You can keep your draft

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You can keep your draft

No, not the NFL draft…that one where we take peo­ple and put them in the mil­i­tary. Well, most peo­ple anyway…

Den­nis Laich seems to think bring­ing back the draft is a great idea, as he is quoted say­ing so here in this Mil­i­tary Times arti­cle. He argues that it will be cheaper (due to mak­ing pay cheaper), close the civil-​military gap, and bring in tal­ent from Ivy League and other places. I’m in the mil­i­tary and live it every day, and I per­son­ally think the draft (and the cur­rent Selec­tive Ser­vice) should go away completely.

You get what you pay for. On the out­side, you can pay con­scripts less and plus up num­bers, and you look like a more impres­sive fight­ing force. A lot of peo­ple march­ing in uni­forms with guns might look cool on the out­side, but his­tory is replete with smaller, bet­ter trained forces beat­ing larger ones, from Alexan­der the Great to the US inva­sion of Iraq. If you want bet­ter sol­diers and sailors, you have to pay for them. Train­ing them is expen­sive, as is retain­ing them. If you want some­one with spe­cial tech­ni­cal skills, such as cyber war­fare, you pay even more. You won’t keep these peo­ple in a draft-​laden mil­i­tary because…

No one wants to deal with draftees. Back in the day, we drafted peo­ple to work aboard nuclear sub­marines. Smart peo­ple qual­i­fied on the reac­tor plant, but they didn’t want to be there. So to express their dis­plea­sure and try to get sep­a­rated from the Navy, they would sim­ply walk back and SCRAM the reac­tor by flip­ping a switch that dropped a set of con­trol rods and shut­down the reac­tor. Granted, our plants can recover from a SCRAM fairly quickly, but as you can imag­ine, that became a huge dis­trac­tion. Any good leader wants to work with moti­vated peo­ple. Deal­ing with the unmo­ti­vated and the 9 to 5 clock punch­ers is one of the most frus­trat­ing parts of my day. A draftee mil­i­tary will suck more good lead­ers time to deal­ing with that issue, and it won’t address…

The civil-​military divide doesn’t mat­ter. I’ll prob­a­bly get hate mail for this, but it seri­ously doesn’t. While I do appre­ci­ate my mil­i­tary dis­count and occa­sional free meal, it’s cer­tainly not why I joined. I sim­ply don’t expect most peo­ple to appre­ci­ate what I do or even under­stand it. More impor­tantly, I do my job so that the aver­age Amer­i­can can sleep safely at night, and would pre­fer they not worry about wak­ing up to a Red Dawn sce­nario. I also travel in uni­form and gladly talk to peo­ple about what I do, some­thing too many ser­vice mem­bers don’t do because…

Although some con­ver­sa­tions end this way…

We the mil­i­tary make the divide harder. It’s true. I saw some­one once chas­tise a per­son for wish­ing them a Happy Memo­r­ial Day. I get it, Memo­r­ial Day rec­og­nizes those that can’t come home. But our mil­i­tary mem­bers are often pretty hard on civil­ians. We expect them to know our cul­ture, for­get­ting that in boot camp or ROTC we once shared their clue­less­ness. I pre­fer to be encour­ag­ing and instruct­ing, rather than hat­ing on peo­ple. It’s also not like they don’t have chal­lenges. I meet great Amer­i­cans that work two jobs and go to night school to make ends meet, and they are often my heroes. And while some of my heroes are cham­pi­ons in industry…

Some really smart peo­ple would suck in the mil­i­tary. It’s not to say the mil­i­tary doesn’t have smart peo­ple. I’m often shocked at how bright so many of my young Sailors are. But plenty of smart peo­ple at Google, Face­book, IBM, Raytheon and other com­pa­nies do great there, but would be hor­ri­ble in a mil­i­tary envi­ron­ment. The mil­i­tary needs peo­ple that can strad­dle the line between think­ing big strat­egy and man­ag­ing the day-​to-​day human needs, where indus­try is often ok with peo­ple that are smart but have ter­ri­ble peo­ple skills.

I’m not sold on the draft. I think many have visions that it’ll make the “nation bet­ter,” but in real­ity our nation is pretty great. If we need to focus, per­haps fix­ing our bro­ken edu­ca­tion sys­tem or get­ting peo­ple more phys­i­cally active would be a bet­ter goal.

