The End of the All-Volunteer Army Force

The military force of the United States of America is composed primarily of volunteers since military drafting has been put to a stop. Since the army is no longer comprised of individuals who were forcedly conscripted by the government, people no longer get drafted without their willingness and consent. In contrast to the earlier times when civilians are ordered to render service to the country by becoming soldiers, there have been more changes in the compensations being provided for the volunteers. Enlisted personnel are now placed in positions based on their inclinations and educational background in contrast to earlier years when the mass recruitment of civilians as soldiers resulted to a mismatching of military positions, so to speak. But with today’s recruiting challenges, has the All Volunteer Army Force run its course?In order to have a better understanding of the question, it is important to identify what exactly the challenges are in terms of recruiting soldiers into military service. The contemporary issues facing the military as far as the war on terrorism is concerned focuses on the renewed efforts of the government to put more soldiers in Iraq and in Afghanistan for instance. Since deploying more soldiers in the two countries implies that America’s supply of soldiers in the homeland will also be affected. Thus, there is an apparent need to replenish the army of soldiers back home while soldiers are being sent to foreign soils as far as America’s war on terrorism is concerned under the Bush administration. But with the opposition against the continued efforts of the Bush administration to retain the soldiers in Iraq, there are recruitment challenges being faced by the military.Read also about Department of the Army HeadquartersFor one, political opposition—especially the general opposition of the Democratic Party against the moves and motives of the Republican Party as far as the war on terrorism is concerned—hinders the recruitment of more volunteers as far as political support is concerned. While Republicans in general may favor the stay of soldiers in Iraq and the renewed efforts to replenish the number of army volunteers by creating attractive compensations, opposition from the Democrats and other groups of similar position seeks to stall the sending of more troops on foreign territory and the recruitment of more volunteers. Apparently, one of the ways in which opposition to the increase in the number of volunteers in Iraq are voiced in the legislature is by authoring bills and other laws which seek to target the issue of sending abroad and conscripting more volunteers. However, none of the attempts at the legislature to put a closure on the efforts of the Bush administration of sending troops in Iraq and creating attractive compensation packages for army volunteers so as to recruit more civilians into the army has been able to meet its goals. For the most part, military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the recruitment of volunteers continue.The fact that President Bush recently proclaimed July 1, 2008 as the 30th anniversary of the all-volunteer force, marking a significant time in the history of America since the first all-volunteer force was created in 1973. One of the impressions created by the proclamation is the idea that the nation ought to celebrate the three decades of continued recruitment of volunteers in the army. In effect, it is as if the end of the all-volunteer force is nowhere near in sight. More generally, it creates the impression that the end of more troops in Iraq and Afghanistan is yet to be realized. Has the All Volunteer Army Force run its course? If we are to single-out and take the efforts of the administration in watering down a delicate issue by institutionalizing the anniversary of the all-volunteer force, it can be said that the all-volunteer army force is far from running its course. On the contrary, it can be said that more recruits may soon fill-in the ranks and files of soldiers at home and in foreign soils.However, to say that the all-volunteer army force has already run its course is to say that we are reverting back to the state wherein military drafting is imposed or civilians are forced to conscript themselves. Since the military force is an indispensable part of any sovereign government, it cannot be said that the end of the all-volunteer army force is the end of the military force in general. When we speak of the end of the all-volunteer army force, it creates the impression that we are beginning to have the same scheme of military drafting the nation had a little more than three decades ago. Since military drafting offers civilians with little to no choice other than allowing themselves to become a part of the army, it nonetheless reduces the finances of the government as far as creating attractive military compensations are concerned. If all-volunteer army recruitment is retained, it is not a farfetched possibility to have a large bulk of the national budget being allocated to the pays received by army volunteers. As John Kruzel (2008)—a member of the American Forces Press Service—writes, “a career in the U.S. military has become far more attractive since the days of the draft.” And since the United States has been experiencing an economic crisis quite recently, the lure of bringing back the military drafting system remains a constant threat to the existing scheme of an all-volunteer army force.As Andrew Bacevich (2007) writes in the International Herald Tribune, “[federal officials] could only encourage young Americans to enlist,” which more often than not included “inducements to