The US Citizen-Soldier's Past, Present, and Likely Future

PETER KARSTEN

© 2001 Peter Karsten

From Parameters, Summer 2001, pp. 61-73.


Recent problems in the recruiting and retention of US military personnel have prompted some to ask a series of questions: What was the "tradition" of the American citizen-soldier, and how much change in this tradition has occurred? Have basic changes in American culture occurred recently that have led to a "narrowing definition of citizenship and its responsibilities" and, related to this, are we justified in describing current problems in recruiting an all-volunteer force as ones that "signal the demise of the tradition of the citizen-soldier"? What might be the significance to recruitment of recent changes in the purposes for which the United States employs its power, and what consequent policies should the Administration consider?[1]

In this article I propose some answers to these questions based on my reading of the historical and sociological records as we understand them today.

The "Tradition" of the Citizen-Soldier

Let's begin by stepping back to the 17th and 18th centuries, when "True" Whigs on both sides of the Atlantic--men like Anthony Ashley Cooper (Lord Shaftesbury), Colonel Algernon Sidney, John Trenchard, Joseph Warren, James Lovell, and Samuel Adams--wrote with passion about the dangers of standing armies. Listen, for example, to the fears expressed by the future martyr-of-Bunker-Hill, citizen-soldier Dr. Joseph Warren, in his "Boston Massacre" memorial oration, 5 March 1772:

Our houses wrapt in flames, our children subjected to the barbarous caprice of the raging soldiery, our beauteous virgins exposed to all the insolence of unbridled passion, our virtuous wives, endeared to us by every tender tie, falling a sacrifice to worse than brutal violence, and perhaps like the famed Lucretia, distracted with anguish & despair, ending their wretched lives by their own hands.[2]
Inspired by what they understood from Thucydides, historians of Rome, and the Florentine champion of citizen-soldiers, Niccolo Machiavelli, they worried about the fate of their polity's collective civil and political rights (often expressed as "liberty & property") at the hands of what they perceived to be an ever-growing threat of encroachments upon those rights from a monarch (or un-royal chief executive like Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell). Such a person could control affairs of state with a standing army and officer-"placemen," seated from one of Parliament's "rotten" and "pocket" boroughs.[3] These advocates of "the citizen-soldier" called on free adult men of property to respond to their sense of duty, to their sense of political obligation, by serving for a period of time in the militia of their community.

Thus military service, indeed, compulsory service in militias, was deemed appropriate under what has come to be known as the "consent" theory of government.[4] Throughout the 1760s, '70s, '80s, and '90s, republican essayists insisted that responsible men should respond to their sense of obligation in order to protect "their private property and political rights."[5] Jefferson's Declaration of Independence speaks of governments deriving "their just powers from the consent of the governed," but this theory cut both ways: That is, a justly-derived government, such as that of the United States, can in turn expect military service from youth who would (by the 1890s) "pledge allegiance" in publicly funded schools and enjoy other such free social benefits, as well as more general advantages like the rule of law, prosperity, the prestige of citizenship in "The Great Republic," and the capacity to elect their own lawmakers, the franchise (by the age of 18 in 1971 for all, earlier for some).[6]

An alternative vision of national defense of the community's interests was proposed in the late 18th century by "New" Whigs like Adam Smith and his American Federalist Party counterparts, who reasoned that replacing the militia with a regular military force (the True Whigs' dreaded "standing army") made good economic and political sense: Keeping the state militia system of citizen-soldiers in an adequate state of readiness, Federalist Secretary of War James McHenry argued in 1800, would cost the United States more "by the abstraction from labor or occupation" of the militiamen than the cost of a regular army. Making the state miltiaman/citizen-soldier "master of the several branches of the art of war" was akin to drafting the community to build houses while expelling "as useless, architects, masons, and carpenters."[7]

But such a regular army, insisted True Whig defenders of a citizen-soldier militia system from Dinwiddie County, Virginia, would become "an asylum for all who do not choose to labor." These views were echoed by an anonymous essayist from Poughkeepsie, New York: "Free born sons of America" were unlikely to surrender their freedoms and opportunities "to become slaves for the trifling considerations of a soldier's pay."[8] At least one Founding Father, Philadelphia's Benjamin Rush, wrote that he "should despair of our cause if our country contained 60,000 men abandoned enough to enlist for three years or more during the war."[9] (Rush need not have worried: Funds for the employing of as many as 75,000 men were sanctioned in 1776, but the Army never mustered as many as half that number at any one moment.)[10] In his Life of Washington, Mason "Parson" Weems (creator therein of the "chop-down-the-cherry-tree" myth) offered this observation on the casualties inflicted upon army regulars in the 1790s by the Shawnee:

