If you make it back you can be a citizen

Ah, the glimmer of silver in a dark cloud…the Army’s recruiting troubles are being lessened by economic hard times.  More people in their 30’s and 40’s are signing up, according to the LA Times.  So when P-E Obama sounds his call for more soldiers to head off to Afghanistan, he might get a few more takers.  How’s that for an economic indicator?  Things are bad enough that people are thinking to themselves, “Well, shit, Iraq can’t be much worse than this.”

Never mind that Obama’s gambit in the Great Game is going to fail miserably.  30,000 more troops will not turn the tide in Afghanistan.  The Soviets had 100,000 at one point, and better supply lines, and couldn’t get the job done.  Yeah, i know, America’s different…better…exceptional.  Unfortunately, it isn’t.

But back to the issue of recruiting an all-volunteer force to fight multiple, protracted conflicts.  The Army estimates that fewer than three in 10 Americans ages 17 to 24 — the group targeted for recruitment — meet its standards. Of those who qualify, one in 10 is interested in serving. Fewer than 3 in 10?  The Army’s standards weren’t that high to begin with, and they’ve been lowering them for the better part of a decade now.  The Army gave up on visible tatooes as a disqualifier, but they still face issues like obesity and criminal records among recruits.  A recent gathering in the LA area saw not one potential recruit able to score the minimum of 31 out of 99 on a sample aptitude test.  Of 1,546 LA recruits, 18 needed waivers for drug/alcohol abuse; 138 for mental/physical problems; and 142 for “crimes and other misconduct”.

Our wars are not like WWII, where thousands of men are needed to hold lines and advance against the enemy.  These recruits are expected to win hearts and minds, to act as police, to interact with local populations.  We actually need our best and brightest for these types of conflicts.  We need people who will pick up some Arabic or Pashtun, not people who can barely scrape along in their own language.  But the best and brightest, for the most part, want nothing to do with the armed forces.

But don’t worry, the Army has an idea: fastracking citizenship for immigrants who agree to serve.  On the surface this is a fine idea; if an immigrant is willing to potentially die for the United States then the immigrant should be awarded full citizenship.  But the Army is going to use it as a lure to troll among the least fortunate of the world who come here looking for a better life.  These will not be the highly educated foreign students with a bright future, but those who ran from one hell hole only to be shipped off to another.  Still, it will be of their own free will and i won’t argue with that.

Besides all that, i thought that our military was designed and equipped to fight two theatre level conflicts simultaneously.  Apparently not.  How many decades have been spent throwing money at gee-whiz technology that isn’t really doing us a damn bit of good in the real world?  That situations like Iraq and Afghanistan would be the most likely of potential conflicts has been obvious since at least the mid 1970’s, yet we seem wholly unprepared for them.  And i seriously doubt that the waivered recruits and immigrants hoping for citizenship are prepared for them either.

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~ by Lex on December 28, 2008.

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