The armed forces have been justifiably proud of meeting the demands of the civilians who determine military obligations, equipage, and budgets using only volunteers. It makes the Admirals and Generals look good in review. In turn, the politicians who control the funding can brag about reducing costs and wasted manpower.
A nation of 300 million should be able to field an Army and Navy of sufficient size that repetitive combat tours by the same small, over-utilized forces would not be necessary. We may be conducting these wars with an all-volunteer force. But this nation has always reduced its standing forces to the bare bones between wars. The need to ramp up the reserves has always been there and has always put us at grave risk.
As the nature of war changes so, will staffing needs. The fact that most of the public neither recognizes nor uses in consideration of the need for military manpower is that it always requires troops on the ground in the enemy’s land mass to achieve even the most meager of victories.
We can’t conduct a war and expect any hope of victory using mercenaries. While friends and financial backers of Congress may make billions fielding “contractors”, the U.S. is paying greatly inflated prices for men willing to fight for the highest bidder. Those mercenaries may have American citizenship but they are not American patriots by any stretch of the imagination. They’ve allowed the armed forces to train them, then mustered out and hustled to the commercial recruiters to put on a private army costume.
No contractor, read that as mercenary, should be working for the U.S. government in any military matter. The U.S. needs to realize that multiple tours in combat zones are not acceptable. If manpower needs can’t be met without using troops like refundable bottles, then the nation needs either to end its involvement in that particular war, or it must bring back conscription.
It’s cheaper to use a minimally trained soldier to pull guard and other housekeeping duties than to hire mercenaries at multiples of what a private E-1 is paid.
If it is not important enough to bring back conscription, it is not important enough to be at war.
That would be a good national referendum this November. I can pretty well predict the results. They won’t be to my liking or to that of the DOD. Americans have gotten used to following the behavior of their political leaders. Men like Cheney, Gingrich, and Santorum are quite happy to vote for war and even happier to duck their obligation to take part in the war they helped bring about.