Monday, November 20, 2006

Drafting Allegiance

The draft or conscription has never been a popular word in the US. During WWII the general consensus or shared conscience of the vast majority of the citizens of the US enabled the draft to be effective based on a couple of reasons. First, there was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which gave most candidates for the draft a valid reason to be drafted or enlist. The second reason the draft did well was the Military had the wisdom at the time to send those drafted with leadership ability to officer training school, thereby utilizing experienced servicemen as leaders which created cohesion amongst the troops.

Both of these two elements for creating a successful environment in which the military machine could be supplied with able bodied fighters were dismally lacking in the Viet Nam War. First the war was not universally supported, with strong opposition coming from all socio-economic levels. Secondly, havoc was wreaked amongst the ranks when unexperienced officers were given command over field experienced troops as the Military opted to ignore the option to use non-commissioned officers with experience for the same job.

Between the lack of support for the war at home and the word coming home of the lack of harmony in the field units undesirable options (draft-dodging through self-mutilation or by running to a country providing sanctuary) were considered by some young men who found themselves faced with a short-straw draw in the national draft lottery. Those making the choice to serve instead of dodge had options, but they were limited. Volunteer, to have some choice in the path their service would take them, or be drafted and accept whatever was dished out to them. The inevitable outcome would be service, most probably performed under hostile fire.

The bottom line was the draft did not create allegiance to the government for the cause in which these draftees found themselves involved.

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) has repeatedly attempted to call for a draft to be reinstated. He is a decorated Viet Nam veteran and a Democrat, which makes it a doubly confounding concept to comprehend that he (of all his colleagues) would strive so hard for this legislation. I am not sure that I agree with his reasons for the draft entirely as he cites for one that he believes there is a disproportionate number of poor and uneducated that comprise the volunteer military force today.

Personally, I do not believe that since Congress backed the President to fight the war on terrorism new recruits are signing up solely for the benefit packages that the Military offers. The volunteers who serve today have an allegiance to the government, the country, and the cause which is not shared by a majority of their peers. Because of this, I do not see that a draft would eliminate Rangel's problem at all, as the affluent would simply seek other avenues to not serve. In fact, based on the lack of support that the majority of our youth have to such a noble cause of country first, the degree of draft-dodging (should it be reinstated) could very well become a major problem regardless of socio-economic standing.

Realistically, we will never be able to draft allegiance. Allegiance to a cause (which would create an environment for a successful draft as was the case in WWII) will only become a factor when individually our young men and women believe in a cause that is worth something more to them than the comforts of their own personal lives and livelihoods. And when that standard of thought becomes the driving factor to serve, the draft would not (in most likelihood) be necessary.

In the meantime, God Bless those who unselfishly give of themselves by volunteering for service to their country - they have my eternal gratitude and allegiance.

Share your posts here!

posted by Is It Just Me? at 8:31 AM