No, We Should Not Bring Back the Draft!
No, We Should Not Bring Back the Draft!
Every so often, some civilian who has never served but considers him- or herself a military policy expert, or a retired military officer who wants to feel relevant again decides to write a column in some military or political journal advocating the return of the draft. While the idea of shoring up our military strength and improving our country’s defenses may sound great on its face, the idea is a bad one.
Let me preface this by saying that although I’m a military veteran, I’m far from being an expert on military policy, and unlike others who have the “I served so I have authority to speak on anything military” syndrome, my knowledge is limited to personal experience and my history as someone who at one time analyzed the economics of military policies for a living.
The latest attempt to bring back compulsory service comes from retired two-star general Dennis Laich, who apparently has been shopping around this “lets reconstitute the draft” idea for more than a decade.
He and others believe that current wars have stretched the military to its breaking point. More than a decade’s worth of bonuses and expanding benefits has brought personnel funding to its limits. Civilians are more disconnected from the military than at any time in history.
The retired two-star and his group, the All Volunteer Force Forum is asking: Is it time to end the more than four-decade experiment of the all-volunteer armed forces and reinstate conscription?
As far as I’m concerned, the answer should be an unequivocal FUCK NO!
From a budget perspective, it doesn’t make sense. The biggest part of any military budget is usually personnel. NATO guidelines suggest that no more than 60 percent of members’ defense budgets be spent on personnel costs. These costs, per the NATO definition, include both military and civilian salaries. You start drafting every Tom, Dick, and Roger into the armed forces, and the already roughly $700 billion defense budget will blow up, because not only will you have to pay them salaries, but also spend money on basic training, uniforms, and other necessities, and we’re talking more than $100,000 per troop (although official figures haven’t been published, as far as I can see), depending on the type of training. A 9-week admin specialist training cost will cost less than a full-year or more Russian or Arabic language course at the Defense Language Institute, and that doesn’t include actual job training (AIT) for each troop.
Also, we don’t need that many troops. Many of the functions once performed by service members have now gone to contractors. The military is more technically advanced today than it ever was, and we need smarter and more qualified troops, not just numbers. Although ground pounders are an invaluable part of any military force, we just don’t need that many of them. These days, we use trainers on the ground to help nations where we deploy build their own military capabilities, we use air campaigns, and we use cyber technology. The troops on the ground are generally elite special forces members, such as the ones who are deployed to Africa, and those numbers are relatively small.
It’s true that during the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, we needed more intensive recruiting efforts, and from what friends who have done recruiting duty told me, waivers were handed out like candy on Halloween. Laich claims that the draft will reduce recruiting costs, such as bonuses and other incentives.
Laich argues that the current numbers — 9,000 soldiers on recruiting duty and hundreds more needed to reach new end strength requirements — show that so much manpower is being devoted to recruiting that it could fill the ranks of almost three Army brigades.
Elimination or reduction of that manpower, enlistment bonuses, money spent on advertising and other recruiting needs could yield significant cost savings, he argues.
But here’s my question: do you want whiny, post-millennial snowflakes in the foxhole with you, bitching about how their pay sucks, and how they’d rather be home at Ft. Living Room?
Would you trust someone to have your six if they were forced into military service at the point of a government gun and not even compensated well for the skills they bring?
Personally, I would rather have a gung-ho troop, who wants to defend his country, who raised his hand voluntarily and swore an oath to defend our Constitution, and who considers military service an honor serving with me. I would rather have someone with technical skills and abilities required to perform the mission, and I would rather have them compensated for said skills.
And frankly, Laich’s plan is just plain unethical. Do we really want to force our citizens to fight and die, while paying them as little as possible by eliminating incentives and bonuses for special skills? Sounds an awful lot like indentured servitude to me.
If draftees want to go to college first, they must participate in a Reserve Officer Training Corps program and then serve.
If they fail or quit ROTC, they must then enlist.
Whichever option they choose, their obligation is fulfilled with a single combat deployment.
I don’t want any government having that much power over an individual, and I certainly don’t want half-assed troops who have no business being in the military to begin with cluttering the works.
We don’t need the draft. We need quality, dedicated troops, who love their country and who want to serve in the military because it’s an honor to do so – not indentured servants forced to fight and die to defend freedoms they are not free to exercise.