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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    Does our military need reconstruction?

    We don't have the troops
    ASK THIS | April 13, 2005
    Military expert David R. Segal says we're trying to fight a hot war against insurgencies -- but with the army we developed for the Cold War in Europe. Maybe it's time to reconsider a few things.

    By David R. Segal

    [email protected]

    (301) 405-6439



    Q. Is the current force configuration appropriate for supporting our national security posture? Can we in fact support a doctrine of preemptive war with a military that was created for deterrence and defense?



    Q. Has there been an increase in non-high-school graduates being recruited for the military, and if so what are the implications?



    Q. Does the current ground combat exclusion for women make sense as a policy, given that we have women patrolling with infantry units in Iraq?



    Q. Is there any intention of lifting the don't-ask don't-tell don’t-pursue policy, given the decline in discharges for homosexuality?



    Q. Has any consideration been given to recruiting undocumented aliens to serve in the military in exchange for residency status?



    The American military was designed for the Cold War, then redesigned – mostly through downsizing – for contingency operations. Now it's being asked to sustain continuous operations. We don't have the troops.



    In a sense, the biggest problem is that our recruiting policies don’t reflect the fact that we are at war. In the past, when we have gone to war, we have also changed our military accession policy and process. We have recruited differently in war than in peacetime.



    In the past, in times of war, we have mobilized our reserve forces (except for Vietnam) and either instituted a draft or expanded the mobilization base -- by making more use of women, as we did in World War II for instance, or racially integrating, as we did in Korea, or making more use of immigrants, as we did through much of the 19th and early 20th centuries. This time, we have used the reserve forces to an extent that they were not intended to be used, but we have not spoken seriously about a return to conscription, or expanded the mobilization base beyond a marginal increase in the enlistment age for the reserves.



    Conscription I think is a nonstarter in this administration, I wouldn't even ask about it.



    But it is worth questioning the administration's decision to keep recruiting the same way they did in peacetime, just with more recruiters, new advertising campaigns, and increased enlistment bonuses.



    Out in the field, some restrictions are already falling by the wayside. Women are being asked to play infantry roles. They are "attached" rather than "assigned" to infantry units, or are in non-combat specialties, but the fact of the matter is they are getting sent out on patrol because of a shortage of infantry. Gay soldiers are no longer being discharged, due to "stop-loss" orders. But none of these changes are reflected in recruitment policy.



    Meanwhile, I think that the army has effectively lowered its standards in one significant way: My sense is that we have increased our recruitment of non-high-school graduates, even though research shows that soldiers who don't have high school diplomas don't make as good soldiers, don't stay as long and have more discipline problems. We are still within the limits set by the Congress, but we are closer to those limits than before the war in Iraq.



    For now, we're able to maintain the current troop levels in Afghanistan and Iraq by using the reserves for things the reserves shouldn't be used for. And yet heavy use of the guard is not sustainable. What are we going to do when we don't have National Guard units to send to Iraq? This will happen in about a year.



    The administration would have you believe that we'll be out by then, but without an exit strategy it's hard to say. We have a limited number of National Guard units that are deployable. Recruitment is down, even though the Guard recently increased its enlistment-age ceiling from 35 to 39. At some point in the near future, there won't be enough Guardsmen, and states and governors will begin balking at sending their Guard on repeated deployments into war zones.





    David R. Segal is a sociology professor at the University of Maryland and director of the Center for Research on Military Organization.
    E-mail: [email protected]

  2. #2
    umdkook Guest

    Re: Does our military need reconstruction?

    O yeah I like the fact that you have used a Maryland professor in this thread. GO Terps baby!!!!

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