Honesty being the best virtue, I am just trying to kill five minutes before my next class. That being said:

I would like to promote the idea of conscripts in the United States. I believe that military service for 2 years is something that would benefit our society and those that live in it. Whereas, the level of respect the average young person has for the rules and those his/her senior has depleted over the last twenty years and noticing that numerous men and women have been cited as improving their lives by joining the military - I think it is a great way to make life better in America.

By requiring all healthy men who are physically capable of service and who choose not to enroll into college to go to basic training their first summer out of high school and then enlisted for two years in Active Duty, Reserve, or National Guard service in any branch of their choice we will help curve unemployment and improve the physical fitness of America.

Additionally, all men who choose to enroll into college should be required to take a minimum of two years of ROTC (officer training) in any of branch they see fit. This will promote leadership in young people and help make the college graduates of the coming years more than just well educated followers.

With these increased numbers of National Guard members, states would have access to increased labor that would be able to help fix roads, renovate public facilities, and improve the infrastructure of the state.

The increased reserve numbers would allow our military to train more people in technical fields and make them ready to enter the work force at the age of 20 with work experience rather than a diploma.

Finally, the increased active duty numbers would allow our troops more time in between tours of duty and our commanders access to more troops for surges.

Class just started so I will continue this later. What does everyone think?

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Comment by Gregor Ausman on January 24, 2010 at 11:48pm
Theodore,
Bad idea, for several reasons. For starters, it would be detrimental to the military. As metioned earlier, morale in conscript armies is almost always lower than in volunteer forces. On top of that is the fact that conscript forces generally have a serious shortage of non-commisioned officers(seargents, or chiefs in the navy and coast guard). They are the true backbone of any military organization.

There is also a liability factor. From my own experience, as well as that of many friends, I have noticed that in every training company there are always a couple of guys who somply can't cut it psychologically, and try to pull a goodbye-cruel-world. In my company a guy tried to open up his wrists with nail clippers. Instant med discharge. While I know that these stories constitute anecdotal evidence, I've heard enough of them that I take them seriously. I couldn't tell you if there are any statistics available. This opens the services up to some serious moral and legal liability.

While I agree that civic virtue needs a shot in the arm, I don't think thatmaking people serve(military or otherwise) by putting a gun to their heads is going to instill it in young men(try to remember that every law we make has the threat of force behind it). It's kind of like when my parents dragged me to church growing up. It didn't make me spiritual or build my faith. It just made me hate church and go out of my way to be a sinner. Not unti I was older and searching for the big answers did I make up any of the ground that was lost by driagging me off to church. I think the same thing will occur on a large scale under forced conscription. Instead of civic virtue, we will just create resentment.
Comment by Gus on January 24, 2010 at 9:58pm
Incidentally, Plato listed the merchant class at the very bottom of the social order in a healthy republic. The highest expression of ones citizenship is service to the greater good, often conducted under arms. I feel for any man who wants to live in freedom and security must be ready to protect and defend what is his from those who would otherwise take it. I wish the story of civilization was not predicated on a struggle for resources.Peace is a far better state to exist in. Let he who wants peace prepare for war.Besides an 800 lbs gorrilla can pretty much do as he pleases. I hope this answered Jacobs question as well. Sidney point taken.
Comment by Dave Harvey on January 24, 2010 at 8:12pm
As a career military man (21 years and still going), I can say that conscription is a bad idea on many levels. First, there is the argument that many have made concerning individual liberty and freedom to choose. Conscription removes these freedoms and as a result you end up with a lot of individuals who really don't want to be there and whose presence is detrimental to the good order and discipline that is the hallmark of a well-trained military.

Secondly, there are more practical (and less emotional) reasons why this wouldn't work. For one, each service already has limitations set by Title 10 that determines their endstrength - the maximum number of people that can serve in any branch at any given time. Currently, we are at our maximums in each branch, and the multiple conflicts we have been engaged in have not detracted from the military's ability to recruit eligible young men and women to join their ranks. So, there is no need for a 2-yr draft from a military standpoint.

I would be in favor of increasing service in the Civilian Conservation Corps, Peace Corps, or some other form of civil service. Participation would not be mandatory (there are too many problems with that), but would instead be linked to some form of educational assistance similar to the GI Bill. That is, if you serve some amount of time (2-4 years) in one of the qualifying programs, you not only gain experience and discipline but you also have what amounts as a free (or low cost) ticket to college. This would have the net effect of both increasing the amount of labor to do those public works you spoke about while at the same time producing a higher level of education than might otherwise be the case.

