Do you favor reinstating the draft?

The former U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, says reinstating the draft would instill a sense of shared civic duty in Americans and spread the burden of fighting beyond the country’s all-volunteer armed forces. Today’s Question: Do you favor reinstating the draft?

  • reggie

    I would strongly support one or two years of compulsory national service after high school, but only if it could be implemented with essentially no exceptions. Military service would certainly be one option, as would any number of ways young people could contribute to society at home and abroad.

    I agree completely with Gen. McChrystal about the need for a greater sense of shared civic duty, which can be cultivated just as well through non-military activity as military service. But the way to spread (lessen) the burden of fighting is to stop sending out troops to places in which we have little or no national interest, and no business interfering. Maybe compulsory military service would accomplish that by forcing middle and upper middle class families to challenge the way in which our political leaders freely (or expensively) send troops into dangerous places.

  • Ann

    I think I read that the military has plenty of volunteers.It wouldn’t be appropriate to force people to do that type of work. They wouldn’t have a good attitude when coerced.If we want to require service, there are other volunteer organizations.A short period of training in basic military skills might be a good idea. Then people would be prepared if we did have a world war.I wish I would have had that in high school.

  • Jim

    I have been saying “compulsory service” for years. We need to have the young befriend people from all over the spectrum of race and class, serve their country, learn disipline from basic training. Most importantly we need the CCC back. Get the unemployed youth out in nature working to improve parks and trails and send some money home.

  • Mike Allen

    I used to be against the draft. However, with how we unfairly burden military families and allow chicken-hawks in congress to send our neighbors into needless wars I have changed my mind: Mandatory service, no exceptions (gender, education, or otherwise). It’s time that more than just military families had some “skin in the game” (to borrow GOP rhetoric).

  • Aubrey

    Usually, the draft is presented as a way to close the gap between the military and American society. The gap arises because we ask a few to protect the many, and this creates the potential that each side will become alienated from the other, especially if the few becomes drawn ever more narrowly from a self-selected segment of American society. Sometimes, the draft is also presented as a way to make it more difficult to use the military in a cavalier fashion — not merely to bind the military to American society, but to bind the military, period, or at least bind the hands of political leaders who have the authority to order the military into battle.

    However, I have yet to read a compelling case for reviving the draft that is premised on making the military more effective — more capable of defending American national interest, which is, after all, its primary purpose. The reason those arguments are not made in a compelling fashion is because the most likely result of a draft is a less capable military.

  • Gary F


    1. No, the army really doesn’t want people that don’t want to be there. Too much time and resources wasted on making people go.

    2. In today’s drone era, wars aren’t fought with large forces of foot soldiers. Today’s wars are fought with precision, high tech weapons, precision, high tech specialized warriors. The US military could use more people with specialized traits such as language, medical and technical skills, but not large amounts of people from the general population.

    I’m not sure why this topic comes up anymore except when politicians use it for political banter.

  • Glenn

    Are you kidding??

    With years working with the VVAW…and other left wing outfits, I see no one of sound mind serious about re-enstateing the draft.

    Frankly, if one is considering support for involintary service, one must sign up for such service. Put your life where your mouth is!!!


  • Steve the Cynic

    Having a draft didn’t inhibit the chicken-hawks in the past. When the abolition of the draft was being debated, one of the arguments I heard (and made) was that if the military had to rely on volunteers, maybe politicians would think twice before rushing into senseless wars. If there had been no draft (I said), it would have been harder for LBJ to escalate the Vietnam war. GWB proved me wrong about that. Chicken-hawks are simply incorrigible. The real solution to the problem of senseless wars is to quit electing chicken-hawks.

    The reform I’d really like to see is to abolish the use of mercenaries (euphemistically called contractors). We should be honest about how many people it takes to fight our wars and have them all in the military.

  • Richard

    As an American veteran I can say I wouldn’t want to serve with people who were forced to be there, I was fortunate enough to give all my years of service during the volunteer only period we have enjoyed here for the last few decades.

