November 24, 2006
To Draft or Not to Draft
Perhaps one of the most tiresome rants in modern liberal lore is the fascination with all things related to the military draft, in part due to misconceptions about the military's actual demographic composition. The P-I parroted this meme in a recent editorial discussing Congressman Charlie Rangel's attempts to bring back the draft, proclaiming:
Rangel makes more sense arguing the disproportionate burden war puts on minorities and low-income families. A case can be made that America already has an "economic draft." For some, the armed forces can become the employer of last resort, as well as the training and educational opportunity of last resort.
While Democratic leaders were quick to distance themselves from the idea, the liberal fascination with the draft remains a festering remnant of Vietnam-era thinking from which liberals in some circles seem not to have escaped. This includes the stubborn, offensive belief that enlistees in the military are, well, rubes. The P-I further articulated this notion in a post-John Kerry "stuck in Iraq" editorial, defending the 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee thus:
Although there are plenty of well-educated people in our armed forces -- Kerry was one of them -- military service has long been an opportunity employer for those with less education and fewer skills than they need to work in the private sector. Indeed, the military sells itself as a place to garner skills and to help pay for higher education.
And wars, including this one, are often fought by those less privileged -- albeit no less smart -- than the sons and daughters of those who lead us into them.
There's a tremendous problem with that mindset, however. It's wrong. I dug into this issue while preparing to appear on KUOW's Weekday progam right after the Kerry gaffe. Here are the facts from a Heritage Foundation report ironically released just days prior to Kerry's ill-conceived and delivered joke:
Like their peers in 1999 and 2003, recruits in 2004 and 2005 came primarily from middle-class areas. Poor areas are proportionally underrepresented in the wartime years (2003-2005).
When comparing these wartime recruits (2003- 2005) to the resident population ages 18-24 (as recorded in Census 2000), areas with median household income levels between $35,000 and $79,999 were overrepresented, along with income categories between $85,000 and $94,999. (See Chart 2.) Though the mainstream media continue to portray the war in Iraq as unpopular, this evidence suggests that the United States is not sending the poor to die for the interests of the rich.
So, not only are military enlistees largely in line with the overall demographics of their civilian peers, the poorer demographic groups are actually underrepresented, while upper income levels have higher rates of enlistment than their share of the population. The report continues on the topic of education:
The previous study noted the significant difference between the national recruit high school graduation rate of 98 percent and the national youth graduation rate of 75 percent. This strong distinction continues among the 2004 and 2005.
So, not only are enlistees not poor, they're not uneducated souls, lacking in opportunity in life either. The author of the Heritage report continues in a follow-up to the Kerry episode with this commentary:
Although rarely expressed so boldly, liberals' beliefs that young soldiers are kids, not adults, and victims instead of volunteers has been apparent for decades. Rather than acknowledge that the hundreds of thousands of American adults who enlist are intelligent, and intelligently choose to serve as warriors, the Left has repeatedly characterized the uniformed service as a burden foisted on the less fortunate and less intelligent.
In fact, the opposite is true. A recent demographic study by this author, published three days before Senator Kerry's gaffe, reviews the data on all enlistees, not just a sub-sample. The average American enlistee is more educated--not less--than the average young civilian. Wartime recruits also come from wealthier neighborhoods than their civilian counterparts, on average. And the force has been trending towards wealthier troops and smarter troops since the war in Iraq began in 2003.
The facts here are really quite compelling if one takes the time to examine them. Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat agreed with me about the actual composition of the military while appearing on Weekday, after having done his own research and reaching the same conclusion. Members of the military are not the poor and uneducated of our nation. They are in fact a remarkable sampling of the American people. It would be nice if liberals still clinging to errant notions to the contrary could break past the stereotype for once.
Posted by Eric Earling at November 24, 2006
06:54 PM | Email This
1. What is really amusing is that during the Kerry/Bush campaign, Kerry is the one who said time and again that Bush would reinstate the draft, as a scare tactic. Now the liberal side of the fence, i.e. Charlie Rangel, is suggesting just that. However, I don't really hink Rangel is serious. Something tells me it's just posturing. I'd like to ask Rangel, since he thinks our leaders should send their kids to combat, maybe he should also require them to send their children to public school.
2. I'm not so sure you should be using the words "fact" and "Heritage Foundation" in the same sentence. I'm glad to see that you have Westneat's article tacked on at the end. That said I do, largely, agree with with you on this. See, the left and right can agree with each other on some things! But, if you're trying to sell your story to anyone other than the right you might want to steer clear of the Heritage Foundation.
