Sunday, November 26, 2006

Why a Draft is a bad idea

Senator Rangle (D- New York) has once again proposed a draft. This isn’t the first time he has proposed this draft. It has failed before, and based on the response of his party, I don’t expect this one to go far either. However, because I hear this in the media from time to time, I think it is important to illustrate why a draft is a bad idea and to respond to a few points in Mr. Rangle’s latest call for a draft.

To be sure, there have been times in the past where a draft was need for our nation. However, one of the most incredible things about our military is that it is an all volunteer military. Our men and women in uniform are fighting because they have chosen to put on the uniform and go where the rest of us wouldn’t. I respect all of them for that. Even with what many consider to be an unpopular war in Iraq, the military has been meeting its recruitment goals for the last few years. The last time a draft was seriously considered in the congress, many in the arm services said it was not only not needed, but also not wanted.

Senator Rangle in a letter to the New York Daily News on November 22, 2006 outlined some of his reasons for the draft, and some of the changes he would make to the draft. He states that if more of our elected politicians had family members in the service, they would not send our troops into harms way. I disagree. Perhaps for a few it would make a difference. However, I choose to believe that many of Mr. Rangle’s colleagues understand the implications of deploying our military anywhere. Even if they don’t understand it from a human point of view, I am sure that our politicians know the media will remind them of the body count. President Clinton was hesitant to use our military anywhere for fear of any casualties being broadcast on CNN. We should be compassionate and respect the danger we ask these men and women to take on. We should also remember these men and women are warriors. They have sworn to protect us. Americans have had to die in order for the rest of the nation to sleep safe at night. We owe it to the military to be careful of when we use it, but also to use our military when needed.

Mr. Rangle argues that our current recruitment practices are prejudice without actually saying that. He cites that incentives to join mean nothing to those who have college as an option. If the military doesn’t appeal to college bound people, why are there Military Academies? Why is there ROTC? Surely those wouldn’t be needed otherwise. Mr. Rangle goes on to argue that there is a disproportionate number of minorities in the army, and that by not instituting a draft we aren’t being fair to them. I would respond to Mr. Rangle by saying there are many people of all race in the military. For some, it is a proud tradition. For some, it is a chance at an opportunity they wouldn’t have had otherwise. For whatever reason, why should anyone disrespect them by acting like they were forced at gun point to join the military? This goes against honoring these men and women for doing the one thing many of us won’t.

In his letter, Mr. Rangle says that his draft would, “… [make] men and women up to age 42 eligible for service, with no exemptions beyond health or reasons of conscience.” The reason the draft is a bad idea is that someone who doesn’t want to do that job, isn’t going to do a very good job at it. Is that really what we want in a military? Would you want someone to work on your car if that is the last thing in the world they wanted to do? And what does it say to those in the military who are there by choice? What confidence do they have in their fellow soldier who doesn’t want to be there and is just looking for a way home?

A draft is not the right answer for our military. I haven’t heard of any military expert say anything different, and I have heard quite a few military figures argue against a draft. Let’s give the men and women the respect they need, and the tools to do their job, without saddling them with people who don’t want to put their life on the line.


Anonymous said...

Respectfully, I have to disagree with you. If we had the draft, we would have had a sufficient force to protect the peace in Iraq. Also, look at the countries who do have conscription, none of those countries will ever fear being invaded. Also, the military did fall short of it's enlistment goals, that's why they had to lower their standards this year. Also, the military leaders dealing with Iraq have all said we need more troops over there. I understand your argument that forcing people to put their lives on the line who really don't want to is not the best scenario. And I completely support our brave troops; but the bottom line is, they need more help.

Andy D said...

Kurt, please feel free to disagree. I created this site to discuss different political ideas. You discuss two different issues in your comment: 1) the draft and 2) troop levels in Iraq. These two issues aren’t necessarily related. Most of the stories I have seen have called for an additional 20 to 40,000 troops be deployed to Iraq. Without getting into whether or not that is the right answer, our military is at a level where it could shift those troops from other theaters without instituting a draft.

I did some double checking on recruitment goals for all Armed Services and I took into account what you said about lowering standards. That has been a recent development, and I don’t think it is that big of an issue. However, going back as far as FY 2005 (beginning Oct 2004) the military has been at or above their recruitment goals. Of the four main branches (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines) the worst numbers are for the Army. They reached 92 % in FY 05, 101 % in FY 06, and 108 % for the beginning of FY 07. The other three branches were all at or above 100% for that same time period.

One interesting thing I didn’t know is in addition to meeting recruitment goals, the Armed services are at or above their retention goals. This means the Military is keeping the numbers enlisted they want, and are getting the numbers of new recruits they want. Because of these facts, and the inevitable hit moral and performance will take if you introduce a draft, we don’t need a draft. I think it is critical that we not only look at our troop levels in Iraq, but our strategy as well.

I agree that our troops need support, and need the tools to get the job done. Depending on our strategy in Iraq, that might mean more troops. However, instituting a draft to send to Iraq is a terrible idea, and one that isn’t needed.

Anonymous said...

You have a good point, but your article has some mistakes in some facts.