Toss out the all-volunteer military

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by bruno, Apr 22, 2012.

  1. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opini...tary/2012/04/19/gIQAwFV3TT_story.html?hpid=z2

    Tom Ricks posted this in yesterday's Washington Post- any thoughts?.

    Personally - I don't agree with him- in fact it's flying in the face of what almost every other western country has been doing for the last 20 years which has been to eliminate their conscription based Armies. The volunteer military is clearly a better, far more professional organization than it was in 1973. And yet... military manpower is also far more costly than it was 35 years ago, and I think that the country has lost an important shared experience that it had for the 33 years that the draft was in place. But the draft has been gone for longer than it was in place, yet he and others who argue this often make it sound like the draft was the natural order of things and that it was the way to avoid unpopular long wars. But the draft produced armies that fought in Korea and Vietnam. so I hardly think that this is really the panacea for avoiding long, badly run wars.
     
  2. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    I concur 100%
     
  3. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    It seems that his point is more about entering "unpopular" wars (unpopular seems to come after the fact, but that is another story) being less likely when you have a chance of serving in it involuntarily. Point taken, but not necessarily agreed. His use of draft (the temporary induction of those necessary to accomplish an immediate military effort) is clearly meant to bring up the negative experience of 40 years ago.

    Better war choices are made when we have a more informed public in addition to having a stake in the execution thereof. I think the average American has little if any concept of how or what is possible or desirable given our military assets, foreign policy and diplomatic realities.

    To that end a mandatory public service requirement (military for those fit, other duties for those not) would go a great distance at least to wake up our younger generations to the realities of life and perhaps spark an interest outside of their immediate surroundings. It would probably a better way to spend the 18-21 years than how most kids (even university students) spend those years.

    A very expensive option (although one could argue that the works accomplished by those involved have genuine value) it is and I suspect that we will never want to make that investment in our populace, continuing to stumble forward, generation after generation, making the same uninformed choices about how our great nation should involve itself in the world.

    Freedom isn't free - not just in treasure and lives, but in peacetime preparation of our youth to preserve freedom both militarily and preserving it from the wear and tear it takes from poor decisions made by a population that wasn't taught the important lessons of history - how civilizations acquire, use, and ultimately lose their power and greatness. Perhaps a hands-on experience for all of the real cost of freedom (aside from paying taxes) would be valuable to our great democracy.
     
  4. EDelahanty

    EDelahanty Member

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    This article gets at a central problem of American society: the disengagement and self-absorption of much of the populace. Curiously, the WAPO served it up in a pastiche of weekend whimsy, along with such proposals as ending the social kiss and eliminating grades. It was encouraging when I last checked that Ricks' suggestion elicited nearly double the number of responses as the nine other proposals combined.

    A national conscription could help to promote social equality. It could also alleviate alleviate the pressures in time of war on the narrow segment of society which does comprise the military. By increasing the stakes for the country overall, it would also broaden the debate about American foreign policy, particularly with respect to initiating those wars.

    I do favor the idea of required national service for a year or two, though I would not want to see it limited to military service. We don't need standing armed forces of eight million or so men and women. Which brings up questions of fairness and participation, as well as the cumbersome task of administration. Would all young men and women of a certain age be included? A Supreme Court decision in 1981 (Rostker v. Goldberg) held that Congress could legislate an exemption for women on the grounds of military effectiveness. Could you be deferred for school? Because your wife was pregnant ("other priorities")? What if you celebrate the 420 holiday? One thing is for sure, it would require a substantial addition to government bureaucracy.
     
  5. HMQ

    HMQ Member

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    The Israeli Defense Force has, for more than 60 years, had mandatory service for both men and (single) women. They seem to have an effective force.

    Link to source: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/IDF.html

    and this, from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Facts+About+Israel/State/THE+STATE-+Israel+Defense+Forces+-IDF-.htm

     
  6. EDelahanty

    EDelahanty Member

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    Israel is a much smaller country than the United States, and for much of its existence has been under direct or implied threat from neighbors and other countries in the Middle East. Moreover, a large part of the impetus for its nationhood came from its founders' insistence that Jews be allowed to defend themselves. So an analogy between a draft here and compulsory military service there may be strained.

