And the answer is……..42!


It'll come as no surprise to Ford Prefect that the Pentagon has bumped the upward limit of its draft-dreams to age 42, up from 35.

Face it fellow desk-jockeys, there are just way too many sysadmins and otherwise technically proficient lard-asses in that demographic for DoD to pass on once a national emergency skills draft is in effect. Look for the formation of an elite CAT-5 corps any day now.

NEXT: Sen. Byrd's Jungle Fever

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  1. Damn! At 38 years old, I thought I was safe from that bullshit. On the plus side, I have no skills that the Pentagon (or anyone else it seems) would have a use for.

  2. I got a letter from the government
    the other day
    I opened, and read it,
    it said they were suckers!
    They wanted me for the army or whatever
    picture me givin' a damn, i said never!

    Public Enemy -- Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos

    I know I can shotgun a Budweiser faster than anybody Al Qaeda can bring out. If we ever agree to settle disputes that way, the army can certainly feel free to give me a call.

  3. Cannon fodder doesn't need much in the way of skills. Doughy aging dudes have a lot to offer:

    1) big, slow targets to draw fire away from more important assets;

    2) cheap minefield clearers;

    3) organ donors

  4. I turn 42 next week...yippeee!

  5. I gave serious thought, back in 1964, to moving to Canada. But, as a Son of the South, I just couldn't countenance it.
    Consequently, there I was on Operation Dewey Canyon NW of Hue in early 1969.
    I did not approve, but I was screwed already.

    Fortunately?, I survive to this very day to haint H&R.

    Brian, I resemble your post.
    Well, to be exact, I'm svelt, but my penis might be a big, slow target to draw fire away from your ass.

  6. When the paroxysms of draft paranoia subside, you'll recognize that there's nothing anti-libertarian in increasing the pool from which the Army may freely contract soldiers. If you're gonna have an Army, it makes sense to be as open as possible toward potential talent.

    The trouble isn't so much in hiring cannon fodder, but in finding people with sufficient technical aptitude to run the machines of war. A related trouble is retaining people with the leadership ability to organize an inspire the legions of lardasses y'all think are the targets for this measure. There might be something anti-libertarian (fraudulent) about stop-loss orders, in theory. In practice, the military is all about "cover your ass", and when they say it's in the contract, they're not lying.

    I'm ever grateful to those who sign essentially open-ended commitments to the state so I can wallow in my liberty.

  7. Ruthless, I assume your penis is loaded at all times, and I pray you do not fire it at my ass.

  8. Dynamist,
    Not to worry.

    Paging Mona...

  9. And this comes just a day after the miltary filed their brief in Rumsfeld v. FAIR seeking to uphold the Solomon Amendments, which would be moot if they scrapped Don't Ask Don't Tell.

  10. Dynamist,

    Raising the age isn't going to raise the level of recruitment. We won't be fooled again.

  11. 42 is no random number here. The manditory retirement age for military types is 62. After 20 years you get 50% of your base pay till you kick the bucket. So if your old and you don't have much else going for you it could be a good option.

  12. Worried about being drafted up to 42 or at any age for that matter? No sweat... just fail any and all urinalysis tests you are submitted to if the draft is enacted. The army would be hypocrites to take you after that, seeing how the gubment equates drug use to terrorism and all.

  13. 42, eh? I think I'm gay. And I'm telling....

  14. I'm 60. I wish I was 41. I'd sign up again.

    The soldiers fighting in Iraq believe in their mission. 1/3 re-up in the field.

    Simon - Tonkin Bay Yacht Club '66

  15. I heard that in some cases - those with very specialized knowledge, they might even raise the draft limit to an even older age. That's certainly nothing from an official source. But, a vaugely related tid bit I heard. And at 35 seconds and counting to post this, I figured why not.

  16. They turn away vets like a friend of mine, a retired Marine, who in the wake of 9/11 offered to share his years of study and experience in fighting both guerilla warfare and Islamic extremism (he served in both 'Nam and Lebanon). "No thanks," they said. "You're too old."

    Yet they wanna draft unwilling 42 year-olds.

    Government logic, ya gotta love it.

