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JLeslie's avatar

Will you give me your opinion on mandatory military service, selective service, and the draft?

Asked by JLeslie (54594points) June 1st, 2011

I live in America and we do not have mandatory military service or a draft at this time. I am interested to know if people think there should be mandatory service, or if during times of war there should be a draft, or if they feel military service should always be voluntary. If you are willing please state what country you are from, and how it is in your country, and how you think it affects the country and the people.

In America it seems a certain percentage of enlisted men are people who are from poor areas who have little other opportunities presented to them, so they join the military. Our recruitment centers are strategically placed in these commuities. They are targeted. What do you think about that?

It seems unrealistic to have mandatory service in America, because wouldn’t that be very expensive? Paying every 18 year old to serve? How does that work in other countries?

Please add any thoughts you have, don’t only answer the questions I have presented here. I am hoping for a broad discussion regarding the topic.

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18 Answers

filmfann's avatar

I like the idea, but was glad I wasn’t drafted (Viet Nam era, and my draft number was 8).
I would worry about politicians suddenly having enough soldiers to send whereever they want.

TexasDude's avatar

I’m fine with selective service, though I think a draft should be used in only the most extreme of emergencies, not nation building experiments or meddlesome proxy wars. One of the few instances in which I would say a draft is justified would be during a hardcore, balls out invasion of the United States, which is both unlikely and would probably lead to a slew of volunteers to fight anyway.

The courts disagree with me, but I perceive mandatory service and most incarnations of the draft to be in opposition to the Thirteenth Amendment

zenvelo's avatar

I was opposed to the draft during the Viet Nam war, but the class ahead of me was the last one to be drafted, and I didn’t have to worry. But I was supportive of the late Sen S.I. Hayakawa who thought there should be compulsory national service for everyone from age 18 – 20, no exceptions, not even for the disabled.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I would MUCH rather have a volunteer fighting next to me than I would someone who would rather be ANYWHERE else!

TexasDude's avatar

@CaptainHarley brings up a pretty good point. Conscripted troops tend to have loyalty issues, as well as dismal levels of morale, which in turn makes them less effective fighters and the whole unit is put at risk due to a lack of cohesion. Part of what makes the US military so effective is the fact that it is an all professional, volunteer force and not a gaggle of conscripts, no matter what economic background the troops come from.

ddude1116's avatar

I don’t suppport any type of draft or warfare, but there are necessary wars, such as WWII, where I see no reason not to and a lot of reason for a draft. Much like @Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard said, if the US were invaded, I would support the draft, but I doubt that it would be necessary in such a case, since a lot of people would probably just enlist.

DominicX's avatar

I am completely against compulsory service, drafts, and selective service. I hated that I had to register with selective service when I turned 18 just because of my age and my gender. It’s complete bullshit. Not only because it’s sexist for one (I don’t come across too many feminists who are adamant about giving women the “equal opportunity” to be conscripted along with men) but because the idea that I can be forced to join the military against my will is absurd, especially if I am completely opposed to the war that’s being fought. I might even be willing to go as far as to say conscription is nothing short of slavery. Vietnam is a great example of the negative effects of conscription.

One thing that bothers me about it even more is the fact that at 18, I can register for the possibility of being conscripted into the military but I can’t even legally drink. I love this country, but we have the wrong idea about some things and this is one of them.

I’m not usually very “hippie” about most subjects, but this is one issue where I am on the far left of it.

“Conscription is wrongly associated with patriotism, when it really represents Slavery and involuntary servitude.” – Ron Paul

funkdaddy's avatar

I honestly think the threat of a draft and the probable reaction to it is why we have such a huge defense budget. Right now a draft is extremely unlikely except in cases where the country as a whole is at risk, and even then it seems we may resort to those weapons of mass destruction we hold onto so tightly before a draft is started.

If we had less standing troops, we’re that much closer to a draft and I think there would be a huge backlash if that ever happened. I’m not really in favor of a huge military, but I think it’s a point that many overlook when they suggest slashing the defense budget by a large percentage.

Personally, I’d probably volunteer before being drafted in my current situation. I’d see it as taking the place of someone who has a family at home they need to take care of. If it happened after I have children, I’d probably wait to see if I was “picked” by the same logic.

I definitely don’t mean that to disparage anyone who has left their family for military service, it would just be the deciding factor for me.

