Small Wars Journal

America's Last Draftee

Command Sergeant Major Jeffrey J. Mellinger assumed the duties of the U.S. Army Materiel Command's Command Sergeant Major on Nov. 2, 2007. CSM Mellinger was previously assigned to the U.S. Army Alaska and spent several months speaking to units and groups on his experiences.

CSM Mellinger was drafted on April 18, 1972, at Eugene, Oregon. Following basic and advanced training at Fort Ord, California, he completed airborne training at Fort Benning, Georgia. His first assignment was in the Federal Republic of Germany as a unit clerk. Upon his return from Germany, CSM Mellinger was assigned to the 2d Battalion (Ranger), 75th Infantry, Fort Lewis, Washington. For the next five years, CSM Mellinger served as unit clerk, battalion personnel staff NCO, machinegun squad leader, rifle squad leader, rifle platoon sergeant and weapons platoon leader. He then performed drill sergeant duty at Fort Gordon, Georgia, and returned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion, serving again as a platoon sergeant.

Additional assignments include: Special Forces Military Freefall Instructor, Fort Bragg, North Carolina; senior team leader, 75th Ranger Regimental Reconnaissance Detachment, Fort Benning, Georgia; assistant professor of Military Science, University of Alaska-Fairbanks; First Sergeant, Company C (Airborne), 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry (Manchu), Fort Wainwright, Alaska; Senior Enlisted Advisor, 41st Separate Infantry Brigade, Oregon Army National Guard; Command Sergeant Major, 3rd Battalion, 10th Infantry, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; Command Sergeant Major, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia; Commandant, U.S. Army Alaska Noncommissioned Officer's Academy, Fort Richardson, Alaska; Command Sergeant Major of United States Army Japan and 9th Theater Support Command, Camp Zama, Japan; Command Sergeant Major, First U.S. Army, Fort Gillem, Georgia; and Command Sergeant Major, Multi-National Force--Iraq from August 2004-May 2007.

Command Sergeant Major Jeffrey J. Mellinger - Official Biography

America's Last Draftee: "I'm a Relic" - Mark Thompson, Time

America's generals love to brag about their all-volunteer Army. That's because they tend to overlook Jeffrey Mellinger. He donned his Army uniform for the first time on April 18, 1972, about the time the Nixon Administration was seeking "peace with honor" in Vietnam and The Godfather was opening on the silver screen. Nearly 37 years later, he's still wearing Army green. Mellinger is, by all accounts, the last active-duty draftee serving in the U.S. Army...

The Army sent him all over the world, including tours in Japan and Iraq. General David Petraeus, who served as Mellinger's boss during the draftee's final three months in Iraq in 2007, calls him "a national asset" who kept the top generals' aware of the peaks and valleys in battlefield morale. "We lost count of how many times his personal convoy was hit," Petraeus says. "Yet he never stopped driving the roads, walking patrols, and going on missions with our troopers." (Mellinger's 33-month Iraq tour was punctuated by 27 roadside bombings, including two that destroyed his vehicle, although he managed to escape injury.) Mellinger now serves as the Command Sergeant Major, the senior enlisted man in the Virginia headquarters of the Army Materiel Command, trying to shrink what he calls the "flash-to-bang time" between recognizing what soldiers need and getting it to them...

He doesn't have much patience for those, like Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., who want to bring back the draft to ensure that war's burdens are equally shared. "We're doing just fine, thank you, with the all-volunteer force," Mellinger says. "Until the time comes that we're in danger of losing our capabilities to do our missions, then we ought to stick with what we have — there is no need for the draft." ...

Much more at Time.