    Conscription in a free society drips with irony; in order to protect the liberty enjoyed by the populace you remove it from them. If the citizenry are unwilling (rather than unable) to defend their nation, then perhaps that nation deserves what comes next. (in as much as a nation can deserve anything) Or perhaps, citizens do not deserve what they will not defend. Either way I personally find conscription beneath a free society, your mileage on this may vary of course.

  • Larry M.

    No I do not believe in the draft. First, I think we need to reform the National Guard so time spent overseas is limited. Then we need to pay our soldiers more, but close unnecessary bases around the world to save money and have higher standards for procurement of supplies and machinery, planes etc. They should also shift the burden of cost overruns to the bidder,

  • Tyler

    A draft, or any other less-than-all-inclusive mandatory civil service, would actually cause strains because of its uncertainty. I think mandatory civil service is a great idea, but the funding for it is currently a political impossibility. I was in Germany last summer as their mandatory civil service was lapsing due to budgetary constraints, and it seemed almost more painful to cut it than to have never had it at all as many non-profit and government organization had come to rely upon these government-paid workers. It is not unlike how the Civilian Conservation Corps in this country built great infrastructure, the maintenance of which has since been underfunded.

  • Jim G

    No draft and no pool of cheap labor of 18-20 year olds taught to follow orders and do the bidding of the ruling class or else. Let’s leave the fighting to those who self-select themselves into the warrior class.

  • John

    No, I’m in favor of reinstating peace. We can’t afford any more WAR!

  • Regnar James


    A draft into military service would harden some youth into better members of society rather than a burden on society.

    They would learn life skills that so many are missing today.

    An anchor or USMC on the upper arm would be WAY better than tear drops on the face.

    Or, how about in order to collect food stamps / or other welfare you have to serve??


  • Johan

    I was part of compulsory national service for men in the South African army and none of the objections raised this morning applied to that situation. The volume of people for example, is no argument whatsoever, because you phase it in gradually and not all at once.

    With more parents with kids in the army, there is definitely going to be higher awareness of what your politicians fool around with when it comes to armed conflict.

  • Rich in Duluth

    While I think that the draft, helped end the Vietnam War by motivating young people to protest, it did nothing to stop the war in the first place. I think implementing a draft is another simplistic solution to a complex problem.

    The problem, a huge military-industrial establishment, makes it too easy for a President or Congress to use the military as a diplomatic tool or to protect “our interests” (oil) in the world.

    The U.S. should cut military spending, drastically, and bring back wars by declaration of Congress, only. If a war is worth fighting, then a draft should be implemented, by Congress, for that war, with no exemptions for gender, education or family issues.

    If an international issue is not worth a declaration of war by Congress, then diplomacy, containment, sanctions, and waiting should be used. A peace time draft should not be implemented.

  • P. Nielsen

    No, not a military draft for all young people, but I do think the country should require all those age 18 and up to serve two years in a national service program. We have raised spoiled and sense of entitlement generations the past 30 or so years, and requiring young people to give back by serving two years in a national service program seems more than appropriate. If a person wanted to serve that in the military, fine, but it shouldn’t be required for all.

  • matt

    Plain and simple: Draft = Slavery. It is just as wrong to enslave people based on age as it is to enslave people based on race.

  • David Poretti

    A draft or compulsory service of some sort is politically impossible. Such a system would be “socialism” to its very core. The very idea of a universally shared sacrifice and shared benefits is completely against the very foundation of the current incarnation of the GOP. The idea of supplying cheap labor to do the job of adults (perhaps even replacing union jobs) and an essentially inexhaustible supply of soldiers for the next great “patriotic adventure” to “protect our international interests” by a group of chicken hawks in Washington is unpalatable to the left. With an economy dominated by the military-industrial complex (over 60% of the U.S. budget), every global problem begins to look like a nail, and our armed forces become a hammer. I would advocate that we should raise the standards for someone to join the military; we would have a better educated, better trained and smaller force – and Washington would be forced to be much more strategic in their deployment. Further, any military deployment should be paid in full as we go by the citizens of the U.S. with a “War Tax”. The prospect that voters may have to each kick-in a couple thousand dollars per year would be enough to give congress pause.

