This is a post I've kind of put off. There's been a lot of discussion (Orcinus, Cunning Realist, etc., etc.) about the problems being caused by weak recruiting and retention pressure: soldiers serving who would normally be discharged, or who normally wouldn't be allowed to join in the first place and whose military training and access could well be a threat to our own security in the years to come.
Many on "my side" of the political spectrum would argue that this is evidence in favor of immediate withdrawal; it's certainly evidence that our reach has exceeded our grasp at the moment, that the "planning" for the war and postwar was inadequate. Some have even suggested a draft in order to "share the burden" though my own impression and most statistics seem to suggest that the military is pretty representative (not perfectly, but that's what happens in real life and in a military that barely tolerates women and excludes homosexuals) of the population as a whole; anyway, the reality is that those advocating a new draft mostly want to scare people into backing away from the policies and politicians which have got us here.
But I've started thinking, given that what we're (supposedly) trying to accomplish is both worthwhile and an obligation which we have incurred, and given the fact that we might well have other obligations -- moral, political, etc. -- to follow through on while finish up what we set out to do in Afghanistan and Iraq, that a draft might be appropriate. As things stand now, it would not be a "total war" style draft in which a generation marches to war, but it would be a selective one. Not the "lets pick the professionals we need out of the economy" selective draft that some have discussed, but an truly random segement of the eligible population, with reasonable deferments. That would bring enough people to the table to allow the military to weed out its "weak link" soldiers and recruits and get the job done.
This is not just about "putting our best foot forward": it's about having national policy and national priorities that make sense within the context of what we're willing to do to accomplish them. It's also about self-protection: gang members, extremists, unstable personalities are bad enough without military training.
Here's the thing: if we're not willing to seriously consider a new draft, then I don't think we have any choice but to muddle on the way we've been doing or radically rethink our moral and tactical position.
We need, to be honest, a strategy, which is sorely lacking.