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16 August 2016


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From the conscripts in the Australian Army I knew, the Army made more men then it ever broke.

A lot started with basic hygiene training hand washing, brushing teeth, regular showers which was alien to quite a few. Training in basic social and economic matters went right on up to secondary education skills, basic legal and financial stuff like running a bank account and insurance, current affairs, military law and custom,, etc., etc. Most of this stuff happened at night after full time military training all day.

I personally found that even the worst had something to give.

Favourites, one Pt. Nahas, the most slovenly soldier I ever had the misfortune to command - until he got into the bush, he had perfect field craft skills. Then there were the Two best candidates for Corporal I ever saw. They were both virtually illiterate. I instructed my Sergeant that all they had to do for me to pass them was to write their names on the exam paper.


Agree 100%.

My son served just under two years compulsory military service in Europe. He chose the Army, was assigned to guard a remote outpost on the BG-MAC-GK border, served one week on, one week off, often alone or with only one soldier. He learned to fend for himself, take decisions, work under senior officers, be alone (or nearly so) ...

The military's importance as a leveler cannot be stressed too much imho. Kids who are college grads/junior officers are de facto in constant contact with those who have grown up with different values. And yet they all cooperate and work towards one goal. And the more privileged among them grow into acceptance and respect for those less fortunate. In this respect, the military (well, the Army anyway) is also a major democratic force long-term.

Another benefit is a greater respect for the military itself and a genuine interest in where it's being deployed, and in the defense budget. Surely these are vital to a continued democracy.

Anyway, my son emerged from military service with all the above. They were probably two of the most important years of his life.


Managed to fight the Napoleonic Wars and the Seven Years' War, the world wide scope of which is consistently underappreciated. Conscription was only introduced in early 1916, almost two years into WWI. Of course 1916 also saw the peace proposal by the Germans based on a return to the pre-war status quo, a lack of fighting men might have seen that accepted and later catastrophes avoided.

I still see things as a result of lack of information and too much propaganda, in WWI people were oblivious to conditions at the front line for a long time, more pressure at home could have ended it sooner too.

Anyway you do now have a contender for the Presidency who explicitly cites the costs of recent wars, it is early and he might win yet.


PA, there is no standard rule concerning conscription in Europe it feels.

I looked it up, Germany suspended it in 2010. Some here demand it is reinstated, Strictly suspended means it's still in the constitution. France apparently already suspended it in 1996. Random pick Hungary already did in 2004. Greece never did, Finland has a very short mandatory service, resulting apparently in close to no dodgers. But mandatory service may have become shorter anywhere over the decades.


conscientious objectors in the US didn't need to do any type of public service? Or do I misread your first sentence?



OK. How about the wars of the roses and the Hundred Years War? pl


In your "would not want draft" list you failed to mention that Joint Chiefs as recently as this year testified that they do not want the draft.

Peter Reichard

I concede al l the arguments in its favor yet I doubt the Draft would make war less likely as it has historically been used to form large armies for aggression and can't think of a case where the existence of conscription actually stopped a war. A volunteer army on the other hand puts a brake on wars that are long or have high casualties as those who are asked to die can vote against them by not enlisting. Universal military service would create an enormous standing army and be forever a temptation to use it. Universal service, military or otherwise, does create social cohesion but governments exist to serve the people, not the other way around. Indentured servitude is too great a power to grant to the government, the Draft has no place in a free society.


"Ever notice how feminism really got going right after the draft for men ended?" Irony alert?

Historically different waves. Thus strictly no idea what you refer to.

I save you my anecdotal memories from the city that was an important way to escape draft, Berlin. For three of four cousins too. In my case from 1970 on.




We'll use the money not spent on bailing out colleges and funding welfare to pay for it.



" A volunteer army on the other hand puts a brake on wars that are long ..."

Yep, what year was it we left Iraq and Afghanistan?

Big Bird

If the draft is reinstated go back to requiring college freshman and sophomores to take and complete the first two years of ROTC. I went to a large state university and ROTC was HUGE because of the shear number of students. (I'm not trying to mock Donald Trump) This was eliminated, I surmise, around 1964 because of the even larger number of baby boomers that the military would have had to train. Participation in ROTC dropped off, but the draft was still a motivator.

The training base would need to be greatly expanded with the draft as draftees had a total active duty obligation of two years, including training. Ditto for Army ROTC graduates. The personnel churn in units was something to behold.

Before the AVF pay scales were artificially low, one had to go over four years before income began to pick up. There was an element of involuntary servitude besides giving up the time. Married draftees really suffered. If a draftee was sent to, say, Germany, the wife and family stayed in the states.

I was in a combat engineer unit in Germany. These were not elite units. As the Bn SGM quipped: "The ideal combat engineer had a size 46 blouse and a size two hat". With the equipment of the time, these troops were laborers and too much intelligence would be a handicap. While most of the troops would willingly more than do their part, there were more than enough 'problem childs' on either side of the spectrum. I shudder at the thought of what units were like under Project 100,000.

