“The Bush-Rumsfeld war machine is
responsible for the bloated budget deficit, which will
expand as the voids are filled… inevitably by a draft
if we remain on the same course.”
“By New Year's Day 2004, one service,
the Army, had blocked over 40,000 troops from discharge
or retirement on their appointed dates. Over 16,000 of
them were National Guard. All told, over 70,000 troops
have now been affected by Stop-Loss.”
“On January 20th, Lieutenant General
James Helmly, chief of the U.S. Army Reserve, told reporters
that the current situation is untenable, and that the
military is facing a severe retention crisis, because
the use of troops, especially Reservists is, in his view,
abusive. Addressing troops, he said, ‘We value your service
and we're not going to run this like a doggone flesh
“Repeated, long-term deployments will
clearly take a toll on spouses and children of our men
and women in the military here at home. Military service
always entails time away from home, but we think that
the active services - and particularly the Army - must
find a way to better balance the demands of overseas
deployments with the needs of troops' families back home.
Otherwise, we may face a mid-grade retention problem
in the coming years that will be devastating to our forces.”
-From a letter to President Bush by Reps.
Heather Wilson (R-NM) and Jim Copper (D-TN) and signed
by most members of the House Armed Services Committee,
including Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and ranking member
Ike Skelton (D-M, reprinted and circulated with a memo
from the Project for a New American Century
© Copyright 2004, From The Wilderness Publications, www.fromthewilderness.com. All Rights Reserved. May be reprinted, distributed or posted on an Internet web site for non-profit purposes only.
WILL THE U.S.
RE-OPEN THE DRAFT?
We're not going to reimplement
a draft. There is no need for it at all. The disadvantages
of using compulsion to bring into the armed forces
the men and women needed are notable. The disadvantages
to the individuals so brought in are notable. If
you think back to when we had the draft, people
were brought in; they were paid some fraction of
what they could make in the civilian manpower market
because they were without choices. Big categories
were exempted -- people that were in college, people
that were teaching, people that were married. It
varied from time to time, but there were all kinds
of exemptions. And what was left was sucked into
the intake, trained for a period of months, and
then went out, adding no value, no advantage, really,
to the United States armed services over any sustained
period of time, because the churning that took
place, it took enormous amount of effort in terms
of training, and then they were gone....
-Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld, January 7, 2003
February 27 2004. 1800 PST (FTW) -- Donald
Rumsfeld's remarks above, particularly the one about “adding
no value,” ignited a firestorm of protest from veterans'
organizations last January, but what was the Secretary
of Defense really saying? Surely no one is surprised at
Rumsfeld's insensitivity to class issues raised by Selective
Service. Son of a rich Chicago real estate executive, Rumsfeld
is Princeton preppy with a background as an investment
banker and the CEO of pharmaceutical leviathan, Searle.
Setting aside his mixed metaphors about sucking intakes
and added value, and looking past his political boneheadedness,
Rumsfeld was pretty clear on this issue. This time Rumsfeld
is telling the truth. He doesn't want a draft. But the
administration may need the draft more than it needs Donald
One of Rumsfeld's stand-by rules is "Prune
businesses, products, activities, people. Do it annually." Rumsfeld
opposes the draft because it is not cost effective. On
that count, he is right. According to an MSNBC study, the
cost of recruiting just one Marine is $6,539. His baseline
training then costs $44,887. When he (most troops are still
men) goes to war, his gear alone is worth almost $4,000,
and it is exchangeable any time it becomes unserviceable
for whatever reason (with the exception of neglect or abuse).
His base pay as a Lance Corporal (E-3) is $1,407 a month,
with a raise at two-years service. He receives around $206
a month in a food allowance, which also increases with
time and grade increases, unless he is single and eating
in the mess hall, where he will eat more than $260 worth
of food each month. Married troops also qualify for a variable
housing allowance that can be (for an E-5 sergeant with
three years service) anywhere from $474 to $1,276 a month.
Each of these troops is also supported by free medical
care, some base housing and facilities, post and Base Exchange
systems, schools, and commissaries. Add to these numbers
various proficiency pays, parachute or demolition pay and
overseas or combat pay.
Rumsfeld has a corporate cost-accounting
mentality, and he is a gadget-man. He does not want to
make these outlays for a conscript that will take his new
skills and check out of the armed forces after two years.
