Skip to comments.Our Opinion: Volunteer military has its drawbacks
Posted on 02/08/2012 5:46:40 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
As U.S. forces come home from Iraq after nine years at war, the nation is facing professional troops sufficiently bruised and isolated from American society that some defense experts whisper we may need major changes in military education and even a conscription-based national youth service program to reboot our fighting forces.
Painful reminders are everywhere of an unpopular U.S. military venture that began with grave strategic miscalculations and is ending with violence and political instability in Iraq. In Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai is openly contemptuous of his U.S. protectors, while Afghan security forces murder allied officers.
These U.S. military campaigns have cost $1.3 trillion, helped cripple the economy, extinguished 6,400 American lives, more than 150,000 Iraqi and Afghan lives and left disturbing rates of suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder among returning U.S. veterans.
The wartime shortcomings of the all-volunteer military are a legacy, in part, of the draft's end 40 years ago. There's been a growing disconnect between the American public and the U.S. armed forces.
Outgoing joint chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen declared last year that "America no longer knows its military, and the U.S. military no longer knows America."
As late as the 1980s, some 40 percent of 18-year-olds had at least one veteran parent. A recent Pew poll confirmed that only 33 percent of Americans between 18 and 25 now have a family connection with the military. Most Americans simply no longer have the same personal stake they once did in the military's actions.
The challenge facing the American military today is as much moral and ethical as budgetary and economic.
The state of constant war has exposed serious limitations in our high-tech, all-volunteer force. This force, the envy of militaries around the world, was created in the wake of Vietnam.
Milton Friedman, a Nobel Prize-winning University of Chicago economics professor, saw the military as a labor force that would respond to economic imperatives like any other: the appeal of a job, a steady salary and a secure career. Friedman's economic theory ended the unpopular draft.
Forty years later, the American people's instinctive interest in their troops' welfare has inevitably atrophied.
Tentative questions about the sustainability of the volunteer military, and the growing civilian-military cultural divide, began to surface in earnest last year.
The consensus among enlisted soldiers and officers I've spoken with recently is that the 235,000-member U.S. officer corps, the volunteer forces' engine, is in a state of professional and ethical exhaustion.
Several studies have documented the flight of junior officers from the Army and Marines since Iraq spun out of control in 2005 and 2006. Repeated deployments have left even the best officers stretched thin, overworked and often under-resourced.
Despite their tactical and technological sophistication, mid-level officers are divided over shifting strategic aims and military doctrine, wavering civilian leadership, bureaucratic rigidity and indecisive in-theater operations.
The way forward is a systematic retooling of how our professional military educates and chooses its leaders and recruits its soldiers. Contemporary U.S. officers require technical expertise in the military sciences, the traditional core of a military education. But they need an equally sophisticated grasp of international relations, political history, legal systems, languages and foreign cultures.
The military's emphasis should be on rigorous graduate studies for commissioned officers and ongoing education for noncommissioned officers and senior leaders that meet the standards of the best civilian universities. Officer selection should broadly reflect American society, rather than discourage recruitment from among the nation's economic and social elites.
To reduce the military's isolation from civilian life, the Pentagon should begin by deeply cutting manpower and supporting renewed conscription in the form of a three-year mandatory national service program (including civilian energy, education, infrastructure, environmental and urban service options) for all Americans between 18 and 25, with special benefits for military service.
A well-designed national service program is not a comprehensive prescription for what ails the U.S. military. It is not a return to the draft. But it would restore a needed sense of civic responsibility among young Americans. It would supply manpower demands during wartime and replace most private contractors with responsible enlisted troops.
Most important, it would reconnect our standing military forces with the restraining influence and support of the American people.
The way things are going with all of the cutbacks, I don’t think it will be very long before Americans will not be allowed to serve in the military. All the slots will be filled with homosexuals, warlock and witch wannabes and illegal aliens trying to get on the fast track to amnesty in order to receive a “U.S. citizen” diploma.
Yeah, Zer0 plays b-ball with a couple of them, but deep down inside they know that they're just pawns, getting shot up on a mined chess field full of politicians, that don't really give a sh!t.
Respect and pride in your accomplishments begins at the top, and unless your CiC covers your six, all in our military forces become downgraded and disalusioned.
Bib BS. The main problem with our military is the Usurper in Chief, and politicalization of the war. The last thing we need is a draft.
The elites (especially leftist) would find a way out, and they are the one’s who treat our boys like crap. I’d like to send them all to a work camp in Antartica.
The USA would be better off. They can keep their freakin hands off our wonderful soldiers, and shut their stupid mouth.
