Let Loose the Dogs of War

For all those not aware (hippies, those with their heads under a rock, etc), the miliary has been recalling thousands of soldiers under a program known as “Total Force.” The primary reasoning behind Total Force is that it’s a pity to waste a well trained soldier who has completed ou service. Total Force does kind of suck for the service people involved, who might have been planning on living actual lives when they got out of the military and now have them put on hold again.

The other reasoning for Total Force, of course, is that military enlistment is at an all time low. The military is hurting for a few good men and it’s retaining soldiers at any cost, including forcing them to return for multiple tours of duty without breaks and psychological counseling. And who can blame America’s youth for not enlisting? There’s strong evidence that the military is not fulfilling promises made, which makes it difficult for civilians to be terribly interested in fighting and dying in the desert, lacking proper equipment and supplies. Even ROTC is an alarmingly low level–what’s in it for us? It’s no good having college paid for if you’re dead.

Large numbers of soldiers are dissenting with Total Force, attempting to defect to Canada or get out of additional service in any way possible. Lieutenant Ehren Watada is challenging the legality of the war in Iraq in military court this week. At first he refused to deploy back to Iraq, requesting a posting elsewhere in the war on terror. The military declined and he attempted to get a discharge. Now he’s in military court doing something we all wish, as civilians, that we could do: challenging the military on its own turf.

Civilians may not be aware of the ramifications of Total Force and other military policies, so I’m going to take a moment to spell it out for you: the military is gearing up for involuntary conscription, a polite word for the draft. 18-25 year old readers of both sexes should be concerned. Very concerned. A military draft is the first step in a wider draft. The military is running out of manpower–after all the service people are recalled, who do you think they’ll be contacting next?

We are currently fighting a war on two (known) fronts: Afghanistan and Iraq. Yeah, remember Afghanistan? People are still stationed there…a lot of them. It’s likely that a third front is going to arise within a year, with the invasion of Iran or Syria. We cannot sustain this at current enlistment levels–something has to give. I’ll give you a hint: it won’t be Mr. Bush. The military has put the machine in motion, quietly.

Males 18-25 years old are required to register with the Selective Service, which creates a database of accessible manpower. Failure to register can result in a heavy fine. It also results in ineligibility for federal student aid and many other government assistance programs. You can probably avoid registering for the service if you are wealthy–but the poor have no alternative. The class war applies in many surprising places. President Clinton told Congress in 1994 that: “Maintaining the Selective Service System and draft registration provides a hedge against unforeseen threats and a relatively low cost ‘insurance policy’ against our underestimating the maximum level of threat we expect our Armed Forces to face.” Sure. It also maintains a database of available cannon fodder, which is awfully convenient when you are losing a war on multiple fronts.

So here’s how this is going to work, kids.

The military is building up forces in the Middle East through extensive deployment policies. Before reaching out and touching any more Middle Eastern nations, I suspect that a large scale draft will be instituted so that we will have sufficiently trained forces in time. Right now, women are exempt from the draft: expect that to change. Finally, equality between the sexes!

First, Congress and the President must authorize a draft. Given the current state of Congress, I find it likely that a draft would be approved before the mid-term elections. Therefore, I think it’s highly likely that we will see an attempt to put a draft in effect during November…perhaps after the election, to keep the issue out of the polls, but before January when the new House sits. Congress will pass a law, and Mr. Bush will sign it. Then the real fun begins.

The lottery begins with 20 year olds, and drafts 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25 year olds sequentially. 18 and 19 year olds will be called if necessary. But readers 20-22 are probably most at risk in a draft situation. All other parts of the selective service, including administrative divisions, reserves, and National Guard, would also be activated. With war comes paperwork.

After being called up, draftees are evaluated for mental, “moral,” and physical health and graded accordingly. After the evaluation is complete, the registrant has 10 days to fight it before he’s shipped off. Therefore, appeals boards will also be activated to process the anticipated large number of appeals. Hint: you don’t want to be 1A–almost anything else will do.

The Selective Service, by Federal mandate, must deliver soldiers within 193 days of activation of a draft. The groundwork has been lain: soon the trap will be sprung.

What you can do if you object to the draft:

Vote wisely, and indicate your opposition of a draft to your representative.

Consider registration as a conscientious objector, and gather your supporting evidence now. There are two types of objectors–those who object to all forms of military service, and those who are willing to serve in noncombatant positions. Depending upon your stance on the military, you may wish to consider qualifying as 1AO, because your appeal is more likely to be approved. Desk jobs may be boring, but sometimes you can coax the military into paying for advanced career training, which might come in handy later.

Ministerial students and ministers are exempted from service, as are certain individuals of dual or alien nationality. But don’t count on that last–even illegal aliens are expected to register. You may be exempt if you hold dual citizenship with a nation which already has a national service program, or if you are a dual citizen with an enemy of the state (such as North Korea, Iraq, or Iran).

Sometimes you can have a conscription deferred based upon hardship, but deferments do end eventually.

The question you must ask yourself is this: how much do you want to support the war machine?

If you are strongly opposed to military service, you may want to consider emigration. But be warned that many countries are nervous about an influx of American immigrants, and you may not find yourself welcome, especially if you are lacking in a socially useful skill set. Establishing dual citizenship may be easier, and it would allow you to defect when the time came.

If you are disabled, even partially, you want to make sure that this is clearly established with the selective service.

Fleeing service is always a choice: of course, so is violent revolution.

What’s it going to be, kids?