When all is said and done, that would mean that each conscript
is costing the Department of Defense around a quarter million
dollars for a miserly two years of service. His reference
to “added value” is metaphorical, since value-added is
a concept that applies to profitable ventures, and it is
a little disingenuous, because Rumsfeld is almost pathologically
enamored of high technology war toys for which he is willing
to spend almost unlimited sums. But you can see his point.
The draft is a bad idea. And it's a bad
idea for a lot more reasons than cost-accounting. There
is a political price to be paid for conscription as well.
Interestingly enough, while Donald Rumsfeld
has kicked and screamed to avoid the subject altogether,
the most vocal proponent of re-activating Selective Service
has been liberal Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel
of New York, who began proposing conscription as early
as January, 2003.
"I believe that if those calling
for war,” said Rangel in a New York Times editorial last
year, “knew their children were more likely to be required
to serve – and to be placed in harm's way – there would
be more caution and a greater willingness to work with
the international community in dealing with Iraq."
The fact that the Defense Department's
own imperial Caligula opposes a draft, while one of the
few Congresspersons to have opposed the current phase of
the Energy War is calling for Selective Service re-activation – in
clear anti-war language – is an unambiguous reflection
of the political potency of conscription.
That doesn't mean that re-activation won't
happen, or that it won't be done by Republicans.
The Energy War, now concentrated on Iraq,
is presenting the Bush administration with a formidable
dilemma. The United States military is now bogged down
in a quagmire where it appears each day more likely that
a military victory is impossible, even as it seems politically
impossible for the Bush administration to leave (which
they have no intention of doing in any case, or they wouldn't
have gone in the first place). Among the myriad reasons
for this dilemma is the plain fact that 120,000 troops
cannot “pacify” a population the size of Iraq that has
no apparent intention of consenting to foreign “pacification.” Moreover,
the guerrilla resistance in Iraq is creating a steady attrition
of troops and materiel, an operational tempo that is unsustainable,
and a looming recruitment and retention crisis that threatens
the long term health of the armed forces as an institution.
I have said before that by all accounts
the preservation of U.S. dominance in the world is ultimately
dependent on seizing control of this region. This is not
an irrational war. It is an icily rational war, given that
the alternative is to relinquish control of the world's
economic future – which would be disastrous for political
elites in the United States, because our entire economy,
under their direction, is now a house of cards built on
an international treasury-bill standard that forces the
rest of the world to give loans to the U.S. that it never
intends to pay back. Control of the world's peaking energy
supply is absolutely essential for the U.S. state to maintain
its economic arm-lock on China and Europe to enforce their
continued complicity in this international extortion racket.
The Bush administration has not the slightest
intention of ever leaving Iraq.
Given that this is the prime directive,
Donald Rumsfeld's accounting and the political risks associated
with Selective Service may both have to be overlooked,
and in the not-too-distant future.
A little history is in order to show that
George W. Bush's administration is not the first, nor will
it be the last, to decide in advance what imperial adventure
upon which it wants to embark, then go to the working class
well for our young people to provide the sweat and blood.
The Selective Training and Service Act
of 1940 was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt
in 1940. While there are certainly marked differences between
the Bush administration and the Roosevelt administration,
there was one thing they had in common. Each was bent on
entering a war that was initially very unpopular. We all
know the story of George W. Bush and his Neocon coterie.
The story of Roosevelt, however, has been mythologized
beyond recognition. In fact, he ordered repeated provocations
of Hitler by sinking German ships and violating neutrality
with the Lend-Lease Act, but Hitler didn't bite. He finally
slapped an oil embargo on Japan, forcing Japan to look
to Indonesia for its petroleum needs, which meant neutralizing
the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. There is quite credible
evidence, in fact, that Roosevelt had foreknowledge of
the impending attack and obstructed information to his
military commanders that might have stopped it.
But George W. Bush's administration is
not the equal of the Roosevelt administration with regard
to forethought – as opposed to foreknowledge. Colin Powell
is arguably the smartest person in the cabinet, yet he
is consistently overruled by the likes of Cheney and Rumsfeld.
The Bush administration plans for the best-case scenario
(We will take Baghdad in two to three days, and we will
be welcomed as liberators.), while Roosevelt took the wiser
course and panned for the worst – that the war could go
on for quite some time and it would require massive inputs
of people and war materiel.