  17. Jim: The only people I hear wanting a draft are politicians. The military doesn't want the hassle of "breaking in" people who would rather be chillin' with Ruthless. (but, then, I don't hear everything Walrus hears...)

  18. Does this mean you can enlist up to 42 as well? I don't understand how that works.

    I kind of want to go to Iraq and see what's going on for myself. If I can enlist at 38, I would seriously consider it (although I'm not sure how it would work for me as an expat living in Germany).

    In any event, I wonder why they just don't change the draft age to "We'll conscript your slave-ass whenever we feel like it." and be done with it.

  19. It is because they are thinking about shifting to alternative energy research as a matter of national security. When Saudi oil is worth less, they will stop funding terrorists. Energy research, as everybody knows, involves no pushups and is a middle age person's game.

  20. moonbiter,

    I'm a 39-year-old expat in Cologne who's thought of taking the king's shilling, too. Whereabouts do you live?

  21. I'm 35 and immune from being drafted because I'm an operations management consultant. They'd never want me for fear I might start calling for lay-offs. 🙂

    From what little I know of modern warfare (Discovery and History Channels), we should be looking for maturity and intelligence in our soldiers before brute strength. Whatever one might think of the Iraq and Afghan wars, for instance, I'd be willing to bet that Macarthur, Eisenhower, and Patton would be absolutely shocked that we have managed to conquer and occupy two medium-sized nations with casualties numbered in the low four digits. War has become the exercise of good judgment under pressure and the proper operation of complex systems. I envy their health and strength, but 19-yo children do not have my level-headedness; they only way they'll get it is by turning 35. At their age, I would have said BS, but life has taught me the truth.

    Plus, it only seems fair. How often have we heard the old saw "old men start wars that young men die in"?

    I should now like to point out that there has not been a need for a standing army ever since 1945. We have a nuclear arsenal. Brutal/Evil as it may sound (a Star Wars geek friend of mine calls it "Darth Vader thinking"), my first thought upon hearing that 15 of 19 hijackers were citizens of a certain nation, and adherents of that nation's official church, was that a single 100 kiloton weapon should be delivered to one of the largest cities in said nation. IMHO, the greatest thing Reagan ever did for the defense of this country was to persuade others that he just might be crazy enough to use a nuke.

    It's just silly to have a full toolbox and only use a single screwdriver.

  22. In the Air Force I was a Student Leader and Class Leader at age 17. In both of those roles I was responsible for and answered to by Airmen up to 10 years older than myself. While I had a GED many of my subordinate classmates had college degrees.
    The Senior Student Leader (my direct superior) was
    Several months younger than me.
    Later in my career (age 19) I was Barracks Chief. My duties included
    assigning rooms and details to the residents of my building. Many of them outranked me and most were older. Nobody laughed when I assigned them latrine cleaning duty.

  23. There is, and never will be, a draft, no matter how shrill people get about it. It's one unifying issue in this country that brings people from across the spectrum to oppose it.

    I think it makes perfect sense for the DoD to increase their potential labor pool, as long as it stays voluntary, not conscripted. In this day and age, there are a lot of us in our late 30s and 40s who don't have Playstation-issued asses and have skills to bring to the table. I don't know why everyone assumes that their fellow thirty and forty somethings are "lardasses". You might want to go for a three-mile run or visit a gym every once in a while!

    The official draft age for WWII, I believe was 18 to 42, or 44. Author James Michener for example, was drafted in his late 30s during WWII to provide his services as journalist and historian to the Department of Navy in the Pacific. Ditto for my fellow Seabee, WIlliam Bradford Huie ("The Execution of Private Slovik"). We Seabees (Naval Construction) have ALWAYS been an older force than the rest of the military, based upon its drawing of recruits from the construction labor and unions in the 1940s. A lot of young Marines in Okinawa, Tarawa, Inchon and other places have found that their "Navy grandpas" could hold their own when the going got rough.