    Israel is far from homogeneous, even when considering only the Jewish population. One of the sources of animosity between secular and orthodox Jews in Israel is the high percentage of the latter group taking advantage of opportunity for exemption from military service.

    from Wikipedia:

    "In Israel, the Muslim and Christian Arab minority are exempt from mandatory service, as are permanent residents such as the Druze of the Golan Heights. Male Ultra-Orthodox Jews may apply for a deferment of draft to study in Yeshiva, and the deferment tends to become an exemption, while female religious Jews can be exempted after presenting "religious declaration" to the IDF authorities, and some (primarily National Religious or Modern Orthodox) choose to volunteer for national service instead. Male Druze and Circassian Israeli citizens are liable, by agreement with their community leaders (Female Druze and Circassian are exempt from service). Members of the exempted groups can still volunteer, but very few do, except for the Bedouin where a relatively large number have tended to volunteer (usually for financial reasons)."
     
  7. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    If a draft or other form of compulsory service was instituted again, I believe SCOTUS would take another look at Butler v Perry and may overturn it under the 13th Amendment's prohibition on involuntary servitude:

     
  8. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Point taken.

    But what if instead of mandatory service, each American under the age of say 25 was offered the opportunity for a college education paid for by Uncle Sam in exchange for a set number of years of employment for said Uncle? Say, one year of employment for the US Government (in any number of agencies, to include AmericaCorps, Border Patrol, Homeland Defense, or the US Military) for every year of full tuition, or some other equitable formula?

    Something similar can be done for trade schools, where young men and women learn the job, then apprentice for Uncle Sam before the move onto to their selected profession.

    Lots of benefits in having a well educated and trained workforce that also provides starts off manning the low level worker positions needed by our Government.
     
  9. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    I have just one point on the matter. The military generally in the last 30 years has been able to meet their quota of enlisted. And they've had more than enough qualified wanting a commission; and the are down sizing. So, why in the hell do we need mandatory service?
     
  10. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    If the Supreme Court was going to have done so- they would have in Holmes v US at the height of the Vietnam War- which they declined to hear. The Supreme Court (in Butler v Perry and Arver v US) recognized the right and obligation of Congress to "Raise and Support Armies"- they are not going to revisit that IMO.
    But - to HMQ's point- the applicability of Israel's situation to that of the US is tenuous at best. Literally every threat to Israel is an existential one due to the size and proximity of Israels sworn enemies and the size of Israel itself. There are literally no comparable threats to the US. Further, the size of the US ensures that any draft in the US would have a pool far larger than the actual manpower requirements- so it would be far from a universal requirement unless it literally is drafting people to cut the grass along the highways. Finally, the practicality of the draft is seriously in question. The training time to produce a trained soldier in the advanced technology of warfare in 2012 (much less trained sailors or airmen in even more technical services) virtually ensures that a draft would not produce any more than partially trained personnel- (partially trained equates to virtually useless unless we are prepared to kill large numbers of our own military personnel while possibly not accomplishing the missions required. (Reread Rick Atkinson's "An Army at Dawn" to see the results of throwing poorly trained American draftees into combat in WW2 in 1942 or Clay Blair's "The Forgotten War" for the same dismal results in Korea in 1950.

    The military is a far more proficient organization than the draft Army of the early 1970's- and proficiency means far fewer American casualties. We have fought unpopular wars in Korea and Vietnam with largely draftee Armies absorbing about 90,000 US personnel KIA so clearly having a draft DOES NOT keep us out of wars that are not related directly to vital and immediate national interests. So really , there is little justification for Rick's opinion (and even less public support). The only justification that I can see is the societal one and that is rather tenuous and I believe far outweighed by the demonstrated superiority of the all volunteer military in its primary duties- to fight and win the wars of the US as directed by the NCA with as few US casualties as possible in the process. If you want to avoid wars that are poorly thought out or with a dubious relevance to fundamental and vital national interests- the way to do so is to make sure that you vote for a Congress and President who actually understand and think about the implications of War- not use US troops as live bait because we insist on electing a government with little or no strategic analytical ability.

