Which citizens have fought America's wars? Which ones should fight in the future, and how should they be recruited? Should military or other national service be an obligation for every citizen? David Segal's probing look at the complex issues behind these questions tells us much about the changing manpower needs of our armed forces and about the evolution of civil-military relations in the United States.
Segal analyzes the mobilization, contributions, and limitations of drafted, reservist, and volunteer forces from the early days of the republic to the present. In the process, he shows how Americans have come to separate the benefits of citizenship from service to their country. Symptomatic of this separation is the current reliance on an all-volunteer military, a system that treats military service more as an occupation and opportunity for self-advancement than as a civic duty and obligation.
Drawing on a vast interdisciplinary literature in American history, sociology, political science, and economics, Segal illuminates the ways demographics, weapons technology, international relations, scientific management, and social policies have all affected the composition of America's armed forces. He also shows how the military anticipated and expanded the American welfare system and played a pivotal role in creating better opportunities for minorities and women.
The capabilities and performance of U.S. armed forces in future conflicts will depend on a thorough understanding of and informed response to the crucial manpower issues Segal discusses. His thoughtful study should be required reading for military professionals and policymakers and will be of interest to anyone concerned about the future of this country's armed forces.
"The most important book on the American armed forces in recent years, brilliantly documented and powerfully presented."--Charles Moskos, author of A Call to Civic Service
"The definitive overview of U.S. military manpower history."--Military Review
"The subject is covered in minute detail, starting with a comprehensive review of pertinent American history and concluding with a marshaling of arguments on all sides of such issues as voluntarism vs. conscription, forces-in-being vs. mobilization, social-welfare vs. military readiness, and big wars vs. small. Just when you think the author cannot possibly tackle another aspect, he does so with crystal-clear logic, seriousness tempered with gentle humor, and graceful prose. Most remarkable is his mastery of the strategic considerations which rightly underlie the design and manning of forces. In an area where muddled thinking is not uncommon, this book is a beacon of sound thought."--Parameters
"A clear, concise review of the history and current condition of a major public question-how people are induced to serve and risk their lives for the nation."--John Shy, author of A People Numerous and Armed
"Policymakers will find much to debate in Segal's controversial suggestions for the future of the U.S. military."--American Journal of Sociology
"Required reading for those involved in the policy debate and decision making."--Choice
"A major contribution, and quite timely given the nature of world affairs today."--John Sibley Butler, author of Inequality in the Military: The Black Experience
DAVID R. SEGAL, professor of sociology and of government and politics at the University of Maryland, is coeditor of Life in the Rank and File and The Social Psychology of Military Service and coauthor of The All-Volunteer Force.