Demographic Trends and
Military Recruitment:
Surprising Possibilities

 

GEORGE H. QUESTER

2005 George H. Quester


From Parameters,  Spring 2005, pp. 27-40.


This article will attempt to project current demographic trends in the United States and abroad, along with several related determinants, a substantial distance into the future, so as to explore some possibly surprising implications for the recruitment of armed forces. The most important of these demographic factors will be the “graying” of the population, in America and all the advanced industrialized countries, as lower birthrates and longer life-spans project that a larger proportion of the total population will be above what was viewed, until recently, as the normal age for retirement.1 In many of the advanced countries, the total of younger people will actually decline as an absolute number. In the United States and in several other advanced countries, this total will not absolutely decrease, but it will certainly decline as a percentage of the overall population. Other important demographic trends will include the worldwide shift of population to urban areas, and the continued high birthrates in many underdeveloped countries, with a bias in some areas toward preventing the birth or survival of female children.

The Burden of Skepticism about Demography

The American public and their elected representatives are often inclined to underrate the importance of predictions made by demographers. Demography is normally regarded as one of the “social sciences,” typically housed in the sociology department of most universities, and occasionally in an economics or political science department, and it suffers therefore by

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being lumped in with the uneven predictive accuracy of these disciplines. When a demographer offers a prediction on whether there will be a need for additional school-buildings in the local school district, or on whether there might be a problem in military recruitment under the All-Volunteer Force system within the next several decades, the prediction is received with all the normal official deference (and actual skepticism) accorded to predictions about the likely recovery of the economy from a recession, or the likely winner of the next election.

The important point is that this is extremely unfair to demography, because the predictions that can be offered on population trends are very much more reliable than any that can be made by economists or political scientists. For example, if one wishes to know how many ten-year-olds will be coming to school eight years from now, or how many 20-year-olds will be ready for possible military service 18 years from now, the answer (barring a thermonuclear holocaust or a major epidemic in the meantime, or a surprising new wave of immigration) is very straightforward: simply count the two-year-olds in place today.

Age of Military Retirement

The military personnel of the United States, and of most countries in the world, retire at a considerably younger age than do workers in the civilian sector. This pattern can be explained in a variety of ways. Some military tasks demand the stamina of youth, as generally one cannot be effective in direct combat at the age of 45; if military personnel all served to the age of 65, most of such people might not have any useful role. Earlier retirement is also widely viewed as something a soldier has earned by risking death or wounding in his younger years. And a final argument is simply that of past tradition, that the militaries of the world “have always done things this way,” that it is perfectly normal to have promotion policies of “up or out,” where enlisted men and officers are not allowed to continue year after year in the same rank, at the same job.2

Yet the possibility exists that trends of demographics may match up with some other trends of technology and military effectiveness to suggest

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that a very different military career pattern might have to be put into place in the future. Retirement ages are being raised all across the civilian sector, in response to changing ratios of those under 65 and those over, and also in response to changing assumptions about whether workers can still be effective at age 67 or older.3 If there will not be enough young people to fill all the needs of the entire population, it will be necessary to induce delays in the age at which people retire, so that all the work gets done; and the same may hold for the military work that needs to be done.

Shocking as it may seem to those who know how the US military and other militaries have always handled their career patterns and policies of retirement, one distinct possibility for the future would thus be that military careers will have to be lengthened, and retirement delayed, with a slowing of the process of promotion to accompany this. The period of service before pension could perhaps approach 40 years instead of the present 20 to 30, with the retirement ceiling perhaps even reaching 65.

The immediate drive for this would be the demographic factor just noted: the relative shortage of “military-age” people each year, as compared to the total population of the country, and as compared to the perceived need for a military in terms of outside threats to the nation. Related to this is the change in the nature of the technology used in combat, and in the kind of human operator required. If the trends continue by which more and more of the battlefield exchange will be automated in an application of advanced technology, a smaller fraction of the armed services will require youth and physical vigor, and a larger portion may instead require maturity, experience, and technological expertise.

