Peace Time: January 16, 2001


In the next two years, for the first time in two hundred years, there will be no conscription in Western Europe. Britain went all volunteer in 1962. But the rest of Europe waited for the end of the Cold War. Belgium and the Netherlands dropped the draft in 1991. France, Spain and Italy will phase it out in 2002, and Germany is about to do the same. The draft died because smaller forces of better trained professionals are more effective. Moreover, nations no longer maintain the huge "reserve armies." These forces had equipment for many more divisions than were on active duty, with the reserve divisions staffed with reserve soldiers. These troops were trained during their two or three years of active service, then served in the reserves for the next twenty or so years. There is no longer any need for the large reserve armies, and they are too expensive with all the high tech weapons used today. Without the reserve divisions to fill, there was no need to draft everyone who was eligible. Drafting only a portion of the available men was very unpopular, for those who were taken resented those who stayed at home. Conscription and the modern mass armies they produced is only two centuries old. The World Wars were fought with conscript armies, and that is one event few would want to repeat. 


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