Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The 'All Volunteer' Military -- A disaster in the wings?

I served in the army before it was always a choice. I chose to do so but I had my reasons. I was tired of going to school, I wanted to see some of the world and frankly I wanted to be soldier, at least a little bit. I was 18 for goodness sake, got to be allowed a bit of silliness no?

Basic training basically cured me of the silliness of wanting to be a soldier. After that I had the simple philosophy "Do what has to be done to the best of my ability and beyond that, well, **ck 'em if they can't take a joke."

I got to see some of the world, Fort Campbell, KY, Fort Monmouth, NJ, several spots in Vietnam, one little hill in Cambodia, and a pretty fair bit of the area around Frankfurt, Germany, so that part worked ok. I was ready willing and able to go back to school when I got out so that part worked ok. As they say "two out of three ain't bad."

But I came to a conclusion then, and still think it was correct for the time, that bothers me now. I was, and still am, convinced that, at that time, the Army operated fairly well 'in spite of ' and definitely not 'because of' its career soldiers. The brains and skills of its front line soldiers were mostly there because of the draft and they seldom stayed beyond the initial 'hitch'.

Can it possibly be that the increased pay (oh my has it increased) can possibly entice the quality of individual routinely drafted? Frankly I doubt it, but if it can then I worry about the 'volunteer army' for another reason.

If being a soldier is that economically advantageous, how long before the soldiers' loyalty is to the army and not the country? There is good reason why our founding fathers wanted a well-regulated militia and an armed populace but not a large standing army. They had very good reason to be afraid of career military. Look around the world. Is there an 'oppressed populace' anywhere where the military person is not economically advantaged over his other options? Is there a stable nation anywhere that maintains a large all professional army? I don't see it and while I applauded the ending of the draft with all its built in dodges and unfairness, I can't help thinking that it is the first step in a major disaster.

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