Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Rough Riders Needed

Stopping Stop Loss raised a number of questions about how to staff the force, with some decrying a perceived drop in quality of new troops, and others calling for a draft which at this time is just the ticket to rally the anti-American Left.

I was asked recently by our local radio station, KTRK, if there wasn’t some other solution steeped in our historical playbook. Of course there is, I replied. Haven’t you heard of the 1st US Volunteer Cavalry, the Rough Riders that TR led up San Juan Hill? TR raised this regiment of cavalry combining his buddies in Ivy Leaguery with some leathery friends from the Old West. Look at pictures of TR in his uniform (Night in the Museum) and his collar brass says USV for US Volunteers. In fact, the raising of regiments was the default American Way of War well into WW2 before the advent of a large standing army.

Where and how can this be done, the Pentagon would wonder to which any Guard or Reserve unit commander could reply with a snort that raising armies, fleets, and air crews is business as usual. A regular service commander is issued his or her troops, while the default Guard or Reserve commander has to stamp his unit out of the ground. When I go to the movies here in Houston, I see ads for the local Air Guard Fighter Squadron. I raised eighty percent of the 5th PSYOP Group (Strategic) in DC within one year of it’s activation back another life time ago.

The fact that the Pentagon raised private military units to avoid calling up the Guard and Reserve units trained for the purpose (and their field grade commanders which might ruin the morale of those on the command list) attests to the fact that units in deed can be stamped out of the ground given proper incentives. In fact, the down side of raising volunteer units historically was that some regiments paid more than others created some healthy competition between units.

Volunteer units made no pretense of sticking around after the war, and hence no threat to established rice bowls. Historically, Regular officers and noncoms were enticed to add starch and spice to the mix of talented amateurs and retreads. This is the way that America used to win it’s wars before careerism raised it’s multiple rotational heads and substituted fighting wars instead of winning them.

No comments: