A New Moral Compact

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by bruno, Dec 4, 2012.

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  1. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    article from Foreign Policy last month by LTG (Ret) Dave Barno is worth contemplating. I don't particularly like LTG Barno as I believe he is a truly arrogant guy (and one in many ways was the "Toxic"leader that the Army CofS has made such a crusade of eliminating - demeaning to subordinates and "right because his rank said so and you are a colonel and can't argue back " kind of a guy). But- he is undeniable a bright guy and I think this article does identify a real strain and concern for the US and its military- it's well worth reading.
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/11/09/a_new_moral_compact?page=0,0

    The question is though- how do you have a professional Army and yet have a draftee Army? And if you don't have a draftee Army- how do you ensure that the population is involved in the consequences of the decisions that they make?
     
  2. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    I wonder if it's possible to have both. Let's say we continue with our present force structure. Let's further say when there is a significant deployment (some trigger based on the number of troops deployed to somewhere like Iraq - since we don't declare war anymore) that 1% of the nation's 18 year old males are automatically called up. We could call them the surge. Let's say they train and eventually deploy as a unit (I'll leave the unit size to other creative minds). I think that puts people's skin in the game since they don't know if its their kid who would be called up. I wonder if that does the job. Just daydreaming I suppose... but it also takes care of how we expand and contract our forces. Hmmmm.
     
  3. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    I don't think your suggestion is not feasible. The modern warfare has made quality more important than quantity. Simply, it will take too long to train "draftees" and we will have to steal the leadership from the force existing structure. There is a book written by my squadron commander that discussed how US acheived creating 100 divisions during WW II. The approach was something like creating a division by breaking a exisitng division to provide shells for new divisions. Of course, as more divisions were created the quality of leaderhip suffered.

    The exiting model of National Garud and Reserves worked for GWOT to expand our forces.
     
  4. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    The other question.... do you really want to be a professional soldier in a draftee army? I know there are a large number of draftees who have provided great service to the country, but given the choice between working with someone who wanted to work with me or someone who was forced to work with me, I think the willing participant is the easier play.

    I also don't agree with the "moral hazard" argument. Is he suggesting that ALL fight, because I hate to break it to the bright general but it has NEVER been that way.... ever (except the Horse people in Game of Thrones of course.... they all fight).


    It may also be good to remind the bright general, that our men and women in uniform agreed to possibly "pay the price'. Suggesting otherwise devalues their decisions.
     
  5. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Interestingly enough- LTG Barno was reputed to be no fan of the reserve presence in Afghanistan while he was the CG there (for example he apparently was fairly vocal about how the CA presence and the PRTs were virtually all Reserve affairs). Apparently he has had something of a change of heart?
    But his principal concern is a valid one. The vast majority of the country's investment in its decisions on going to war or not seems mostly a monetary one as opposed to a flesh and blood one. And the professional military - to include the Guard & Reserve Componenets - are a far smaller % of the population than ever before and are bearing a pretty significant and long term burden that has really impacted the morale of the force. There is no way that the country would have supported an 12 year commitment of forces to a War that was being fought by draftees- IMHO the NCA would have been forced to refine a strategy and operational concept that would have had our presence ended long ago. The fact that that hasn't occurred seems to me to show just how divorced most people are from direct contact with the war.
    And while no system would guarantee that everyone has "skin in the game" - and the ruling elite is always going to be underrepresented in the ranks of riflemen on the ground, but there seems to be a far higher disconnect now than in the past.
     
  6. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    What would the financial burden be on the U.S. with so many extra service members? Veterans make up 10% of the population. I would love to know how much of the U.S. population is not physically qualified to serve.
     
  7. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    There is no viable alternative as we cannot assign a finite value to "flesh and blood.

    There is a section in my favoriate book Starship Troopers. It is a discussion when a country restarts a war when another country holds POWs from a previous conflict (or something close) - 1 POW, 100 POWs, 1000 POWs.

    Restart a war to get 100 POWs back that will result in more than 100 soldiers getting killed. Why is lives 100 POWs more important than lives of 100 soldiers that will get killed trying to free these 100 POWs?
     
  8. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    don't forget about other qualifications to serve - no criminal conviction, no drug use, at least GED/High School graduation, and etc.

    http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/PDF/unable_to_serve.pdf

    according to the report above

    "Unfortunately, many young Americans who want to join cannot. Startling statistics released by the Pentagon show that 75 percent of young people ages 17 to 24 are currently unable to enlist in the United States military. Three of the most common barriers for potential recruits are failure to graduate high school, a criminal record, and physical fitness issues, including obesity."
     
