Expert: US Military Must Consider Conscription to Counter China’s Threat

One expert contends that the U.S. military, relying on its current all-volunteer force, would be unable to secure victory in a conflict against China.

In order to effectively address the evolving threat landscape, the United States must dramatically reshape its force structure.

It must do this to the extent of reintroducing conscription, according to Jonathan Askonas, an assistant professor of Politics at the Catholic University of America.

Military Analyst Describes “Goldilocks Problem” with Current Force Structure

Describing the situation as a “five-alarm fire,” Askonas expressed his concerns during an April 11 discussion with the Hudson Institute think tank, stating, “We’re confronting global menaces and our existing force structure is ill-suited to counteract those threats.”

“With the all-volunteer force, we are essentially incapable of engaging in a conflict larger than Iraq,” Askonas asserted.

Since 1973, the all-volunteer force has been a cornerstone of U.S. military organization, introduced following the cessation of the draft and the country’s direct participation in the Vietnam War.

Regrettably, Askonas emphasized that the all-volunteer force has demonstrated its inability to produce the necessary number of service members for a large-scale conflict between major powers.

Additionally, its cumbersome logistical processes would likely falter in situations such as a confrontation with China in the Indo-Pacific region or aiding European nations against Russia.

Askonas described the situation as a “Goldilocks problem,” explaining, “Our army is too small in its current form to effectively wage war against these countries; yet, it’s large enough to drain significant resources.”

He emphasized the need for ruthlessness, stating, “We must adapt our force structure to address the actual threats we face, rather than hypothetical ones or through a universal Swiss army knife approach.”

Military Expert Suggests Adoption of “Cadre” System for Deployment

Askonas suggested the military re-adopt a “cadre” system for deployment, similar to that employed during World War II.

Under this system, the number of resource-intensive full-time service members would be reduced during peacetime, allowing for investment in costly, slow-to-produce assets like warships.

In times of war, officers from this smaller, elite fighting force would serve in cadres designed for distribution among drafted units, providing training and leadership.

This approach would enhance the nation’s capacity to rapidly mobilize manpower for frontline deployment.

Such surge capabilities would prove invaluable in a conflict with China, whose military personnel nearly doubles that of the United States.

While U.S. leadership might be hesitant to abandon the all-volunteer force in the near future, Askonas expressed confidence that the force could successfully implement these changes.