Jewish World Review Nov. 19, 2002 / 14 Kislev, 5763

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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Consumer Reports

A draft would harm the military | On July 11, 2001, David Edmond Lucitt of Haymarket, Virgina became the millionth man to register for the Selective Service, but neither Lucitt nor any of the other registrants are likely ever to be drafted.

"The military has long since concluded that it is far more effective relying on long service volunteers. They wouldn't want a draft even if it were offered," said retired Army Col. Andrew Bacevitch, now a professor of international relations at Boston University.

A draft is not needed to fill the ranks. The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps have had no difficulty meeting their recruiting goals for the last two fiscal years, and expect none this year.

But a draft substantially would lower the overall quality of recruits. Last year 91 percent of recruits had high school diplomas, compared to just 79 percent of civilians aged 18-24. During the draft era, the education level of recruits was below that of the youth population as a whole.

"These are high tech, complicated jobs," said Marine Major David Griesmer. "They're not for everybody."

Staff Sergeant Freeman J. Lowe, a Marine recruiter in suburban Pittsburgh, can attest to that. He's had to turn away nearly 80 percent of the young people who walked into his office seeking to enlist because they did not meet the Marine Corps' exacting standards.

"These were young people who wanted to serve their country, but they had academic problems, or law problems, or drug problems," Lowe said.

Nearly 97 percent of the recruits who entered the Marine Corps last year had high school diplomas, a breathtaking change from the draft era. When I went through Marine boot camp in 1970, there were more dropouts than high school graduates in my recruit platoon, and there were twice as many judge-motivated volunteers as there were recruits with any college. (The other guy who'd been to college was dual-hatted: He'd been busted for smoking dope at the University of Tulsa. The judge told him to choose between six months in jail or two years in the Marines.)

We fought the Gulf War without needing a draft. More than 500,000 American troops took part in that conflict. President Bush, according to leaks to the Washington Post, Washington Times and the New York Times, has signed off on a war plan for Iraq that calls for the use of just 250,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, of which only 60,000 to 80,000 would be ground troops.

A smaller force can do the job, military experts say, because the Iraqi military is much worse than it was then, and ours is much better.

"In the late 1980s, Iraq had the world's third largest army," said John Thompson, a former Canadian army officer who heads the Mackenzie Institute, a Toronto-based think tank which studies global conflict. "They lost half of it during the Gulf War, and they've done a poor job of maintaining the remaining half."

"In 1991, nothing the Iraqis had could penetrate the armor of the Abrams tank. Now it is thicker," Thompson said. "In 1991, the Iraqis couldn't hide from the Apache attack helicopter. Thanks to the Longbow, the Apache can now see farther."

The Longbow is radar that can locate and classify up to 128 potential targets in 30 seconds. Army tests indicate Longbow Apache is four times more lethal and seven times more survivable than the Apaches that fought in the Gulf War.

The greatest increase in U.S. military effectiveness has been in air power. Retired Air Force LtGen. Thomas McInerney said today's Air Force is "ten times better" than ten years ago. The Iraqi air force was a non-factor in the Gulf War, and is a third the size now that it was then.

Even if a draft would be useful, it couldn't be implemented in time to help in Iraq. Congress would have to pass a law authorizing resumption of conscription. The Selective Service estimates it would be 193 days after that before the first draftees would report for basic training.

"If we started the draft tomorrow, we'd be two years into the occupation before we had draftees ready for service overseas," said retired Army LtCol. James Carafano, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budget Priorities in Washington, D.C.