I see very little of this fact floating around: All five branches of the military vehenemently DO NOT WANT conscripted troops and have stated such repeatedly for years. The complex nature of todayís force multipliers require dedicated troops who are smart and want to do what they are doing and conscripted troops offer less of all three. A draft snares low income troops because they do not have the resources and connections to avoid or postpone their service like the more privileged would.
BTW Rangle wants a draft only because he believes that if the people approving wars had to worry about their children fighting, we wouldn't have any. A stupid misplaced idea if I ever heard one. He seems to sidestep the reality that politicians of both persuasions would make sure their offspring would get the best preferential treatment. Trust me. Rangle is simply still functioning in a 1960's world - like most Democrats. It is instructive that Rangle didnít even vote for his own bill when previously introduced. Now thatís what I call conviction . . .
Me: The Heritage Foundation publishes more truth in a day than any leftist foundation does in a year. Just because you don't agree or don't like it doesn't make it a lie. Facts is facts, so put Ďem up.
Can you imagine what a quagmire we would have with a draft. Notwithstanding having the fact the military would have to deal with ever manner of acting up, acting out, outing and lawyering from the draftees, what value would these troublemakers be to the military. This idea is a supremely ridiculous idea. Can you imagine the open season the ACLU would have with new imagined rights to draftees dealing with sexual orientation, body piercings, attitude, discipline and guns.
I do agree the military force needs to grow but it must grow through volunteerism aided by incentives and an appeal to the youth to help their country.
Rangel is a fool like a fox.
The fact that the poor are underrepresented, and the fact that military recruits have a higher percentage of high school graduates than the general population are very likely linked. The services require a high school diploma or GED for all but a very small fraction of their recruits (that would be the 2%), and it's a long established fact that graduating from high school will generally lead a person to a higher lifetime income than dropping out.
Proportionally, recruits from rural and suburban areas are also over-represented in relation to recruits from large urban areas. I'd guess that the reasons for this are several fold, with two of the more significant reasons being the higher percentage of HS dropouts found in urban school systems, and also the higher levels of disqualifying medical conditions, such as asthma, found among those who grow up in urban areas with more polluted air. (Look, a national security argument for the Clean Air Act.)
6. Rangel is New York's equivalent of Baghdad MickeyD. He doesn't even run a campaign--he somehow fools his mostly poor, minority constituency into re-electing him year after year. If you look up the definition of the word charlatan in Webster's, you'll find a picture of Rangel. He is not to be taken seriously.
7. At least a draft might correct the greatest under-represented demographic in our military -- moonbat socialist kos-kids.
Aren't these the same folks that ran the last election on bringing all our troops home.
I think the are stepping back from their election promises.
Common Dimocraps, show us the new Iraq Dimocrap Plan?
9. This is the over-the-top amusing side of the Democrats that makes sure they won't hold power for long.
Take Rangel at his meaning and step it out further: He thinks po' minortay folks are givin' it up for da man! Unfortunatly, facts do not support this hypothesis: minorities in the military are overrepresented in admin and support fields while combat arms fields are 70+% majority (white). Take a look at the Iraq casualty figures, they are quite telling.
BTW, both my parents made 50K+ and attempted to dissuade me from joining the military (being good moonbatters), as did my Socialist (not exagerrating) teachers in taxpayer-funded public school. Still served because I love my country, not because of any lack of oppurtunity. Didn't meet anyone else who listed that as a reason for joining in my 5 years in the Corps, either.
Of course, I am for a draft or mandatory military service for a different reason - teaching people that with rights come responsibilities and that freedom is not free.
I've got a simple question for Ravin' Rangel:
If military service is so undesirable, and low income are being forced into service because of the lack of options why are retentions rates at record levels, when the troops know they will be going to a combat zone if they reup?
On the face of it Rangel's Rant is nonsense. Rangel is hoping for Vietnam redux, the mass protests were more anti-draft than anti-war, when the draft stop the protests stopped according yet the war continued.
Another typical leftist myth perpetuated by the MSM, even in the face of the facts that prove them wrong. They remain stuck in Vietnam; or is it rather, leftists prefer America to stay in their wet-dream "quagmire" universe?
It is particulary galling when the lefties continually agitate for affirmative action in the military. So which is it? Are minorities underrepresented in the armed forces, or are they too many?
