Bring Back the Draft?

January 2009


According to the The Hill.com, U.S. Charles Rangel (D, NY) is again going to introduce his military draft measure as set out here:

Republicans are likely to seize on the reintroduction of Rangel’s unpopular military draft bill. When they controlled the House in 2004, Republicans scheduled a vote on the Rangel measure, which was defeated 402-2. Reps. John Murtha (D-Pa.) and Pete Stark (D-Calif.) supported it, while Rangel voted against his own bill, claiming the GOP was playing political games.
A decorated Korean War veteran and a member of the Out of Iraq Caucus, Rangel argues that the burden of fighting wars falls disproportionately on low-income people and that cost should be borne more broadly.

If a draft had been in place in 2002 when members were making the decision on whether to support the war in Iraq, Rangel has said, Congress never would have approved the war resolution, because the pressure from constituents would have been too great.

With the Iraq war off the front page and the economic crisis taking center stage, nerves are not as raw on the topic of strain on the military as they were a few years ago, so Rangel’s legislation may not make as many waves this time around.
But some Democrats — even one who supported Rangel’s efforts in the past — are a little perplexed about his plans to reintroduce the legislation, especially now that President-elect Obama is poised to take over the White House.

“That was really a political statement at the beginning of the war that we continued,” said Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), one of only two co-sponsors of Rangel’s draft bill. “I’m not sure we’re going to do that this time.”

Whatever their motives, which seem mostly to have been to harass outgoing President Bush, Rep Rangel and his cronies prove once again that facts don’t matter much to them.

A recent Heritage study confirms that, contrary to Mr. Rangel’s assertions that “the burden of fighting wars falls disproportionately on low-income people,” the current U.S. military is not composed of the losers in life’s lottery as Mr. Rangel posits. Instead:

1. U.S. military service disproportionately attracts enlisted personnel and officers who do not come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Previous Her­itage Foundation research demonstrated that the quality of enlisted troops has increased since the start of the Iraq war. This report demon­strates that the same is true of the officer corps.
2. Members of the all-volunteer military are sig­nificantly more likely to come from high-income neighborhoods than from low-income neighborhoods. Only 11 percent of enlisted recruits in 2007 came from the poorest one-fifth (quintile) of neighborhoods, while 25 per­cent came from the wealthiest quintile. These trends are even more pronounced in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) pro­gram, in which 40 percent of enrollees come from the wealthiest neighborhoods—a number that has increased substantially over the past four years.
3. American soldiers are more educated than their peers. A little more than 1 percent of enlisted per­sonnel lack a high school degree, compared to 21 percent of men 18–24 years old, and 95 percent of officer accessions have at least a bachelor’s degree.
4. Contrary to conventional wisdom, minorities are not overrepresented in military service. Enlisted troops are somewhat more likely to be white or black than their non-military peers. Whites are proportionately represented in the officer corps, and blacks are overrepresented, but their rate of overrepresentation has declined each year from 2004 to 2007. New recruits are also disproportionately likely to come from the South, which is in line with the history of South­ern military tradition.

The facts do not support the belief that many American soldiers volunteer because society offers them few other opportunities. The average enlisted person or officer could have had lucrative career opportunities in the private sector. Those who argue that American soldiers risk their lives because they have no other opportunities belittle the personal sacrifices of those who serve out of love for their country.

Of course, the insistence on the part of the military that at least 90% of recruits have high school diplomas may have an “adverse impact” on the ability of the lowest economic levels of our society to join the services since that it is much more likely that high school dropouts will end up in the lower income levels. See the chart here – in which it appears that completing high school adds about $10,000 a years in income compared to the earnings of high school dropouts.

Perhaps Mr. Rangel should be less worried about who carries the burden of serving in the military (especially since he is completely wrong in his analysis) and worry more about how to encourage the lower economic levels of our society to finish high school so that they can be full participants in our society.

Perhaps someone can articulate good reasons for returning to a draft, but clearly, Mr. Rangel has the wrong ones.

Posted by Mark Tempest in Uncategorized

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  • Rubber Ducky

    A draft binds the government to the will of the people.

    A standing army – what we have now and a horror to our founding fathers – allows the executive his own band of mercenaries with which to play imperial mischief … as did the current Twit in the White House and his band of wisdom-challenged neo-cons in Iraq (and hasn’t that turned out well!).

    I rest my case.

  • FOD Detector

    Rubber Ducky has a good point.

    Meanwhile, Eagle 1 should realize citing the Heritage Foundation on anything is foolish. Sinece the military does not (and for good reason) release family income data on recruits, Heritage used an “approx­imate [of] each recruit’s household income by using the median household income of his or her hometown ZIP code.”

    You don’t have to be a statistical wizard to see just how wrong this is. Example, take a recruit with an impoverished background from Washington, DC. The median income in DC is almost $80K a year. Thus, it’s not hard to see Heritage has systemically and quite grossly overestimated the family income of recruits.

  • Byron

    Arent’ all of the members of the Armed Services volunteers? Does anyone remember what kind of military we had in the 60’s and 70’s? That it wasn’t made right till the all volunteer military took affect? That sometimes the best place for young people growing up in a bad place to go to is the military, and that they go of their own choice? That our very first military was all volunteer, you know, the one that won our freedoms in the Revolution?

    Maybe I’m not smart, or I’m missing something.

  • http://www.jimdolbow.blogspot.com Jim Dolbow

    FOD Detector, which think tanks do you recommend citing instead?

