The PJ Tatler

Should the Military Draft be Reinstated?

According to an article in the Army Times last week,

The Pentagon is considering massive changes to the force — including a draft — amid fears that new and far deeper budget cuts are looming just over the horizon, a top military official said Thursday.

Marine Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, offered a timeline for how deep cuts will affect the force during the next decade, including big reductions in operational budgets, slashing the size of the active-duty force and even scaling back entitlements such as retirement and health care.


The article gives General Cartwright’s perceptions of what will have to be done in the event of draconian cuts in military funding, now on the table. Among the problems may be reductions in flight time for military pilots, other critically important training exercises, pay and benefit reductions and others, including reinstatement of the draft. Perhaps the size of the military will have to be reduced. It would be better to stop trying to change the military through social engineering, including Don’t Ask, Don’ Tell, but that seems not to be on the table.

As to the draft, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, avoidance of the draft was my principal reason for joining ROTC in college back in 1959 and going on active duty as a captain in the Army JAG Corps in 1966. Spending four years on active duty gave me a lot of respect for the military and helped me to understand what it does, why and even a little bit of how. Many civilians no longer have adequate reason to explore opportunities similar to those the threat of the draft forced me to consider and to accept. On the other hand, reinstating the draft seems senseless because of the “way kids are today,” the likely low retention levels and the resultant difficulty in replenishing the pool of competent non-commissioned officers as they retire. Competent NCOs are the backbone of the military and, without them, the situation seems likely to become dire.


Despite the unparalleled “success” of President Obama’s apology missions, Muslim outreach and disdain for Israel, the world has not suddenly become a peaceful place where happy unicorns can frolic in the brilliant light of a new day. Neither a military diminished in size nor an inadequately prepared military will be adequate. The bad guys are, if anything, more numerous and more dangerous than at any time within my memory. Code Pink and its friends with flowers in their hair are not going to deal with them. Neither can or will the Peace Corps or even the sainted United Nations. It has to be done by the military.  And, to paraphrase part of the last verse of the Marine Hymn,

If the Peace Corps and UN
Ever looked on Heaven’s scene,
They would find the streets are guarded by
The United States Marines.

This is not the Marine Hymn:


The Oxford Resolution of 1933– “Resolved, That this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country” — did not keep England or the Oxford students out of World War II; nothing similar and not even diminished military funding will keep the United States out of wars now or in the foreseeable future. Dramatically reduced military funding will more than likely result in more, not fewer, deaths and longer, not shorter, wars — even kinetic military actions.


If there are to be drastic cuts in military funding, perhaps reinstatement of the draft is the least bad of the alternatives.

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