Army Bob: Should we draft those who avoid serving?

by Robert M. Traxler

It was Memorial Day last Monday, a day to grill out, barbecue, party, spend money at the Memorial Day sales and enjoy the beginning of the summer season. Go to the lake, break out the boat, fish, ski, and race around, eat, drink and be merry, a day off, a Monday holiday, how great is that?  No school, for many a day off work or a day with holiday pay, how great is that?

The greeting is happy Memorial Day, have a great Memorial Day; for most the meaning and history of the day is forgotten or not given even a passing thought. It is a free country, and you have that God-given right in a free country to look at a holiday anyway you wish. I guess we should be overjoyed that the day has morphed from the annual mattress sale day to a day of most things being on sale.

Memorial Day started as Decoration Day, a day to honor the 360,222 Union soldiers, sailors, and marines and 258,000 Confederates who died in the Civil War. New research has increased the number of dead by more than 131,000, not including the 50,000 plus southern civilians, our costliest war by far. It would be 7,500,000 normed for today’s population — and people say we have not atoned for the sin of slavery.

Less than 9% of living Americans have served in the military, with less than 0.4% of the population currently serving. The entire Department of Defense is smaller than the Army alone was when I entered service. Veterans are getting fewer as the World War II generation, the 16,112,566 veterans of that war, pass away, my parents and in-laws among them; very few are still with us.

It is good to have a day dedicated to our honored dead; however, we need to keep those who are serving in our thoughts and prayers every day of the year.

A debate exists between good folks who tell me that we need a draft to make people think about service, and those who do not feel that is a function of the military; they decry the fact that our young do not even give a passing thought to military service, so we need a draft, but I disagree. Having had the honor to command soldiers in both the draft Army and the volunteer Army, I will take the volunteer force every time.

The mission of the Army is not to socialize the young, or to force them to contemplate service; it is to close with, kill, capture or destroy an enemy through close combat fire and maneuver.

Please do not get me wrong; the draft produced some excellent soldiers, in fact most were outstanding. However, in a draft military soldiers and in two cases Marines (Viet Nam, WWII) were forced to serve, and a higher percentage were disgruntled about even being in the military.

In a conscripted force, eliminating the small percent who are substandard is a difficult process; it must be by design. To force those who just do not want to serve, to function at a minimal level, leaders at all levels found themselves spending 80% of their time on the bottom 5% of the soldiers.

The truth is that not all Americans possess the qualities needed to be a soldier, and noncommissioned officers and officers needed to spend an excessive amount of time with them, taking away from mission preparedness and unit cohesion, and it was unfair to the good soldiers in the unit. When the end of the draft came in 1972, 7% of the Army was absent without leave, in deserter status or incarcerated; after the volunteer force took full effect that number was less than .2%.

The volunteer force being small has the assets to increase the training of leaders at all levels and to remove those truly stupid things found in the conscripted army, such as painting rocks and spit-shining boots just before going to the field, or to paint or polish things that did not need to be polished/painted.

The volunteer force is smaller, bettered motivated, better trained and equipped, more lethal and capable. A draft is sometimes necessary, but a volunteer force is overall a much better Army.


  • I completely agree that outside of an existential national emergency a volunteer military is the way to go. I would only say that the Army may need to do a better job of marketing itself. I haven’t really paid attention to Army recruitment ads in quite a while, but the ones that basically advertised the Army as a more outdoors-oriented trade school didn’t really do a lot of favors. It certainly wasn’t a lot, but I remember more than a few soldiers who were shocked in the early 2000s that they might actually have to go to some foreign country and potentially get shot at.
    Obviously in the late ’90s recruiters had to do something to get boots filled, and what the alternative answer that might have appealed was I don’t know. I do know that after about 2004 or so, I rarely heard the “I just joined for the college money” lament.

  • I feel the Israeli system is the best, where Everyone serves in the Armed Forces for a period of time so the people are trained to defend the country should the need arise. I realize Americans; the most pampered, egotistical, and out of shape population in the free world, would detest serving. But we need a trained reserve force and our armed force are decimated with all the deployments.
    We should only deploy troops only if our direct security is threatened or our allies attacked and they request our support.

    We are at a critical time in our history with a physically weak and mental diminished dementia patient we have in President Biden and VP Harris is worse in that she embraces Marxism with every spoken word. We are on a world of hurt if Russia or China rattle their war sabers. It looks like they are doing just that in the past few months. They know we are vulnerable with the out of touch leadership we were given by the Democrats.

    • DTOM, if only you had stopped writing after your first paragraph. It was concise, cogent, and straightforward in its message.
      Then came your second paragraph where you revealed your emotional, maybe irrational, petty self.
      Too bad you didn’t stop when you still sounded like you had a reasonable point of view.

  • Too bad we didn’t appreciate a lucid president that did what he promised, making life better for all. When will you Liberals understand your politicians are the ones destroying this country and major cities ruled by DEMOCRAT incompetents. California, New York. Illinois, Michigan, Virginia, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, Baltimore, and others turning working states and cities from once vibrant places to work in and to visit to undesirable places now. All ruled by incompetent Democrats and instead of helping their constituents, they do nothing for hard working citizens.

    Remember when gas was below $2? A 2×4×8 stud for building was $3? A trip to the grocery store was less money and you got more? It’s called inflation and paying people $600 a week to sit on their ass is ridiculous! Instead of getting people back to work, Democrats are encouraging more handouts paid by taxpayers!

