Wednesday, 6 October 2004

Empiricism is for losers

The Ranting Profs and Brian J. Noggle find widespread mental illness among American youth. Despite a 402–2 vote in the House of Representatives to bury and urinate on the grave of Charles Rangel’s idiotic proposal to reinstate the draft, the issue apparently isn’t going away—because people who don’t want a draft want to talk about it some more:

“It’s not settled in the least,” [Jehmu Greene, president of Rock the Vote,] said. “We’re going to mobilize all young people to call on Congress and both presidential candidates to give this serious attention because we need an informed debate. It’s not a partisan issue.”

One suspects that Ms. Greene finds the draft boogeyman a convenient recruiting tool for her organization, which the Knight-Ridder newswire charitably describes as “a nonpartisan group that seeks to boost voter turnout among young people.” And what better way to boost voter turnout than irresponsible scaremongering.

Let me make this perfectly clear: nobody wants a draft. We don’t need to have an informed debate (as opposed to lunatic-fringe scaremongering, which is what we have now) about something that nobody wants to take place, something that nobody supports, and something that frankly demonstrates a complete and total lack of seriousness by both the Democratic Party and its enablers at Rock the Vote about actual, non-illusory, and important issues facing America.


Any views expressed in these comments are solely those of their authors; they do not reflect the views of the authors of Signifying Nothing, unless attributed to one of us.

Well, Greene is right about it “not being a partisan issue”, seeing as 99% of each party voted the same way…

Rangel, incidentally, denounced Delay for cynical parliamentary maneuvering in bringing the bill up for a vote.

[Permalink] 2. Mikey wrote @ Thu, 7 Oct 2004, 6:21 am CDT:

Mr. Rangel’s upset because he got out-maneuvered. What a cry-baby.


Nobody wants a draft but circumstances might make it necessary for the warmongers if they get another four years!!!

See, I got insight into the scaremongering mind.


One should, unfortunately, ignore Brian’s apparent sarcasm (what looks to me as sarcasm, at least; apologies if I misread the tone of that comment), because it may be very necessary that the draft be reinstituted, and that is quite probably true regardless of which fatuous ass is warming the chair in the Oval Office come January of next year. What bothers me is that it is clear that the U.S. armed forces (particularly the Army, and at the rate things are going the Marine Corps too) are spread painfully thin, and the situation is such that the recruiting/retention situation is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Quoth Col. David Hackworth:

Right now – with both our regular and Reserve soldiers stretched beyond the breaking point – our all-volunteer force is tapping out. If our overseas troop commitments continue at the present rate or climb higher, there won’t be enough Army and Marine grunts to do the job. And thin, overworked units, from Special Forces teams to infantry battalions, lose fights.

Most of our warriors – who are mainly from blue-collar families from Small Town, USA – have few political connections and few conduits though which they can effectively sound off. So when they get screwed over by a desperate Pentagon’s makeshift policies – such as the “Stop Loss” program that’s holding over large numbers of our servicemen and -women well beyond their contractually agreed-upon terms of enlistment, or the widespread calling up of out-of-shape, ill-trained citizen soldiers from the Individual Ready Reserve – these “volunteers” salute, suck it up and lay their lives on the line.

But like elephants, they won’t forget that they are “backdoor draftees,” as Kerry and John McCain call them. Which means that when their hitches are up, they won’t be rushing to re-enlist. And they’re also warning their younger brothers, sisters and pals to stay away from recruiting stations.

Although Pentagon puff artists insist they’re making quota, recruiters are already saying it would be easier to find $100 bills on the sidewalk outside a homeless shelter than fill their enlistment quotas, even with the huge bonuses now being paid.

So the draft – which will include both boys and girls this time around – is a no-brainer in ‘05 and ‘06.

I wish I saw some evidence that the politicos on both sides of the aisle were doing some hard thinking about this mess. But I see less evidence of that than I see evidence of Saddam’s WMDs—which is scary.

“One should, unfortunately, ignore Brian’s apparent sarcasm (what looks to me as sarcasm, at least; apologies if I misread the tone of that comment), because it may be very necessary that the draft be reinstituted, and that is quite probably true regardless of which fatuous ass is warming the chair in the Oval Office come January of next year. ”

The draft is not and never can be “necessary” any more than beating your head against the wall could be “necessary”. However many troops we need, recruiting them is our best option. Bringing back the draft is a good way to lose – just as it was the main factor in our loss in Vietnam.

We got lucky in WWII – most of the “draftees” would have volunteered anyway. But we shouldn’t count on such luck again, and we shouldn’t risk our future on the chance that we can get away with something as counterproductive as the draft. Time to raise the enlistment caps and recruit.

[Permalink] 6. Michael N. wrote @ Thu, 7 Oct 2004, 11:20 am CDT:

The thing to note in Hack’s piece is that he’s also calling for the military to be brought back to its Cold War numbers, too—that means roughly doubling the size of the active-duty force. He isn’t exactly what I’d call a steady, reliable source. He likes making extreme statements, and he has his own ox to gore on just about everything. He is, however, entertaining as hell to read.

