The war in Iraq and the problematic military occupation of that country have called into question the adequacy of America's all-volunteer force. Politicians and others have expressed doubts about its equity and capability; some have called for the reinstatement of the draft. Yet over the past twenty years the all-volunteer military has become a technologically advanced force that has contributed to America's overall military advantage.
Motivated, able, and well-trained military personnel are essential to the success of any military, and personnel policies are crucial to getting and keeping qualified servicemen and women. The transformation of personnel policies is an important element of the broader transformation occurring in Western militaries. Across Europe and North America, nations are embracing plans to change military personnel policies to build future capabilities consistent with new strategic environments and with the demographic and societal realities of the future.
Since the end of the Cold War, the US military has reduced its combat forces by 40 percent, closed about 20 percent of its bases, and withdrawn from many overseas posts. Even after these changes, the US military is by far the strongest in the world, with huge advantages in training, equipment, and technology. Despite cutting its annual spending by about 30 percent, the United States spends more than the countries with the six next-largest military budgets combined.