    Now, realistically, the services are not looking for 41-year-old "Mens Health" cover models to hump with the Airborne, Recons, or SEALs. But there are a lot of skills needed in the field that are not infantry-type jobs. Myself being a prime example. My normal rate (MOS) is Mechanic, yet I was mobilized individually to serve in Fallujah with the I MEF for my civilian communications and IT skills. Somebody has to, among other more important things like making convoy combat radios cryptographically secure, show officers how to unlock their keyboards when using Win2000 (not kidding, unfortunately)

    And the DoD would not just benefit from those with high-tech skills, either. The professional experience of my fellow older Reservist Seabees, with civilian engineering and building skills, was far more valuable in Iraq than that of younger, active duty types who only learned construction from the military, which is not exactly known for its adherence to OSHA standards and safety dedication.

    Now, all that being said, you wouldn't see a large influx of 30 and 40 somethings. At this age, the military wouldn't really want you anyway, as you're too set in your ways and you tend to question higher authority more than a 24 year old, which can be an alternately good (Abu Graihab) or gravely terrible (not following orders during a ground attack) thing depending upon the situation at hand. I've seen a lot of what both Thoreau and Little F wrote of.

    So, all you pizza-eating, Lazy Boy recliner chairborne rangers can rest easy. You'll probably be at home this fall in time for the next season of Paris Hilton and "The Simple Life" rather than Ramadi.

    Although, having served with both Navy and Marine Corps senior enlisted and officers in Iraq, I was sorely tempted to want to jump ship and join the Corps in light of this age proposal, as I've only increased my respect for the Corps a thousandfold and lost all confidence in Navy leadership.

  24. It might also make for some interesting cadence:

    "Mama told Johnny not to go downtown,
    The Undersecretary of Defense was hanging around,
    Johnny went downtown anyway,
    to see what Rummy's people had to say
    Undersecretary asked Johnny
    what he wanted to be
    Johnny said combat HTML and ASPs ... "

  25. JMoore, interesting comment re age 35. Statistically, that is where the violent crime rate for men, regardless of race or other demographic factors, drops to the same very low level. Age 35 is the magic age where men, taken as a whole, just plain stop being violent. I'd pull the DOJ crime stats and link 'em, but i'm too lazy to navigate their b.s. right now. It's early.

    Anyway, given that, thought it quite interesting the military is raising the high limit age FROM 35.

    In my mind, there's a pretty clear correlation between what they have traditionally looked for on the one hand, and the tendencies towards certain behavior in the general population, which the army is surely aware. Saying that, i am not dissing the army or its many soldiers -- I had 3 army colonels in my family, 8 commissioned officers total (all army) including one graduate of West Point, spanning 60+ years of service, who fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm; not a violent criminal or idiot among them. If anything, they tended to be on the brainy side. One taught military history and strategy at a university.

    What i am saying is there's a two sided coin to men particularly in the 16-35 age group. What hormones and psychology that exist to drive them to violent crime can also be used productively in sports, military service, etc. and its interesting that the army is now seeking recruits outside that window, signalling an evolution of sorts towards a new way of envisioning the role of a soldier.

  26. I should be clear about something: Regardless of my age I'd have no problem taking orders from somebody who's at least in his late 20's. I know that the hallowed age of 27 isn't exactly a guarantor of wisdom, but people start to mellow in their mid to late 20's.

  27. gay and telling

    Franklin, during my tenure in basic training there was a lad who realized the magnitude of his mistake in signing on with Uncle Sam's Misguided Children just a tad too late. He hatched a plan to get out by insisting he was a druggie, it had worked for others but it didn't work for him. So then, he hatched a new plan where he claimed to be a fag boy. That didn't work either. Until, one day, after suffering for weeks at the hands of the DI's and in typical government fashion, he was discharged for being gay and for being a drug addict. Back then I think they put it right on your discharge papers.

  28. Dynamist, well, of course we all immediately assume the government is going to draft 42 year old cannon fodder. We're paranoid libertarians. 🙂 I mean, that is exactly what was in my mind until I read your comment.

    This age thing is interesting to me because I remember hearing about grandpa running to the recruiting station at the outbreak of World War II and being refused a chance to kill Krauts and Japs because he was: a) too old and b) had two kids to support.

    But he wasn't 42. Even though my math skills are rusty, I think he was born in 1907 which would have made him 34 or 35.

