12 Foremost Pros and Cons of the Military Draft

Serving your country, even risking your life for it, is definitely an honorable thing to do, but what about if you are given no choice, like what would happen in a military draft? While there are people who are willing to sacrifice their lives for their country, let us face the fact that there are also those who do not have the willingness to get caught in the middle of dangerous situations, such as wars.

These modern times, military draft has become a rather contentious topic, where some people look down upon it, while others openly disregard serving the force. Still, thousands of people in the US would enlist in the military for the sake of the country. Like in the past, enlistment was mandatory for young and old men alike, where the country used to recruit forces for its military through a draft, though it is switched to a system that is volunteer-based.

Now, some people vouch for the reinstatement of the military draft, seeing it as a good thing to do. Well, it can certainly bring some advantages, but so as disadvantages. To come up with a well-informed decision whether to join it or not, let us take a look at its pros and cons.

List of Pros of the Military Draft

1. It provides the country with enough reserved soldiers to fight.
One primary goal of mandatory military enlistment is to provide the country with a sufficient number of soldiers it can send out whenever there are outbreaks of war. Those who enlist will be called for and will be sent to nations at war. Although drafting is no longer mandatory, the Selective Service System is operated to this day for the same purpose. It serves as a way for the government to reserve qualified candidates for the force in case an emergency mandatory draft is brought forth.

2. It ensures combat readiness for a country.
Expecting people to volunteer themselves in times of war might be unrealistic. In fact, during the Civil War, both the opposing sides found it difficult to retain and attract volunteers, thus they instituted a draft. According to the “Prologue Magazine” by the National Archives, the World War I also saw the draft adding nearly 2.7 million personnel to the US military, while it is only 300,000 for the voluntary enlistments. Moreover, a Congressional Budget Office 2006 report states that the active Army met its recruiting goals for 2006 during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, strengthening the force.

3. It promotes equality among citizens.
Since most of the country’s people will be under a mandatory draft, no one would be exempted to face international disputes or wars. Citizens from all walks of life will have equal opportunity to be called for need of extra replacements for soldiers. And in these modern times, the aspect of a draft would likely also allow women to join the force, other than men, though it will probably done on a limited basis. However, all men would have the same mandatory registration privileges that are exercised by the Selective Service today.

4. It creates a sense of shared responsibility among the people.
Research shows that despite the country being involved in the Iraq and Afghan wars, only 0.5% of the population were active in the military at any given time from 2001 to 2011. While the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found no over-representation of minorities either dying or serving in the military as of 2006, an issue still remains that those from low-income families might be more likely to volunteer. Now, a draft can make military service more equitable among all groups in society. As Congressional Representative Charles Rangel stated while proposing a draft reinstatement in 2014, with more at stake for all citizens in the US, the general population would have doubts about supporting another war.

5. It allows for the creation of a more professional force.
One of the strongest arguments in favor of a draft is that people would serve the military by their own choice, which means more professionalism and more people enlisting as a career. While it would be difficult to require the 4-to-6 year initial enlistments of the all-volunteer military under a draft system and to bring in a sufficient number for it, a greater likelihood of re-enlistment and longer enlistments can lead to a more expert and professional fighting force, and less desertion and dissent within the ranks.

6. It ensures a high level of governmental participation.
With most of the citizens required to join the military when the need arises, the public will be more watchful and aware of the decisions made by the government, especially when it comes to national security and similar issues. With their lives at risk or even at sacrifice, citizens would seek to understand more about the threats facing their country and would like to hear from the government on how it approaches such problems.

List of Cons of the Military Draft

1. It violates free will.
Because citizens will be required to undergo military training and enter the force, their free will to choose to join will be violated. People will not have the final say whether they should do it or not, as it is a mandatory process implemented throughout the country. Also, instituting a military draft would go against the idea that the US is a country of freedom and that attempts by the government to force its people to give up years of their lives would be seen as un-American. After all, people have the freedom to choose how they live and enact their lives, and not the Congress.

2. It can cause civil unrest.
While engagement by the public can be a good thing, a military draft for an international conflict can be unpopular with some people, who would think they will be forced to fight for a cause they do not believe in, which can lead to civil unrest of a wide scale. As a result, the very foundation of democracy will be torn, as presidents attempt to provide a picture of a strong home front. Taking for example the cases of the Civil War and World War I, protests had led to the suppression of free speech with the Writ of Habeas Corpus and the Espionage Act suspended, which were used against those who interfered with the draft. During the Vietnam War, authorities used force against protesters, and advisors of President Richard Nixon eventually drew up a list of enemies of politicians and prominent anti-war activists, who were then targeted for reprisal.

3. It cannot easily solve the government’s military concerns.
As suggested by a CBO study, a military draft would not easily solve some of the problems faced by Pentagon to meet recruitment goals and longer deployments for troops. And without a clear view of a quick end to the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, this issue is coming up regularly. Aside from the problem of maintaining an adequate military force, there are also concerns that most people in the US, particularly the wealthy ones, would not share the hardship in military families.

4. It compromises the quality of military service.
Unlike those who are willing to become a soldier to serve the country for a long time, soldiers who are drafted are considered inexperienced, who might provide low-quality combat skills whenever they are sent to wars. Since these individuals were not adequately trained and not given enough time to use their combat skills, the combat death rate would increase. For example, the US Armed Forces recruits volunteers to pass tests and trials that are required to enlist, and many of these examinations are designed to create military staff and soldiers who will eventually join the force upon their training’s completion. Many people would go on to serve and remain in the military for several years.

5. It is costly.
As for the expenses of a military draft, study shows that its full cost on society would exceed the allocated budget. It managed to figure this out by determining the amount budgeted for the all-volunteer force as about 10% more than under the draft. However, the estimated USD10 billion that is required to pay volunteers could be viewed as an in-kind tax on draftees.

6. It interferes with other forms of education and puts young people’s lives at risk.
A military draft typically recruits young men and women when they are at the peak of their learning ability, which can delay their pursuit for higher education, reducing returns to human-capital investments as a result. Also, it risks these young people’s lives at risk, which can happen not only in actual combat, but also in training.

Final Thought

With the pros and cons of military draft that are listed above, you can now decide whether implementing this program is reasonable, or not. If you were to decide to support it, would you fully agree to do it for the sake of your country without willingness? The decision is for you to make whether the military draft is as favorable, like how your country’s leaders would see it.

About the Author
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.