One objection to this kind of a change would be that it threatens the motivational incentives of the current system, where someone who has not risen to a higher rank after 15 years is weeded out, thus keeping the most competent and highly motivated enlisted personnel and officers. Yet this change might simply require, if everyone on average will be serving four or five decades instead of two or three, that everyone be kept in the competition for promotion for a similar extension of time. The chances of winning promotion

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would be the same, and the process of weeding out those who did not win in this competition would be the same, but everyone would serve longer, to keep the services filled in terms of perceived personnel needs.

If the military increasingly comes to need basic experience, however, where someone does the job better because he or she has been at the task longer, there would be less need to have a policy of “up or out,” and less need to rotate people from job to job with such rapidity. Combat effectiveness in the past may have depended on energetic youth and highly motivated competition for promotion. In the future it may depend more on experience and technological competence, on training and education.4 And, as our major make-weight, it may have to depend on a relatively smaller population base.

Women in Military Service

The demographics of whether there were enough military-age males long ago opened minds about the possibilities of women in military service. This was true in World Wars I and II, when every able-bodied man was subject to the draft, and the totality of the wars seemed to indicate that additional people would be needed. And it has been true since the 1970s with the introduction of the All-Volunteer Force, whenever it seemed that the armed services would have difficulty in attracting enough male volunteers.5 Just as shortages of labor in the civilian sector open up the possibilities of a later retirement age, they have opened up jobs to women; and parallel reasoning applies to possible shortages of labor for military service.

The question of women’s roles in military service, and especially of women participating in combat, has of course raised a host of other social issues, involving whether women are so inherently different from men that they are not able to be involved in killing, or should not be, to problems of unit cohesion.6 Without denying any of the problems arising with issues of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and unwanted pregnancies, however, one can identify a great number of jobs in the military that do not require great attention to unit cohesion, do not involve hand-to-hand combat, and do not otherwise challenge what many Americans and others still think of as traditional morality.

A complementary trend in the nature of military operations has been given great attention in the immediate aftermath of the end of the Cold War, when it seemed plausible to many analysts, inside and outside of the defense policy process, that “military operations other than war” (MOOTW) or “stability operations” would now constitute the bulk of what the armed forces would be needed for.7 Such a prediction was immediately contradicted by the need to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait, and then a decade later by the launching of a preventive war against Saddam Hussein’s regime.

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The prediction that the US military would be mostly engaged in “other than war” activities was thus easily overstated, but the world has nonetheless seen a host of situations calling for peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance, situations where the expertise required may lie somewhere between that of a soldier and that of a police officer or social worker, an expertise which might show up just as naturally among women as among men. Indeed, in some cases—for example, being able to reassure and calm distraught mothers in a peacekeeping situation, or being able to search the women’s quarters of a strictly Islamic household—women have an inherent advantage.8

The constraints of demography, as the younger slice of the American or West European or another population becomes smaller as a portion of the total, may thus be in step with some changes in the nature of the military mission. The combination of these factors might well dictate that a larger percentage of the total number of military personnel would have to be women.

Reliance on Immigrant Recruits

In the civilian sector, the United States and the countries of Western Europe have had to rely on immigrants, some of them illegal, to supply needed younger-age labor when domestic birthrates would not have done so.9 And the same may again have to be the case in military recruitment, with the past indeed filled with numerous illustrative examples.

France continues to make extensive use of its Foreign Legion,10 and the British Army still employs battalions of Nepalese Gurkhas. In the American Civil War, the Union Army extensively recruited recent immigrants, most particularly from Ireland and Germany, allowing them to serve in segregated regiments where all their comrades would be of the same ethnicity, with a great number of these enlistees not yet being American citizens.11 The laws of various countries have in the past granted faster-track access to legal-immigrant status, and to citizenship, for people who enlist in the armed forces, and this is indeed true in various ways for the United States even today.

For any military operation whatsoever, even the most violent combat, knowledge of relevant foreign languages will be an important asset. Such linguistic skills are needed for intelligence against an organized army, and particularly for combating terrorism. And such skills are especially important for peacekeeping operations and state-building. Given that Americans are notorious for not learning foreign languages in school, a shortage of Arabic-speakers and of speakers of other foreign languages is almost inevitable, not so much because of birthrates as because of education patterns. The result reinforces the need to consider recruiting those who have just arrived in the United States, le-

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gally or even illegally, and perhaps (where the shortages become extreme enough) even to consider the establishment of recruiting facilities outside the United States.

