An Essay on the Website of
the Red Dirt Writers Society

The All Volunteer Army Is Working Well
by Gordon Eskridge (Apr 2010)

         President Richard Milhous Nixon in 1973 signed a paper making the United States Army change from a conscription army to an all volunteer army. The army of today is different in many ways than it was, but it still depends on the Congress of the United States to do its job. How well Congress funds the Armed Forces is how well they can perform their jobs.

         For the past 37 years the Army has proved itself exceptionally well and is much smaller than before. The Army’s size makes it impossible to satisfy the demands of an imperial foreign policy. The Iraq war has taken a toll on the Army because of its longevity; no other war has lasted so long. This war has lasted longer than both World War I and World War II put together. This has caused too much extended deployment and redeployment of the troops overseas.

         The underfunding of the Army’s equipment has led to unnecessary deaths because of poor equipment like the thin wall side panels of the Humvees. The smaller numbers in the Army require that the troops be more mobilem and the cheap homemade road side bombs used by the enemy have been found to be very effective against the under armored Humvees carrying the troops.

         The troops in Iraq have often complained that the media continues to focus on bad news which in turn causes the people back home to not give the support to the troops that they should. The armed services is having trouble recruiting because of these unfavorable press reports and the reluctant attitude it builds making it harder to attract and keep enough people.

         Currently the Army needs two additional divisions and the cost concluded by the Congressional Budget Office for recruiting, training, and equipping these two divisions would cost up front as much as 18 to 19 billion dollars and it would take three to five years to accomplish at a cost of six billion dollars per year to maintain.

         The United States has managed to meet its occupation force numbers by turning the Reserve and National Guard into active units. They have increased recruiting by expanding the age requirements to 42 and by issuing more “moral” wavers which are used to gain admittance to the armed services which once would have disqualified recruits because of their criminal convictions. Moral wavers have allowed the Marines to gain 23% of their recruits using this method to fill their ranks. The Army has 14% of their recruits using this method to gain enough members, while the Navy is only at 8%.

         Defense Under-Secretary David Chu admitted that “Certain high demand, high use units and specialties have experienced higher than normal attrition.” Even though the armed service has accepted recruits with lower Armed Forces Qualification Test scores, recruits with general equivalency diplomas rather than high school diplomas and recruits who have had legal problems, filling the ranks has become harder and harder.

         Returning to conscription would be foolish, however, because the U.S. military is the finest on earth due largely because voluntarism allows the Pentagon to be selective in choosing recruits who are smarter and better educated than their civilian counterparts. Volunteer soldiers are also more selective and work harder at their chosen careers. They serve longer terms and reenlist in higher numbers which increases experience and skills more than conscription soldiers do.

         Even though the United States Volunteer Army has its problems, it is still the best in the world.

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