After the first shock, the loss of these poor souls was not much lamented. Tall young fellows, who could easily get their half dollar a day at the healthful and glorious labours of the plough, to go and enlist and rust among the lice and itch of a camp, for four dollars a month, were certainly not worth their country's crying about.
Many propertied men, and a good many less-propertied ones, did respond to their sense of political obligation and served in their state's militias or volunteer companies where, as "subscribers," they entered into a "bond," and selected officers "of their own choice" (a century-old colonial-American custom). Virginia's George Mason justified this practice for his own volunteer company in his "Remarks on Annual Elections" (1775) by relying on natural rights language strikingly similar to that found in the Declaration of Independence, crafted the following year. ("All men are by nature born equally free and independent." All power was "lodged in, and consequently is derived from, the people.")[11]

Such state citizen-soldiers provided an important instrument of local Revolutionary power throughout the war, denying the British from effectively regaining the loyalty of such regions as they passed through or temporarily occupied (in the fashion of the Vietcong, as John Shy observed some time ago).[12]

Other propertied "consenters" served as officers in Continental Line units, their states' contributions to the Continental Army of Washington, Gage, and Greene. But the Continental Line's men in the ranks were disproportionately made up of recent immigrants or relatively poor native-born, whose sense of political obligation was, at best, considerably thinner than their sense of economic opportunity.[13] That is, from the earliest days of this nation's history, most volunteers for the "regular" military were not responding to a consent theory of obligation. General George Washington recognized that appeals based on political obligation were of little use: "A soldier reasoned with upon the goodness of the cause he is engaged in, and the inestimable rights he is contending for," he wrote to the Congress, "hears you with patience, and acknowledges the truth of your observations, but adds that it is of no more importance to him than others. The officer makes the same reply. . . . The few, therefore, who act upon principles of disinterestedness, are, comparatively speaking, no more than a drop in the ocean." What was needed was a substantial recruiting bounty to persuade his men to reenlist.[14]

Some of Washington's Valley Forge stalwarts, to be sure, had joined to defend their world's "inestimable rights." Others had joined for the adventure. But most joined out of need,[15] or for economic plums they could use as nest eggs.[16] (In the past half-century this would translate as the desire to acquire skills or educational benefits.) And this was to be the pattern of service for the next century-and-a-half--that is, there were militia (essentially "volunteers" by the 1840s and '50s), on the one hand, who were, roughly speaking, representative of their communities, and there were "regulars," men of relatively simple economic means, led by the sons of rural gentry and urban elites, on the other.[17] Shortly after World War II ended, Sergeant Henry Giles, one of those men of simple means, recalled enlisting in 1939:

When I enlisted I didn't ever think about a war. . . . The depression hadn't ended in 1939 down our way and I was sick and tired of the scrabbing and the shame of the commodity [lines] and no jobs but the WPA. . . . [The] army meant security and pride and something fine. . . . [N]ot only had I clothes now that I wasn't ashamed of, but for the first time in my life I was somebody.[18]
Nonetheless, in times of crisis and war, those who did come forward to enlist were disproportionately from the more cosmopolitan, skilled, and professional classes, not from the unpropertied lower class.[19] The working class predominated in the rank-and-file, but they do not appear to have been inspired as much by consent theory as by economic need. And this meant there were frequent annual military-recruitment shortfalls. For example, in 1830 President Jackson's Secretary of War, John Eaton, reported that the Army had been unable to fill its rather modest enlistment quotas for another year with men of any quality:
A country possessing 12 millions of people ought surely to be able at all times to possess itself of an army of 6,000 men obtained upon principles of fair contract; if this can not be effected then will it be better to rely on some other means of defense, rather than resort to the expedient of obtaining a discontented and besotted soldiery.[20]
We should not be surprised by this reluctance of most youth in the past to volunteer out of a sense of patriotism or political obligation. After all, early America was (perhaps outside of early New England) not characterized by socio-economic equality. Legislatures were controlled by propertied white men who protected and advanced their collective interests rather well.[21] In most colonies and states unpropertied men did not enjoy voting rights until well into the early 19th century.[22] The early United States may well have been a land of greater economic opportunities and greater civil and political freedoms than virtually all the places its residents or their ancestors had come from, but there were still many who legitimately felt left out of some of those rights and privileges that consent theorists rely on to justify one's obligation to serve.

In any event, for nearly a century and a half, the US government didnot assume that it had the capacity to call upon young men, involuntarily, to serve as citizen-soldiers in times of crisis. During the final years of the War for Independence, it is true, the Continental Congress did call upon the state legislatures to provide limited versions of conscription to fill Continental Line units,[23] but this amounted essentially to getting most of those drafted to provide substitutes.[24] At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Virginia's Edmund Randolph told his colleagues that "Draughts stretch the strings of government too violently to be adapted."[25] The Constitution granted Congress the power "to raise and support armies" and to "call forth the [state] militia to execute the laws of the land, suppress insurrections and repel invasions," but it remained silent on the question of compulsion.

