Many years ago, I had a public disagreement with Representative Charles Rangel at a Council on Foreign Relations event about the draft. And his bottom line, like much of what you have heard from Gen McChrystal and others, was we needed to reinstate a draft in order to make sure the burden of serving our nation was equitably shared.
They could not be more wrong.
Our military is for winning wars, not to share a burden.
We have the best military in the world today because we have selected the best to serve and made them meet very demanding requirements to enlist. Those in the military today are certainly NOT representative of our general public – they are, by any measure, significantly better. 99% are high school graduates with a diploma. 100% of them have met stringent height and weight standards. And that’s what you want going into combat – the best force possible.
We don’t want to have to lessen our standards to join in order to have a military that reflects our lax society. In 1973 our Army had 33,094 deserters; in 2010 it was 1,202. The all-volunteer military has proven itself in spades, and we have a fantastic Department of Defense – the envy of the world.
The national service paradigm some pine for is a myth. I was happy to serve my nation for over 34 years. And I was well rewarded and compensated. I got (and still do) all the recognition I ever needed or deserved. I wasn’t jealous or envious of those who didn’t serve. Our government has its hands full now with an overextended budget – where are we ever going to get funding for a national service initiative?
And for those who see a disconnect between our military and society – you must have missed the 500,000 motorcycles in DC last month for rolling thunder, or the thousands of events for our fallen comrades all over the country on Memorial Day.
Leave the soldiering to our professional soldiers; continue to thank our veterans – who indeed sacrifice significantly; and be grateful we no longer have the draft.