All-volunteer Army is envy of world, says G-1
Lt. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, deputy chief of staff for personnel, G-1, talks about the importance of the 35th anniversary of the all-volunteer force.

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 1, 2008) -- Today the Army celebrates the 35th anniversary of the end of the draft and the beginning of the all-volunteer force, an occasion the deputy chief of staff for personnel, G-1, called one of the nation's greatest management successes.

Lt. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle said President Richard Nixon's decision to call for an all-volunteer Army in 1973 led to a force that is the envy of the world.

"This all-volunteer force is the envy of every single free society around the globe," he said. "I cannot tell you the number of visitors I've had from European nations, nations elsewhere, who simply come and ask, 'How do you do it?' Well, part of that answer of why we are able to do it (are Soldiers) who raised their right hands.' That's how we'll do it, so it's a big deal. It's a big deal because it's a volunteer act on the part of a young citizen who has chosen to serve, especially in this tough time."

That act of volunteerism, he continued, is crucial. It means young men and women want to serve, want to be in their units, that they are willingly sacrificing themselves. A unit full of volunteer Soldiers, versus draftees, is far more cohesive and motivated, with lower discipline rates and higher morale.

"It's just a better place to serve. The vice chief of staff (Gen. Richard Cody), who entered the Army the same year I did, likes to talk about his first units in the Army and I can reflect back on mine in the 101st (Airborne Division) in 1972 and 1973. And it's a much, much better place today," said Rochelle.

In spite of recent media discussions about waivers for new recruits, Rochelle assured Soldiers that they can expect new brothers and sisters in arms to remain top-notch. Every new Soldier, he said, is qualified to be in the Army and has either a high-school diploma or equivalency degree and has passed the Armed Services Aptitude Battery.

Finding those qualified recruits is the challenge because, according to Rochelle, only three out of 10 American 18-22 year olds are actually qualified to serve in the Army without a waiver, especially with rising high-school dropout and obesity rates. He added that he believes the new GI Bill will help attract people with educational aspirations.

"Millennial-generation young men and women do have a sense of duty; they have a sense of service beyond themselves and they want to know that they are making a difference. Every young person who enters our force today makes a difference. Whether they are serving on the front lines or they're serving administratively or in the medical profession or some place else, they are making a difference. What I say is 'Thank you. Thank you for serving, thank you for being part of this great institution of ours' And I also say, 'Thank you,' to their family members for their sacrifices," he said, pointing out that Soldiers who enlist or re-enlist today do so knowing they will probably be deployed at least once.

The Army is celebrating the 35th anniversary of the all-volunteer force with enlistment and re-enlistment ceremonies around the world, including one at the Pentagon today, hosted by Secretary of the Army Pete Geren and Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George Casey Jr., and a ceremony in Iraq on July 4, hosted by Gen. David H. Petraeus.

"Congratulations, happy 35th birthday to every single Soldier who has ever worn the uniform, from the 1st of July, 1973, until the present, and those who will wear it," said Rochelle.

Page last updated Tue July 1st, 2008 at 00:00