Congress did not rely on a draft in the War of 1812, and relied on it only sparingly in the final years of the Civil War, as an inducement to young men and their families to purchase draft-insurance in order to hire substitutes.[26] Resistance to the draft was nonetheless widespread, peaking in the famous riots in New York City, but flaring into collective violence in the rural Midwest as well. Indiana Democratic newspaper editor D. A. Mahony (writing under the pseudonym "Sidney Cromwell") clearly rejected consent theory when he asked: "If citizens do not choose to preserve the government, what right has the government to compel them to do so against their will?"[27]

When the federal government finally did turn to a full-fledged draft upon entering the war in Europe in 1917, it did so in the teeth of considerable opposition from southern and western Congressmen and considerable resistance from their constituents.[28] Some 300,000 men failed to respond to their draft notice altogether, and as many as 170,000 more deserted within weeks of reporting. (When asked by his Secretary of War in May 1920 what further action he wished to take against these draft violators, President Wilson responded, "I think we should let [the law against them] expire.")[29]

Later, after a second war had erupted in Europe, Congress created the first "peacetime" draft in September 1940, and within a year the War Department faced an anonymous, G.I.-inspired resistance movement known among the draftees by the acronym "OHIO" (Over-the-Hill-In-October).

Consent theory is just that: theory. There is only modest evidence of its acceptance by Americans in the historical record. The opposition of some to the draft during the Vietnam War is familiar to us, and seen by many as notorious; it was, however, not a new phenomenon.

Changes in American Culture and the All-Volunteer Force

Certainly there have been some changes in American culture of late that have probably affected enlistments, and perhaps morale as well. Today's youth clearly live in a more affluent, sensate society than that of their grandfathers, indeed even of their fathers. A Newsweek analysis in 1997 of the personal monthly spending (from income derived from allowances, odd-jobs, and chores) of youngsters 8 to 12 years old (tomorrow's prospective recruits) found that spending had risen from $15.91 in 1989 to $50.54 in 1997, a rise of more than 25 percent per year, on average, while their savings-rate had risen from $10.45 per month to $17.72, or a little over 6 percent per year.[30] Another report by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, addressing cheating on middle-school and high-school tests, revealed a significant rise in such reported cheating over the past decade. Simultaneously the Educational Testing Service reported similar rises in reported cheating on high-school tests (by incoming college freshmen), from a low of 20 percent in the 1940s to figures in the 75 to 98 percent range by 1998.[31]

It might be said that Rapster reigns. That is, many youth have more cash in their pockets, still more cash in their prospects, and fewer scruples about how to get ahead in life than did previous generations of prospective recruits. Moreover, beginning with the era of the Model T, they have steadily secured more and more freedom from parental and social constraints, and society has seen the slow but steady emergence of a generation gap. The point is: There has been, throughout virtually all of the developed nations, a steadily growing capacity of youth to enjoy an increasing degree of freedom from the cultural and economic constraints that held their parents to certain social norms and standards in the past. I don't point this out so much to lament it as to suggest simply that these changes have had significant effects on recruitment.

Recessions, let alone serious depressions, have (fortunately) not been this nation's lot of late, and are not expected to characterize the future. That fact, from the perspective of recruiters, is unfortunate, for recessions have always been "good times" for recruiters; reenlistments abound in such times, and desertion rates fall off sharply.[32]

In any event, as David Cortright and Max Watts have shown, there has been a strong correlation between per capita GNP and "soldier resistance" in the world's militaries.[33] This "resistance," I would suggest, serves as a rough proxy for today's recruitment problems. That is, youth from affluent, open societies generally do not want to surrender their personal freedoms for a stint of military service, be it involuntary or voluntary. William Green, Young & Rubicam's Executive Vice-President in charge of the Army's "Be All That You Can Be" campaign in the 1980s and '90s, told an MIT seminar in 1994 that his firm's research on "the relevant youth cohort" had revealed that the cohort wanted enough money to "have options in life," "the freedom to live their lives as they choose," and "immediate gratification."[34]

Changes in the Employment of US Power

One Proposal: Recruit for the Military's "New Mission"

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the ensuing disintegration of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact satraps, the US military (or, at the very least, the US Army) has gradually been redefining itself. The Army's Training and Doctrine Command had created a Center for Army Lessons Learned at Ft. Leavenworth in 1985, and, as the Army performed "peacekeeping" duties in the 1990s (first in Northern Iraq, fending off Saddam Hussein's bullies from ill and starving Kurds, then in Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo, and elsewhere), the Army began to learn and thereupon to teach its people a new peacekeeping mission, complete with doctrinal statements in its most important manuals, the creation of a US Army Peacekeeping Institute at Carlisle Barracks in 1993, and instruction in the relevant subject matter at several schools. Also in 1993, then-Secretary of Defense Les Aspin created an Assistant Secretariat for Peacekeeping and Democracy and a Directorate for Peacekeeping. By the time General Hugh Shelton assumed the duties of Chief of Staff, peacekeeping was clearly sharing the stage with warfighting.[35]

