Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Good Idea?

I had this idea, and I've been boiling it around in my brain for a while. I like it a lot-

One of the problems with Afganistan is that there are a lot of people there that are young, full of piss and vinegar, and there's nothing to do but get pissy and take shots at each other with (badly aimed) AK-47 fire. Not a lot of work, the soil isn't good for growing a lot except opium poppies, and it gets very boring, very fast. So, we have large pool of soldier-age men.

And, the United States needs, more or less, boots on the ground. Not quite bullet sponges, but we need more manpower to take and hold places.

So...what are the two tastes that go great together? The French Foreign Legion. Well, the American version of it...

Even if we pay a lot of the recruits half what their American recruits get-and offer the full medical support for the immeidate family that Americans do-how many people will we get that want to try and get a slot? Make sure that Basic training is hard-we should weed out about a quarter of the recruits prior to passing Basic, with a brutal manner of "you're soldiers of the Legion now, not (insert tribes here), and you need your comrades to survive". Probably need Marine DIs, with a "we want at least 5% training fatalities...". I can think of at least a half dozen ways to ensure unit loyalty-from The Log (a squad-sized length of telephone pole that the squad has to carry AT A RUN RECRUITS!) to exercises where if the squad doesn't come back intact, they don't get to eat for the day...

Ten years service and a honorable discharge gets you and your immediate family (wife, kids, and parents) American citizenship. Twenty years and a general discharge the same, with an honorable death or crippling injury in the line of duty giving the same, as well.

Give it a few years, then establish Legion recruiting posts at American embassies, and promote from the ranks. Any recruit could become an officer, get a full education, and become something better than where they came from.

It would make for interesting battlefields...

1 comment:

Mitch H. said...

1) Loyalty issues. The problematic multiplication of Sergeant Hassans - the Muslim Airborne trooper who fragged a bunch of fellow soldiers in the runup to the Iraq War - would be greatly facilitated by this recruitment.

2) Redundancy with the Afghan and Iraqi armies that they're currently training. There are only so many training resources available, and they don't have enough for the projects in train.

3) Language barriers. Billy bin Achmed from the Pashtun backend of beyond doesn't speak English, and a good deal of resources would have to be invested in him learning the language.

4) Educational deficits. Billy bin Achmed probably doesn't read, except perhaps for whatever Arabic he might have got from the glorified fanatic-factories known as madrassrahs, and if he can read the Koran, he probably wasn't given the tools to understand what he's reading beyond rote repetition. He's lacking the basic skills required of first-class infantry, the sort of thing that drives the twenty-to-one exchange ratio which *always* applies in encounters between first-world armies and third-world militias.

5) Technical training deficits. Billy bin Achmed probably doesn't have the cultural familiarity with high-tech which would allow him to rapidly acculturate to the Army way of doing things - GPS, squad- and individual- level comm equipment, weapons maintenance (there's a reason the almost-zero-maintenance AK is so popular in the third world), the concept of equipment maintenance itself, etc.

There's probably a few additional cultural issues - the deference issue, etc - which depend on the local culture from which Billy bin Achmed is coming from, but I think the above are pretty substantial obstacles to an American French Legion. The Legion itself was dependant on a surplus of 19th-century European talent, parasitical on the excess human capital of the low-conflict European Victorian period of peace.