The US marine corps has been forced to call up its reserves for compulsory service in Iraq and Afghanistan because it has not been able to find enough volunteers – a reflection of the strain the two wars are putting on America’s armed forces.
The marines’ involuntary call-up, seen as a “back-door draft” by Pentagon critics, is the first since the start of the Iraq war, and will begin in a few months when a first batch of up to 2,500 reservists will be summoned back to active service for a year or more. The army has already sent 2,200 reservists back to the front, of which only about 350 went voluntarily.
The marine corps will be drawing on its 59,000-strong “individual ready reserve” – recent veterans who have returned to civilian life but who still have up to four years remaining of the military obligation they signed up to when they enlisted. The compulsory mobilisation of the reserve is normally ordered only in case of national emergency, but this year there were not enough reservist volunteers to fill the gaps in marine ranks.
Emphasis mine. Then again, as we saw with Hurricane Katrina, what on earth could go wrong as a result of using troops held back for national emergencies as an alternative to the draft? I mean, it’s not likely we’ll see another major hurricane is it?