Why won't they join?
Come join the party
Army's recruitment crisis deepens
May 26, 2005
BY ROBERT NOVAK SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
Retired Army Lt. Col. Charles Krohn got himself in trouble with his superiors as a Pentagon civilian public affairs official during the first 3-1/2 years of the Bush administration by telling the truth. He is still at it in private life. He says not to blame the military recruiters for the current recruiting ''scandal.'' Blame the war.
''Army recruiting is in a death spiral, through no fault of the Army,'' Krohn told me. Always defending uniformed personnel, he resents hard-pressed recruiters being attacked for offering unauthorized benefits to make quotas. In a recent e-mail sent to friends (mostly retired military), Krohn complained that the ''Army is having to compensate for a problem of national scope.''
The Army's dilemma is maintaining an all-volunteer service when volunteering means going in harm's way in Iraq. The dilemma extends to national policy. How can the United States maintain its global credibility against the Islamists, if military ranks cannot be filled by volunteers and there is no public will for a draft?
Krohn's e-mail describes the problem: ''Consider the implications of being unable to find sufficient volunteers, as seen by our adversaries. Has the United States lost its will to survive? What's happened to the Great Satan when so few are willing to fight to defend the country? Surely bin Laden et al are making this argument, telling supporters victory is just around the corner if they are a bit more patient. And if they're successful, the energy sources in the Mideast may be within their grasp.''
In contrast, Krohn is a lifelong Republican who actively supported George W. Bush's presidential candidacy in 2000. He specified in his e-mail that ''I'm not now blaming'' President Bush or Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for the situation. ''We have a problem that transcends politics,'' Krohn added.
That means the problem goes beyond mechanics of recruiting and the details of volunteer service and is found in the war itself. Paraphrasing Rumsfelds' comment about going into battle with the Army we had, Charles Krohn said: ''The war we have now is not the war we started off with. It's much more serious.''
The root of this is simple: Bush never asked anyone for anything. Now, it's too late. If he had asked for enlistments after 9/11, he would have gotten them. He would have gotten that personal sacrifice. Now, it is far too late. The blame lies directly on Bush and Rumsfeld. They picked this war and they will have to deal with the consequences of it. Which is basically the end of American imperial power.
But the problem is that this isn't defending the country. It's a colonial war. And no one is running to fight that war.
Soldiers in a democracy can only be asked for so much. If this was about Afghanistan, these issues would not exist. No one is going to want their child to die or be crippled by an Iraqi IED.
The Army is running out of time. Months, not years. By next year, this will degrade the Army.
Recruiting abuses come from a reality that Wal Mart is now more appealing than two tours of Iraq. No one blows up an IED in Wal Mart.
Add on to that the problems vets have had upon return, and the Army is simply unappealing. It's even unappealing to Air Force and Navy personnel. The Blue to Green program is a failure, so much so you don't even hear about it.
posted by Steve @ 11:22:00 AM