Serving ones country is generally considered an honor. From putting your life on the line to understanding the necessary sacrifice that is behind the general freedoms people enjoy, military service can be very positive. In addition, it can help people build job skills and set a path for later in life. However, military service can also lead to being injured, and carrying the scars of war for years onward.
With all of this in mind, lets take a moment to consider mandatory military service. Unlike the United States who has a volunteer force, mandatory military service means that every citizen of the country has to participate in the military. There are several examples of countries that do this, including Israel and Switzerland. Lets take a moment to examine the pros and cons of such a system.
The Pros of Mandatory Military Service
1. Fosters National Unity
Mandatory military service is an excellent way to foster national unity. First, there is the shared experience of every citizen having served in the military. There is a general understand of what this life is like, what is required, and what has to be done. These shared experiences can bring people together and allow them to make difficult choices in a way that is not seen with volunteer armies. With smaller countries, a mandatory military service can be the perfect way to ensure a national unity and pride when dealing with the cultural and political influences of larger nations.
2. Can Provide Useful Skills
The military can teach individuals a number of useful skills that can stay with them well past military service. These skills can range from having a better grasp at particular tasks to having the right mindset to get things done when there is a problem. With the experiences learned while going through mandatory military service, individuals can figure out what the like doing, and what they hate doing. Unlike with volunteer service countries like the United States, mandatory military service can direct people towards the carrier path they most want to pursue.
3. Can Maintain Active Military Force
Having mandatory military service means constantly having an active military presence capable of responding to threats quickly and effectively. While a volunteer force may have to be mobilized in order to be effective, a mandatory military service requirement means that the infrastructure is in place to quickly mobilize troops.
4. Ensures High Levels of Governmental Participation
With every person participating in the military, a broader conversation regarding the government is created. Service means risk as well as understanding the threats that face a country. With every person going through military service, these risks become central to how people approach problems and the role of their government. With mandatory military service, citizens have a greater voice in the role their government plays because of their sacrifice.
The Cons of Mandatory Military Service
1. Not Everyone Is Cut Out For Military Service
Simply put, not every person is in the right place to join and serve in the military. Whether still developing mentally or are currently suffering from anxiety, depression, or several other medical/physical conditions, mandatory military service may be the worst possible thing. In addition, serving in the military and potentially killing is something that every person struggles with in their own way. While some can easily kill others without serious emotional repercussions, others suffer. This increases the risk of suicide as well as drug experimentation, destroying potential before it ever has a chance to shine and ultimately hurting the nation as a result.
2. Interferes With Other Forms Of Education
Some professions require a great deal of education in order to be successful at. With mandatory military service, this training will start later in life, leading people to be older before they go about their profession. What is missed is potential earnings as well as being able to grow and advance in the field.
3. Puts The Lives Of Young People At Risk
Though we do not like to think about it, military service means the potential for losing soldiers. Mandatory military service, which normally targets young people, puts the next generation at risk of death and serious harm.
Where Does This Leave Us?
Mandatory military service has its advantages. Along with fostering a greater sense of national unity and participation in the government, mandatory military service can also provide individuals with the skill sets they require to better function later in life. At the same time, making military service mandatory means putting the next generation of young individuals at risk. In addition, not every person who goes into the military thanks to mandatory military service will make a good soldier, or will come out of the experience without serious emotional harm. Finally, there is the risk of permanent injury and death.