Symposium on the All-Volunteer Force
April 28, 2016

All-Volunteer Force conference logo

Video Playlist of Symposium Sessions


When the United States ended the draft and moved to an all-volunteer military in 1973, most political and military leaders assumed that if the United States again fought a major, long-lasting war the nation would reactivate the draft. But that didn’t happen: the U.S. fought the long and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with an all-volunteer force (AVF), even as service members were deployed for multiple tours of duty. This symposium, in the wake of those wars, evaluates the AVF. How well has it worked? Will it work in the future?

On April 28, 2016, key national policy makers, former government officials, military officers, and scholars who have drawn different conclusions about the relative successes and failures of the AVF gathered at the University of Kansas to hold a frank conversation about a critical piece of our national defense.

The evening panel, a "public conversation" at KU's Alumni Center, featured Lawrence B. "Larry" Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell; Lawrence Korb, former Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Reagan; Bernard Rostker, former director of the Selective Service and Undersecretary of Defense; and Major General (Ret.) Dennis Laich. Prof. Beth Bailey, KU Foundation Distinguished Professor and director of the center, will moderate the panel.

During the day of April 28th, experts led four workshops, asking:

  • Is the AVF fair?
  • Is it efficient and sustainable?
  • Does it promote militarism, and how well does it provide for the national defense?
  • What are alternatives to the AVF?


A full schedule of events is available here.