Cover: I Want You!

I Want You!

The Evolution of the All-Volunteer Force

Published Jul 17, 2006

by Bernard D. Rostker


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As U.S. military forces appear overcommitted and some ponder a possible return to the draft, the timing is ideal for a review of how the American military transformed itself over the past five decades, from a poorly disciplined force of conscripts and draft-motivated “volunteers” to a force of professionals revered throughout the world. Starting in the early 1960s, this account runs through the current war in Iraq, with alternating chapters on the history of the all-volunteer force and the analytic background that supported decisionmaking. The author participated as an analyst and government policymaker in many of the events covered in this book. His insider status and access offer a behind-the-scenes look at decisionmaking within the Pentagon and White House. The book includes a foreword by former Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird. The accompanying DVD contains more than 1,700 primary-source documents — government memoranda, Presidential memos and letters, staff papers, and reports — linked directly from citations in the electronic version of the book. This unique technology presents a treasure trove of materials for specialists, researchers, and students of military history, public administration, and government affairs to draw upon.

" 'I Want You!' is an exhaustive, ground-breaking study that explores this nation's transition from a conscripted military to an established, all-volunteer force that continues today despite three decades of opposition and economic pressures. Words hardly do justice to the thoroughness of Bernard Rostker's research. He has produced an impressive work of scholarship for the serious student. Not just a lengthy narrative, it is a well-organized and well-written study backed up by 2,300 primary documents. The notes in the print version are more than sufficient to support the text. However, the DVD version is much more useful and well worth the extra expense. Not only can readers perform searches of key words and phrases but also they can avail themselves of direct links to 1,700 of the 2,300 sources."

- Air & Space Power Journal, Spring 2008

"In 'I Want You! The Evolution of the All-Volunteer Force', Bernard Rostker describes the development and history of our all-volunteer military from 1960 through 2006… A fascinating and truly useful aspect of this book is Rostker's pairing of narrative chapters describing historical developments with documentary chapters in which he reviews the analyses and studies instrumental in the policy making of each phase. Thus the reader finds both history and its sources proximate in the same volume. Each chapter of 'I Want You!' is meticulously documented, including a chapter focused on the role of women and a wrap-up chapter assessing overall success throughout the period. (An accompanying DVD makes the pursuit of supporting details even more efficient.) Rostker is a senior fellow at the RAND Corporation with a distinguished record of public service, including service as Undersecretary of the Army and Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. Having personally participated in many of the analyses and deliberations he describes, he has a superb background from which to write this book."

- Brig Gen. John S. Brown, US Army retired, Army Magazine, December 2007

"… Can today's volunteer system produce enough quality soldiers to marshal America's future? Or must we return to the draft? To address these questions, we need to review where we were when Vietnam-era conscription ended, and how we navigated the next 34 years of the all-volunteer force to reach the current mess. 'I Want You!' is an invaluable aid in that project… If history is any indication, the coming debate [about the draft] will be acrimonious and ill informed. Those interested in bringing some reason to the table will do well to consult 'I Want You!' We can't know where we're going unless we know where we've been."

- Philip Gold, Wilson Quarterly, Winter 2007

"This book should be required reading for lawmakers, analysts, and policymakers charged with addressing today's complex military manpower issues. Bernard Rostker is a veteran Pentagon analyst and manager. A former under secretary of defense, under secretary of the Army, assistant secretary of the Navy, and senior fellow of the RAND Corporation, he has dealt with manpower issues for more than three decades. This comprehensive history is balanced, insightful, and as clear about the arcane world of budgets, manpower research, and analysis as a book can be made to be. The most important aspect of the book is the accompanying DVD containing hundreds of important official records and analytical studies relating to the volunteer force from its inception through the Clinton and into the Bush years…"

- Ronald Spector, Proceedings, March 2007, U.S. Naval Institute

"Rostker, who has held numerous federal posts and is currently a senior fellow at the RAND Corporation, is the ideal scholar to have written this study, a massive and definitive history of the all-volunteer military force in the US from its genesis in the late 1960s to early 2005. It is a unique contribution. Rostker's research is prodigious to say the least, relying on over 1,700 original documents, including congressional testimony, analytical studies, interviews, and other archival sources--most of which are included on an accompanying DVD."

- CHOICE, March 2007

"In the long history of the U.S. Army the total force has been volunteer except for a brief time in World War I, and from the start of World War II (with a year of no draft in 1947-48) until 1973. Concomitantly with the drawdown of the Army following Vietnam, there had been an effort to go to an all-volunteer force. As a systems analyst, Bernard Rostker had been closely associated with this thrust from its beginning. He has compiled a monumental study of the modern volunteer Army that should be of interest to any professional soldier… [and] anyone wearing an Army uniform in a position of functional responsibility concerning raising, maintaining and reducing the Army. Likewise, it should be of interest to the civilians in the Army and Defense Secretariats. Perhaps even more important, the subject should be of vital interest to members of Congress and their staffs. The current situations in Iraq and Afghanistan have generated more and more discussion, particularly with the Washington pundits, pertaining to reinstituting a draft. For any of those so inclined, all the pros and cons of the proposition can be found in the book… Perhaps the prime value of this book is the accompanying DVD that lists more than 1,700 primary source documents… This is the seminal study of the Cold War personnel processes of the Army… a book that any professional should purchase, study and refer to for a thorough understanding of the witches' brew that is endearingly referred to as the personnel system."

- Army Magazine, December 2006. Reviewed by LT. GEN. RICHARD G. TREFRY, USA Ret., served as Army Inspector General from 1978 to 1983

The research described in this report results from the RAND Corporation’s continuing program of self-initiated independent research. Support for such research is provided, in part, by donors and by the independent research and development provisions of RAND’s contracts for the operation of its US Department of Defense federally funded research and development centers. This research was conducted within the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD) of the RAND Corporation. NSRD conducts research and analysis for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Commands, the defense agencies, the Department of the Navy, the U.S. Intelligence Community, allied foreign governments, and foundations.

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