Marching toward the 21st Century: Military Manpower and Recruiting

By Mark J. Eitelberg; Stephen L. Mehay | Go to book overview

8
Recruitment and Society after the
Cold War

Charles C. Moskos

The 1991 war in the Persian Gulf had virtually no impact on long-term Army personnel policy. It is hard to think of anything of significance being different in Army recruitment, had the Gulf War not occurred. The overriding factor affecting Army manpower issues has clearly been the end of the Cold War.

The post-Cold War era will witness reductions in forces across the services, but such reductions will be sharpest in the Army. The Navy and Air Force, the technology-intensive forces, are harder to reconstitute if allowed to drop beyond a certain level than the manpower-oriented Army. The drawdown, moreover, will affect both active and reserve components in the Army in approximately proportional measure. Most important, the post-Cold War, post-Gulf War era will highlight the cardinal feature that the Army is ultimately a recruitment force, while the Navy and Air Force are retention forces. 1

We seek here to examine some of the variables affecting Army recruitment in the near- and middle-term future. The plan of this chapter is straightforward. First, we review recruitment issues with regard to the linkage between reserve and active forces and likely future Army missions. We next turn to sociological considerations that impinge upon recruitment, with particular reference to minority representation in the Army, the role of women, and the homosexual ban. We conclude with a discussion of how the emerging debate on national service may affect Army recruitment.


RECRUITMENT PONDERABLES AND IMPONDERABLES

The most significant, if least noted, consequence of the creation of the allvolunteer force (AVF) was the steep decline in the size of the military. In the peacetime period prior to the war in Vietnam, some 2.6 million people were in the active-duty force. In early 1992, the projected "base force" was 1.6 million for the mid-1990s. Most observers, however, thought a figure of 1.3 million, or lower, would be more accurate. The American military faces a situation unique in its history: a draconian drawdown of an all-volunteer force.

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