You’re Going Off to War Son

Jake Outlaw and Charlie Hebert

Imagine. You are sitting on your couch, watching 2013 Vine Compilations on YouTube, and all of the sudden your mom enters the room visibly worried. She hands you a letter addressed to you, you open it to find that you have been drafted by the United States Military to fight in World War III. Your first reaction is to make a TikTok. You dance one last time to Renegade. It blows up. It makes the For You page, but it is all for nothing because you’re going to war son. 

For most people, this scenario is very unlikely despite growing concerns that there will be a selective service draft soon. The making of a Tik Tok to pour out your sadness is actually more realistic than there being a draft in 2020, but growing tensions between Iran and the United States have raised attention to  the possibility of a large scale war and a draft. There has been growing panic on social media, especially on Twitter. On the night General Soleimani was killed in a drone strike, Twitter’s top trends were all about the potential for a war. While some expressed concern, most people made jokes. 


 While a war would normally not be funny, it seemed to most people that the actual potential for war, much less a world war, was heavily exaggerated. In the fashion of our time, people took to social media platforms to make jokes about what is an incredibly serious issue because tensions did rise to dangerous levels between the U.S. and Iran after Soleimani’s death, and both sides exchanged heated words.

Iran responded to the assassination of one of their top generals with almost two dozen missile strikes on U.S. bases. Immediately after the attack, varying reports about injuries and casualties came out. It was reported that there were no serious injuries among the U.S. troops, but a New York Times report recently reported that roughly 50 American service members had experienced brain injuries during the attacks and 34 of those 50 were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries according to Pentagon and the Defense Department.  

After the missile attacks, both sides deescalated their language, and there has not been a military attack or U.S. military response.

Tragically, the world was still an audience to the human cost of military action between two nations, even in the absence of war. The day after the missile strikes, news outlets began reporting on the crash of a Ukrainian jetliner that killed all 176 passengers and crew members on board. We later learned that the crash was a direct result of the U.S.-Iranian tensions and the missile strikes. Iran eventually took responsibility and came out with a statement that said because the Ukrainian plane “took the flying posture and altitude of an enemy target,” missiles were fired at it.  Ultimately, a horrible misunderstanding and grave human error in the tense hours of the missile strikes took the lives of 176 people.  The passengers consisted of university students and families, young and old.

It seems that neither the U.S. nor Iran had intentions to harm civilians, but this incident highlights the cost that serious conflict between two nations can have. Lives were lost and changed because of this conflict, and that fact is definitely not funny or meme-material.

Because of the tragedy that comes with war and war-postering, you can be thankful that the need for a draft is pretty unlikely. If tensions had escalated and war had been declared, we are confident that you would not have received a letter. We feel this way for a couple of reasons.

First, there are currently 1.3 million active servicemen and servicewomen. More than enough to cause the Pentagon to feel confident in our ability to face Iran, who only has about 1/33 of the US Military Budget. There has also not been a draft for over 45 years. The last time a Selective Service Act was called was on December 7, 1972, to call up soldiers for the war in Vietnam. Since then, there have been numerous conflicts overseas without the need for a draft. This is partly because of advances in warfare and partly because of the current generation’s aptitude for war. 

Warfare today is not the same as it was in 1972, and since then, there have been a plethora of technological advances that have reduced the number of American soldiers needed on the ground. For example, the White House confirmed that the assassination of Qasem Soleimani was done using a drone strike. No soldiers had to physically be in the area when the shots were fired that killed the Iranian general. This is just one small example of the capabilities of new technology. With similar tech, the military is able to be more precise in its targets and avoid hitting areas with innocent civilians. Technological advances, like drones, are a reason why a draft is unlikely.  New tech not only reduces the risk to civilians in war zones, but also lessens the need for large amounts of boots on the ground.  

Another reason that we think that there will most likely not be a draft is the quality of recruits and their readiness for war. It has been said that today’s young generations, namely millennials and Gen Z, are not suited for the pressures of fighting in a war. According to David Brooks, a New York Times writer, millennials are less independent, less entrepreneurial, and less innovative, which can cause problems for them in military situations. This younger generation can provide a beneficial factor due to their knowledge of technology, but the dependence on technology can be a major weakness, especially in the context of combat. Despite the increase in military tech, sometimes missions have to be carried out with minimal technology, and if a soldier is completely dependent on that tech, it can cause serious issues. Max Boot, an author specializing in national security, says in his article, “There is Still Nothing Smarter than Boots on the Ground,” that despite all the technologies used in warfare throughout history, missions made using minimal technology have been some of the most crucial. It is reasonable to say that people like Boot believe that the nation does not necessarily need a mass influx of soldiers to carry out a war, but instead, it needs a smaller number of highly skilled and trained fighters to carry out missions machines cannot. 

While the conflict in Iran still remains to be fully solved, the likelihood of a draft seems quite slim. According to the Chicago Tribune, it would take an act of Congress to reinstate a modern draft.

There were some instances of panic, especially on social media, but it is safe to say that most of the posts were only poking fun at the situation. Tweets about dodging the draft and faking injuries in order to avoid war are examples of the current generations’ coping mechanisms in times of trouble. But there is most likely no need to fear, so go back to watching 2013 Vine compilations, and keep an eye on your mailbox just in case.