HASC Chairman Buck McKeon says that cuts to the defense budget will result in a draft. (Thanks to Doctrine Man for the link via Twitter) Uh, okay. If current cuts remove “over 200,000” personnel from the force, how does the logic work that this leads to a draft? If you don’t have the money for the all volunteer forces, you don’t have the money for drafted forces. It’s not like they’d get paid less. Can anyone explain this to me? Because it sounds like scare-mongering to me. The “people are going to get out” because of the cuts argument is absolute nonsense at its face - service is going to continue to be a great deal for a lot people even if we do see the $1+ trillion cuts.
If he said that our readiness would be lowered and if we then became involved in a large ground war that required more forces than we had because of the budget cuts and then and only then would need to draft more Americans into the services to fight this new manpower-intensive war, well then I’d get the logic. But it doesn’t seem like he’s saying that. It seems like he’s scaring people who oppose the draft into not supporting defense cuts.
McKeon’s not alone in this somewhat crazy and/or dishonest line. He shares the same loony argument with the former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Cartwright.
UPDATE: John Noonan, who works for the HASC, engaged me on Twitter (thanks John) advising me not to get wrapped up in the headlines and that the Chairman was focused on what he perceives to be coming decreases to retention and recruitment based on cuts to incentive benefits. So I’ll cede that McKeon isn’t just spouting craziness (Gen Cartwright on the other hand…) even if I disagree with that logic.
I highly doubt recruitment will be affected by changes to military benefits (which I believe are untenable over the long term) - most new recruits don’t join for the retirement pay in my experience. A steady paycheck and health benefits usually rank much, much higher on their lists. I can’t say retention won’t be affected, although I’d suggest some of the new retirement plans I’ve heard, which include getting something before 20 years, will actually help retention rates for those who consider getting out around the 10 year mark.
Either way, I’d like to see some studies on it before we start throwing the word “DRAFT!” around. I’d like that study to look and see if these alleged decreases in recruitment and retention would outpace decreases to force size. Because frankly, if we have a much smaller force, we won’t need to recruit and retain as many people. However, Noonan says that the Committee will be releasing something on this. So for now, I’m skeptical but I’ll wait to see what they have to say before coming to any conclusions.