Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Drafting Solutions

One of our regular listeners called this morning with a question: “Should we reinstate the Draft?”

At first I was taken aback, since this is a financial show, but I sensed this is a question many of us have asked ourselves in the wake of nightly newscasts showing horror stories of US soldiers being blown to bits in Iraq.

There are always two sides to a question.
The first thought that came to my mind was whether we want a military made up of willing volunteers or unwilling conscriptees. The Military commanders have made it clear they’re much more efficient when the ranks are filled with people who want to be there for the fight.

But the Draft also creates an echo benefit for those who successfully complete their training: Boot camp creates survivors and productive members of society. Military service for all would probably solve many of the societal ills with which we currently wrestle.

The point was made that the Draft was partially responsible for our ability to overcome the enemy in WW2.

The counterpoint is that the Draft in the Vietnam war had very different results.

They were two different wars, using the same mechanism for filling the ranks.

At the end of the day, I believe I would rather be protected by someone who wants to be holding a weapon, not someone who’d rather be anywhere else but on the line.

Drafting all youths for mandatory military service has another benefit: “skin in the game,” as my caller put it. When you have a vested interest in the outcome, everything matters.

During WW-2, our soldiers all had skin in the game. From the challenges they met, innovative solutions emerged. According to G. E. Patrick Murray’s wonderful compilation, “Bomber Missions: Aviation Art of World War II,” the pilots of B-25 bombers stationed in the Pacific saw the war from different levels…usually at several thousand feet.

Gen. Jimmy Doolittle led his B-25’s on the first retaliatory strike against the Japanese after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The fleet carrying the planes was discovered by the Japanese, forcing the early launch of the innovative, dangerous mission…and the untimely loss of most of the planes and crews.

Innovation was the key to winning the war.

A former flight instructor for Philippine Airlines, Maj. Paul Gunn, had an idea that lowering the attack altitude of his aircraft would increase its effectiveness.

He eliminated the bombardier and chin turret on his aircraft, and installed eight additional .50-guns in the nose.

His pilots could then hammer away at enemy ships with some lethal firepower, as well as pinpoint bombing techniques.

The 498th Bomber Squadron’s 345th Bomb Group distinctively painted its planes with yellow falcon’s beaks on the nose and matching rings around the engine nacelles.

One of those striking aircraft is on permanent guard, just off the port beam of the USS Alabama.

The tail fin emblem marks the aircraft as a member of the 345th “Air Apaches.”

The nose is unforgettable…especially if you’re the target of this falcon.

Whether from above, on the sea, or below its surface, our men were there to serve.

Tomorrow, a look inside one of the war machines from the deep.

See you on the Radio.

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