This is a constraint which will not apply just to the US armed forces, but will affect, as noted, those of France and Britain, and probably those of Germany and the other NATO allies. In all of these other countries, birthrates have dropped even more dramatically than in the United States.

Recruitment abroad is always a touchy issue, with West European countries all through the Cold War expressing irritation that the Foreign Legion might have been too aggressive in its recruiting activities outside of France’s borders. Today’s “brain drain” produces international resentment, when the human capital assets of highly intelligent and well-trained physicians and engineers come to the United States or other richer countries to do their work, rather than remaining or returning to practice in their native land.12 American companies and hospitals sometimes send head-hunters abroad to encourage highly qualified people to come to the United States instead of staying in their homelands, but even this would not be quite as much of a violation of sovereignty as having US armed forces recruiters opening up a storefront in some foreign country.

Nepalese Gurkhas and French Foreign Legionnaires are recruited for their infantry skills for possible future ground combat, the kind of military service where one has to be young and in very good physical shape, and most likely still has to be male. If the United States continues to have a relative shortage of young men, parallel recruiting needs—possibly to be remedied by going abroad to find the required people—may emerge.

Yet the trend toward technological complexity in combat and a reliance on above-average intelligence for one’s warriors might produce a shortage as well of computer-capable people willing to serve in the US military, in which case the turn toward a Foreign Legion-style recruitment abroad might become another form of foreign brain-drain. The US military, in its inherent competition with Silicon Valley, might have to offer visas and citizenship as an inducement, particularly when it can’t match the pay of the

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private sector, and foreign countries might be just as upset at the human capital they were losing.

The recruiting of non-Americans at any level of technological competence, ranging from infantryman to computer operator, might thus indeed be a double contest, as the United States augmented its own military capabilities to overcome looming demographic constraints, and as this in the process depleted the military capability of the foreign country that would otherwise have recruited the same individuals. Allies might become upset if their own recruiting goals go unfilled because those of the United States were met. (If the recruiting goals of a potential adversary were to be undermined because a certain number of people were given fast-track to enter the United States as part of enlisting in the US military, the American choice might of course seem simpler.)

The waves of immigration of the past also have often included waves of return emigration, as a certain fraction of immigrants are unable to be happy in their new home, or return to their original country after having accumulated significant savings. If this is the pattern with the future waves of migration needed to satisfy the labor needs of the advanced industrialized societies, what will be the implication if it shows up also among the immigrants recruited for the armed services? The social and military implications of having a fair number of veterans of the US military living in foreign countries could be very mixed, with some of these veterans being forever friendly to the United States, and others perhaps a bank of knowledge on how American forces could be attacked.

Reluctance to Suffer Casualties

Almost any country will be averse to suffering casualties; only the most psychopathic dictator would enjoy seeing his own troops killed and wounded. But it is more generally argued that democracies will be more averse to such casualties than non-representative regimes. The mothers and fathers of the people exposed to combat presumably will vote against any incumbent who plunges into combat needlessly.

Edward Luttwak has offered an additional argument, besides the general spread of democracy, for why the United States and other countries will be less ready to go to war, and it is an argument indeed tied more closely to demography.13 His contention is that parents were less devastated by the loss of a son in combat when families typically had more than five children, and that parents will be much more opposed to any such risks where the demographic revolution has occurred, where the total of children per family is closer to two.

It is hardly a new prediction that American foreign policy may now be constrained by popular demands that casualties be held down. The nega-

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tive memories of Vietnam, and the positive memory of the amazingly low losses in the Gulf War of 1991, followed by the shock at even the small casualty total in the Somalia intervention, are all part of this general picture.14

Farmers in Europe once regarded it as natural that their second sons would head for a career in the army, with the first son inheriting the farm. If most people now no longer have second sons, their willingness to have a son or daughter shot at must surely be affected.

One obvious policy implication is that even greater stress will have to be placed on the automated modes of warfare that reduce the human exposure to combat. Another is that problems of recruitment will again be made more difficult.