Roosevelt implemented the first peacetime
draft in American history, using the pretext – not that
the United States government was looking for a way to get
involved in an unpopular war to take its share of the post-war
spoils and build the American imperium – but that “hemispheric
security” was at stake. They were protecting places like
the Yukon and the Amazon from a European fascist attack.
That's about where the comparison ends,
because contrary to all the hype, Saddam Hussein never – even
at the height of his power – had the capacity to genuinely
menace more territory than Iran, and only ever successfully
invaded tiny Kuwait. Adolph Hitler's Reich had the intention
and the wherewithal to militarily challenge his fellow
European powers, systematically slaughter 6 million Jews,
and to inflict around 30 million military and civilian
deaths on the Allies, 20 million on the Soviet Union alone,
in a grab for power that the old-money imperialists of
Great Britain and the United States found intolerable.
The draft remained in effect after the
war, because the devastation of World Wars I and II had
sapped the strength of European empire, and the United
States – having fought the entire war away from its own
territory, and having built a formidable industrial capacity
to sustain the war effort, was filling the post-colonial
vacuum. The Cold War was inaugurated, and with it the McCarthy-era
security state, and for the first time in history, the
U.S. was maintaining a huge standing armed force in peacetime
that required a draft.
President Lyndon Johnson was running against
Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater in the 1964 election, and
Goldwater was attacking Johnson for not orchestrating a
muscular enough response to the nationalist insurgency
in Vietnam that had earlier expelled the French colonial
army. Johnson had already ordered an escalation of covert
operations against the Vietnamese, and the Navy was conducting
both reconnaissance and direct action operations against
North Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin on August 1st of that
year; both violations of international law. The USS Maddox
was part of that operation, and on August 2nd a report
was released that claimed –falsely as it turned out – that
the USS Maddox had been subjected to “an unprovoked North
Vietnamese attack” in international waters. The press dutifully
reported exactly what the government said, a furor was
whipped up, and Congress was stampeded into signing the “Gulf
of Tonkin Resolution,” granting authorization to the president "to
take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against
the forces of the United States and to prevent further
aggression." A blank check to the President to go
This blank check transformed itself into
the destruction of the Johnson presidency, the death of
over 3 million Southeast Asians, the loss of 58,000 U.S.
troops, and the near-destabilization of the U.S. government
itself in the wake of the turbulent Civil Rights/Anti-War
It also wracked the military as an institution
with low morale, and eventually with a deep institutional
crisis, which included fraggings, widespread addiction,
routine insubordination, and radical political formations
taking shape inside the military. In 1973, as the first
step to restructure the military from the ground up, the
draft was abandoned and the United States adopted an all-volunteer
Many people have attributed this to the
belief that draftees were largely responsible for insurrection
in the ranks, but the facts do not support this thesis.
Over 60% of the people involved in GI Resistance organizing
were those who had voluntarily enlisted and were driven
by the wrath that accompanies disillusionment.
In fact, the all-volunteer force was conceptualized
as a professionalization of the force, one that would result
in higher retention and recruitment rates and that would
accompany dramatic changes in the way the military was
organized and equipped. Pay and benefits were brought on
par with the civilian sector, much of the overt sadism
was eliminated from military culture, the quality of the
food was drastically improved, and many regulations were
relaxed to make off-duty military life more akin to civilians'.
In extricating itself from Vietnam, the
United States was also moving the military off center stage
in its international relations, and engaging in new forms
of financial warfare with allies and enemies alike. It
is no accident that in 1971, the U.S. also abandoned the
gold standard and conducted a strategic devaluation of
its currency in 1973 that wiped out billions in debt to
its trading partners. That was also the year that the Nixon
administration helped engineer the so-called oil crisis,
creating a massive windfall of petrodollar profits for
Wall Street and establishing the conditions for the U.S.
financial establishment to go into the international loan-sharking
In the end, it's always about oil. Until
people figure that out, they'll continue, as Sydney Shanberg
said when Bush the Elder was dropping bombs on Iraqis,
to be “the ultimate innocents. We are forever desperate
to believe that this time the government is telling us
Rumsfeld should add to his list of Rumsfeld's
Rules, “You can't have your cake and eat it too.”
Dick Cheney is occasionally rolled out
to speak, and when he does he often says the damndest things.
On January 14th, when speaking to the Los Angeles World
Affairs Council, he described a decades-long war in which
there might be hundreds of thousands of American casualties.
Then they re-medicated him and took him back home.
Let's review the bidding:
- Iraq covers 167,924 square miles.