The United States may well employ its power in other new ways in the near future (perhaps even, in concert with other militaries, to protect the rainforests of the world from further destruction), but for now, the most striking "new purpose" is peacekeeping. Doesn't this innovation warrant another look at the Army's recruiting practices and advertising campaigns? Laura Miller and Charles Moskos have reported on interesting differences in the levels of support for the mission of US Army personnel who were involved in Operation Restore Hope in Somalia in March 1993. The gist of their findings is that black, female, and non-combat-status soldiers held more positive attitudes about the performance of US troops there--and for humanitarian missions generally--than did white, male soldiers in combat specialties (from the 10th Mountain Division).[36] These findings were confirmed a year later by Ronald Halverson and Paul Bliese in their survey of some 2,300 US Army personnel assigned to Haiti in 1994 as part of Operation Uphold Democracy. They found that female, black, and Hispanic soldiers, and those in engineering, police, signal corps, intelligence, and medical units, were more likely to believe that what the military was doing in Haiti was important than were white male soldiers in infantry or mechanized units. Michael O'Connor of The New York Times reported on the enthusiasm of military personnel for their peacekeeping duties in Bosnia in early 1998, and claimed that reenlistment rates for units assigned to Bosnia were 50 percent higher than those for other units in Europe (though he does not distinguish among his respondents in the fashion of the two aforementioned studies).[37]

"Traditional" soldiers in Somalia would have agreed with Harvard's Samuel Huntington, who argued in 1993 that proposals to organize and train soldiers in peacekeeping roles were "basically misconceived," inasmuch as "the mission of the armed forces is combat . . . [and] the military must be recruited, organized, trained, and equipped for that purpose alone."[38] Huntington is entitled to his views, but I doubt the nation would be well-served by adopting them. Peacekeeping is probably here to stay, and it should be welcomed with appropriate recruiting ads.

Thus my first proposal: In 1994 the Army's advertising contractor, Young & Rubicam, chose to stay the course with its "Be All That You Can Be" recruiting theme,[39] despite the clear, published evidence that this message had created false expectations that were "subsequently refuted by personal experience" and may have resulted in "a deleterious effect on active duty soldiers' morale, degree of commitment to the military, and reenlistment consideration."[40] Young & Rubicam's William Green described "a set of television advertisements emphasizing action and adventure" in 1994, spots that "typically portray some sort of military scenario involving the coordination of a combined arms team in the pursuit of a military objective," "fast-paced ads calculated to highlight the excitement of military operations." These were perfectly fine ads, attracting to combat Military Occupational Specialties (MOSs) those who respond to such stimuli. But such ads do not describe the significant new peacekeeping mission of the US Army. Neither does the Army's current advertising focused on "An Army of One."

The Army's current ad contractor ought to be directed to attend seriously to the ads broadcast on Swedish and Irish media to prospective recruits for those nations' armies. Both of those nations' militaries have been heavily involved in peacekeeping operations throughout the past half century, and they have managed to recruit and motivate men to perform such duties.

One such ad might take its cue from the words Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki used to open his remarks to the Army & Air Force Mutual Aid Association in 1999:

Service and sacrifice are military traditions. Every night . . . in places like Bosnia . . . American noncommissioned officers have the lonely burden of demonstrating that tradition. At some dark intersection they come upon groups of drunken young men engaged in a shouting match--a shoving contest that could turn violent in a heartbeat. . . . [A] sergeant, with an interpreter and a couple of riflemen in tow, will stride confidently into that intersection and take control. In a tone of voice as calm and as steady as the one I'm using now, that sergeant will tell them it's over. . . . And those young men . . . will hesitate, and measure the situation. Slowly, the tension will ease, and the young men will move on. And the sergeant will resume his patrol. But if anyone had tested his resolve, he would have responded with measured force. Somewhere behind him stood an immediate reaction platoon, the ready company, and the whole doggone battalion, on alert if he needed it. That's what soldiers on point do for their nation.[41]
This is the sort of message that should be going out to American youth in 30-second spots, not just to retired military personnel and their spouses at AAFMAA meetings. And this leads me to my second proposal: This sort of peacekeeping-focused recruiting would make particular sense were the Army to identify and dedicate as "Peacekeepers" a military police unit of substantial size. (Indeed, today's German army has just such a special force.[42]) Charles Moskos recently suggested that as many as 30,000 or 40,000 recruits might be found among those just graduating from college for 18-month tours of duty (6 months in training, 12 in the field) in exchange for college-loan debt forgiveness, or some such lump-sum payments for future professional school tuition.[43] Such a force (staffed as well by those non-college-grads interested in a similar tour of duty in a peacekeeping unit) might prove to be an effective way of mollifying those who worry about the erosion of the warfighting skills of infantry, airborne, and mechanized forces that have at times been committed to peacekeeping duties.