Some Broader Issues of National Service

A debate has been under way for some years between two very different kinds of “conservative” in social analysis, on whether the All-Volunteer Force (AVF) is the most appropriate way to recruit the military in the United States or in any other democracy. In support of the AVF is the kind of “conservative” who would be labeled a “liberal” in the way the world in general uses the term—a libertarian sense of “liberal,” stressing voluntarism as the way to freedom, and to efficiency in all decisions about life, with Milton Friedman being just one very prominent example.15 Very much opposed to the AVF would be a “conservative” of a different tradition, stressing the concept of duty to country, and stressing a need to have the military represent the entire country just as the elected Congress must be representative of the nation as a whole. The military sociologist Charles Moskos has been prominent in presenting this version of a patriotic conservative argument,16 but it is hardly a new kind of outlook on this question.

Supporters of a system of national service would thus regard it as healthy for the nation if every young person, male and female, were required to serve a period of military service or alternative service, as the embodiment and renewal of a concept of duty. This would be a view by which military service would not become a career, but would be a duty.

Rather than extending this debate out in all its dimensions, the intention here is to explore some ways in which demographic trends would aggravate or otherwise affect these arguments. One such effect looms up immediately. As the populations of the United States or Germany or other democracies age in the “graying” process, there obviously will be a much greater need for workers in the care of the elderly. In the West German system of compulsory military recruitment (now being phased out, as Germany and France imitate the United States in shifting to an all-volunteer force), draftees who were opposed to military service had the option of alternative service in a

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retirement home, to the point that a significant portion of the workers in such homes were young men opting for this alternative.17 France’s forms of alternative service for draftees wishing to avoid the military have illustrated a very different priority—the teaching of the French language, always a very important goal as things are seen from Paris, with young male “cooperants” being sent around the globe (even to Louisiana) to increase and improve the speaking of French.

As demographic trends inexorably increase the need for care for the elderly in the advanced industrialized countries, some of this need will be met as it is today, by reliance on low-paid immigrants. But if the relationship of supply to demand becomes stringent, in Germany or in the United States or in any of the other democracies, one may well see a reinforcement of the arguments for compulsory military service as part of a compulsory national service. Societies might hence become more tolerant of arguments for “duty” as well as for “choice,” and countries might decide that it would be inappropriate to have such a large proportion of either function—elder-care or military service—handled by people who had just entered the country.

Demographic trends thus would reinforce two separate arguments for compulsory national service, with significance for the future of the All-Volunteer Force.

Changes in the Military Mission

There is yet another way that demographic trends might affect the military, as we shift from examining the supply of military personnel to forecasting about the demand for a military.

To begin, the pressures of the surplus populations abroad, trying simply to get into the United States, may make the border-control task much more difficult, such that the US military has to modify its equipment and training, and perhaps the type of people it recruits, to assist law enforcement organizations in keeping large numbers of people from sneaking into the country. The same kind of speculation arises about the future missions of the French, Spanish, or German militaries, as coasts have to be patrolled not to head off foreign military invasions, but to prevent the landings of thousands of illegal aliens.

The continuing high birthrates of the third world, as contrasted with the very low birthrates now showing up in the more developed nations, are the obvious immediate cause of what, even today, is a substantial flow of illegal migrants. But such a flow could balloon to much more massive proportions as the result of wars or natural disasters abroad, or by the messianic message that might suddenly be introduced by a new religious leader preaching that one

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group of people or another had a natural right to cross the Mediterranean or to cross the Rio Grande.18

Such an alteration of mission might have a substantial impact on the training and equipment of the Army in particular, and for the other armed services as well. Such a change of mission also might have implications for recruitment, as language skills would once again be in demand, as well as the more subtle people-handling skills that are required for peacekeeping and law enforcement. Issues of fairness and conflicted motivation might arise if, as noted above, some of the soldiers charged with closing the borders have been recruited from across those borders themselves.