    Ricks article is however an interesting conversation piece.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2012
  11. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    "Draft?" :confused:

    Heck...I'd stay a LOT longer if I could get a star...but that (ya'll can thank Congress, that's a SCARY thought, me with a star...) won't EVER happen. :worship:

    Hey...John Hesterman, Dave Goldfein...buddies...classmates...could either of you spare one??? :rofl:

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  12. BillSL

    BillSL USMA Class of 2016

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    I believe the article means that mandatory service would force people to be better informed about wars and, thus, be able to fight against "unpopular" wars.
     
  13. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    I understand; but anything in life is done better with volunteers and people who want to be there. Doesn't matter what it is. As long as our military has enough volunteers for the size of force they want, there is absolutely no reason to bring someone in who doesn't want to be there.

    Most of America is ignorant. Whether we have compulsory service or voluntary, the average American isn't going to be any more informed about wars. Their knowledge level is based mostly by what a biased news media is going to feed them. Rarely do they ever search on their own for the truth or real story. Plus; military members have absolutely no say so in "Unpopular" wars. We fight whatever war there is at the time. Plus, with the downsizing of our military, there's absolutely no way that EVERY American coming out of high school or college could possibly serve. We don't have that many military members. So who would the "Lucky" ones be? Or should I say; "How many politician's kids/grand kids will actually serve if they don't want to"? Same with the real rich.

    It's best to keep it volunteers. If a war is unpopular, then Americans need to get more involved with their senators/representatives and speak up. They need to quit their freakin whining. Remember: "Lead, Follow, or get out of the way". If an American isn't involved in making change when/where needed, then they are part of the problem and have absolutely no right to complain.
     
  14. osdad

    osdad Member

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    If the goal of a reinstituting draft is to make us think long and hard before sending our forces somewhere to fight, then here's a compromise proposal: institute the draft for only the sons and daughters (or grandchildren) of our Senators, Representatives and the President. There wouldn't be that many so training wouldn't be overly expensive. But the message would be clear: if you're willing to send someone into harms way, the reason should be good enough to send your own kids too.
     
  15. BillSL

    BillSL USMA Class of 2016

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    But what if the kids don't want to? The point of a volunteer force is have people who are willing to go into harms way to, well, go into harms way. Well, if a war starts, it's not like soldiers can just "leave" the Armed Forces but well, they may not re-enlist.

    But I do understand your point - would the kids HAVE to be sent to a war in which the Senators/Congressmen/President/Etc. think must be fought but would not be willing to let their kids die for that cause. Well... it makes sense, but I see it violating the freedom of choice of the kids.
     
  16. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Sounds good, but hard to implment

    First, we have already have G.I. Bill that pays for college based on one'smilitary service

    Second, not too many "low level government" worker positions that high school graduates can qualify for. To be cynical, the days of low level government workers replaced by highly paid low level workers. I am sure some of other forum members in the federal government have seen GS 13/GS14 with little responsbilities.

    According to the Factcheck,

    http://factcheck.org/2010/12/are-federal-workers-overpaid/

     
  17. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    I have a better proposal, in order to be Senator, Representative, and the President, must serve in the military for 4 years (borrowing this from the Startship Trooper).
     
  18. patentesq

    patentesq Parent

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    Love MemberLG's last comment!!! ^^^^^^^

    I cross-trained with conscripts from foreign countries before. It was a complete disaster. :thumbdown:
     
  19. osdad

    osdad Member

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    Your suggestion presumes serving makes for a better legislator on all fronts. Questionable. Plus, how would an E3 have any perspective on how to run the nation?

    My proposal focuses on the singular act of sending kids off to war.

    I think the point is that 99% of the citizens have no idea what the services do or how they do it. A draft would make the connection much more immediate. But so would I separate tax bill or rationing. If GWB had had to pay for his two wars through a special tax, what are the odds they (the 99%) would have demanded more rationale and progress. Its the disassociation of a career military from the people they protect that has to change.

    Besides, neither of our suggestions has a chance of happening so we're both just tilting at windmills. :smile:
     
  20. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Agree.

    Recommending reading Starship Trooper, if you haven't already. It's written by a Navy grad. The similiar question was asked in the book also. If I remember it correctly, the answer was something along the line of serving doesn't necessarily make someone better but the system (where only people that served can vote) works.
     

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