Jewish World Review May 7, 2002 / 25 Iyar, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | If we are serious about winning the war on terror, and serious about homeland security, we'd better think seriously about reinstating the military draft.
General Tommy Franks, the commander of U.S. Central Command, reportedly has said 200,000 U.S. troops would be required for an invasion of Iraq. Though this is a far cry from the 550,000 who took part in the Gulf War, it's still a bunch, and it will be a strain to provide them.
We have only 10 divisions in the active Army (40 percent fewer than the 18 we could call upon for Operation DESERT STORM), and substantial elements of them are committed elsewhere. We have a division in Korea, the equivalent of another division on peacekeeping missions in Bosnia, Kosovo and the Sinai Peninsula, and a brigade plus in Afghanistan. Most of our Army divisions were understrength at the end of the Clinton administration. Recruiters report that although there has been an increase in inquiries about military service since Sept. 11, there has been no upsurge in enlistments.
The recent arrest of 140 airport workers at the three Washington-area airports for lying on their security applications, and the continuing failure of screeners to spot weapons and explosives in tests indicates airport security is still more rhetorical than real.
The House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly to restructure the Immigration and Naturalization Service, an indication that lawmakers consider the INS, the agency chiefly responsible for border security, to be the most dysfunctional of federal agencies, which is remarkable considering the competition.
The Border Patrol has for years been the Rodney Dangerfield of federal law enforcement, and is now losing many of its best people to a poorly conceived expansion of the sky marshal program.
At a conference at Duke University April 11, the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency said it is not a question of whether there will be another terror attack on American soil, but of when it will occur, and what form it will take. If we have to rely chiefly upon the INS, the Border Patrol and the Transportation Security Administration to keep terrorists out of the country and off of our airplanes, it is hard to disagree with him.
Arguably the most effective, and certainly the least appreciated agency involved in homeland defense is the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard is a multi-faceted institution: part a safety and environmental protection agency; part a law enforcement agency, and above all - to Coast Guardsmen and women - a military service.
Though it is short-handed and must operate with antiquated equipment, the Coast Guard has done a remarkable job of protecting our ports, and of nabbing drug smugglers and illegal aliens. The Coast Guard deserves more respect (and resources) than it's been getting, and to get out from under the brain-dead administration of Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta. The Coast Guard should be a model for homeland security, and one of the cornerstones of a Cabinet department devoted to homeland defense. The other should be a reconfigured Army National Guard, which would assume primary responsibility for airport screening and land border security.
We should draft for the Army National Guard. Airport screening and border patrols are tedious work which cannot be well paid, but for which we require intelligent, vigilant people who are loyal to the United States. A 15-month period of service would permit a year of active duty after basic training.
This would not be too great a hardship to impose upon young people, who would be rewarded with G.I. Bill benefits.
Because the draft would be for homeland defense, mothers needn't worry about their sons being shot in foreign wars. But the draft should spur enlistments in the other armed forces, because some will figure that if they have to serve anyway, they might as well do something more exciting.
Reinstitution of conscription, even for this limited purpose, also would be
an important signal of national resolve. The resurgence of patriotism since
Sept. 11 largely has been restricted to rhetoric and flag-waving. But the
preservation of liberty requires more than gestures.
05/03/02: An expanded NATO is needed as a counterweight to the UN and the EU