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Military draft proposed by 20-year Marine Corps combat veteran

Marines from Company C, 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, stop at a building corner to inspect the surrounding area while on patrol in Fallujah. (Photo by LCpl Daniel J. Klein)
August 05, 2023

A 20-year combat veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps is proposing that the United States consider a “hybrid model” for military conscription that would reinstitute a limited draft in conjunction with the nation’s volunteer recruits.

Retired Marine Lt. Col. Joseph Plenzler, who served as the strategic communication advisor for three Marine Corps Commandants from 2010 to 2015, recently explained that the United States has used a “combination of volunteers and draftees to meet our national defense personnel needs,” particularly in the face of crisis.

According to Plenzler, the U.S. military currently requires roughly 160,000 service members to enlist out of 30 million eligible citizens in order to achieve its recruitment goals. However, Plenzler claims that after two decades of war that “ended unsuccessfully” and relatively low unemployment numbers, “experts believe the all-volunteer force has reached a breaking point.”

Additionally, Plenzler said public confidence in the military has diminished in recent years. However, Plenzler believes the issue can quickly be resolved with a change in the military’s recruitment process.

“Instead of an ‘either an all-volunteer force or a fully conscripted force’ model, I propose a both-and solution,” he said. “We should have our military recruiters sign up new troops for 11 months out of the year, and then have the Selective Service draft the delta between the military’s needs and the total number recruited.”

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Plenzler believes the combination of a volunteer force and a limited draft would reduce the pressure of military recruiters, reduce the cost of recruitment, and bridge the gap between civilians and military members by “subjecting all of America’s youth… to the possibility of military service” through a limited draft.

According to the retired combat veteran, a “hybrid model” is the “fastest and best solution” to the military’s current recruitment shortfalls. Plenzler pointed to the current expectation that every military service will fall short of its recruiting goals in 2023 with the exception of the Marine Corps. He noted that the Army missed its recruitment goal in 2022 by 15,000 recruits.

“The needs of the nation must be met, and our national leadership would be wise to reinforce the idea that military service is an important responsibility of citizenship,” Plenzler said. “Holes in our military formations are, in fact, gaps in our national security.