By Zach Scalzo
Norwich University has a reputation for encouraging students to engage in discussion with some of the best in the civilian and military world. Recently, the Peace and War Center hosted a panel entitled “Should the US Bring Back the Citizen-Soldier Military?” Students Liam Carroll and Christine Raymond were joined by Dr. Andrea Talentino and Colonel Robert Kuckuck and Moderated by Sarwar Kashmeri.
Dr. Talentino kicked off the discussion by sharing some of the aspects of being a citizen soldier. She mentioned how service must be obligatory and universal. She cited a case study of reserve officers in Germany where service is universal versus reserve officers in the US Army. She explained that German soldiers feel less respected by their nation where American soldiers tend to loathe that the average American citizen does not understand the rigorous lifestyle of an Army Solider or National Guardsman.
Liam Carroll followed her with some interesting points against universal service. Liam specifically spoke of how the purpose of the military was to defend America’s vital interest and to be as effective as possible. If everyone is required to serve there will be disgruntlement and the military may be forced to have people that are not qualified. He argued that this would lead to a less effective military. Christine Raymond discussed that at Norwich she had heard comments towards the effect of civilian students being thought of as lower than rooks. She argued that this was concerning as there should not be as big of a divide between military and civilian persons.
Colonel Kuckuck was quick to respond by mentioning that the corps of cadets is not the military and that most Marines will serve four years before becoming citizens again. He also argued that if America wants to project power and be a professional military it is very challenging to live by the citizen-solider objective. Colonel Kuckuck argued that being an all-volunteer service creates for a more motivated more effective military. When questioned about if conscription would have helped the military cope with constant deployment Colonel Kuckuck responded by saying that everyone has the opportunity to leave the military every three to four years. He argued that when people join they want and desire to deploy.
After the panelists made their remarks, the audience had the opportunity to question the panelists. One question revolved around how with the change of warfare had changed the military. Some key points coming from the panel regarded that the military had changed, but that the people in it were still relatively similar. Another question asked about whether or not the President of the United States was a citizen soldier and should our President have needed to serve. Colonel Kuckuck stated that it could even be beneficial for a President to have never served. He argued that this helps encourage that advisors will make decisions. Overall, the panelists did a fantastic job informing the student body of their views and all attendees of the panel left more educated they came. Opportunities such as this are what makes Norwich University unique and helps grow leaders of the future.