Another Proposal: Return to an Earlier and Better Promotion Policy

Thus far I have concentrated on recruitment problems, but, as most of those who follow what has been happening in the services over the past several years know, there is a significant retention problem, especially of junior officers. Officers are leaving the services after their first tour in numbers higher than in the past, and while some of this may be attributed to the health of the economy in the 1990s, much of it is due to low morale within the junior officer corps. A recent survey of some 760 captains and majors attending the Army's Command and General Staff College found widespread distrust and disdain among those officers for the "careerist" ways of their superiors. Unit readiness reports were "absolute lies," they wrote. The summary of the results of that survey reported that these captains and majors believed that "senior leaders will throw subordinates under the bus in a heartbeat to protect or advance their career[s]."[44]

That is disturbing; regrettably, it is not new: A similar survey in 1970 of some 415 officers revealed a similar pattern of distrust for "selfish, promotion-oriented behavior" that included "distorted or dishonest reporting" of data, reflecting a "cover-your-ass" army culture in that day as well.[45] Moreover, throughout the 1970s and '80s several retired officers critiqued the falsifying by commanders of readiness reports, the excessive awarding of medals to senior officers in Vietnam, and the "grossly pernicious" policy of "promotion up-or-out."[46]

The problem is that officers rely heavily on good fitness or efficiency reports, and this leads them to be especially sensitive to what their immediate superior expects of them. Such a policy has its pluses, to be sure, but it also has more significant downsides. In the 19th century, officers advanced within their regiment and branch-of-service largely "by the numbers," that is, largely by seniority, based on the number one had earned upon graduation from his service academy, within his service branch. Junior officers under that system were much more able and willing than today to complain to their superiors about illogical and wrong-headed orders, and they were not forced into retirement if they were unable to pass such examinations as did exist (and there were few of those) before they could move from one level of authority to the next. Hence an effective company commander might remain at that level for many years rather than being forced to retire. He need not worry about how to impress enough of his superiors with his "loyalty" to be elevated to his "level of incompetence."

In the 1880s and '90s, however, "Young Turks" in the Army and Navy lobbied effectively for the replacement of this system with "promotion-up-or-out." They had seen their nonmilitary childhood friends and other peers rise more rapidly than had they themselves in business and other professions, and they envied their success. In 1899 and 1916 Congress gave them what they wanted,[47] and these statutes have been altered little by subsequent adjustments.

The competitive principle behind the modern promotion system is something of a mirror image of what prevails in the world of business corporations and large law firms, but the missions and ethics of the armed services are not the same as those in the for-profit world. Careerism can be and all too often is at odds with a military officer's dedication to his or her troops, and to the mission. Consequently, it is time to initiate a radical rethinking and reworking of the system of officer promotions. Indeed, it is time to extend the duration of the typical officer's career from 20 years to 30 years, and to return to the "by-the-numbers" promotion system that served "the best interest of the Corps" so well in the 19th century. We owe no less to the well-being of our nation's defense system and the military profession.[48]

A Final Thought

The military services have learned that they can rarely recruit men and women of various "anti-military" dispositions, and that they have a limited pool of ready and willing, "gung-ho" young men and women whom they can and do regularly recruit. They presently do not attract women for the full range of MOSs, and they presently will not recruit gay and lesbian youth, openly, for any MOS. It may be time for the services to open the door to gays and lesbians in at least somefields, just as they did, not that long ago, for women.[49]

Perhaps our military sociologists could determine whether such a step would dissuade some of the traditional recruitable candidates from joining, and whether that effect would be overcome by bringing greater numbers of able and willing gays and lesbians into the ranks. If such a measure is the only way the services can meet their manpower needs in order to fulfill their assigned missions in the future, then it would appear to be time for the services to follow the example of American corporations, universities, government agencies, and medical centers. And this may make especially good sense in the present day, when peacekeeping has come to play an important role in US military doctrine.


NOTES

1. This article consists of my response to questions raised by organizers of the conference, "Citizens and Soldiers: Citizenship, Military Service, and American Culture," held at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C., 13 October 2000.

2. Jos. Warren, "Address on the Eve of the Anniversary of the Boston Massacre [1772]," in Orations delivered . . . to commemorate the evening of the fifth of March, 1770 . . . , ed. Peter Edes (Boston: 1785), pp. 12-14.

3. See Lois Schwoerer, "No Standing Armies!" The Anti-Army Ideology in 17th Century England (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1974); Lawrence Cress, Citizens in Arms: The Army and Militia in American Society, to the War of 1812 (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1982); and John Philip Reid, In Defiance of the Law (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1981), pp. 82-83.

