Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution, a list of earlier revolutions and the author, Entry #1.

Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether in the next few years, a revolution in the US is still possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US.  Most recent sense check, Entry #365.  

If you want to a diversion, there are easy-to-read booklets for download.  These include:

Start of Entry #366.  With the new year, I decided to try, emphasis on try, and get back to outlining practical solutions to complex societal problems. Ideally all of the topics in the coming blog entries will be related to factors that could contribute to the 5th US Revolution, the Revenge Revolution.

Some topics will be more obviously linked to the projected revolution; some less so. Doubtless, there will be entries that are more a reaction to some recent event inside the Beltway, or some inane comment or action by Trump. However, one of my resolutions for 2020 is to keep “reactionary” entries to a minimum, or at least put the entries in a broader context.

A societal issue that seems to generate little discussion but one that has long-term implications for a stable US democracy is how to staff the military. In a previous entry (#293), I recommended conscription be reinstituted in the US. I also recommended that satisfying requirements of conscription could be expanded beyond service in the military. One could satisfy requirements by serving in any number of government agencies – Federal, state, local – as well as serving in certain jobs outside the US – embassies, e.g.

The general benefits of conscription include: (i) exposing “draftees” to jobs, people and activities they would likely never experience otherwise; (ii) providing an excellent way to train people for work in the private sector. Many of the jobs skills learned while serving, especially non-military assignments, would have direct applicability in the private sector; (iii) helping people understand how to build a highly functioning team from a group of individuals with disparate backgrounds. Such an understanding should help reduce the polarization that continues to worsen in this country; (iv) maybe the most important, allowing people to state rightfully and proudly they served their country.  Under the proposed conscription system, let’s change the term “draftee” to “patriot.”

Conscription would help overcome what is a growing problem for the military – a very narrow segment of the population volunteers to serve. According to an article in the New York Times (20 01 11 NYT Makeup of Military Recruits), less than 1% of the US population serves in the military. Further, nearly 80% of the current recruits come from families where someone has served, and 30% of the recruits come from families where one or both parents have served in the military.

The current volunteer system limits the personality profiles of people in the military. While some might find this comforting, my experience has been limiting personality types in a group can result in distorted thinking and/or distorted behavior. Expanding the type/personality profiles of individuals serving in the military can have a moderating influence on “group think” behavior. Such moderation seems especially important for members participating in units subjected to extreme training and precarious assignments – special forces and Navy SEALs e.g. Members of these units may find having a moderating force in the ranks would help mitigate the difficulty in transitioning to civilian life.

Admittedly, the number of former special forces personnel I’ve worked with in say the last ten years is limited. However the actions of each suggest a problem in the transition to civilian life. Of the four (4) in various special-forces units, one was a convicted felon, two were extortionists, and one was a seemingly “normal” individual but who also maintained a significant cache of weapons, including several .50 caliber rifles. Folks, .50 caliber rifles are not for hunting. They’re for armed warfare.

The military seems to be trying to address the most egregious misbehavior of personnel in special forces. Recent examples include the Navy’s conviction of Edward Gallagher, a high-ranking NCO SEAL, and the Army’s refusal to restore a Special Forces tab for Major Mathew Golsteyn, who had been accused of killing an unarmed Afghan suspected of bomb making.

Unfortunately, the efforts by the military have been thwarted by Trump. Trump, who has zero military experience and apparently no appreciation of the need for discipline within the system, pardoned both men and hailed them as true “warriors,” thereby undermining the military justice system.

Whereas reinstituting conscription won’t necessarily stop egregious, even criminal behavior by those in special forces, it will increase the appreciation among a wide swath of citizens, including those inside the Beltway, of what is required to operate a military that can be model of integrity for other countries worldwide. A credible, well-disciplined military with proper, separate oversight is also critical to a functioning democracy.

For “patriots” who serve in government organizations other than the military, the organizations will benefit by being exposed to a workforce with fresh ideas and skills that should be especially useful as more technology is integrated into these organizations. The “patriots,” in many respects, will be like interns in the private sector. Having “patriots” as workers allows managers of the government organization an opportunity to evaluate performance and then potentially recruit the higher performing individuals for employment following discharge.

Reinstituting conscription needs to be fair and equitable. Some ideas in the next entry.