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I got these interesting two links in my email yesterday. Perhaps you don't want your kids studying languages or computers?

Hyperborea

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http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/164693_draft13.html

http://www.studlife.com/global_user_elements/printpage.cfm?storyid=637575


The government is taking the first steps toward a targeted military draft of Americans with special skills in computers and foreign languages.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is adamant that he will not ask Congress to authorize a draft, and officials at the Selective Service System, the independent federal agency that would organize any conscription, stress that the possibility of a so-called "special skills draft" is remote.

Nonetheless, the agency has begun the process of creating the procedures and policies to conduct such a targeted draft in case military officials ask Congress to authorize it and the lawmakers agree to such a request.

"Talking to the manpower folks at the Department of Defense and others, what came up was that nobody foresees a need for a large conventional draft such as we had in Vietnam," said Richard Flahavan, a spokesman for the Selective Service System. "But they thought that if we have any kind of a draft, it will probably be a special skills draft."

Flahavan said Selective Service planning for a possible draft of linguists and computer experts began last fall after Pentagon personnel officials said the military needed more people with skills in those areas.

A targeted registration and draft "is strictly in the planning stage," he said, adding that "the whole thing is driven by what appears to be the more pressing and relevant need today" -- the deficit in language and computer experts.
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With selective service registration required to even have a chance of getting any college aid or loans, the military already has its hooks into the largest potential pool of "candidates." I can't imagine it would be much harder to further integrate into the schools by requiring either the schools or the students to indicate who is majoring in comp sci, languages, advanced killing techniques, etc. Might result in large numbers of "Philosophy" majors taking 30 credits of computer sci on the side though.
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Hyperborea posts,

<<"Talking to the manpower folks at the Department of Defense and others, what came up was that nobody foresees a need for a large conventional draft such as we had in Vietnam," said Richard Flahavan, a spokesman for the Selective Service System. "But they thought that if we have any kind of a draft, it will probably be a special skills draft."

Flahavan said Selective Service planning for a possible draft of linguists and computer experts began last fall after Pentagon personnel officials said the military needed more people with skills in those areas.

A targeted registration and draft "is strictly in the planning stage," he said, adding that "the whole thing is driven by what appears to be the more pressing and relevant need today" -- the deficit in language and computer experts. >>


Why wouldn't these conservative hypocrites in the Bush Administration be targeting a "market-based" solution to this military manpower problem?

At a suitably high salary and benefits level, you'd have more language and computer experts than you could hire.

intercst
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Why wouldn't these conservative hypocrites in the Bush Administration be targeting a "market-based" solution to this military manpower problem?

*************************

Because, can you imagine the political backlash if it got out that they were outsourcing this to India?
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Kids? They will be drafting all the way up to age 44! Yikes!!!!

There is already registration on the way for health care workers, so health care would not necessarily be a good career move either if you like your freedom. Mothers, don't let your kiddies grow up to be doctors!
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At a suitably high salary and benefits level, you'd have more language and computer experts than you could hire.


Because they don't want to pay them. They want to be able to get top people at slave wages and reduced benefits.

I know several out-of-work IT people on another board who said they would be delighted to work on a consulting basis in their fields for a fair price but the feds weren't interested. Hmm. I guess there isn't so much a shortage of computer personnel as they claimed?

As for the shortage of language personnel...again, they don't seem as terribly worried as they pretend. About a year ago, they laid off 6 Farsi/Arabic translators because they were gay! Anyone else remember that?
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Because they don't want to pay them. They want to be able to get top people at slave wages and reduced benefits.

It sounds like people in the military should join a union.

sydsydsyd
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Kids? They will be drafting all the way up to age 44! Yikes!!!!

Maybe 40 is the IDEAL age for compulsory service. Think of the advantages of basic training for us "old guys":
-You'd get into shape...maybe the best of your life,
-Get to drive a tank,
-Get to shoot guns...machine guns, even, full auto.
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Get to shoot guns...machine guns, even, full auto.

