When military leaders, though, talk about the breaking point, what are they talking about? What's the real worry there?As the Associated Press (via boston.com) notes, the Administration officially doesn't think a draft is necessary:
I think that most who have talked about the stress on the force are concerned that in today's all-volunteer force, especially with the sort of quality individuals that we're interested in attracting to the all-volunteer force, that we're actually competing in the marketplace — in the labor marketplace — for a very narrow slice of high school graduates without records with the law who come to us with a clean bill of health and the potential to serve this country in some very demanding missions.
So when you're competing in that marketplace, I think the concern is that these people are challenged and feel the respect to the nation and feel a calling to something beyond themselves, beyond just a personal calling, and that these things remain in place and, therefore, make the all-volunteer force viable in the long run.
You know, given the stress on the military and the concern about these extended deployments for an all-volunteer military, can you foresee, in the future, a return to the draft?
You know, that's a national policy decision point that we have not yet reached, Michele, because the —
But does it make sense militarily?
I think it makes sense to certainly consider it, and I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table, but ultimately, this is a policy matter between meeting the demands for the nation's security by one means or another. Today, the current means of the all-volunteer force is serving us exceptionally well. It would be a major policy shift — not actually a military, but a political policy shift to move to some other course.
"The president's position is that the all volunteer military meets the needs of the country and there is no discussion of a draft. General Lute made that point as well," National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.Of course, the Army has already watered down its standards dramatically, with one out of every nine recruits having a criminal record. And the Administration has steadfastly refused to build up the Army to the point where it could do an effective job of counterinsurgency in Iraq - even with the much-vaunted "surge", the US has less than one third of the number of troops needed for the job in-country (and even with the Iraqi Security Forces, we still don't have the twenty counterinsurgents per thousand population that GEN Petraeus' own COIN manual calls for).
Realistically? A draft would be an admission by the Administration that their policy of invading Iraq on the cheap was an utter failure, and as such I can't see it happening.
But I'm not at all looking forward to the price those currently in uniform are going to have to pay before United States foreign policy changes to something sustainable. What we've got now ain't even close.