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Opening Arguments

Tour of duty

This effect of the Iraq war deserves a lot of discussion:

Until now, the Pentagon's policy on the Guard or Reserve was that members' cumulative time on active duty for the Iraq or Afghan wars could not exceed 24 months. That cumulative limit is now lifted; the remaining limit is on the length of any single mobilization, which may not exceed 24 consecutive months, Pace said.

In other words, a citizen-soldier could be mobilized for a 24-month stretch in Iraq or Afghanistan, then demobilized and allowed to return to civilian life, only to be mobilized a second time for as much as an additional 24 months. In practice, Pace said, the Pentagon intends to limit all future mobilizations to 12 months.

The burden of the war is already disproportionately borne by Reserves and Guards. Citizen-soldiers have a certain set of expectations, and when those expectations are changed, it will change who wants to sign up for duty. Much better to increase the number of active-duty  personnel to make our military strength match the seriousness of what the government is doing with the military. I know from experience that one year in a war zone is a good stretch even for the regular military.

Posted in: Current Affairs


brian stouder
Fri, 01/12/2007 - 6:10am

Well, one of the benefits of the

Leo Morris
Fri, 01/12/2007 - 7:44am

If the draft had that effect, wouldn't it have prevented Vietnam?

Steve Towsley
Fri, 01/12/2007 - 7:49am

Here's another very big log on the same fire:
From The Washington Post this week:

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates yesterday proposed adding 92,000 troops to the Army and Marine Corps, initiating the biggest increase in U.S. ground forces since the 1960s to shore up a military that top officers warn is on the verge of breaking from prolonged fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

(By Ann Scott Tyson and Josh White, The Washington Post)

Personally, I think we should enlarge our military soon, given all the unconventional brush fires now smoldering, but to do this right will take time, because the armed forces should and I imagine will insist upon sticking with volunteer professionals -- meaning many more and bigger incentives to join up, and a sustained ad campaign.

brian stouder
Fri, 01/12/2007 - 8:19am

"If the draft had that effect, wouldn't it have prevented Vietnam?"

Well, an interesting question. We might agree that a draft certainly won't prevent wars; but it certainly would affect the thinking of our political establishment - and all the rest of us, for that matter. It would shorten the leash, so to speak.

And indeed, it would inevitably include a much wider sampling of US population - across lines of race and economic status - which would absolutely help our American melting pot over the longer term.

Vietnam (in particular) was a war we went into in the context of a struggle versus a determined worldwide enemy, and we were lead by people who had directly fought against just such an enemy only 20 years earlier...which parallels our current war in some interesting ways, and diverges in some other interesting ways

Leo Morris
Fri, 01/12/2007 - 8:32am

I have argued that if the draft WERE reinstated, it must include women as well. I believe that because of the principles of citizenship -- we all have equal rights and duties. But it might also have the side effect you allude to, that of making our leaders think long and hard about what adventures they commit us to.

Fri, 01/12/2007 - 10:48am

I don't know about women in the military simply because they are not nearly as tough in this type of shoot 'em up arena. Most men like this sort of combat, conflict, aggressive behavior whereas women don't. If they are placed in non-combat areas, I think that is fair. You may as well say that there is already an undeclared draft by forcing military to extra rounds beyond what they were originally required. It's pretty bad when Bush starts an unnecessary war and then doesn't even have enough regular military to send that he has to call on reserves. Do they honestly think they will get that many volunteers to serve? Don't count on it.

Dave White
Sat, 01/13/2007 - 9:24am

Leo, isn't it true that the draft never went away between WWII and the time it was actually ended? The call-up rates were low throughout the fifties, other than Korea, but there was still a chance that the draft notice might come. It was something that could happen to a young man and, if not liked, grudgingly accepted. Vietnam changed all that.