  • Mike Allen

    I like what Steve, Richard, and Rich are saying- some wise stuff. I migrated towards a seemingly simple solution because we need to stop the wear on our military families. Richard’s comment is VERY important, and Steve’s notation of LBJ shows how a draft might work as encouragement instead of deterrent.

    I don’t elect the saber-rattling politicians, but dammit other people do. Some ideas popping for stopping that are great, like eliminating contractors and using congressional war declarations.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Re: the statement, “I don’t elect the saber-rattling politicians, but dammit other people do.”

    It’s not so easy to evade responisibility as that. The truth is, We the People elect them, regardless of how any individual votes. Like it or not, we’re all in this together. If you don’t like how others are voting, work harder to change their minds. If we want better politicians, we have to be better citizens.

  • JasonB


    It is a noble idea with practical intentions that simply will not work. The rich and connected will still find a way around it. There would be no real “shared civic duty” among a true representation of the population.

  • david

    Hell no! Unless you start with all the suv drivers. Then maybe we’ll rethink our energy and financial policies in this country.

  • Bruce

    Do I favor reinstating the draft? Absolutely not!

    The magic words in my late teens (mid 1980s) were “I’m a pacifist and a Conscientious Objector”, it kept pesky recruiters from continually pushing the military on me.

    A variety of National Service opportunities would be great (for the young and all ages), in high school I liked the idea of the CCC. Now there’s every niche available for every type of person and skill set. We need to consider the survival of life (humans and life’s bio-diversity) on and beyond Planet Earth.

    Reinstate the CCC for sure to plant trees and, as George Washington said, “Make the most of the Indian hemp seed, and sow it everywhere!”. That’ll be a good start.

  • Mike Allen

    “It’s not so easy to evade responisibility as that.”

    Truth. The story of all politics.

  • Bill

    No, we are broke. Trillions in debt. On the verge of collapse because of the banks and wars. We need to cut military drastically and bring our troops home.

  • James

    I repeat others’ comments. We are broke. And the wars we are currently fighting can be left un-fought.

    We don’t need a draft now. We need to downsize our military by probably 50% or 75%. We need to park most of our tanks, planes and boats and have most of our military families join civilian life.

    And if we stumble across a war we need to fight, we will need to staff up initially with volunteers and then via a draft if necessary. That would be part of the implication of the decsion to go to war.

    We cannot afford to be in a state of “always ready.” It’s too expensive and too tempting.

  • Craig

    McChrystal knows the draft is a political nonstarter, so the suggestion is purely rhetoric, designed to attract personal followers. I think he wants to be a player.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Many great comments.

    Instead of re-instating the draft, how about un-instating expansionist wars of folly for arms industry profits?

    The Founding Fathers that we all love to cite didn’t want large standing armies, and a militia would be raised to actually protect the country from external threat if necessary.

  • georges

    There is no rational reason for having a military draft.

    Beginning with the Korean War, with one exception (G.H.W. Bush conducting the First Iraq War), we have not tried to actually WIN any of the conflicts we have engaged in.


    Simple. Money.

    Drawing out low grade “wars” to their maximum length puts more money in the pockets of the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower so wisely warned us against.

    It’s all about the bucks, and who gets the biggest piece of the pie of Taxpayer (middle class) wealth the Federal Government steals.

    Bring ’em home……bring ’em home. All of them. Soldiers, advisors, diplomats, etc…….bring ’em all home.

    Congratulations to Kerri Miller for her interview of Gov Mark Dayton in the eleven o’clock hour.

    Dayton attempted to characterize, in typical Democrat fashion, anyone who has ideas that oppose the Liberal Agenda as “extremist”.

    Kerri, calmly and intelligently, pressed Dayton on his silly labeling trick over and over until Dayton had no choice but to capitulate, back down from his flame throwing Party-generated attack.

    Way to go, Kerri. Keep up the good work. You did it the right way. Don’t let our top MN employee get away with that cheap trick stuff. Make a better man of him.

  • Mark in Freeborn

    No. Having a draft is just one short step away from the idea that the US should be perpetually at war, in order to justify the draft in the first place. We have had enough meaningless, senseless wars, especially in recent history. I am, however, in favor of some sort of compulsory public service component for our young people. That being said, the oversight and management of such a program on a national scale would be very expensive and complex, perhaps prohibitively so.

