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13 December 2009


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Patrick Lang


My suggestion with regard to restoration of the draft and recruitment of a large more or less permanent civilian adviser group was not intended to elicit action. I consider both things to be quite impossible in the light of American public opinion and politics. My point waas that since we will not do those two things we should learn to cut our suits to accomodate the amount of material actually available.

Universal service has been proposed many times and always rejected. Has anyone read "starship Troopers" by Heinlein? (The movie sucked except for the shower room scene)

I was unaware that Myers was the moving force behind the AVF. I thought it was Abrams. pl



You are right that both are impossible given, the political mood. The U.S. might have been able to ram through a draft after 9/11 but would have soon regretted it.

I would make two points.

1) There really is a military industrial complex that profits from war.

2) The public will tolerate these wars as long as A) The government borrows money to fight them and the debts will not come due anytime soon. And B) the general public is not at risk of having to fight it themselves.

I'm sorry if this sounds cynical, but if this truly were "WORLD WAR IV" and national survival were truly at stake, there **would** be a draft and people would suck it up and go.

But it isn't. Iraq and Afghanistan (along with Pakistan and maybe Iran) are wars the U.S. could easily choose not to fight and be none the worse for wear. Deep down inside I think even pro war advocates know this.

Patrick Lang


These days it is a military(generals)/industrial/consultant company complex. pl

Norman Rogers

How do we really know that the American people will protest a draft? They seem to be inattentive and confused, at best. Beyond a small percentage of people who actually pay attention to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and to public policy, the ignorance of the American people is a foregone conclusion whenever anyone conducts a public opinion poll. They still believe in ghosts, social security, astrology, and they can't find the Middle East or Afghanistan on a map.

If there was ever a time to institute the draft, that time is now. It could be dressed up in a social networking sort of cloth. The government could Twitter new recruits and have them show up to pick up Call of Duty II. If they were really smart, they'd turn the throngs for American Idol into American Soldier. Hold a massive contest to see who can get through Ranger school. Everyone who fails, gets to go to Fort Hood. Everyone who wins gets to go to Fort Bragg. Or, vice versa, depending on your affiliation.

Sure, a few bloggers will have conniptions, but skimming three or four hundred thousand unlucky saps off of the top of a military-age population of 30 million won't have that great of an impact. Besides, young people don't vote. They're more likely to trash the home of the Chancellor at Berkeley over having to pay more for their education than they are to mind being handed free clothes, a video game, a weapon, and a free plane ride to Kabul.

If there was a viable anti-war movement in this country, I would say, no, the draft is impossible. There is no anti-war movement. The watchword is apathy. And, when an empire becomes apathetic, you get what we have right now.

Adam L Silverman


I agree that a draft, recruitment of a large pool of civilian advisors/field personnel, a war tax, or universal service are all complete non-starters in the US. This goes to a break down in both political leadership and institutions. However, in order to really get the citizenry to understand the points that you make in regards to the price that must be paid to do real COINOps, that Professor Bacevich makes in his writings about the price of having an overextended US foreign and security policy with that takes no regards to the limits of our power, Ross_Douquet and Schaeffer regarding who serves and who free rides on that service, as well as a media and punditocracy that really does not seem to understand any of this, means that the debate needs to be started and introduced. It doesn't matter if the discussion is of a draft, war tax, or universal service, just having it and making Americans have to face the actual costs and impacts of prolonged involvements would be a good start. Moreover, we have in many ways disaggregated ourselves out as a society, polity, and economy. A discussion and debate over the nature of service and the nature of what everyone is required to contribute as a citizen in exchange for our rights and responsibilities would be a long overdue public good.

Charles I

". . . skimming three or four hundred thousand unlucky saps off of the top of a military-age population of 30 million won't have that great of an impact. . ."

Too right. Any Impact on the Complex of Elites, who self deploy - or not - as mutually desired.

Or on the the current trajectory of the US as it blunders about in the Great Game. As we conspiracy theorists like to mutter about southern Afghani pipeline routes from time to time, one must note the news today that China has just opened the ceremonial taps on a new 4 nation gas pipeline:

China's President Hu Jintao opens Kazakh gas pipeline

". . . which begins near a Turkmenistan gas field being developed by the China National Petroleum Corporation concludes in Xinjiang in western China.

It has an estimated capacity of 40bn cubic metres a year and will mean the central Asian countries are less dependent on Russia buying up their supplies.

This is Kazakhstan's FIRST EXPORT ROUTE THAT DOES NOT GO THROUGH RUSSIA(EMP ADDED) This segment cost $6.7bn (£4.12bn) and was completed within two years."

Kazakhstan Prez Mr Nazarbayev said: "This is a grand construction project that will in time resurrect the ancient Silk Route."


With hardly a Chinese shot fired, outside Tibet & Xianjiang.

Of course, all that cream would represent a fat profit, er, I mean all those poor saps, er, brave young men and women would need a lot of resourcing, a million bucks worth per, per anum I hear.

Who still remembers their multiplication tables? 300,00 x $1M x A LONG TIME = This is all Obama's fault.

