DISCUSSION: Should We Reinstate the Draft?

DISCUSSION: Should We Reinstate the Draft? November 17, 2023

As two full-scale wars have broken out, with the prospect of more, America’s own military is understaffed and unable to meet its recruiting goals.

Questions are being raised as to whether or not the model of an all-volunteer armed forces is viable anymore.  Newsweek reports that, according to one study, 72% of American adults would not volunteer to defend their country in the event of war; only 21% would.

Myra Adams was written an article in The Hill entitled “Bring back the draft? A divisive home-front battle will loom over any major war.”  She quotes a paper published in the Army War College journal Parameters that argues that the “1970s concept of an all-volunteer force has outlived its shelf life and does not align with the current operating environment.”

The authors, Lt. Col. Katie Crombe and War College professor John A. Nagl, say that “the U.S. Army is facing a dire combination of a recruiting shortfall and a shrinking Individual Ready Reserve.”

“The Individual Ready Reserve, which stood at 700,000 in 1973 and 450,000 in 1994, now stands at just 76,000. These numbers cannot fill the existing gaps in the active force, let alone any casualty replacement or expansion during a large-scale combat operation.”

Note that the authors, who are drawing lessons from the Ukraine conflict, are factoring in “casualty replacement.”  This is a reminder of what war entails, as opposed to the “Be all that you can be!” slogans and the recruiting ads about how signing up will be a great career move, which conveniently leave out the reality of combat.

New weapons technology, they say, results in much higher casualties than in previous wars.  In their words,  “Dramatically increased casualty rates, with resulting implications for force structure and manning requirements, are just one of the many dramatic changes in the character of war.”

The authors  conclude, “The technological revolution described below suggests this force has reached obsolescence. Large-scale combat operations troop requirements may well require a reconceptualization of the 1970s and 1980s volunteer force and a move toward partial conscription.”

They are not suggesting universal service but a “partial conscription,” presumably a lottery that would draft the number of individuals needed by the armed services.

What do you think about that?  Should we bring back the draft?  If we did, I suppose that it would have to include women.  Would you support that?

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