    There is a significant problem with old farts doing battle. We aren't stupid or inexperienced, nor are we as gung ho as we once were. In a tight spot facing idotic orders we're liable to shoot or at least ignore the standard issue twenty-something boot lieutenant. Surely the Pentagon must realize the gravity of that kind of situation.

    I sure hope this war's over before my son turns 18. Sure, that's nine years from now, but the way things are going..............

  29. It could just be that some bean counter was reading recruitment reports and saw that recruiters may be tired of saying "sorry, you're too old" and missing their numbers as a result of it. It seems clear that the DoD isn't looking for people who are somewhat beyond jaded since there is always the easy out.

  30. "If anything, they tended to be on the brainy side. One taught military history and strategy at a university."

    Agreed. The Marine Corps Officer I served under in Fallujah was an Annapolis grad, and educator, like your family member. His thinking skills were just as vital for our safety and his combat skills.

    But I think this whole issue is just part of the old biblical adage about "old men for counsel, young men for war". The Normandy type large battlefield is a thing of the past. The Corps recognized this over a decade ago, and the Army and Navy have been playing catch up ever since.

    We need more strategic thinking in today's defense, not less. It's significant that many terrorists, including the 9/11 thugs, are highly educated engineers and mathematicians, even as America ranks well below some "third world" countries in science and math.

    I've always said that the destruction of young minds in America's public schools, particularly in math and the sciences, is not only an epistemological, economic, and pedagogical tragedy, but a threat to our national defense, as well. The AFT, NEA, and statist politicians are bigger enablers of terrorism than some radical clerics, through their deliberate destruction of critical thought, which is just as vitally needed in our military as guns, metal or bicep.

    Uncle Sam's Misguided Children? o--kay ...

    Sorry, but I found that "Muscles Are Required Intelligence Not Essential" stereotype to be untrue in the aggregate. Every walk of life has its share of knuckleheads, but I figure the average Marine has an IQ about 50 points higher than the typical sailor or soldier (to which one of you smart asses will say something to the effect "yeah, but they started in the single digits, anyway")

  31. I figure the average Marine has an IQ about 50 points higher than the typical sailor or soldier

    It's been my experience that it's more an ability to think on their feet. I've met some very intelligent folks from the latter two groups but it was almost always book smarts and they weren't so good at improvising on the fly. As far as raw brain goes I can think of a pair of AF pilots who would be tough to beat.

  32. Wine Commansewer: When I was in basic a guy tried the "I'm gay!" ploy as an escape attempt. What happened was, he knocked on the DI's office door, entered when ordered and announced that he was a "fag". The DI stood up, dropped his pants and told the kid to prove it. No proof was offered, he graduated with the rest of us. True story.

  33. I'm not sure about the officer corps of each service, but as for the brainpower of the enlisted force, the last time I checked the statistics for ASVAB scores the numbers were in favor of the Air Force, then Navy, then Marines, then Army. That may have changed, it's been a year or so since I looked it up... But I kind of doubt it.

  34. Of course, I'm the first to agree that standardized test scores aren't a true measure of intelligence and they're totally meaningless for prediciting battlefield prowess. But it's a bit more scientific than personal experience.

    On the other hand, I was a lot more comfortable with Marines and Soldiers in a hot spot than I would have been if I had been there with regular ship-dwelling Sailors or air base-tending Airmen.

    Different missions, different skill-sets, different strengths.

  35. I've oft heard the old Army addage that they do more by 9AM than non-military folk do in a whole day. Bullshit. I work in TV, we see more live-shots, satellite interviews, fevered egos, and screaming producers by 9AM than most folks could handle.
    In my time I've worked with many ex-military folk who have stated unequivically that, aside from actual combat, military deployment is slightly less stressful and demanding than live TV.
    I turn 43 in 6 weeks. The clock is ticking...

  36. MyNameIsAsh=Army Commissioned Officer

    Intelligence on the IQ isn't as important for a Marine or Army officer as being able to think orginally and quickly. Unfortunately on the Army side of the house you aren't really expected to think so much as follow the Army instructions for the particular situation you are in... At least thats the way it was until you actually start fighting the enemy.

