By Patrick Jirschele
March 25, 2006
The shortage was apparent when Katrina hit the Gulf last year. There was little National Guard for the Governor of Louisiana to call out, and even less equipment for them to use. They were in Iraq while we watched Americans die of thirst on TV. Historically the National Guard was reserved to protect American soil.
We turn more and more to "contractors" to make up for the lack of military. Many of these contractors drive trucks and provide food and equipment in the war zone. Since they are not trained soldiers, they are easy targets for kidnappers and are a liability that must be protected during an attack. During the Battle of the Bulge, cooks became riflemen; you can't do that with civilians.
Some contractors are private security, mercenaries, or what ever they call themselves. These "soldiers" do not fall under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. In a combat zone, where the UCMJ is the only law, they don't have to take orders and it may not be possible to prosecute them for crimes.
These contractors make big money compared to our military. There have been reports that truck drivers can make as high as $125,000. Compare that to the $30K the grunt protecting him gets.
On Tuesday President Bush was asked "will there come a day when there will be no more American forces in Iraq?" His reply was "That, of course, is an objective, and that will be decided by future Presidents and future governments of Iraq." In other words, he pulled the cover off of the Iraq can of worms, and he is going to let someone else clean up his mess.
In the meantime we cannot keep sending our limited number of troops back to the Middle East over and over again. It becomes demoralizing. What happens if it gets too hot for the mercenaries and they quit? They can, it is just a job for them. What happens if our President kicks another sleeping dog and we need more "boots" on the ground? Can we afford to hire more contractors? We just raised the national debt limit to nine trillion dollars. We can't afford it. It is time to realize the "Halliburton experiment" is too expensive.
The only real option is a draft. With a large draft we can replace most of the private contractors with real military, the way it used to be. We can put more boots on the ground in Afghanistan where it is reported we are loosing ground to the Taliban and the poppy growers. We can flood America's shipping terminals with military personnel to inspect containers. We can close our borders. Most importantly we can defend our country on a second front if we have to.
It takes almost seven months between the time Congress passes and the President signs legislation which starts a draft. Where will we be seven months from now if the civil war in Iraq continues to escalate?
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