The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) recently released a report on U.S. military personnel policy that, among other things, recommends registering women for the draft and giving all young people the military’s aptitude test when they register. The report’s title is “Building a F.A.S.T. Force: A Flexible Personnel System for a Modern Military” (F.A.S.T stands for Fully engaged, Adaptable, Sustainable, and Technically proficient). It was created by a BPC task force that includes former Department of Defense officials, retired military officers and several former U.S. senators.
BPC has been criticized in the past for producing reports with conclusions that serve to benefit companies and industries that financially contribute to the non-profit organization. In this case, it’s not clear what has driven BPC to produce a report that focuses primarily on making civilian society a more accessible resource for the military. Possibly it’s because the BPC organization is so thoroughly embedded with representatives of militaristic culture.
Another recommendation of the report is to expand the college Reserve Officer Training Corps to all levels of higher education, including providing ROTC access to postgraduate and community-college students. Some dangerous implications of this would include:
- deepening the educational system’s dependency on financing that is controlled by the Pentagon,
- increasing direct involvement of campuses in war preparation; and
- further normalizing militarism in the general educational environment.
The reason given for requiring all young people to take the military’s aptitude test is that it would allow the selective drafting of individuals based on skill sets. The test, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, is part of the military entrance process and is used to predict how people might perform in different military jobs. Giving it to every teenager when they register with Selective Service wouldn’t change the reality that the test does not reveal actual skill sets, especially when it is administered to people who, at 18 years old, have had little skills training and work experience. Furthermore, imposing the test on as yet un-drafted civilians would be difficult, if not impossible, because of the strong resistance it would likely trigger. If people were forced to take the test, they could very effectively subvert it by deliberately giving wrong answers.
Some of the ideas in the report might be too controversial or impractical to take seriously, but it does give us reason for concern by adding additional momentum to the push to expand draft registration to women. Instead, what we should be having is greater discussion around the option of totally abolishing draft registration and taking steps to demilitarize society.
Information sources: Edward Hasbrouck, https://hasbrouck.org/draft/; and Bipartisan Policy Center, https://bipartisanpolicy.org/library/building-a-fast-force/.
This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (http://www.comdsd.org/).