    As far as Pilots are concerned. Usually to get your foot in the door as an AF, Navy, or Marine a decent scientific background is required. The actual job that those guys do is basically memorizing things and going through a checklist and accomplishing your mission. With the exception of Air to Air combat or perhaps close air support not much orginal thinking is required to be a pilot. So yeah they might be smart but all they have to do is memorize a lot of material and have some eye had coordination.

    Thats my two cents on it. All you previous posters as Yoda might say "I sense much fear in you." Don't worry so much if the United States is the sort of country that is going to go back to randomly drafting people all the way up to 42 years old I think we will end up with some new and different terrorists to worry about(Americans pissed off at the government).

  37. had=hand in previous non proofread comment

  38. Born Again Icon,

    even as America ranks well below some "third world" countries in science and math.

    That depends on how you measure it. Don't put too much stock in this old wive's tale the politicians and idiot CEO's keep pushing. They've been saying for years "we don't have enough PhD's in engineering". I beg to differ.

    I have a PhD in engineering, from a top 5 university. Upon graduation I was stunned to learn that the smallest pools I face, when applying for faculty positions, was around 200 applicants. I've seen pools as big as 600 -- for one (1) [a single] tenure track opening.

    I've been watching. It hasn't changed much since I graduated a decade ago.

    I gave up and went into industry (and glad for it now). Industry isn't exactly clamoring for engineering PhD's either. They do need some of us, but when you apply they always say "we don't need you" on the front end. And they do mean it. Even where I work now they turn PhD's away on a routine basis.

    If Americans aren't willing to stick it out in engineering and science degrees, it's got to be partly because the job market does not tells us "there's not enough of you!".

    There may be temporary shortages of specific skill sets, like software programmers in '99. But these are never long term trends. Truth is, we engineers feel, and often are treated, very much like commodities.

    It doesn't much matter if you're BS/MS/PhD level. CEOs will say on the news "I need more of these people", but the minute the economy slows down at all, we engineers start hearing about just how expendable we are after all. "Any engineer can replace any other engineer in 60 days". I've heard that, and variations of it, from many CEO types in the companies I've worked for.

    As someone on the inside, I'd argue strongly the US has all the science and engineering people it needs. Likely more than it needs.

  39. The military has just figured out they're going to have to become more like a technology company. That's the point I started to make, before I got lost (sorry, this is one of my hot buttons).

    The best of the best science and tech people usually don't stay tech people, from what I've seen. They go into management. Why? Because it pays a lot better.

    There's a saying that engineers are among the lowest paid smart people around. There's a lot of truth to it.

    If the military wants to draw in technical people on a large scale, they're going to have to offer something to draw them in. We may not find a job on every street corner, but there's enough options that we aren't in the unemployment lines for long either.

    Technical people usually aren't the types who are going to opt for the military because we don't have a better option. Not today, anyway.

  40. It is true that the military might think it needs more high tech people but in order to win against terrorism different strategy and tactics are needed not more technology. Unfortunately there is much to be gained by many people in the proliferation of high technology weapons platforms that have more moving parts, bells, and whistles than could ever need.

  41. I have nothing to add to this discussion. Just wanted to be comment number 42 🙂

  42. Senile leatherneck jarhead here, smarter only than Army people.
    Look at the war mentality of this thread and be ashamed.
    Let's take war off the table as an option and begin to be surprised at the speed of conflict resolution.
    Sure, there are some people society would be better off without, but I love those people too. I empathize with them even as I would volunteer to put the pistol to their head.

    People are like Scrooge McDuck's vault of money. Do you think he would dump his dirty pennies into the river?
    What society needs to be rid of are counterfeits, but those are, duh, hard to differentiate.

  43. You'll probably be at home this fall in time for the next season of Paris Hilton and "The Simple Life"...

    What do you think of drafting Paris Hilton and putting her, say, in a tank? I'm all for it!

  44. Is there a suicide mission that we could send Paris Hilton on?

  45. Is there a suicide mission that we could send Paris Hilton on? Thow-row. Thank you for offering. That would be the cat's PJ's.

    Little F, funny stuff, and I have no doubt that it's true.

    See Brian, that's just plain ass funny. # 42.

    Born Again, I always figured that that the backwards acronym of Uncle Sam's Misguided Children had more to do with how Bad Ass they are rather than any commentary on IQ.

