Accession Number:



All volunteer force: LSCO, cost, and a new implicit tax on reserve forces

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report,25 Jun 2018,23 May 2019

Corporate Author:

U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States

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This monograph examines the creation of the All Volunteer Force AVF and the neoliberal economic ideas used by the 1970 Gates Commission which recommended it. It examines the neoliberal concept of cost and illustrates the difference of budgetary cost and actual economic costs employed in analyses of the draft and volunteer force models, with emphasis on the concepts of opportunity cost and implicit tax. The paper then explores the impact of budgetary cost increases on the AVF throughout the 1980s and 1990s, leading to decreasing force structure and the increased utilization of the Total Force and particularly how reduced active-duty force structure led to increased utilization of the reserves in the prosecution of security operations. Finally, the paper shows that the increasing use of reserve forces has led to a new implicit tax born disproportionately on reserve soldiers for national defense requirements. These examples show how the salience of budgetary costs have undermined the neoliberal argument of actual economic costs, and through the reduction of the active force, imposed a new implicit tax disproportionally born by the reserve force and their employers. Thus, in any future great power conflict, the increasing costs of the AVF and the social inequality of the new implicit taxes on the reserves forces a greater possibility of a return to the draft.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Economics and Cost Analysis

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