[Editor's Note: The bottom line of this artilce? A draft in
Spring of 2005 is INEVITABLE...Ken]
By David H. Hackworth <email@example.com>
December 8, 2004
We'll soon have 150,000 U.S. troops stuck in the ever-expanding
Iraqi quagmire, a number that will probably grow even larger before Iraq
holds elections presently scheduled for the end of January ·5.
Maintaining such a force is a logistical and personnel nightmare
for every grunt in Iraq. And according to several Pentagon number crunchers,
it? also driving the top brass bonkers.
Meanwhile the insurgents continue cutting our supply lines
and whacking our fighting platoons and supporters, who attrit daily as soldiers
and Marines fall to enemy shots, sickness or accidents. Empty platoons lose
fights, so these casualties have to be replaced ASAP.
Since this tragic war kicked off in March 2003, the United
States has evacuated an estimated 50,000 KIA, WIA and non-battle casualties
from Iraq back to the States ·leaving 50,000 slots that have had
to be filled.
The job of finding fresh bodies to keep our units topped off
falls mainly to the Army Recruiting Command. But the ?aking-quota·jazz
put out by the Recruiting Command and the Pentagon to hype their billion-dollar
recruiting effort, with its huge TV expenditure and big expansion of recruiters
during the past year, is pure unadulterated spin. Not that this is anything
new. The Command has a sorry reputation for using smoke and mirrors to cover
up poor performance.
Back, here? a snapshot of how little of our 1st Quarter mission
has been achieved,·says an Army recruiter. Look at it from a perspective
of a business releasing quarterly earnings information. To keep unit manning
levels up out in the field, especially in Iraq, there's no question our
recruiting mission is in serious trouble.
These are totals for the 41 USAREC (Recruiting Command) Battalions,
so these stats represent the USAREC mission accomplishment:
Regular Army Volume (all RA contracts):
Achieved: 12,703 (50.17 percent)
Army Reserve Volume:
Achieved: 3,206 (43.48 percent).
The Army National Guard is faring no better. A Guard retention
NCO says: The word is out on the streets of Washington, D.C. Do not join
the Guard. I see these words echoing right across the U.S.A.
By the end of this recruiting year, the Regular Army, Reserves
and Guard could fall short more than 50 percent of its projected requirement,
or about 60,000 new soldiers. And according to many recruiters, quality
recruits are giving way to mental midgets who have a hard time telling their
left foot from their right.
Shades of our last years in Vietnam.
The bottom line is that Recruiting Command is in trouble,·says
another recruiter with almost 30 years of service. The Army has re-instituted
Stop loss, which is basically a backdoor draft. They'e stopping people from
retiring or completing their enlistment and leaving the Army. They do this
fairly often, mostly in August and September, depending upon how far behind
they believe they'll be at the end of September.
I believe the Army will have to drastically change what they
offer to enlistees to overcome what's happening in Iraq. The war is ugly,
and not many kids want to enlist to be blown up.
Moms and dads are outraged about desperate Army recruiters
on a relentless campaign to sign up their teenagers. High-school kids are
actually running away from recruiters like they were George Romero's living
Recruiters have called my son a minimum of 20 times in the
two years since he finished high school,·a dad reports. The phone
calls usually come in clusters. I answered five calls in a two- or three-week
span. Each time a recruiter calls, he receives the same polite, respectful
response from me or my son ... no interest, and please take the name off
the list. When asked why the name hasn't been removed, excuses are made.
While recruiters are brief with me, when my son is on the phone, the sales
tactics are clever, prolonged and very high-pressure.
I took the latest recruiting call. This time I also called
the supervisor at the local Army recruiting office, who'd promised to take
his name off the list. She made excuses for the repeated calls despite the
fact that five calls were on her watch.
Unless a miracle happens and the new Iraqi security force
decides to stop running and start fighting, we'll be in Iraq for a long
time. Most likely with a draftee force.
- Eilhys England contributed to this column.
Col. David H. Hackworth (USA Ret.) is SFTT.org co-founder
and Senior Military Columnist for DefenseWatch magazine. For information
on his many books, go to his home page at Hackworth.com, where you can sign
in for his free weekly Defending America. Send mail to P.O. Box 11179, Greenwich,
CT 06831. His newest book is ?teel My Soldiers·Hearts.·/A>
? 2004 David H. Hackworth. Please send Feedback responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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