Zachary Yost | The Mises Institute
The most recent edition of the US Army War College’s academic journal includes a highly disturbing essay on what lessons the US military should take away from the continuing war in Ukraine. By far the most concerning and most relevant section for the average American citizen is a subsection entitled “Casualties, Replacements, and Reconstitutions” which, to cut right to the chase, directly states, “Large-scale combat operations troop requirements may well require a reconceptualization of the 1970s and 1980s volunteer force and a move toward partial conscription.”
An Industrial War of Attrition Would Require Vast Numbers of Troops
The context for this supposed need to reinstate conscription is the estimate that were the US to enter into a large-scale conflict, every day it would likely suffer thirty-six hundred casualties and require eight hundred replacements, again per day. The report notes that over the course of twenty years in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US suffered fifty thousand casualties, a number which would likely be reached in merely two weeks of large-scale intensive combat.
The military is already facing an enormous recruiting shortfall. Last year the army alone fell short of its goal by fifteen thousand soldiers and is on track to be short an additional twenty thousand this year. On top of that, the report notes that the Individual Ready Reserve, which is composed of former service personnel who do not actively train and drill but may be called back into active service in the event they are needed, has dropped from seven hundred thousand in 1973 to seventy-six thousand now.
Prior to the Ukraine war, the fad theory in military planning was the idea of “hybrid warfare,” where the idea of giant state armies clashing on the battlefield requiring and consuming vast amounts of men and material was viewed as out of date as mass cavalry charges. Instead, these theorists argued that even when states did fight, it would be via proxies and special operations and would look more like the past twenty years of battling nonstate actors in the hills of Afghanistan. In a recent essay in the Journal of Security Studies, realist scholar Patrick Porter documents the rise of this theory and the fact that it is obviously garbage given the return of industrial wars of attrition.
As military planners have woken up from the fevered dream of imagining that modern war consisted of chasing the Taliban through the hills with complete and overwhelming airpower, they have similarly started to wake up to the idea that industrial war has vast manpower requirements and that seemingly the only way to fill these requirements is by forcing young people into the ranks. That has certainly been the only way Ukraine has been able to maintain its forces, although it has required increasingly draconian measures to do so as conscripts face attrition rates of 80 to 90 percent by Ukraine’s own admission.
Obviously, the reintroduction of conscription is an extremely disturbing prospect given America’s propensity for getting involved in meaningless wars that accomplish nothing other than empowering our enemies, killing and maiming our soldiers, and wasting vast resources.
This is especially true given the unstated assumptions implicit in this paper. Who is the enemy that would be inflicting thirty-six hundred casualties a day? A war in the Pacific against China would primarily be a naval and airpower war with an extremely limited role for the army (even the current inept regime seems unlikely to be stupid enough to try and wage a land war against China) which obviously leaves Russia as the main adversary that would require the US Army to round up conscripts to feed into the attritional meat grinder.
There Is No American National Interest That Requires a Standing Army
However, while these manpower shortages may be a valid concern for someplace like Russia, Ukraine, or Poland, we here in the US are quite fortunate that we have no compelling national interest that would require us to engage in an industrial war of attrition in Eastern Europe.
To the extent we are at risk of becoming involved in such a disastrous mess, it is entirely of our own doing via the entangling alliance known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and our leader’s own messianic gnostic crusades for democracy or whatever pseudo-religious ideology is presently in vogue.
The US is blessed as being the most secure power in history. We are the hegemon of the western hemisphere, with vast moats in the form of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans that no other state has the capability to project military force across, and all our neighbors are weak and relatively friendly. We are not at any risk of being forced to fight an industrial land war on the home front. Any war the army would be used in would be as an expeditionary force fighting in the eastern hemisphere, where we have no compelling defensive need to do so.
From the beginning of the US, there have been warnings against the dangers of both entangling alliances and standing armies. The best solution to the military recruitment crisis is to simply abolish the standing army and not plan to wage a costly and pointless war on the other side of the planet that would result in trillions of dollars down the drain and who knows how many tens or hundreds of thousands of Americans being killed, maimed, and psychologically scarred.
The follwing discussion of the draft is taken from the leaked CIA Training Manual:
Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars An Introduction Programming Manual Operations Research Technical Manual TW-SW7905.1
The Draft (As military service)
Few efforts of human behavior modification are more remarkable or more effective than that of the socio-military institution known as the draft. A primary purpose of a draft or other such institution is to instill, by intimidation, in the young males of a society the uncritical conviction that the government is omnipotent. He is soon taught that a prayer is slow to reverse what a bullet can do in an instant. Thus, a man trained in a religious environment for eighteen years of his life can, by this instrument of the government, be broken down, be purged of his fantasies and delusions in a matter of mere months. Once that conviction is instilled, all else becomes easy to instill.Even more interesting is the process by which a young man’s parents, who purportedly love him, can be induced to send him off to war to his death. Although the scope of this work will not allow this matter to be expanded in full detail, nevertheless, a coarse overview will be possible and can serve to reveal those factors which must be included in some numerical form in a computer analysis of social and war systems.
