Monday, May 02, 2005

When you fight dumb wars,

here's what happens:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Army missed its goals for signing up recruits in April and expects to do so again in May, and the Marines also fell short, officials said on Monday, as the Iraq war further strained the all-volunteer U.S. military.

In the past, kids could sign up for the military with a reasonable chance of avoiding any serious danger, and get some money for college. But now they know that they'll be sent off to clean up a bloody mess in Iraq. It's no wonder they're not interested.

Brian thinks there's going to be a draft. After watching Social Security privatization crash and burn, I'm pretty sure Bush won't be able to get anything like that through Congress. More likely we'll just have a weakened military for a while. While this prevents us from doing any of the Bosnia-style interventions that liberals like (Sudan, perhaps?), the silver lining is that Bush won't be able to launch any new dumb wars.

2 comments:

Battlepanda said...

I would love to see an economist draw up supply and demand charts for what happens to an all-volunteer army when we are in the midsts of a protracted war.

The folks who are committed already are, well, committed. But since the risk of death and injury goes up so much in war, while the rewards remain the same, it is a no brainer that the supply of soldiers will go down, just as the demand is going up. More recruitment efforts are not going to reverse the trend.

Rousseau said...

Few datapoints makes this hard, but hey, it's something to do while at work. The various rationales for joining the army (partiotism, social rewards for heroism, etc) also supposedly go up.

Also, you have to take into consideration depletion of supply. At the beginning of a war, recruitment upticks to grab every able bodied man they can for it, faster than the usual rate of joining the reserves... and after that is a time where the resource doesn't renew itself that quickly, eh?

And there's the key factor of whether potential recruits consider this a just war...

For instance, the real reason army recruitment is dropping? African Americans. They make up 30-40% of the infantry (depending on your definition), and you can imagine the reasons this low-median-income racial group is likely to join.

But relatively little reporting has gone into how unpopular the war is among the African-American community. They don't trust the president, they know unjust persecution when they see it, and they're sensitive to the idea of "just drop a bunch of bombs on the brownies, who cares about them". Etc. So the white rural enrollment in the army isn't that down, but black enrollment is at a huge loss.