I think Rangel needs to get down off his high horse and ask folks in the military what they think. He postulates that the military is full of poor blacks, hispanics, and whites, while not recognizing that he describes the military of the time of the draft-- the 70's. I was an officer the Navy and lived through the end of the draft (when those guys were still in) through the Carter years (when we couldn't discharge anyone even though they were doped up all the time) to the volunteer years. During draft time, the guys who came in were primarily poor-- couldn't afford college-- and there were a lot of minorities. Today's Navy is much more motivated, racially balanced (still more heavily white and asian than society), but very professional-- everyone who is there WANTS to be a part of the team. Minorities can and do succeed at every level, including even the space program. I can't list the number of outstanding leaders of all ethnic backgrounds who inspired me during my career. Drug use isn't tolerated by the troops themselves-- and regular urinalysis (something else that Carter wouldn't let us do) finds the offenders.
Nope, Rangel is grandstanding politically and it would be great if someone would call him on it....
There is a recent GAO report about our armed services and who can and do serve. Both major racial/ethnic minorities, Blacks and Hispanics, are under represented in terms of their respective segments of our population. More than 50% of the American youths between 16 and 21 years old cannot meet the qualifications to serve in any branch of our armed forces due to deficient physical condition, physical or mental health, IQ, or education.
The pool of potential conscripts is so tainted that they would seriously impair the ability of the armed forces to accomplish their missions. This is a sad commentary about our society.
15. I wish Rangel would look at this another way. I would agree that young people need to learn the value of service. Many other countries require two years of service in either the military, humanitarian projects, police or other public service. Perhaps if the draft were extended to everyone between 18 and 22 as well as to incorporate traditionally lefty enterprises like public schools and DSHS, then they get to experience the joy of working with someone who doesn't want to be there. As far as education, I have been in the Navy since 1996 and am working on a Master's degree. And OBTW isn't any job composed of folks who can't do any better?
16. Me - Google doesn't discriminate, and the Heritage report was the most recent and concise document covering the data in question when I was doing my research for the Weekday apperance. If the Progressive Policy Institute or the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities had come out with a similar such study I would have been happy to use that instead. Just because the source has an idealogical bent you don't agree with doesn't mean they're wrong.
And, of course, if he's right, he could always post up verifiable statistics to prove his position.
Are those crickets I hear?
Most of those who are advocating the draft aren't out to right any injustice - far from it. They wish only to destroy the US military's effectiveness, as a precursor to reducing the power of the country they hate - their own.
The public's relatively high regard for the military is a problem for those who want to engineer a Viet Nam replay, and it is based in no small part one the fact that it is formed entirely of volunteers. The only way these "liberals" can achieve their dream is to reinstate the public antipathy for the military that was common in the sixties.
To destroy the institution, they must first distance the common man from it, and re-establish the image of the military as a corps of losers and misfits.
With the aid of the media, with the Seattle P-I in the forefront, they are working tirelessly on it every day.
19. I agree with Rangel on one point. If everyone's child were a potential draftee, there might be a different attitude about going to war. I say that from the viewpoint of a Vietnam vet, who has an adult child serving in the Navy today who is also a vet of the Bosnian, Afgahn and Iraq wars. During WWII, there were no deferments other than for physical and mental problems. During Vietnam there was a whole sorgasbord of deferments. I remember when John Kennedy made a presidential dcree that married men would get a deferment. Than influenced many of my generation to marry for that reason. I firmly believe that was the cause of so many failed marriges in that era. There were also a lot of divinaty students who never spent a day in a pulpit. I'd buy into Rangel's plan as long as it's for universal service for all who are pysicaly and mentaly fit to serve.
20. I think Sherlock has stated the whole game plan of the liberals in regard to the military. Their every
effort is geared to dumbing down the members of the
military. We saw the same thing in the Vietnam era.
Any mistakes made by our soldiers are magnified, any
heroic deeds are ridiculed. The efforts of Rep Murtha and others to condemn members of the military
who are risking their lives on the battlefields today is as despicable as it was when we were in Vietnam.
21. I think Rangel is fully aware of the truth, and that his plan doesn't have a chance of passing (San Fran Nan does not hate the military enough to give back control of the legislature over it). Rangel simply doesn't care about the truth and he is lying over this for political ends.
22. Rangel et al are trying to jump-start a mass anti-war movement. Despite all the bad news and rants from every creepy leftist from Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore, Howard Dean to John Kerry ad nauseum, the Rats still can't openly call for surrender in Iraq and the War on Terror. These creeps want to see helicopters on the roofs like in Saigon 1975 but they're a little image-conscious. They still tip-toe around the subject hoping for mass demonstations in the streets to happen so they can "come out of the closet".
But Rangel's a Democrat? How can he call for a draft? Easy. He comes from a safe seat and he counts on his moonbats having the attention span of fleas. Their recent victories were less resounding than the landslides our msm predicted. In order to hold power, the Rats have to protect the likes of John Testor so he doesn't lose in the next cycle.