  • suestuben

    “Shared civic duty”, what a noble, idealistic sentiment. But it is impossible. We already are pawns to the ruling ‘elites’, or the wealthy 1%, so now they believe there should be a slave class too. The ruling class exists with very special rules that we can scarcely understand, but the #1 rule is “never mix with the lower classes.” WWII was the last time the elite(on a very small scale) felt obligated to perform civic duty; it would never happen today. The elites, not satisfied with their millions and billions of dollars, would now like some slaves to serve them instead of paying for (which they can certainly afford) laborers (which would spur the whole economy).

    I enjoy the benefits of socialism in our system of roads, our museums and schools, the post office, and police and fire depts., but to force “free’ citizens to join any group they would otherwise not join is going too far. I especially object to forcing children to do something that adults would never do (based upon our additional education and experience); it is absolutely wrong. If we could get the wealthy to pay the taxes as the rest of us do, we’d have plenty of money to improve the wages in the military and would then attract volunteers to service. This “draft” argument is all about rich vs. poor; simpy a red herring.

  • C. David Kearsley


    The United States Armed Forces must be represented by the full socio-economic cross-section of the able bodied American population. This is especially true in time of war. The failure to activate the Selective Service System makes American initiation of hostile military action politically more palatable, and therefore more likely, not less.

    It should be noted that those opponents of a military draft who insist upon reference to the “all volunteer force” demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding, with regard to the intended overall structure of the U.S. Armed Forces during the late 20th and early 21st century. The term “all volunteer force” is mostly a term of political expediency and is essentially bereft of military meaning.

    Beginning in the early 1970’s, the stated policy of DoD was to maintain sufficient forces to fight two simultaneous regional conflicts. These would assumedly be either a defense of NATO in Europe against the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, or on the Korean Peninsula. During the Carter Administration, elements of forces dedicated to both of those operational theatres were also assigned to a contingency plan called the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF). All of these operational plans had a common feature to their structure. They all depended upon a cadre of active duty military personnel to maintain systems and resources during peacetime. Some of these forces were already in-theatre, stationed in multiple NATO countries, and in South Korea, Japan, and on the island of Okinawa. The remainder of the active duty component was stationed in the Continental United States (CONUS). Additionally, reserve units stationed in CONUS were specifically pre-assigned to units overseas. These reserve units were called “CAPSTONE” units. Depending upon the severity of the conflict, that active duty cadre was meant to be the nucleus around which reserve forces were activated. Exercises such as “Reforger” in Europe, “Team Spirit” in South Korea, and “Bright Star” in Egypt, were all annual rehearsals for these mobilizations. In the case of “full mobilization”, that reserve component activation was supposed to include activation of the Selective Service System.

    During the war in Southeast Asia, the standard tour of combat duty was 13 months. To my knowledge, the only way to have served more than 13 months in Vietnam was to specifically volunteer for another tour. Now we are sending a very small number of Americans to serve multiple combat tours in Afghanistan (and previously in Iraq) totaling several years, while an overwhelming majority of able-bodied Americans of military age stroll obliviously through shopping malls when they’re not obsessing on “reality television”.

  • matt

    @C. David Kearsley,

    You provide a very good argument for a draft based on keeping military strength in line with a policy created 40 years ago, but I wonder if you have questioned whether that policy made sense then or now. Why only two regional conflicts? Why not three or four? Could we not have action in Europe, Asia and South America simultaneously? We have invited ourselves into every war we have been in since the civil war, maybe we should just keep our calendar filled with other activities.

    But even more disturbing is your initial statement that we “must” have a cross section. Why “must” we have this? Is this why our actions in Afghanistan have been inefficient and uneffective? Simply because we did not have the sons of more doctors humping M-60s? Before we just decide to enslave people to address the challenges of empire building we should give peace a chance.

  • kevins

    I got drafted in ’72. It wasn’t any fun, even though I enden up not having to serve due to the war being in it’s late phases. Lottery number was 11. Let’s not do that again.