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Mershon Center for International Security Studies

Richard Herrmann

When the United States ended the draft and moved to an all-volunteer military in 1973, most political and military leaders assumed that the nation would reactivate the draft in the event of another major war. Instead, the U.S. fought long and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with an all-volunteer force.

How well has this military model worked, and will it work in the future? Is it fair, efficient and sustainable?

On March 29, the Mershon Center for International Security Studies will host a symposium exploring these questions with input from national policymakers, military officers and academic experts. Students attending the conference will be asked to break into working groups to discuss the issues raised and generate solutions, which they will present to a panel of experts.

Rick Herrmann, Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Political Science, sheds some light on some of the pressing topics that will be discussed at the event.

>> Read more and register at go.osu.edu/FutureofAVF

Why did the U.S. move to an all-volunteer force?
The U.S. abandoned the draft in 1973 due to the mounting unpopularity of the Vietnam War, moral and economic objections, a lessening demand for manpower and a general desire for change.

When did the idea of conscription first originate?
The idea of a nation state, where people from the society fight for the country, is a relatively modern idea and it really comes from the French Revolution and Napoleon’s success of selling the idea of a French nation. The troops he was able to mobilize in France around the ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity — they fought harder. They seemed to have more motivation than the armies of other regimes that were still fighting for kings, emperors and tsars. The people who founded democracies believed there should be a close connection between citizens and the common defense.

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Sangbeom Yoo

The Mershon Center has a new visiting scholar starting in January 2018: Sangbeom Yoo, associate professor in the Department of Security Policy and director of the Office of Research Planning at the Research Institute for National Security Affairs at Korean National Defense University.

Sangbeom Yoo is author most recently of "The Trump Administration’s Foreign Policy toward the Asia Pacific Region" (RINSA Forum, 2017); "The Pattern of North Korea's Local Military Provocations" (Korean Journal of International Studies, 2017); and Prediction of Three Major Security Threats on the Korean Peninsula 2017 (co-authored) (RINSA, 2016).

During his time at the Mershon Center, Sangbeom Yoo will conduct research for "Threat Perception and Alliance Robustness," which is about how the degree of people's perception toward threat is related to the perception of the alliance coherence. He will also work on his book project on the concept of dilemma -- for example, security, prisoner, or rebel dilemma -- and types of solutions.

Sangbeom Yoo has a bachelor's in chemistry from Korea Military Academy (1994), a master's in international relations from Korea National Defense University (2005), and a doctorate in political science from State University of New York at Binghamton (2012).

Each year, the Mershon Center for International Security Studies holds a competition for Ohio State faculty and students to apply for research grants and scholarship funds.

Research Grants

Applications for Faculty Research and Seed Grants and Graduate Student Research Grants must be for projects related to the study of national security in a global context. We are also interested in projects that emphasize the role of peace-building and development; strengthen the global gateways in China, India and Brazil; relate to campus area studies centers and institutes; or address the university's Discovery Themes of health and wellness, energy and the environment, food production and security, and the humanities and arts.

In recent years the center has funded several dozen faculty and graduate student research projects with grants for travel, seminars, conferences, interviews, experiments, surveys, library costs, and more. To learn more about the types of projects funded, please see faculty project summaries on the Mershon Center website under Research and graduate project summaries in past Annual Reports.

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GelpiC hires

Christopher F. Gelpi, professor in the Department of Political Science, has been named director of the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at The Ohio State University effective Jan. 1, 2018, to June 30, 2022.

The mission of the Mershon Center is to advance the understanding of national security in a global context. The center was founded in 1967 as the fulfillment of a bequest by Ohio State alumnus Col. Ralph D. Mershon for the civilian study of national security.

The Mershon Center encourages interdisciplinary faculty and student research and organizes speaking events, conferences and symposia in three primary areas:

  • The use of force and diplomacy
  • The ideas, identities and decisional processes that affect security
  • The institutions that manage violent conflict.

“I am so pleased and honored to be able to serve as the next director of the Mershon Center for International Security Studies,” said Gelpi, whose primary research interests include the sources of international military conflict, strategies for conflict resolution and American public opinion on foreign policy issues.

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