Does Callup Of Marines Mean U.S. Is Closer To Draft?

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The “D” word is surfacing again.

Speculation is increasing that there is no way the United States can continue to “stay the course” the way President George Bush is insisting without some kind of major adjustment in supplying people to serve in the military.

The catalyst is the move to recall Marines to active duty:
The Marine Corps said Tuesday that it would begin calling thousands of Marines back to active-duty service on an involuntary basis to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan the latest sign that U.S. armed forces are under strain and a potential signal of the growing unpopularity of the Iraq war among young veterans.

Marine commanders will call up formerly active-duty service members now classified as reservists after the Corps failed to find enough volunteers among their emergency reserve pool to fill needed jobs in combat zones. The call-ups will begin in several months, summoning as many as 2,500 reservists at a time to serve for a year or more.

The military has had to scramble to meet the manpower requirements of the Iraq war, which have not abated in the face of a continuing insurgency and growing civil strife…

     

One prominent military group says it’s time to fasten your seat belt because the U.S. seems poised to go back to a draft:

An Iraq War veterans group says the call-up of thousands of Marines from the Individual Ready Reserve, announced by the Pentagon today, is “one of the last steps before resorting to a draft.”

“This move should serve as a wake-up call to America,” said Jon Soltz, an Army captain who served in Iraq and heads the group VoteVets.org, which raises funds for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans running for Congress. “Today’s announcement that thousands of Marines in the Individual Ready Reserve will be called back to go to Iraq is proof that our military is overextended, and there is no plan for victory in Iraq.”

While the Pentagon has repeatedly maintained the armed forces have met their recruiting and retention goals, Soltz says, “Today’s actions speak louder than words.”

The IRR are reservists, who have returned to civilian life, don’t drill on a regular basis and prior to the Iraq war were rarely called to active duty. The Army has been dipping into their IRR pool since shortly after the beginning of the war, but today the Marine Corps said they also planned to call thousands of these traditionally last resort troops back to active duty.

“If this call-up directly fed into a plan for victory and bringing our troops home, we could take some solace. But there is no plan. We must demand a detailed, military victory strategy in Iraq, which will get our troops out of harm’s way and relieve the strain on our active duty troops,” said Stolz.

The Christian Science Monitor has a great round up on this story which contains this tidbit:

The BBC reports that while only 2,500 of the 60,000 inactive Marines who comprise the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) will be recalled now, the authorization signed last month by President Bush is open-ended and will stop only when the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) has ended, a sign that many thousands more could be called back to active duty in the coming months and years.
If the BBC is correct, it would mean (a)that it does seem to be a “backdoor draft,” (b)you can expect military recruitment numbers to go way down because many young people won’t want to sign up if they feel there is in effect no trustworthy termination date of their projected time on active duty.

What’s most glaring about these stories is what it highlights about the poor planning of this war that the U.S. is coming up LITERALLY short-handed…a failure that could be justifiably laid at the doorstep of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

But the failure here is double fold: there is also a major political failure that has been bluntly blasted by Republican Senator John McCain, who opposes a pullout from Iraq at this time:
Republican Sen. John McCain, a staunch defender of the Iraq war, on Tuesday faulted the Bush administration for misleading Americans into believing the conflict would be “some kind of day at the beach.”

The potential 2008 presidential candidate, who a day earlier had rejected calls for withdrawing U.S. forces, said the administration had failed to make clear the challenges facing the military.

“I think one of the biggest mistakes we made was underestimating the size of the task and the sacrifices that would be required,” McCain said. “Stuff happens, mission accomplished, last throes, a few dead-enders. I’m just more familiar with those statements than anyone else because it grieves me so much that we had not told the American people how tough and difficult this task would be.”

Those phrases are closely associated with top members of the Bush administration, including the president.

Bush stood below a banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished” on May 1, 2003 after the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime. The war has continued since then, with the death of more than 2,600 members of the U.S. military. Vice President Dick Cheney said last year that the Iraqi insurgency was “in its final throes.”

The Arizona senator said that talk “has contributed enormously to the frustration that Americans feel today because they were led to believe this could be some kind of day at the beach, which many of us fully understood from the beginning would be a very, very difficult undertaking.”
Part of the problem? A general lack of AUTHENTIC Congressional oversight. If you look at this and so many issues you have to conclude: the administration has had a “day at the beach” when it came to tough Congressional questioning and authentic scrutiny due to one party controlling the entire show.

And a draft?

Many people now forget, but at the height of the Vietnam War’s campus anti-war protests some cynics suggested that if the draft was taken out of the political mix campus protests would decrease. Richard Nixon eventually axed the draft…and campus protests did decrease.

While many people who opposed the war truly opposed it, there were some who were less inclined to go out in the streets and angrily demonstrate once they were not themselves in danger of being sent over to fight it.

This is perhaps one reason why the “D” word also stands for a “dirty” political word because there is a general recognition that if the United States moved for a draft related to the Iraq war it would likely up the political ante in terms of the war’s already growing unpopularity.

However, if Marines are being called back into service the question then becomes: if this is not enough to satisfy the military’s staff requirements, and if due to this new policy recruitment suffers even more, then what is the NEXT STEP? Especially since President George Bush made it clear at his press conference earlier this week that he doesn’t intend to change policy on the war or start to substantially withdraw troops from Iraq while he’s President.


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