NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Opinion: Military Draft Needed for Homeland Defense

November 6, 2001

Sociologist Charles Moskos and Paul Glastris, editor in chief of Washington Monthly, say this is a good time to reinstitute the military draft -- and more.

We need a draft, argue Moskos and Glastris, that would give young men and women between 18 and 25 a choice of serving 18 month or 24 month tours of duty in the military or a variety of security jobs, or serving several years as part-time emergency workers.

  • Although there was an upsurge in inquiries at military recruitment offices following after Sept. 11., there has been virtually no increase in new recruits.
  • With personnel cut by a third since the end of the Cold War, the services have had to call up large numbers of reservists.
  • Many reservists are police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians, and police departments all over the country are already struggling to keep their ranks filled.
  • The armed services have had to double starting pay to recruit half as many enlistees as they did in the mid-1980s, but the number scoring in the top half of the armed forces qualification tests has dropped by a third since the mid-1990s.
  • Last year, the Army took in 380 recruits with felony arrest records, double the number in 1998.

Conscripts, with professional supervision, could work as border guards, customs agents, anthrax inoculators or disaster-relief specialists. They have been used for such duties in Israel, France and Germany. For the U.S., a draft would free up professional soldiers to do the fighting without sacrificing other U.S. commitments.

Source: Charles Moskos (Northwestern University) and Paul Glastris (Washington Monthly), "This Time, A Draft for the Home Front, Too," Washington Post, November 3, 2001.


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