Expansion of the Armed Forces

The end of the Cold War saw the American public, and people around the world, expecting a reduced need for defense spending and military recruitment. Rather than having to be ready for a major war against the Soviet Union and its allies, the democracies could reduce the size of their armed forces, with the remaining forces shifting somewhat to “military operations other than war.” The relative success in filling the All-Volunteer Force in the 1990s, when the boom in the domestic economy normally would have made military recruitment more difficult, can be explained in part by the draw-down in size of the American armed forces.

Some of such assumptions about a decreased need for military forces were challenged by Saddam Hussein’s naked aggression into Kuwait in 1990. When everyone in the world seems to be celebrating the onset of peace, it has always been tempting for a dictator like Mussolini or Saddam Hussein to exploit this by seizing territory, leaving it to the rest of the world to “initiate a war” by resisting. Clausewitz captured the entire problem by his memorable observation that “the aggressor is always peace-loving.”19

This has always been the paradox of collective security. If the world is committed to peace, to the resolution of disputes without warfare, it must be ready to go to war to punish anyone who uses force to take over territory. If no one resists violently—if the Kuwaitis had submitted to aggression just as the Czechs submitted to the Germans in 1939—the intuitions of the rest of the world may be that there is as yet no war, and there may therefore be a great reluctance to go to war in defense of the status quo ante.20

The failure of the League of Nations illustrated this problem very well. A happier result was achieved in the response of the senior President Bush, in organizing a coalition to expel the Iraqis from Kuwait, which for the moment established the international community as being resolute in defense of collective security. No similarly blatant aggressions occurred in the remainder of the 20th century. The coalition response in Desert Storm had illustrated

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that the United States and other democracies were—and must remain—ready to fight ordinary wars to reinforce the peace.

Aside from naked aggression, a parallel and perhaps greater threat stemmed from the spread of capabilities for using weapons of mass destruction—nuclear, chemical, or biological—with the inherent risks of extremely deadly attacks on the United States then being illustrated by the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington on 11 September 2001. The risk that terrorists or dictatorial regimes might launch such attacks in the future, using much more destructive weapons, suggested that preemptions and preventive wars might be required to head this off.

These threats per se are not so closely related to demographic trends, albeit that the poverty produced by burgeoning populations may motivate some terrorists, and may embolden some dictators to attempt aggressions. But the threats certainly suggest that the optimism at the end of the Cold War about a reduced need for armed forces may have been premature.

There were times when liberal critics of Pentagon policy mocked the postulated requirement for an ability to fight “two and a half wars.” But one did not have to assume any explicit collusion between North Korea and Iran or Iraq to note that any smaller state will watch to see whether a larger power like the United States has gotten its existing forces tied down in a conflict with one of the other smaller states, and then will feel free to renege on the commitments it had earlier made. This is nothing more than the operation of the classic balance-of-power mechanism, and it was the calculation by which Great Britain had earlier seen a need to have a navy as large as the next two navies combined.

As the United States in 2003 and 2004 had major forces deployed in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and faced risks of a new confrontation with North Korea as Pyongyang was reaching for nuclear weapons, together with demands for peacekeeping operations in Liberia and elsewhere, members of Congress and others voiced the opinion that the United States military had been allowed to become too small. If the net of all the political considerations in play come to dictate that the militaries of the United States and its NATO al-

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lies have to grow again in size, an additional recruitment burden will be added to the problems already generated by demographic trends.21

If the United States thus elects to accept worldwide responsibilities, as Britain did in the 19th century, it will have to maintain larger forces, and recruit more people into these forces. When the domestic American economy is doing poorly, this recruitment is normally easier to accomplish. When the economy is functioning well, such recruitment becomes more difficult. And, most centrally related to the discussion here, when the demographic pool of “military-age” human beings is smaller, as determined by the total births two decades earlier, such recruitment may run into serious problems.

War and Demographic Pressures

If the end of the Cold War caused some people to conclude that war in general would now be less likely, analysts of the continuing growth of the world’s total population, set against possible shortages of basic resources, especially arable land and water, have predicted that we may see wars breaking out simply because there are not enough resources to nourish all the people who have been born.22 The trends of demography here would thus not only suggest some diminished capacity for the recruitment of the armed forces of the advanced industrialized countries; demography also would project an increased need for such recruitment, as the United States or some of the other richer democracies would, for selfish reasons as well as for more altruistic ones, want to use force to limit or terminate such wars.

