Citizen Soldiers. While the United States has a fine military tradition, it does not have a military social class as in some other countries. Through most of its history, the United States maintained a very small army. During wars and national emergencies the country occasionally instituted the “draft” (conscription) in which men would be legally required to enter the various branches of the armed services. The draft remained in effect after the end of the Second World War, through the relatively peaceful 1950’s, then through the Vietnam War. The draft and the Vietnam War became so unpopular that, after the United States pulled out of Vietnam in 1975, conscription was abolished. Today, just in case, young men turning 18 must still register for the draft, but no one is forced to jojn the military.
The Volunteer Armed Forces. Today, all the American armed services are manned on an entirely volunteer basis. The military uses various means, including television commercials, print advertisements, and visits to high schools and college campuses, to attract recruits, both male and female. Many young people join the military to take advantage of educational and job training opportunities, while others join out of a strong desire to serve their country. Today’s American military is composed of highly trained professionals who are prepared to fight the high technology wars of the 21st century.
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