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From the Department of Tough Sells

toughsell1.jpg From the Associated Press this afternoon:

Need a down-payment for your home? Seed money to start a business? The Army wants to help — if you’re willing to join up.

Despite spending nearly $1 billion last year on recruiting bonuses and ads, Army leaders say an even bolder approach is needed to fill wartime ranks.

Under a new proposal, men and women who enlist could pick from a “buffet” of incentives, including up to $45,000 tax-free that they accrue during their career to help buy a home or build a business. Other options would include money for college and to pay off student loans.

An Associated Press review of the increasingly aggressive recruiting offerings found the Army is not only dangling more sign-up rewards — it’s loosening rules on age and weight limits, education and drug and criminal records.

It’s all part of an Army effort to fill its ranks even as the percentage of young people who say they plan to join the military has hit a historic low — 16 percent by the Pentagon’s own surveying — in the fifth year of the Iraq war.

Golly gee, I can’t imagine what could be deterring them. You know, every now and again, I’m given to yammering about the so-called Powell Doctrine and why it would be a good idea for Democrats to urge its re-adoption. This AP story helps explain why, as I wrote two years ago:

. . . the famed Powell Doctrine wasn’t just a namby-pamby theory adopted for bureaucratic reasons — it’s an essential contract for maintaining a modern volunteer army in the United States. The unspoken agreement is that if volunteers trust the U.S. government with their lives, the government will honor the value of those lives and do everything to minimize the risk they face.

In Iraq, that contract has been broken.

Unless we restore that contract, I don’t know how much longer we can successfully maintain a volunteer army.

(Photo of an Army recruiting office via the Associated Press.)

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Swopa has been sharing prescient, if somewhat anal-retentive, analysis and garden-variety mockery with Internet readers since 1995 or so, when he began debunking the fantasies of Clinton-scandal aficionados on Usenet. He is currently esconced as the primary poster at Needlenose (