We begin with a tentative definition of the draft.
4. The draft (selectiveservice,etc.) is an institution of compulsory collective sacrifice and slavery, devised by the middle-aged and elderly for the purpose of pressing the young into doing the public dirty work. It further serves to make the youth as guilty as the elders, thus making criticism of the elders by the youth less likely (Generational Stabilizer). It is marketed and and sold to the public under the label of “patriotic = national” service.Once a candid economic definition of the draft is achieved, that definition is used to outline the boundaries of a structure called a Human Value System, which in turn is translated into the terms of game theory. The value of such a slave laborer is given in a Table of Human Values, a table broken down into categories by intellect, experience, post-service job demand, etc.Some of these categories are ordinary and can be tentatively evaluated in terms of the value of certain jobs for which a known fee exists. Some jobs are harder to value because they are unique to the demands of social subversion, for an extreme example: the value of a mother’s instruction to her daughter, causing that daughter to put certain behavioral demands upon a future husband ten or fifteen years hence; thus, by suppressing his resistance to a perversion of a government, making it easier for a banking cartel to buy the State of New York in, say, twenty years.
Such a problem leans heavily upon the observations and data of wartime espionage and many types of psychological testing. But crude mathematical models (algorithms, etc.) can be devised, if not to predict, at least to predeterminate these events with maximum certainty. What does not exist by natural cooperation is thus enhanced by calculated compulsion. Human beings are machines, levers which may be grasped and turned, and there is little real difference between automating a society and automating a shoe factory.
These derived values are variable. (It is necessary to use a current Table of Human Values for computer analysis.) These values are given in true measure rather than U.S. dollars, since the latter is unstable, being presently inflated beyond the production of national goods and services so as to give the economy a false kinetic energy (“paper” inductance).
The silver value is stable, it being possible to buy the same amount with a gram of silver today as it could be bought in 1920. Human value measured in silver units changes slightly due to changes in production technology.
As in every social system approach, stability is achieved only by understanding and accounting for human nature (action/reaction patterns). A failure to do so can be, and usually is, disastrous.As in other human social schemes, one form or another of intimidation (or incentive) is essential to the success of the draft. Physical principles of action and reaction must be applied to both internal and external subsystems.
To secure the draft, individual brainwashing/programming and both the family unit and the peer group must be engaged and brought under control.
Factor II – Father
The man of the household must be housebroken to ensure that junior will grow up with the right social training and attitudes. The advertising media, etc., are engaged to see to it that father-to-be is pussy-whipped before or by the time he is married. He is taught that he either conforms to the social notch cut out for him or his sex life will be hobbled and his tender companionship will be zero. He is made to see that women demand security more than logical, principled, or honorable behavior.By the time his son must go to war, father (with jelly for a backbone) will slam a gun into junior’s hand before father will risk the censure of his peers, or make a hypocrite of himself by crossing the investment he has in his own personal
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opinion or self-esteem. Junior will go to war or father will be embarrassed. So junior will go to war, the true purpose not withstanding.
Factor III – Mother
The female element of human society is ruled by emotion first and logic second. In the battle between logic and imagination, imagination always wins, fantasy prevails, maternal instinct dominates so that the child comes first and the future comes second. A woman with a newborn baby is too starry-eyed to see a wealthy man’s cannon fodder or a cheap source of slave labor. A woman must, however, be conditioned to accept the transition to “reality” when it comes, or sooner.As the transition becomes more difficult to manage, the family unit must be carefully disintegrated, and state-controlled public education and state-operated child-care centers must be become more common and legally enforced so as to begin the detachment of the child from the mother and father at an earlier age. Inoculation of behavioral drugs [Ritalin] can speed the transition for the child (mandatory). Caution: A woman’s impulsive anger can override her fear. An irate woman’s power must never be underestimated, and her power over a pussy-whipped husband must likewise never be underestimated. It got women the vote in 1920.
Factor IV – Junior
The emotional pressure for self-preservation during the time of war and the self-serving attitude of the common herd that have an option to avoid the battlefield – if junior can be persuaded to go – is all of the pressure finally
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necessary to propel Johnny off to war. Their quiet blackmailings of him are the threats: “No sacrifice, no friends; no glory, no girlfriends.”
Factor V – Sister
And what about junior’s sister? She is given all the good things of life by her father, and taught to expect the same from her future husband regardless of the price.
Factor VI – Cattle
Those who will not use their brains are no better off than those who have no brains, and so this mindless school of jelly-fish, father, mother, son, and daughter, become useful beasts of burden or trainers of the same.