    Ms. Mandeville, we had a president that was building the Wall, controlling the border much better than Obama or dementia Joe, we had a functioning energy sector – the world leader, dementia Joe stopped it. We had essentially full employment under Trump, a thriving economy with low inflation, finally NATO members were paying their fair share for defense , Russia and China were subdued knowing we had a leader in the White House – not anymore. See what a weak leader gets you? More aggression by China, Russia, Iran and others knowing dementia Joe is not up to the task. Look at the past few months and acts by Russia getting approval from Biden to sell oil and gas to Germany, but shuts the pipeline down here? Makes no sense plus we pissed off Canada by doing so. Joe doing what an out of touch dementia riddled person does.

    And Covid was created by the Communist Chinese and released by them, allowing infected Wuhan citizens and foreigners to fly in and out of Whuhan when the Chinese government was aware they could be infected. Millions infected worldwide and dying. The supposed saviour, Dr. Fauci, now looking like a possible conspirator by giving China millions of dollars for the Whuhan Lab through the NIH. And his advice was suspect and always evolving. Many ignored his advice and did quite well. Some didn’t and also got sick with Covid. Fauci is finally being seen in a true light by the release of his emails – doesnt look good for Fauci. I know dementia Joe will not admit it, but it was Trump that ordered the vaccines to be developed under Operation Warp Speed. So that vaccine you got in your arms, thank you President Trump. Remember what Joe said- it will take years to get a vaccine developed and approved! Good thing dementia Joe wan’t president then, we’d still be in the throes of the pandemic with no vaccine in sight!

    Look at the invasion from Mexico. All created by dementia Joe and his open door policies. They will not admit it, but the states along the border are being over run by illegals and some unknown persons wanting to do harm and maybe terrorists. Who knows, it is sure the government doesn’t.

    This is what Democrats wanted, they got it, they own it. Watch the country go downhill and socialism get a larger grip on society. Socialism is where everyone is equal… equally miserable.

    Ms. MandAville, you are correct. I am irrational and emotional- I love and served my country. I don’t like Democrats with their dementia president and a Marxist VP tearing our country apart with illogical and downright stupid ideas. Evidently you approve. Maybe you’re the one being emotional and irrational at me being emotional and irrational. Just think of the country you’re leaving your grandchildren by allowing these incompetents to ruin our country. The Democrats your beloved Ma and Pa knew are no longer part of the party, they are all controlled by the likes of AOC and the Squad of idiots, know nothings and racists. Will you keep supporting such trash? I surely hope not.

    • DTOM/RR why do you keep calling Vice President Harris a Marxist? She was elevated to her position within the Democratic Party precisely because she is not remotely a Marxist. There are two major causes on the progressive left that are at the heart of this “Socialism” boogeyman scare that the right mindlessly parrots: affordable college and single-payer healthcare. Kamala Harris is positioned to be our next president specifically because she *won’t* go along with these causes. DTOM/RR, when you call Harris a Marxist it only exposes your rants as being deranged and out of touch with reality.

      • Jakey, you clueless young man. When a person uses her influence and capital to post bail for BLM and Antifa members in a number of instances, that is a Marxist. Encouraging revolution and agitation, resulting in death, destruction, looting, and arson – that is a Marxist.
        She is serving with a racist President, which she called out during the Democrat debate … or did you miss that? Or just ignoring it as most Democrats do?
        She is a true believer in Karl, and will push it to the extreme if ever placed in the presidency.

        • DTOM/RR and what again in your great age and wisdom was the reason Wall St. paid more money to install this “Marxist” presidential regime over the trump syndicate?

          • Because they favor more government spending …. not to hard to understand. They love free money and the Democrats have revved u the printing of mo money, mo money, mo money! Making ours worth less – notice inflation going up, up, up? $4.00 gas by end of summer. Get used to it, dementia Joe on the warpath. Kamala the Marxist loves the high prices and higher tax revenue!

          • Oh, and Jakey, I need to add when Wall Street was allowed to keep more profit and pay a lesser corporate tax, it was their money they were using for development and expansion, raise salaries and benefits, and also able to keep prices reasonable. This expands productivity and economic activity.
            With Biden’s corporate tax raise, who do you think pays the additional tax burden? Look in the mirror. Corporations only absorb so much before they raise prices. They don’t pay the tax, you do. High taxes hurt nobody but the consumer with higher prices and more sales taxes! Higher taxes, more waste, less economic activity.

            Economics 101, unless you went to Boston College where AOC received her degree in Economics, then promptly forgot all she learned and adopted Marxism. I know many BC grads and they are a smart bunch of folks. I bet BC would like to rescind her degree.

      • Jakey, as usual, you are disingenious on your analysis. Affordable education and healthcare would be much more affordable if government were completely out of both. Colleges and healthcare rely on the huge largess from government each year. You want college and healthcare at a reasonable cost, you pay for it. It was like that for years. Both grew out of control costs because government can’t run anything within budget, a fact you can’t disagree – look at the national debt!

        Kamala Harris has been and is a committed Marxist just like AOC and the Squad. She parrots their mantra and initiatives.

        What Americans want is a safe country, one which has controlled borders, police protection against crime, law and order throughout the judicial system. The president and vice president are committing lawlessness by encouraging illegals to flood the border, not knowing who is who, if they are healthy, no criminal records, and not terrorists.

        Joe and Kamala own this disaster and they know it is a disaster. If this were Trump opening up the border it would be the only thing on the news. Since it is Democrats, the media provides cover and doesn’t dwell on it or as probing questions. The media is dead.

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