...fighting in the forces that guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.
That is the first article in the military Code Of Conduct, the code by which military members are expected to conduct themselves while serving.
I've heard talk here and there that there should be/might be a draft due to recruiting shortfalls, and various pros and cons surrounding it. I know a lot of people who think mandatory military service would be a good thing, and I know a lot of people don't like the idea of what appears to be indentured servitude.
I do think that military service would be a benefit to a lot of people, and would not object to mandatory military service (a draft). However, I do see a few points that trouble me.
1. Americans are free. We live in a free country, and citizenship is guaranteed if we're born here. Anything that infringes on that freedom frightens me. If we put a caveat that you're not a true American citizen until you've served, then you're putting a condition on freedom, which doesn't appear to me to be true freedom.
2. Military service will help an irresponsible portion of the country grow up. I've heard such things as "the military will curb alcohol abuse" and "people learn to be accountable for their actions." Let me debunk a little here based on my experience. I had a friend who enlisted in the military at 19. While we were in tech school, this person drank so much and so often that on more than one occasion he was unable to successfully climb into bed after a night out and just slept on the floor. I had another friend who got so drunk on the night before her upgrade exam that she forgot where she lived (and she never left her barracks building). I knew a man who bounced so many checks that he was confined to base and given a 50 dollar a month allowance to buy uniform necessities/haircuts, etc. Military service will NOT keep a person from abusing alcohol and will NOT teach a person how to not be a criminal. The punishments in the military are often quite severe, but it's still up to an individual in terms of finances/personal accountability. As for drinking, there are rows of bars outside many military installations, and most military bases have more than one place on base to get alcohol. Almost all military functions serve some sort of alcohol (ask about our grog bowl!).
Now, teaching responsibility, helping them grow up. I don't like this argument at all. I can't buy any argument advocating mandatory military service because the kids need to grow up. I'm not willing to shell out my tax dollars for a federally funded finishing school. If schools and parents are expected to be held accountable for raising their children, then why have a failsafe in mandatory military service? And why pay them to grow up?
As an aside to this: If this teaches responsibility and maturity, then why do as many as 1/4 of female enlistees not finish their first enlistment because they received a voluntary discharge due to pregnancy (especially when another 1/3 or more are unmarried at the time?)
3. Military service will make people proud to be Americans. Perhaps. But pride is an internal thing. I currently live in Texas, and there are quite a few very proud Texans, and I doubt most of them served in the Texas National Guard. It came from somewhere else. I think service can stroke the fire, but I don't think it can make pride appear.
4. Need. Do we have a need for a draft? We're not acting in response to a direct threat against the U.S. like we did during WW1 or 2, and we don't have the imminent threat of destruction of our way of life like we had from the Communists. The Taliban doesn't have an invasion plan as far as I know (if someone else has more info, clue me in), and we invaded Iraq; we didn't react to their attack on us. The timing doesn't seem right there...
5. Logistics. How many kids will graduate from high school this year? 2 million? 3 million? How do we fund the pay/housing/food/medical/dental/training/moving for an extra 2 million plus military members per year? Just for two years of service, that equates to 4 million at least that have to be accounted for, on top of however many we currently have. The current base pay for an e1 is $1235.10/month. That equates to $14,821.20 per year for one E1. Multiplied for 4 million Airmen, you get $59,284,800,000 just on Base Pay that gets charged to the taxpayer.
Now that I've layed out my problems with compulsory service, let me reiterate that I actually do favor mandatory military service.
I think that first and foremost, freedom isn't free. And I do think that service brings a closer tie between the individual and the nation. For a comparison, look at a college. There are graduates who support the football team to crazy extremes, and a lot of people who latently support their school. If that's the case, then it would stand to reason that putting your life on the line for your country would bring a closer tie between you and your country, though it might take a while before that tie is realized. I think that friendships that get made in the military can be stronger and deeper than ones made anywhere else, because you share something more significant that a room, you share a situation, a being, a "thing" that I can't quite describe. However, I think that if we impose mandatory military service, we have to not excuse anyone, illiterates, dropouts, obese, gay, and the flaming gay. Everyone would have to be given the opportunity to earn their citizenship.
What do you think?