Large-scale mobilization exercise conducted over the past several years demonstrate that present military manpower problems ar so severe that our armed forces would not be capable of meeting a national-security emergency that required a rapid, major increse in present force levels.
The military will not be able to ensure adequate medical support in a major conflict. Shortages in surgeons, nurses and enlisted medical manpower are so grave that thousands of unnecessary deaths would occur from the lack of medical treatment. Nor would the Army posses sufficient troops to man its combat units. Combat manpower shortages would be especially acute in the most critical skills: infantry, armor and chemical warfare specialists. The shortages would be so severe that the secretary of defense has barred then from the public view by classifying the terrifying statistics. The public is told about the lack of enough tanks and equipment, but not about the lack of enough people to operate what the military already has.
Peacetime registration will not by itself solve the probles, but it can make a crucial contribution by providing trained manpower to units 100 days earlier.
Expert opinion, including that of the Selective Service director and the secretary of defense, is unanimous that our Selective Service System cannot now meet the stated requirements of the Department of Defense for the delivery of inductees upon mobilization. The public is largely unaware that DOD mobilization plans have never included reliance on the All-Volunteer Force in case of a war or emergency but rather on the delivery of inductees under a reinstituted military draft.
The DOD requirements call for delivery of the first inductees for training within 30 days following the decision to mobilize (M-Day), with a total of 100,000 inductees within 60 days and 650,000 within six months. Unfortunately, all experts agree that the Selective Service System today could not deliver the first inductees for training until three or four months after M-Day, and would be capable of supplying less than 60 percent of the 650,000 inductees required within 180 days. The time frames and numbers have become even more critical because of the severe shortages in our reservel forces.
The rapidity of the call-up required by the DOD war plan is based in part on the changed character of a war in NATO in which the Soviets are prepared for blitzkreig warfare. If we cannot meet this type of attack with conventional forces that depend on manpower, NATO might be forced to early use of nuclear weapons as the only option. In a real sense, the choice is between realistic preparation of our conventional forces, including peacetime registration, or more and more reliance on quick use of nuclear weapons.
To close the gap between present requirements and present capabilities without going to peacetime registration, the administration has dreamed up a Selective Service plan to institute registration after mobilization. The administration scheme would be unleashed on the youth of our nation in the following fashion:
On M-Day, the president announces that all males between 19 and 21 years of age would be required to register 10 days later at some 50,000 election sites around the county. At the same time, the president would mobilize the assets of the Selective Service System - 750 Reserve officers and 100 paid staff - who would locate, organize and train tens of thousands of local precinct election personnel in towns all across the nation.
These measures would be taking place in the midst of a national emergency when the entire country would be trying to prepare for wartime conditions. Indeed, the presidential order to conduct mass registration in the middle of a period of international tension could itself be considered an escalatory act, increasing the chance of war. As a result, the registration order would be delayed.
But, let us assume that by M-Day plus 10, all 6 million draft-age males register after the president's announcement. The plan continues: By M-Day plus 15, million of personnel records, handwritten by legions of untrained election personnel at 50,000 as-yet undetermined polling places, will all be picked up, sent to 10 regional Selective Service offices, and there entered into computers and transmitted to one control computer at Selective Service national headquarters. (The computers do not now exist, but are requested in this year's budget.)
Assuming that the computers are infallible, on M-Day plus 16, the national lottery commences. On M-Day plus 19, a tape is transmitted to Western Union to Dispatch the first 200,000 mailgrams ordering inductions.
The director of the Selective Service has testified that, because of court decisions during the Vietnam era, if omissions of the primary age group occur, whether by lost registration cards, local- or regional-headquarters error, or computer breakdown, the entire induction order could be subject to successful legal challenge.
M-Day plus 20 to M-Day plus 30: The first 200,000 inductees arrive at the examination stations, including the blind, the crippled, the retarded and the conscientious objectors, since no pre-screening has occurred. After their examination, those fit for military service would then depart immediately out the back door for training (presumably without picking up their tooth-brushes or telling their loved ones goodbye). Subsequent call-ups would continue at this pace in this fashion for months.
I can't help noting the contrast between the Defense Department's manpower-mobilization plan and the Energy Department's plan, as reported in The Washington Post, to mobilize and train some 200 enforcement agents within six to eight weeks who will check to ensure public buildings are meeting the new 78 degreed temperature mandate. The Defense Department mobilization plan assumes that millions of men can be called up, registered, examined, classified and sent to combat-training facilities in half the time it takes to teach 200 federal workers how to read a thermometer.
The Defense Department plan has been reviewed by committees in both houses of Congress and by outside agencies. The only people who appear to believe in the feasibility of the scheme, which is only a collection of untested ideas, are the director of the Selective Service, the assistant secretary of defense for manpower and the secretary of defense. Except for them, there seems to be a general consensus that only peacetime registration can meet our mobilization requirements for inductees. The chief of staff of the Army does not believe the present plan will work, and all the Joint Chiefs support peacetime registration. The top deputy at Selective Service headquarters was fired on June 28 because he voiced his belief that the plan was totally unworkable and endangered our national security.
As material for a Walt Disney cartoon, the DOD mobilization plan would be an instant best seller. Unfortunately, it is the basis for meeting our wartime requirements and preserving our national security.
Defense Secretary Harold Brown counsels that we should wait until the administration plan is fully tested (two years at least) before considering a simple call for our young men to furnish their names and addresses in a calm and orderly manner. If our nation remains at peace while we continue our reliance on the current unworkable scheme, we will simply look back on it as politically motivated nonfeasance. If, however, we have a war or emergency mobilization during this period, those in the chain of command responsible for basing our nation's security on this hoax and those who know better but sit silently by will be held accountable, by an enraged nation, for their gross negligence. CAPTION: Illustrations 1 and 2, no caption