Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Warrior Class

I have been opposed to reinstating the draft because I felt it wasn’t necessary and didn’t provide us with the quality of troops that we needed. Others have argued for the draft for many reasons but primarily for fear that the volunteer army would not work and the military would be unable to maintain its strength. Of course that has proven to not be the case as the military has met all of its staffing goals even after raising the bar for acceptance. This is very reminiscent of the period just prior to WW II when many men out of work tried to join the military but were not accepted. Today the military is finding than many young men are out of work and are joining the military just to have a job. So the American military forces have plenty of volunteers and the draft is not necessary in order to maintain troop strength.

According to some observers the American military is perhaps the strongest and most battle harden force in the world – a force with no peer. Certainly the Israeli’s and British forces are also experienced and battle hardened but do not match the Americans in size and strength. But after more than 10 years of war the American military force is unequaled and for the first time in our history America is developing a warrior class. This might not be a problem except that the all volunteer American Military has been separated and divorced from civilian life for so long that they no longer seem to relate to civilians. They relate to each other and are dependent on each other for their very lives which separate them from the civilians at home. For many and an increasing number of them the Army has become their life and their family. We are creating an increasingly independent force separated from the civilian life they once knew.

At first glance this may not seem to be a problem and perhaps it isn’t but there are some things that must be considered. America now has an Army composed of harden professionals who know less and less about civilian life. A group of people loyal to each other, accustomed to instant obedience to their leaders, and who have little connection to the civilians they once were. While the American military are sworn to uphold the constitution and not the government there seems little danger in having such a powerful force in our midst. We have been blessed with a long history of capable generals dedicated to America and our ideals, but suppose we had a general whose view of the government leads him to believe that the government is no longer acting within the framework of the constitution or those ideals -- a government that has run amok and is no longer representing the people but has become self serving and corrupt. For some people this may seem farfetched and the product of a warped mind, but consider that already many people regard the current Congress and Administration to be functioning outside of the constitution, to be corrupt, and to be attempting to rule rather than govern. If some general decided he must act in order to restore a constitutional government who could stop him?

With a warrior class loyal to itself, divorced from the civilian life, isolated, battle hardened, and accustomed to instant and unquestioned obedience, who could prevent this general from seizing control of congress, arresting the President, and “restoring” constitutional government? While some civilians might protest many would support such a move and while not all generals and all military personnel would agree it is unlikely they would attempt to prevent it and create a civil war. While I agree this nightmare scenario is highly unlikely it does reflect the downside of a professional army with a warrior ethos.

This brings us to the question of reinstating the draft. If the draft were reinstated it would immediately raise the cost of maintaining the military but it would provide some positive things as well. First it would lower the unemployment rate and relieve some of the pressure on unemployment benefits. It would also bring discipline and structure into many of the youth today who leave high school with no plans, no job, and not much of a future. These are the “at risk” youth who turn to drugs, alcohol, and violence. But perhaps the most valuable thing would be that it would reduce the warrior class mentality by injecting people into the system that don’t intend to stay, who do not share the same military instant obedience attitude, and who will reintroduce the career military to the civilian population with whom they seem to have lost contact.

I want to emphasize that I do not think American is in any danger of experiencing a coup conducted by some general who thinks the government is no longer constitutionally justified. My point is merely to point out that without intending to we have created a warrior class composed of highly disciplined, trained, hardened, and experienced soldiers who seem to have lost contact with the civilian population from which they sprang. Although I have been strongly opposed to restoring the draft, I am beginning to see that it may offer some benefits for America as well as the American military.

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