| Tuesday, December 2, 2008 - 06:45 pm |
Here are the quotes I mentioned in our PM conversation regarding the merits of volunteer forces as opposed to compulsory service.
The discipline enforced by firing squad or pistol is inferior to that accepted, self-imposed discipline which characterizes good soldiers. Regulations designed to keep dull-witted conscripts together on the shoulder-to-shoulder battlefields of the blackpowder era are inappropriate in an age when weapons and tactics demand dispersion on the battlefield, and when the initiative may be more important than blind obedience. In the last analysis, fighting spirit centers on the morale of the individual soldier and the small group of comrades with whom he fights.
-John Keegan and Richard Holmes; Soldiers
If I learned nothing else from war, it taught me the falseness of the belief that wealth, material resources, and industrial genius are the real sources of a nation's military power. These things are but the stage setting: those who manage them but the stage crew.
The play's the thing. Finally, every action large or small is decided by what happens there on the line where men take the final chance of life or death. And so in the final and greatest reality, that national strength lies only in the hearts and spirits of men.
-SLA Marshall;Men Against Fire:The Problem of Battle Command
There is a paradox in the study of individual military merit inasmuch as people believe that the fundamental strength of soldiers is derived from the mutual dependence of comradeship and its assurance of never being left to fight alone. This is superficially true, but only in the sense that the strength of mutual dependence is an end product itself. Nothing can be derived from mutual support among a group of nothings. The man in the unit who has nothing within himself of any positive value is at best a vacant file. Unit strength is built of individual strength in positive quantities, however small. The approbation of his companions in arms is the greatest reward of a soldier's life. He never wins it by relying wholly on the efforts of others to assure his survival. In battle, when a man is not acting by reflex and retains a moment of introspection, the sensation of aloneness is most vivid. It is not right or left or backward that he looks for strength of survival, but within himself.
He is lost if there is nothing there of substance.
-Joseph Maxwell Cameron; The Anatomy of Military Merit
While draftees have served honorably and, on occasion, heroically, as national policy, the superiority of volunteer soldiers has been historically validated.