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Servitude for the Greater Good

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Hal Kolmerten

Professor Kathrine O’Neil

English 102

10 March 2017

Servitude for the Greater Good

Individual, this word means more today than it ever has in the history of the world. No longer is it important to put others ahead of self. Generally speaking, the world has become an instant gratification and everyone is a winner place. With this shift in society comes a lack of servitude to mankind as a whole. Nowhere is this clearer seen than in the United States Military, or should it be said, the lack there of. Military enlistments have reached a historic low. Low numbers of Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines leaves America in a state of unpreparedness that is a giant national security concern. Conscription, mandatory government service, is the answer to this epidemic and would usher in a new era of patriotism to the United States of America.

Conscription is as old as society itself. All men were required to learn the art of war in tribal times. They had what would be referred to today as regular jobs. They were blacksmiths, farmers, traders, or hunters. And when the time came to go to war in protection of the tribe and family, these men willingly laid down the tools of their trade and picked up the weapons of war. They were trained and ready to do what was necessary. Conscription brought society to the level it is today and although many places around the world have done away with this practice, it is alive and well around the world.

Switzerland is a country that most people think of when conscription is discussed. Up until recently, Switzerland only required males to serve in military service. Women could volunteer. This changed in 2016, when Switzerland passed a law requiring all citizens to serve, regardless of sex. This was for the government to meet its demand of new soldiers every year. Israel also uses conscription. Whereas Switzerland uses it with little need for war, Israel is in a constant state of war. Israel requires all citizens over the age of 18 to serve for a minimum of two years. These two countries, along with many others around the world, rely on young men and women to join and help defend all they hold dear.

Enlistment into the Armed Forces has continued to decline for many years. “The total number of new enlistments peaked in 2005 with 110,000” (DMDC) In 2015, “the Army was nearly 14% short of its recruitment needs to fill its ranks.” (Brook) This would have put Army enlistments at 52,000 instead of the required 60,000 personnel. The available data shows that shows a shortage of troops willing and able to volunteer. Allowing this fatal trend to carry on, will force the United States into a national security crisis that they are unprepared for. The time to act is now. Conscription is the way to ensure that the United States will be protected for the foreseeable future.

Conscription would potentially save the United States government millions of dollars a year. This savings would come directly from the current recruitment budget. It cost more than double today to recruit a person than it did in 1985, $7,000 in 1985 to an amazing $16,000 in 2005. (Lubold, 1) This means the Army, which currently needs the most troops yearly, spent over $960 million to reach its goal of 60,000 troops. Imagine if that money could go to other needs, like health care or education.

Military veterans are more likely to become successful members of society. They are mentally and physically better prepared to withstand the stressors of everyday life. “Veterans who enter occupations in health care or communications or intelligence have large gains relative to comparable non-veterans who go into combat arms.” (Miller,1) Since only a relative small number of jobs in the military are combat arms related, most citizens that are conscripted will come out better prepared for the workforce. They would also leave military service with an understanding of government and military needs and issues.

People will always oppose new ideas, such as mandatory conscription within the United States of America. They worry that to force a person into mandatory service would strip them of their freedom. A quick look at the United States education system would show a different story. It is currently a requirement for all children to attend school until they reach their eighteenth birthday or graduate from a school. “The reason why schooling is mandatory is very much the logic for military service: it was thought in the Enlightenment Era that education is a prerequisite for freedom just as soldierdom is.” (Gobry,2)

Families worry about the safety of their sons and daughters that would be conscripted. War is a constant within the current landscape of the world. These families have a valid concern, but that is all it is, a concern. The truth of the matter is a very different story.

“Nowadays it’s quite possible, and even easy, to spend an entire military career without ever seeing battle. At the height of the Vietnam War, there were eight support soldiers for each front-line soldier. Even in Israel, a country which is in a perpetual state of low-level conflict, only a minority of conscripts ever see battle.” (Gobry,2)

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