Monday, July 23, 2007

New CBO Report on Bringing Back The Draft

A new report from the Congressional Budget Office tackles some of the questions that lawmakers will be faced with next Spring when the requirements of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars finally exhaust the manpower we have under the current all-volunteer military.

Titled The All-Volunteer Military: Issues and Performance (49 page pdf), the question of whether the United States should re-institute the draft is examined:

CBO explored the implications of using draftees to eliminate the end-strength shortfall that would result if voluntary accessions fell or were restricted to less than last year’s high level (either slightly or significantly) and if continuation rates declined to a mix of the rates from 2005 and 2006. ...

With a draft, more recruits would be needed to reach a given end strength than is the case in an all-volunteer force. Under current law, individuals would be inducted for two years of service, substantially less than the initial obligations that are typical in today’s AVF (although many service members leave the military before the end of their initial obligation because of medical problems, poor performance, or other reasons). Those shorter obligations mean that a draft system results in greater turnover, which necessitates a larger number of accessions. ...

Another implication of the draft is that the force would become more junior and less experienced than the current AVF. Because inductees serve for a shorter time than volunteers, having larger numbers of draftees relative to volunteers would necessarily result in a force with fewer average years of service. In scenario 4, more than half of the Army’s enlisted personnel (51 percent) would have fewer than three years of experience by 2012, compared with less than 45 percent of enlisted personnel in an allvolunteer force. Usually, greater accumulated knowledge and skills come with increased experience. As noted above, research has shown that military personnel with more than four years of service are 1.5 times more productive in certain jobs than personnel in their first term. Another aspect of seniority is that certain military positions require advanced pay grades, which generally can be filled only by more-experienced personnel. Because most draftees leave after completing a two-year obligation, a draft might affect the services’ ability to perform those functions efficiently. ...

Savings on Pay and Benefits.

Because a draft Army would experience higher turnover at the end of the first term of service, it would evolve into a force with lower average seniority than the current volunteer force. Total spending on basic pay—and on other types of pay or benefits that depend on members’ length of service or rank—would decline. In addition, a smaller proportion of entering soldiers would remain in the Army until retirement, so less money would have to be accrued for military retirement pay and retiree health care. ...

Savings on Recruiting

In 2006, the Army spent $353 million on enlistment bonuses, $583 million on recruiting and advertising, and another $700 million on pay and benefits for recruiters. Because it would probably still need some volunteers, the Army would be unlikely to eliminate enlistment bonuses or advertising under a draft. Nevertheless, those spending levels represent upper bounds on the possible savings on recruiting. ...

Effective Time for Draftees to Be Available for Deployment

Aside from the larger number of accessions and less senior force implied by a draft, there are concerns about how long draftees would be available for deployment. On entering the military, new recruits receive individual basic training (boot camp) and occupational training before being assigned to a unit. A unit nearing its deployment time also takes part in a series of collective training events, ranging from small-team training to battalion-size unit training. For occupations in combat-related fields, such as infantry and air defense, individual basic and occupational training lasts between 3.5 months and 7 months. Unit training requires another 6 months, CBO estimates. Thus, allowing one month for transit (and assuming that training for recruits and units could be scheduled efficiently to minimize time spent waiting for training), CBO estimates that it would take 10.5 months to 14 months after recruits entered the military before they would be fully trained and available for deployment.

Those times would be identical for draftees and volunteers. However, because draftees are assumed to serve for two years (as prescribed in current law), some inductees assigned to occupations that required the longer training times would not be available for a full one-year deployment. That limitation would exacerbate problems for the Army, which recently increased the typical deployment length from 12 months to 15 months. Personnel in the AVF, by comparison, serve longer terms and can be deployed for longer intervals—or multiple times during a single enlistment contract—for most occupational specialties.

Equity Considerations

In CBO’s draft scenarios, no more than 165,000 young people would be drafted annually. That number represents only a small portion of the recruit-age population in the United States—about 2 million young men turn 18 each year, and the total (male and female) population between the ages of 18 and 24 numbers roughly 30 million. Given that relatively few individuals would need to be drafted, who should be inducted to ensure that the system was equitable?

The random lottery required by current law would seem to yield a representative cross section of young men. However, the remaining system of exemptions or deferments would affect the representativeness of young people serving in the military. All of those aspects of current draft law would require legislation to change. Presumably, lawmakers would want to avoid the public dissatisfaction and mistrust that was evident during some of the nation’s previous experiences with conscription. However, if DoD had a ready supply of high-quality personnel available through the draft, it might wish to tighten AFQT (Armed Forces Qualification Test) standards. Alternatively, the nation might consider certain civilian occupations or activities of such importance for domestic health and security that people engaged in them could be exempt from military service. Such actions, however, would most likely affect the representativeness of draftees. Another equity-related consideration is the role of women in the military. A draft that was instituted under current law would cause the percentage of women in the services to decline (assuming that women did not volunteer at greater rates than in the recent past). Some observers might argue for legislation that would broaden the draft to include the registration and induction of women, despite existing restrictions that bar women from serving in units primarily engaged in ground combat.

Not to mention the most important benefit to the nation of re-instituting the draft.

Asinine military adventures would be constrained by the desire of many people of draft age (and their parents) not to sacrifice their lives (or their children) to further some politician's lunatic plan.


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