Many people assume that the United States will always possess the most powerful military force in the world. Is this a safe assumption? Or are there events occurring behind the scenes that could change this?
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The war in Iraq has brought a firestorm of resentment, especially among those targeted for recruitment—young adults. Protests against the U.S. military, both peaceful and non-peaceful, are being staged at various schools, campuses and recruiting stations around the country.
• In February, roughly 500 students from a Seattle, Washington community college surrounded an Army recruiter. Chanting loudly and throwing newspapers and soda cans at him, the students chased the recruiter off their campus.
• In April, over 300 university students removed Army, Navy and Marine Corps recruiters from their school’s job fair.
• In May, an estimated 150 Seattle-area students walked out of their college classes and marched on three different military recruitment offices in the area. At one location, the students loudly criticized the United States recruitment practices, chanting phrases such as “Education, not war! Kick recruiters out the door!” They also held signs that read, “Money For Education, Not Ammunition” and “I Want To Learn To Read, Not To Kill.” After the students were ejected from the offices, one of them claimed a victory, saying, “Nobody can be recruited while we are here.”
• Several hundred people, including students, gathered at Cambridge Common (near Harvard University) in Massachusetts to stage a protest during a recent 230th Army birthday celebration featuring military re-enactors. Protestors wore shirts that had the phrases “You Can’t Bribe Us To Die” written in blood-red letters on the front and “You Can’t Bribe Us To Kill” on the back.
During a speech by the Army’s Acting Undersecretary, phrases such as “Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, U.S. torture has got to go” and “No blood for oil, U.S. off Iraqi soil” were chanted loudly. In addition, a trumpeter playing “Taps,” a well-known military tune, was drowned out by protestors who repeated the words “Bush is still lying, soldiers are still dying.”
The sentiment around the country can be summed up in the words of a Seattle youth activist: “We are going into this summer with a lot of energy because that’s one of the biggest times for recruiters to go out and recruit students into the military. And we’re going to be out there every step of the way making sure that Seattle is a recruiter-free zone. We want to make their job impossible. We do not want anyone else to go over to Iraq from our city” (AlterNet).
What are the implications of this growing disdain for the military?
An Army recruiter in the Seattle area said that student protests would result in fewer enlistments, thus bringing a national draft closer to fruition. In the end, these same protestors would be forced to enlist. However, would they willingly submit to a draft board—or would they refuse, choosing instead to protest that as well? What are the repercussions of the military not meeting its required number of recruits?
Due to the outcry against the war in Iraq, the U.S. military has become more aggressive in scouting out potential recruits. Common practices such as roaming the halls of high schools and colleges, setting up recruitment tables and pulling students out of classes for interviews have all been increased.
In response, anti-war activists and counter-recruitment groups, such as Youth Activists-Youth Allies (YaYas), are targeting these practices, hoping to convince students to choose alternative options to the military. The ultimate goal of these groups is to deny recruiters access to schools and campuses, a tactic that has just recently become lawful.
In 1995, the Solomon Amendment was signed into law. It allowed the federal government to withhold funding from schools that refuse to allow military recruiters access to their facilities. As a result, only schools that do not receive such funding have barred recruiters.
However, the law schools of Yale, New York University and George Washington University have since brought about a lawsuit stating that the Solomon Amendment violates the First Amendment’s right to “convey a message opposing discrimination.” These schools declared that since the military does not allow gays to enter its ranks, it is a discriminatory organization; therefore, schools with anti-discriminatory policies should be able to ban military recruiters. In 2004, a federal appeals court in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania agreed with the lawsuit—opening the door for activist groups in other areas of the country to file similar suits.
One of the results of a hostile environment for recruiters and a negative portrayal of the war in Iraq is a shortage of new recruits. Of course, there are other contributing factors, such as an economy offering attractive alternatives; but the current anti-military sentiment is playing a major part—and is a new phenomenon.
The Army has seen four straight months of lower than expected recruiting numbers. In February, the Army missed its recruiting goal by 27%; in March, it was missed by 31%; in April, it was missed by 42%; and in May, with a target of 1,350 recruits lower than normal, it was missed by 25%. The Army Reserve and National Guard were even further behind their respective targets.