Thus the Founding Fathers' fear of standing armies would have left them decidedly unmoved by this equity-based argument, offered by Senator Richard Schweiker to his colleagues, to replace the draft with an all-volunteer force: "The Pharaohs of Egypt and the Emperors of Rome paid their soldiers proportionately more than we pay ours today." (US Senate, 26 May 1971).

4. I have addressed this question in Peter Karsten, "Consent and the American Soldier: Theory versus Reality," Parameters, 12 (March 1982), 42-49.

5. For the best treatment of this see Lawrence Cress, Citizens in Arms. See also Samuel Adams ["Vindex"], Boston Gazette, 12 December 1768, and his Farewell Address as Governor of Massachusetts, 27 January 1797, both in The Writings of Samuel Adams, ed. H. A. Cushing (Boston: 1904-08), I, 264-68; IV, 402-03.

6. Joseph Tussman, Obligation and the Body Politic (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1960). See also Plato's Crito, Locke's Second Treatise, Rousseau's Social Contract, and Edmund Burke's Reflections.

7. Cress, p. 147.

8. Ibid., pp. 138-39.

9. Don Higginbotham, The War of American Independence (New York: Macmillan, 1971), p. 210.

10. Allan R. Millett and Peter Maslowski, For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States of America (rev. ed.; New York: Maxwell Macmillan International, 1994), p. 60.

11. Mike McConnell, "Popular Mobilization and Political Culture in Revolutionary Virginia," Journal of American History, 85 (December 1998), 954. See also Fred Anderson, "Why did Colonial New Englanders make `bad' Soldiers? Contractual Principles and Military Conduct during the Seven Years' War," William & Mary Quarterly, 3d series, 38 (1981), 395-417.

12. John Shy, "The American Revolution: The Military Conflict Considered as a Revolutionary War," in Essays on the American Revolution, ed. Stephen G. Kurtz and James H. Hutson (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1973); Robert Gross, The Minutemen and Their World (New York: Hill and Wang, 1976).

13. Fred Anderson, A People's Army: Massachusetts Soldiers and Society in the Seven Years War (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1984); Mark Lender; "The Social Structure of the New Jersey Brigade," in The Military in America from Colonial Times to the Present, ed. Peter Karsten (rev. ed.; New York: Free Press, 1986); Gregory Stivenson and Edward Papenfuse, "General Smallwood's Recruits: The Maryland Continental Line, 1781," William & Mary Quarterly, 3d series, 30 (1973), 117-32; Charles P. Neimeyer, America Goes to War: A Social History of the Continental Army (New York: New York Univ. Press, 1996); Alan Kulikoff, "The Political Economy of Military Service in Revolutionary Virginia," ch. 6 of his The Agrarian Origins of American Capitalism (Charlottesville: Univ. Press of Virginia, 1992).

14. Washington to the President of the Continental Congress, 24 September 1776, in The Writings of George Washington, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick (Washington: GPO, 1932), VI, 108.

15. Of course some of those who had joined for the more mundane and practical or economic reasons that Washington alluded to came about in the course of the war (due either to cognitive dissonance, primary-group "bonding," or genuine conviction) to a consent point of view. See Charles Royster, A Revolutionary People at War (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1979).

16. Anderson, A People's Army.

17. Peter Karsten, The Naval Aristocracy (New York: Free Press, 1972), pp. 74-92; Chris McKee, "Foreign Seamen in the U.S. Navy: A Census of 1808," William & Mary Quarterly, 3d series, 42 (1985), 383-93; Edward Coffman, The Old Army: A Portrait of the American Army in Peacetime, 1784-1898 (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1986); Marcus Cunliffe, Soldiers and Civilians: 1775-1865 (Boston: Little, Brown, 1968); Frederick Harrod, Manning the New Navy: The Development of a Modern Naval Enlisted Force, 1899-1940 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1978).

18. Janice Giles, ed., The GI Journal of Sergeant Giles (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), p. 23.

19. See my figures comparing Civil War volunteers and draftees by profession, compiled from data in US Sanitary Commission Memoirs, Statistical Investigations in the Military and Anthropological Status of American Soldiers, ed. B. A. Gould (New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1869), pp. 210-11, appearing in Peter Karsten, Soldiers and Society: The Effects of Military Service and War on American Life (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1978), p. 66; and those comparing enlistments by county in South Carolina during World War II with the county's Index of Industrial Development; "Who Served in World War II?" in Karsten, ed., The Military in America from Colonial Times to the Present, pp. 335-37.

