I Want You! The Evolution of the All-Volunteer Army
The President’s Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Force – the Gates Commission – and Selective Service Reform (1969-1970)
The Gates Commission Reports to the President
On February 21, 1970, the Gates Commission forwarded its recommendation to end conscription to President Nixon. The commission unanimously found the cost of an all-volunteer force was “a necessary price of defending our peace and security [and that conscription was] . . . intolerable when there is an alternative consistent with our basic national values” (Gates, 1970, p. 106.7 MB). The commission made three recommendations to the President for implementing an all-volunteer force: (1) raise military pay, (2) improve the conditions of military service and recruiting, and (3) establish a standby draft system by June 30, 1971.
With Kissinger’s backing, Anderson suggested the President meet with the commission to formally receive the final report in person, since “members of the Commission, most of them of great distinction, can be extremely helpful — if they are properly motivated” (Anderson, 1970c0.2 MB).45 On February 21, 1970, the President met with the commissioners in the Cabinet Room (Figure 4.1).46 Anderson recalled that the President spent 90 minutes with the commissioners rather than the planned 30 minutes:
While . . . [he] did not commit himself to my specific recommendations . . . he did express enthusiasm and sympathy for an all-volunteer force, making the point that even a reformed draft is unfair, i.e. some go, some do not go. (Anderson, 1970h0.3 MB)
Following the meeting with the President, the White House Press Office released a summary of the Presidential commission’s report on an all-volunteer armed force (White House Press Secretary, 1970c0.2 MB).47 The commission had designed, and the White House had agreed to, a public-relations campaign that included a private printing of the report by the Macmillan Company, with an initial press run of 100,000 in paperback and 5,000 to 7,000 in hardback, with distribution of the paperback copies starting on March 6, 1970 (Callard, 1970b).48