No, Conscription will not help.
Some people write comments just to make others annoyed, others cannot see the other side’s arguments. Sometimes whenever I browse through various videos I come across a comment or two that makes me raise an eyebrow: “conscription should come back.” These sort of comments are almost in line with: “oh you can’t beat your kid anymore so society is SOL,” or “oh they don’t make em like they used to.” Really now, is forcing people to fight a solution to the military’s manpower shortage? Clearly these folks have never heard of press gangs in the 17th to 19th centuries where they just rounded up children and drunks and forced them to fight in the army that assigned them to press gang people – sounds like conscription, does it not?
Military life is hard, and it won’t get any easier unless you strip away everything except for drill and weapons handling (even tossing out fitness tests in the process). Soldiers must be motivated to fight, and in professional armies people sign up to fight rather than being told by lottery number or some government-planned scheme: “hey, you need to fight now – get used to it.” When you make it mandatory for all to sign up, you are going to be dealing with poor morale, disinterested recruits, and your trainers will turn into babysitters who have to deal with people who just don’t want to be there, but unlike professional armies where you can discharge them you have to keep them there for however many years they have to serve according to law.
Then there are unpopular wars and protests; people dislike something, they will say something (well, in a society where the government doesn’t shoot their own people that is). Remember Vietnam, Algeria, and so on where conscript armies were sent in to fight unpopular wars? Sure you do, pop culture will never let us forget those conflicts nor allow us to ignore it even if we wanted to; unpopular wars coupled with unmotivated recruits equals high casualty rates. Now if you are about to say: “they will stop dying when they take it seriously,” just remember that uprisings and overthrows can happen – how bloody they get will depend on how cooperative the government is in working with the public’s demands.
Finally, a professional army will always spend their time in professional development; conscripts on the other hand could end up painting rocks like in the old days when there were no tasks to complete. Sure they may work on their soldier skills, but will they take it seriously especially when the vast majority of them are interested in looking for better paying work outside of the armed forces? Non-commissioned officers are also wasted as they become taskmasters who supervise work groups rather than do what professional NCOs do – develop their skills and improve their effectiveness on the battlefield.
Arm-chair generals need to calm down; like the situation with RTS games and the belief that totalitarian governments work, conscription may only work on paper, but when you force a body of people to fight an unpopular war (or fight in general) you will have to live with a poor quality military that is a huge drain on the national budget, and a population that is increasingly unproductive due to a lack of economic growth thanks to unavailable workers which then translates to businesses moving abroad which leads to workers unemployed when they finish their obligations because they were unavailable to begin with – from there it goes further down hill because your military has no money from the economy to pay for it. The economic value of the worker is lost because the jobs aren’t there or they were injured and cannot work – throwing them aside in order to save money will only increase the unpopularity of your conscription scheme.
Try training a single Terran Marine with no minerals – you’ll eat a Zerg rush sooner than you will win the match.
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