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Building warriors in the classroom?

In April, the U.S. armed forces missed recruiting targets for the third consecutive month. The combination of growing shortfalls and expanding overseas commitments has prompted many observers to conclude that a return to the draft may be unavoidable (see article on page 24). Retired Marine officer Michael S. Woodson offers a different view: rather than reinstitute conscription, public schools should be used to rebuild the rudiments of a "warrior society."

"The only way to improve Army recruiting is to improve the quality of recruits over the long term," wrote Woodson in an April 4 report for Soldiers For The Truth, a military reform organization founded by the late Colonel David Hackworth. "It can only happen if recruiting dies and martial training and tradition rise in U.S. public elementary school curricula."

"Each of the armed services ought to use recruiting and research funds to pay accomplished former armed service members to train children in key areas that will develop their warrior talents: physical and mental toughening, orienteering, martial arts, marksmanship, swimming, outdoor and survival skills, negotiating terrain, mechanical skills, endurance, field medicine, problem-solving workshops and the like," he writes. This warrior-arts curriculum would "provide a much larger contingent of military-ready recruits and candidates when they come of age without having to put them through a sudden assembly-line process, after high school.... At any time, we would be able to raise a credible military force out of our peacetime population."

In previous eras, the skills and attitudes Woodson describes were instilled in young men without state intervention or encouragement. As recently as perhaps two generations ago, youngsters could actually take firearms to their local schools without being regarded as potential Columbine-style mass murderers. And even today, many youths are tutored in "outdoor and survival skills" through hunting and Scouting. But cultivating such attributes collides with the "zero-tolerance" sensibility governing public schools, which requires that students be punished for displaying the slightest symptoms of aggression.

In an interview with THE NEW AMERICAN, Woodson pointed out that his proposal was not intended to militarize public schools, but rather to help young Americans understand "the meaning and effects of war," as well as to help reconstitute a national military devoted to genuine national defense. "This is no different than children on a gymnastics track wanting to compete for a spot on college teams and eventually in the various games, up to and including the Olympics," he explained. "Similarly, the art of war we ask our young to undertake should be something that teaches mastery of martial skills and art from an early age."

Woodson opposes a return to conscription, and is also contemptuous of the neoconservative War Hawks, whom he describes as "certain loose associations of well-financed political friends who come to power from using the military in a mercenary manner.... [S]uch people often have no personal connection to war and so cannot understand fully what they are doing."

Therein lies the problem with Woodson's proposal: a national "warrior" curriculum would inevitably be designed and implemented by exactly the same caste of elitists who created our present mess.
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Title Annotation:INSIDER REPORT; army recruitment
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 30, 2005
Words:516
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