- Its population is around 29
million, and the majority indicates that it opposes
- That's an average of 173 people
per square mile.
- That's an average of 0.7 US
military personnel per square mile, if you accept that
120,000 can be maintained there under the current system.
(Fewer than one third of these are actual “trigger-pullers.”)
- These real figures are concentrated
in urban areas among frenetic activity in a cultural
milieu that American troops do not understand. At this
point, the U.S. has utterly lost the battlefield initiative.
- Well over 3,000 troops have
already been wounded, 540 killed, and around 7,000
have been evacuated for “non-combat” reasons, in one
- That means the original force
of 130,000 is actually below 120,000.
- If combat units (the actual
third that pulls triggers) are taking the brunt of
these casualties, which they are, this means the loss
ratios are significantly higher, and these units are
moving inexorably toward lowered strengths that will
render them officially combat ineffective.
- Approximately half of the US
military's total ground combat strength is now tied
up in Iraq.
- Total deployment time away from
home and frequency of deployment has increased dramatically,
and there is increasing dependence on older, less-well-trained
National Guard and Reserve forces to take up the slack.
Rumsfeld has announced that 40% of the military personnel
left after the current rotation will be Reservists.
- There are two principle geo-strategic
reasons for the occupation: control of petroleum production
and establishment of permanent bases in Iraq from which
to project military force throughout the region as
necessary (These two reasons are interfused.).
- Ergo, the capacity of the U.S.
armed forces as currently constituted is insufficient
to continue the occupation and to consolidate it enough
to maintain politically viable bases as well as regenerate
oil production to something approaching former levels.
- Ergo, the inevitable choice
will be between abandoning the occupation – which this
administration may find politically impossible – or
massively increasing the occupation forces – which
means massively expanding personnel numbers throughout
the armed forces.
- Barring some abrupt change of
direction in foreign policy, someone is about to get
To further contextualize the overstretch
of U.S. military forces, we need to look at military operations
outside Iraq. There are ongoing large operations of over
4,000 troops in former Yugoslavia and 8,500 in Afghanistan
(and more coming in a ramp-up for a Spring offensive),
and that the U.S. is maintaining 37,000 troops in Korea
and 71,000 in Europe – mostly Germany. But the U.S. is
also involved militarily in training the Economic Community
of West African States (ECOWAS), with 3rd Special Forces
Group – supplemented on a variant basis with Marines – operating
in Liberia, Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Senegal, Malawi, Ethiopia,
and Mali. 1st Special Forces is expanding operations in
the Philippines, also using Marines, and maintaining their
base in Okinawa. 7th Special Forces is almost running the
Colombian military at this point in the civil war there.
10th Special Forces and 5th Special Forces have been busy
in the Republics of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan.
Of the 480,000 people in the US Army,
over 300,000 are now deployed overseas. At the end of last
year, almost 200,000 reservists were still activated from
a peak of 219,500 last May.
The most prestigious military-intelligence
journal in the world, Jane's Intelligence Digest,
said this in August of last year:
The official view from the Pentagon
is that all is going well in Iraq and that the US
forces are more than ready to continue the global
war against terrorism. And yet, as the army commanders
and planners in the Pentagon know only too well,
this is a mere diplomatic smokescreen. The reality
is that US forces are now severely overstretched
and the number of their military commitments worldwide
is increasing by the day.
The USA remains the biggest military
power in the world, but it is beginning to experience
the classic symptoms of imperial fatigue… Twenty-one
of the US Army's 33 regular combat brigades are already
on active duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea
and the Balkans, amounting to roughly 250,000 fighting
men and women. And this does not include a substantial
number of US troops regularly stationed in Germany,
Britain, Italy and Japan, or smaller contingents
now scattered around the world. A traditional calculation
assumes that for every soldier deployed on an active
mission, two more are required to be kept in reserve,
either in order to rotate those in action or to prepare
for that rotation. Under this assumption, the USA
has already reached its limit today… the cost of
occupying and rebuilding Iraq now runs at roughly
US$4bn a month and is rising. More importantly for
US military planners, it also costs, on average,
the life of one US soldier a day. Furthermore, Washington
has already decided that it will make no further
cuts in its presence in Europe and cannot extricate
itself from Afghanistan. Given the North Korean situation,
no cuts in US troops can be expected in Asia either,
notwithstanding the planned redeployment of US forces
inside South Korea. And, to cap it all, Washington
is now certain to deploy troops in Liberia... behind
the scenes [Rumsfeld] is facing an increasingly
strident chorus of disapproval from his military
The Bush-Rumsfeld war machine is responsible
for the bloated budget deficit, which will expand as
the voids are filled… inevitably by a draft if we remain
on the same course.
