Despite America's involvement in two wars, one of which is escalating rapidly
Americans are enlisting in record numbers; military recruiters have met
all their recruiting goals for the first time since the
abolition of the draft after Vietnam. "The military has not seen such
across-the-board successes since the all-volunteer force was
established in 1973," the Washington Post reports
. President Obama will need them all for his aggressive Afghanistan approach. But what does this mean for the troops enlisting?
- Relic of Iraq-Era Standard Loosening James Joyner points out
that standards dropped during the Iraq War's more desperate months.
"Recruiting naturally rises and falls in opposite cycles with the
civilian economy and the combination of easy availability of jobs in
the private sector and the near-certainty of deployment to an unpopular
war made it difficult from roughly 2004 to 2008. The decline in
casualties in Iraq combined with the economic slowdown has reversed
that trend," writes Joyner, who blogs regularly about the military at
Outside The Beltway. "It's quite likely a technicality. Maybe we've
previously fallen short a few people in one of 500 recruiting
categories. Perhaps we've got fewer goal categories now. Or maybe our
goals are in perfect harmony with the incentives for the first time
ever. (I suspect we've not quite raised our high school graduation,
weight, and drug standards to the levels they were during our most
recent flush period.)"
- National Guard's Dedication Shines Joyner suggests
that the National Guard being pulled into active duty, once derided as
a "back door draft," has strengthened its commitment. "During the
1990s, I took it as a given that the Reserve and National
Guard would not stand up to the heavy rotations they were suddenly
being subjected to. [...] That has changed radically in recent years
shockingly, the system stood up. Indeed, most studies I've seen show
retention is actually higher in the units that got deployed to war than
in those who stayed home," he writes. "Most nonetheless see it as
important work and take considerable pride in having undertaken it."
- Bribing Soldiers to Risk Death, Bankruptcy Gawker's Andrew Belonsky questions
the morality of enticing soldiers with bonus packages. "So, it sounds
like everyone wins: the armed services and the soldiers. So why do we
feel so dirty about the whole thing?" he asks. "Considering that Iraq
and Afghanistan have no definite end -- the latter of which will likely
get worse -- the fact that about 20% of military families
file for bankruptcy as the result of medical bills and 29% of homeless
people are veterans, these economic incentives smell like short-term
bribes offered to those in need. But, that's the price -- and cost -- of war."
- Bush Leaves, Soldiers Enlist Markos Moulitsas, founder of
liberal opinion site Daily Kos, jokes that former President Bush's
policies may have deterred enlisting. "Getting Bush out of office great for military recruitment," he tweets.
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