Sunday, March 06, 2005

Superpower Stretched Thin

"The Pentagon continues to plead poverty in spite of a budget now in excess of $500bn (larger than the defence budgets of the next 20 countries combined). Such is the state of its recruiting shortfalls that a draft is quietly being considered: Rolling Stone magazine reported in late January that two of Mr. Rumsfeld's deputies met with the head of the Selective Service Agency in February of 2003 to “debate, discuss and ponder a return to the draft.” According to a memo from that meeting made public under the Freedom of Information Act:

“Defense manpower officials concede there are critical shortages of military personnel with certain special skills, such as medical personnel, linguists, computer network engineers, etc. The potentially prohibitive cost of ‘attracting and retaining such personnel for military service,’ the memo adds, has led ‘some officials to conclude that, while a conventional draft may never be needed, a draft of men and women possessing these critical skills may be warranted in a future crisis.’”

Similarly, USA Today reported last week that the US Army and some elite commando units "have dramatically increased the size and the number of cash bonuses they are paying to lure recruits and keep experienced troops in uniform." For some special elite units, the Pentagon is offering up to $150,000 in bonuses, while more than 49 percent of the job categories in the Army can now receive $15,000 bonuses, and "16 hard-to-fill job categories, including truck drivers and bomb-disposal specialists" are eligible for $50,000 bonuses."

No comments: