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The Negative Effects a Military Draft Will Have on the U.S. Armed Forces

By:   •  December 19, 2012  •  Essay  •  2,622 Words (11 Pages)  •  4,884 Views

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Flaws of a Military Draft

The Negative Effects a Military Draft Will Have on the U.S. Armed Forces


Military Draft

The federal government should not adopt any version of a military draft. Recently, Congressman Charles Rangel of New York proposed the idea of reinstituting a draft, a proposal that would bring more harm than good to the United States. During the Vietnam War, the military draft proved to be an extremely divisive issue bringing about vehement opposition and a great deal of resistance. If a draft were reinstituted, draftees will impair the military's readiness and morale by decreasing the quality of soldiers. Volunteers, on the other hand, are far more likely to be motivated and dedicated to fight for their country (Flaherty). Department of Defense officials maintain that today's volunteer force is the most capable in our nation's history in terms of aptitude and education and that recent research indicates a comparably effective draft force costs more (GAO). The Constitution prohibits involuntary servitude, such as the draft. The use of a draft to bulk up the military's raw numbers violates the 13th amendment. The more manpower the government can utilize, the more war politicians can wage. Establishing a military draft breaches the Constitution, could prolong the war in Iraq, raises expenses, and weakens the military with inadequate personnel. Rangel, and the US, should consider the importance of a disciplined, competent military before reinstituting the draft.

The reinstatement of a draft would greatly weaken the United States' currently strong, effective military because of the quality of people that would be forced to enlist. In order to have a useful army, cohesiveness, effectiveness, and cooperation are best found in people who have made a decision to be where they are (Brechner). Adopting the draft risks the U.S. returning to the days of the so-called "hollow army" in the 1970s, when discipline problems were rife, morale low, and military performance less than optimal (O'Hanlon). With a volunteer army the armed services are filled with people who desire to serve, reducing discipline problems (Bandow, Draft). Not only will discipline and performance decline with the establishment of a draft, but the overall experience of the military will decline. Military experts believe a draft would impair military readiness, despite the increase in raw manpower, because of training and morale problems (Paul). Assuming draftees have a two year commitment to serve in the armed services, military readiness would greatly decline due to one year training time and one month of transit. The CBO estimates that it would take 10.5 months to 14 months after recruits entered the military before they would be fully trained and available for deployment (Golding). As a result, draftees are only in combat for about 10 to 14 months and then they are replaced. So there is very little time to develop cohesiveness among a group of soldiers. A force of any given size will have greater capabilities the more years of service its personnel have (Golding). Conscription brings in first-termers, not long term soldiers. Indeed, conscripts are less likely to reenlist than are volunteers (Bandow). The longer initial tours for volunteers increase the proportion of deployable, trained personnel in the force (Warner and Asch). A volunteer military has more experienced and quality soldiers, and therefore the military is effective.

Reinstituting the draft would diminish directly the U.S. military's morale. A lack of enthusiasm from soldiers undermines military readiness. Personnel morale and cohesiveness would suffer if a draft was instituted. Military officers argue that a draft would deter mission capability and create enormous structural and management problems (Kane). Military leaders would have a difficult time with troop discipline with draftees as opposed to volunteers, who freely chose to sacrifice part of their civilian lives. With a volunteer army the armed services are filled with people who desire to serve, reducing discipline problems (Bandow, Draft). Just like any other team or organization, the more members who desire to be on the team or organization, the more efficient and productive the groups will be.

A military draft violates the 13th amendment of the Constitution: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, nor any place subject to their jurisdiction (U.S. Constitution). A draft would destroy the very values and freedoms that the government is supposed to be defending (Bandow). A just government can not justify taking away personal freedoms and liberties of which its principles were built upon. Defending a free society built on respect for individual liberty is the reason that we have a military. That ultimately, is the most important reason to reject conscription (Bandow). Forcing someone against his or her will to give up their life and go into the military for years at a time—whether to fight in combat, clean latrines, or do clerical work—is an extraordinary infringement to personal freedom (Flaherty).

Politicians argue that an all-volunteer military is very expensive for the United States' economy. Reinstituting the draft will not lower the defense budget. The draft imposes an in-kind tax on inductees in that the compensation they received was lower than market wages and generally lower than what they would have required to enlist voluntarily (Golding). Those costs—as well as any expenses incurred from people's efforts to avoid the draft—would have to be added to budgetary costs for a draft (Golding). Turnover rates will be lower and reenlistment rates higher under the AVF because the force is composed of willing recruits. As a result, the military should save money by having lower training costs and more-experienced and productive members (Golding). Moreover, a study reported by the GAO, a draft would likely cost an estimated $1 billion more than a volunteer force (GAO).

Congressman Rangel argues a draft would address disparities in the all volunteer military. Currently, he argues, the military unfairly recruits the socially disadvantaged and minorities (Kane). This serious charge—that the most vulnerable citizens are hauled away to fight in a war—is not true. According to military data analyzed by The Heritage Foundation, U.S. troops come from wealthier neighborhoods than their civilian peers and in fact the only underrepresented neighborhoods are those with the lowest incomes (Kane). Even if there is some disparity, degrading the military's effectiveness in an attempt to achieve other social ends unwisely risks soldiers' lives (Bandow). The armed forces should be used to protect the country and its values, not to satisfy social engineers (Bandow). The government should choose a form of military selection that delivers the most capable force. Diversity should have nothing to do with it. According to the National Advisory Commission on Selective Service, "Complete equity can never exist when only some men out of many must be involuntarily inducted for military service (Golding). Comprehensive studies of recent enlistees show the average recruit is more likely to come from an affluent area than a poor area than the average 18- to 24-year-old U.S. citizen and is more likely to be a high school graduate. The U.S. population as a whole is 77 percent white; the military is 76 percent white (Flaherty).

Even if proponents of the draft are correct that the military is overstretched, there are plenty of creative ways to attract more people into the armed services. Increased pay and benefits, as well as added recruiting resources are obvious steps to draw in more recruits. For example, the Army, Navy, and Air Force have initiated a new program, offering bonuses and training, to attract qualified personnel (Bandow, Military). Also in 2005, the Department of Defense signed off on a 10-year plan to increase the size of the army, navy and air force (Cave). The package will include more generous retention bonuses for skilled personnel defense wants to retain such as electrical and systems engineers and specialized instructors (Cave). Colonel Hilferty, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said the Army would give out $207 million in bonuses this year, after receiving supplemental funding, up from the $141 million originally budgeted, and $125 million in 2004 (Cave).

The military has waived certain standards in order to increase the number of recruits. The military has increased the number of so-called "moral waivers" to recruits with criminal pasts (Alvarez). The sharpest increase was in waivers for serious misdemeanors, which includes aggravated assault, burglary, robbery, and vehicular homicide (Alvarez). This may raise concerns about whether the military is too desperate and making too many exemptions to meet recruiting demands. But Bill Carr, the under secretary of military personnel policy, said "the military granted waivers selectively and scrutinized a recruit's full record, the nature of the crime, when it was committed, the degree of rehabilitation and references from teachers, employers, coaches, and clergy members" (Alvarez). In most cases, where the military is giving "moral waivers" is the recruit committed the crime at a young age and then stayed out of trouble (Alvarez). This is a great way for the military to


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