The Draft is Coming! NOT...

Phil Carter over at Intel Dump posted a link to an outfit calling itself Operation Truth. I am, strangely enough, interested in veterans issues. I went and checked them out. Mr. Carter describes them as "a diverse and non-partisan group of veterans". Me, I'm not so sure they're all of that. They're a spin-off of Vietnam Veterans of America. Something is dimly nudging my brain about them, but I can't pull it up right now.

Let me start with a personal belief. Anybody claiming the Truth in capital letters instantly sets off my bullshit detectors. Organizations that use 'truth' in their name are, in my experience, lying. The organization may actually present facts, but the facts are presented in such a context as to advance some ideological cause, not an unbiased inquiry. What's another good warning sign today? Crappy links. If you don't provide some sources or backup for your assertions, I'm inclined to be dubious. (Yes, I realize I don't always include links, but I'm not slinging 'truth' around in capital letters. I'm using 'your', 'philosophy' and 'sucks', with a heavy emphasis on the 'sucks'.)

The first substantive page I looked at immediately jumps right into the thick of things. The page asks a rhetorical question "Is a draft coming?" and then spends a lot of time trying to convince you that it is. I have a few problems with the way Operation Truth goes about convincing you. Let's scroll down the page and see what I can find. Before I start, though, why exactly is the possibility of the draft of interest to veterans? I'm not terribly concerned about the issue, but maybe I'm atypical.

Operation Truth (hereafter OT) leads off with a quote from GEN Richard Cody. Since no date was given, I'm guessing that the quote came from the House Armed Service Committee hearing on 7 Jul 2004. GEN Cody, for those of you not up to speed, is the Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army. He is quoted as saying the Army is "stretched thin". OT takes this to mean that the military has reached a "breaking point". Newsflash: "stretched thin" and "breaking point" are not synonymous. The Army is also not synonymous with the entire military. The Vice Chief of Staff of the Army is not qualified to discuss the force readiness of the entire military. That's why, on the same day, an Air Force general, a Marine Corps general, and an Under Secretary of Defense were also testifying. Don't try to draw military-wide conclusions from the testimony of one branch. It doesn't work. You'll note that no Navy representatives (besides the Marine) were there at all, which implies that the Navy isn't having a problem. That doesn't help your argument.

OT then goes on to state: "The next logical contingency for military planners is the draft". Really? I can think of at least 2 other logical contingencies. How about reassessing overall troop strength worldwide with an eye to reducing unnecessary deployment? Funny, that occurred to President Bush. How about adding more active duty troops? That occurred to a certain Senator. There just might be a way to do this without a draft.

OT then goes on to quote some survey (reg. required) about what high school students think about the draft. Not to insult any of the younger generation that might be reading, but who fucking cares what high school kids think about the probability of the draft? Is their opinion in any way related to the probability of a draft actually occurring? I'm willing to bet that the Pentagon doesn't consider the opinions of children too heavily when evaluating force structure options.

Moving deeper into the swamp, another rhetorical question rears its ugly head: "Is the Military Stretched Thin?" The answer? "Absolutely." The basis for this assertion: allusions made by "numerous senators and members of both parties". That's what I want to base a coherent military policy on, allusions made by politicians. I have no idea if the quotes from the congresscritters are accurate, because I have no desire to google them and find out. Links would have been helpful here. Even if the quotes are accurate, it doesn't add anything to the debate. I'm not into taking the word of Senators as gospel on any subject, simply because of a proven fact: Senators lie. Plus, OT quoted John McCain, who is, in my opinion, damn near completely insane.

OT says 40% of the forces being rotated into Iraq are reservists and guardsmen, again with no link given. Numbers are hard to come by, but I get a little over 50% of troop strength is in the reserve components for the Army alone. 40% across all branches doesn't seem unreasonable. But you know what? That's the way the system is designed, not an indicator it's broken. The post-Cold War military decided to keep combat troops active and push support functions into the reserve components. You can argue about the wisdom of that decision, but don't claim it means the system is broke.

Rep. Rangel (D-Ignut) claims that the US hasn't called up this level of reserves since Korea. Hmm. Let me check my handy history book. Yup, that's what I thought. Korea was the last major conflict we were serious about winning. So maybe that's a sign the military is serious about winning the war on terror.

