The Sensible Knave

"I do not see that we are further along today than where Hume left us. The Humean predicament is the human predicament." - W.V.O. Quine

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Why you shouldn’t expect a new military draft

There are many dire predictions to be found in some areas of the blogging world. Some already claim to see the writing on the wall: it is only a matter of time before our quaint experiment with an all-volunteer military comes to a close. Frequent recruitment shortfalls, heavy war casualties, declining morale, and the prospect of additional prolonged conflicts would all seem to indicate that a new military draft is necessary. Fortunately, dire predictions don’t always come to pass. Let’s consider why this one won’t.

If it really got to a point where only a draft could sustain military ranks at the levels we need under current conditions, the military would be more likely to reconsider its strategies. In Iraq and Afghanistan, our strategies and tactics are geared toward minimizing civilian casualties. That sort of approach has its costs. When you try harder to avoid hurting the good guys, you are less likely to hurt the bad guys. When you bomb a house, rather than an entire city block, your target is more likely to escape. Now, keeping collateral damage to a minimum makes using more ground troops necessary. The same thing goes for strategies that involve preserving and rebuilding infrastructure, and peacekeeping operations.

The military could change its strategies, reverting to something more like what we saw in the first Gulf War and the Kosovo operations. More heavy-handed strategies could decimate militant operations. Fortunately, our military leaders are unwilling to exact that price on innocents. But would you put that past anyone who would also be willing to revive the draft?