    When I was in we were taught that there are only two kinds of sailors, queers and corpsmen. They didn't mention anything about IQ amongst the Navy guys. I bet recruits don't hear that anymore.

    We had a cross section of guys in basic, a lot were college grads from Chicago whose deferments ran out. We had two guys who never had seen a flush toilet before, one black from Lake Charles and one white from the backwoods of Kentucky. We had a guy whose uncle was a congressman, a guy who was there because the judge offered him 4 years (Marines or Prison, he got to pick), & a guy named Slaughter who joined up to kick his heroin habit.

    Don't get me wrong, I think the Marines are stand up guys and although I never went to war, if I had to go, those are the guys you want at your back. But I'm not so sure they're brighter than Squids. I know the standards are higher now, but dude, there were some Marines I knew that were as dumb as a friggin' post. And I wasn't even a grunt. OTOH, some of the Marines I knew were brilliant. Officers included. And the pilots, well, Marine pilots are just the best. And like they say about Bush, you can't fly a Phantom with an IQ of 78. Okay, I paraphrased.

    But then again, we're liable to be talking apples and oranges because the Marine Corps I knew was 30 some years ago and times change.

  46. "When I was in we were taught that there are only two kinds of sailors, queers and corpsmen."

    Just because I have to wear dress whites and go dancing and singing through the streets of Manhattan with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly is no reason to hate a guy

    Three types actually, as the Dept. of Navy doesn't seem to know that the Seabees exist anymore than anybody else in America other than fans of really mediocre John Wayne movies (they do rediscover our existence when Bush is handing out war appropriations)

    Long story short, if raising the age limit gets a slightly few more good men and women in uniform, so be it. It's still preferable to a draft. I just hope we can all avoid the embarassment of people like Riddick Bowe showing up at Parris Island for midlife-crisis counseling ...

  47. And don't forget the SEALS

  48. Try "Uncle Sam ain't released me yet" and "Yes, my retarded ass signed up" for we soldiers.

    We're not any dumber than the jarheads, just different. And don't get me started on what a bunch of wussies airmen and sailors are. The Navy's corpsmen are a good bunch, though.

    So you should all "jern up". It's getting lonely for some of us.

  49. Did anyone RTFA *eyeing Mr. Taylor*? The word "draft" isn't in it at all.

  50. "The DI stood up, dropped his pants and told the kid to prove it."

    This doesn't make sense. I'm a flaming heterosexual, but if some nasty, old broad tried to make me "prove it", I would have a very hard time delivering the goods.

    Now if the officer looked like Angelina Jolie, I would "prove it" 2-3 times and then she can go make me a sandwhich.

  51. Does Angelina Jolie even know where the kitchen is? She has people to do those things.

  52. I'm with Mr. Nice Guy. The DI in Little F's anecdote should be sued. I'm hetero, but I'm not blowing some middle-aged asshole with an ugly haircut to prove it.

  53. Ruthless:

    As a Son of the South, why didn't you just go to Mexico? I never understood why everyone went to Canada in the 60s. How boring is that?

    I remember there was brief talk of the draft during Bush's first war in 1990. I was about to graduate from college, and when my ex-Army father asked me what I would do I replied "Hablo espanol muy bien".

  54. The draft eligibility age is 26, not 35. This has nothing to do with upping the draftable age.

  55. As a reservist Seabee who just did a tour in Iraq with a bunch of active-duty youngsters, give me the 30+ year olds any day.

  56. Little f,
    Maybe the recruit was a bottom not a top. He should have dropped his own pants and bent over DI's desk and said "Take me."

    If you're going to bluff, don't do it half hearted.

    Better yet, he should have asked for a cardboard tube and a gerbil.

  57. Great news! Chickenhawks that have chomping at the bit to enlist now can..."PFCs Lowry and Goldberg reporting for duty Sir!!"

  58. If he didn't prove he was gay (or a homo as they were called back then) then he wasn't getting out.
    He proved that he didn't really want out. If
    he really wanted out, I think he would have blown the ugly ol sarge (whom I recall was a tall athletic rather handsome young black sargent with a voice like Densel Washington).

    Jennifer, who told you what I look like?

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