Friday, April 01, 2005

Getting a little breezy in here

The professional military is opposed to any draft because they believe (with plenty of good evidence) that volunteer soldiers are more motivated, more likely to be non-problem cases, and easier to keep in long enough to get a good return on investment for advanced training. Additionally, a "fair" draft will grab lower quality recruits than volunteers whom the military can weed out the stupid, the unmotivated, the lazy and the troublemakers. There are refinements upon why the career military opposes any talk of the draft but these are the main thrusts of their argument.

However, given reality, and working with the assumption that the US will maintain at least a good sized corps in Iraq for at least another two years -- most likely more given the prisoners dilemna of the Shi'ites needing the US to protect them, and the Sunnis wanting to fight until the US leaves, the time span increases, the primary arguments against the draft are fading away. Recruitment is down despite a sideways economy, the quality of volunteer recruits is on the verge of collapsing and many active duty units are looking at their second and eventually third tour of duty in Iraq. That is the stage where the professionalism of the Vietnam era army evaporated when the senior NCOs and field grade officers had to go back for a third time. Assuming that the US stays in Iraq, the draft is an exceedingly likely probability.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that March is yet another horrendous month for recruiting:

The active Army was 2,150 recruits short of meeting its March goal of 6,800 new troops, and the Army Reserve fell 739 short of its goal of 1,600. These shortfalls were worse than those in February, when the Army and its reserve components failed to meet recruiting goals for the first time since May 2000.

So the active duty component was short by 31% in February, and the Army reserve was short by 46%. In January, the active duty army was short by 27% of their monthly quota, and the reserves were 10% behind pace for the fiscal year to date. To me it appears that this is an accelerating trend as the reserves were 10% behind in January, and 25% behind in February. The well is dry.

Quality in the Active duty forces are barely holding on:
The Army is still meeting its threshold requirement that at least 90 percent of its recruits must have high school diplomas, and no more than 2 percent can come from the substandard Category 4 group of recruits who score 30 points or lower out of 99 on the Army aptitude test.

That battle has been lost in the reserves as the age limits for new recruits in the Guard and Reserves have been raised and the Guard education qualifications have dropped:

The Army National Guard, which recently increased its age limit in an effort to reverse a decline in recruitment, is now opening its doors to less educated people.

Under a policy approved this week, the guard will accept recruits with at least a ninth-grade education, as long as they get a satisfactory score on a vocational aptitude test and obtain a General Education Development diploma within three years of signing up, said spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Milord at the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Va.

Previously, recruits needed a high-school diploma or GED certificate to enter the guard, said Pennsylvania Army National Guard spokesman Capt. Cory Angell.


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