  • Eagle1

    Rubber Ducky: Are you kidding me? What case are you resting? Are you really in favor of tying up our ships, landing our airplanes and putting our tanks in storage and disbanding the active military so that we can man up by drafting people in case of war or national emergency? I guess our strategic deterrence systems are unnecessary in your world view? Or do mean that a standing military is good for some things? Are you asserting that the Reserves and the Guard do not help “bind the goverment to the will of the people?” nut drafting 18 year olds will? I respectfully suggest you rethink your positions…

    FOD: I think regression toward the mean would take care of your points – there are wealthier families living in poorer districts, too, and it would even out. On the other hand, are you disputing the educational levels and the relationship to income? Provide me some counter facts instead of just attacking Heritage…

    See also here – 93% of military enlisted have HS diplomas/equivalents. H/T to CGBlog.

  • FOD Detector

    Jim Dolbow: Wrong is wrong. It’s not matter of preferring one ‘think tank’ over another. Most ‘think tanks’ aren’t ‘think tanks’ at all; they’re ideological p.r. firms. Heritage just happens to be one of the more egregious examples.

    Eagle 1: Regression toward the mean? Well, if you can’t dazzle ’em with the Heritage Foundation, just baffle ’em with…

    What evidence have you that wealthier kids from poor areas are signing up? None?

    I see you wish to move the goalposts and talk about HS degrees. Fine. Of course, you realize the services generally require nearly all recruits to have HS diplomas or GEDS or score high on the AVSAB–thus, you’re talking largely about a self-selected population.

  • Rubber Ducky

    Our military needs have been well served between wars by a cadre of professionals and the availability of Guard, Reserve (both now much abused and wrecked for a generation), and the draft. Before we get our undies in a knot about the horrors of conscripts I would ask you to read through the Federalists Papers and other documents of our founding on the subject of standing armies. The Library of America has a superb two-volume collection “The Debate on the Constitution” in which the topic has 80 citations in the text.

    The language of the Constitution itself reflects concern with the dangers of giving the Executive his own military. Though given the power “To provide and maintain a Navy,” in the case of land forces Congress’s authority is only “To raise and support Armies.” And the need to call on citizens not of the military for defense needs is clear in the Constitutional provision giving Congress duty “To provide for calling forth the Militia.” In a nutshell, the AVF ain’t a militia.

    Some say a draft cannot provide for defense adequately. World War Two answers that, along with the Cold War until the mid-’70s. Primary support for the AVF has always been in the Army itself, the leaders of which just hate all that messy democracy stuff and can’t stand horrible soldiers like Willie and Joe.

    Bringing the debate into the present and more down-to-earth than all this constitutional fuss (after all, who really cares about the Constitution? certainly not the about-to-exit Administration), David Broder puts it quite well in today’s Washington Post. Discussing Bush’s many failures in other areas, he then gets to his main point: “But for all the outrages in those areas, I thought the most damaging to the American people — both those living now and those yet unborn — was placing the entire cost of Bush’s ambitious, if not misguided, national security policy on the tiny fraction of American families with loved ones in the armed services.”

    Draftees serve a noble cause. The mercenaries of the AVF discussed by Broder express the unavoidable truth of the old saying “If you take the king’s coin, you do the king’s bidding.” Except we don’t have a king and I for one despise the idea that we should. So do most of my fellow citizens, more of whom think the earth is flat than approve of the performance of our current Commander In Chief and would-be-monarch.

    We can make any military work. What we can’t do is make a mercenary military an American idea.

  • Eagle1

    FOD: All volunteer forces are self-selecting by definition. Having a standard requiring a high school diploma tends to negate enlistment by those at the bottom of the economic pool since the largest part of that pool lack high diplomas. I didn’t move any goal post, I just pointed out that Rep. Rangel is wrong. It is the people without high school diplomas who will tend to remain low income and remain out of the volunteer military which means the burden of military service is not being carried in a disproportionate manner by low income people. And in reply to your direct question about wealthier young men and women from poorer neighborhoods, I point out that high school graduation puts them into a wealthier group as evidenced in the study I linked to. What evidence do you have that only the poorest living in the wealthy neighborhoods join the service? I should note that in attempting to balance public schools by income levels, most school districts use similar data as that used by Heritage. Link a study that shows that the poor and uneducated are carrying more than their share of the defense burden and I’ll read it with interest.

    Ducky: Your argument is simplistic and ignores the lessons learned following WWII and Korea. Disarmament and reliance on the draft means more death than having a prepared military. Massive disarmament after WWI meant the U.S. was unprepared for WWII.

    Interesting that you rely on the Broder quote, which ignores the concept that those who volunteer to carry the national security burden do so willingly and without reservation. Those of us who volunteered did so with pride and a great degree of thankfulness that we could serve our country, knowing full well that our families would have to make sacrifices. It’s like calling our younger servicemen and women “kids” and arguing that as mere children they should not be exposed to danger. Danger is what they knowingly volunteered for and if they have chosen to serve, they are adults fully participating in the defense of their nation, under civilian control.

    Can I assume Mr. Broder encourages his children and grandchildren to join up so that the burden may be more “fairly” shared?

    By the way, all your assertions about President Bush are not borne out by the facts as they exist – he has not attempted to thwart the electoral process nor to establish himself as a monarch. To the contrary, it appears to me that he has tried hard to make the transition to Mr. Obama as smooth as possible. Will you still be kicking at him 3 days from now when he retires to Texas?

  • Rubber Ducky

    Dunno, but sounds like a good idea. W. C. Fields on the subject: “Never fail to kick a man when he’s down.”

