dence on high-tech workers, the military may have to struggle harder to get
its quota of high-quality recruits, even in a downsized force. With a spreading
interest in family-oriented services and flexible workplace policies by rising
numbers of single parents and dual-income couples (who may also be parents), the military may also have a difficult time preventing its best members
from shucking their uniforms for civilian life. Once again, adequate resources
will be a key factor in the military's continuing effort to recruit good people,
keep them content, and retain them for a full career.
The American armed forces face an uncertain future, to be sure, and one
that will see its fair share of problems. Still, times of great change are also
opportunities to move ahead and grow in new directions, a worthy goal for
the post-Cold War military that survived the twentieth century.
Mark J. Eitelberg, Manpower for Military Occupations ( Washington, DC: Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense [Force Management and Personnel], April 1988), p. 74.
Mark J. Eitelberg and
Stephen L. Mehay, The Shape of Things to Come:
A Compilation of Trends and Projections Expected to Affect Army Recruiting and
Manpower Policy in the 21st Century ( Monterey, CA: Naval Postgraduate School, March 1992).
U.S. Department of Defense, Profile of American Youth ( Washington, DC: Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense [Manpower, Reserve Affairs, and Logistics], March 1982), p. 21.
See Curtis Gilroy,
Robert Phillips, and
John Blair, "The All-Volunteer Army:
Fifteen Years Later," Armed Forces and Society, 16 (Spring 1990); and William Bowman
Roger Little, and
G. Thomas Sicilia, eds., The All-Volunteer Force after
a Decade (Elmsford, NY: Pergamon-Brassey's, 1986). See also Martin Binkin, "Manning the American Military in the Twenty-First Century: Demographics and National
Lindsey Grant, ed., Elephants in the Volkswagen ( New York: W. H.
There is no reason, then, to expect that all-volunteer recruiting will collapse--
even in the face of significant demographic shifts--unless the military's leaders and
Congress allow it to do so. This is not to say that a draft may never again be needed.
The American people could decide that a system of compulsory service (or national
service) would be good for the country even though it might not be necessary to
meet manpower requirements. Certainly a global conflict or catastrophe could trigger
a mobilization of the youth population. Or the nation could be forced into resurrecting
the draft by an unlikely combination of events: a sustained and unpopular conflict
with heavy casualties, a substantial plunge in the relative value of military pay and
benefits, a vastly improved economy and swelling job opportunities for military-age
youth, a serious drop in public opinion of the military, and the occurrence of an
otherwise "inconceivable" event.
Hong Tan and
Michael Ward, Forecasting the Wages of Young Men: The
Effects of Cohort Size ( Santa Monica, CA: Rand, 1984), p. 7.