The 21st Century Military

The 21st Century Military

E-mail debates of newsworthy topics.
July 2 1998 3:30 AM

The 21st Century Military

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Gary:

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       I enjoyed your book and admire your ability to continue to be so productive and provocative.
       I agree with your arguments that we have a Cold War "lite force," have not held a serious strategic review since the end of the Cold War, and spend far more than is necessary on national defense. However, I am not sure that restoring "an army of the people" will solve these problems. To put it another way, I do not believe that an all-volunteer force or professional military is the cause or even a contribution to the problems you point out.
       It has been the professional military that has been reluctant to get involved in conflicts like Haiti, Bosnia, and Rwanda because there have been no clear, concise objectives spelled out by the politicians. It was professionals like Colin Powell who first enunciated the basic principles you state on Page 17. Colin actually gave Caspar Weinberger the idea for his 1984 speech.
       Moreover, the reason that Americans are not ready to sacrifice lives for the Bosnians and the Haitians has very little to do with how we "raise armies and maintain navies." The problem is that the president has not made the case for these operations to the American people. Americans may be isolated, but they are not isolationists. Their political leaders, particularly the president, need to spend some time discussing foreign policy with them in venues like the State of the Union Address.
       Furthermore, despite the fact that we have had an all-volunteer force for 25 years, the link between American services and American people has not been broken. When America's Army goes to war, America goes to war. That is why the people and their political leaders are concerned about casualties.
       Finally (for now), in what period of modern American history were "citizens responsibly engaged and youth empowerment more awake than they are now" (Page 21)? You assert that universal military training would reawaken these conditions. Since we never have had universal military training, I'm not sure when this golden age was. Is this not something that schools, churches, synagogues, and mosques are better equipped to do?
       I have many more questions about implementing your ideas, but let me stop there for now. I look forward to your response.

Happy July 4,
Larry