It is obvious that the United States military is built around a hi-tech, hit hard, kill the enemy quick, win and go home philosophy. It was not designed to occupy a hostile foreign nation. Asking our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines to occupy Iraq is like asking a race horse to pull a plow. It can be done, but it is really bad on the horse.
As Lawrence J. Korb and Max A. Bergmann of the Center for American Progress wrote in a LA Times Op-Ed a couple of months ago
After the draft was ended in 1973, the current all-volunteer system was created out of the mind-set of "no more Vietnams." The Army was intended to be a small, highly trained fighting force that would act in an initial-response capacity to repel and counter the Soviets or other aggressors.Our Army and National Guard are stretched beyond their limits by the occupation of Iraq. It simply takes more troops to occupy a hostile Iraq than our all volunteer Army and National Guard can provide. This problem is made worse by the fact that Army recruiting and retention is lagging for FY 2007. If you really want to continue occupying Iraq the solution is a draft, but as Korb and Bergmann also wrote "perhaps the only issue in which there is near-total bipartisan unity in Washington is opposition to the draft."
During an interview on NPR's All Things Considered yesterday "War Czar" Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan, said that from a military standpoint, a return to a draft should be part of the discussion. In response to the question
Do you agree with that assessment that there is a real pressure point in the spring — that that's when the Pentagon will face some tough decisions about either extended deployments or reducing the time spent at home?General Lute responded
Yes, I do agree that come the spring, some variables will have to change — either the degree to which the American ground forces, the Marines and the Army in particular, are deployed around the world to include Iraq, or the length of time they're deployed in one tour, or the length of time they enjoy at home. Those are, essentially, the three variables.If my memory of the Vietnam era serves it takes at least 6-9 months to train a draftee to a limited level of proficiency, maybe longer. It would seem that from the Army's point of view the next month or so is decision time for Iraq. We either reinstitute a draft or we start pulling back.
Oh, that war with Iran is a Cheney pipe dream. An air strike is about the only thing we can pull off. That would just piss them off.
Watch your favorite Fox News neocon chickenhawk super warriors start talking about a limited draft rigged to only take poor people. It should be part of the administration's propaganda campaign real soon.
You can hear the interview here. ThinkProgress has more.
To quote Korb and Bergmann, "(i)n the end, the president will not only be unable to stabilize Iraq, he will have destroyed the finest army the world has known."