Deep Dive

US Military Draft Ahead? House Eyes New Plan for 'Fair and Equitable' Potential Future Draft


Not since the antebellum South’s unrepentant slavocracy have Americans endured a ruling class as decadent as the present establishment. Thus, by accident or design, many foundational values have eroded, as they did before 1860.

For instance, the Founding Fathers recognized the importance of the citizen-soldier when, in the Second Amendment’s initial clause, they described a “well regulated Militia” as “necessary to the security of a free State.”

Alas, according to Military Times, significant U.S. armed forces recruitment shortfalls under President Joe Biden have prompted legislators to take action that could lead to what Democratic Rep. Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania called a “fair and equitable” draft.

Last month, the House Armed Services Committee approved an amendment to the fiscal year 2025 National Defense Authorization Act.

That amendment, sponsored by Houlahan, would result in the automatic registration of every male citizen and resident of the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 26 under the Military Selective Service Act.

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According to Military Times, more young men have evaded Selective Service registration in recent years.

One crucial reason is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, which no longer includes an option for Selective Service registration The removal of that FAFSA option eliminated the source of nearly a quarter of all registrations, per Military Times.

The massive HASC, which consists of 31 Republicans and 28 Democrats, gave Houlahan’s amendment unanimous approval.

Thus, the amendment became part of H.R. 8070, the “Servicemember Quality of Life Improvement and National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2025.”

According to The Hill, that “mammoth $883.7 billion Defense policy bill” also will require the Department of Defense to rehire service members who refused the extremely controversial COVID vaccine.

Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina sponsored that amendment.

“The Department has so far failed to recruit a significant number of service members separated under the COVID mandate. This is unacceptable,” she said. “These individuals possess valuable skills, and many already have training that our military desperately needs.”

H.R. 8070, complete with more than 700 amendments, passed the HASC by a vote of 57-1. Only Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California voted against it.

Debates over the Selective Service system are nothing new.

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In fact, as recently as 2019, the 11-person National Commission on Military, National and Public Service held hearings on questions such as possible non-military service options, whether women should register and even whether to scrap the system altogether. The commission submitted its lengthy report in March 2020.

Since then, however, the recruitment shortfall under Biden has reached a crisis point.

In 2022, Ret. Lt. Gen. Thomas Spoehr noted that recruitment for all five branches of the military had fallen to levels not seen since the Vietnam War era.

Spoehr described the situation as the “start of a long drought for military recruiting.” He also predicted that 2022 would mark “the year we question the sustainability of the all-volunteer force.”

Sluggish recruitment numbers continued into 2023.

In fact, by October the Air Force had raised the maximum enrollment age from 39 to 42. The Navy had already taken similar action in November 2022 when it raised its maximum enlistment age from 39 to 41.

Despite those efforts, the Air Force, Navy and Army all fell short of their FY 2023 recruitment goals.

Suffice it to say that Pentagon officials have taken notice.

According to the DOD, acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Ashish Vazirani echoed Spoehr’s assessment in December testimony before the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee.

“The all-volunteer force faces one of its greatest challenges since inception” in 1973, Vazirani told legislators.

Those legislators have responded in various ways.

Last month, for instance, Republican Rep. Michael Waltz of Florida, Republican Rep. Jack Bergman of Michigan and Democratic Rep. Jimmy Panetta of California joined Houlahan in introducing the Unity Through Service Act, which would coordinate advertising and recruitment across multiple agencies by creating the Interagency Council on Service.

Houlahan, an Air Force veteran, described the act as “a vital step towards reinvigorating national service in America.”

Meanwhile, in a Memorial Day weekend appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Democratic Rep. Pat Ryan of New York, a West Point graduate, called the declining service numbers “deeply problematic as a democracy.”

Unsurprisingly, federal officials have proven apt at describing the problem but less so at diagnosing or solving it.

Why, for instance, have members of Gen Z avoided military service like no generation since the Vietnam War?

Vazirani took a stab at the question when he noted that by 2022 only 12 percent of young people had a parent who served in the military, down from 40 percent in 1995.

“This has led to a disconnect between the military and a large share of society,” he said.

Matthew Weiss, a 2nd lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, devoted an entire book to the subject.

“We’re much more critical of our nation and our existence, right? Gen Z values trust and transparency. We’re so used to online fake ads, we can spot something fake in a second. And this is one of the messages to military recruiters, is that trust and transparency is key with Gen Z. You have to be truthful,” Weiss said according to Scripps News.

Polling data has helped quantify Gen Z’s aversion to military service. In fact, an Echelon Insights poll conducted in late 2023 showed that in the event of a major war 72 percent of respondents would not volunteer to fight.

Readers (and writers) of a certain age must resist the temptation to blame “kids these days.”

After all, members of Gen Z did not emerge from the womb with blue hair and narcissistic entitlement. Nor does that characterization apply to millions of them.

Moreover, those who never served (like yours truly) occupy no moral high ground from which to castigate others.

My father, a Vietnam veteran, left the decision to me. But he also admitted that he preferred I did not serve in President Bill Clinton’s military.

Like many veterans nowadays, my father often receives thanks from strangers when he ventures out in public while wearing his USS Coral Sea/U.S. Navy Veteran ball cap. That is a significant improvement upon the chilly reception many veterans endured after the Vietnam War.

But here is the crucial point: Young people are at least as likely as older ones to express thanks for his service, if not more so. They simply want nothing to do with Biden’s military — just as my father once wanted me to avoid Clinton’s.

In other words, a fish stinks from the head. And that is the establishment.

A complete account of the establishment’s decadence, including the ways our ruling class has failed Gen Z and the country, would require volumes. Thus, one relevant example will illustrate.

H.R. 8070 included a proposed amendment from Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida. If adopted, the amendment would have prohibited the DOD from acquiring or selling indiscriminately lethal cluster munitions.

In 2023, Gaetz joined a small group of Democrats in trying to prevent Biden from selling such weapons to Ukraine.

“Children will be left without limbs and without parents because of this decision if we do not work together in a bipartisan fashion to stop it,” Gaetz wrote on social media at the time, according to The Hill.

The HASC defeated Gaetz’s amendment by a resounding and revealing vote of 48-10.

Thus, legislators can create all the new agencies they want. They can go on establishment media programs and talk about democracy until the cows come home. If young people can work up no confidence that their leaders at least care more about innocent lives than they do about fattening their stock portfolios with arms sales to Ukraine, then those young people will continue to avoid military service, and no one who understands how our ruling class operates will blame them.

Conversely, if we would teach young people why the Founding Fathers created a republic that relied on citizen-soldiers for its defense, explain to them why the United States represents something unique in world history, and give them a country worth defending, they would rally its cause as previous generations have.

To achieve all that teaching, explaining and ennobling, however, will require toppling the establishment.

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Michael Schwarz holds a Ph.D. in History and has taught at multiple colleges and universities. He has published one book and numerous essays on Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the Early U.S. Republic. He loves dogs, baseball, and freedom. After meandering spiritually through most of early adulthood, he has rediscovered his faith in midlife and is eager to continue learning about it from the great Christian thinkers.
Michael Schwarz holds a Ph.D. in History and has taught at multiple colleges and universities. He has published one book and numerous essays on Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the Early U.S. Republic. He loves dogs, baseball, and freedom. After meandering spiritually through most of early adulthood, he has rediscovered his faith in midlife and is eager to continue learning about it from the great Christian thinkers.