While a spokesman for the Army chief of personnel is optimistic that the Army will reach its goal of 80,000 recruits for fiscal 2005 (ending September 30), others say that hope is rapidly fading. At the time of this writing, the Army is barely at 50% of its year-long goal. In order to reach it, 9,760 recruits a month will have to be processed during the next four months, which means they will have to exceed usual monthly targets ranging anywhere from 5,650 to 9,250 recruits.
(It should be noted that the Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force are meeting their active-duty recruiting goals. Time will tell if they can continue to do so with the growing negative attitude toward the military.)
To combat this shortfall, the Army has been forced to carry out drastic measures. One is the acceptance of recruits who would not have been accepted in the past, such as high school dropouts or those who score low (the 10th to 30th percentile range) on the military’s standardized aptitude test.
Notice the other measures that the Army has taken: They have sent out 1,200 extra recruiters, increased their advertising budget (spending $200 million on television ads), raised four-year enlistment bonuses from $4,000 to $20,000 for certain jobs (with plans to boost this to $40,000), began to offer $50,000 in low-rate home mortgages and reduced the minimum enlistment period from 24 months to 15 months. They have also increased the maximum enlistment age from 35 to 39 in the Reserves and National Guard.
What kind of effects could these measures have?
• One of the benefits of an all-volunteer force is that the military is able to “pick and choose” potential recruits and ensure that only qualified individuals are allowed to enter. Lowering the standards means that problems could surface with unfit candidates in basic training or later, resulting in wasted money and man-hours. It could also put a damper on plans to transform the Army into a high-tech fighting force, one in which its soldiers are competent in making decisions without waiting for orders from higher ranks.
The director of the Center for Research on Military Organization at the University of Maryland had this to say: “The overall quality of the force today is lower than it was a year ago. It means [the Army] can anticipate more problem situations with recruits in the training cycle” (Taipei Times).
• Increasing the recruitment force will cause various manpower issues, as military recruiters are drawn from various military jobs.
• Additional advertising requires an expanded media budget.
• Increasing enlistment bonuses, including home mortgages, requires money as well. From where will this money be drawn? And what is the motivating factor for those signing up under such terms? Are they just “doing it for the money”? A recruit might base his decision to join solely on the lucrative pay. But when this is spent, what motivation does he have left? Can he truly be counted on in a time of crisis?
• Will soldiers who enlist with a 15-month contract truly want to be in the Army—or will they exhibit a “get in and get out” attitude and lack proper motivation?
Then we must ask the question: What if these measures do not work? A former Army captain observed, “America faces a choice. It can be the world’s superpower, or it can maintain the all-volunteer military, but it probably can’t do both” (The Nation).
During World War II and the Vietnam War, 10 million and 1.8 million Americans, respectively, were drafted by the Selective Service System. This agency still exists today, quietly keeping the draft machine ready. A spokesman for the Selective Service said, “We’re told not to do a particular thing but to be prepared to do it. We just continue to carry out our mission as mandated by Congress.” He also stated that the Selective Service is “like a small-town fire volunteer fire company. There may never be a fire, but you still want that department there just in case” (Washington Post). Last year, 15.6 million men between the ages of 18 and 25 were registered.
Another official of the agency stated that if a draft were to be instituted, it might involve enlisting specific skilled professionals, rather than a general draft. For example, since 1987, the Selective Service has had a plan that will allow male and female healthcare workers ages 20 to 45 in various specialties to be registered. He also stated that a variety of other specialties, such as linguists, computer experts, police officers or firefighters, could be called up as well.
Recently, at a presentation on how to win conscientious objector status, the executive director of the Center on Conscience and War informed her audience that she believes there will be a draft. She said that there is a “perfect storm” of conditions: low recruiting numbers and the strain that the war in Iraq has placed on the all-volunteer force. Her aim was to warn potential conscientious objectors (those who refuse to enlist in the military for religious reasons or because of personal beliefs) that they must begin to document their objections before the draft is instituted.