  9. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    So if 75% is unfit to serve, and 10% have already served (although I'm guessing a portion of that 10% is also unfit to serve), how much more skin is actually available to be in the "game".

    Either you're going to sign up fat bodies (and explain to the volunteers why they still have physical standards) or you won't.

    I have nothing against admirals or generals, but they frequently have less than impressive grasps of civilian culture, and at times, even their junior ranks.
     
  10. osdad

    osdad Member

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    It's pretty clear a draft won't work. As we seem to want to see every decision on a dollar basis, how about a war tax; separate and distinct from normal income tax and separate from the normal Pentagon budget. Not taken out of your refund or added to your payment; everybody writes a check.

    (Not sure how you'd separate war costs from normal costs but those are bookkeeping details.)
     
  11. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    We already write a check, it's called taxes. So we want to punish the people because their elected government goes to war, but having that elected government take more of their money? Seems like an incentive to "declare war", and collect a tax to make ends meet and fill a $16,400,000,000,000 debt (ok ok, let's add another $50,000,000,000,000 to show the unfunded liabilities too).

    Maybe that's what the president and Congressional Dems are looking for. I'm sure we'd soon see a declared "War on Drugs", "War on Obesity", "War of Poverty"... etc etc etc.
     
  12. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    If you want a real peek into the world of young people trying to enlist in the military, take a look at the goarmy.com discussion board. The board is filled with young people asking why they can't enlist because they were told they don't meet the weight regulations, many others have past criminal and drug charges that keep them out, it's sad to read sometimes.

    Any country that fears we may increase our military strength need only to Purchase the Hostess Corp. and keep our store shelves stocked, that will take care of itself.
     
  13. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Don't need to, deal with soldiers that received waivers during the height of GWOT to enlist time to time in my NG unit.
     
  14. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Talk about asymmetric warfare! :biggrin:
     
  15. Packer

    Packer Member

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    Actually most don't due to a brilliant government idea called payroll deduction. If individuals actually had to write a quarterly check we would have a populace with a better understanding of what these so called government services actually cost and the government would never have grown to its current size.
     
  16. Spud

    Spud BGO

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    I think we are getting close to breakthrough here. How about a $1/gallon War Tax on gasoline? After 60 days of combat troops in action, with or without a declaration of war, the tax kicks in. When the boys come home, it shuts off.

    Think about it.....everybody would be affected and prices on everything would jump to boot. The purpose would be to have a pay-as-you-go-war with the whole population involved and committed. No deficit spending debt to hand the kids who would fight it either. Please no applause, it is so embarrassing :smile:
     
  17. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    Your math is a little bit off...

    Current estimates of gas tax yields is $1.8 Billion/yr for each additional penny of gas tax, when multiplied out to the dollar is $180 Billion (let's discount that 10% for the drop in demand - somewhat inelastic in the short term - to $162 Billion/yr which if my memory is correct is about the high water mark for what we were spending in both wars.

    But I agree in principle that government should raise revenue for our overseas operations based upon the value received. The cost of our "cheap" gasoline is a significant portion of the Pentagon budget (those ships in the Persian Gulf are not cheap). I think there is a fuel tax rate that would buy enough military stability in the oil-rich regions of the world is calculable, but I personally don't have the numbers.

    Getting back to the original thought here though - not the treasure but the blood - I get the idea that draftees are not necessarily an effective fighting force, but in some ways that is entirely the point here. If we actually had universal military service (for those who meet physical standards - summer in fat-farm before basic for those too overweight and in military rehab for those smoking the wrong stuff) and sent all our 18-year-olds to basic and put them in the reserves until they were 22 (let the college students serve their training time in the summer), we'd take more casualties in these "wars of convenience" but they would come from the population as a whole which would focus attention on how much "convenience" (i.e. cheap gas) we can afford (in blood), considering that reservists are getting called up for these wars.
     
  18. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Oh, I REALLY like this post! :thumb:
     
  19. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    The RAND estimates on differing aspects of protecting oil supplies in 2009 are here:
    http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2009/RAND_MG838.pdf

    For protecting Persian gulf oil supplies, RAND estimated we spend about $83 B a year or between 12% and 15% of the defense budget.
     
  20. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Good point, because when I think of people who lead us into protracted and bloody wars, I think "democrats."
     
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