I agree. And if there are parades for returning Iraq/Afghanistan vets (and I have not been aware of any), to honor their service and sacrifice, not nebulous victories, there will be an outpouring of affection and appreciation from fellow Americans, not a disconnect.
There was a pretty big one a few weeks back in St. Louis. Drew more then 100,000 people. I think a few other places also have them in the works.
40 years ago, I’m sure the returning Vietnam soldiers who got spit on appreciated the interest in their welfare.
Nothing much changed under Bush as far as repairing damage done in the Clinton years went. Yes it was good to visit injured troops. But the actual monetary and much needed substantial increases in End Troop Strengths were never asked for. IOW a few were ran ragged in over deployment and over extensions. Bush years were ran on Clinton administration End Troop Strength numbers set in 1996 and never increases beyond a low few thousand. When Rummy then Gates was chosen as Sec of Def no change was going too happen. Rummy was a Ford Republican who's tenure in same job under Ford left a lot too be desired.
When not at formally declared war, conscription is not duty, it is socialist slavery, pure and simple.
The REAL liberal complaint against the volunteer military is that they can no longer muster the kind of public outrage against the military that they could when a draft existed.
All attempts to bring back the draft have been started by liberals, and that is their ultimate goal. They want the Jane Fonda/John Kerry sit ins, just like the "good old days".
Regarding your post 48, you can be assured that the upper class and wealthy, and, I might add, the educated, do not join anymore and the military services are poorer for it.
From what I can tell, the military services are chuck full of high school graduates and the very young (18-20 or so), and the very few college graduates in the officer corps.
Not a very good sample of the American public, is it? And that is exactly my point.
Of course, we will never go back to the draft as it was in the last century, and if reconstituted, it would surely deteriorate into what has been written about on this thread. I was just writing about what I would like to see, but I’m realistic to know that it will never return.
I am sure that it would deteriorate into what you and others write of on this thread. Did you or someone else write about the military as involuntary servitude? Is that the way you view serving your country as a soldier or sailor? Boy, how sad.
Did you serve? My bet is “no.”
If only our Commander-in-Chief had these attributes.
Who wrote this drivel? Haven't they heard of ROTC?
And that's not to imply that our military academies don't produce well-rounded graduates.
I graduated from a Jesuit university with a BBA, a major in Public Accounting, and an unofficial minor in ROTC (we all spent a minimum of 10 hours a week on ROTC activities). There was a core curriculum encompassing 12 hours of philosophy, 9 hours of theology, and 6-9 hours of history.
No. I said those words but you obviously misunderstood what I meant.
Wait...didn’t 0bama just downsize the forces?
Actually the liberals have been looking for a way to instate the draft for over a decade now...
I served in a support position in a military intelligence outfit in Korea and most of our analysts were college graduates. However, almost none of them were interested in becoming officers. You see, they were draftees and didn't want to add to their service time obligations. But here's what I think is important: the military benefited enormously from having this amount of brain power available from DRAFTEES.
Please don’t be polite. It sounds like you might be a Dick Danzig, Bill Clinton & Laurence Korb school of military readiness. I’m more of the Jeremiah Denton or Charles Krulak variety. Since you asked, you can read more about it here:
and that should provide a good basis for you to do a little more research. Ten years is kind of limited, so I accept your lack of knowledge.
But I bow to your extended knowledge of fleet readiness despite the fact that my last active duty billet was training and testing most of the ships on the West coast. You have a website on your side. Guess I can't believe my lying eyes.
Navy civilian? You mean, alot like Dick Danzig? Probably with the same amount of combat time as Dalton, Danzig or Korg as well, I’m sure.
I can tell you that I have seen political correctness destroy a ship's morale, but it was in the 70's, not now, and I was there to clean up the mess. And you don't have a clue what I'm talking about, do you, "expert"?
You’ve done readiness? How is the rate of out of wedlock birth’s among your sailors? How much does that cost the taxpayer? How is that affirmative action doing at the Naval Academy? Are you folks getting the right percentages of each group in, regardless of their qualifications? How about race and sex quota’s for promotion and command? Is the Navy living up to Dick Danzig’s expectations? Did you get invited to Lieutenant Ross’s “marriage”?
Of course, it is.
But there is a very real problem: About half of the civilian community IS out of touch with the military. The leftward half...
Oh, my, the little “expert” is throwing up a smokescreen now to cover his retreat. Answer my question - do you have any idea how readiness is even measured? I’ll give you a little clue - we don’t give a rip about the crap you just posted. The ship sails, it operates, it fights, or it doesn’t. The rest is for amateurs. Like you.
