The Blackfive National Service Plan

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers march in "...
Image via Wikipedia

The Blackfive blog is one of my favorite military blogs because of how well it balances the “inside baseball” professional military chatter with an examination of larger issues. A superb example of the latter is in “The Obama/Uncle J National Service Plan.”

Despite the light-hearted title and tone, the post offers the basic outlines of a two-year program that would have every American young person giving back to his or her country. A sort of combination of military service, the Peace Corps, and Americorps, the “plan” has inspired us to dig deeper into the national service question. We will be addressing this in later posts, but it really gets our brainstorm clouds firing lightning.

Apart from offering options that appeal to those who object to wearing a uniform, we also like how the plan dovetails with the thinking of Thomas P.M. Barnett, who proposes an activist American foreign policy designed to preserve global stability not merely by force or threat of arms, but through a well-thought-out development focus.

Imagine extending the New GI Bill to cover outstanding participants in the program, making a college education a less daunting choice. Indeed, colleges could offer courses to national service members, and credit for participating in certain types of programs.

Imagine using the program to train medical and dental paraprofessionals for service with the National Health Service, giving that organization an non-commissioned corps of medical workers.

Imagine a professional military augmented by a corps of draftees trained to take on the more mundane aspects of military service, cutting costs but eliminating the need for pay competitive with the private sector for service support troops.

All this can be ours, and we have done it before: FDR’s alphabet soup programs like the WPA and CCC offer models.

All we need to do first is get our fiscal house in order. Any suggestions?

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Author: David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.

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