I do agree that we need to expand recruiting efforts and lift the caps that are currently in place on troop numbers, though.

[Permalink] 7. flaime wrote @ Thu, 7 Oct 2004, 11:26 am CDT:
Let me make this perfectly clear: nobody wants a draft.

That statement is an exaggeration. There are some who do want a draft. Just not very many, and none who would be willing to stake their political lives on it and are in politics.

I think they we should have a system where military eligible persons vote on whether or not to go to war, and everyone who votes yes, if the resolution passes, would be immediately drafted and have 5 days to report to boot camp. If more troops were needed, the second draft would come from those who were eligible but didn’t vote. And then those who voted no would be drafted. By necessity, active members of the military would be excluded from the vote. It would create the number of troops necessary to quickly end military conflicts, and would encourage a more detailed examination of the use of force, and perhaps, a greater appreciation of defensist theory for prosecution of war…

[Permalink] 8. Jeff Fisher wrote @ Fri, 8 Oct 2004, 10:52 pm CDT:

Two issues. I keep hearing Kerry call stop-loss a “backdoor draft.” That’s sad, and it says a lot about Kerry, both as a politician and as a hopeful Commander in Chief. One of the first and biggest mistakes made in Vietnam was that stop-loss measures were not used. This is standard procedure for a nation entering a war. You always do it if you want to win, because the troops whose enlistments are coming up are the most experienced troops you have and the ones you can least afford to lose as you move into a war. It sound’s to me that Kerry is planning to repeat that mistake of vietnam. Bad move.

Second, I keep hearing this “a situation might come up that would make the draft necessary comment.” Ever heard of Fort Irwin, AKA the National Training Center? It is a nifty little hellhole in the middle of the California desert near Death Valley. Every American unit, Active Army, recently mobilized National Guard or Reserve, or Marine rotates through Fort Irwin before being sent anywhere overseas, let alone to war. The simple fact is, that Fort Irwin is always booked to capacity. There is no way a mass of newly drafted troops could be cycled through there. One of the reasons it took so long to mobilize Reserve and Guard troops, both for this war and for the 91 Gulf War was the difficulty of scheduling NTC rotations. There is also no way that a similar facility could be prepared on any type of timeframe that would be suitable for a conflict such as what we are facing in Iraq. We are talking years. Installing the sensors and other monitoring technology into the desert to monitor troop performance during training would be a major obstacle, but it wouldn’t be anything like the obstacle posed by putting together a training cadre or OPFOR (Oposing Force unit) to do the job, because OPFOR units don’t use US tactics, they use enemy tactics, so they have to be specially trained, and have time to practice those tactics before putting them into action. Also OPFOR units need time to learn the terrain in which they will be operating in. The simple fact is that America is moving further and further away from mass conscript armies, both because they are unecessary, and more importantly because the technology we use today is too sophisticated to teach on the timetable that constript armies are trained on. Does anyone find it even the least bit amazing that an operation of several thousand troops attacking a city held by hundreds of militants armed with machineguns, mortars, and rocket propelled grenades only leaves a single soldier dead? That is because of the training our troops receive and the technology they use. Even in WWII there was a noticable difference in combat effectiveness and numbers of troops lost between volunteer forces such as the Airborne Divisions and “General Issue” (G.I.) conscripted soldiers. Elite units have always been volunteer. The modern American military performs as well as it does because it is organized around the principle that the entire force is elite. Mass conscript armies simply cannot do that. What will happen if more force is needed is that more and more force extending technologies such as robots, GPS guided weapons, and infantry smart weapons will be employed, and if we need more forces faster, the pace at which those technologies will be funded and developed will increase. The draft died in ‘73, both for political and military reasons. The generals who built todays military came back from Vietnam and instead of villifying America and her military like Kerry did, resolved to change it and reform it. Those generals saw first hand the failure of conscripted troops on short tours of duty.

[Permalink] 9. Jeff Fisher wrote @ Fri, 8 Oct 2004, 11:09 pm CDT:

A few more notes:

…So when they get screwed over by a desperate Pentagon’s makeshift policies – such as the “Stop Loss” program…

Stop Loss isn’t a “makeshift policy” it is standard procedure. It was considered in Vietnam but rejected for political reasons, because in Vietnam military necessity was over-ridden by the desires of the politicians running the war.


…And thin, overworked units, from Special Forces teams to infantry battalions, lose fights…

Our problem isn’t losing fights. We don’t come close to losing fights. Our problem is attrition from ambushes and booby traps. The vast majority of our losses have come during patrols and convoys, very few in fights. Our problem isn’t an inability to win militarily, but uncertainty over the correct balance of between the mailed fist and the velvet glove. Too much force and we risk angering and alienating the populace, too little and we risk being seen as weak and emboldening our enemies. We could do a Sumarra-style operation in every city in Iraq that offered the least sign of resistance, but we dare not.

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