HOW THE DRAFT WILL WORK
A few things will be the same if the draft
comes back and a few things will be different.
A birthday lottery will still be used
to select draftees. Every day of the year is dropped into
a hopper, and then they are drawn at random. (Republicans
might be able to fix this so certain birthdays go to the
end of the line. If they can hijack elections, surely they
can fix a lottery.) During Vietnam, you were in the primary
selection group if you were between 18 and 25 years old.
Now the primary group is 20-years-old, then each year thereafter
is assigned a lower priority. This does a couple of things.
It stops the draft of 18 and 19-year-olds, which will lower
anxiety and resistance from families. It also significantly
reduces the draft-anxiety period for potential conscripts.
Deferments have been tightened, because the college exception
used by wealthy families to evade the draft in Vietnam
exposed class conflicts. Now, deferments can only last
until the end of a semester, and if the draftee passes
his 21st birthday in school he will still be drafted if
his birthday was selected for conscription during his 20th
year. Seniors can be postponed until the end of the academic
year, but the same rule pertains, and the lad will be inducted
if his number came up. (Women are still exempt from conscription.)
First priority also goes according to
a fitness classification, 1-A being the highest. The main
- [1-A] - available immediately for
- [1-C] Members of the Armed Forces
of the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration or the Public Health Service;
- [1-D-D] Deferment of Certain Members
of a Reserve Component or Students Taking Military Training;
- [1-D-E] Exemption of Certain Members
of a Reserve Component or Student Taking Military Training;
- [1-O] Conscientious Objector- conscientiously
opposed to both types (combatant and non-combatant) of
military training and service - fulfills his service
obligation as a civilian alternative service worker;
- [1-A-O] Conscientious Objector - conscientiously
opposed to training and military service requiring the
use of arms - fulfills his service obligation in a noncombatant
position within the military;
- [1-O-S] Conscientious Objectors to
All Military Service (Separated from Military Service);
- [2-D] Ministerial Students - deferred
from military service;
- [3-A] Hardship Deferment - deferred
from military service because service would cause hardship
upon his family;
- [4-A] Registrant Who Has Completed
- [4-A-A] Registrant Who Has Performed
Military Service for a Foreign Nation;
- [4-B] Official Deferred by Law;
- [4-C] Alien or Dual National;
- [4-C] Alien or Dual National - sometimes
exempt from military service;
- [4-D] Ministers of Religion - exempted
from military service;
- [4-T] Treaty Alien;
- [4-G] Registrant Exempted from Service
Because of the Death of His Parent or Sibling While Serving
in the Armed Forces or Whose Parent or Sibling is in
a Captured or Missing in Action Status;
- [4-F] Registrant Not Acceptable for
Exemptions, aside from the college postponements
above, also include service academies and ROTC.
That is how it will work.
DRAFT BOARDS – THE WRITING ON THE WALL
But just as elections don't take place
without county elections boards and their poll workers,
conscription won't work without draft boards. That's were
we are getting the first indication that while Rumsfeld
is railing against the draft, others in this administration
are laying the groundwork. Draft boards are being reconstituted,
In Fall 2003, the Selective Service portion
of the Department of Defense website announced the Selective
Service Board reconstitution in an appeal for local volunteers.
Then a series of articles raised the alarm,
like the Salon.com article that said, “Increasingly, military
experts and even some influential members of Congress are
suggesting that if Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's
prediction of 'a long, hard slog' in Iraq and Afghanistan
proves accurate, the U.S. may have no choice but to
consider a draft to fully staff the nation's military in
a time of global instability.” (italics added)
You can look long and hard for the DOD
appeal for draft board volunteers now and you won't find
it. It was taken down. Fortunately, the memoryhole.com
website, which specializes in preserving things the government
doesn't want you to see, salvaged it. Readers can see it
This was the first call to reconstitute
these boards since the draft was abandoned in 1973.