    But it matters not what one waterfowl thinks and ther’s really no need to kick the guy. Rely instead on current presidential historians, who nearly universally judge Bush-43 as our nation’s worst president ever. He’s kicked himself, and his record will be the gift-that-keeps-on-giving for those of us in the majority who judge him a failure.

    To the practicality of a draft from a Service perspective. Navy, Air Force, and the Marine Corps tend to prosper in a draft environment the AFV is less good for these three branches of the military than the draft. It’s the Army that has to absorb the conscripts and that’s why the major thrust for the AVF has been Army, Colin Powell and the like. But the Army is a mess regardless of where it gets its bodies – e. g., even with the AVF it badly mismanaged the Iraq war, showing that the AVF does not correlate to good results.

    I can understand the AVF from an argument not yet raised: it’s may be less costly than the alternative. And one that has: it’s (arguably) more efficient. But democracy is not justified by low cost and higher efficiency. It’s a bit of a mess and perhaps wasteful. Still, I like the idea. As simple as it is, it seems to elude proponents of a mercenary military such as Eagle Uno above.

  • Byron

    I got two things, Ducky. It really makes me just a little upset that you just called my son-in-law, who is sitting in the room, an ADC, and who has served this country faithfully for 20 years now, a MERCENARY. For damn sure, Ducky, he doesn’t do it for the money. I sincerely hope you know you just insulted everyone who has served this nation for the last 8 years. I can think of no worse thing to do in my book, save insult or harm my family..wait, you managed to do that one too.


  • UltimaRatioReg

    “Rely instead on current presidential historians, who nearly universally judge Bush-43 as our nation’s worst president ever.”

    Just the people I want to rely on. Academia and the Washington News Media. Good, unbiased opinion. They’d vote for George McGovern again.

    But what would I know? I am just a mercenary. I take the king’s coin. But thanks for telling me Duck. All this time I was under the impression that I was sworn to support and defend the Constitution, and chose to serve because I believed our freedoms and way of life something worth fighting and possibly dying for.

    I am glad to have been disabused of such foolish notions, and be educated by the brilliance and wisdom of yourself, FOD, David Broder, and Charlie Rangel. URR

  • Rubber Ducky

    Byron & URR: got your attention, huh?

    But what do you call someone in the military as a profession, as a livelihood, as something that’s done for money. I enlisted in the Navy at a time when the option for a 1-A category was deferments, enlistment, or draft. The military was something that everyone of eligible age had in front of them and it colored one’s thinking about the military and life plans. Serving was not an option, only a choice of the terms of service. (I stayed in service for 37 years, but after the initial time was done i was clear in my mind that I’d chosen to be a hired gun … and worked very hard to be good at it.)

    As Broder notes, the folks who’ve really gotten screwed by the absence of a draft are those trapped on active duty when Bush took on his war of choice in Iraq. If you have such love for those now serving, why aren’t you angry that this national burden is borne by so few?

    I find the notion of pain-free democracy abhorrent and think you should as well. And I like the idea of a military that is of the same source and class is the citizens it serves, not a separate culture only loosely connected to the American reality.

  • Jay


    (I don’t feel insulted at all)

    There are good arguments on both side of this issue.

    I think some sort of compulsory service is a good idea for everyone in this country.

    Doesn’t have to be military, can be some civic/community service as well.

    I would like to see all kids have to do two years (at least) just after high school graduation.

    I think it would make many of them better college students later, and better citizens.

    I think the AVF is superb (having been a part of it), but it is subject way too much to group think, being somewhat of a homogeneous (sp?) group.

    I think the “bad military” of the 60’s/70’s is an idea that remains in that decade. Better standards & drug testing have improved the force. Those standards wouldn’t be watered down by a draft, you would just draft the available pool of hs graduates/ged folks, with no criminal convictions, etc.

  • Byron

    Jay, I don’t care about the draft/no draft argument. At 57, it’s a moot point for me.

    I will not tolerate the insult to our armed forces. That must not stand.

  • Rubber Ducky

    And 4227 dead soldiers in Iraq is not an insult?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Ducky, you miss the point entirely. You want to consider yourself a hired gun? Feel free. But save the lectures. And the politics. You aren’t the only one who has read the Constitution or the Federalist Papers.

    What do I call someone who sees his civilian peers making six figures at age 30 when he’s wearing a uniform and making less than half of that, while working 60+ hours a week? A dedicated professional. Thank God for them. They keep the wolves at bay even when silly academics and political commentators insist on telling us that there is no such things as wolves.

    Who are those “trapped on active duty”? I have yet to meet one. What idiot signs up for the military without understanding that being sent to war is a possibility? I do have a love for those serving. I am one of them. And will go again if asked. So spare me the “soldier as victim” jazz.

  • Rubber Ducky

    Al Gray was fond of saying ‘There are no crowded battlefields.’ I say it’s an insult to those serving in the AVF to have to do it alone – the current battlefields are far too ‘uncrowded.’ And the stop-lose orders for the active-duty and continual call-ups for Guard and Reserve do ‘trap’ them in service. These are, as has been said by many, a back-door draft, albeit imposed on a tiny fraction of citizens.

    War should never be easy. War should – for America – always be the nation’s war. The giant failing of the AVF is that it makes war easy and isolated from citizens. It is a fundamentally un-American concept.

    As to those of you so hurt by my naughty words … whaaaa.

  • Eagle1

    Ducky: I think you need to look up the definition of “mercenary” – “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  • Rubber Ducky

    Hired gun? Soldier of fortune? In this day, uniformed war-zone contractor?

