Advocation: The U.S. should stand up an “R4 Corps” as a rapid civilian defense, freedom, and security workforce adapting to the rising militancy of autocratic nuclear and proxy powers.
“R4” could mean “Restore-Recycle, Retrofit, Remake, and Repurpose,” four activities applicable to all weapons, aircraft, drones, robots, munitions, vehicles, vessels, ships, boats, submarines, machines, equipment, gear, field supplies, surplus, found, captured, and other salvage materiel and materials… that DoD, civilian governments, companies, defunct companies, boneyards, salvage businesses, waste management, and recycle facilities would otherwise store, trash, or sell.
1. Restore-Recycle: At this stage useful materiel, parts, and or materials are sorted for (A) Restoration to original or enhanced condition, or (B) Recycling (processing all components for later remaking into something else, whether by disassembly, crushing, melting-down, or other means).
2. Retrofit: Items in relatively good condition with missing parts would be restored and have missing parts remanufactured in the Remaking phase, or, have new parts with enhanced capabilities and qualities made to fit.
3. Remake: Remaking would mean either remaking quality engineered items, or, taking recycled and restored components and innovating, making something entirely new.
4. Repurposing: In this phase, restored, retrofitted, remade, and innovated items would be evaluated for broad spectrum usefulness as-is, and/or new modifications innovated accordingly.
5. The Implied R Considered at all Stages: What items could safely, reliably have a Robotic mode? Those that can, tweak accordingly.
Personal Renewal Element for the People of R4 Corps
The R4 Corps could have several human resource pathways: (1) match skilled volunteers with the right KSAs with existing defense industry employers expanding production; (2) train and place volunteers with aptitude for same into training with contractors or civil service; (3) open up local shops, garages, and warehouses around the United States to host R4 process with any and all materiel available, acquirable, and that logistically makes sense for that location. With recent surges in veterans transitioning to civilian life and tech layoffs, there may be just the right mixture of hirable talent for leadership, management, and technological expertise to help stand up these R4 workspaces; (4) incorporate the defense innovation community into the R4 Corps community by providing them with innovation sites at which to prototype concepts and move them to testable form; (5) have a dugout-program for innovators in various stages of research, trial and error as there are hidden resources in same; (6) hire or draft unemployed Americans into an R4 Corps training program addressing any and all reasonably remediable deficits, health issues, and basic needs that have gone unmet for said persons as a part of the recruiting and training process to bring out the value in Americans as yet unready to be part of R4 Corps. For those without matching skills, aspects of materiel cleaning, sorting, recycling, prepping, and organizing might be good beginning mission tasks for those whose demonstrated stability and basically trained ability make them ready to work.
Whole of Society: An R4 Corps would answer the spirit of the many calls for whole of society solutions benefitting national defense, security, and freedom for the U.S. and allies. Civilian workforce renewal and civilian technology spinoffs would be deliberately anticipated core derivative benefits within and in the R4 civilian national service. For instance, An R4 Corps could also be an incubator for future innovators who ideate standalone or augmenting innovations from their R4 experiences.
Research: R4 Corps could have a newly cleared research group blending veterans and civilians qualified to pore over old concepts and designs, put-off or never used by the Department of Defense that advancements in materials, know-how, and tech might bring to life.
Benefits: R4 Corps members could volunteer for training and obtain public service education loan relief, new KSAs, room and board benefits, medical benefits, reasonable pay, and or be drafted-in with similar and future educational options. All R4 Corps members would take an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution akin to the military service member’s oath, and would be heavily encouraged and supported toward continuous education and training.
Innovation Incentives: All whose part or whole original ideas or inventions within the R4 Corps that reach production or outsourcing would enjoy as a benefit the right to retain a part royalty from their intellectual contributions to new innovations, and the R4 Corps would retain a part royalty for having supported the means and environment for innovation, while licensee manufacturers would take part royalty in addition to profits from sales. The methods, recordation, and settlement of IP rights as benefits would be required for R4 service leadership and management to honor in consultation with the USPTO serving as an advisor, instructor, and aid to the R4 Corps’ innovation incentives mission.
R4 Corps stations or details would all have creative time and license to innovate new items, designs, or upgraded, changed materiel from the top priority production directives as such would arise in the course of their priority projects.
Demographic Considerations: There is a large population of Americans, including far too many disconnected men, who could help with many aspects of finding, processing, preparing, renewing, remaking, retrofitting, repurposing and inventing spinoffs from old technologies and materials in an R4 Corps.
