Major General John Batiste’s thoughts on the national service

by | May 26, 2007 | Stress Blog | 15 comments

Major General John Batiste was offered a promotion to become a three-star general, the second-highest-ranking military officer in Iraq. Instead, he quit over the war. After he appeared in a commercial for, CBS News fired him as a paid news consultant. collected 230,000 signatures on a petition demanding he be rehired. He was interviewed by Amy Goodman on DemocracyNow on May 25th, 2007. Among other things, they spoke of the need of reinstituting the draft:

AMY GOODMAN: Do you agree with Congressman Rangel that there should be a draft? Do you think that would mobilize this country, if everyone’s children were equally, well, possibly going to war?
MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE: We have a problem right now. We’re facing a long-term threat in a military — Army and Marine Corps, primarily, but Navy and Air Force, as well — that is in serious trouble, in trouble with equipment, in trouble with troop strength. The Army, by some accounts that I’ve read, needs to be increased by 100,000 soldiers. The Marine Corps, by some accounts that I’ve read, needs to be increased by 50,000 soldiers to accomplish our national strategy. Where are those soldiers and Marines going to come from in our current recruiting scheme? They don’t exist. We have two or three generations of Americans who have never served. This is not a good situation.
I think it’s time that we debate national service. National service can come in many flavors. The Peace Corps — my daughter served two years in Malawi — AmeriCorps — think of the opportunities with Homeland Security for national service and, of course, the military. We need to have that debate, and we need to have it soon.
AMY GOODMAN: So do you think there should be a draft?
MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE: There needs to be some form of national service to get Americans back into the game, their heads into serving their country. We don’t have that right now. Part of the problem is the military is under-resourced, and the current recruiting scheme is insufficient. It won’t take us to where we need to go. So we need to debate the draft and form it the way it makes sense for us today to complement things like the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps and other opportunities that we should be thinking about to support Homeland Security.

From this one can only conclude that:

a) the current volunteer army system is in a terminal crisis and that things will only get worse.
b) that the generals know that and that they are seriously looking at alternatives
c) that their search for an alternative is based on a “national strategy” which requiers an increase of troop stregth by up to 150’000 soldiers in the Army and Marine Corps (keep in mind here, just as a context, Kerry’s promise to also double the size of the Special Operations Forces).
d) that nobody seems to consider that instead of troop increases the solution might be to review the aforementioned “national strategy”
e) that besides drafting Americans into the military, the generals are also discussing adding draftees to the Department of Homeland Security
f) besides equipping the extra 150’000 soldiers, the generals also want to address the alledged current lack of equipment for the existing armed forces

Call it the “warfare state” or the state of perpetual war – the reality is the same: the US will sink further into the swamp of endless militarization unless some truly dramatic event turns the tide.

check out the rest of my vineyard