Do We Need a Draft?

Phil Carter and Paul Glastris make “The Case for the Draft” in the current Washington Monthly. I’ve written a longer piece for publication elsewhere but I agree with Kevin Drum that this is a political non-starter and problematic from a logistical standpoint.

The bottom line is that a draft, even an inovative one such as Carter and Glastris propose, creates a huge infringement on liberty for very little return in military capacity.

More when the piece gets published.

Update (3-3): It’s published.

COL Austin Bay has some extensive thoughts on the issue as well.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. PistolWit says:

    A draft would be a hard sell to the American people.

    Here is an interesting article on the benfits of a US foreign legion.

  2. Jon Henke says:

    Is it just me, or is it a bit odd to see the Washington Monthly talking up a draft, so soon after using the draft as a tactic to scare people away from Bush?

  3. Jack Tanner says:

    It’s just you. It’s just being revived to try to scare people away from Bush.

  4. DC Loser says:

    We might as well have a foreign legion if we’re going to go down the road of an imperial power. Serioulsy, I’ve been supporing such an idea as a way to have a highly professional force, and base it on the French Foreign Legion model. Successful completion of a contract will get the legionnaire a green card for him and his immediate family. We already have many noncitizens serving in the military, so why not just expand on this?

  5. Mark says:

    I dunno, DC, I am against our military adopting anything from the French “military.”

  6. PistolWit says:

    There is no problem with the US military adopting every aspect of the French with the exception of the “Rapid Deployable Surrender Divisions”

  7. I’m too lazy to go read the article, but I do know that our military keeps saying over and over and over again that they don’t want conscripts. They are hard to train, aren’t effective, and who wants a bunch of people who don’t want to be there?

    And if our guys in uniform don’t want it, why are we discussing it?

  8. We wouldn’t need a draft if the military based qualification on physical ability, rather than an arbitrary age limit. I’ve written on this a couple of times. There are lots of people over the recruiting age limit who would gladly enlist and can easily meet the physical requirements. Right now, only those with prior service are exempt from the age restrictions.

  9. LJD says:

    I’m not sure we should be talking draft, due to all of the political implications it carries. A lot of assumptions and misconceptions as well.

    We should, as a country, look at national service. You don’t have to carry a gun, but our young people should learn to contribute something positive.

  10. Old Ranger says:

    My infantry company in Nam was heavely populated with draftees. Like the RA’s thay fought along side of they, for the most part, distinguished themselves in combat at about the same rate as their volunteer counterparts. Draftees are not buy nature unpatriotic. The draft has won every major war we have ever been in save Viet Nam.

  11. Carlos says:

    It may work to have a National Service Corps, but set the length at three years. Then set the length of voluntary service in the military at 2 years. Service in one or the other would be mandatory. There’s no reason why the youth shouldn’t be required to learn some responsibility somewhere before bankruptcy, and for sure that’s not being taught for the most part either at home or in the schools.

    Bottom line is “yes” to a universal service with a bonus (in shorter time) for the military.