By no means, of course, did all elites accept the consent theory of political obligation to serve in wartime. Thus, while Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon would tell veterans in 1921, "War service should be performed as the highest duty of citizenship and is a sacrifice that can never be measured in terms of money," his grandfather, Judge Thomas Mellon, had told Andrew's father in 1861:

I had hoped my boy was going to make a smart, intelligent business man and was not such a goose as to be seduced from duty [sic] by the declamations of buncombed speeches. It is only greenhorns who enlist. You can learn nothing in the army. . . . Here there is no credit attached to going. All now stay if they can and go if they must. Those who are able to pay for substitutes do so and no discredit attaches. In time you will learn that a man may be a patriot without risking his own life. . . . There are plenty of other lives less valuable or others ready to serve for the love of serving.
Andrew Mellon, quoted in Rodney Minott, Peerless Patriots (Washington: Public Affairs Press, 1962), p. 65; Thomas Mellon to James Mellon, cited in Matthew Josephson, The Robber Barons: The Great American Capitalists, 1861-1901 (Mattituck, N.Y.: Amereon, 1934), p. 50.

20. Senate Document Number 62, Volume 2, 21st Cong., 1st sess.

21. James Willard Hurst, The Growth of American Law: The Lawmakers (New York: Little, Brown, 1950); Laurence Friedman, A History of American Law (2d ed.; New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987), Part I; Part II, chs. 3, 5; Part III, chs. 1, 4.

22. Most black men did not enjoy them until the 1870s, and most of themlost these rights with poll taxes, grandfather clauses, literacy tests, legislative Gerrymandering, and lily-white political-party membership rules (denying them access to the primaries) until well into the 20th century. Thus young black men were less likely to volunteer for service than whites in 1917. It was not until the services were integrated in the early 1950s, and the McNamara Defense Department demanded that southerners offering housing to military personnel cease to discriminate against blacks in the early 1960s, that black enlistments and reenlistments soared.

Moreover, if voting is, as Michael Walzer maintains, the "best expression of consent available," consent theorists have a significant problem: The young and the poor, the two groups who have for over two centuries comprised the bulk of this nation's regulars, are decidedly less likelyto vote than their older or more affluent peers, something that Richard Flathman has properly referred to as "one of the standard embarrassments of consent and contractarian theories of political obligation." Michael Walzer, Obligations: Essays on Disobedience, War, & Citizenship (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1970), p. 111; Richard Flathman, Political Obligation (New York: Atheneum, 1972), p. 209.

23. Richard Buel, Dear Liberty: Connecticut's Mobilization for the Revolutionary War (Hanover, N.H.: Univ. Press of New England, 1980).

24. Meyer Kestnbaum, "Citizenship and Compulsory Military Service: The Revolutionary Origins of Conscription in the United States," Armed Forces & Society, 27 (Fall 2000), 7.

25. "May 29, 1787," in Charles Tansill, ed., Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of the United States (Washington: GPO, 1927), pp. 924-25. Compare Charles Lofgren, "Compulsory Military Service under the Constitution: The Original Understanding," William & Mary Quarterly, 3d series, 38 (1976), 61-88.

26. James Geary, We Need Men: The Union Draft in the Civil War (DeKalb: Northern Illinois Univ. Press, 1991).

27. "Sidney Cromwell," in Old Guard, 1 January 1861, p. 6, noted in Congressional Globe, 37th Cong., 3d sess., 533, appendix, 172; Peter Levine, "Draft Evasion in the North during the Civil War, 1863-1865," Journal of American History, 67 (1981), 816.

28. John W. Chambers, To Raise an Army: The Draft Comes to Modern America (New York: Free Press, 1987); "Uncle Sam's Little War in the Arkansas Ozarks," Literary Digest, 8 March 1919, pp. 107ff.

29. Secretary of War Newton D Baker to President Woodrow Wilson, 11 May 1920 (with Wilson's handwritten comment), Box 13, Newton D Baker Papers, Library of Congress; 2nd Report of the Provost Marshall-General (Washington: GPO, 1919), p. 203.

30. "The Truth about Tweens," Newsweek, 18 October 1999, pp. 62ff.

31. "Taking a Peek at School Cheating," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7 June 1999, pp. A-13, A-17.

32. Frederick S. Harrod, Manning the New Navy (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1978), pp. 185, 198; Harold Wool, The Military Specialist (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1967), p. 219.

33. David Cortright and Max Watts, Left Face: Soldier Unions and Resistance Movements in Modern Armies (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1991), esp. ch. 1.

34. William Green, "Be All that You Can Be: Recruiting Soldiers and the Cold War Army," MIT DACS Seminar, 28 September 1994.

35. For an excellent recent analysis of this process, see Major Greg Rose, USAF, "Peace Operations, the US Military and Change," unpublished Ph.D. thesis, political science, University of Pittsburgh, July 2000. And see Course Catalogue of the Marine Corps Command & Staff College (Quantico, Va.: 1997), where peacekeeping operations are acknowledged to be "the most likely form of military force commitment over the next decade," as well as the remark of Air Force Chief of Staff General Michael Ryan: "We finally got the message. Some of these [peacekeeping] contingencies are not going to go away." Cited in "Air Force to Shed Cold War Structure and Reorganize Units," The New York Times, 5 August 1998, p. A16. See also RAND Corporation, Intervention in Intrastate Conflict (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND, 1995), pp. 102-07; and Paul Hammond, "Peacekeeping . . . ," in To Sheathe the Sword, ed. John Lovell and David E. Albright (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1997).

