President Obama has signed an Executive Action, allowing undocumented immigrants who came to the United States with their parents prior to age 16, to serve in U.S. military forces. The program is titled “Military Accessions Vital to National Interest” (MAVNI).
In a recent interview, retired U.S. Army Colonel Chuck Winn expressed some opinions about potentially severe combat readiness problems this could cause, and offered an alternative concept for meeting military manpower requirements. Winn began with an historical example of ancient Rome.
“A great strength of the Roman Republic rested on the concept of military service as an obligation of citizenship. In the tradition of Cincinnatus, during an emergency the farmer would put down his plow, take up his sword and shield and go to war to defend of the republic. When the danger had been repelled, the citizen-soldier put down his sword, and again took up his plow. Later, Rome made it easier for the upper strata to evade service and eventually employed mercenaries on a large scale from conquered and other foreign lands. Mercenaries, unlike citizen-soldiers, had no vested interest other than compensation and frequently had conflicted loyalties. This ultimately led to Rome’s downfall.
Fast forward to the present and you can see how the underlying fallacy of using illegal aliens in our military forces today violates the underlying premise of why we maintain a standing military. Can we trust people who showed no respect for the rule of law in entering our country, to uphold the oath they take when they join the armed forces to protect and defend our Constitution, our fundamental law?“
Colonel Winn’s concerns about the Administration’s policy of absorbing illegal aliens into the U.S. military include:
• Loyalty to the United States. Conducting thorough background investigations for security clearances will be highly problematic making infiltration by terrorists far easier.
• The standards for citizenship only require illegal aliens to successfully complete basic training, not an entire enlistment with an honorable discharge.
• Low standards and a motivation of rewards rather than service will increase demands on inadequately funded programs for veterans who have earned them through great sacrifices.
• Combat readiness will be degraded by diverting resources units need to maintain their go-to-war capabilities for remedial programs. Will limited training time be used for “sensitivity sessions”? Will there be special affirmative action investigations for illegals?
When asked it was possible for America to send its best—those who have chosen to serve without gain for themselves when it goes to war, Winn explained some of the difficulties. “This issue is far more complex than the government investing time and money to train our service men and women.” He went on to explain: “Over the past several decades meeting our manpower requirements has been increasingly difficult. We need educated, skilled, motivated and dedicated young men and women in our armed forces. Currently, only one in four in the prime enlistment ages of 18 to 24 qualifies. Holdbacks include drug dependency, being physically unfit, or having a criminal record. Additionally, the propensity to serve, particularly by youth from higher socio-economic backgrounds, has resulted in a situation where a disproportionate number from lower-middle and working class families go to war. As a conservative I find myself in agreement with New York Democratic Congressman’s Charlie Rangel’s argument that the decision making elites do not have to bear the risk of losing their children.”
Colonel Winn, however, does not advocate a return to compulsory military service through a draft. As an alternative Winn advocates legislation establishing a 6 year community-based national service program. Under this concept, all men and women in the ages of 18 to 24 would be required to serve two days each month plus two weeks in the summer working on various public service projects. This could involve infrastructure maintenance and improvements, or care giving for the elderly. Making this unpaid community service a mandatory prerequisite for graduate and professional school admissions, and licenses for professions, trades and businesses would re-instill a national unifying value of the obligation of citizenship. Since this mandatory program would be part time, it would not disrupt education or vocational training. An expensive, new federal agency would not be needed, since local governments could administer it. Since the compulsory service would not be in the military, conscientious objectors and those not physically fit would still be required to participate, avoiding the inequities of past military drafts. A shorter, paid term of military service as an alternative however, would be very attractive and enlistment programs would likely become highly competitive. The existing Selective Service System could take on the role of monitoring the military manpower aspects of it.”
In today’s society, the idea of service is becoming a thought of the past, but it is the action upon which a free society is founded. Service must be taught, by those who have come before to those who are the inheritors of tomorrow.
Chuck Winn resides in Stuart, Florida. A Vietnam veteran and retired U.S. Army colonel, Chuck completed a 32-year Army career that began as a private. His service, which also included 10 years in the National Guard, entailed troop level assignments as an advisor to South Vietnamese irregular units, infantry company command and battalion operational and intelligence staff positions, and assistant professor of military science at Tuskegee University. Chuck later served in senior operational and strategic planning assignments on the Department of the Army Staff, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), where he developed reserve component combat unit training strategies and readiness legislation; and represented OSD on an interagency working group for combating domestic terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction (WMD); and on a special task force that created an organization for defending against domestic WMD incidents. Winn’s final overseas assignment was as a senior war planner with Headquarters, U.S. Forces Korea.
The tradition of military service in Chuck Winn’s family began when his Polish immigrant grandfather served in the Army during World War I. Chuck’s father, who also completed a military career, earned a commission after serving in combat in Europe as an enlisted man during World War II. He later served in support of the Nuremburg War Crimes trials. While serving in combat during the Korean War, Winn, Sr. was captured by Chinese Communist Forces and spent 34 months as a prisoner-of-war.
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