Conscription is defined as the compulsory enlistment of the citizens of a country into its national service, most often the military and its ancillaries. Historically, with so many constant wars, most kingdoms used to have compulsory military drafts. The people didn’t even have a choice since most kingdoms were either monarchies or communists and well, the king is the king. However, in the modern world, with advancement in weapon technology and longer peace times, is it advisable to have a compulsory draft?
In today’s world, most countries have done away with conscription. The ones that do have it are mostly war prone countries where they could use every military resource possible, for example, Israel. Needless to say, having a compulsory draft does have its benefits. First of all, it ensures that in an event of war, a large reserve force is ready to be deployed. A very useful thing to have in thinly populated countries.
Another advantage is that it ensures that the less educated people get some time in the service which would provide them access to a skill-set not known to the general public. Additionally, the people would be paid for their services and hence, it would lead to lower unemployment rates. A very apt example would be that of a military nurse who couldn’t afford to go to medical school. This way, after getting discharged from the service, he/she can join any hospital as a civilian nurse.
Finally, last but not the least, having a compulsory military draft inculcates disciplined behaviour among the youth and physically and mentally shapes them up. It would ensure regular physical exercise and a solid fitness regime among the people, which is beneficial to their long term health.
On the other hand, conscription has a lot of arguments working against it as well. The very idea of conscription opposes the concept of free will. Even the UN has declared involuntary servitude of any kind as illegal worldwide. As such, any act of forcing someone to join an intense high risk institution is a clear human rights violation.
The above point also rolls over to the fact that if the conscripts do not have any interest in the service at all, they will tend to be reckless and indifferent. This could seriously be detrimental in a war, and could jeopardize the lives of them as well as their comrades.
Another point to be made here is when there is a compulsory draft, obviously the conscripts would come in swarms. Training such a large number of candidates is a tough job and a country has only so many resources. As such, a large number of unwilling men are being trained using less per capita resources as opposed to training a smaller but more powerful army of willing men using more per capita resources.
Military conscription is a cross-section of the whole cohort of the society. It includes not only the brightest and best of the society, but also the bottom dregs: the weakly talented, the antisocial, the addicts, the unmotivated and the criminals and the bullies. The more heterogeneous the set is, the more likely it is to develop internal problems, disputes and fights within. Hence, much of the energy and resources would be spent to prevent and resolve these internal conflicts.
Modern warfare has evolved a lot in the past 100 years. The military today is no longer about having the highest number of expendable men. It is about better technology, better weapons and better research. As such, highly skilled individuals are required to take the ranks. It is simply not practical to enlist everyone in the army and train them about the modern weaponry. The need for skilled and talented volunteers is more important than ever.
Hence, in conclusion it can be said that while conscription does offer some advantages to the country as a whole, it is largely a bad idea. In the modern world where most governments are democracies and the rights of the individual are more important than ever, conscription cannot exist without having a serious backlash from the public. However, a compulsory basic military training for the youth to ensure physical fitness and discipline is not a bad idea.
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