The move back in the early 70s to an all-volunteer military may have been seen as a victory to the anti-war or anti-Vietnam War crowd, but maybe it was not such a victory after all. And maybe it’s just not practical.
With draft-age young people and their parents not having to worry about the military draft it is far too easy to go to war — it doesn’t require the political calculation it once did.
And I really believe that the majority of the American public, although said to be weary of the wars, is more like disconnected with them. Unless you have a loved one or friend over there, it’s just not part of your life.
The all-volunteer approach has made the “war of choice”, i.e., Iraq (and maybe Afghanistan) possible.
I wonder if these so-called wars of choice are not unconstitutional.
The British government has even held hearings on whether George W’s sycophant and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his advisors went to war illegally in Iraq.
It would probably be difficult to determine whether such is the case in the U.S. Our Constitution is somewhat ambiguous as to the rules regarding what is a legal war or if there is indeed such a thing or what are the proper steps to go to war, and besides the modern method has been to officially call these actions something other than “war”, even though in the popular vernacular and even in the governmental policy discussions the word “war” is freely used. But remember? When we first went down the path of these not-so-conventional wars we used the term “conflict”, as in the “Korean Conflict”, or worse yet, the “police action in Korea”. It was not until years afterward, I think, that the term “Korean War” became accepted. Vietnam was referred to as a “conflict” for a long time to get around the various requirements, deliberation, and scrutiny that the word “war” would have entailed.
But a war is a war is a war. And the public after a decade got fed up with the thousands of casualties for no purpose and the idea that your government could force you or your children to go to war for some vague and nebulous purpose. So the all-volunteer military was born in the USA.
But now, according to an article I read in USA Today, 70 percent of the 460,000-person U.S. Army has seen combat. Half of the troops have seen combat tours once. One third have been over there twice, 13 percent three times, and 4 percent four times.
That’s incredible! I recall that during the Vietnam War an Army recruiter told me that if I joined the Army the odds were that I would not even go to Vietnam. And that was in 1968. The Vietnam military operation was much larger than the ones we have today, but the Army was bigger too. At its height we had more personnel in Vietnam War than the size of the whole Army today.
Yes, I joined, but I did not go to Vietnam. In fact, I was sent to Germany, and found out upon arrival that is was highly unlikely that I would be called up to Vietnam during my three-year enlistment (and I was not).
I’m not big on the draft, really. I am not big on military service. It is not for everyone. It can be a noble calling, but I think it takes a special breed.
Nonetheless, there can come a time when our nation is threatened, or actually, I suppose, we are always threatened, and we have to maintain a defense, and defending our free nation is everyone’s business.
A mandatory draft (would it now include women in this 21st Century society?) may be necessary and right. But if it were to be implemented — and the selective service is still in operation, we’re just not actually drafting now — I would want to make sure that there were safeguards against new wars of choice being declared. I think a legal question in that regard needs to be dealt with and a new war policy enacted.
There are reports now that soldiers not fit for duty due to war injuries, physical and mental, are being pressed back into service nonetheless. There is a definite strain on the military now and it is not clear how we move forward from here.
The draft may simply become necessary. But it also may be right.
Although I am sincere in suggesting that perhaps we should return to the draft, implicit in my argument is the idea that if the draft were to return, our wars would end a lot sooner!