In the last seven years, the American military has been significantly downgraded. With the end of the draft in 1973 and the development of the all volunteer military and a now dwindling military force, should the draft be reinstated to fill the gaps and attract a wider variety of individuals?

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-There is a correlating reason the American military has been downgraded (assuming downgraded means reduced in size). We are no longer fully engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which was the primary reason for the buildup in the early 2000s. The number of troops and weapons available should ebb and flow based on the defense needs of the US. To arbitrarily decide we need X thousands of troops, or a certain number of planes, warships, or missiles, implies those resources will be used and not sit idle in bases or hangers or navy ports.

Similar to automation in manufacturing, automation also means the military can do more with less personnel. Consider drone pilots. They operate their planes thousands of miles away from the actual battlefield and as such are not susceptible to casualties. Robots can detect and defuse bombs, or go into dangerous situations and not risk human lives. Smart bombs, missiles, and other weapons are more efficient at hitting targets than a horde of weapons launched without the aid of electronic navigation that may or may not hit their targets.

The draft should not be reinstated because the benefits of the all-volunteer army far outweigh the perceived benefits of the diversity of a drafted force. Forcing young people to serve and possibly die in the military smacks of temporary slavery and is not how a free society should be defended. Only those who are willing to serve after fully understanding the risks and rewards should be allowed to serve in the military.

What is needed more than a draft force is better training and support of the current troops, incentives for performance, and competitive pay and benefits that in most cases should be much better than the average private sector compensation package. Anyone willing to sacrifice their lives in defense of their country should be paid commensurate with the amount of risk they take on the job. In other words, frontline infantrymen should earn more in combat pay than the generals who command them from a remote location away from danger.

The problem of getting quality soldiers is not the fault of the military. They merely accept the products of our education system, for better or worse. If military leaders want a more diverse and qualified body of personnel, perhaps the tens of billions of dollars they currently waste on questionable new weapons fraught with cost overruns and malfunctions should be cut from the defense budget and directed toward improving the education system.

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent- The return of the draft has been an arguable point for some time now and with the increased weeding out of the military at all levels; the numbers currently serving are dangerously low and replacements are needed. In order for a viable military to be of benefit to the protection of the country and the American people, sufficient numbers must be added to impact the current losses. These increases should come in both a draft/conscription and volunteer form.

With the number of open and burgeoning conflicts throughout the world and the degree of affiliation and involvement with the military industrial complex and those who support it, our current fatigued and severely stretched military would face fighting on various fronts, which they are not presently equipped to do. The reintroduction of the draft would most probably eliminate some of the war mongering and policies made by hawkish politicians to simply send troops at will to any conflict. In a more positive aspect, any increases made through the draft would help cover sensitive and critical areas throughout the world, which have been abandoned or severely understaffed concerning protection and an American presence.

If the draft were to be introduced, draftees taken into service by the government would be more than likely to garner support for benefits and a return to normal life following their service. As returning service members from World War II and the Korean War received benefits such as college, VA home loans, medical care and jobs, those entering into a new draft agreement would do so as well. A sense of obligation to those drafted appears to be part of what politicians believe is the right thing to do, while those serving in a voluntary capacity are looked upon as having made the choice to serve and are technically ignored by elected officials.

The return of the draft would also enable the deployment of a larger number of soldiers to any major front very quickly. With the present deployment of military members on back to back type assignments, the wear factor on soldiers and the incidence of post traumatic disorders has created a need for others to fill the gaps for those affected by deployments to and from war torn areas like Iraq and Afghanistan.

With the military deploying troops in record numbers (175 times), as opposed to 27 times prior to the ending of the draft, it is evident that the those making the deployments are not as worried about volunteers as they would be draftees. In addition, adding draftees to the military would awaken Americans as to what volunteer soldiers have endured over the years, particularly with the consequences and effects of the wars in the Middle East and other worn-torn areas where Americans have suffered extreme sacrifice and residual physical and emotional effects, with little help from the government they voluntarily serve.

A return to the draft would involve extended numbers of young people and their families and those drafted would have a personal stake or share in the politics of the draft. There would be pressure placed on elected officials to critically weigh military actions before sending troops to every hot spot and problem area around the world. Taking advantage of draftees would have limitations and consequences. It would also provide veterans returning from conflicts leverage with benefits and other assistance.

Though it is difficult to determine just how much military manpower is necessary for a 21st Century fighting force, there is a need for reinforcements and fresh manpower within the current military. With the losses and firings that have occurred over the last seven plus years, which includes higher military level officers and true fighters, both volunteer and conscription (draft) programs are necessary to bring the military up to the proper levels to fight on various fronts in affected areas of the world. Properly trained draftees and volunteers appear to be one of the few ways to fill the gaps and strengthen the military.

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-Around the globe, it has been widely proven that conscript armies don’t work. They may have the numbers, but when the bullets are flying and the blood is flowing, men and women forced into service are in general less effective than their volunteer counterparts.

That said, I would highly welcome something akin to the French system of required national service. My best friend is a French expat (now an American citizen) who was a tank gunner during his two years of required military service. The service taught him a sense of focus and discipline that has served him well in all following years. He is a huge supporter of the US military largely because he understands what goes into the job.

Robert Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers” was a broad-brushed political commentary and satire of fascist systems, but buried in there was a slogan, “Service Brings Citizenship,” that I’d like to see become part of our national makeup. To vote, to receive public assistance, to qualify for government jobs, scholarships or a host of other goodies, you have to commit to a term of service to the country. I see no problem whatsoever with requiring those determining the future of the country to demonstrate their commitment to its success.

While military service would be preferable, and should have some extra incentives lumped in, the dedicated pacifists could be allowed to work on road crews, in hospitals or some other work of benefit to the country as a whole.

This would swell the ranks of the military, and surely a fraction of those who sign up would find they have a taste for the soldier’s life and stick around. One way to make this happen would be to pay military personnel a living wage. The salaries paid to the lower-ranking members of our military are scandalous, and should be increased immediately. Make everyone serve, make service more lucrative and improve the benefits for service, and the problem will solve itself.

Sheffield, Jamaica Correspondent-Conscription, aka draft, was a significant game changer in American history. Why? People were stripped of their rights to voluntarily offer their service to the military or naval service. They were forced, like slaves, into killing and slaughtering their neighbours, especially in World Wars I & II. In fact, a very elite group of people, which will remain nameless, were incarcerated, because they resolved in their hearts to pursue peace, against war.

Should this heinous and inhumane act be reinstated? I think you’ve already received your answer. I’m more interested in peace. The utterance of the word military incites fear and apprehension. Why should citizens, those at least with a moral conscience, be forced into killing their neighbours in the name of country? To hell with the military and those pack of goons pulling the strings and hasting to shed blood.

In fact, instead of focusing on restricting people’s rights, why not divert mankind’s efforts to something of value? To supplement, why not create an enrollment procedure and make it compulsory for everyone, especially youths, to offer practical assistance to those older ones who cannot afford to get around as they should?

No, the draft should not be reintroduced in any form or shape into society.

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