I'd also like to clear up an erroneous statement you made in your post:
You said: "With these increased numbers of National Guard members, states would have access to increased labor that would be able to help fix roads, renovate public facilities, and improve the infrastructure of the state." This demonstrates a lack of understanding as the the nature and purpose of the National Guard. They do not engage in public works projects - when was the last time you saw Guard personnel in uniform fixing a road or upgrading a rest stop? The Guard is called out in the event of state emergencies, such as the California wildfires or Hurricane Katrina, or they may be federalized and sent to Iraq, Afghanistan, or wherever needed.
Comment by Alejandro De La Garza on January 24, 2010 at 7:32pm
I agree, Theodore! But, don't forget to include women, too. After all, they want to be treated as equals to men in business, politics, law enforcement, medicine, etc. So, they shouldn't be given special treatment when it comes to military service. Israel forces both men and women to serve in their military. I don't see why the U.S. can't do the same. And, spare me the bleeding heart drivel about freedom of choice no matter what. True freedom - as we enjoy in the U.S. - really isn't free. I guarantee you, though, forced military or community service will solve a lot of social and economic problems in this country. And, for those who flat out refuse to do it, prison sentences are a viable alternative.
Comment by Julian G on January 24, 2010 at 11:10am
Similar to the various sentiments expressed in the comments to the blog post, I don't agree with mandatory conscription into an armed force but duties for a uniformed force working for the government could be very beneficial to society. Individuals not in college could have two years of mandatory service as a member of the national guard, peace corps, or a myriad of organizations which offer public service through civil projects and bettering communities; these could be chosen by personal choice and specialization of skills. If in college, there could be mandatory credits of volunteer service to graduate with an accredited Associate's or Bachelor's Degree. Although I enjoy being in the military (and at the same Academy as the gentleman who posted the blog), a military with enlisted men who do not want to be there can only cause problems in a specialized and highly technical service where dedication and love of service are necessary for victory. Conscripted community service could be a bettering force though.
Comment by Michael K on January 24, 2010 at 8:49am
Well, Theodore, intentionally or not, but what you propose is exactly the system that existed in Soviet Union, and AFAIK in other Eastern Block countries, and is still in place in slightly different form there. The only difference was that conscripts would serve 3 years if conscripted to the NAVY or marines, instead of 2 years in the army.
College education was free, and one would be accepted into college based on the grades. Or in some cases - bribes...
Entering college did not relieve one from the military duty, but had courses during the study leading to becoming a reserve officer. Some ended up in the active service for a year, if they were called for.

Those who did complete military service, did have certain preferences if they wanted to go to college afterwards.

I personally think that in the peace time conscription is bad for the army. On the other hand - there are examples like Israel, and Switzerland, where the military service is compulsory, and seems to work rather well, and clearly beneficial to the physical shape of their population. And AFAIK - one's status in the military also means a great deal in their civil career.
Comment by Theodore Kruczek on January 24, 2010 at 5:51am
I didn't think this would get tossed into the limelight so let me respond to the posts before I get flooded tomorrow:

@All - the best way to spark conversation is to say something bold. Conscripts is by no means a viable option for the United States, I simply wanted to toss it out there and see what came from it. I have read a lot of great alternatives and hope that more people will offer up constructive alternatives, this was simply a starting point for this topic.

@Sidney - The purpose of the blog feature on here is to express your thoughts, do not condone this site or Mr. McKay for my views (or the view I posted anyway), if he has an opinion he will post it like everyone else has. Your suggestion that military members are slaves disappoints me and I would encourage you to learn more about the men and women fighting in our military. In my post I said that everyone should have to join, not just the unemployed. As for your thoughts on whether a man owns his life or not, do realize that if all men must sign up for selective service, we do not own our lives entirely. I simply proposed that we own it less. In response to your thoughts on society owning a man, I would like to leave you with JFK's quote "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

@Gus - Do you agree with Plato in the thought that soldier's are first in the social order? I personally am torn because on one hand without an army we would eventually fall victim to another army. On the other hand, without business leaders, what would we have to defend?

@Michael - Do you think programs like scouting and JROTC have a bad stigma about them? I was always against scouting because of the restrictions that made it seem useless. Talking with a great friend from VA, I heard it is nothing like how I experienced it, so it could just have been a fluke in my area.

@Micah - I can respect that. Also I intend to use "vehemently" more often, you don't see it anymore in text, thank you.

