no choice. If Bush is re-elected, he will have to restart the draft.

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The Freeway Blogger to Strike Again

Monday, October 25, you can join the Freeway Blogger in promoting "Can You Feel a Draft?" Day.

On October 25th people across the United States will post hand-painted signs on freeway overpasses opposing the reinstatement of the military draft. This nationwide action will occur just ten days after National Freeway Free Speech Day: Driving America to Think, in which more than 700 people posted banners critical of the Iraq War along the nation's highway system.

To see pictures, visit Free Speech Day

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Daily Draft Update

Is the fear of a draft affecting the election?

Bush's conviction that preemption and unilateralism are the only way to ensure U.S. security in the 21st century could well provoke a strong turnout by younger voters to preempt a military draft and turn him out of office.

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Military Falls Short of Recruiting Goals

We already knew that the Army National Guard fell short of its recruitment goals this year by 5,000. The Wall Street Journal now adds that the Reserves fell 45% Short of their goal while the gap in regular signups was 30% of the military's target: (available free to AOL members here):

this year, the Army entered fiscal 2005 with an unusually low number of recruits in the bank, about 16,000, or 21% of its overall goal for the year. By contrast, a year ago, it began fiscal 2004 with 33,000 prospective soldiers.

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