Don't get your soldiers killed

October 5, 2005

Not that I'm a big fan of militaries or wars or fighting, but I found this article in Slate interesting.

The US Army is considering lowering enlistment standards so that those who have not graduated from high school or people that might otherwise have trouble finding employment can list. The US Army if fighting to keep their soldiers and enlist new ones. At the end of the article three alternate proposals are made to deal with the enlistment problem.
First, if you do go to war, protect your soldiers as much as you can. There's no excuse for shortages of armor platings—especially in a war that was planned for over a year ahead of time.</p>

Second, if you do go to war, plan it better. The evidence is now overwhelming that the Pentagon conducted no planning for "postwar" stabilization operations. Other government departments did, but their plans were ignored. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld & Co. persuaded themselves that their favored Iraqi exiles would quickly form a new government and that most American troops would be home by late summer 2003—hence no need for long-term planning. It's appalling enough to be wrong (everybody is sometimes); it's disgraceful and irresponsible to dismiss the notion that you might be and that you should devise a backup plan accordingly.

Third, if you're thinking about going to war, think again. Do you really have to? What might happen if you don't? If you think the war will be easy, what will you do if it's not? How much death and destruction are you willing to inflict—and absorb—in its cause? This last question can be addressed, if you prefer, not so much as a moral issue but as a hard-boiled matter of national security: If the Army comes unraveled in the fighting of a protracted war whose victory seems elusive and whose goals were never clear, the nation will be less able—and perhaps less willing—to fight a more justified war down the road. Most comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam are shallow, but here's one that isn't: The Vietnam War ravaged the American military for a generation; it looks like the Iraq War might be about to do the same.</strong>

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