Pat's statement that "The Army of the World Wars, the Korean War and VN were all mixed forces of conscripts and some volunteers junior enlistees led by professionals." had me scratching my head. Are we remembering the same Army during the VN era? Officers and NCOs were levied from Germany in 1966 to fill units going to VN. My Bn was down to one officer for every two companies. In early 1967, for three months, every new officer had to go to Germany. Couldn't even ask to go to VN. A Bn CO would be lucky to have one captain and a handful of 1LTs, then a mob of new 2LTs. Senior 2LT becomes Company CO. The popular image of Engineer Officers is that they're brainy West Point graduates. Half of the 2LTs were OCS graduates without college degrees. The 1SGTs held the companies together.

The dearth of officers went up the hierarchy. The EN Gp S-3 was a college and OBC classmate, The Assistant Division Engineer of the 4th AD an OBC classmate. There was a 1LT Acting Bn CO of a non-divisional artillery Bn in Bamberg.

In my case, I was transferred to VII Corps HQ because I had had a one credit computer programming course as an undergrad, a lot of computer knowledge at the time. After several months in the Engineer Section, the EN LTC went to command a BN and the EN COL retired, leaving me as the senior person in the Section for several months. I was in this way over my head, hoping that I didn't look like LT Sonny Fuzz. I also pulled Corps Staff Duty Officer, notably on the night that the Soviets went into Czechoslovakia. One quickly learns to not be level conscious, and that you're going to be chewed out by generals on a regular basis.

What was going on in Europe was extreme, but comparing notes with people in other Theaters at the time, it wasn't unique.

I won't even begin to talk about what the Reserve components were like after I left active duty.

Let us not forget that the purpose of the military is not to be an agent of social change, but to win wars.


A simple Google search averaged out to 3.9 million Americans who turn 18 every year. That was my main thought when I started thinking about Pat's post. How big is the cohort going to be? If that is somewhat optimistic and we get 3.5 and it is a two year term, we will have 7 million folks in the chain of folks in service. Quite a hefty number in terms of logistics, etc.

This is no reason to not do this but, perhaps, a reason to have more than one kind of service available, to make use of all this youthful fire and energy.


Good comment, Andy.

Would it really change power structures? With a nod to Vanessa, who recently showed up around here again. And from my own limited perception seemed to be interested in power once. ;)

Eric Newhill

Andy, I thought about what you said when I originally Col Lang's post, "Every year over 4 million people turn 18 in the USA." - I think it's a valid counter point; not fatal, but valid. Perhaps a well designed lottery system would take care of it; a lottery where every eligible young person has an equal chance of having his/her number selected. So not everyone enters into service, but everyone *could* be drafted to enter into service.

Both of my children volunteered for service post 9/11. My daughter, Navy Intel. attached to the DIA and my son completed college/ROTC and was commissioned as an Army officer. There was never any reason, at least that I knew of, to worry about my daughter's safety, but my son deployed as an officer of engineers to Iraq and then to Afghanistan. Him I was worried about as he was doing route clearance both deployments. His Afghanistan tour was pretty rough as he was out on FOB along the Afghan/Pakistan border in Paktika province. That was dangerous country when he was there. There was a two month period when they were taking rocket and mortar fire from Pakistan every day as well as going outside the wire on missions to keep the roads open.

Believe me, my wife and I were absorbing every scrap of news we could. It was disgusting to us how, by that point in the war, the MSM wasn't even talking about it; like it wasn't even happening - even though our young people were over their getting hurt, getting killed fairly frequently. You can also believe that we followed all the politics around the war as well as any other war they might try to create in the near future. Having your children in harm's way has a tendency to get one politically activated.

Believe me on this too, when your son or daughter is killed or seriously wounded with life changing consequences (my son), you want to know that it was for a worthy and necessary cause. If not, you want to know who is responsible in DC and all that grief and anger is directed at idiot politicians recklessly beating war drums.


"bailing out colleges and funding welfare"

bailing out colleges? What would you do with the people dependent on welfare?


I like your last paragraph, but would you care to explain? At least vaguely. Context, what field?

"- until he got into the bush, he had perfect field craft skills. "

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

I think you are missing another item in this discussion; money.

US is very rich country - she can (or at least her leaders think that she can) afford all these wars of choice and all these meddling abroad.

England also has had a volunteer army but it was the depletion of her income that reduced her role abroad.


Political rot from the left? OMG. Maybe it had something to do with the war and the draft being unjust.

r whitman

I spent 2 years of my life on active duty as a draftee in the 1950's protecting West Texas from the Communists and going TDY to Louisiana. It was a complete and total waste.


r whitman

Yet another spoiled brat who did not want to serve. Does the word "training" mean anything to you at all? pl



Yet another crybaby. pl



You don't get it. I want to make wars of choice politically expensive. pl


What about NCOs? The population with those qualities has been discontinued.


Big Bird

It sounds like you were one sorry sack of s--t as a lieutenant. The army in Germany was hollowed out to feed the replacement machine in VN? You just discovered that? Wow! as for the 100,000 category 4 draftees, this was a social experiment of the Democratic Party machine under LBJ. the army never wanted these guys and they DID NOT experience higher casualties than others. In fact the whole myth abouth Black casualties in VN is just BS. Their casualty rate closely reflected the % of Blacks in the US population. The statistically typical US Army KIA in VN was a 22 year old white kid who was a high school graduate and was from a small town. pl



NCOs? What are you talking about? We have NCOs now. We would have them in a mixed fprce. pl

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