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 conscription, compulsory enrollment of personnel for service in the armed forces. Obligatory service in the armed forces has existed since ancient times in many cultures, including the samurai in Japan, warriors in the Aztec Empire, citizen militiamen in ancient , 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 David Haskell Hackworth (November 11, 1930 – May 4, 2005) known affectionately as "Hack", was a retired United States Army colonel and prominent military journalist. . "It can only happen if recruiting dies and martial training and tradition rise in U.S. public elementary school elementary school: see school. curricula."
"Each of the armed services The Constitution authorizes Congress to raise, support, and regulate armed services for the national defense. The President of the United States is commander in chief of all the branches of the services and has ultimate control over most military matters. 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 orienteering
Cross-country footrace in which each participant uses a map and compass to navigate between checkpoints along an unfamiliar course. Introduced in Sweden in 1918, it later spread throughout Europe. World championships have been held since 1966. , martial arts, marksmanship Marksmanship
(1846–1917) famed sharpshooter in Wild West show. [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 67]
son of Pan, companion to Muses; skilled in archery. [Gk. Myth. , 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 mil·i·ta·rize
tr.v. mil·i·ta·rized, mil·i·ta·riz·ing, mil·i·ta·riz·es
1. To equip or train for war.
2. To imbue with militarism.
3. To adopt for use by or in the military. public schools, but rather to help young Americans understand "the meaning and effects of war," as well as to help reconstitute re·con·sti·tute
tr.v. re·con·sti·tut·ed, re·con·sti·tut·ing, re·con·sti·tutes
1. To provide with a new structure: The parks commission has been reconstituted.
2. 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 ne·o·con·ser·va·tism also ne·o-con·ser·va·tism
An intellectual and political movement in favor of political, economic, and social conservatism that arose in opposition to the perceived liberalism of the 1960s: 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.