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Backdoor draft continues

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Having a professional military is a moral and strategic good. While I'm a big fan of national service, I don't think it should be compulsory unless absolutely necessary, and nobody -- especially after Vietnam -- wants people in the military who haven't volunteered to be there. Certainly soldiers may not like what they're asked to do once they're in, but having that initial choice goes a long way towards the professionalism and skill that the vast majority of our troops bring to the table.

Which is why it's a huge problem when people are getting involuntarily yanked back into service. This first line really says it all, but it goes on to explain the increasingly drastic steps the military has taken up to this point:

The Marine Corps announced this week that it will involuntarily activate 2,500 reservists. [...] Some of those in uniform are on their second or third deployment to the war zones. From time to time, the Army has had to recruit more soldiers from the "lowest acceptable" category based on test scores, education levels, personal background, and other indicators of ability. Some military recruiters - always under pressure to produce - have been reprimanded for illegally inducing clearly unqualified young men and women into signing up. "Citizen soldiers" in the National Guard have played an extraordinarily large role on the ground in combat areas. To some experts, the call-up of Marine Corps reservists indicates that the war is likely to last longer and be more hard-fought than earlier official predictions.
Some experts? Some?? It's like parts of the article were written in 2003 and spliced in. Uh, yeah, last week was really the turning point which showed that all those rosy predictions were wrong. Ohhhhhkay.

But the greater point is that troops aren't coming home in any significant numbers for a long, long time. The media can scream about how Democrats can't agree whether we should start to reduce troop numbers in 2006 or 2007 ("Ohmygod! They're so divided!"), Republicans can run away from the Bush administration for this election cycle, and the pundit class can bash leaders' incompetence, but it's all academic. The President will make those decisions, and he's said with both word and deed that we'll be there, in force, for years to come. If you want the same perspective, but with hilarious understatement, from the same article:
Troop strength in Iraq today is back up to 138,000, notes military analyst John Pike of, a research and consulting firm specializing in security issues. "All that happy talk earlier this year about getting below 100,000 by the end of this year now seems premature."
Yeah. Seems premature.

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