Why should we do such a thing with our armed forces? Examine this we shall. Some quotes from the article below:
“It has been too successful. Our relatively small and highly adept military has made it all too easy for our nation to go to war — and to ignore the consequences.”
So the answer is to have a less adept military comprised of amateurs instead of trained professionals? How is this a good idea? Let’s send an army of surly malcontents to regional conflicts around the globe so they can fail. Brilliant! A nation that ignores the consequences of deploying an all volunteer army won’t ignore the conscript one?
“The drawbacks of the all-volunteer force are not military, but political and ethical.”
If the drawbacks are not military then why alter how we recruit our armed forces? Sounds to me the problem is with politicians and their ethical decision making.
“We had a draft in the 1960s, of course, and it did not stop President Lyndon Johnson from getting into a ground war in Vietnam. But the draft sure did encourage people to pay attention to the war and decide whether they were willing to support it.”
No, it was questionable reporting by our news media who were able to televise the war for the first time. From what I can tell most Americans agree the failure of Vietnam was one of political will.
My father told me a few stories about his experience in Vietnam dealing with drug abusers. Some leaders ignored the problem, my dad was one of those who went after them. He told me about two separate incidents where they tried to frag him. Once by tossing a hand grenade in his hooch and another grenade when they were interviewing a druggie they had caught. Both times he just happened to step out before the attack. I suspect these types of incidents do not occur as often in an all volunteer force and not by drug offenders.
“A nation that disregards the consequences of its gravest decisions is operating in morally hazardous territory.”
How is it better to have this morally hazardous territory navigated by conscripts who are there against their will? In what fantasy world does this scenario end well?
“If there had been a draft in 2001, I think we still would have gone to war in Afghanistan, which was the right thing to do. But I don’t think we would have stayed there much past the middle of 2002 or handled the war so negligently for years after that.”
It wasn’t the military who handled the war negligently but politicians. Hmmm… perhaps the answer is to conscript lawmakers? We have jury duty after all. Why not Congressional duty?
“Resuming conscription is the best way to reconnect the people with the armed services.”
I would suggest the author is the one who is disconnected from the armed services not American citizens. (Before anyone points out that the author is a fellow at the Center for a New American Security and has written books on military command, I’d suggest these things do not mean he has any connection to troops on the ground who are making things happen.) Everywhere I go people thank me for my service or pick up my tab at a diner. Ask the families of service members how disconnected they are. If memory serves it was during the era of the draft when returning vets were spat upon. How are the people disconnected with the one government institution they have the most confidence in?
As a matter of fact, it seems to me the draft is a great way to make true the erroneous notion our ranks are filled with rapists, the uneducated, the immoral, the desperate, and a general lower class of citizen. If the issues are political, ethical, and morally hazardous how is fiddling with a military that actively instructs its members in moral and ethical behavior the solution?
It’s like realizing our architects have created lousy blueprints. Then we decide the solution is to fire the carpenters guild in order to hire a bunch of dudes with hammers and no desire to build. Huh? Is it me or does this sound like it would compound the problem?
Here’s a military maxim to take with you: A poor plan executed well is better than a good plan executed poorly.
If we look to Vietnam as the writer suggests, it was a time when the armed forces was rife with drug abuse, race division, and poor leadership. All in all this suggestion seems Orwellian in nature and quite disturbing. At a time when our military is being drawn down and only the very best are being retained, are we seriously considering replacing proven professionals with conscripted amateurs? It seems all too easy to make America weaker – and to ignore the consequences.
My shipmate, NavyOne, has some thoughts on the same article over at the Mellow Jihadi.
UPDATE: I don’t mean to imply above the draft causes an influx of drug use. As I point out in the comments, my point in using the druggie story was to illustrate a less professional, frankly criminal, element creeping in with the draft. Drugs continue to be a societal issue the military deals with. The two are not necessarily related but I have never had to protect myself from drug offenders during my tenure. Unlike my father, who related he and a buddy had to stand guard over each other when they used the head or showers.