But it'll never happen.
It would displace too large a Venn oval of the corporate raiders(their only martial service rank, IDF members aside) now firmly embedded within your security/consultant/apparatus. Who'd rather keep their fingers on their current triggers of Truth Justice And The American Way of big lolly than invest in the above on a flyer that it might achieve something other than a fat(capital depreciation excepted) ROE. Or exposure of their crimes, let alone compensation.

And if it did, it'd just be a bigger, longer more expensive ordeal. Pay ten times the bribes to ten times the insurgents for transit to their playing field for more of the same, only louder, with more Chinese involvement this round, wholly opaque to foreign ghosts, but surely winnable if only Pakistan do as . . . as . . . as fantasized.

ex-PFC Chuck
1) There really is a military industrial complex that profits from war.

Don't forget that in early drafts the speech spoke of the "military-industrial-congressional complex," but Eisenhower's political advisers he delete the third leg of the stool.


ex-PFC Chuck,
I remember being surprised the first time I heard about the third leg of the MIC from what Eisenhower wanted to say. The contractors did a nice job incorporating Congress, didn't they? All those jobs...

Cold War Zoomie

I used to think instituting something of a draft where everyone served would help with our unrealistic warrior mentality. But I've changed my mind. The problem is that we have a big enough military for politicians to play with. Our military has gotten too good for its own good - if it *sucked* Congress and Presidents would think twice about committing us to wars we could very well lose!

So, if we *shrunk* the military to what our Founders envisioned then Congress and Presidents would have less power to exploit.

I would reduce the combat units in all branches while beefing up HUMINT and keeping our other intel ops strong to ensure we have fair warning of developing threats. I'm not saying ground pounders and those who directly support them in the field aren't important. It's just that they are the real capability for politicians to exploit.

But one huge problem with my plan is that raising and training an Army is much more time consuming than the days when my great-great-great-great-grandfather joined up with the New Bern militia for 6 months to fight the limeys. So we would need to keep some core of highly proficient trainers and detailed training plans ready.

In all honesty, I almost wish we could do what Costa Rica did and eliminate our armed forces altogether, but that's just plain impossible.

The big question is...how do we reduce the size of the military in this political climate where doing so is political suicide?


Col. I read Starship troopers and yes the movie sucked. I was always a little troubled, even at 18, with the idea of tiers of citizenship. I would agree with Dr. Silverman’s comment: “A discussion and debate over the nature of service and the nature of what everyone is required to contribute as a citizen in exchange for our rights and responsibilities would be a long overdue public good.”

Patrick Lang


Are you Fred H? or Fred Rutz?

I don't remember that there were tiers of citizenship in the book. pl

Hank Foresman

COL Lang:

Two points:

Dr. Silverman's analysis on the All Volunteer Force was spot on except it was not Shy Meyers but rather Creighton Abrams and Melvin Laird the Secretary of the Defense at the time. The other aspect which was entirely Abrams was ensuring that some active divisions had National Guard roundout brigades (e.g. 24th ID had the 48th Infantry Bde GAARNG. . .) which did not work so well in Desert Storm--another discussion.
2. Regarding the draft, on another site recently I recommended a return to the Draft, it was loudly shouted down. A more important point regarding the commitment of troops would be the need for President to ask and Congress to grant a Declaration of War. While it may seem a quaint constitutional provision, it is a serious step which commits the nation to war, rather than commiting the military to war while the nation goes shopping.


Col. Lang,

In the book volunteering for "federal service" (not just military service) was required to vote and hold public office.


Col. - Fred Strack. I'll have to dig out my copy, may have confused him with Pournelle, I haven't read either in a few years.

Patrick Lang


Yup. pl

Patrick Lang


Yes. I remember it as having been Abrams. pl

Adam L Silverman

I stand corrected, I just double checked the source I used, which is normally quite reliable, versus a couple of other sources, and you are all correct it was Abrams not Meyers.

In regard to Hank Foresman's comment regarding a Declaration of War, he is absolutely correct that this would force more of a debate. If I understand correctly what was done for both OEF and OIF the legislation was covered under the provisions that allow the President to order military personnel into action for 180 days at a time, which also requires renewal when that expires. My understanding is that this was done in order to take Congress out of its Constitutional role in pursuance of the unitary executive theory and to keep the budgeting in supplementals and off the normal books. The big problem in America is we make war all the times on behaviors and conditions (poverty, illiteracy, obesity, drugs, etc), which really skews our societal frame of reference for what a war actually is.

William R. Cumming

Okay today's simplistic long term solution. No separate STATE Department or USAID budget. Each year starting with FY 2012 these orgs get 10% of the DOD budget. And each year thereafter get an additional 1% of the DOD budget until at least equality if not more! Hey you heard it here first.


It is Starship Troopers, and not one of the Jerry Pournelle's stories, that has the tiers of citizenship: citizens and civilians, with citizens being those who have military service. It is touched upon in the movie in the opening classroom scene that introduces Rico and Razek and is probably the movie's only nod to the themes in the Heinlein's novel. Unfortunately the movie descends from that point on into boy-meets-girl lazertag with bugs...The scene ends with a quote, directed at the students, that was never more topical: "I doubt that anyone here would recognise civic virtue if it reached up and bit you on the ass."

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