Strange Musings *hyuk*
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
  10:30 PM — Enlistment rates
Army enlistment rates have begun rising again, however not enough to make much of a difference.

Michael O'Hanlon, defense specialist at the Brookings Institution, said Monday that if conditions get worse the future of the all-volunteer force could be in jeopardy.

"Unless the situation in Iraq improves, or unless we drastically enlarge the pool of possible recruits in some way -- for example, lowering academic standards for them, or even considering an extreme option like allowing foreigners to gain U.S. citizenship by serving -- one would have to expect continued tough slogging for the Army," O'Hanlon said.


Many other countries already impose a version of this. Mandatory civil service or army duty is required in many countries before your 25th birthday. Those who refuse face a fine and jail time. Heinlein's novel Starship Troopers (not the movie) suggested that in order to become a full citizen with voting rights, one must serve in the army, including seeing combat.

What would these various potential situations do to the US as we know it? Many people do wish to become US citizens, so O'Hanlon's suggestion would probably allow the army size to grow, while allowing many more people to become citizens. It would also allow a wonderful way in for terrorists. Today men already have to register for the SS (Selective Service?) which means they would have to serve in a draft, but women (sexistly) do not register.

Would mandatory army service disenfranchize the poor? Or would it perhaps empower them, as I get the impression that they are more likely to join the army? It would definitely have the effect of raising the effective legal voting age, since you can't serve until age 18 and then if say, 2 years service were required to vote you'd then be aged 20 by the time you could vote. It would also prevent the "Rock the Vote" efforts that the Republicans successfully employed to turn out the vote for Bush in 2004 (as I recall, do correct me if I'm wrong).

I believe (perhaps incorrectly) that Democrats are more likely to be pacifists, so mandatory army service for voting would lead to a more strongly Republican controlled government. Additionally, women would likely be under-represented with such a scheme, as would any cultures that emphasis pacifism or scholasticism. They would have to work hard to come up with other alternatives to combat duty, for example National Guard (which today can still involve combat duty) or domestic civil service (maybe at a 2:1::combat:civil ratio? though as I wrote it you can interpret it either way).

Any thoughts?

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