The Carter Administration has been on notice regarding these deficiencies for some time. Its response has been to classify part of the problem and ignore the rest of it. In late 1978, for instance, the DOD ran a paper mobilization exercise known as "Nifty Nugget," which theorized a major commitment of U.S. forces to Europe to help NATO fight a conventional war against Warsaw Pact forces. In light of the overwhelming conventional superiority Eastern European forces enjoy, and the increasing adventurism of the Soviet Union, as well as our own possible hesitation response to a conventional attack on our strategic "periphery," this is not an unlikely scenario. The results, in manpower terms alone, were devastating. As one Army planner put it, "Don't buy any Victory bonds."
Ninety days into such an engagement-twenty days before this country could even deliver a draftee to his training facility-our military would be more than one million personnel short. In some critical combat skills, we would have only 30 percent of the trained manpower needed to fight a war. We would have less than 40 percent of the doctors needed, less than 25 percent of the nurses, and less than half the enlisted medics, thus ensuring that many thousands would die for lack of care. It is impossible to measure what would happen to our aviation forces; aviators require more than a year of intense training before becoming combat-ready.
Confronted with this evidence, Army Secretary Clifford Alexander refused to discuss it, even with members of Congress in closed session. This led Congressman Robin Beard of Tennessee, a former marine and a leading proponent of military preparedness, to claim that "this is a flagrant abuse of the system and does not serve the national interest. The manner in which this information has been handled is nothing short of a national defense scandal."
There are not many members of Congress with the insight and concern of Robin Beard these days. The failure to address defense manpower issues over the past decade shows the priorities of a Congress whose members have an increasingly large lack of military experience, and whose view of the political world was shaped by the gyrations of a vocal minority during the Vietnam protest years. Of the twenty-nine members of Congress born in 1944 or later, only five have served with the active military forces, and only one is an actual combat veteran.
The volunteer Army is an unmitigated disaster. Those who discovered, after fifteen years of calculated silence, that the Vietnam draft fell disproportionately on the poor and minorities, now remain mute before the hard evidence that the cure is infinitely worse than the disease. If present enlistment trends continue, the Army will be 42 percent black by the early 1980s. White enlistees have less education than black, evidence of their socioeconomic status. More than 60 percent of enlistees are from the bottom two categories of intelligence testing. It is so hard to re-enlist a soldier that the Army is now permitting those who fail their skills qualification test to re-up, thus assuring the youth of America that, if mobilization should occur, their NCO's will be unqualified to train them, much less to function themselves. This situation is getting worse every year: in 1979, the intelligence levels of recruits and those re-enlisting were the worst since the volunteer Army began.
Because American males have been conditioned since Vietnam to view the avoidance of military service as honorable and just, and because President Carter's Administration has misguidedly viewed the role of women in the military as an issue more of equal opportunity than of effective national defense, increasing percentages of women are being brought into the service. It is expected that by 1984, 12 percent of the Army will be female, up from 2 percent in 1972. Army Secretary Alexander, a former chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, views reluctance to use women in the military through the same prism he did the resistance to blacks in the 1960s: as a product of unfounded bigotry. Using the "narrowest definition of combat that was practicable," he has opened up all but twenty-four of the 30,5 military specialties to women, ensuring that female soldiers will be directly involved in any future military confrontation. The glowing press releases put out by the DOD about how well this is working may be fooling portions of the American public, but they are hardly deluding the Soviets. Furthermore, our international military credibility is damaged by the reality that no President wants to be the first to send large numbers of American women out to die.