Public Provision, Initiatives, and Private Partnerships: The Defense Department, with congressional authorization and funding could organize and launch the civilian R4 Corps, hiring interested, qualified veterans into leadership and management positions across America’s states and localities while identifying first priority needs for the R4 Corps in its early weeks and identifying locational resources and logistical efficiencies to incorporate into planning and standing-up the R4 Corps.
Congress and state legislatures could reallocate funding and expertise from existing job training, welfare-to-work, and needs-meeting government missions whose workloads may decrease with more people entering the R4 Corps as a solid opportunistic, funded pathway for those able to find purpose and do the work in the program.
Real Estate Element: The R4 Corps could be a “whole of society” corps with Americans on local levels with public-private efforts to establish sufficient garage, hangar, storage, supply, plant, machining, tool, and technical access to customize old materiel for today’s free nation defense, deterrence, and dual-use needs. The proper packages of tax-incentives and lease compensation for property owners and materiel supporters of the R4 Corps should be a policy priority, especially as real estate bubbles and virtual work tax commercial real estate space and landlords suffer increasing defaults.
Volunteer and Selective National Service for Broader Age Groups: An R4 Corps could have a volunteer element and a national selective service element drawing from a broader range of demographics to help put the right skills behind R4.
In 2017 Gallup found that half of Americans favored mandatory national service. In 2021, Americorps cited a TargetPoint Consulting and GQR opinion poll among 18-24 year olds, reporting:
Public opinion polling of 1,000 18–24 year old adults found near universal support for expanding national service opportunities through AmeriCorps (81%), and a great majority of them (71%) would consider serving in AmeriCorps. In overwhelming numbers, young people believe national service can be part of one’s civic duty (87%), help them solve problems in their communities (86%), and enable them to gain real world experience before entering an uncertain job market (85%).
In January 2023 the Census Bureau cited the 2021 Volunteering and Civic Life in America research finding that “51% of the U.S. population age 16 and over, or 124.7 million people, informally helped their neighbors between September 2020 and 2021 at the height of the pandemic, according to the latest” and that “more than 23% of people in that age group, or 60.7 million, said they formally volunteered through an organization during the same period.”
As fewer young Americans volunteer and or are fit for military service, rehabilitation to fitness, needed automation, and new industrial ingenuity making and supplying useful technologies and the right equipment, supplies, and weaponry to U.S. and friendly forces may present opportunities for a segment of this population.
R4 Corps could also be a part solution to the lost purpose and identity issues underlying temporary mental and physical fitness problems, isolation, suicide, and a pathway to military service for some and full civilian employment or new business.
R4 Corps pathways to military service could also bring more innovation minded recruits into the services as the Armed Services obtain more means to innovate on the fly with custom-maker technologies and as the Department of Defense funds same.
For defense and free nation stand-up power, this is one way to make non-lethal solutions and lethality out of lemons. Regarding civilian spin-offs with dual use, R4 Corps could help put non-lethal creations into defense, deterrence, gray war, and future civilian service. U.S. military veterans are important members of our society and resources to our society that can continue serving if they like within the R4 Corps as one path of transition from military to civilian life while helping train, teach, and connect with civilians who will benefit from their experience to make the R4 Corps operations excellent.
The Looming Need
The United States and free nations need more minds making them more capable of stopping autocratic regimes, terrorist groups, and illicit cartels while reducing collateral damage to those whose freedom, hearts, minds, and well-being free nations would champion. This, while renewing the country from within in the process. If as former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld related accurately, weakness is provocative to adversaries, internal strength building is crucial now.
R4 Corps could be a powerful means to repurposing, renewing, and inspiring young and older Americans with a new meaning and purpose in their lives, with the R4 mission a means and a metaphor for their personal return to human and physical connection, purpose, and mission.
There is some inexact precedent for the R4 Corps idea in many FDR-era civilian service opportunities such as the Civil Public Service Program, civilian defense councils under the Office of Civilian Defense, and in civilian defense production professions. And by restudying the benefits derived from the WW2 programs, Congress can help adapt to the need to deter a WW3 through leadership in thorough preparation of all-hands as rising great / super power dictatorships set their sites at bringing down free nation standing and sovereignty in the world.
Strengthening the civilian bond to participation in national defense, freedom, and security is a public priority. The “R4 Corps” could be both a deterrent and active defense asset for the United States.