January 25, 2024

The Ukraine war and the myth of a permanent all-volunteer force

When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, many heralded a new era of warfare. Short wars waged by small professional forces seemed to be the way of the future. Authoritarian actors, it was argued, could use the Crimean fait accompli as a blueprint to undermine Western military dominance by disguising aggression and denying the United States time to respond. Nine years later, Russia’s war with Ukraine has exposed the flaws in this prediction. A Crimea-style “special military operation” designed to swallow up all of Ukraine in one swift action has devolved into a slog with no end in sight and hundreds of thousands of lives lost.

Washington needs to stop thinking of conscription as a relic of the past and the SSS as a vestigial government body.

As the two countries scramble to fill their depleted ranks, it has become painfully clear how unprepared both sides were for a lengthy conflict. In Ukraine, stories abound of recruiters raiding gyms and shopping centers to drum up recruits. Many men who were officially disqualified from service are now being drafted while healthy men flee the country or bribe officials to escape service. Some videos have even surfaced online allegedly showing Ukrainian recruiters physically stuffing men into vans bound for recruitment offices. Such desperation is a far cry from the beginning of the war when Ukrainian men flooded into recruitment stations to serve their country.

Read the full article from Stars and Stripes.

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