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06 May 2019

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Jim,
I have been following your work for a few years now, and have genuinely enjoyed your commentary on the numerous subjects you tackle. Let me give you a brief background about myself, in order to give some context. I have worked for Army Contracting Command the past 10 years (which is why I enjoy your articles), and was deployed to Afghanistan throughout 2013. I served with USFOR-A JVB PSD while in country. I was a part of the Michigan Army National Guard for 6 years. I graduated in 2008 with my BA in Finance, and received my MA in Economics shortly after returning from deployment.
Let me start off by saying I respectfully disagree with your opinion on ending the draft. I used to have the same mindset you do concerning the issue, but my opinion has changed over the years. When I joined the military, I had no illusions of what I was getting myself into. My friends and relatives had joined and were either still in, got out, or had been wounded while deployed. My expectation was that this “professional”, “all-volunteer” force, shaped by years of war, had to have some good leadership and experience to train the new folks who arrived. That could not be further from the truth in my situation. Due to me joining to be an officer, but seeing the writing on the wall with limited opportunities for deployments in the future, I quickly dropped the officer candidate status after BCT at Ft. Benning, and joined an MP Company that was lined up to deploy soon. I could not believe an MP Co, which required a higher ASVAB score to join, as well as a Secret Sec. Clearance had such low quality personnel. Couple this with the fact that many people had 2 or more deployments under their belt. I know that statement is harsh, and maybe my expectations were too high, but the complete lack of knowledge on basic tasks from senior and mid-level NCOs was quite a shock when we mobilized. My point, while trying to keep this as brief as possible, is that I cannot see how an army of draftees could be much worse. In fact, after coming across your article, I felt the need to dive a little deeper, and came across these articles, which I tend to agree with on many areas discussed. (https://johntreed.com/blogs/john-t-reed-s-news-blog/draftees-are-generally-better-soldiers-than-volunteer-enlisted-men) & (https://johntreed.com/blogs/john-t-reed-s-blog-about-military-matters/66448067-should-there-be-a-military-draft). PLEASE read the 2nd article if you ever have the time. While it bounces around a bit, the content is good in my opinion, and I agree with not all, but many of the author’s opinions (even if some of the comments have that West Point attitude lol). While deployed, I served with my squad of MPs, active duty infantry, and individually augmented Marines. When brought together, our units were all combined and mixed, while having never trained together. Let me say that we had some great individual service members from each branch, but I would have chosen to retain my soldiers (Guardsman), rather than have been mixed with the other members. I feel that when deployed, the Guard or Reserve, in modern times, give you what would be the closest example of a possible draftee Army, and what it would look like. The Guard & Reserve train more nowadays than they used to, but you still only assemble once and month and go back to life as civilians know it for the remainder of the time. In my previous statements, I ripped my unit for their lack of basic skills, but while deployed, my soldiers brought entirely different skill sets to the table, which benefited our operations more than the narrowly trained, and narrowly minded active duty troops. Above all, my men were free-thinkers, and problem solving, or needed imagination was never lacking. Common sense while planning missions, and making changes on the fly were much easier to implement with the guardsman vs the active duty. My previous statement is not intended to paint a broad picture of all active troops as incompetent or unable to adapt to situations, my point is to show that my men did not have a constant military mindset, and did not simply defer up the chain of command for decision making, which is what was mandated for many active units. We changed our TTPs and SOPs based on our experience, and had good results compared to the other units who followed the higher ranks “Mandates”. I appreciated the assets which my men brought to the table. I feel the same chance would be given to the military if draftees were inducted. More so, it would be refreshing to have people knowing they had no inclination for service beyond a 2 year commitment. There is something to be said about a free-thinking individual who doesn’t have to give a crap about their next promotion. I think there would be a lot of NCOs and Officers shaking in their boots if they could no longer, “fake-it till they make-it”. I could write a book on my numerous opinions on the subject, but let me leave you with these last few items. While the Army may be seen from the outside as more professional, and better trained than in the past, I believe this narrative to be false. We have the best technology in the world, not the best military, so let’s not confuse the two. The narrative may be true for the more intelligent individuals who joined and hold a MOS that does not require them to leave a FOB, but the line units could sure use some more intelligence and free-thinkers. I believe a draft could help improve that. In my opinion and observations, it seems that the military is in a race to mediocrity. The worst soldiers leave ASAP, many of the best soldiers also leave ASAP, and the soldiers who aren't terrible, but not really the best, seem to be the ones that stay the longest. Lastly, I believe an update to the draft vs its elimination is what is necessary. No deferments, no buying your way out. If you are medically unfit, there are plenty of jobs that can accommodate. Many of the points I did not expand on are covered in the above article, but due to myself filling your comment section with much more reading than you probably care to do, I’ll end things there. I truly wanted to address your points in the article, but I am hoping a small and incomplete narrative about a personal experience can give some insight as well. Please keep an open mind on the subject and consider some of the other opinions out there. Thank you for listening if you made it this far, and I apologize for not addressing specifics within the article, but I would need many more pages to do so!

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  • James Hasik is a senior fellow at the Center for Government Contracting in the School of Business at George Mason University, and a senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center on Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. Since September 2001, he has been studying global security challenges and the economic enterprises that provide the tools to address them.

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