    Your point is well taken – ‘mercenary’ has connotations of service under a foreign flag. But it does come closer to the current truth than does our imagined image of the citizen-soldier.

    To the original post: Charlie Rangel is right. He’s onto something legitimate. It’s time for a genuine debate on this and I wish him well on it.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Your words aren’t naughty. They are condescending and arrogant. You would make a wonderful professor at my local Ivy League school. They haven’t seen the football since kickoff, either.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Oh, and Eagle1,

    EXCELLENT Princess Bride reference.


  • Jay

    Actually, a good number of folks were “stop-lossed”. This is an unfair non-voluntary extension of their enlistment.

    Happened in DS, and again in OIF.

    If you sign a contact with folks, (period of service) you shouldn’t be able to change the terms of the contract because it suits on party (in this case, the ‘gummint).

    It simply isn’t fair to them, and bad faith.

    I have seen the sign (I am sure you all have) that “America isn’t at war. The USMC is at war. Americans are at the Mall”.

    It is sad that nothing was asked of the folks not in uniform to support the war. Hell, I think everyone would have understood a war “tax” vice the financial shenanigans this administration & congress engaged in for the past 7 years.

    We are better than this.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    “If you sign a contact with folks, (period of service) you shouldn’t be able to change the terms of the contract because it suits on party (in this case, the ‘gummint).”

    If you read an enlistment contract, you know that this very thing is a possibility.

    Your point about a military at war while a nation is (it thinks) at peace, is a good one. But Rangel’s assertions are wrong, not just a misinterpretation, but wrong. They were wrong in 1990 (when I was very close to the accessions business) and they are wrong now.

    If we had kept the force structure we lost in the 1995 RIF of the “peace dividend” (what a concept) we would not have had ANY need for stop-loss. Eight Army brigades and three USMC Regiments would be a big addition to the mix.


  • b2

    We would diminish the All-Volunteer force (AVF) so successful since 1975 because one ex-Army cook named Rangel suggests it? I’d suggest he pay his taxes on time…

    Yeah Duck, I’m a retired “mercenary”, as you call it, and I still get a monthly check as a retainer, you dork. The only legitimate point you make is your statement “so few”. Check your history, it’s always been that way..Volunteers have always been on the tip of the spear in every war we’ve had, with or without a draft. Unwilling draftees never piloted an attack jet, landed with a division para drop or swam ashore with frogmen.

    Re today’s AVF- Don’t fix something that ain’t broke in other words. Of course, Ducky, your intentions are more suspect..Seems you want the military as an institution to fail. For that I shun you as a far left loon.


  • b2

    We would willingly diminish the All-Volunteer force (AVF) so successful since 1975 because one congressional, ex-Army cook named Charley Rangel suggests it? I’d suggest he pay his taxes on time and claim all his income…

    Yeah Duck, I’m a retired “Mercenary”, as you call it, and I still get a monthly check as a retainer, you dork. The only legitimate point you make is your statement “so few”. Check your history, it’s always been that way..Volunteers have always been on the tip of the spear in every war we’ve ever had, with or without a draft. Unwilling draftees never piloted an attack jet, landed with a division para drop or swam ashore with frogmen.

    Re today’s AVF- Don’t fix something that ain’t broke. Between a hair brained idea like this and the likely repeal of DADT and we could be seeing the end of the US military as a fighting force.

    Of course, Ducky, your intentions are more suspect to me having read your comments hereabouts..Seems you want the military as an institution to fail…but you’re “for the troops”, right?
    B.S. you use the typical illogic of a koolaid drinker of junior high age. For that I shun you as a far left loon.


  • Rubber Ducky

    b2: it seems to be a huge challenge to right-wing dittoheads to understand other views and opinions, or to extend to others the right to have them. I’ve earned mine, with enlisted and officer service in cruisers and submarines and with an extensive career writing on such topics seriously for the Naval Institute.

    Blogs have their own voice, but intemperate ad hominem screeds say more about the blogger than the bloggee. Get a grip, sailor.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Intemperate ad hominem screeds say more about the blogger than the bloggee:

    “Twit in the White House and his band of wisdom-challenged neo-cons in Iraq”

    “proponents of a mercenary military”

    “As to those of you so hurt by my naughty words … whaaaa.”

    “right-wing dittoheads”


  • Big D

    I still find it amazing how we lost more lives on 9/11 than on 12/7, and most of the former were civilians at that, and yet, many still do not consider themselves or their country to be at war.

  • FOD Detector

    B.S. you use the typical illogic of a koolaid drinker of junior high age. For that I shun you as a far left loon.

    Do people really talk like this? Sounds like an Amish Dungeons and Dragons player.

  • Byron

    Big D, unlike some, I’ve understood that we’re at war ever since that day.

  • pk

    during nam the far left loons tried to run this scam. then someone looked up the statistics and found that most of the casualties were not the “pooah folk” but in actuality “college boys” (air crews of one sort or another).

    the basic source of the FLL mantra is that after kennedy died his successor had to raise more people for the viet nam thing and changed the college deferrment rules. that caused a lot of the north east college types to be drafted. within minutes of the announcement the anti war screaming started (those that wern’t hauling a$$ for canada).

    the modern FLL’s don’t seem to know the roots of their movement and pretty consistantly put their foot in their mouths at every opportunity.

    when i got my draft notice i was an MR2 on the uss bryce canyon anchored out in Kaosuing china repairing destroyers that were getting shot up on the gunlines off south viet nam. the draft board was pretty snotty about it and the recruiting officer (the only navy officer in montana at the time) had to drive over and perform an attitude adjustment.


    ps: it sounds as thought Rangle is feeling the heat from the various law enforcement agencies as he has pulled this scam to divert attention from his activities in the past whenever he felt the legal heat on his a$$ with the definate possibility of jail time.


