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Should The United States Have Mandatory Military Conscription?

1385 words - 6 pages

Absolutely, positively, emphatically, unequivocally, without a doubt, NO! Not now, not ever! Well, maybe for one reason, in the event of an existential threat to our nation. Now that I have stated my opinion I will back this up with information from several studies providing evidence for continuing the worlds greatest all volunteer (entry) military force.

For the vast majority of our nation’s history, the United States has had an all volunteer military. During our nations over two hundred and thirty seven years, only about thirty five, most of which in the 20th century, was conscription or a “draft” was in effect. The United States, up until the Civil War, rarely kept nor desired a standing Army. Relying on individual state militia’s, the forerunner of today’s National Guard, was the norm for supplying a fighting force when needed. Nonetheless the only major conflict between the Civil War and the first Persian Gulf War that did not have compulsory military service was the Spanish American war. (Bandow 1)
The inequity of the Union draft requirement instituted by Congress in 1863 quickly became apparent when substitute soldiers could be hired for a draft exemption fee of three hundred dollars. (Asher 9) In 1917, in order to prepare for our country’s entry into World War I Congress passed the Selective Service Act, initially widely accepted, once the war ended, so did the legitimacy of the draft (Rostker 25). The first peace time draft in our nation’s history, The Selective Training and Service Act was enacted by congress in 1940. The act attempted to address the perception of inequality that accompanied previous attempts at conscription. Deferments for government officials and for those “employed in industry, agriculture or other occupations or employments” that were “necessary to the maintenance of the public health, interest and safety” were made available. (Rostker 26) Men with dependents were considered for deferments while students were only allowed a deferment for the current academic year. World War II also represents the existential threat expressed in the initial paragraph. During the height of the war well over twelve percent of the entire United States population, 16 million out of 132 million, was in the military with a large portion of the civilian work force supporting the effort. Compare that to contemporary times with a total population of over 314 million where the military, less than 1.5 million, makes up far less than one half of one percent of the total population.

The draft continued after World War II when President Truman recommended that Congress allow the 1940 Selective Training and Service Act expire and have the military return again to a volunteer force. In 1948 after a short break the beginning of the Cold War was cause for this to be reconsidered and led to the reinstatement of the Selective Service Act. The Korean War draft commenced in 1950 and over the course of the next several years additional laws were...

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