Now answer my question regarding time in combat? Have you ever served under fire? Where? I assume you're a Dick Danzig/John Dalton "warrior" so I am just trying to get a feel for you knowledge of combat...because I know how much the surface navy has suffered against the Afghan and Iraqi navies.
Maybe more than that - certainly the authors of this editorial are out of touch. It's well-meant, and I do give serious consideration to the arguments in favor of a draft in that regard. But I think on the whole there is more bad than good to come out of it.
Why would that be Bill? Have you fought with draftees? James Webb said they made fairly good soldiers. What was your experience in combat?
My Daddy was a WWII combat veteran. He didn’t think much of the idea of women in combat.
Also, an acquaintance was a CO in the military. He stated that they would get a “bugout” order; but the women were not physically able to lift the heavy stuff, so they simply didn’t “bugout” when ordered.
The women’s “movement” is just that, a big pile of steaming BM - and all so little Gloria could prance around, diss men, and show off all her abilities, but, then she found herself a man after all, didn’t she? Guess fish do need bicycles after all.
No, I'm talking about the Norton Sound. Now go google that one up and see what your little "experts" have posted on the web about it because that's all you're really all about. I can tell you that not one-tenth of what really happened has been published. I helped uncover the other nine-tenths. I wasn't the TRAREP then, thank God - you don't even know what that is, do you, "expert"? But the guy was looking shell-shocked when I interviewed him.
As for the rest, we're done here. You can continue to defame men and women better than yourself and I'm going to let you wallow in it.
Well the gals may not be able to do basic damage control (as the New York Fire Department proves regularly in their real world tests) but the REMF’s like billthedrill and Larry Korb will assure us all that reduced standards are OK. Draw your own conclusions.
Ah, sorry, one more thing, because I missed that. Yes, I have, during Vietnam. We used to call them sh*tbirds. I really don't care what James Webb told you about it because I know firsthand, and I really, really don't care about your boyfriend Danzig.
No...you haven’t seen squat Bill. You may have hung around a hazardous fire zone but that’s about it. Oh, and if you were in the Navy of course, you saw no conscripts because nobody was drafted in the Navy. At least get your lies right.
You aren’t even worth the time. Look up Cat4 and get back to me.
Look up “Little Mikey Boorda” and get back to me. No doubt your combat experience and any decorations were awarded for the same combat actions his were. What’s your next assignment for the fleet, arranging Gay Pride Day for the local Naval Reserve Center?
Let's see, what do you know about the Navy? I know, let's quote you:
the navy of unwed mothers, reduced standards and sodomite submariners...
Yeah, you're an "expert" all right. That's how you choose to characterize the men and women who are serving. I think I'll let that speak for itself. There's your credibility, right there. Wear it well.
Webb writes with credibility, unlike say John Dalton, Mike Mullin, Mikey Boorda or Dick Danzig, and his message is out of tune with those that view an effeminate military favorably.
From what I can tell, the military services are chuck full of high school graduates and the very young (18-20 or so), and the very few college graduates in the officer corps.
There is, however, real statistical data that refutes "what you can tell".
The demographics of the Army closely parallel the demographics of the country at large -- by race, education, income level, etc.
People like Cong. Charles Rangel -- who's been pushing for a draft -- are responsible for the notion that the demographics of the armed services are skewed toward the poor and uneducated. But...it's...just...not...true.
OK, I’m willing to be educated. Show me that statistical data that refuses what I noted.
The study was posted on FR a couple of years ago.
I didn't keep a link to it. But if you're interested enough, you could probably Google something up. Suggest "military (or Army) demographics".
Well, I must say, I am disappointed in you. You tell me that I’m dead wrong and yet you don’t bring in the evidence.
So, I guess I’ll stick with what I thought in the first place. Intuitively, it seems perfectly reasonable.
Except it's not true.
And I wasn't telling you that you were "dead wrong". Only sharing information that your impression was mistaken -- based on data that had been published. I thought maybe you'd appreciate the information.
You don't have to take my word for it, though.
However, I'm not your librarian. If you have an interest in the data, you can find it for yourself. Or you can remain misinformed. That's your decision.
Incidentally, there was one skew in the data, as I now recall. Geographically, the South and West were relatively over-represented, the North and East were relatively under-represented.
And, as I recollect, Rumsfeld was still the Sec Def when the study was published. That gives you a time frame.
I apologize for the heat, my FRiend. You have FReepmail.
