I believe our military’s stop-loss and reserve policy is a good and needed policy. For anyone who agrees that we need to defend our nation and that we should sacrifice for our nation and our people, the concept of stop-loss is easy to see as a good one. For those who don’t agree with defending our nation, no amount of arguments will do.
In order for a nation to defend it self it can either maintain a large active military or a smaller military with the ability to quickly grow and maintain a large force sufficient to meet the immediate threats on our nation. After the draft during Vietnam our nation agreed to abandon the draft and go to a stop-loss and reserve policy. We became an all volunteer military. When need arises we can call on trained reserves to boost the size of our force and institute stop-loss to maintain the size during the conflict.
Stop loss is very akin to mandatory overtime in a business. Overtime is used by business to carry a company through peak or unforeseen period of demand or until more labor can be hired to meet an ongoing need. Both overtime and stop-loss can be very effective in the short term but aren’t good long term solutions as far as I am concerned.
We could have chosen to end stop loss by instituting a draft but that would be both politically unpopular as well as economically unpopular, for the other side of a reservist or a citizen going to war is that they will not be here to work and produce. Our wars have been won with our economy as much as military. People volunteering to work at home in support of war efforts have been the difference. We need to balance the right amount of soldiers in the fight with the most amount of people at home driving our economy. Again this is akin to the business model. You can’t have overtime for very long in sales and shipping without accompanying overtime in manufacturing.
I can see 3 ways to defend our nation:
- Draft and maintain a large standing military sufficient to handle both short and long term conflicts without calling reserves. – the problem with this is that for most of the time it senselessly takes from the economy and our personal lives.
- Maintain a small all volunteer military with no stop-loss nor reserves. -this seems to be the stance of local anti-war groups but the problem with this is that we will be unable to react to immediate defense needs, nor mount long term defensive military actions. In this scenerio we would end up using more bombs and missles leading to more civilian deaths than if we were to use troops. Those civilian deaths become the cost of us not having sufficient troops in reserve. Imagine knowing that there is one or two combatants in a village: with troops they can go in, hunt down them down and target just the bad guys. But in this not enough troops scenario we either let them go so they can kill us another day or we obliterate the village and all residents with bombs and missiles.
- A volunteer army with sufficient reserve force and stop-loss to carry us through short term conflicts with the expectation that a draft will be instituted at some point in longer conflicts. – this is what we have now and it is working. We have sufficient troops in the Middle East and it is a political battle deciding to send more versus a matter of not having the troops.
I like option 3. It is what we have now. It is working for our defense even though it is hard on the individual troops. My question is when is the right time to institute a draft? I think that the answer will come when more people accept that the current form of Islam is a threat to our nation.