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Thursday, October 05, 2006


grow the force, II

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, October 05, 2006 permalink View blog reactions
RedState's military roundtable looks at Kerry's election promise of doubling the number of special operations forces (SOF) and goes into detail on why such men can't be mass-produced.

The recruitment issue boils down to two numbers:

1. How many young men in the general military population are physically and mentally capable of SOF?

2. What percentage of those men become SOF?

It is a fairly obvious statement that the answer to #2 is nowhere close to 100% (more likely, < 1%). However as the essay above makes clear, that percentage is likely impossible to raise. So the best route to increasing the pool of SOF is to address #1.

Namely, if the answer to #1 is N, and the answer to #2 is p, then the total number of SOF = Np. Since p is effectively fixed, N is the only variable left to adjust.

I think that we have to adopt a "trickle down" approach. Financial incentives therefore would serve to increase N - and broaden the pool of those men who might at some point be exposed to the opportunity to be challenged and inspired enough to consider SOF.

There are many young men in urban environments who are full of potential but are ultimately wasted. Any young punk on the street today can be a fearless warrior and honorable officer tomorrow. The issue is to increase the incentive for that punk to take a chance on a military career, to inspire them with a vision of something beyond their present existence.

Yes this means disproportionately target the underclass for recruitment. But what a majestic means of class uplift!

This is why I think that a new GI Bill for the 21st century - the need to grow the force, not build it - has promise to solve all the manpower issues, not just with SOF but also for the greater counterinsurgency role that teh general Army will be expected to play. More men attracted to military service means a rising tide that will float all boats.


IMO the folks who have the best handle on this are the Swiss.

Everyone in Switzerland -- men and women -- are eligible for military service. All men are required to serve unless exempted. About 1/3 are exempted, so about 2/3 of all men serve.

Service is from about age 20 into your thirties. Officers server longer, into their forties or even beyond.

Everyone who serves is trained, is armed, and is responsible to do some national-guard level service.

The standing army per se is very small, some tens of thousands.

2/3 of the population of service-age American men is tens of millions of men. One percent of that is a very big number.

Thanks -


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.