@Jacob - I like your point on "non-confrontational" alternatives. My father has always pushed my brother to consider being a Department of Natural Resources Officer rather than enlisting. I am very appreciative that you saw my post as I had intended it, a position on a topic that should be debated and argued and not taken as the way to do it.

@Morgan - First off "juju" just topped vehemently in awesome words from today. You mention that everyone should want to be there, PTSD can affect anyone, regardless of their desire to be there, though I think you meant it in a more general "it will mess with those who can't handle it" way. I am very intrigued on your thoughts that everyone should do some kind of community service for some amount of time. First, do you care to offer a hypothetical with requirements and time tables for such a plan (just for discussion purposes). Second, there was consideration to build a 6th federal service academy that produced civic leaders rather than military officers. Graduates would be required to give back 5 years of full-time civic service in a state or federal run institution. How do you feel about such a school?

@Matt - I recall a Chris Rock comedy segment where he said that if Russia invaded, he'd point them in the right direction rather than fight back and get killed. This kind of mentality is what leads to a draft, too many people would rather let someone else do the fighting until suddenly everyone wants someone else to do the fighting. I do think a big difference between now and 60s Britain is the technology training the military offers. Even mechanical skills lead to better paying jobs rather than going to a trade school and not having the experience in addition to the skill.

@Jamie - Of course it is worth more thought! Thanks for being the first to give you 2 cents though, I appreciated it.

I ask that everyone continue with suggestions on ways to combat the lack of direction and community service in today's youth. I am open to many ideas and viewpoints, but please stay constructive and don't hold my post against me, I was simply trying to spark a topic - and it looks like it worked.
Comment by S.A.C. on January 24, 2010 at 2:08am
A poster claims that I said soldiers are slaves. That isn't true; I meant to imply that *conscripts* are slaves.

Mr Sibilski, the issue the author raises boils down to whether a man owns his own life or not, whether his life is his by right or not. On a moral principle of this type, no compromise is possible on the part of the side saying a man has a right to his life. Any compromise is a total surrender to the other side; it is an admission that fundamentally, society owns a man, and he has to pay off society in order to get his life back. If the lack of an ability to compromise is a problem, it is not one of my making. I am interested in "finding a solution" neither to this problem nor to the problem of how to incorporate just a little bit of rat poison into one's diet.

If creating better men is one's goal, the military can be a valuable component. I have seen it work first hand on a relative who lacked direction. If he had gone to college, he would have flunked out, and he knew it. He joined the military. He found his direction within six months. He emerged from the military a hundred times more motivated to improve his lot in life. None of this, however, justifies forcing young men to choose the military (and possible death) or a jail sentence.

Additionally, my post, contra your claim, was perfectly respectful. I did not, for example, insult anyone or comment on their character or psychological motivation. My tone was harsh, but that was because the principle at stake in this discussion is important. It is literally a matter of life and death. That is not something I will discuss with a jolly laugh and a pat on the back as we retire to the smoking room.

Finally, I also did not "judge how people choose to express their basic need of growing." That criticism should be leveled at the original author of this thread (and anyone who agrees with him), who claims that young men should be forced to live their lives his way or go to jail. But someone else will have to put that criticism to him because I don't wish to dignify the author's position by engaging him further.
Comment by Gus on January 23, 2010 at 9:44pm
Sidney- Although I question the merits of a conscript vs. a professional volenteer army, soldiers are not slaves. Plato placed the "Defenders of our city" as first in the social order and as the highest expression of citizenry. War is by all means hardship and privation and not all men are ideally suited to handle the rigors both physically and mentally. Some people have religous or ethical aversions to serving their nation. Those who fight preserve their rights to have free expression. This more than gives anyone the right to ask this question in a forum, this is a free nation, defended by volunteers, and which allows free thought and speech. If you are not happy with this group discussion there are always other ones to be involved in.
Comment by Michael Duty on January 23, 2010 at 8:21pm
While I participated in JROTC in high school and served in the Army Reserve while I was in college; I think this is a good experience. But, I don't think military service should be mandatory. Today's military is made up of the best trained most highly motivated professionals. With modern war fighting technology, it takes a smarter soldier than you had in Vietnam or WWII. I think if you flooded the military with a bunch of guys who just didn't want to be there, it would be detrimental. However, I do believe that civics and manners ought to be brought back into the schools and physical education should be real physical education. Not just letting people sit out because they don't want to do it or they hate PE. I believe that high schools ought to encourage students to do things like scouting or JROTC.

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