Honor the troops, not necessarily the war policy, and maybe we need to have compulsory service and expand the military troop numbers

As we observe this Memorial Day 2012 in honor of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to their country, even though I have mixed emotions on the subject, I am wondering if we should not have compulsory military service, say once people graduate from high school — and in this modern society this could include, perhaps, young women, as well as young men (or maybe not compulsory for women).

And for those qualifying as conscientious objectors, compulsory national service of some kind.

I just read an opinion piece the other day by a retired military man who noted that never before have we had such a gulf in society as we have with the all-volunteer military and the rest who are not required to serve, although he indicated that the all-professional military was the best way to go.

Certainly there has to be a cadre to maintain professionalism in the services, but maybe there ought to be near universal participation in the effort to protect our nation so we are all on the same page.

In other nations and in times past, the military was a completely different world of its own and it was in its interests to fight wars, because that’s what militaries do and that is the only way they could justify their existence and their ability to get what they wanted.

In other countries, militaries have their own interests separate from that of the people and sometimes intervene in governments by way of coups.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the military is supposed to be subservient to civilian authority, but with the military now separated from the common citizen, one wonders if it might not become a force of its own.

The main reason, though, I see for having conscription, a return to the draft, is that it is a check against unnecessary or unwise military actions or wars. If nearly everyone was subject to military conscription, the same risk of loss of life and limb, more prudent decisions might be made. Public will would dictate.

I also read that there seems to be a renewed respect for the military now that it is the all-volunteer and professional corps, even if not universal support of our war policy. If true, that is at least refreshing.

Even though I was an enlistee, I was not all that enthusiastic of a soldier, to say the least, but I am proud that I served — if nothing else, it gives me, I feel, the right, to object to our military policy. I served in the Army in the NATO effort in Germany during the Cold War and while the Vietnam War raged. I have a brother who served in Vietnam, and another who served 20 years in the U.S. Navy.

May dad and his brother were cadets in high school, wearing those World War I campaign hats and those funny balloon trousers.

And from my observation, it seems we may well have a much better military now with the all-volunteer force.

But I am wondering if we still could not have compulsory service, say for one year or two and then some reserve time — a kind of ready standby.

I also wonder if we might want to have an even larger volunteer force than we have now. It would create more jobs and potentially provide useful service to the country. Military members don’t always have to be fighting wars or even always training for wars. They could provide community services too, such as conservation work and wild land fire fighting and emergency rescue efforts in hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Meantime, I guess if we have a chance we might attend one of the many local memorial services in support of the troops — not necessarily the war policies misguided politicians sometimes enact.

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