sweeten the invitation.” The fact that the federal government had to include “inducements” suggests the idea that there is no longer a groundswell of support for the current system in the recruitment process. “Inducements” would not be needed had it been the case that more and more Americans are willing to volunteer their lives for the cause of a bigger military force. But even with the idea that the use of attractive compensation packages for army volunteers appears to imply the slow downfall of the all-volunteer army force out of economic reasons, it does not essentially point to that idea as there are other factors that should be considered. For instance, a sizeable population of eligible Americans may not decide to join the all-volunteer army force and yet they may also be simultaneously in favor with the current measures of the administration to send more troops in Iraq and recruit more soldiers.If the all-volunteer army force is nearing its end while the terrorist threats to homeland security continue to become a large public issue, maintaining the necessary number of troops that will ensure the security of the country against internal and external threats is likewise significant. There were previous efforts from some members of the Democratic bloc to reinstate the drafting system in the military (Heilprin, 2006) although the efforts did not get through the Republican-dominated U.S. Congress. The reason of Representative Charles Rangel of New York for proposing to reinstate military draft is the fact that there has been a more active use of military personnel both local and abroad and that all of these things cannot be efficiently maintained without a draft. If the Congressional next elections yield to a higher number of Democrats than Republicans, it is likely that there will be a revival of the call for the draft especially with the considerable increase in the military costs. The end of the all-volunteer army force could very well be seen from that possibility, but that is not entirely the case for one reason: there are alternatives.As Defense Secretary Robert Gates argues, extraordinary measures might be taken such as “issuing guidance for furloughing civilian employees and limiting training and family support activities (McMichael, 2008).” As it can be seen, two proposed alternatives to the reinstatement of military drafting and to the removal of the all-volunteer army force are emphasized by Gates which, apparently, have certain trade-offs. For one, limiting training and family support activities for military personnel might soon discourage more eligible civilians from joining the all-volunteer army force. The alternative stands in contrast to the status quo of the overall compensation package for enlisted personnel in the army.Interestingly, the result of the approaching presidential elections in the United States will directly influence the need for more soldiers or otherwise. The Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama, is for the return of the troops in America (Plan for Ending the War in Iraq, 2008) whereas the Republican presidential candidate, Senator John McCain, is in favor of retaining the forces abroad, specifically in Iraq (Strategy for Victory in Iraq: Support the Successful Counterinsurgency Strategy, 2008). If the Democratic candidate wins the election, it is more likely than not that there will be no need to scrap the all-volunteer army force, not even the proposal to limit the training and family support activities of military personnel since there will be a lesser need for more soldiers. That being said, the all-volunteer army force retains its position. If the Republican candidate wins, the troops in Iraq will not be immediately pulled-out; on the contrary, more soldiers might be sent there in order to thoroughly wipe-out the local threats to the democratic progress of Iraq. In effect, the all-volunteer army force might not be efficient in filling the demand for more soldiers unless there are attractive compensation packages for recruits. One long-term consequence of it is the continued rise in the military costs and an increase in the military’s share in the national budget unless certain adjustments are observed.In essence, the end of the all-volunteer army force has the consequence of reinstating the military draft system since America cannot afford to not have an army to protect its territory especially after the September 11 bombing attacks. The demise of the all-volunteer army is nowhere near in sight as there is a wide opposition against the war in Iraq and the need for more soldiers to abroad.ReferencesBacevich, A. J. (2007). The Failure of an All-Volunteer Military. International Herald Tribune, from http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/01/26/opinion/edbacevich.phpHeilprin, J. (2006). House Democrat Wants Draft Reinstated. Boston News, from http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2006/11/19/rep_rangel_will_seek_to_reinstate_draft/Kruzel, J. J. (2008). Incentives Help Sustain All-Volunteer Force, General Says.   Retrieved September 7, 2008, from http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=50371McMichael, W. H. (2008). Gates: Draft Not Solution to Personnel Costs.   Retrieved September 7, 2008, from http://www.armytimes.com/news/2008/05/military_appropriations_052008w/Plan for Ending the War in Iraq. (2008).   Retrieved September 7, 2008, from http://www.barackobama.com/issues/iraq/Strategy for Victory in Iraq: Support the Successful Counterinsurgency Strategy. (2008).   Retrieved September 7, 2008, from http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/fdeb03a7-30b0-4ece-8e34-4c7ea83f11d8.htm