  • http://springboarder.blogspot.com Defense Springboard

    Haven’t we had this debate before? Seems like Washington, in years past, regularly floated a range of gambits–platform battles, reserve force games and draft reinstatement proposals–that all had the intent of making a declaration of war/declaration of national support/etc. a necessity before starting a conflict.

    All those measures failed. Nowadays, if a Chief Executive wants a war, he gets it. To me, that’s a little worrisome. Call me old fashioned, but I like a simple war declaration a lot more than, oh, abstractions like the “Authorization for use of military force against Iraq Resolution of 2002.”

    If we’re going to go to war, I want a boss who has the guts to ask for it, along with Congress that has the guts to make the boss want to ask.

    All that aside, I suspect President Obama, in time, is going to push some sort of compulsory national service, and Rengel is out there early, trying to get the military a piece of that program. If kids have a wide enough range of options for service, the Armed Services would be wise to use the ones who want to serve.

    And if I may, as one of the contributors here, I expect my fellow USNI blog hands to go the extra mile in maintaining their decorum, good manners and equanimity in this forum.

  • Byron

    DS, we haven’t had a declared “war” since WW2. Korea, VN, DS, all were conducted under a joint resolution. If you recall, however, one of the lessons learned from VN was that no President should be allowed to go to war without the consent of the two bodies of Congress representing the will of the people. And of course, soon to be ex-president Bush got exactly that by an substantial majority.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    I haven’t heard Rep. Rangel mention much about a program of compulsory service. What he is calling for is a military draft. Two very different issues with entirely separate arguments for and against.

    The assertions that Rangel makes to further his argument are intentionally skewed and false in their basis (Pk’s point). The burden of the war being on the poor and lower income was not true in 1969, or 1990, or now. But if one shouts it enough times into a TV camera, it will eventually be reported as gospel truth, particularly if it echoes the political victim group du jour.


  • Byron

    I think it was Stalin or Goebels that said if you tell a lie often enough they’ll start to believe it, can’t remember which. I guess Charlie Rangel must have read the book or something.

  • FOD Detector

    The Heritage Foundation is wrong; it doesn’t take long to figure that out.

    The draft makes these foreign misadventures the right wing is so fond of much more difficult politically. That’s the bottomline. Conservative hawks understand it’s far easier to push for a war when the burden falls largely on the poor. They realize it would be far more difficult if everyone, regardless of background, were affected.

  • Rubber Ducky

    Byron: actually it was Lenin: “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” See also comments from 2002 and 2003 regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and links between Saddam and Al Qaeda.

    FOD Detector puts his finger on it. And if you put the dollar costs and damage to the nation’s capacity to defend itself onto future generations, it’s even easier to fulfill dreams of imperial majesty.

    At the core of these mischiefs is the AVF. Let’s call it what it is: outsourcing of national defense; we’re hiring it done. Yes, we’ve always had a professional military cadre between wars. But we’ve traditionally relied on draftees, Guard, and Reserve to be our force-in-being, ready to expand to active duty if/when the need arouse and always with sacrifice shared throughout the nation.

    The OIF Iraq adventure was something else, a war of choice enabled by the AVF without apparent cost to the public. Aside the fact that the adventure quickly evolved into misadventure, the ease with which a resolution to advance our opposition to potential dangers from Saddam became an invasion should cause pause for those whose image of the United States draws on the country’s history rather than the dream of world conquest.

    The AVF is an excellent model for peacetime military staffing and training. It fails in war. It has failed us in this decade – our defense posture and readiness to function militarily anywhere but where we currently have boots on the ground are at their weakest state since the early Cold War. Please: if this is success, what would failure look like?

  • Spade

    Draftees are crap most of the time. Ask any regular soldiers from WW2, Korea, or Vietnam their opinion of draftees. People who do not want to be there do not typically make good soldiers/sailors/etc. Would you hire somebody for your company who flatly said they hated your company and didn’t want to work for you?

    But by all means, start going around to college campuses and telling people they’re going to HAVE to go learn how to fight, kill, and maybe get shipped off somewhere to die. Let me know how well that works out for you in today’s environment.

    FOD Detector: “The draft makes these foreign misadventures the right wing is so fond of much more difficult politically. That’s the bottomline. Conservative hawks understand it’s far easier to push for a war when the burden falls largely on the poor. They realize it would be far more difficult if everyone, regardless of background, were affected.”

    Do you speak any other language besides “talking points”?

  • b2


    Thanks for the synopsis of Rubber Ducky ‘Molotovs’. If one cries “Fire” in a crowded theater just to see the reaction generated, he/she shouldn’t be surpised when someone calls him an a$$hole! Sorry about the lack o’decorum Springboard but I’m a brown shoe..it’s genetic.


    “It has failed us in this decade- our defense posture and readiness to function militarily anywhere but where we currently have boots on the ground are at their weakest state since the early Cold War.”

    That statement is a of B.S. that simply negates any argument you may make around the edges for reinstating the draft. Are you suggesting it didn’t fail us last decade? Why is that? I am sure politics has nothing to do with your analysis or any of your opinions? Correctamundo?