36. Laura Miller and Charles Moskos, "Humanitarians or Warriors?: Race, Gender and Combat Status in Operation Restore Hope," Armed Forces & Society, 21 (Summer 1995), 615-37; Ronald Halverson and Paul Bliese, "Determinants of Soldier Support for Operation Uphold Democracy," Armed Forces & Society, 23 (Fall 1996), 81. However, Halverson and Bliese report that those soldiers who had first served in Somalia were less supportive of the mission in Haiti than those who had not (p. 88). See also David Segal, et al., "Paratroopers as Peacekeepers," Armed Forces & Society, 10 (Summer 1984), 487; David Segal and Ronald Tiggle, "Attitudes of Citizen-Soldiers Toward Military Missions in the Post-Cold War World," Armed Forces & Society, 23 (Spring 1997), 373; Laura Miller, "Do Soldiers Hate Peacekeeping? The Case of Preventive Diplomacy Operations in Macedonia," Armed Forces & Society, 23 (Spring 1997), 415; and David Segal, et al., "Constabulary Attitudes of National Guard and Regular Soldiers in the U.S. Army," Armed Forces & Society, 24 (Summer 1998), 535.

37. Michael O'Connor, "GI Disinterest is a Casualty in Bosnia," The New York Times, 4 January 1998, p. A6.

38. Samuel Huntington, "New Contingencies, Old Roles," Joint Force Quarterly, No. 2 (Autumn 1993), pp. 42-43. And see the views of Sam Sarkesian: "The plethora of peacekeeping missions distracts the military from its primary task, which is preparing for combat." ("The U.S. Military Must Find its Voice," Orbis, 42 [1998], 433); and of John Roos, "The Perils of Peacekeeping," Armed Forces Journal International, 133 (December 1993), 17.

39. Green.

40. Leonard Shyles and John Hocking, "The Army's `Be All That You Can Be' Campaign," Armed Forces & Society, 16 (Spring 1990), 379.

41. "Keynote Address of Gen. Eric Shinseki, CSA," in 121st Annual Report of the AAFMAA, Ft. Myer, Va., January 2000.

42. Ronald Asmus, Germany's Contribution to Peacekeeping (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND, 1995), pp. 32-35.

43. Offered during his remarks at the "Citizens and Soldiers" conference held at the National Press Club, 13 October 2000.

44. As reported by Jack Kelly, "Unrest in the Ranks," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 17 September 2000.

45. US Army War College, Study on Military Professionalism (Carlisle Barracks, Pa.: US Army War College, 1970).

46. There have been a number of former army officers who have advanced critiques of "careerism," "ticket-punching" and "cover-your-ass" behavior in the 1970s and '80s. See, for example, William L. Hauser, America's Army in Crisis (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1973), pp. 173-86; Christopher Bassford and Robert M. Elton, The Spit-Shine Syndrome: Organizational Irrationality in the American Field Army (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1988), chs. 3-7; and Richard A. Gabriel and Paul L. Savage, Crisis in Command: Mismanagement in the Army (New York: Hill and Wang, 1978), passim. Compare Matthew Ridgway, "The Ordeal of the Army," The New York Times, 2 April 1971, on the need for greater officer honesty in reporting data.

47. This subject is explored in some detail in my works, The Naval Aristocracy, chs. 6 and 8, and "Armed Progressives: The Military Reorganizes for the `American Century,'" in Building the Organizational Society, ed. Jerry Israel (New York: Free Press, 1972), pp. 197-232.

48. The Army's new Officer Personnel Management System XXI forces officers to pick a career field designator in their tenth year of service. This appears to be creating a shortfall in the combat-command/operations fields and, in any event, does not address the particular problem associated with the current promotion system. But it does have the virtue of reducing "ticket-punching" at the battalion executive officer and S3 levels.

49. Of course, one could also "demilitarize" or civilianize several of these MOSs, and open them to gays and lesbians in that fashion.


Peter Karsten is professor of history and sociology at the University of Pittsburgh. He was a Regular NROTC student at Yale and served as a junior officer on the USS Canberra for three years in the early 1960s. He is the author of six books, and the editor of eight others, all but four of which concern things military. Cambridge University Press is publishing his latest effort in the fall of 2001, "Between Law and Custom: `High' and `Low' Legal Cultures in the Lands of the British Diaspora (the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa), 1600-1900."


Reviewed 7 May 2001. Please send comments or corrections to usarmy.carlisle.awc.mbx.parameters@mail.mil