“Draft” is not a word the Bush administration
wants to introduce into election year discourse. But if
Republican district gerrymandering, Rove-sleaze politics
like the current slanders being circulated on the internet
against John Kerry by attack-dog front-groups like Vietnam
Veterans Against John Kerry, and Diebold voting systems
come through… and Bush is re-elected… it's a lame duck
administration. That means accountability falls to zero.
THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE FROM VIETNAM
But before readers start counseling their
19-year-olds to learn French and start drinking Moosehead
beer in anticipation of an extended Canadian vacation,
they need to review the “Smart Border Declaration” (SBD),
signed in December 2001 between the United States and its
frosty northern neighbor. It is available at http://www.canadianembassy.org/border/declaration-en.asp
The SBD was designed to “keep terrorists
out” of the U.S., but it also serves to keep U.S. citizens
in the U.S. with “pre-clearance agreements,” “advance passenger
notifications,” shared databases, and an agreement from
Canada to extradite Selective Service scofflaws. Sweden,
long a haven for draft evaders with an aptitude for foreign
languages, also redesigned its laws to prohibit asylum
Moreover, Canada, Mexico and the United
States are co-members of a regional military alliance with
integrated staffs: Northcom.
In May 2002, The Simons Centre for Peace
and Disarmament Studies released a 40-page report called Canadian
armed forces under US command, authored by Michael
Byers. While the report's principle cause of alarm was
related to the question of Canadian sovereignty – given
that a U.S. commander is always at the helm of Northcom – the
implication for the draft and those who might wish to evade
it is that an American citizen in Canada to avoid conscription
might now be extradited using military law. Though exactly
how this might happen is still unclear, since it hasn't
happened yet. We need only review the bizarre legal gymnastics
that the Bush administration has employed since 9/11 to
maintain a concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,
and to summarily declare American citizens “enemy combatants” on
flimsy pretexts, then hold them incommunicado for almost
SECRET DRAFT ALREADY OPERATING
While Selective Service hasn't been reinstituted
yet, there is a draft. Under the Selective Service draft,
conscripts who have no prior military service are legally
press-ganged into the armed forces. But there is a draft
in place now that forces people who have already served
their time as volunteers to stay in past their discharge
dates. This program is called, in typically homely military
On September 14, 2001, three days after
the World Trade Center's twin towers crumbled, George W.
Bush signed Executive Order 13223, delegating authority
to both the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary
of Defense to exercise unprecedented discretion. Within
that order, the Defense Secretary was authorized, at his
own discretion, to initiate Stop-Loss orders. These orders
were implemented last year as the Bush administration's
triumphal wine turned to vinegar in its mouth, and Iraq
became a grinding, unmanageable…. I can think of no better
In December 2003, Lieutenant Colonel Karl
Reed gave an interview to Army Times, in which he plainly
declared that had it not been for Stop-Loss, he'd have
lost 25% of his unit preparing to depart from Kuwait into
"And that means a new 25 percent," Reed
said. "I would have had to train them and prepare
them to go on the line. Given where we are, it will be
a 24-hour combat operation; therefore it's very difficult
to bring new folks in and integrate them."
By New Year's Day 2004, one service, the
Army, had blocked over 40,000 troops from discharge or
retirement on their appointed dates. Over 16,000 of them
were National Guard. All told, over 70,000 troops have
now been affected by Stop-Loss.
That this was illegal didn't seem to slow
down the administration.
Congress sets the ceiling on “military
manpower” (It's their term, not mine, amigas mias.). The
current limit for the Army is 482,400. By Army Chief of
Staff Peter Schoomaker's own account, the Army is already
exceeding that number (due to Stop-Loss) by over 11,000.
Using his authority under Executive Order 13223, Secretary
Rumsfeld ordered the Army on January 27th to recruit an
additional 30,000. Congressional representatives, with
a very few exceptions, showed their consistent cowardice
against the Bush administration, and declined to challenge
the Department of Defense on this unauthorized increase,
on the current overage, or about this bald usurpation of
On January 20th, Lieutenant General James
Helmly, chief of the U.S. Army Reserve, told reporters
that the current situation is untenable, and that the military
is facing a severe retention crisis, because the use of
troops, especially Reservists is, in his view, abusive.
