Forum: Should The Draft Be Reinstated?

With U.S. forces stretched thin and many reservists on full-time duty, some urge a draft for reasons of fairness and practicality. Opponents say it's unnecessary and dangerous

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Brooks Kraft / Corbis for TIME

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Talk about reinstating the draft is more about nostalgia for a time when military service was perceived to be a near universal and often beneficial rite of passage for young men in our country than it is about keeping our military at full strength. Given the success of the all-volunteer force in manning today's smaller and more highly skilled military, a return to a large, general draft is neither necessary nor desirable for maintaining U.S. military effectiveness.

Worries about whether the military can attract enough recruits are unfounded. Unless the U.S. is going to prohibit anyone from volunteering or being recruited and only swear in draftees, the number of slots that would need to be filled by a draft would be very small indeed. How fair would any draft be that asked only a few thousand high school graduates out of the millions of eligible men and women to serve each year? Attempts to reinstate the draft could tear the nation apart for zero gain--and possibly a net degradation in military effectiveness.

Instead of honoring the diverse Americans serving in the ranks today, draft supporters devalue their patriotism and commitment. They fail to acknowledge that today's all-volunteer military recruits only motivated, trainable people who, by definition, have other options but who choose to stay in the military because they find satisfaction in serving their country. What draft supporters should be asking is, How can we challenge every young American to ask "Whose responsibility is it to serve if not mine?"

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