· The U.S. Army has acknowledged
that they are stretched thin and that finding new recruits
is challenging. They recently placed 300 new recruiters in
Bonuses for new recruits to the Army have risen by 67 percent
to a maximum of $10,000 and $15,000 for hard-to-fill specialties.
The extended tours of duty have made service less attractive
for both the regular armed forces, and particularly for the National
Guard and Reserves. To meet this year’s quota for enlistees,
the Army has sped up the induction of “delayed entry” recruits,
meaning they are already borrowing from next year’s quotas
in order to meet this year’s numbers.
· Reservists are now being called away for longer periods. In 2003,
President Bush dramatically extended the length of time for
the Guard and Reserves deployment in Iraq. Extended tours of up to
a year have become common.
In a further sign of a lack of adequate staffing, the armed forces
are now in the process of calling up members of the Individual
Ready Reserves. These are often older reservists usually waiting
retirement. They are typically in their mid-to-late forties,
and have not been on active duty and have not trained for some
time. Traditionally, they are only supposed to be called up during
a time of national emergency. In 2001, President Bush authorized
their call up but never rescinded this order even after he declared “Mission
Accomplished” in Iraq in May of 2003.
The Armed Forces are already chronically understaffed. In 2003,
General Eric Shinseki testified before Congress that an additional
50,000 troops would be needed beyond what the Bush Administration
said would be necessary to stabilize Iraq after the invasion.
The president ignored him. We do not have enough troops in Afghanistan
to be able to stabilize the country, as shown by the continual
putting off of elections well past their announced date. In an
effort to free up yet more troops in the coming years, we are
moving troops away from the Demilitarized Zone in Korea and reducing
the number of troops on the Korean Peninsula at a time when North
Korea poses more of a danger to the U.S.—not less. Because
of the president’s military adventurism, our armed forces
are under enormous pressure. The only place to go for more
troops is a draft.
· Selective service boards have already been notified that 20 year
olds and medical personnel will be called up first.
President Bush will be forced to decide whether we
can continue the current course in Iraq, which will
reinstatement of the draft. The Pentagon has objected
to a draft but, the president
has ignored other Pentagon recommendations in the
American families and young people are owed an explanation
about the president’s plans. Will the president withdraw
from some of our military commitments or will he reinstate
We need to know that before we vote, not afterwards.
Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, is the founder
of Democracy for America, a grassroots organization
progressive and fiscally responsible political
candidates. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org