The Pentagon on Wednesday postponed by more than a week the release of military recruiting figures for May, as the Army and Marine Corps struggle to attract new troops amid the Iraq war.
The military services had routinely provided most recruiting statistics for a given month on the first business day of the next month. Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said the May numbers for the active-duty and reserve components of the all-volunteer military will be released on June 10.
“Military recruiting is instrumental to our readiness and merits the earliest release of data. But at the same time, this information must be reasonably scrutinized and explained to the public, which deserves the fullest insight into military performance in this important area,” Krenke said.
Translation: our numbers blow, so we need some time in order to spin this into something that combines positivity with credibility. What is worrisome is that the damage that is now being done to the recruiting effort will probably last longer than most people can imagine, and threatens to create a vicious circle where falling enlistments cause more stop-losses, which causes enlisting to look less and less desirable.
Such a vicious circle is likely how a draft would come about.
Now, it’s true that no general ever has enough troops. The McClellan syndrome is a legitimate concern. But when the military message that there are not enough troops to do the job is repeatedly overridden by the civilians in charge, the chances that the Law of Unintended Consequences will find an application rise dramatically.