Wednesday, October 06, 2004

BlogClip: Hack on Rumsfeld and the coming draft

From Vox Day's blog -- an excerpt of Col. David Hackworth's latest column, with comments. My comment was too long for the form, so I'm posting it below

Here's the article on Vox Popoli

The good news first: Right now, the Selective Service Administration is in a "be ready, but nothing's happening" posture. There was no money in last year's budget for training new draft board members. So far, my understanding is that there's no money for doing it THIS year either. And there's certainly no money appropriated yet for opening up the additional facilities which would be needed to process and train massive numbers of conscripts.

How am I in a position to know this? I'm one of those new draft board members, and I have a voice mail message on my phone from the head of the board telling me so.

Now, the bad news:

* The "news" about recruiting keeps bouncing around. One week they're turning people away, the next week the National Guard is 10% below quota and soldiers at Fort Carson are being threatened with transfer to Iraq-bound units if they don't re-enlist to keep up lagging unit quotas.

* Earlier this year, Secretary of Donald Rumsfeld announced his intention to expand the Army by 30,000 in 2005. I understand that that number has subsequently gone up, but I don't know what it's gone up TO. I did hear John Kerry say that he wanted an expansion of 40,000. I think that 30,000 is a reasonable baseline number to work with.

* As of March, at least 11,000 and possibly as many as 18,000 military personnel had been medically evacuated from Iraq. I've had trouble finding a firm number for that statistic as of now; I've seen 30,000 mentioned by I don't place great stock in the sources. Once again, let's go with a conservative number: 20,000. And let's make the reasonable assumption that someone sick enough, or badly wounded enough, to be moved out of theatre will not be available for subsequent overseas deployment.

* President Bush plainly stated that if the commanders in Iraq called for more troops, they'd get more troops. And last week, General Abazaid plainly stated that he needed more troops.

* The British experience in Malaysia and Northern Ireland, as quoted in a RAND Corporation report last year, indicates that the minimum realistic ratio of troops to population for pacification is 20 troops per thousand population. For Iraq's 24 million, that's 480,000 troops.

Right now, the US has 140,000 troops in Iraq, and they are 90% of "coalition" troops, for a total of 154,000. The Bush administration claims it has trained 100,000 Iraqi troops. More credible estimates fall below 50,000, but let's go with the administration's claim.

Any way you cut it -- even if the best estimate of indigenous troops is correct and even if those troops are as trustworthy and effective as their American counterparts, we are 230,000 troops light on the ground in Iraq to be able to pacify the place.

And any way you cut it, we are 50,000 troops light -- 30,000 in growth, 20,000 medically surveyed out -- against the DoD's own force size projection for 2005, even to keep the troops we have in Iraq NOW adequately rotated.

The math ain't too difficult. In order to pursue the Bush administration's agenda for Iraq, America has to squat and poop 280,000 new soldiers.

And they can't do it over a two-year period, which is the typical path for a volunteer army (enlist prior to senior year in high school; boot camp and MOS training, integration into a unit in the US, etc., totalling up to a year, after graduation).

What they have to do is find a way to start pumping out soldiers in 15 weeks and getting their asses to Iraq. How do you do that?

It's simple: You send the 18-year-old high school graduate an induction notice. 30 days later he reports for boot camp. Six weeks after that, he's done with boot camp. Four more weeks, he graduates a basic infantry school. He gets a week of home leave either after boot camp or after MOS school ... and then he ships out for Baghdad.

It is my considered opinion that the Bush administration is just trying to hold the line in Iraq until after the election before beginning this process. I could be wrong, of course, but no matter how I run the numbers, it comes down to a) withdrawal from Iraq or b) conscription.

Naturally, I favor option a.

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