    Re “writing for the Naval Institute”

    IMO, that ain’t hard to do…especially this last decade or so. No offense to the owners here, I was awarded a subscription to the institute as a graduate of my AOCS class about 35 years ago and was a member until the mid-90’s…Yep. I was one of those who left..Rubber Duck If you are the normal contributor I will continue to stay away…

    Intemperate? You got it. I do take a drink now and again. Your hiding behind the skirts of victimhood from attack by this dittohead (whatever that is) is a far left trait often used by bomb throwing lefties when confronted. Alinsky Rules.

    Fod Detector-

    Wrong again about this decades war being fought by the poor and minority argument:



    Those pesky facts always getting in the way of a good B.D.S. generated, lefty legend. Recommend keep your eyes on the flightdeck when conducting the walkdown. You’ll collect more fod that way….


  • Byron

    Ducky, if OIF had happened during Clinton’s watch, would you feel the same way? Or is it your hatred of George W. Bush that deludes you into thinking an untrained draftee military, a poorly trained Guard and Reserve, and a small standing military is the way to go? How is the military broken? In my opinion, the ground and air componenets are even more potent, they’re having been through the most demanding of all readiness and training courses which is war itself. Has equipment been ridden hard? Sure, but that happens in training as well.

    And by your standards, on Dec. 11, 1941, we were exactly at the condition that you say we should be. History should tell you it was six long months before we were truly ready to go on the offensive. Another point: how many of those young men would have still been alive at the end of the war if they’d already been in a standing army being continously trained week in and week out?

    Last, the pace of modern war simply doesn’t allow you the luxury of months of buildup and training to go on the offensive. You have to be ready to go NOW with what you have, not later.

    Ducky, your dream is one borne of hatred, and not reasoning. Your rationale does not pass the test of cold reality. And your description of the finest military ever to grace this earth is borne of your hatred, not of logic.

    You will natter on, as is your right. It is also my right to ignore you.

  • Rubber Ducky

    Spade: From my late father and late uncle, WWII draftees USN and US Army, and from the 40 or so draftees in my boot camp company 141 Great Lakes: you, sir, are a blatherskite, and you join company with several others in this thread … who would honor AVF service to the max, but trash the citizen soldier.

  • Spade

    Ducky, don’t blame me. Blame the regulars and volunteers from those wars. They’re the ones who talked about it and wrote it down for me to later find. I suppose now it is you who is insulting the volunteer who hated draftees?

    And to me, a citizen soldier is one who when his country called, he answered by volunteering. Not the one who when his country called he was forced to answer at gunpoint. That’s not a citizen, that’s a government slave.

  • Eagle1

    FOD: “The Heritage Foundation is wrong; it doesn’t take long to figure that out.”

    Well, I’m unable to figure it out. Can you explain to me in small words?

  • FOD Detector

    b2: I’m pretty sure I haven’t typed the word “minority” in my comments. But don’t let that “pesky fact” stop you from moving the goalposts all over the field.

    And don’t let the door hit you in your brains as you flounce away…

    Eagle 1: Reread my first comment on this post. HF used an “approx­imate [of] each recruit’s household income by using the median household income of his or her hometown ZIP code.”

    Worse still, the HF used the recruit’s last known zip code. This means if the kid dropped out of college–the college zip was used which even furher skews the results.

  • Spade


    Okay, let’s get this straight.

    You’ve said: “Since the military does not (and for good reason) release family income data on recruits”

    And you’ve said that this data about kids from wealthier areas signing up is crap, but haven’t posted any data on the subject for or against(and you’ve said that no such family income data exists).

    So am I correct in figuring you actually have no data at all to back up the statement you made of: “Conservative hawks understand it’s far easier to push for a war when the burden falls largely on the poor.”

    But we have 0 evidence that the burden falls on those from poor backgrounds (and you’ve said the above evidence to the contrary is bad), you’ve posted no evidence of your own, and you’ve said no such data really exists as the military doesn’t release it (if it exists).

    Please explain the backing for your statement then. Thanks.

  • Eagle1

    FOD: HF applied the same standard to all income levels.

    You assert that a poor person from DC will be counted as coming from a wealthy area. In looking at the 100 lowest income zip codes (see here) you might notice that a substantial number of them are zip codes for military bases – understandable since new recruits and lower ranking enlisted personnel have low incomes, which skew the numbers downward.

    A general’s child joining the service from Camp Lejeune will be credited as coming from a “low income” zip code. The errors of the DC poor person from a “rich” area and the general’s child from a “poor” area tend to balance out. The “highest income” areas are listed here and are skewed to portions of the Northeast and California. Not many college towns seem to be represented in the “highest income levels.”

    As noted in the various studies, incomes are lower in the South and in rural areas, but the incomes ranges used in the study were not adjusted for cost of living. Since more recruits come from the South and rural areas the failure to adjust for cost of living skews the number, but not in favor of Heritage. In other words, Heritage may actually understate the wealth backgrounds of recruits. A Wyoming salary of $45,000 is roughly equivalent to a Washington salary of $60,000 according to a calculator available here. So a person making the U.S. median salary of $42,000 is probably doing okay in Wyoming but not so well in the Washington, DC area.

    The National Priorities Project uses exactly the same type of zip code income analysis to “prove” that the Army draws more from the “lower and middle class” than from the upper income zip codes. Further, according to NPP here, DC had a whopping 39 Army recruits in FY 2007, hardly enough to make a significant difference in the numbers. DC has a population of about 600,000. Wyoming has a population of 500,000 and had 139 Army recruits in the same time period. If Wyoming incomes are less than those of DC in unadjusted for cost of living dollars, then the Wyoming recruits will drag the income numbers down compared to DC. If they were adjusted to compare with Washington numbers, they would skew the income levels upward.