There are many reasons why war may occur less often in the future (and of course why it should occur less often), but demographic pressures amount to an explanation of why it may also increase in frequency—for example, when nations come to quarrel about who is building a dam that limits another’s access to water, etc. The same demographic trends which predict that the underdeveloped world will suffer poverty also predict that poorer countries will see a very large cohort of population under the age of 18, generating a great number of young people who may be generally unemployable, because of a lack of education or a lack of economic development to generate jobs—unemployable except perhaps as the teen-aged soldiers of the various warlords that we now so often see in Africa.23

And the same demographic pressures that produce underage soldiers proficient at using machine guns with little reluctance will, in other societies, produce terrorists and suicide bombers. There will be other explanations, of course, for why young people elect to kill others and to kill themselves, but demographic trends explain a portion of the poverty and bitterness that motivates such individuals, and these trends project with certainty that there will be many more of them.24

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To the extent that the United States military (and the defense establishments of the other democracies) must be sized to take into account the threats of terrorism and of “failed states,” we have one more argument for why more American military recruitment will be needed.

The demographic projections for the underdeveloped world foresee not only a relative surplus of young people, but a surplus of young men, because of widespread patterns of female infanticide, and new patterns of selective abortion based on advance knowledge of the gender of the fetus.25 Agricultural practices which rely on the labor of sons get mixed with the long-standing cultural traditions whereby daughters upon marriage go to live with their husband’s parents, and work to take care of them in their old age—all of which makes, in many societies, daughters less desirable.    

The demographic inevitability here is that there will be a significant number of young men unable to find spouses and female partners, with some psychological theories suggesting that this is likely to increase their inclination to violence and crime, or their parallel willingness to be warriors, either in an established army or in some warlord’s private army. One does not have to go very far into theories linking testosterone to the likelihood of war in the future.26 Suffice it to project that there will indeed be a major imbalance in much of the world toward young people’s lacking access to education and employment, and a similar imbalance where significantly more than half these people will be male.

As one tries to predict whether there will be “failed states” and “wars about resources” around the globe, thus increasing the burdens of the armed forces of the United States and the other advanced democracies, the demographic indicators related to these predictions are alarming.

Some Conclusions

There are many important arguments in favor of the All-Volunteer Force system, and for other current personnel practices of the United States military. Yet distinct possibilities loom that trends in demography, some of which are inexorable, will very much stress current US recruiting and retention practices.

Some of the military problem for the future (indeed the very likelihood of there being wars and a “military problem”) remain very difficult to predict. What the demographic trends predict should not come as so much of a surprise, but there is a risk that such demographic projections will not be taken seriously, and will simply be lumped in with all the rest of what is less predictable. What the demographic trends realistically portend may indeed include some of the radical changes in recruitment and retention practices outlined above.

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NOTES

1. On these trends toward a “graying” population, see Peter Peterson, “Gray Dawn: The Global Aging Crisis,” Foreign Affairs, 78 (January/February 1999), 42-55.

2. An overview of evolving career and retirement patterns in the US military can be found in David R. Segal, Recruiting for Uncle Sam (Lawrence: Univ. of Kansas Press, 1989).

3. On the general pressure to delay retirement, see Nicholas Eberstadt, “The Population Implosion,” Foreign Policy, No. 123 (March/April 2001), pp. 42-53, and Peterson.

4. The broad impact of the military technological revolution is discussed in Michael Mazarr, The Military Technological Revolution: A Structural Framework (Washington: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1993).

5. See Martin Binkin and Shirley Bach, Women and the Military (Washington: Brookings, 1977).

6. Some of the issues on female military service are analyzed in Leora N. Rosen et al., “Gender Composition and Group Cohesion in US Army Units: A Comparison Across Five Studies,” Armed Forces and Society, 25 (Spring 1999), 365-86.

7. See Volker C. Franke, “Warriors for Peace: The Next Generation of U.S. Military Leaders,” Armed Forces and Society, 24 (Spring 1999), for an analysis where this might become the primary role of the American military.