Three facts are given that OT claims point to the military being stretched thin. One is the shift of troops out of Korea to Iraq. Maybe that's part of the whole reassessing our needs concept? No, couldn't be. OT says forces from the National Training Center are being deployed to Iraq. Funny, 11th ACR seems to think they're running rotations at NTC. I do see some reports of individual soldiers volunteering for service in Iraq, but no units. Some soldiers are going to Afghanistan to train the new Afghan National Army, but no mass deployments from NTC. The next point OT makes has to do with the Delayed Entry Program. It runs counter to my experience in the late 80s in DEP, but I can't definitively call it bs.

OT moves on to what the military is doing to increase recruitment. Frankly, this paragraph baffles me. Whoever wrote this is confusing Selective Service registration with military recruitment and making a hash of them both. There is a fundamental difference between recruitment into the military and registration for the selective service. When you cannot even separate the two issues in your own mind, maybe you're not qualified to discuss them.

OT then examines two draft proposals: one by Rep. Rangel and one by Sen. Hollings. Okay, OT can't be serious about bringing these two proposals up. First off, it's really one proposal introduced in both houses. The act is not a credible proposal for a draft that would enhance the effectiveness of the military. How can I say that? Simple.

There are some who believe my proposal is really meant to show my opposition to a unilateral preemptive attack against Iraq by the U.S. Others believe that I want to make it clear that, if there is a war, there should be a more equitable representation of all classes of Americans making the sacrifice for this great country.

The fact is, both of these objectives are mine.

That quote is from Rep. Rangel himself. He's trying to score political points about foreign policy and class warfare by proposing a draft. If OT is going to try to scare people about the draft, couldn't they at least use something credible to scare them with? Besides, the bill mentioned was introduced in January of 2003, before troops were even in Iraq. Unless you're willing to claim that Sen. Hollings and Rep. Rangel are psychic, a draft bill introduced before all of the events you're using as evidence can't possibly be related to them. No one is seriously proposing a draft to deal with military troop levels.

OT wants to ask how reinstating the draft would affect the public. Here's another hint: don't use Viet Nam era data to prove a point about the public of 2004. You simply cannot extrapolate behavior across thirty years that way. It just doesn't work, so you really shouldn't try. It makes you look like someone who is manipulating data to prove a point. OT then quotes a survey from the Alliance for Security about how the public doesn't want a draft and wouldn't serve if drafted. Okay, quick organizational breakdown here:
  • Operation Truth is a project of the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation.
  • Alliance for Security is also a VVAF project.

So one branch of the organization is quoting a survey from another branch of the organization? That's getting an outside point of view, isn't it? Especially when the Alliance for Security includes a section on their website entitled "This Is Rumor Control: News and Analysis on the Appalling Mess We're In". No bias showing there that I can see, no sir. No ignorance on the part of survey participants, either. The draft bill mentioned above was sponsored entirely by Democrats, yet the survey shows people think Bush is more likely to reintroduce the draft. So a lot of people are clueless about what 's going on. The public perception of which candidate might introduce a draft doesn't have a damn thing to do with who actually would, just like high school students don't make Pentagon staffing decisions.

Finally, OT would like you to think about how this would affect the military. I'm just going to point out one stunning bit of miscomprehension.

While the draft may indeed become an issue of importance in the upcoming months for the general public, it has already become a reality for many off-duty servicemen.

Umm, they can't draft "off-duty servicemen". If you're a service member, that means you volunteered. The military can recall you to active-duty, but that's not getting drafted. Everything else in this section hinges on this very basic misunderstanding. The draft is completely meaningless when discussing stop loss, reserve deployments, or Blue To Green. Trying to tie all three things to the draft is like saying 3 kumquats are the same as a two-by-four because they're all plants. Once again, OT is either amazingly ignorant or deliberately obtuse.

After that it's just links and a call to action. The links go to pieces that support their position, and the call to action probably presumes you believe this horseshit. It's about what I expected. A little bit of fact dressed up with a whole lot of slant in an attempt to make you call your elected officials and look like an uninformed jackass. Yes, they're promoting veterans' issues at Operation Truth: they're trying to scare people about the draft.


Post a Comment

<< Home