A congressional commission has concluded that the National Guard remains unprepared to deal with a wide range of domestic disasters.
Reserve units have been subject to repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The report states that "The high operational use of Reserve equipment in the current conflicts has degraded their readiness for both combat operations and domestic emergency response," expressing particular alarm over inadequate funding by the Pentagon which has in the Guard's insufficient training for a chemical, biological or nuclear strike.
"This is an appalling gap that places the nation and its citizens at greater risk," the panel states. Indeed, several governors have complained that, due to heavy participation of the National Guard overseas, their units have been unable to deal with natural disasters from Hurricane Katrina to the more recent tornadoes.
However, the Bush administration has deliberately not instituted a draft, knowing that the streets would be filled with protesters, as happened during the Vietnam War, when young people wore buttons proclaiming, "Not With My Body, You Don't." Instead, a slick propaganda campaign to seduce more young people into the Guard is now in process.
Take, for example a video of the band 3 Doors Down performing "Citizen Soldier." At this writing, it's approaching 795,000 views on YouTube.
The scene begins on a sunny day at an idyllic campus where the guys are playing touch football on the grass. Suddenly it segues to a battle-worn military man picking a deflated football out of the mud, followed by images of marching and running, tanks and helicopters, flags waving in the wind and a wounded buddy being helped, automatic rifles and guided missiles.
Here's a sample of the lyrics: "When they're people crying in the streets/ When they're starving for a meal to eat/ When they simply need a place to make their beds/ Right here underneath my wing you can rest your head." Meanwhile, there are - superimposed on the imagery - generic citizen-soldier quotes such as "I fired the shot that started a nation," "I am an expert, I stormed the beach at Normandy" and "I stepped forward when the towers fell."
But wait, there's more. One minute into the three-and-a-half minute song, an occasional hazy flash of something subliminal begins to appear, and finally reveals itself as the National Guard logo. In fact, the rights to "Citizen Soldier" belong to 3 Doors Down, Universal/Republic Records and - yeah, you guessed it - the National Guard. Following are some of the almost 6,500 comments, with the original spelling, grammar and punctuation intact.
- "nobodys to young for there opion on the war except if your like 10 and below it most likly dosent matter. this is just a side note. when making my youtube profile it messed up my age and where i live. i'm acully 15 and live in america, and i have been told befor im to young for my opion on this kind of stuff to matter."
- "So many hate the war, and yes it is horrible how we losse so many innicot lifes. People say that the president is a horrible man for sending are troops over sees for th is. but what wold have happened if he did not? wold the ones that attaked us really settled for the damage that they did? the troops are fufiing there duty, and god bless them. they arnt bad people. there defending us. they are kepping us safe, no matter what you think, they are keeping you safe."
- "Oh com'on! there's no anti-terrorism war! Do you think that 'I'm sending my troops where it's supposed to be a lot of terrorists in order to reduce terrorism' makes sense? I'd pray for my soldiers as long as th ey stay into my own boundaries ;-)"
- "If this video gave you a hard-on for killing, you are both an idiot and have probably never been face to face with combat. War is an ugly thing, and NOBODY should ever want to kill. The greatest feeling I have when wearing my uniform is when a young child says thank you and I am there to help out my fellow American who needs a hand up in a time of need. NY National Guard, attached to the 27th Infantry Brigade, combat veteran of Mogadishu Somalia."
- "I saw this video when i went to see Saw IV and I was clapping after the video was over...really awesome...HOOOOOAAAAAH!"
Well, so much for gung-ho patriotism. All I know is that when I was speaking at a college a few years ago, I overheard a student lamenting to his friends, "I didn't know that the National Guard was the fucking Army!"
Paul Krassner's underground magazine The Realist attracted a large counterculture following in the '60s and '70s. He is a founding member of the Yippies. He is the author of One Hand Jerking: Reports From an Investigative Satirist, and publisher of the Disneyland Memorial Orgy poster, both available at paulkrassner.com. This is his second blog post for Arthur Magazine.