Monday, August 13, 2007

First Round Picks to the Front Line

If you think reinstituting the "draft" is unpopular with the American people, you should raise the draft question with any group of past or present American military professionals and you'll see just how "unpopular" an idea can be.

However, comma, it may be time to put our Vietnam era anti-draft biases aside and look at the conscription issue through the lens of our present security situation.

Let's frame the debate with straight-forward answers to the following two questions. What are the "clear and present dangers" facing our nation? What is the status of the "all-volunteer force" charged with (sworn to, actually) defending our nation against "all enemies, foreign and domestic?"

From this Marine's perspective, there are two near-term (military professionals refer to this as the "close fight") challenges to our nation's security for which the force of choice (from the military, diplomatic, and economic sources of American power and influence) is armed action. Most people would think that Islamo-fascist-inspired terrorism is the number one near-term threat to our security. Make no mistake, the mad mullahs calling the shots in Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia are a clear and present danger to the security and economic interests of the United States. However, despite the treasure we are expending in what Newt Gingrich calls a "phony war" (his reference, for those historically challenged among my meager readership, is to the "Phony War" waged less than half-heartedly by Great Britain against Nazi Germany following Germany's Eastern Europe aggressions in 1938/39), Islamo-Fascism is not the greatest near-term threat to the survival of our nation.

The clearest and closest danger to our security is the tide of unchecked immigration sweeping across our borders. The argument that this tide of immigration is no different than the previous tides that built our unique American nation and culture is specious at best, historically ignorant at worst. During other times of immigrant surges into our country, we strictly regulated who was allowed to enter our nation. For every three ships that arrived at Ellis Island during the great European immigration of the late 1800s, for example, one ship departed carrying people back to Europe who the United States deemed unfit (for reasons of health, mental defect, or criminal background) to allow entrance. The inscription on the Statue of Liberty may read "...send us your huddled masses...yearning to be free..." but we still reserved the right to refuse admittance to the Land of the Free in order the preserve the character of the Home of the Brave. If that argument offends your delicate sensibilities, then consider this: If only five percent of the one million illegal aliens entering our country across the southern border each year are criminally inclined then we are facing a yearly infiltration of 50,000 foot soldiers with intent to steal, rape, murder, and otherwise act in direct contradiction to the security and general well-being for which our government is constitutionally responsible. To put that number in perspective, that is more than the number of Marines in the Second Marine Division (one third of the Marine Corps). If only 5 percent of the 15 to 20 million illegal aliens presently in our nation are criminally active, we have been invaded by an enemy (criminals are enemies of society) force equalling the entire US Army and Marine Corps combined! Need I say more?

So, the threat to our nation is clear. Now, let's take a look at the status of our nation's defense posture.

First, the All-Volunteer Force is technically an all-recruited force. This is a significant distinction one third of my career spent in recruiting and basic training qualifies me to make. While no one serves in today's American military against their will, the vast majority of those who "volunteer" to serve do so only after they are contacted by a recruiter and sold on the personal benefits of military service. (The majority of men and women who walk into a recruiting office on their own initiative do not qualify for service due to reasons of health, mental defect, or criminal background.) I am not disparaging the magnificent young men and women presently fighting under the flag of the United States--once recruited, their eyes are opened and hearts fired to the patriotic calling to which they have answered. I am simply providing the facts regarding the nature of the way the United States currently mans the force.

Second, while the manpower well is full, the quality manpower pump's intake valve is buried in the muck at the bottom of the well. I have always been a firm believer in the concept of allowing only honorable men and women to honor the United States by serving in uniform under her flag. Consequently, even when I knew it would make my own recruiting effort more difficult in the short term, I have always been very vocal in my call for continuously raising the quality standards above which enlistment was allowed. For the most part, our military recruiters are filling the ranks to the number mandated and funded by Congress. The dirty little secret is that while the quality standards for enlistment have not been officially lowered, we have been systematically waiving disqualifying factors at the cyclic rate (for the non-infantry types among my meager readership, the cyclic rate of an automatic weapon is the most rapid rate at which it can load its deadly messages in the chamber, ignite the propellant, and send the mail out the business end). The net result is a steady decrease in the overall quality of the force. Again, no disparagement of those serving intended--it is just clear that America's best and brightest are not serving America.

Which brings me to the subject of reinstituting the draft. If America's best and brightest don't want to protect America by serving in the Army in Iraq, how about drafting them for service in a dramatically expanded version of the Border Patrol. Instead of keeping the Border Patrol under the dysfunctional Department of Homeland Security (if you have flown lately, you know what I'm talking about), let's create three light infantry divisions tasked with the mission of border DEFENSE. Let's man these divisions with a comprehensive, no waivers allowed, draft from all able-bodied men AND WOMEN between the ages of 18 and 22.

Got a better idea?
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