February 15, 2008

A nation at war? Not any time soon...

For those civilians who hoped after President Bush's 2007 State of the Union address that the President was finally opening an avenue for a nation not at war to support a military (except the Air Force) at war, don't hold your breath.

In the words of the President, "Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. And it would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time."

(Now when the President spoke, Kip hadn't yet spent a year serving under a Reserve command, so he didn't realize that when the President said "function much like our military reserve," it was code for "will not function at all")

According to a Washington Post article this morning, the corps, after a year of laying fallow, is supposedly gaining some steam.

"Are you a road engineer who speaks Urdu? A city planner fluent in Arabic? Maybe a former judge who happens to know Pashto and seeks foreign adventure?," asks the article.

"Then don't bother applying," the authors answer themselves without realizing it. (Anyway you won't get a security clearance.)

This civilian corps a grand whopping total of 2250 strong is going to be drafted internal to the federal government from its own agencies. (Agencies, Kip may add, that are reluctant to participate in the war and even more reluctant to leave secure bases where they may be threatened. In Afghanistan, this differentiates USAID and the US State Department, for instance, from UNOPS. A very senior State official once told Kip, "How can I be expected to send my people off the base when it's not safe out there?")

Kip recognizes an urgent need to bring in civilian capabilities to construct a nation, develop civil society, and develop an economy that offer worthy alternatives to fighting foreign occupation and dominance by the wrong tribe or ethnic group.

He also recognizes the value of a nation mobilized for war in response to the largest attack against civilians in our nation's history over a nation mobilized to go to the movies.

He is therefore deeply disappointed, although not surprised, that the Civilian Response Corps seems a hollow endeavor.

Update: AM here. Be sure to check out Matt Armstrong's (MountainRunner) post on this.