The President and Congress have emphatically stated that a draft will not be instituted. They argue that it would produce unwilling soldiers who lack the talent and motivation required for today’s high-tech fighting force. However, with enlistment rates dropping, the prospect of instituting a national draft becomes a greater possibility by default. If the U.S. wants to continue as a superpower—or continue at all—it needs to have a military, and a sizeable one at that! If people will not willingly sign up for military duty, the government will be forced to draft some of its citizens.
In a June 3rd article published by The Ledger, some intriguing points and questions were raised: “One thing is clear: With so many American troops bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, the nation’s ability to respond to other potential conflicts is already limited. If North Korea or Iran suddenly turn ‘hot,’ the military’s ‘thin red line’ will be stretched very thin indeed.
“What to do? Bring the troops home before Iraq has a stable government capable of defeating the insurgency? Lower recruiting standards? Bring back the draft? Rethink America’s status as the world’s last remaining superpower?
“None of these options have currency in Washington. But neither can the president and Congress afford to ignore the indications that America’s all-volunteer military is in danger of becoming unsustainable.”
It is certain that in a culture in which individuals’ opinions and rights outweigh law and government of any kind, if a draft of some sort were to be instituted, a wave of protests would ensue. The current climate of “Everyone has a voice” and “Do what feels right” is setting the stage for disaster in ways that people would never imagine.
There has always been resentment for the military and opposition to war, but never as intense and widespread as today.
What does all of this mean?
In May 2005, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld proposed a closure of 33 major U.S. military installations, one of which is home to half the country’s fleet of B-1B bombers. Twenty-nine other bases would be reduced by thousands of people. The proposal would result in a savings of $48.8 billion over a 20-year period, but a loss of over 29,000 jobs, both military and civilian, over a six-year period. Mr. Rumsfeld said, “Our current arrangements, designed for the Cold War, must give way to the new demands of the war against extremism and other evolving 21st Century challenges” (Associated Press).
The proposals are likely to be high-stakes political fights, as the closings will affect jobs in many congressional districts. Communities will put up a fight, using lawmakers, civic officials and lobbyists. In four previous rounds of proposed base closings, 85% were approved.
The proposed closings must first be either approved or changed by a federal base closing commission by September 8, 2005. They must then be approved by the President and Congress.
Are these planned closings financially and strategically wise? Or will they only serve to weaken U.S. defenses, thus leaving America more vulnerable to attack? Time will tell.
As the modern-day descendants of Manasseh (one of the “lost” tribes of ancient Israel), the peoples of the United States are the recipients of an unconditional promise made by God. They have received great blessings, which were realized through no effort of their own. However, as is typical of human nature, they have become unthankful, and they have forgotten the God who has blessed them. As a result, God is in the process of breaking the country’s pride: “And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass” (Lev. 26:19).
The people as a whole insist on walking according to the dictates of their deceitful minds. Notice: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?…O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps” (Jer. 17:9; 10:23). While those who are either anti- or pro-military may have the best of intentions, they are basing their positions on human reasoning. If they were to compare their positions to God’s viewpoint, they would realize that they are wrong—and that their ideas will ultimately fail, no matter how noble they may seem (Prov. 14:12).
Unless the U.S. as a nation repents and turns from its evil practices, such as committing idolatry and breaking the Sabbath, God is going to do the unthinkable—send the nation into captivity. Consider the following prophecies for the United States:
“And I will set My face against you, and you shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you…” (Lev. 26:17).
“A third part of you shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of you: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about you; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds [captivity], and I will draw out a sword after them. Thus shall My anger be accomplished, and I will cause My fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted: and they shall know that I the Lord have spoken it in My zeal, when I have accomplished My fury in them” (Ezek. 5:12-13).
Many events will unfold to make this coming captivity a reality, with one of them being the weakening of the military. It is probable that the current intense disdain for the military will contribute to the demise of the U.S.
Ultimately, the call for battle will be made, but America will be too weak to respond: “They have blown the trumpet, even to make all ready; but none goes to the battle…” (Ezek. 7:14).
(We recommend that you read our book America and Britain in Prophecy to learn more about the coming captivity of the peoples of the democratic nations of the West.)