Is the U.S. on the cusp of a three-front world war against Russia, Iran, and China? If such a seismic event were to occur, would our nation’s 50-year-old all-volunteer force require a boost from — dare I even say it? — a reinstatement of the draft?
It was Jan. 27, 1973, when most American men aged 19 to 25 were able to celebrate President Richard Nixon’s abolition of the draft. Defense Secretary Melvin Laird announced, “I wish to inform you that the Armed Forces henceforth will depend exclusively on volunteer soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.”
Although Jimmy Carter later reinstated draft registration, American men have escaped mandatory military service for two generations because millions of their patriotic brothers and sisters were willing to serve voluntarily, with thousands of them laying down their lives for their country.
There were 2,324 military deaths in Afghanistan, along with 3,917 U.S. contractor deaths. Iraq was equally costly, with 4,431 military lives lost and 31,994 wounded. Many others still suffer from conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Undoubtedly, the two 9/11-related wars took a toll on recruitment. One factor is a decline in patriotism. A June Gallup poll found that only 18 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds say they are “extremely proud to be American.” However, there are numerous reasons why fewer young Americans are enlisting.
In late August, a 10-page bombshell article, “A Call to Action: Lessons from Ukraine for the Future Force,” was posted on Parameters, the Army War College’s quarterly journal. The essay explained why the “1970s concept of an all-volunteer force has outlived its shelf life and does not align with the current operating environment…”