Reprise: The disappearance of American military service

A bit of Veterans Day insight, just one day late. Sorry about that:

I would not especially care to see the return of the Draft, which caught me just days after my college graduation in 1967 and sent me to war in 1969-70 and home again to job discrimination and psychological abuse.

The draft was inequitable then and likely would be again, but it would spread the burden among more of the educated than volunteering does now, to the detriment of those who do serve and, yes, even those who do not.

“The loss of the martial virtues weakens an entire culture. Whole generations begin to rate themselves too special, ‘with a special kind of hide to be saved,’ as Gen. Savage puts it in Twelve O’Clock High, to risk their careers, let alone their lives, for their country.”

Insight from an academic blogger who burned his draft card back in the day and now regrets his youthful arrogance. At least he’s not a wannabee politician lying about serving when he didn’t. A too-common phenom these days.

0 responses to “Reprise: The disappearance of American military service

  1. The military can’t use citizen soldiers nowadays. They need highly trained men and women. It doesn’t pay to train someone and have him return to civilian life in two years. So a volunteer army serves our needs. Too bad for the young men who would benefit from military discipline.

    • Thanks for commenting, Miriam, haven’t seen you in a long time.

      I don’t agree, primarily because not all military jobs require extensive training. That’s a myth the military itself perpetuates, when they know better. There’s really no more complexity in the combat arms today than there was in the 1960s, just incremental advances that can readily be taught. Likewise for staff and logistics jobs. Even back in the draft days, the uneducated (high school dropouts, for instance) were either shuffled into low-skill jobs or rejected altogether.

      The military undoubtedly prefers the volunteer situation because it gives them fewer discipline problems, but that’s not really my point or that of the fellow at the link. It’s that we’re creating a society of men and women who think they’re too good, sensitive, moral, whatever, to serve and they’re quite happy to let others carry the burden. And that’s already hurting the country and will continue to.

      It would cost more than the volunteer system, no doubt, but I think the extra cost would be worth it.

  2. Probably so, but meanwhile we’re exhausting the troops we do have with multiple re-assignments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and more than a few of them are leaving the service as a result. An infantry captain I know got out after two tours in Iraq. He said he didn’t want to carry the whole load but to let someone else take their turn.

  3. I am all for compulsory military service or no draft at all. We should share alike, otherwise what is the point? So the volunteer service seems to be the only viable alternative, and I am not sure it’s the best way to get the best people to serve. But it becomes complicated…

  4. I remember being angry when I was young about the probability of being drafted, but the young are noted for being selfish and I certainly was.

    If service is not for all, the point of it is diminished. The volunteers look like mercenaries, only in it for the bucks, and in a multi-campaign war like the GWOT, they are taxed beyond endurance.