Sunday, July 22, 2018

Commentary: The Draft Should Never Have Been Stopped


The final lottery for the Selective Service Draft for the conscription of men into the military was held on March 12, 1975. On March 29th of that year, President Gerald Ford signed Proclamation 4360, eliminating the registration requirement for all males, ages 18 through 29. With his signature, the Draft was dead. Was this a good idea? In hindsight, I would say ‘no.’
The Draft was a good idea that was discarded

   The Draft served this country well since it was created, in 1917. The conscription of young soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines served not only the Armed Forces, but also the society.

   What are America’s problems today? Well, there is a long list, but perhaps the most pressing one is the polarization of citizens into camps, with labels like “conservative,” “liberal,” “pro-gun,” “anti-gun,” “pro-life” and “pro-choice,” to name just a few. Essentially, many Americans are divided because of their belief structures. And, many stay comfortably within their own biases and everyday experiences.

   Yet, conscription would give citizens a common experience of service that would be a common denominator for our collective cultural psyche. Rather than sitting on the sidelines and having opinions, people would be doing something about their patriotism.
The Draft brought Americans together in service

   Compulsory military service compels young people to get out of their ‘comfort zones’ and learn things like responsibility, teamwork and hard work. Frankly, these things are being lost today. The military molds young minds and bodies in a healthy direction, teaching lessons that will last a lifetime.

   Militarily, conscription makes sense as well. Not too long ago, soldiers were ordered to perform multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. While our soldiers on active duty today, both male and female, are no doubt committed and professional, is multiple tours (sometimes three or more) fair to those who have volunteered for military service? Let us not just think about the soldiers, sailors, airmen or marines, but let us also contemplate their families. Is losing a mother or father, son or daughter, husband or wife for years at a time truly fair? No. Not by a long shot. This practice of multiple tours (needed because of the lack of a steady stream of recruits) injures the fabric of American families. This leads to divorce among husbands and wives, estrangement between children and parents and asks service members to place their lives at risk for periods of time that is patently unfair.

   Military service is the thing that turns a resident of the United States truly into a citizen of our nation. In my opinion, no one who has failed to serve really understands this country and what it stands for.
The Draft would stabilize troop levels

   It has become quite acceptable for adult children to live at home with their parents through their 20s, 30s and even their 40s. There is a plague of young people who have ‘failed to launch’ into the world and stand on their own two feet. Compulsory military service would be that vital experience that changes the course of millions of young lives.

   Should both sexes be drafted? These days being what they are, I would say ‘yes.’ Both sexes should be drafted and serve.

   How long should a compulsory period of military service be? This issue could occupy its own commentary. Personally, I believe an active duty period of three years and a reserve obligation of four years seems fair. The Armed Forces would be strong. The American society would be stronger. Young Americans would have more direction to their lives and participate fully in national service. This would make them better people and more sound mentally, physically and perhaps even spiritually.
The majority of American lawmakers have never served

   Should anyone be exempted from military service? By no means. If someone is physically and mentally well, there should be no way for anyone to get out of serving their tour in their nation’s uniform. Those who are not physically or mentally well may not qualify for military service, but there are other organizations, which contribute to the public good, which they may be able to work in (and for the same amount of time others serve in uniform).

   What would someone against compulsory service see as the disagreeable point? Well, compulsory service would mean that young people would have no choice about their service to their country. Yet, this is not entirely true. Not every person is a future infantryman or tanker. There are many military occupations, from postal worker to personnel and medical specialists, to logistical experts and petroleum specialists who gain work experience and serve vital functions to keep their branches of service working.

   Military personnel can attend college, like anyone else. However, as a member of the Armed Forces, students would be more focused upon obtaining actual jobs after their service. The idea of going to college to ‘party’ would be finished. This would be good too. Going to college is a privilege and those who do so in the hopes of finding better paying jobs do well. Too many young people are unfocused in their studies and have no clue about what they will do with their educations beyond academia.

   Why will compulsory military service never happen, though? Where service in the military used to be a common rite of passage among young people, the Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1965) mostly chose to remain in civilian life. The connection between society and the military was cut because generations of Americans from the 1960s forward simply did not participate in the military the same way their fathers and grandfathers did. So, where military conscription was once thought of as a patriotic duty, today it is seen by many young people as a court of last resort for a career.

   There is not the will, among a majority of young people, to serve. And, the majority of our lawmakers today have never served in uniform.  There is great distance, politically and culturally, between now and the last time the Draft was used. Quite likely, too much distance to re-establish it as the law of the land. Regardless of how conscription would help the economy, the military, young people and the country, it is an idea whose time has passed and now remains only in the history books.

1 comment:

  1. Draft everyone 18 years old . Serve 2 years.Earn credits for college.


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