8. See Swanee Hunt and Christina Posa, “Women Waging Peace,” Foreign Policy, No. 124 (May/June 2001), pp. 38-49, for some suggestions of women actually having the advantage here.

9. The American need for immigration is analyzed in Demetrios Papademetriou, “Think Again: Migration,” Foreign Policy, No. 109 (Winter 1997-1998), pp. 15-31.

10. The current role of the Foreign Legion is discussed in Douglas Porch, The French Foreign Legion (New York: Harper Collins, 1991).

11. This Civil War experience is recounted in William L. Burton, Melting Pot Soldiers: The Union’s Ethnic Regiments (Ames: Iowa State Univ. Press, 1988).

12. On some grievances produced by the “brain-drain,” see Carlos E. Cortes, ed., The Latin American Brain Drain to the United States (New York: Arno Press, 1980).

13. Edward Luttwak, “Where Are the Great Powers?” Foreign Affairs, 73 (July/August 1994), 23-29.

14. For contending readings of the American aversion to casualties, see Steven Kull, “What the Public Knows that Washington Doesn’t,” Foreign Policy, No. 101 (Winter 1995-96), pp. 102-15; and Jeremy D. Rosner, “The Know-Nothings Know Something,” Foreign Policy, No. 101 (Winter 1995-96), pp. 116-29.

15. Powerful expressions of the libertarian argument here can be found in the chapters by Walter Oi and Bruce Chapman in National Service: Pro and Con, ed. Williamson M. Evers (Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1990), pp. 81-103, 133-44.

16. See Charles Moskos, A Call to Civic Service: National Service for Country and Community (New York: Free Press, 1988), and Charles Moskos, “What Ails the All-Volunteer Force: An Institutional Perspective,” Parameters, 31 (Summer 2001), 29-47. See also E. J. Dionne et al., eds., United We Serve: National Service and the Future of Citizenship (Washington: Brookings, 2003).

17. On German and French practices, see Roger Landrum, “National Service in West Germany and France,” in National Service, ed. Michael W. Sherraden and Donald J. Eberly (New York: Pergamon, 1982), pp. 71-82.

18. A discussion of concerns about defending the borders against massive waves of immigration can be found in James C. Clad, “Slowing the Wave,” Foreign Policy, No. 95 (Summer 1994), pp. 139-50.

19. Carl Von Clausewitz, On War, ed. and trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 1976), p. 370.

20. On the general difficulties of maintaining a “collective security” system, see Richard K. Betts, “Systems for Peace or Causes of War?” International Security, 17 (Summer 1992), 5-43.

21. On the possible need for conscription, see Charles B. Rangel, “Bringing Back the Draft,” and John Lehman, “Degraded Into a Trade,” in Dionne et al., pp. 136-37 and 141-43. See also Douglas Bandow, “Feeling a Draft,” The American Conservative, 3 (February 2003), 16-20.

22. Such pessimistic predictions are sorted in John Orme, “The Utility of Force in a World of Scarcity,” International Security, 22 (Winter 1997-1998), 138-67.

23. On the problem of warlord armies staffed by underage soldiers, see William Reno, Warlord Politics and African States (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1998).

24. Some population-growth projections for the less-developed world are presented in United Nations Population Division, World Population Ageing 1950-2050 (New York: United Nations, 2002). See also Myron Weiner, “A Security Perspective on International Migration,” The Fletcher Forum on International Affairs, 28 (Summer 1998), 17-34.

25. On the pattern producing too few female children, see Valerie M. Hudson and Andrea den Boer, “A Surplus of Men, A Deficit of Peace,” International Security, 26 (Spring 2002), 5-28.

26. Some of such theories are noted, ibid., pp. 11-15.


Dr. George H. Quester is Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland. A graduate of Columbia College, he holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University. He previously taught at Cornell and Harvard Universities, at UCLA, in the Department of Military Strategy at the National War College, and as the John M. Olin Visiting Professor at the US Naval Academy. Professor Quester has written or edited numerous books, including Nuclear Monopoly and Before and After the Cold War: Using Past Forecasts to Predict the Future.


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Reviewed 17 February 2005. Please send comments or corrections to usarmy.carlisle.awc.mbx.parameters@mail.mil