Want to End America’s Forever Wars? Bring Back the Draft.

Forty-five years ago, the United States ended conscription and embarked on the experiment of the all-volunteer force, meaning that no military personnel would be forced to serve. The country had entered every major war, from the Civil War through Vietnam, with a draft. But since 1973, the US has deployed to countless global conflicts using only volunteers. While hailed now by most military and political leaders as an unqualified success, the all-volunteer force may well be considered a mistake in the future.

At its birth, the all-volunteer force won support across the political spectrum. Every candidate running for president in 1968 promised to abolish the unpopular draft. Anti-Vietnam liberals and leftists thought the end of conscription would hamstring the war in Southeast Asia and diminish the military’s influence over American life. Those on the right championed the all-volunteer force as a model for their free-market agenda.

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