While the all-volunteer military force established in 1973 by the US has been adequate up to the end of the last century, recent events have resulted in the over stretching of the military forces of the country.
These events have been in the form of the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan; both of which have resulted in the deployment of thousands of US troops. This has resulted in some policy makers giving consideration to reinstating a military draft to increase the military forces numbers therefore relieving the armed forces of the pressures that they currently face.
These propositions have been met by mostly negative reactions by the American public who deem a military draft as a violation of their civil liberties. However, the US faces multiple wars and increasing threats from hostile nations leading to a high demand for a bigger army. These realities seem to dictate that a reinstatement of a military draft may be in the best interest of the US. This paper shall set out to argue that a military draft should be reinstated since it holds numerous merits for the country.
Arguments In Favor of Military Draft
A military draft will result in a situation whereby all citizens will be required to serve the country in an equitable manner. This will result in a sense of patriotism and loyalty by the army personnel. As it currently stands, military service is viewed as a way to make a living. It can therefore be alluded that most of the people enlist to the army as a means of employment rather than from a sense of duty to the country.
Asher reveals that in 18th century France, the army was made up mainly of enlisted personnel who joined the army to avoid poverty, unemployment or the law (3). In effect, this army had a severe desertion problem and there was lack of loyalty since the soldiers were little more than mercenaries. However, when conscription was introduced where all French men and women were eligible for mandatory military service, the draft was regarded as a republican duty and hence loyalty increased and desertion decreased.
Defending the country should be the civic responsibility of every citizen of the country. As it currently stands, the United State’s army is mostly composed of minorities and the working class. Dickinson reveals that African-Americans who make up approximately 13% of the population form about 22% of the armed forces (49).
The author goes on to note that recruits mostly hail from the “middle and lower-middle socioeconomic strata” (49). This clearly points out that the military does not have an equal representation from all levels of the society but rather is made up mostly of minorities and the working class.
Rangel Charles, a politician in favor of the draft quips that the current all-volunteer system is unjust and immoral since “it shouldn’t be just the poor and the working poor who find their way into harm’s way” (Dickinson 49).By reintroducing the military draft, this situation would be changed since all members of the society would be forced to participate in military service in an equal manner.
A military draft would result in more public involvement in the activities of the military. As it currently stands, most citizens are apathetic to the military and their only concern is how military activities affect their taxation. As a result of this non-committal nature, politicians do not have to seek popular approval before committing troops to battle.
Weisberg best illustrates this by noting that in 2006, 3 years after the Iraq war had began, the US did not feel like a nation at war even though American troops had been killed and maimed in battle up to the date. Dickinson states that a society wide draft would result in more families and politicians having their children or kin in the military (49). This would result in greater deliberations before sending the soldiers into battle since the human sacrifice being made in war would be greater felt (Bardes, Shelley and Schmidt 516).
In addition to this, military draft would result in greater political fallout from unpopular wars since people would be more willing to take onto the streets to demonstrate against the war. The huge anti-war sentiments expressed by American’s following the Vietnam War in 1965 were as a direct result of the military draft that was in place at the time.
Arguments Against Military Draft
A major argument advanced by opponents to military draft is that this system results in forcing of people to serve in an army against their wills. For these opponents, “the draft is a form of slavery and individuals surrender part of life when called to serve” (Asher 21).
While military drafts evoke negative images of being forced to fight for one’s country against your will, Asher notes that the concept of conscription can trace its roots back to ancient Greece where “all citizens enjoyed the benefits of freedom in exchange for their obligation to defend the sate” (3). From this, it can be seen that a military draft is in reality a system where the citizens are afforded the chance to fight for their country.
Another argument against military draft is that it would degrade the military’s performance greatly therefore making it less effective. Bandow states that conscription would lower the level of the US military since it would require the induction of less qualified personnel who are rejected in the all-volunteer system of present time (1).
This ideal is corroborated by a retired general, Sullivan, who declares that “the army prefers high quality volunteers to mixed quality draftees” This argument is faulty since as it currently stands, the US military does not necessarily get the “best” applications for service. As it currently stands, there is a shortage of young men and women willing to serve despite the increase in need for service men in the military (Kagan and O’Hanlon, 11).
Dickinson reveals that Pentagon is having problems attracting enough recruits to maintain current troop levels and in desperation, the army has lowered standards leading to 25% more high school dropouts being let into the army (50). The argument that conscription will lower the standards of the army therefore fails to hold true in light of this revelations.
This paper set out to argue that a military draft is needed to ensure in the US. To reinforce this assertion, this paper has discussed the merits that military draft would have to the military as well as the society as a whole. Reinstating the military draft would result in equal representation from all levels of the society therefore leading to more citizen involvement in military affairs and hence accountability by politicians.
A military draft would also strengthen the US military in numbers which would be desirable since the US is facing a much dangerous world today and the all-volunteer military is simply too small to meet the global demands that the US military faces.
Asher, Robbie. Draft or volunteer army: our nation’s best interest. U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, 2008.
Bandow, Doug. “Fighting the war against terrorism: Elite forces, yes; conscripts, no”. Policy Analysis, No. 430, April 2002.
Bardes, Barbara., Shelley, Mack and Schmidt, Steffen. American Government and Politics Today. Cengage Learning, 2008. Print.
Dickinson, Tim. “The return of the draft”. Rolling Stone, New York, Is. 967: Feb 10, 2005.
Kagan, Fredrick and O’Hanlon, Michael. Increasing the Size and power of the U.S. Military. The Brookings Institution, 2008.
Sullivan, Gordo. “Washington Tightwads Are Creating a Hollow Military,” Wall Street Journal, 22 September 1998.
Weisberg, Jacob. “The Gross Unfairness of an All Volunteer Army.” Slate Magazine, 22 March 2006.