Monday, February 24, 2014

You Want To Cut Military Numbers? Fine, Provided You Take These Steps....

Today the administration announced plans to reduce the size of our military to pre-WW2 levels.  In addition to huge cuts in active duty military forces, significant cuts will also be made in the Guard and Reserve.  A great many aircraft will be retired, and the Navy is likely to see even more ships retired and not replaced.

You may be surprised to read that I actually have mixed feelings about this.  On one hand, the founders never envisioned a large standing military.  We have only maintained a large standing Army since 1941 - prior to that our policy was to raise large armies when needed and disband them at the end of the conflict.  The Navy did maintain larger forces, since it takes time to build ships and train sailors.  The same could be said of Air Forces.

On the other hand, this isn't 1850 - military jobs are now much more technical and require much more training.  This makes it harder to quickly put together a force - land, sea or air - then it was in earlier times.  It also makes maintaining such a force very expensive.

So, what is the answer?  I believe it is the same system that the Founders envisioned: A relatively small national army (and Guard and Reserve), backed up by a large "people's militia" composed of virtually all able bodied persons of military age.

A people's militia worked well for 125 years - it could work today.

The primary mission of the militia would be to provide a large pool of people who have some military training and could quickly be "trained up" to full military standards in time of emergency.  In addition, a database would be maintained of all of their civilian skills so that they could be matched with military jobs (MOSs) as quickly as possible.  Essentially, this would "pre-load" the military's training programs enabling a modern force to be raised much more quickly.

In addition to the above, the militia - which would be under state authority in time of peace - would have units specializing in just one role.  The missions of these "people's militia" units would include the following:

  • To provide backup to state wildland firefighting forces.
  • To provide manpower for disaster relief efforts.
  • To provide backup to police in controlling civil disturbances (riot control)
  • In time of war, when other forces are at the front, to function as a "Home Guard".    The wartime missions of the militia could include providing security for critical infrastructure, the pursuit and apprehension of downed enemy pilots and if, God forbid, the enemy should invade, reinforcement of first line military units.  These are the same roles the British Home Guard fulfilled during WW2. 

Every citizen would be required to undergo 6 months training - with very minimal pay provided  - in all the above roles, and at the end of which they would bid for one of the four specialties based upon their scores - with conscientious objectors only being assigned to disaster relief or fire fighting units.  They then would be assigned to a unit in their community that specializes in one of the four missions.

As in the past, militia members would be required to buy and maintain in good working order, their personal equipment (firearms, fire fighting protection gear, etc) with loans being available for those unable to pay cash for them.  Firearms would be civilian legal weapons capable of firing military ammo.  (Rifles in .223 and .308, pistols in 9mm and .45.)  Prices of other gear, such as protective clothing for firefighting, would likely drop in response to demand.  Used equipment would be avialable as members completed their time of service.

Militia units would report for training and inspection one day per quarter.  Citizens would be assigned to a first line unit for 10 years and a second line unit for an additional 10 years.  They could volunteer for additional service if they are physically able.  

This system served our nation well for 125 years, and with modifications, it could do so again.  Additionally, it would be very important to "mothball", rather than scrap, aircraft and other critical equipment.

In addition to making the nation more secure, this training would take us back to a time when young people learned responsibility and otherwise "grew up" during basic training.  Again, this is a very good thing.

Are there many details to be worked out?  Of course there are - but such a program could be operated at low cost per man, provide a great deterrent to our enemies and potentially enable us to lower our active duty and "ready reserve" forces even further with less risk. 

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