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Mershon Center for International Security Studies

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Conference
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The Future of the All Volunteer Force and Democracy in America
Thursday, March 29, 2018, 08:30am - 05:00pm
Mershon Center for International Security Studies
1501 Neil Avenue, Room 120
Columbus, Ohio 43201

Watch Session I of the conference here

Watch Session II of the conference here

Watch Session III of the conference here

Watch Session IV of the conference here

Register here for this event

Organizers

Retired Maj. Gen. Dennis Laich, AVF Forum
Richard Herrmann, Political Science, The Ohio State University
Trevor Brown, John Glenn College of Public Affairs, The Ohio State University

Conference Statement

When the United States ended the draft and moved to an all-volunteer military in 1973, most political and military leaders assumed that if the United States again fought a major, long-lasting war, the nation would reactivate the draft. But that didn't happen: The United States fought the long and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with an all-volunteer force (AVF), even as some service members were deployed for three and even four tours of duty.

In the wake of these wars, it is appropriate and useful to discuss the state of America's AVF. How well has it worked? Will it work in the future? Is it fair, efficient, and sustainable?

This conference is part of a series of national events examining the all-volunteer force and democracy in America. In April 2016, the Center for the Study of the U.S. Military at the University of Kansas in collaboration with the AVF Forum hosted the first symposium on the AVF. Military experts, scholars and former defense department personnel debated and discussed the key questions associated with the AVF. A second forum was held at the College of William & Mary in April 2017.

Continuing this dialogue is the third such symposium sponsored by the Mershon Center for International Security Studies and John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University along with the AVF Forum. This event brings together key national policymakers, former government officials, active duty military officers, and academic experts to shed light on important issues regarding the all-volunteer force.

The symposium features well-known scholars and commentators on military affairs including Beth Bailey, University of Kansas;Lt. Col. Michael Young, U.S. Air Force; Francis X. Shen, University of Minnesota; Retired Col. Larry Wilkerson, College of William and Mary; and Lawrence Korb, Center for American Progress. The keynote address will be given by Andrew Bacevich, Professor Emeritus of International Relations and History, Boston University.

Students can participate in the symposium through a series of working groups that will meet in the afternoon to discuss important issues regarding the all-volunteer force, then report their findings to the larger group.

Conference Schedule

8:30–8:35 a.m.: Welcome

Richard Herrmann, Chair, Department of Political Science, The Ohio State University

8:35–9:10 a.m.: History of the AVF

Beth Bailey, Director, Center for Military, War, and Society Studies, University of Kansas

  • Why did we adopt the AVF? Are those reasons still relevant today?

9:10–9:45 a.m.: The AVF: Status and Prospects

Retired Maj. Gen. Dennis Laich, AVF Forum

  • How is the AVF faring across key measures? Effectiveness and Efficiency
  • What problems does it face it terms of sustainability?
    • long-term economic consequences
    • medium to long-term ability to deploy forces

9:45–10:20 a.m.: The Casualty Gap

Francis X. Shen, McKnight Land-Grant Professor of Law, University of Minnesota

  • The Casualty Gap and fairness

10:20–10:30 a.m.: Break

10:30 a.m.–12 p.m.: Panel: The AVF and Civilian-Military Differences
What are common military perceptions and attitudes about civilian life, government leaders, and the state of affairs in the country (e.g. trust in institutions)?

Retired Lt. Col. Michael Young, U.S. Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick Air Force Base

  • What are common civilian perceptions of the military, government leaders, and the state of affairs in the country (e.g. trust in institutions)?

Richard Herrmann, Chair, Department of Political Science, The Ohio State University

  • How does the AVF affect the health of democracy?
  • Are the differences in beliefs, experiences, and national service detrimental to democracy?

Michael Neblo, Professor of Political Science, The Ohio State University

  • What should the expectations of public responsibly be in a well-functioning democracy?
  • What sort of obligations and shared sacrifice should be expected in the American democracy?
  • What role should the military play in the training, socialization, and mobilization of young people in the country?

Moderator: Christopher Gelpi, Director, Mershon Center for International Security Studies, The Ohio State University

12–12:30 p.m.: Lunch Break

12:30–1:45 p.m.: Keynote Address

Andrew Bacevich, Professor Emeritus of International Relations and History, Boston University

  • What are the implications for both what leaders can commit the country to and what the country can achieve?
  • Does it lead to alignment between presidential decisions to act and capability to act or to misalignment?

1:45–3:15 p.m.: Student Working Groups

  • How should the United States raise its military force in the future? What options are available and what would they look like?
  • How could the AVF be modified or recruitment changed?
  • How could we ramp up the Selective Service System?
  • How might a draft work? 
  • How might a combination of the AVF and private contractors work?

3:30–5 p.m.: What are the military and economic implications of various options for raising the U.S. military?

Retired Col. Larry Wilkerson, Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Government and Public Policy, College of William & Mary

Lawrence J. Korb, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress

Paul Beck, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Social and Behavioral Sciences, The Ohio State University

Moderator: Amy Taylor, John Glenn College of Public Affairs, The Ohio State University

  • What are the foreign policy implications of various options for raising the U.S. military?
  • What are the moral implications and likely affects on democracy of the various options for raising the U.S. military?
  • What are the domestic political prospects of the various options for raising the U.S. military?
  • What steps should be taken to move the country toward a future military force that is able to effectively carry-out the missions the national government assigns to it and is sustainable and fair?

Speakers

Andrew Bacevich, Boston University
Beth Bailey, University of Kansas
Paul Beck, Political Science
Christopher Gelpi, Mershon Center
Richard Hermann, Political Science
Lawrence J. Korb, Center for American Progress
Retired Maj. Gen. Dennis Laich, AVF Forum
Michael Neblo, Political Science
Francis X. Shen, University of Minnesota
Retired Col. Larry Wilkerson, College of William and Mary
Retired Lt. Col. Michael Young, U.S. Air Force

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