A final thought: call­ing for the draft isn’t a true con­ser­v­a­tive thing…it’s quite social­is­tic in ori­gin. Try­ing to start “uni­ver­sal national ser­vice” screams to me a uni­ver­sal jobs pro­gram. I’d rather we let our young peo­ple excel to the best of their abil­ity and have free­dom to choose employ­ment, free­doms that other young men and women sac­ri­fice for everyday.


This post rep­re­sents the views of the author and not those of the Depart­ment of Defense, Depart­ment of the Navy, or any other gov­ern­ment agency.

Please check out my blog and donate to Da Tip Jar!

No, not the NFL draft…that one where we take people and put them in the military.  Well, most people anyway…

Dennis Laich seems to think bringing back the draft is a great idea, as he is quoted  saying so here in this Military Times article.  He argues that it will be cheaper (due to making pay cheaper), close the civil-military gap, and bring in talent from Ivy League and other places.  I’m in the military and live it every day, and I personally think the draft (and the current Selective Service) should go away completely.

You get what you pay for.  On the outside, you can pay conscripts less and plus up numbers, and you look like a more impressive fighting force.  A lot of people marching in uniforms with guns might look cool on the outside, but history is replete with smaller, better trained forces beating larger ones, from Alexander the Great to the US invasion of Iraq.  If you want better soldiers and sailors, you have to pay for them.  Training them is expensive, as is retaining them.  If you want someone with special technical skills, such as cyber warfare, you pay even more.  You won’t keep these people in a draft-laden military because…

No one wants to deal with draftees.  Back in the day, we drafted people to work aboard nuclear submarines.  Smart people qualified on the reactor plant, but they didn’t want to be there.  So to express their displeasure and try to get separated from the Navy, they would simply walk back and SCRAM the reactor by flipping a switch that dropped a set of control rods and shutdown the reactor.  Granted, our plants can recover from a SCRAM fairly quickly, but as you can imagine, that became a huge distraction.  Any good leader wants to work with motivated people.  Dealing with the unmotivated and the 9 to 5 clock punchers is one of the most frustrating parts of my day.  A draftee military will suck more good leaders time to dealing with that issue, and it won’t address…

The civil-military divide doesn’t matter.  I’ll probably get hate mail for this, but it seriously doesn’t.  While I do appreciate my military discount and occasional free meal, it’s certainly not why I joined.  I simply don’t expect most people to appreciate what I do or even understand it.  More importantly, I do my job so that the average American can sleep safely at night, and would prefer they not worry about waking up to a Red Dawn scenario.  I also travel in uniform and gladly talk to people about what I do, something too many service members don’t do because…

Although some conversations end this way…

We the military make the divide harder.  It’s true.  I saw someone once chastise a person for wishing them a Happy Memorial Day.  I get it, Memorial Day recognizes those that can’t come home.  But our military members are often pretty hard on civilians.  We expect them to know our culture, forgetting that in boot camp or ROTC we once shared their cluelessness.  I prefer to be encouraging and instructing, rather than hating on people.  It’s also not like they don’t have challenges.  I meet great Americans that work two jobs and go to night school to make ends meet, and they are often my heroes.  And while some of my heroes are champions in industry…

Some really smart people would suck in the military.  It’s not to say the military doesn’t have smart people.  I’m often shocked at how bright so many of my young Sailors are.  But plenty of smart people at Google, Facebook, IBM, Raytheon and other companies do great there, but would be horrible in a military environment.  The military needs people that can straddle the line between thinking big strategy and managing the day-to-day human needs, where industry is often ok with people that are smart but have terrible people skills.

I’m not sold on the draft.  I think many have visions that it’ll make the “nation better,” but in reality our nation is pretty great.  If we need to focus, perhaps fixing our broken education system or getting people more physically active would be a better goal.

A final thought: calling for the draft isn’t a true conservative thing…it’s quite socialistic in origin.  Trying to start “universal national service” screams to me a universal jobs program.  I’d rather we let our young people excel to the best of their ability and have freedom to choose employment, freedoms that other young men and women sacrifice for everyday.


This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Please check out my blog and donate to Da Tip Jar!