Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Why Not Abolish the Draft?

If you are male and you were born after 1953, you have never been at risk for being drafted. The last no-shit draft lottery was held in 1972 for men born in 1953. Of those born that year, only 646 were drafted. My recollection is that all of them were offered discharges around mid-1973.

The draft is a relic of a time when wars were fought by masses of soldiers who had received a few months of training (if that) and then were sent into combat. That was a time when wars were fought (or planned to be) between nations that had roughly equal military abilities. Wars of those types were known for chewing up men and materiel on a very large scale.[1]

As a nation, we aren't very damn likely to get into that type of war. The navy sure doesn't think so, or they wouldn't be buying those littoral combat ships and calling them "frigates". There isn't the industrial base to turn out masses of tanks, fighters or bombers that would be lost in combat. Hell, during Vietnam, the usage of bombs was so high that the ones being shipped from the States late n the war were still warm from the pouring of their explosive cores.[2]

Even when we had a functioning industrial base and we could make damn near anything, the first two years after we entered the Second World War were more of "hold and annoy" strategy until sufficient forces were built up to do something.

It would also take a span of time to build training facilities for a large influx of draftees. The Navy and the Air Force each only have one boot camp. The Marines have two. The Army has four. During the last mass-mobilization war, the Army alone had over 110 boot camps, though to be fair, the Air Force was part of the Army then. It's a fair bet that the training done was as minimal as it could be, given the need to increase throughput.

The point is that even having every man (and maybe woman) registered is almost useless. After registration, there is no requirement to keep the Selective Service people updated on one's whereabouts. Further, everyone has a social security number and if they have a job, the IRS knows where they are (or recently have been).

The shell of the draft system could still be there, with a requirement that, upon activation of the draft, that everybody register for it-- just as was done during both world wars.

For now, registering for the draft is a useless paper drill. It should be abolished most ricky tick.
[1] One brief example: During the Second World War, the U.S. built about 10,000 B-25s. Maybe 2,000 were ever operational at one time. Most were lost from being shot up, shot down or crashes.
[2] This is not a new problem, see "The 1915 Shell Crisis", when the Royal Artillery Corps was so short of heavy shells that they could fire their guns four times a day.


w3ski said...

The only lottery I ever won with. My number was like 262 and they took up to number 260 that year, something like that anyway.

Anonymous said...

I was born in 1953. But I wanted to be in the Army, and was in ROTC when the 1972 lottery was conducted. We had a party in the dorm lounge to listen to the numbers being drawn. People got drunk. Fear was in the faces of guys that got low numbers.

My best friend since 2nd grade (and to this day! ) got # 35, so I got him to switch to my college and join ROTC. Got him a deferment, also away from living with his parents. He told me it changed his life to the good, ended up with a masters in Business and made it to Vice President in a top 10 firm.

But one of my buddies from the HS football team didn't go to college. Got a very low number (~ 10). So he joined the Navy. Really was enjoying it.

He was a ammo handler in the #2 turret of the USS Newport News when a faulty fuze on an 8" shell detonated before the breach closed. 20 died.

His name is on the Wall on the DC Mall with the other 58,000 + KIA.

His name was Stanley G. Pilot Jr.

Jack the Cold Warrior.

Tod Germanica said...

Yea, my number for 1951 was 315 or something in 1969 so I'd have never been drafted. But I saw the US regular Army as a way out of town and a chance to finally get laid-that part worked. I knew Vietnam wasn't much of a war, but hell, it was the only war we had. I agree the draft is long obsolete.

LRod said...

That's certainly an interesting premise that completely misses the effect the draft had on us older boomers. I was born in 1946. From before high school graduation (1964) the Sword of Damocles hung over the head of every male of my era.

I got my college deferment, but shortly after I graduated, I got my first invitation to the AFEES (Armed Forces Entrance Examination Station, step two--after registration--in the draft process) in January 1968. My status at that point was murky because I'd sustained a leg injury which should have been disqualifying, but they said, "oh, well".

My second brush was the actual "Greeting" letter, arriving after I'd been in Flight Data School with the FAA for about four weeks. And the very solicitous and cooperative local board, 350 miles away, would not assist me in any way, including changing the reporting to a more local facility (in Jacksonville, of all places, site of three major naval bases). My leg injury gave me a temporary reprieve after I'd moved house to attend. Had to move house again a couple of days later to finish my training.

My third brush was in 1971, after I was already a GS-12 journeyman controller. I don't remember all the circumstances, but I was able to get the physical at NIP, so it was local, and again, my leg injury was disqualifying.

I wasn't totally relying on the injury to keep from being drafted, both my facility and I crafted appeals based on the FAA requirement for my services in concert with national defense given all the military traffic we handled (there were 17 military installations within our area).

So, this youngster, born before 1953, had a very different view of the draft and its ramifications. My brother, and four of my cousins, as well as countless classmates, all got to finish second in the Southeast Asia War Games, most of them compliments of the draft.

ZJX, ORD, ZAU retired

BadTux said...

I have a copy of my grandfather's draft registration from 1917. Before then there was no draft, and no registration, yet it didn't prevent the military from registering and drafting millions of doughboys to throw into the European meat grinder. The chances of ever having to do that again are small, but if we *had* to do it, we're certainly better prepared than in 1917 to do it, given all the databases that pretty much every single person is in today.

Comrade Misfit said...

I have a copy of my grandfather's draft registration from 1917.

My sister has that, too. He called my uncles his "weatherstripping", because they kept him out of the draft.