The Military We Need: Maintaining the All-Volunteer Force - Tom Donnelly, AEI Center for Defense Studies.
Col. Paul Yingling is one of the most thoughtful soldiers of his generation. In particular, his articles in Armed Forces Journal on the failures of military leadership and the compact between the United States and the men and women who fight the Long War have provoked much needed debate. The second of these pieces, "The Founders' Wisdom," a call for a return to a conscript military as the most effective and equitable way to raise forces for this struggle, has merited particularly close attention, rebuttal, and now, thanks to the folks over at Small Wars Journal, an invitation to further discussion. An offer I can't resist.
Yingling makes three arguments for abandoning the current All-Volunteer Force. The first argument is based on the experience of the two world wars of the 20th century and based upon Yingling's reading of the American tradition. Both these points are suspect. Take the analogy between the world wars and the Long War. The world wars were, relatively speaking, large and short, overwhelmingly conventional and decided by firepower. The Long War is, well, long, and though it has taxed the current force nearly to its breaking point, it is still rightly regarded as a series of small wars or campaigns. And the "American tradition" must account for the Civil War as well as the world wars. While the Civil War marked the first use of conscription in America, both Federal and Confederate armies were volunteers; conscripts accounted for about 6 percent of the total Union army.
But Yingling also extends his reading of this tradition: "[T]his approach demands popular participation in national security decisions and provides Congress with powerful incentives to reassert its war powers. Unlike the all-volunteer force, a conscripted force of citizen soldiers would ensure that the burdens of war are felt equally in every community in America." This is a revealing quote, echoing two laments often expressed by American officers...
Much more at AEI's CDS.