The blog run by The American Prospect has an important posting today regarding the chances of a US military draft. Here's the whole thing:
IT'S DRAFTY IN HERE. A friend of mine who is currently an inactive Army reservist forwarded me some memos he received regarding future mobilizations [Ed. -- Kevin Drum has excerpts from the memos] -- memos that indicate that we are not far from some kind of conscription in the next few years. According to my friend, recruiters are telling inactive reservists that they're going to be called up one way or another eventually, so they might as well sign up now and get into non-Iraq-deploying units while they still can. There's also a "warning order" -- i.e., a heads-up -- from the Army's personnel command that talks about the involuntary transfer of inactive reservists to the active reserves, and thus into units that are on deck for the next few Iraq rotations.A couple of comments.
My understanding of how reserve call-ups work is imperfect, but if memory serves, the inactive reservists -- known as the Individual Ready Reserve -- are people who have already fulfilled their term of enlistment but can be called up as individuals if the military needs their particular skills or specialty badly enough. In other words, after a couple of years of dipping into the main reserves -- essentially chewing through them to sustain post-9/11 deployments, the Afghanistan occupation, and then the Iraq invasion -- we're now dipping into the inactive reserves. And if we still need more manpower after that -- well, then we start drafting.
There is no question we do not have enough manpower (among other things) in the active-duty military to sustain our current "operations tempo," as the military wonks call it. And there are many good arguments to be made for reinstating the draft, albeit one that would look very different from the corrupt and unfair Vietnam-era draft. It's worth thinking now about what kind of draft we'd like to see if the need for one becomes inavoidable.
First, it is just downright scary how many liberals are completely on-board a universal draft to fight Mr. Bush's War. Both TAP and Washington Monthly are supportive, and the General has already blogged on the enthusiasm of the liberal hawks associated with "progressive internationalism" for both the war and for 'service and sacrifice' from the American people for it.
Second, beginning today up to 23,000 inactive reservists are eligible for becoming active; these are truly the last drops from the domestic coffee cup. The next step would likely be wholesale redeployments out of Germany, Italy, Korea and Japan for Iraq, plus more onerous active duty for the National Guard. If even this was not enough, a military draft becomes not only possible but necessary. It looks like Bush is determined to wait the war out for another six months before making any serious decisions.
Third, most states are seeing at least one-third of their National Guardsmen sent to Iraq and some a lot more than that (Idaho 81%; Maine 60%; Louisiana 59%; New Jersey 59%; New Hampshire 56%; Washington 55%; Tennessee 54%; Montana 53%). Today's high-tech US military doesn't need grunts carrying guns a la Vietnam; it needs particular skills. I can very easily envision a universal registration for military service combined with a limited military draft in 2005 designed to replenish the ranks of the National Guard both for service in Iraq as well as at home to respond to natural disasters and civil emergencies.
And that's under Kerry as well as Bush.