Robert L. Russell: Consider draft to boost military strength


The invasion of Iraq has put our country into a perilous position. We have a severely depleted fighting force, with many members who are on third and fourth tours of duty. Recent reporting shows that standards are so low that both skinheads and urban gang members are joining the service in order to obtain training that may help them in their respective future street violence careers in America. We have softened regulations on the numbers and types of tattoos they can have and the severity of criminal records allowed. Additionally the recruiting of doctors, dentists and lawyers is severely off according to the Pentagon.

Our military needs a manpower infusion in the worst way. I think that it is time to reconsider a draft to strengthen our troops. We have a war in Iraq to win and likely will have to deal with both North Korea and Iran in coming years. The truth is that we have 14 permanent military bases and a half-billion dollar embassy under construction in Iraq at this time. We are not leaving there in my lifetime.

If we had the ability to put 400,000 fresh troops on the ground in Iraq and another 200,000 in Afghanistan we could command the respect of the world's rogue nations. Even nuts like Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad understand that a strong U.S. military would preclude their bad behavior. Unfortunately, the extended war in Iraq makes us look vulnerable, much like the Soviets were perceived after the 1980s war in Afghanistan.

In my opinion the draft should be revolutionary in its concept. I would only consider men and women in the top 10 percent of graduating classes. Draft and recruiting officers could be present at all high school, college and professional school graduations in order to identify the candidates and of course they should be awarded the full GI Bill of benefits. This would provide us with the necessary ingredients for a top flight military. We would after a few years have the capability to wage several wars at a time. We would have returning veterans that could become the political leaders of tomorrow.

The nation needs to make the sacrifices necessary to make the world better. Red state America should not be deterred in our fight to bring democracy to every single square inch of the earth.

Robert L. Russell lives in Shreveport.

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