And if you get killed you don't have to worry about ending up in a nursing home in a wheel chair, wearing a diaper, drooling. Then you wouldn't have to worry about dying of cancer or cardiomyopathy and you also wouldn't have to worry about providing long term care insurance for yourself if you become debilitated because you'd be dead. And the best benefit is if you were killed you'd get to have a glorious AWESOME Near Death Experience. - Art

The NDE and War
http://www.near-death.com/experiences/research09.html
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WARNING: LONG

intercst rhetorically asks: Why wouldn't these conservative hypocrites in the Bush Administration be targeting a "market-based" solution to this military manpower problem?

At a suitably high salary and benefits level, you'd have more language and computer experts than you could hire.


The following really applies more to civilian manpower in the language and computer fields, but I mention the military at the end. The National Security Agency (NSA) is one of the government's biggest users of both job categories. They have tried a number of incentives over the years. (Click on http://www.nsa.gov/programs/employ/homepage.cfm and then on the button for the Language Enhancement Program for an example) to attract and retain these folks.

Attracting them, while a challenge, is less of a problem than retaining them. But here are the problems in both categories:

- There are damn few pure "language" majors out there. Most people with language skills come from "area studies" degree programs which are not as language intensive;
- There is less inlination to hire immigrant linguists because doing the background investigations for security clearances is much harder and there is a fear that even those investigations will fail to determine where loyalties really lie. Policies have been liberalized in recent years, however, due to the increasing need for linguists.
- Computer scientists can command higher starting salaries in the private sector. Although a number of them are attracted to NSA by the opportunity to do unique work, after a few years of experience (and having obtained a high level security clearance) they are often wooed away by the very contractors who do business with NSA by the higher salaries.
- As with many government jobs, to get ahead financially, you have to promoted into "management" which takes you further and further from your technical roots, be they linguistic or digital. Although NSA promotes a few token techies to "Senior Technical Expert" level (equivelent to Senior Executive Service on the pay scale), you have to become a manager to really get ahead. And the more you "manage" the less you "do".
- A contributing factor is that the culture in the United States does not encourage the learning of multiple languages to the degree that is true in Europe, for example. On one hand, we generally don't need to know other languages, so we are not predisposed to learning them. A contriubting factor is that we Americans often have an attitude of "let the other guy learn English." So now the bad guys speak not only their native language, but pretty good English, too.

On the military side, the problems include:
- The fact that it takes from 6 - 18 months to train a linguist in the language and that is just a working proficiency, not a high skill level. (The lower end of the range would be for Romance languages; the higher end for Arabic and Asian languages; Slavic languages would be in the middle). If a soldier/sailor/airman/marine enlists for 4 - 6 years and spends a big chunk of time in training (both learning the language itself and then learning the application of the language to, say interrogation or transcription of cell phone calls), the amount of time left for utilization is relatively modest. And it takes him.her a couple of years to ramp up to a really competent proficiency level. Particularly in high demand languages, the troops are pretty burned out after the first tour with multiple deployments and likely won't reenlist given, among other things, the pay and further deployments away from home. So, a 4 - 6 year investment either goes back to Dubuque or seeks employment as a civilian linguist at NSA. (The latter, at least, continues his/her involvement in national security work.)
- The training pipleline for enlisted computer whizzes is often not as long as it is for linguists (and many young folks come to the recruiter with a high level of proficiency in computers anyway). But they really have good opportunities in private industry when their first hitch is up and they tend to leave, going primarily to the defense contractors who at least double their salary and then sell their skill back to the government and triple or quadruple what they were making on active duty.)
- New officers with computer science degrees face some of the same problems that NSA computer people do, perhaps to a greater degree. The "up or out" structure of the military generally means that they won't get ahead doing nitty-gritty techie work. They have to "punch their tickets" in leadership and other positions to get promoted, thus leaving their technical roots behind. By the time they are majors/lieutenant commanders at mid-career they are good technical managers but no longer technicians.

Overall, this is a very serious national security issue with no single solution but the need for a dramatic change in thinking by the DoD, the military, the Congress, the civilian service establishment, colleges and universities and just about everyone else.

jtmitch

PS As an footnote, you can work at NSA if you are an openly practicing gay. In the military, the "don't ask, don't tell" policy prevails.
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