by Ruth Owings-Goodwin
Stand With Arizona
Advocates for the “DREAM Act” have relentlessly attempted to sell it to a skeptical public through a variety of rhetorical assertions. One of the 2 main components of the DREAM ACT calls for eligible “Dreamers” to serve in the U.S. military to gain a path to citizenship. Advocates have repeatedly insisted that the DREAM Act is critical to U.S. military “readiness” – that the military needs these “Dreamers” or else we would not have sufficient troops to adequately handle our current and future commitments. This is also the rationale used by some Republicans to sway them towards support of the legislation. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), chief sponsor of the bill, has this to say about the military requirement on his website:
The DREAM Act would benefit the U.S. Armed Forces. Tens of thousands of highly-qualified, well-educated young people would enlist in the Armed Forces if the DREAM Act becomes law. The Defense Department’s FY 2010-12 Strategic Plan includes the DREAM Act as a means to help “shape and maintain a mission-ready All Volunteer Force.” Defense Secretary Gates, who supports the DREAM Act, says it “will result in improved recruitment results and attendant gains in unit manning and military performance.”
However the facts do not support Durbin’s sales pitch. Because the U.S. Military, it was revealed this week, is cutting back on recruitment, and even reducing staff. Part of this is economic, with proposed defense spending cuts, including the reduction of the Defense budget by 78 billion dollars over the next 5 years. The other reason is reduced future commitments. The largest budget cuts would come after 2015, when an estimated 47,000 troops comprised of the Army and Marines will be anticipating a 2014 pullout from Afghanistan.
The Navy is currently working on what is being called “unprecedented steps” of actually “firing” 3,000 low ranking Petty Officers. In fact, all branches will be reducing their troops:
In August, the Navy will convene a board to review the cases of 16,000 sailors and eliminate 3,000 positions, about 1 percent of the force. Navy officials say the jobs cuts will be based on experience and individual performance records.
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced in January that as the wars come to a close in 2015 the Pentagon has plans to cut active-duty soldiers by 27,000 and reduce the Marine Corps by roughly 15,000.
Same situation in the Air Force:
The Air Force retention rates are also up to a 6-year high, causing it to convene a similar reduction-in-force board. The Air Force will review the records of more than 9,000 officers, mostly majors, and roughly 400 are expected to be let go.
And in the U.S. Army:
In October, the Army will begin cutting its ranks by 22,000 — and that means even more job seekers in a market with fewer and fewer good jobs.
Curiously, after reading the story about reduction in military troops and reviewing some of the testimony by Margaret D. Stock, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) and Clifford Stanley, Under Secretary of Defense, during the DREAM ACT Congressional Hearing, there’s never a mention of an actual “immediate need” to fill the ranks of our military. There’s not even a ballpark number of persons our military would require to fill any voids. As a matter of fact, there’s nearly a year long wait to get into boot camp, no matter the branch of the Armed Forces one would wish to enlist. According to the Dept of Defense, as of June 28, 2011, recruiting and retention remain strong.
The news release from the DOD shows all four active services met or exceeded their numerical accession goals for fiscal year-to-date 2011, through May. Five of the six Reserve Components met or exceeded their goals for the fiscal year-to-date 2011, through May.
Donna Miles of the American Forces Press Service has written an interesting article showing the impact of successful retention efforts and high recruiting numbers.
Retention rates remained high throughout the services. Successful recruiting and high retention rates, along with military downsizing, has impacted the number of positions available not only to first-time recruits, but also for prior-service members wishing to return to service, Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said.
Traditionally, the military services bring in prior-service recruits to address current or projected manning shortfalls that they are unable to fill through other force management tools and programs, she said.
“In today’s recruiting environment, with improved retention and greater propensity to serve, the number of specialties identified as ‘shortfalls’ is greatly reduced,” Lainez said. This, in turn, “reduces the number of opportunities for those wishing to return to duty.
All of this seems to fall in line with President Obama’s speech on June 22, 2011 concerning troop withdrawal. It appears that the President envisions a “coalition” of countries to assist in any future actions rather than the U.S. going it alone:
When threatened, we must respond with force — but when that force can be targeted, we need not deploy large armies overseas. We don’t have to choose between standing idly by or acting on our own. Instead, we must rally international action, which we are doing in Libya, where we do not have a single soldier on the ground, but are supporting allies in protecting the Libyan people and giving them the chance to determine their destiny.
A concerted effort to keep the DREAM Act a social issue has obscured the realities of economics and military strategy. Americans are expected to accept the DREAM Act, no questions asked. But when lining up the facts, it is utterly absurd to believe that “tens of thousands” of Military DREAM Act candidates could ever be absorbed fairly or effectively into our Military while current troops are being “fired”, waiting lists exist and retention rates remain high. The assertions of DREAM Act proponents are simple false.
And the principal DREAM saleman, Senator Durbin himself, contradicts his assertions with his own communications. While falsely claiming the military has tens of thousands of spots available for DREAM candidates, Durbin is simultaneously leading the charge for defense cutbacks. Durbin, Assistant Majority Leader in the Senate, released a message via the Twitter service which read, “With #Afghanistan #drawdown started, we should use some of $10b/mo spent on war effort #nationbuilding here—creating #jobs&reducing #deficit.”
At last a point on which we can agree with Sen. Durbin: let’s focus on creating jobs and reducing the deficit. Not on betraying citizens and legal immigrants by rewarding illegal aliens with amnesty.
PLEASE CONSIDER A DONATION of $10.70 to Stand With Arizona in honor of SB1070, to help us continue to fight against illegal alien amnesty and push for Arizona-style enforcement laws nationwide: DONATE link. Thank you.