23. Adam is right on. National service for everyone -- with no deferments. Two years to be served prior to the 25th birthday. Everyone would benefit -- especially the vast majority of young people, of all political persuasions, who await a national leadership that has the nards to challenge them to serve, if not in the military, then in VISTA, the Peace Corps. hospice, inner-city tutoring, Katrina relief, etc., etc....Just imagine: a program that serves multiple national needs while helping young people learn to live and work together!
Rey -- such a program would be the Job Corp exploding like a wild cancer -- $$$$$ beyond imagination. Can you imagine the cost per person to administer and the cents per dollar in value received back for each person enrolled in the program? Also there would be wild legal suits over not getting one program or wanting to change or opposed to what it is they want you to do.
What did our parents (WWII generation) and those before that do for experience to grow up? They did not look to the government for make-work jobs. Yes, yes, I know there was the WPA during the depression but this is not a depression.
Young people can volunteer right now for the Jesuit Corp, church groups to work inner city, Peace Corp, there is no lack of opportunities for the ambitious for experience to find places to help out.
And the military does not want or need draftees on 2-year contracts to baby sit.
25. brought to you by the same man who gave us integrity & honesty a-la Tawana Brawley? (insert Dean-scream soundtrack)
26. I can't believe that anyone would want the draft back unless their motive was to put more of the underprivledged into the military. How many remember the lottery system, and before that the taking those that were established in their careers. They came back after two years and had to start over again establishing themselves. Draftees did all of the dirty work and only the career soldier received any amount of training. The support work that the draftee did is now done by contractors. The military does not take losers as the old military did. One more thing, how about all the college men having to do ROTC or be drafted.
I understand and appreciate your objections. I still believe, however, that the current costs to society of so many aimless, bored, underutilized and unskilled young people (not to mention the ones enrolled in college who really are remedial students in search of a clue) are much greater than the cost of establishing and administering a program of mandatory national service, with its positive, "can-do" orientation...
(P.S. Don't you wish our political leaders could debate a program like this on its merits, rather than simply demagogue and grandstand?)
USA article with facts on the draft that go to the idea that a draft is a poor idea. Read on:
"Draft Viewed As Impractical, Unnecessary
Rangel wants proposal to spur debate on who serves
By Matt Kelley
WASHINGTON -- Turning conscripts into battle-ready troops would take a year or more in the unlikely event the government revived the draft, military experts say.
Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said this week that he will reintroduce a bill he sponsored in 2003 that would reinstate the military draft. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other military leaders, however, oppose the plan and call a draft neither necessary nor practical. House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi also said Monday that she opposes the plan.
Rangel doesn't expect Congress or President Bush to support reviving the draft, says Emile Milne, the congressman's spokesman. Instead, Rangel wants to spark a "discussion among the people who represent the American people here in Congress."
If the draft resumed, draftees wouldn't join the military for at least six months. The nation's dormant draft law gives the Selective Service System 193 days to deliver the first inductees following the revival of conscription.
Fully training those troops would take months more. The Army starts with a nine-week basic training course that's followed by individual training that lasts another month for the infantry, two months for tank crews or three months for military police.
The nation has a much smaller military than in 1970, when the transition to an all-volunteer force began. Then, the United States had a population of 205 million and more than 3 million active-duty troops. Now, out of a population of about 300 million, there are fewer than 1.4 million active-duty troops.
A smaller military would have a harder time absorbing tens of thousands of new draftees, says Bernard Rostker, a former Pentagon personnel chief and Selective Service director.
"We don't have the training bases," says Rostker, now with the independent RAND Corp. think tank. "If you draft people, where are you going to put them?"
The military has closed or realigned dozens of military bases, including several training facilities, since 1988. It has also significantly reduced its number of overseas bases. A 1999 report concluded that the military would have to rebuild some buildings at dormant or realigned bases, but could train and field a force equivalent to the 1987 military with the bases it has. The military had about 2.2 million active-duty troops in 1987.
Rangel says a draft would ensure that families of all backgrounds and income levels share in the sacrifices that a war demands. Rostker disagrees. He says that because "there are a lot more poor people than rich people" in the country, the poor would still be disproportionately represented.
"I don't see how that would be considered equitable," Rostker says.
Volunteers are more reliable in combat, retired brigadier general Nick Halley says. He commanded a unit of mostly draftees as a young officer during the Vietnam War and a larger group of volunteers during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
The troops in Vietnam were valiant, Halley says, but those in Desert Storm had better skills and motivation. "If the purpose of the military is combat readiness, the draft is not the way to do that."
How it would work
What would happen in instituting a military draft:
*Congress acts. Congress would pass legislation resuming the draft, and the president would sign it. The Selective Service System would have 193 days to get the first conscripts to basic training.
