AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service - and How It Hurts Our Country by Kathy Roth-Douquet and Frank Schaeffer

AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service -- and How It Hurts Our Country - Kathy Roth-Douquet, Frank Schaeffer

This short book raises some very serious questions about how sustainable the all-volunteer force that makes up the US military really is in light of today's geopolitical sphere. Originally published in 2006, I think the problem is worse now then it was when the book was first issued. Some of the root causes and issues around the all-volunteer military stems from the Vietnam War and is explained why in detail.

 

However, a lot of their writing comes from their personal experiences dealing with the military and how others perceive them. Roth-Douquet is married to an Army officer; Schaeffer is the father of a Marine. While they are military-adjacent, they are not military and therefore there is a certain "sit down civilian" feeling I had towards the authors, such as when R-D goes on and on about deployments and the toll it takes on the service member. Both authors are very status-concerned and worry about how others in their admittedly upper class tiers look at them. There is also the Odd Couple sense to the authors; R-D worked in the Clinton administration and Schaeffer is a self-identified Republican that leans Liberitarian. This difference in politics comes up frequently, as if they were in a musical adaption of the book. 

 

Both authors serve up some solutions to re-balancing the all-volunteer force, and bringing back the draft is such a big item that it gets it's own debate; R-D is all for bringing it back with a few tweaks and Schaeffer is for using a draft as an absolute last option.

 

Overall, a serious discussion was raised about the state of our military that should be talked about more in our media and homes. I am glad I read this book and thank the authors for bringing this to my attention. It just needed some editing and more voices, especially from those who have worn the uniform.