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11/12/02: The 2002 elections and Nixon
11/07/02: Democratic overreaction to our recent "cosmically important" election
10/30/02: Show North Korea we're serious: Polish off Saddam
10/22/02: The squealing in the Pentagon is a proof of Rummy's effectiveness
10/16/02: The tactical challenge we face
10/10/02: Silence more despicable than seditious noise
10/08/02: Bu$h and the bu$ine$$ of war
10/01/02: Gore's calculated risk may well get him the Dems' nomination
09/25/02: Schroeder may find the fruits of victory sour
09/25/02: Making Saddam change his spots
09/19/02: Bush's resolve already has paid dividends
09/17/02: Courageous Iranians
09/13/02: If you never served in the military, you have no right to an opinion
09/10/02: Why the 'air marshals' will fail
09/05/02: Resurrecting the "Happy Darky"
08/31/02: Are Bush's inactions against Iraq calculated?
08/23/02: Dems can't take the minority vote for granted any longer
08/20/02: No proof of Saddam's wrongdoing? Yeah, right
08/15/02: Mineta's war on what?
08/13/02: When Gore said he wanted to be his 'own man,' what was he thinking!?
08/08/02: Picking a tree for Cheney's hanging
08/06/02: Fears about the Department of Homeland Security are misplaced
08/01/02: The greatest strategic deception since Eisenhower convinced Hitler the Allies were going to land at the Pas de Calais?
07/30/02: State Dept.'s anti-American actions
07/26/02: Journalists are making sure Americans can't differentiate between the stock market and the economy
07/23/02: Iran's is on the verge of a social and political explosion. So why is media ignoring it?
07/17/02: FBI isn't supposed to stand for Foolish, Blind and Incompetent
07/12/02: The ICC tramples on rights Americans take for granted
07/09/02: Was LA International Airport shooting, in fact, good news?
07/02/02: What the "intelligence community" can learn from Alexander the Great
06/28/02: Muslim link in Oklahoma City bombing revisited
06/25/02: A good environmental scare needs two ingredients - an impending catastrophe, and someone to blame for it
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06/18/02: Why the military is so messed up
06/14/02: Vast majority $68.7 billion proposed for weapons will be spent on systems of little use in the war on terror
06/12/02: Bush saw them and raised them, and he's holding the aces
06/10/02: Some heads need to roll
06/04/02: A new draft for the 'war on terror'?
05/31/02: So the FBI has finally caught up to our priorities?
05/29/02: Taking on common sense
05/23/02: Political terrorists
05/21/02: There is a great deal to fret about, but I've never been more optimistic
05/15/02: If there is a way for America to lose the war, Gen. Tommy Franks can find it
05/13/02: Impartial justice against Americans by the UN?
05/07/02: Want to win the 'war on terror'? Reinstate the draft
05/03/02: An expanded NATO is needed as a counterweight to the UN and the EU
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04/26/02: Did Bush play his Aces with Abdullah wisely?
04/23/02: Why peace in the Mideast is closer than ever
04/19/02: What the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank gained from the "peace accords"
04/17/02: Logical Muslim allies
04/10/02: How to guarantee an infinite Mideast war
04/08/02: Saddam's American friends
04/05/02: Arab winners and sinners
04/01/02: Why is the commander of U.S. Central Command not coming clean to the American people?
03/31/02: Dubya under attack by conservatives
03/26/02: Saddam watch coming to an end?
03/21/02: Get the Jews!
03/19/02: It's time pols and gov bureaucrats be held to the same standard of accountability we insist for corporate execs
03/15/02: Khaki Throat
03/12/02: Making foreign cheaters pay
03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
03/04/02: Why 9-11? Ex-CIA officials come clean
02/25/02: Don't rule out a quick victory --- even if prez says otherwise
02/21/02: Saving our military from itself
02/19/02: Front Page fiction
02/15/02: Our European allies are like the fat kid who wants to play quarterback
02/13/02: Is the Army in danger of becoming "irrelevant"?
02/11/02: So, I "propagate hatred"
02/06/02: Bush whacking the media
02/04/02: Why serious folks disregard the European Union --- and why Bush must, too
01/30/02: Give economy pneumonia in order to protect it from a cold
01/28/02: Media is its own worst enemy
01/25/02: Journalists making road to peace a bumpy ride, or: A case study in stupidity
01/23/02: Toward a stronger defense at a lower cost
01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections

© 2002, Jack Kelly