    By the way, DC’s median income is about $54,000, Wyoming’s about $51,000.

    What say you?

  • Eagle1

    Sorry – bad link above – Cost of Living calaculator here.

  • FOD Detector

    Spade: Several things sink the HF “study”; as I noted, using median household income for zip codes is just poor scholarship. I’d also note the HF caps the highest quintile at $200K. Why would the HF omit that part of the population that makes over $200K/year? The only viable explanation is the HF was massaging the data to achieve a certain result.

    So am I correct in figuring you actually have no data at all to back up the statement you made of: “Conservative hawks understand it’s far easier to push for a war when the burden falls largely on the poor.”

    No, you would be incorrect. But let’s remember it was Eagle 1’s assertion the HF “study” debunked Rangel. Given the HF’s highly questionable methodology, I’d say the burden falls on Eagle 1.

    But let’s look at this. According to the National Priorities Project (NPP), the Army’s top 20 recruiting areas had lower-than-national median incomes, 12 had higher poverty rates, and 16 were non-metropolitan. That certainly doesn’t provide any confidence recruits are coming from the upper end of the income ladder. The fact the military has, in the past several years, more than doubled the percentage of recruits who have alternative credentials (not regular HS diplomas) further indicates these recruits aren’t coming from the top of the economic spectrum.

  • Byron

    So what? Are any of these people forced to join the service, like they WOULD under a draft? Who cares where they come from, so long as they pass the standards and do their duty? Sounds like a lot of blathering, blistering BS.

    Time to end discussion on this topic. Someone put up something else, this one’s starting to stink the place up.

    And no offense, Editor, but none of the milbloggers themselves would have let the discussion get this acrimonious.

  • FOD Detector

    The point passes Byron by like a whisper across the sea air.

    Yes, Byron, some of these people are compelled to join the service because they have few other options. We should care because, ideally, the sacrifices made by the those in the service should be shared by all for whom those sacrifices are made. But it isn’t; we’re asking those whose economic opportunities are limited to disproportionately make those sacrifices.

    As a result, foreign misadventures and blunders are tolerated because it’s largely the poor who wind up paying the price.

  • pk

    fod detector:

    are you speaking of the lads who are given the choice of either 30 days or a short discussion with the local recruiter by the judge.


  • Jay

    Gents — not sure I like the idea of any Editor censoring the thoughts, unless they go beyond the pale (profanity, etc.).

    You are each responsible for your comments.

    Enough on that, we are all adults.

    I agree that the Heritage Foundation (on the right) has an axe to grind, (like other foundations on the left, or in this case Rep Rangel). My suspicion is that the Heritage Foundation wants to debunk Rep Rangel’s assertions.

    His assertions re: racial make-up of the force is easy check, since those are known numbers. We know that the casualties in current OIF/OEF efforts are not racially skewed.

    I never took Rep Rangel’s spouting off re: draft seriously, I am surprised anyone else has.

    It is an interesting topic, and I would like to see some data.

    This number would particularly interest me: the number of folks commissioned each year vs. total college graduates and vs. total Ivy League and Business school graduates (service academy, ocs, ROTC, etc.).

    Obviously what Rep Rangel is getting at is his idea that the services are far too under-represented by children of the wealthy (not just the middle-class, which I will define as a a family income of under $200K, no matter the size of the family or the location).

    My assumption here is that most of the folks who enlist do so as an option instead of college (given the relative low cost of state funded schools), for a variety of reasons (patriotism, learning a technical trade, earning benefits for future college, among others).

    My assumption is also that folks seek a commission due to patriotism, payback for education funding, learn leadership, etc.

    I still think that mandatory civil/community/national service is a good idea.

    Perhaps the military doesn’t collect the family income background data is to avoid exactly this kind of non-factual debate?

  • Eagle1

    Lots of data in the Heritage analysis, which is linked to in the post.

  • Eagle1

    And yet more analyis of the analysis here: “So 50 percent of the enlisted recruits (i.e., not including the officers’ corps) come from families in the top 40 percent of the income distribution, while only 10 percent come from the bottom 20 percent. It is worth noting that the income information here is not perfect: the data do not include actual family income for each recruit, but rather use the median household income of the recruit’s home census tract. But still, one look at that graph tells you that the conventional image of a military full of poor kids doesn’t reflect the reality.

    “These trends are even more pronounced in the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (R.O.T.C.) program,” reads the report, “in which 40 percent of enrollees come from the wealthiest neighborhoods — a number that has increased substantially over the past four years” (i.e., since the September 11 attacks).”

  • Jay


    Still not sure of the data, as Heritage has an agenda…very likely collecting only that data that bolsters it.

    I find it interesting by the data that is shown that they 75% of the recruits come from neighborhoods with (is it median salary levels?) of 65K or less.

    I don’t know what the median family income level is, but that isn’t a whole lot to raise a family on (2+ children).

    Interesting breakout of the income quintiles, as well. The last one — 65-253K? Why such a large range when the other ones are a smaller (much smaller) range?

    I am still curious as to the percentages from 500K+ families as well.

