Edmonds Military Wire: Military draft possible with defense cuts

By Michael Schindler

If the bipartisan supercommittee is unable to reach a deal by Thanksgiving, what we now know as an “all volunteer” military could give way to the Vietnam-era draft.

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Representative Buck McKeon recently claimed that if the bipartisan debt supercommittee is unable to reach a deal by Thanksgiving, cuts across the board in defense spending could lead to the reinstatement of a military draft.

An estimated $1.2 trillion needs to be cut across the board, and about half of those cuts would come from defense spending. John Noonan, spokesman for House Armed Services Committee Republicans, emphasized how an all-volunteer military is quite expensive. Troop reduction (which is coming soon) would reduce a number of budget line items. But that troop reduction would take some 200,000 out of end strength from our military.

McKeon, who is among the strongest opponents of a conscript military, said that attempting to resolve the recession on the backs of the military leaves us with the question of who’s going to have our back the next time we’re attacked. Additionally, cuts would also have an impact on present and future military pensions and other benefits.

“No one is proposing resurrecting a conscript system. However, the cuts required under a sequestration scenario would force us to break faith with the troops — destroying our ability to retain forces in sufficient numbers to meet the threats we face.”

In last Monday’s Fox News interview, McKeon noted that $465 billion has already been cut from defense spending under August’s debt deal and that if the trigger is pulled on across-the-board cuts, “it’ll be over another $500 billion.”

Your earned benefits could be the least of the worries.

Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include  “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.”  He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.

  1. I’m not going to comment on the fiscal or moral wisdom of re-instituting the draft, but politically, I don’t see that idea going anywhere. The only wars we’re fighting are very unpopular, so I don’t see any way you’d get a majority of Congress going on record saying that we need to send our sons unwillingly to fight them. For most of Congress, that would be political suicide.

    This is an empty threat.

  2. Joe, the idea behind it is this that active duty troops would be drastically reduced and any conflicts would be handled by draft or with reserve and guard troops. We currently deploy to more that 80 countries, often small units, more around “peace keeping” not war efforts. If there was a major conflict, it would be handled through a grass-roots effort that would require Congress…and a draft.

    Sixties clothes are the new fad – don’t be shocked to see a draft…quite possible in today’s economy.

  3. I agree that if we ever get to a point where our active duty troops are drastically reduced and we’re not in a major conflict, the politics of this idea may change. I’m not holding my breath.

    Interestingly, the economy (specifically the high rate of unemployment) has made it easier than ever to find willing volunteers. Many people have found that joining the military is the only job they can get. But of course the huge national deficit makes it more difficult than ever to find a way to pay them all.

  4. What you’ll see in short order is that the Army is looking at dropping some 50,000 troops by 2015 and if the super committee doesn’t come up with some severe budget cuts by Thanksgiving, the DoD will likely have to reduce troop strength by 200,000…those who want to join won’t be able to…

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