Addressing troops, he said, “We value
your service and we're not going to run this like a doggone
Lest anyone thing that these are the rantings
of one disaffected Reserve general and one anti-Bush veteran,
let me enclose this memo/letter from Daniel McKivergan,
Deputy Director of the Project for a New American Century,
the most influential think-tank used by the current administration,
and the very one from which many on the Bush staff were
December 12, 2003
MEMORANDUM TO: OPINION
FROM: DANIEL McKIVERGAN,
SUBJECT: Congress Calls
For Larger Military
I wanted to draw your attention
to a bi-partisan letter recently sent to President Bush
that is cited in a front-page USA Today article, "Push
is on for Larger Military: Congress Moves After Years
of Downsizing." The letter, which was circulated
to colleagues by Reps. Heather Wilson (R-NM) and Jim
Copper (D-TN) and signed by most members of the House
Armed Services Committee, including Chairman Duncan Hunter
(R-CA) and ranking member Ike Skelton (D-MO), warns that
the size of the current force is "predicated upon
an early-1990s strategy that did not foresee the tempo
of today's operations or the long-term war on terrorism."
The letter urges the President to "take
the necessary steps to increase the end strength" of
the Armed Forces by adding up to two more Army combat
divisions. The letter follows:
November 21, 2003
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
We are concerned that our Armed
Forces are over-extended and that we are relying too
heavily upon members of the Guard and Reserve in the
continuing war on terrorism.
You will be making decisions over
the coming months that will be reflected in your FY05
budget request to the Congress. We believe that we must
significantly increase the number of people on active
duty in the military and revise the missions given to
the National Guard and Reserve during the up-coming budget
year. We encourage you to incorporate proposals to address
these challenges in your budget. Making these changes
would be met with broad, bipartisan support in the Congress.
The operational tempo required to
maintain forward-deployed forces in Iraq, Afghanistan,
the Balkans, Korea, and elsewhere is unprecedented. Not
since the Vietnam War has the U.S. Army had such a large
fraction of its active-duty forces deployed.
While we understand that the administration
will seek to reduce U.S. forces in Iraq as Iraqi security
forces are trained, we must expect that the Iraq deployment
will continue at substantial levels for a considerable
time. Moreover, the war on terrorism is not a crisis
for which the military can surge and then recover. This
will be a lengthy war that will define entire careers.
We must size and structure our forces to prevail over
the long haul.
We are also concerned about the
mix of Active, Reserve and Guard units needed to sustain
the war on terrorism. We are asking more from our reservist
citizen-soldiers than ever before. While they have served
admirably, we believe that we need to review and adjust
the missions and specialties in the reserve components
so that we can protect the homeland and prevail against
terrorists without over-reliance on citizen soldiers
for long periods of time.
The men and women of our Guard and
Reserve can and should be called upon to assist our country
in times of crisis on a temporary basis. Many of the
units currently serving in Iraq will have served for
nearly 15 months, in some cases longer, by the time their
tours are finished. When they come home, the nature of
this war is such that they know they are quite likely
to be called up again sometime in the near future.
Mr. President, every day we read
stories about the potential impending loss we could suffer
to our Guard and Reserve forces if the current situation
is not fixed. The Army Guard is not going to meet its
recruitment targets this year. Many of us have served,
currently serve or have family and personal friends that
serve in the Guard and Reserve. All of us have constituents
who serve. Unless these burdens are reduced we may find
ourselves in the midst of a recruiting and retention
crisis in the reserve components. We need to send a clear
message in the coming budget to members of the Guard
and Reserve that help is on the way.
Repeated, long-term deployments
will clearly take a toll on spouses and children of our
men and women in the military here at home. Military
service always entails time away from home, but we think
that the active services - and particularly the Army
- must find a way to better balance the demands of overseas
deployments with the needs of troops' families back home.
Otherwise, we may face a mid-grade retention problem
in the coming years that will be devastating to our forces.
We are particularly concerned about
the size of the active duty Army. While we will certainly
work with you and your administration, we feel that your
budget should include a build up to two more combat divisions
so that we can reduce the pressure on the reserve components
and sustain the war on terrorism for the long term without
losing expertise that will "hollow-out" the
The size of the current Army - and
the Army budgets that pay for it - are predicated upon
an early-1990s strategy that did not foresee the tempo
of today's operations or the long-term war on global
terrorism. During the decade of the 1990s, the Army shrank
from 18 divisions to 10. The Cold War was over and the
war on terrorism had not yet begun. We must now make
the decisions needed to structure our forces so that
we prevail in this new war that is likely to continue
for some time. Increasing the size of the force is no
panacea for meeting all of the challenges we face, but
we believe it is a critical element of any plan to address
the needs of our nation's security.