  • Eagle1

    A quintile represents one-fifth of the population. 1/5 live in neighborhoods where the incomes are 65K and above. 1/5 live in neighborhoods where the incomes range from 0 -33,000, etc.
    “In 2007, the median annual household income rose 1.3% to $50,233.00 according to the Census Bureau.[3]The real median earnings of men who worked full time, year-round climbed between 2006 and 2007, from $43,460 to $45,113. For women, the corresponding increase was from $33,437 to $35,102.” According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household_income_in_the_United_States

  • Spade

    FOD Detector: “According to the National Priorities Project (NPP), the Army’s top 20 recruiting areas had lower-than-national median incomes, 12 had higher poverty rates, and 16 were non-metropolitan.”

    Didn’t you already decry that kind of data collection in the topic?

  • http://cdrsalamander@hotmail.com CDR Salamander

    I told you not to feed the trolls. See what you get

  • Eagle1

    Thanks, Sal, for the timely reminder…

  • Spade


    Sir, if I didn’t feed the trolls then how would I amuse myself at work?

  • http://fredfryinternational.blogspot.com/ FFry

    What an interesting thread.

    Funny, one thing not mentioned is that if Mr. Rangel is interested in proportionality, then he should look at Congress itself. Long-term seat-warmers like himself should accept term-limit rules for Congress. This way no one person gets a disproportionate amount of time representing the people. This will result in Congress being better linked to the communities they represent.

    Here is the problem, not forcing millions of Americans into military service.

  • FOD Detector

    Not a deep thought, FFry.

    Term limits aren’t the answer to the problem you perceive. If you have a Senator or a Representative who is doing a great job, why would you want wish to arbitrarily remove him or her after X years? If he or she is doing a lousy job, they have these things called “elections.”

    You really should look into campaign financing instead.

    A much bigger problem than using America’s disadvantaged classes as a mercenary force to support foreign misadventures.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “A much bigger problem than using America’s disadvantaged classes as a mercenary force to support foreign misadventures.”

    You gotta be kidding me. I would expect a statement like that from a Bolshevik labor organizer, but not in a thoughtful debate.

  • FOD Detector

    URR: Don’t quit your day job speed-dialing Rush.

    There’s not a prettier way to put it. Foreign misadventures are much easier to get entangled in if the ones making the sacrifices are largely poor. It’s about as close to an immutable fact as occurs in politics.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    The Eugene Debs version of politics, anyway.

  • Bill

    Odd thing this..of all the many young men and woman that have served in the armed services from my area over the last decade or so…literally zero even come even close to matching any description that would include ‘poor, disadvantaged’ or anything even close. Same goes for all the sailors that I have worked with at sea as we worked the bugs ou of the ‘Sea Fighter’ for example, although I did come to know a couple who were looking to gain citizenship s a consequence of their service. They must keep those poor wretches well hidden indeed.

  • Jay


    Even more odd, some of my sailors did. I got to know them, and once they feel comfortable opening up to you, let’s just say the A-gang was a step up above BTs, but not by much. (Ooooooohhhhh…I can see what kind of a storm that remark is going to start…lol)

    Having done joint duty with the Army a few years back, LOTS of enlisted folks came from very humble beginnings (call it poor, call it disadvantaged, call it low income, etc.).

  • Bill


    I don’t find it odd or surprising that many of humble means or origins take the opportunities offered by military service. That I didn’t personally meet them or know them well enough to ‘categrize’ them as such during my various stints at sea in their company was in no way intended to become a broad-brush assertion on my part. I’ll even grant that, for some, it may be the only way ‘out’ that was ever available to them.

    My intended point was simply that it is obviously not as simple as some want to paint it; i.e “we are sending an underclass to fight on foreign soil because they don’t really matter anyway.Expendable.” BS. If that were even remotely true then a) nobody from my rural, but not poor, area would have ever enlistd in the first place (yet so many did…some re-upping and serving as many as three tours in the sandboxes) and, b) the men and women I know would not have returned with so much pride in their service time,so complimentary of their fellow men and women in arms, and with so little bad to say about the government that sent them on the mission they were assigned.

  • FOD Detector

    Bill: I’m thinking of a number between one and one thousand; since you’re so good at mindreading, would you tell us that number?

    It is a fact the poor and disadvantaged are not represented well as a political constituency. There really aren’t a whole bunch of firms on K Street serving the interests of borderline poverty clients. Groups that don’t enjoy power as a political entity very often wind up holding the short end of the stick.

    As we’ve recently seen, with the ascendancy of neo-conservatism, there is a belief by some that the US periodically “needs to pick up some small, crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.”

    As a result, such foreign misadventures are undertaken with some measure of public support. Such support is possible because the vast majority of the public is unaffected by the effort. OTOH, if the public did have a personal stake in the matter, such misadventures would more carefully be considered.

  • RickWilmes

    FOD Detector Says:

    As a result, such foreign misadventures are undertaken with some measure of public support. Such support is possible because the vast majority of the public is unaffected by the effort. OTOH, if the public did have a personal stake in the matter, such misadventures would more carefully be considered.


    I find it a little bit disingenuous to think that the “vast majority of the public are unaffected by such efforts.” In fact the opposite is true.

    Maybe a reminder of what George Bush said in his 2002 State of the Union address is in order. Referring to Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, Bush said the following,

    “States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world,” Bush warned. “We’ll be deliberate; yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events while dangers gather. I will not stand by as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.” (Fiasco, p. 35)

    The vast majority of Americans have recognized that Iraq has been a mistake. Their one peaceful course of action to correct such a mistake has been to vote out those individuals who have failed to recognize their errors. Just because “America is at the mall” does not mean they are not “effected” by the effort.

    I’m in the process of preparing a comment on the subject of the draft, but until I get that finished I want to state my disagreement over the notion that the public does not have a personal stake in the matter. Such a statement is outright false.