Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Draft By Michael Schwartz in Mother Jones 4-27-2005

The Draft: "Recruitment: Entering Freefall
Last fall the military embarked on a Herculean set of efforts to meet these daunting demands. It manufactured a 40% increase in the pool of candidates available for the Guard and Reserve by relaxing entry standards and raising the enlistment age to 40 years. It added thousands of new recruiters (1400 for the National Guard alone) and equipped them with an array of new inducements, including signing bonuses as high as $20,000 (for those with previous experience) and up to $70,000 in college credits for new enlistees. Re-enlistment bonuses, depending on specialty, can now reach $100,000. The Defense Department also launched a new $180 million recruitment campaign that includes 'sponsorship of a rodeo cowboy, ads on ESPN, and a 24 hour Web site that allows users to chat with recruiters�24 hours a day.' In a special effort to help the most stressed service, the military is offering six million dollars of recruitment money in exchange for the right to name the home of the new Washington Nationals baseball team National Guard Stadium.
The most dramatic of the new measures were aimed at inducing (or coercing) personnel to remain in the military beyond their enlistment contracts. Tom Reeves, author of The End of the Draft and longtime observer of draft policy, reports that 40,000 soldiers have already been retained by using the notorious 'stop-loss' system, which allows the Army unilaterally to keep soldiers for up to 18 months beyond the date their enlistment is scheduled to terminate. This is essentially a more bureaucratic and politer form of the old British method of 'impressment,' also known as Shanghaiing. There is now a Congressional investigation into persistent reports that short-timers -- those with less then a year or so left on their enlistment contracts -- are being told"

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