Temple historian looks at All-Volunteer Army

December 7, 2009

With President Barack Obama recently announcing his new blueprint for the war in Afghanistan, which includes an increase of up to 30,000 U.S. troops, it can be easy to take for granted that those troops come from an all-volunteer force.

Temple historian Beth Bailey says that the Army has changed quite a bit since the draft ended 37 years ago and as a result so have we. According to Bailey, the move to the all-volunteer force meant that the Army — more so than other institutions — has had to directly confront the legacies of the social change movements of the 1960’s.

“Without a draft, the Army had to cope with market forces,” she said. “It had to expand its definition of who could be soldiers, and it had to convince people to join.”

In her book, “America’s Army: Making the All-Volunteer Force,” Bailey analyzes the sophisticated advertising campaigns the Army employed to portray service as an opportunity. She also notes that the extended war in Iraq highlights unforeseen demographic changes brought by an all-volunteer force. She says that few anticipated that the shift to volunteer status would produce a family-oriented army.

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– Kim Fischer

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