*The lottery. Selective Service would create a lottery for every man who turns 20 in that calendar year. Each day would be assigned a number. Men whose birthdays get the lowest numbers would be drafted first.
*Reporting. Men with low lottery numbers would be required to report to military evaluation centers to determine their physical and mental qualifications. Those chosen have 10 days to file a claim for exemption. Claims would be processed by local draft boards, whose decisions could be challenged before appeal boards.
*Rejected exemptions. Draftees who are not exempt would have 10 days to report for basic training.
Source: U.S. Selective Service System"
The latest Zogby poll of troops in Iraq says: 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and more than one in four say the troops should leave immediately.
Just thought I'd pass that along.
Would you happen to have a link to the questions asked? Because when such a poll is sponsored by a group called "Le Moyne College's Center for Peace and Global Studies", I get instantly suspicious as to the wording of the questions asked and whether they're loaded questions.
I still believe, however, that the current costs to society of so many aimless, bored, underutilized and unskilled young people (not to mention the ones enrolled in college who really are remedial students in search of a clue)
I've known many of the types you just described, and I would rather they work some dead end job while "trying to find themselves" than forcing them to try and help someone they don't know or care about in the Peace Corps., because they would probably do more harm than good at my expense. The idea of forcing them to join an organization that would issue him or her an M16 and hand grenades just scares me.
31. Zogby, the pollster, is an Arab-American with an agenda. His polls concerning the Middle East are suspect due to bias.
Paddy @ 31:
I disagree, while Zongby may have a personal agenda and his Mid-East polls may reveal things about Arabs and Muslims we might not like to hear, his polls are as good as they get in predicting how elections go.
Me: Zogby is not infallible as a pollster. If I remember sorrectly, he blew the 2004 big time. But be that as it may:
When you stop and think about Zogby's poll, it is really a poll that means little but it DOES have an agenda. First of all, I suspect that the grand majority of the troops there right now, if not all, have probably enlisted since the Afghanistan engagement or 9/11. That would mean they fully expected to be deployed in a shooting war with their lives on the line every hour of every day. Next I suspect that any soldier, no matter where they are deployed, would want to be at home with his wife, kids and family. Who wouldn't? So what we have here is a poll that measures how homesick the troops are and little else. That same poll taken on an aircraft carrier on a 6 month rotation in the Atlantic would get the same result.
Go get 'em Zogby . . .
Let me set my bona fides for this draft discussion. I was an Army officer for 10 years between 1969 and 1979 and I am the son of a officer veteran of WWII and Korea. Neither my father or I were staff officers were we warriors at the front commanding troops.
I also trained troops to be sent to Vietnam and after my tour and escape from the hospital I commanded a regular Army artillery unit at Ft Hood Texas. My life in the service was inexorably intertwined with draftees. Daftees can be as brave and as dedicated as any regular (professional) soldier, they can and often did have a higher committment to the national service than enlistees. That being said the mistake of the draft in Vietnam was to allow too many exemptions from the draft. Before the lottery if you were from a large population draft board you could avoid service just by numbers and as long as there was an undergrad and graduate school deferment those who could not or did not choose college were draft bait.
The reason draftees got a bad rap was that as a draftee they only had a limited term of service 2 years to be exact and then they were out. So after a few months of basic and advanced training they were down to 20 months left. If they went to specialist school they could arrive at their final unit with less than 12 months to serve and that lessened their effectiveness.
A draft is a terribly divisive and expensive way to get soldiers in WWII and Korea the draft was for the duration so there was no short timers attitude. The other part of the draft was that units which were heavily composed of draftee lost whole sections of the unit every month. In my artillery battery at Fort Hood I lost the entire crew of 4 of my 6 guns in four successive months due service time expiration. We were a nuclear capable battery and had to maintain the highest levels of security and readiness and that was next to impossible with that many troops leaving.
If you draft everyone then you have a budget busting expense and given the government's inablity to manage resources well you will have incredible waste of money and talent.
A draft only works if it undeniably necessary for national defense, if it is universal, and if it is for the duration of the emergency. Whenever we have combined limited service terms and national emergencies we have had problems look at the Revolution, or the Civil War.
There is a bigger reason we will never have another draft without a world wide war. The elites do not want one because they would have to sacrfice and one of the the tennats of elitism is that they are above all those pedestrian issues. It is politically inconcievable that in our "me" oreinted society that parents would allow politicans to take their childern.
Actually, let's call that my bad and forget about the whole thing seeing how I was biching at Eric for using facts and figures from the Heritage Foundation. All the windows in my glass house are currently in need of replacement.