That’s right. There are 900,000 jobs that the government could be and should be creating right now … and they are “government” jobs which existed about 20 years ago … and were axed … under the auspices of a “peace dividend”.
That’s right. I’m talking about DoD jobs including 600,000 active duty military positions.
At no time in our history since World War II (as far back as the data goes that I researched) has the United States tried to fight a war, or wars, with so few active duty personnel.
I served in the military from 1980 to 1984. During that period there were approximately 2,000,000 active duty personnel. The military, by that time, had already been drastically reduced from the Viet Nam era peak of approximately 3,400,000 active duty personnel.
The post Viet Nam active duty strength remained relatively constant until the end of the first Iraq War. Then under the Bush I and Clinton administrations the “peace dividend” was declared and the number of active duty personnel has been steadily declining since. By January of last year, the total active duty number had reached a low of less than 1,380,000. During his last State of the Union address, George Bush II announced his plan to recommend adding about 100,000 members to the active duty military. The latest data (January 2009) put the number of active duty member at slightly over 1,409,000.
I personally felt it was a fatal mistake after 2001 of the Bush administration not to increase the military strength back to approximately 2,000,000 … especially with its ambitious plan to attack Al Queda in Afghanistan and later to invade Iraq. It just didn’t make sense. Former President Bush’s plan last year to increase forces by 100,000 was basically too little too late especially after years of demoralizing failures which might have been prevented with greater manpower.
Technology simply can’t do it all. That was Donald Rumsfeld’s lesson. I’m not sure that he actually learned it. And, I don’t know that Defense Secretary Gates knows any better than Rumsfeld. Looking at the monthly numbers since January 2008 indicate that manpower has only increased by 35,000 … hardly 100,000.
Increasing the active duty military from 1.4 million to 2 million is only an increase of 600,000. So, where do the other 300,000 jobs come from?
A review of the statistics indicate that there is generally one civilian DoD employee for every 2 active duty members. There’s the other 300,000 jobs.
President Obama has vocalized a position of getting the “situation in Afghanistan” under control and continuing the fight against Al Queda and the Taliban there while leaving approximately 50,000 troops in Iraq.
Yet, when commanders in Afghanistan asked for 35,000 additional troops, Obama only authorized sending 17,000. Why?
They just don’t exist.
In spite of all of the warm and fuzzy feelings that a lot of people have about Barack Obama being elected president, he hasn’t necessarily made the world or this country a safer place to live in. Our enemies still exist and they are just as determined as ever to destroy our culture, society and country.
There is no indication that the world is a safer place to live than during the last years of the Cold War when we maintained a military force of 2,000,000 active duty personnel. In fact the last time our forces were near its current low was in 1950 … just before the onset of the Korean Conflict.
Training bases will have to be enlarged and some reactivated. Stateside active duty bases will have to be enlarged and some reopened.
Instead of the “collateral damage” that many communities experienced from the base closings over the past 20 years, there will be “collateral” benefits. Many new jobs will be created in the civilian sector related to construction and services. New businesses and opportunities will emerge.
Probably, the most significant benefit will be to the morale of the current active duty members and those that will join them.
Disregarding the obvious risk of being assigned to zones of conflict, there are too few active duty personnel trying to do too many jobs. That is just a demoralizing to those that don’t enter war zones.
In addition, there are too many civilian contractors “doing” jobs that were once performed by active duty personnel. These contractors have no vested interest in the well being of active duty personnel like other active duty members would have. Simply talk to someone on active duty and you will understand what I’m talking about regarding civilian contractors. Unfortunately, many of the current active duty members are too young or too new to the service to know that many of their frustrations regarding being on active duty were once nonexistent when other active duty personnel were performing many of these jobs. They sense something is wrong but frequently can’t put their finger on it while constantly complaining about trying to get services from people who “just don’t seem to care”.
In addition, where there is a DoD presence in the form of a military installation, there are per capita payments made to the local communities for services provided to dependents such as payments to public school systems.
So, what will it cost? The current DoD budget is around $580 billion. What if it costs another $300 billion?
To me, this is a win-win solution. We need the augmentation of the military and we need the directed infusion of capital into our economy. This seems infinitely preferable to the undirected and wildly flailing appearance of the approach the administration seems to be taking to date.
Filed under: News | Tagged: Afghanistan, Al Queda, Barack Obama, base closings, Bill Clinton, collateral benefit, Department of Defence, dollateral damage, Donald Rumsfeld, First Irag War, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Korean Conflict, military manpower, peace dividend, Robert Gates, Taliban, Viet Nam | Leave a comment »