The American army is facing some tough time around the globe with already being bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan and failing to meet its commitments elsewhere some of the think tanks in US are asking a very controversial question: Is it time to resort back to draft? The last time they tasted the flavor of draft was during the Vietnam War. One of the stances that have come forward is people should not be forced into armed forces but it seems to lack history knowledge as Napoleon Bonaparte, the pioneer of this concept conquered most of Europe with his conscript army. Currently the pentagon is facing serious man power crisis to fight this global war on terror and the obvious solution in sight for this seems to be reinstatement of draft as every mentally and physically fit individual has a duty to serve motherland.
As stated before it was Napoleon Bonaparte who invented draft for the first time and had great success with it as he managed to expand his empire almost all over Europe. One of the main reasons for his eventual loss in the battlefield was that his enemies copied his idea of recruiting draftees. The US also instituted draft, specifically three times in history, first time during civil war and then during the two world wars and it remained in effect continuously from 1940 to 1973. Towards the end of 1960s and early part of 1970s draft faced serious opposition due to rising death toll and growing unpopularity of war. It was this time that over 100000 people left the country to avoid being drafted and high percentage of population joined other voluntary services so that they would not be sent to Vietnam. There is no doubt about the fact that draft helped US to win Civil war along with two World wars but it was the Vietnam experience that forced people to lose patience and turn up against it which was detrimental for its abolishment in 1973 by President Nixon.
In case of US the problem is more complex than mere recruitment and retention of armed forces. The scarcity of military personnel is one thing while the quality of services required to meet the demands of post cold war era and the threat of global war on terror another and more serious and the only way forward seems to be to bring back the draft. It is time to reconstruct the conscription system that will equip the armed forces with potential citizen soldiers but the draft for 21st century should be innovative and based upon certain principles[i]. Some of the suggestions that have come forward in this regard are that only males should be drafted, the tenure should be short somewhat like 18 months which could be followed by some short assignment keeping the individual engaged for 2 years and the draftees should be given certain level of freedom to make choice for themselves.
There are some arguments that are commonly raised against this mode of recruitment to armed forces and one of them is that the overseas missions require professional soldiers. Let us clear this confusion by recalling that during World war 2, Korean and Vietnam war the combat soldiers were provided with only 6 month training before being sent to the war. Another argument that has come forward is that volunteers are a better option than draftees. However a reality often ignored in case of volunteers is that nearly one-third of total members entering armed forces fail to complete their tenure while only one out of ten draftees fail to fulfill their commitments. The success ratio for draftees is way more than the volunteers and reliability is something that can never be ignored particularly in a situation like this[ii]. Similarly another argument raised against draftees calls that today’s military practices require high level of technical skills that cannot be met by short term individuals. This requires higher compensation for those whose skills require extensive training. This means there is an urgent requirement for an increase in compensation for career force which can only be achieved through conscription. Furthermore draft is said to be inequitable which can be addressed by starting conscription at the upper echelon of society by drafting graduates of top private and public universities. This will make the process of conscription legitimate and will have a positive impact on recruitment.
I have always been a strong advocate of draft and have got number of reasons to support my argument which start off with the fact that it is a fair method of distributing responsibility for national defense to all segments of American society irrespective of age, religion, ethnic background, education and economic status. It’s the most desirable way of inducting better quality military personnel which excludes the criminal elements and includes the best of business world which automatically increases our chance of winning the war as we get equipped with a better military overall. It’s a good option to get persons with a certain skill that military cannot teach. One of the most remarkable aspects of draftees is that they give a homogenous look to the military which becomes packed up with American people. It has been found that families used to take keen interest in matters like war and participate effectively considering the fact that their loved ones were tied to it, this made the government more circumspect in its approach and hence reduced the number of war efforts. This kind of opposition was evident during long wars which the people discouraged[iii].
Another major advantage of this strategy was it reduced the bureaucratization of military which was having catastrophic effects for the department and the country in the long run. It also helped in overcoming the compartmentalization of military based on factors like regional representation, religious and ethnic divides providing coherence and purpose to the national forces. The lack of draft had serious consequences for the society and state as young people vetoed the congressional declaration of war by not volunteering[iv]. The military becomes increasingly expensive as we have to rely on security contractors who are less reliable and skilled than US army itself. It has been found that an informal culture prevails in absence of draft as things are carried out in accordance with personal liking rather than according to the rules of the game. It is time to put an end to the all volunteer system which has been outlawed in all developed countries because it is unfair to young man and women who lack knowledge to make decision about dedicating their lives for military so most of the countries have scrapped this concept. Another good thing with this system was that it helped in improving the image of military in the masses as previously they were perceived as addicts and incompetents.
The long and short of it all is that the strongest argument that supports to bring back the draft is through this we can make children of America’s ruling class to serve their country. If this can be achieved the future leaders will be real patriotic material which will benefit the armed forces and nation in the longer run. The benefits doesn’t end here as there is a long list which includes a far more balanced and stable military force which has an intent and sense of maturity and responsibility. They behave in accordance with certain rules and principles and follow the guidelines strongly. Contrary to this the absence of draft means a complete vacuum as things are governed by will rather than principles where anyone can stand up and veto a decision taken by responsible state institutes. This is where a culture of in formalism comes into place and the state and society had to suffer the repercussions of that. Although work should be done to make the process of draft institution more sound and legitimate by making it more inclusive and participatory there is no doubt about the fact that this is the only way to make our military more professional and responsive to face the challenge of War on terror
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