Military Draft:

Potential Impacts and Other Issues

NSIAD-88-102: Published: Mar 10, 1988. Publicly Released: Mar 10, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the advantages and disadvantages of reinstating the peacetime draft to meet U.S. military manpower needs, focusing on its potential impact on: (1) the federal budget; (2) active-duty force effectiveness; and (3) the civilian economy.

GAO found that the possible: (1) advantages of a draft included more equitable social and racial representation in the forces, affirmation of U.S. international commitments, better augmentation of mobilized active forces, and lower costs; and (2) disadvantages included public resentment toward the services, inequitable draft representation, a decline in force effectiveness and experience, weakened fighting and deterrent capability, and a greater reliance on women. GAO also found that the Department of Defense opposed a peacetime draft, maintaining that: (1) the current volunteer force was the most capable in the nation's history; (2) competitive pay and adequate resources would support its recruiting needs; and (3) recent reenlistment levels were near historically high levels. In addition, GAO found that a peacetime draft could: (1) save $1.4 billion in the first year and $7.8 billion in the long term; (2) result in as many as 26 percent fewer careerists; (3) annually add about 130,000 reservists to the pool of pretrained personnel available for mobilization; and (4) cost the civilian economy from $3 billion to $9 billion annually. GAO noted that countries that draft have larger standing forces, proportionately more manpower, shorter terms of service, and more developed reserve structures than countries that rely on volunteers to meet manpower requirements.

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