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35 Years of all volunteer service
Our nation is fortunate that so many talented and patriotic young people have stepped forward to serve, and that so many of them have chosen to continue to serve.
Defense Secretary
Robert M. Gates
1,215 U.S. servicemembers from all over Iraq re-enlisted during a ceremony in the Al Faw Palace rotunda at Camp Victrory in Baghdad, July 4, 2008. Photo by MNF-I Public Affairs

Defense Department Celebrates 35 Years of All-Volunteer Force

Until July 1973, the military operated under an involuntary draft policy to produce manpower to fight the countryís wars. Draftees served during both world wars, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the All-Volunteer Force. Senior leaders say ending the draft and relying on volunteers has made the military the strongest it's ever been. Story

The Stories

Thomas F. Metz
director, Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization

Incentives Help Sustain
All-Volunteer Force, General Says

Photo of Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Thomas F. MetzWith competitive salaries, a top-notch retirement package, and now the option to share education benefits with family members, a career in the U.S. military has become far more attractive since the days of the draft. Story
David S. C. Chu
under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness

Superb Performance Reflects
Quality, Personnel Chief Says

Photo of Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Bill CarrThe U.S. militaryís insistence on quality has visibly paid off through servicemembersí superb performance during the war on global terrorism, a senior U.S. defense official told members of a House panel here yesterday. Story
Mike Mullen
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Chairman Supports
All-Volunteer Force

Photo of Admiral Mike MullenThe all-volunteer force has made the nationís defense the strongest itís ever been, the U.S. militaryís top officer said this week, adding that he would not want to return to a Vietnam-era military by implementing a draft. Story
Pete Pace
Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

Pace Applauds All-Volunteer Force

Photo of former chairman Peter PaceThe all-volunteer force is serving the United States extremely well, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told servicemembers at a Town Hall meeting here today. Story

Leaders' Views

The Secretary

Photo of Defense Secretary Robert M. GatesDuring a ceremony at Fort Bliss, Texas, in May of this year, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates honored military service yesterday as 105 soldiers enlisted, re-enlisted and retired. More

The Admiral

Photo of Adm. Edmund P. GiambastianiAdm. Edmund P. Giambastiani reflected on his 37-year Navy career during his retirement ceremony in July 2007. He recalled the angst that surrounded one of the most sweeping changes of his career: the advent of the all-volunteer force in the early 1970s. More

The General

Photo of Gen. George W. Casey Jr.When Gen. George W. Casey Jr. became chief of staff of the Army in April 2007 he noted that the quality of the men and women of the Army was the best he'd seen in his 36 years of service. More

The Chief Master Sergeant

Photo of Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Curtis BrownhillUpon his retirement as the senior enlisted advisor at U.S. Central Command in April 2007, Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Curtis Brownhill said he began his 34-year military career right at the dawn of the all-volunteer force. More

Petraeus Re-enlists 1,215
U.S. Troops July 4 in Iraq

Servicemembers from all over Iraq gathered here today in the Al Faw Palace rotunda on Camp Victory, to re-enlist and celebrate Americaís Independence Day. Story

Related Article
U.S. Soldiers Choose to Re-enlist While in Iraq

Why do they volunteer?

A recruit takes the oath of enlistment. Defense Dept. photo by Samantha L. QuigleyEnlistment and retention bonuses, educational benefits and other incentives are invaluable recruiting tools, but Army officials say old-fashioned patriotism is just as big a motivator in attracting soldiers to the force and encouraging them to stay. Story

Marine Drill Instructor Sgt. Andrew Lopez provides encouragement to participants during the push-up section of the Boot Camp Challenge at Marine Corps Recruit Depot. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Moriatis [Click for hi-res]

Army Commemorates 35 Years of All-Volunteer Force

Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. administers the oath of enlistment to 15 civilians during a ceremony July 1 in the courtyard of the Pentagon, Washington, D.C. July 1, 2008 [Click for hi-res]

Thirty-one soldiers celebrated the 35th anniversary of the all-volunteer force by enlisting or re-enlisting in the Pentagon courtyard today. Story | Video | More Photos