After 45 Years, Will the U.S. Military Draft Return?

The United States military draft ended a long time ago. Nineteen-seventy-three, to be exact. That’s 45 years ago, as U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War was winding down.

Since that time, our country has had an all-volunteer military force. That force has taken part in a number of military engagements. In places such as Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops have had combat deployments since the mid-1970s. Today there are approximately 100,000 American soldiers deployed around the world.

Some of them are engaged in combat operations. Others are stationed in a variety of countries, training local forces.

Recruiting Challenges Increasing

Tom Bowman is a National Public Radio Pentagon correspondent. He said he believes the all-volunteer military has “performed quite well.”

But he added that the Army and other military branches want to increase their numbers. That’s in order to make deployments shorter and give soldiers longer breaks.

The responsibility for convincing more young men and women to join a branch of the U.S. military falls on recruiters.

Among the challenges recruiters face is a labor market that is near full employment. Plus increased restrictions on recruiting immigrants. Not to mention the fact that too many Americans don’t qualify because they are overweight.

Local Military Bases Help

Another issue for recruiters is the divide between the military and civilian worlds. Many teenagers say they know very little about the military. So, military service is not something they actively pursue or consider.

The Pentagon recently responded to this situation with a public relations campaign. It was designed to make civilians more familiar with the military. And to try to remove negative stereotypes connected to it.

You may have seen an increase in tv commercials for the Navy, Army and Air Force from this campaign. The Army scrapped the “Be All You Can Be” motto for a “Team” initiative. And the newest commercials focus on the military having a family atmosphere or emphasizing a stronger work-life balance than previously advertised.

Recruiters in states where major military bases are located – including North Carolina, California, and Texas – have more success. That’s because residents are more familiar with the military in those states.

Social media sites have proven to be effective places to locate and communicate with potential recruits.

Trump Calls for Military Growth

Young men and women give several reasons for joining the military. Such as a physical challenge, a mental challenge or for help paying for college or a graduate degree.

Many come from families with a long history of military service. Others say they come from a “messy background.”

But there are not enough of them. President Donald Trump called for an increase in the military’s size before the end of 2018.

Specifically, that meant 7,500 more soldiers and 4,000 more sailors. Plus 1,000 new Marines and 4,100 more airmen.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

“It is not some arbitrary number,” said Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley. “We have done the analysis. We need to be bigger and we need to be stronger and more capable.”

And here are the challenges recruiters face… by the numbers. One in three potential recruits is disqualified from service because he or she is overweight.

One in four can’t meet the minimal educational standards (high school diploma or GED equivalent). One in 10 has a criminal history.

Amazingly, 71 percent of 18- to 24-year-old individuals are disqualified from military service.

Among the 29 percent that are eligible, only one in eight has interest in joining the military. And 30 percent of that group fails to pass the Armed Forces Qualification Test.

Considering a Draft Comeback

So, is reinstituting the military draft the only option for increasing the number of service men and women? Will the draft come back?

Some European countries are already bringing it back. And it has been brought up as a topic of discussion in the US, but short of another world war, it doesn’t seem likely.

“There’s no political support (for it),” Bowman said. “And Army officers I talk with really don’t want a draft.

“They want people who choose to be in the Army, who want this as a profession. (And) they don’t need millions of people marching around Fort Dix like you saw during World War II.”

Still, there might not be an option.

What Do You Think?

How do you feel about this? If recruiters are not able to bring in as many recruits as needed, would you be in favor of reinstating the military draft?

I’d love to hear your opinion about this.

If you’d like to participate in our reader poll, please leave a comment below.

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