I think compulsory service for everyone should only be used when everyone is simply living in a war zone anyway and the training would be as much for survival as assistance.

As far as whether there “should be a draft”, I think if it comes to that (in the US) we’re low on options and I like the option of nuclear or chemical warfare even less than I do the idea of possibly getting shot at. Either is a difficult choice that I hope never comes.

ETpro's avatar

I believe we should bring back the draft, and the stigma of deliberately avoiding it. I’m sick of Chicken Hawks denigrating real patriots and Veterans, claiming that they aren’t hawkish enough to be real Americans.

We were a better nation when we knew that if we went to war, we might well be putting our own lives or those of our loved ones on the line. We dash off now to misadventures like Afghanistan (needed to be done, but Bush mangled getting it done) and Iraq (Didn’t need to be done, and likewise mangled). Hardly anybody has any skin in the game. Tell them a mushroom cloud may hit tomorrow and they are ready to commit somebody else’s sons and daughters. No need to sit down and think about whether the threat is real or political Big Lie engineering. And knowing the personal cost of war encourages every citizen to give thought to that.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

I don’t think we should have a draft unless there were ever very, very extreme circumstances. I don’t see a problem with military branches “targeting” poor areas. It’s not like they’re forcing anyone to walk into their offices, they’re just there to offer that future to anyone who wants it. They’re just making the option more accessible to those people… and for a lot of people, a military career is a great choice for so many different reasons. They have military recruitment offices in other areas besides low-income areas as well.

JLeslie's avatar

@BBSDTfamily But, the targeting does feed into the idea that the poor are fighting the wars, putting their life on the line, while the wealthy make the decisions to go to war. In some locations they go into the high schools, I saw a report where recruiters were hanging out at the Walmart. They are not just sitting back waiting for someone to walk in the door in many cases. I knew two people in FL who joined up and talked about being able to travel and see the world? This was when we were heavily in Iraq, troops being rotated through there 2 and 3 times. It is more they are joining up as a last resort after trying to get a job in the private sector, not a desire necessarily to serve. Of course, some do want to serve, and military service is their first choice. I very much support military service, but it seemed these people I knew were very naive about what they were getting into.

I guess during the draft this still went on to some extent, because couldn’t people get out during Vietnam if they were pursuing an education? Or, am I wrong about that?

Blackberry's avatar

I actually think military service can make some people better, but I’m against drafts. It’s just the fact that humans are controlling other human lives (and ending lives) for shitty reasons. Even if it was for a good reason, it just seems wrong.

bkcunningham's avatar

I would like to see someone’s take on the mandatory military service of Israel. I’ve personally known several Israeli women who were amazingly mature and spot-on with their work and they all attributed it to their military backgrounds.

CaptainHarley's avatar


That would stand to reason. The incredible focus and intensity which the military train people to helps in virtually every walk of life.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I think two years of military or peace corps service would be good for everyone.

Surprisingly, I am opposed to mandatory military service in peacetime. Our leadership meddles too much in other countries as it is, can you imagine what they would do with an extra 2–3 million people in uniform to use as cannon fodder?

Poser's avatar

I realize this question is over a year old, but I’ll throw in my $.02 anyway. I think that the reason the Constitution doesn’t authorize a standing army is so that any politician who wanted to go to war would have to go through the extra hassle of a draft. If the war he wanted to get into was a “just” war, at least judged as such by a majority of Americans, then he would go on to another term in office. If not, he’s gone by the next election.

When Ike warned of the Military Industrial Complex, I think this is one of the issues he was concerned with. We currently have an entire industry, on which a large portion of our economy is based, that requires constant war to feed it. That, coupled with an extremely large, standing volunteer force, means that any President can send his military to fight his own personal wars with very little political backlash.

So I am all for the draft, though I haven’t made up my mind about compulsory service. I agree that a significant percentage of our military is made up of lower-middle class youngsters who had no better options. I’m one of them. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I got a career, and education, and invaluable life experience out of my military service, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I do believe that serving one’s country is a patriotic act, and if a young person wants to pull themselves out of poverty by serving their country, that option should be available to them.

*The proceeding statement is a personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the DON, DOD or the US Government.

ETpro's avatar

@Poser Great answer.

bkcunningham's avatar

This thread made me miss some people.

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