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Jun 19, 2024  |  
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Misty Severi, Breaking News Reporter


NextImg:Pentagon celebrates 50 years of 'all volunteer' Armed Forces

The United States military celebrated 50 years of an "all volunteer" Armed Forces on Saturday, which marked five decades since the elimination of the draft.

To commemorate the important milestone, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to travel to Fort Meade, Maryland, on Wednesday, to swear in approximately 100 new recruits into the Armed Forces at a Military Entrance Processing Station.

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"Since the elimination of the draft in July [of] 1973, those who have joined the ranks of America’s Armed Forces have done so out of conviction and not compulsion and to be a part of something bigger than themselves," Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Department of Defense's press secretary, said.

"Today’s U.S. military is the most combat-capable, combat-credible fighting force the world has ever known, and that’s due to the millions of exceptional and selfless men and women who have raised their hand over the last five decades and taken an oath to protect and defend our country, our Constitution, and our American way of life."

In both peacetime and during periods of war, men were drafted into the military from 1940 to 1973, to fill positions it could not get through volunteers. In war time, this often meant serving on the front-lines. Although serving in the military was seen as patriotic, sentiment towards the military shifted after the end of World War II, with the war in Vietnam being considered a "rich man's war, but a poor man's fight."

The decision to move to an all-volunteer force was a "bold move," Austin said in a statement on Saturday. But one he claims has paid off in a "stronger" and more professional military.

"The All-Volunteer Force shows us how much Americans can do when we commit ourselves to serve others, give back to our communities, and make our country more secure and more just," Austin said. "We proudly salute each American who selflessly raises their hand to serve our country and defend our republic. Today and every day, the service of the members of our All-Volunteer Force is a testament to their courage—and to the power of our democracy."

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

The 50-year anniversary comes as the country faces one of its biggest recruitment challenges. All branches except the Marines failed to meet their recruiting goals in the 2022 fiscal year. However, the Army fared the worst after failing to reach its recruitment goal by 25%. A tense political atmosphere and a lack of physical fitness are largely seen as the main contributors to recruitment challenges.

The Pentagon released studies recently showing that only 23% of youth in the United States are eligible to serve due to being overweight, using drugs, or having mental and physical health problems.