The draft military did great in Vietnam, but eventually the years of massive combat without purpose, led to a disgruntled military.
The Vietnam war was really about a 75% volunteer military anyway, it was WWII that was the draftee war.
The Navy didn’t draft during the Vietnam war as they had in large numbers during WWII, only the Marines and Army did.
Popularity for the Vietnam war, was highest among the under 30s, who also voted for Nixon by 52% in the 1972 election, by the way.
I lost a hard drive recently or I would have a lot of sources for you, but this Heritage report for example, gives you an idea that our military is a sort of elite compared to the general population, only about 13 to 20% of the age group are even qualified for military service.
“Based on an understanding of the limitations of any objective definition of quality, this report compares military volunteers to the civilian population on four demographic characteristics: household income, education level, racial and ethnic background, and regional origin. This report finds that:
U.S. military service disproportionately attracts enlisted personnel and officerswho do not come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Previous Heritage Foundation research demonstrated that the quality of enlisted troops has increased since the start of the Iraq war. This report demonstrates that the same is true of the officer corps.
Members of the all-volunteer military are significantly more likely to come from high-income neighborhoods than from low-income neighborhoods. Only 11 percent of enlisted recruits in 2007 came from the poorest one-fifth (quintile) of neighborhoods, while 25 percent came from the wealthiest quintile. These trends are even more pronounced in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, in which 40 percent of enrollees come from the wealthiest neighborhoods-a number that has increased substantially over the past four years.
American soldiers are more educated than their peers. A little more than 1 percent of enlisted personnel lack a high school degree, compared to 21 percent of men 18-24 years old, and 95 percent of officer accessions have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, minorities are not overrepresented in military service. Enlisted troops are somewhat more likely to be white or black than their non-military peers. Whites are proportionately represented in the officer corps, and blacks are overrepresented, but their rate of overrepresentation has declined each year from 2004 to 2007. New recruits are also disproportionately likely to come from the South, which is in line with the history of Southern military tradition.
The facts do not support the belief that many American soldiers volunteer because society offers them few other opportunities. The average enlisted person or officer could have had lucrative career opportunities in the private sector. Those who argue that American soldiers risk their lives because they have no other opportunities belittle the personal sacrifices of those who serve out of love for their country.”
The Cindy Sheehans, Michael Moores, Ted Ralls, `Alan Colmes’ and Bill Mahers of this world have no idea what it takes just to get into the “easiest” MOS/AFSC/ratings, much less Special Forces, military intelligence, nuclear power, aviation, etc. Anytime a presstitute or blogger tries to take on the subject of the military, foreign policy or intelligence, they usually spin-off into fantasyland within a paragraph or two.
Thanks for posting the study. It’s not the same one I was referring to — because it was pre-2008. But it reinforces the same message.
Very interesting, but what about my concern that the U.S. military seems to be composed of very young soldiers (almost all of them high school graduates, to be sure) and not augmented by the presence of men of an older age who hold bachelor and advanced degrees, such as the ones that I encountered during the early 60s?
My question may have its answer in this excerpt from your post: “Only 11 percent of enlisted recruits in 2007 came from the poorest one-fifth (quintile) of neighborhoods, while 25 percent came from the wealthiest quintile.” The wealthiest quintile would suggest—but that’s all it does, i.e., suggest—that college educated men and women are found in significant numbers in the enlisted ranks, but there’s no data showing the various age groups in the military in your post. That’s what I wanted to see.
It seems to me that it’s that component of the current U.S. military that one lacks once draftees have been done away with. The draft sweeps up that older population (especially those from the Ivy League schools) and puts them in the military, where their varied backgrounds contribute significantly, I would think, to the ability of the military to react to its missions.
It would help if you would post your numbers to back up your concerns, then we could know if there is a reason to share your concerns with you, or just ignore you.
the soldiers and sailors serving today are widely loved and admired...
they are not spit on...
there are multiple national celebrity lead money funds set up to help the returning vets...
the war did not START wrong at all....the wrongness only happened after Hussein was killed and we suddenly became all soft and prissy...
and I might add that the lives lost there is a tragedy.....some of the best people are those serving in the military....but bamey boy and his policies saw to it that MORE Americans were killed in Afghanistan with his short regime than all the yrs of Bush...
the leftist see a new source of taxation.....because to support this 3 yr mandatory crap we'll all have to fess up bigger and bigger taxes....
let people who can fight for America , fight for America....
we don't need any wimpy whiny boys or girls in there...
can you imagine...we'd have to have equally distributed homosexuals and there will be quotas for sure...
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