Monday, November 20, 2006

Wrangling on Rangel

We've now got Democrat on Democrat as the incoming House Democrat leadership is taking Rangel to task for his insistence on submitting a bill authorizing a draft. Steny Hoyer says the draft is not on the agenda, and Nancy Pelosi says that the issue of the draft was mentioned to highlight the need to spread the sacrifice.
Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California told reporters on Monday that she does not support reinstating the draft, which was suspended in 1973 near the end of the Vietnam War and replaced by the all-volunteer army.

As Ways and Means panel chairman, Rangel will have a significant role in U.S. tax and health-care policy. That post will not necessarily give Rangel an effective forum for pursuing his military draft legislation, Pelosi observed.

Instead, Pelosi said Rangel was trying to underscore that the U.S. war effort should be a "shared sacrifice" and his legislation was "a way to make that point."
On what planet is this notion that military service is disproportionately affecting some groups and others? Oh yes, Planet Democrat. The facts bear out that military service is far more representative of the US population than Democrats would like folks to believe. Ed Morrissey, Confederate Yankee and Michelle Malkin have more on that aspect.

As I noted yesterday, I happen to agree with the fact that the military is not large enough to deal with the range of threats facing the country today. However, I disagree with Rangel over how to grow the military.

If Rangel and the Democrats were serious on national security, instead of focusing on the draft, which no one wants - polls indicate 70% oppose a draft and the military does not want one because it means diverting resources that could be better used elsewhere, they would do far better by calling for authorizing a larger military, increasing the size of the Navy, and modernizing equipment used across the board.

We need to increase spending on basic operations aside from overseas operations. We need to spend more on the US Navy, to ensure that it does not shrink further. With China looming as a threat to our interests in the Pacific, a 150 ship Navy is not in our nation's best interests.

During the 1990s, our nation's leaders assumed that there was a peace dividend to be had from the end of the Cold War. The standing army was cut in size, and the Navy shrank as new ships did not enter the fleet in large enough numbers to maintain the size of the fleet at the earlier numbers. All this comes back to affect US national security going forward.

While the US Navy operates more aircraft carriers than any other nation on the planet, potential action in littoral waters (inshore fighting) combined with threats from diesel submarines and sizeable numbers of older technologies could threaten the centerpiece of the fleet simply by overwhelming numbers. While computerization has replaced manpower in many situations, it takes time to train those who operate the highly sophisticated equipment that makes these ships operate. The government makes a significant investment in each soldier, sailor, and Marine in training and outfitting. It also makes each individual ship more important, and the loss of one could have significant consequences for maritime strategy.

Similarly, US airpower is reliant on expensive aircraft, and the pilots who fly them. Stealth technologies have definitely widened the gap between US forces and the rest of the world, but numbers again come into play. A country developing large numbers of advanced aircraft might be able to nullify the advantage simply by putting more planes in the air than the US can deal with. Or, they could bury assets in bunkers that cannot be attacked with conventional munitions. It is the latter strategy that now faces the US in dealing with Iran and North Korea. Developing the technologies to face these threats takes time and money.

We have gained tremendous amounts of information about the survivalbility of equipment in urban combat and desert combat situations, which can and should be translated into modifications and equipment changes down the road. Survival gear must be made even lighter and more durable than the current equipment. Bulletproof gear must be made lighter and more flexible still.

This isn't about rearguing the complaints about interceptor armor, but about making sure that new equipment is brought into service that takes into account combat situations facing our troops currently, and what they may face in the future. It is about flexibility and dealing with a wide range of threats.

A combat situation in Iraq is not the same as one in North Korea. Fighting a standing army is not the same as a guerilla/terror counterinsurgency. We need to have the right mix of troops to deal with those threats, and if we as a nation have decided to handle nation building, then we need troops specialized in that task as well. One of the reasons that some units are repeatedly sent back to Iraq is that the tasks required are specialized and there aren't enough of those units.

But have no fear. Democrats are also looking at reversing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that caused so much trouble during the Clinton Administration.

AJ Strata doesn't mince words. Neither does Wake Up America. Gina Cobb thinks that Rangel's comments go far beyond simply demanding military service. He's calling for a huge government works program with no choice but to do government service for a defined period of time - not simply military service, but all sectors of government service.

The Moderate Voice thinks that the Democrats have a death wish.

Others blogging: Ed Morissey, Wizbang, Blue Crab Boulevard, Stop the ACLU, Flopping Aces, QT Monster, and Sweetness and Light.

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