Mr. President, our military needs
help now. We ask that you show strong leadership and
take the necessary steps to increase the end strength
of our Armed Forces and adjust the mix of active and
reserve component forces in the upcoming budget year.
We stand with you ready to confront
any and all challenges to our great nation.
The dilemma that will face any administration
after the 2004 election will be whether to stay on in Iraq,
first, and if that dilemma is resolved with a decision
in the affirmative, then the next dilemma is the draft.
Can any U.S. administration conduct long-term counter-insurgency
with the political baggage of conscription? And can they
do it physically without conscription?
There is currently a brouhaha developing
around two bills wending their way through Congress, S-89
and HR-163 (introduced by Democrats Hollings
and Rangel, last year), that would crank up the draft apparatus.
Neither are gaining any political traction, and neither
are particularly newsworthy, given that Hollings has been
a lifelong supporter of a draft combined with national
service, and Rangel has his crackpot notion that a draft
will stop the war. The administration – not surprisingly – is
pushing neither of these bills.
GETTING SELECTIVE SERVICE READY AND
Many also speculate that the DOD ad to
fill draft board positions may have as much to do with
the 20-year terms of members, who came on during the Carter
administration, expiring, as with any plans for reinstitution
of the draft… but the speed with which the DOD ad was pulled
is either an indication of guile or fear of political fallout.
There has been no increase in the Selective
Service budget, though this is not an indicator in either
direction, given that the whole apparatus could be brought
back on line with a simple interagency transfer of funds
or another drop in the ocean of the Bush budget deficit.
It always behooves us not be alarmist.
My main point is that there is likely to come a time when
there will be a simple mathematical choice – barring unseen
international developments, which are always a factor – between
continuing the occupation of Iraq or reinstituting the
For those who find these figures at least
worrisome, and who want to understand in advance what some
of the options are, two of the principle legal ways
to refuse military service are hardship and conscientious
Information on these options is available
at the GI Rights Hotline: http://girights.objector.org/
There are no “draft evaders,” yet. The
only obligation 18-year-olds have is to register for the
draft and failure to do so has not been prosecuted or pursued
for years. BUT… those who do not register, and who later
try to obtain student loans, or other governmental benefits,
might very well be denied those benefits under the Solomon
Amendments that were passed in 1996 by Congress to deny
educational assistance to selective service scofflaws.
Our recommendation to 18-year-olds is to register, and
then fight the actual draft, legally, when it comes. That
means you need to begin NOW by documenting your opposition
on hardship and-or conscientious grounds. You're your documentation
with your registration, and make copies of it for your
own records. The government destroys the registration form,
once they enter the information into their database, so
the only record of opposition will be the one that the
registrant kept, himself. This advice is directly from
Marti Hiken of the National Lawyers Guild Military Law
The best guarantee against the draft is
to stop the occupation of Iraq.
Please note the following
updates to this story:
Service Has Plans to Include Drafting Women and Increasing
Eligibility Age to 35
- The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported
this weekend that the Chief of the Selective Service
System has proposed registering women for the military
draft; and that young Americans should be required
to regularly inform the government about whether
they have training in skills needed by the Armed
full article here
Stop Loss - by Stan Goff
The Republican National Convention was about war. As Zell Miller reminded the faithful, "It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech." This unacknowledged quotation from Miller's fellow Marine, Father Denis O'Brian, brought a gush of adulation from the Grand Old Party, who love to be assured that all good things come from violence. So long as the Americans are on one side, anybody on the other side is to be regarded as the Gestapo wrapped in the Wehrmacht; once the U.S. starts fighting, the enemy is magically transformed into a mighty horde of well-armed Nazis bent on shutting down the New York Times. Miller made clear that if "this marine" (and the other marines) are on a mission, then by God / by definition, that mission is bound to protect civil liberties rather than mock, curtail, and destroy them at home and abroad.
Read full article here
[For Information on treaty arrangements
in foreign countries please see FTW's companion draft
article Nowhere to Run, Nowhere
Stan Goff retired as a Master Sergeant
from US Army Special Forces. During his career he served
in a number of combat assignments and also as an instructor
of Military Science at West Point. Stan Goff's new book
is out from Soft Skull Press http://www.softskull.com “Full
Spectrum Disorder – The Military in the New American Century.” Read
reviews at Stan's web page http://home.igc.org/~sherrynstan/
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