An enormous number of conscripted soldiers were sent to Vietnam after their initial service training. What impact would these conscripted soldiers have on the morale of their voluntarily-enlisted counterparts?
There is a lot of misinformation about the United States Armed Forces during the Vietnam War, particularly in the distinction between conscripts and volunteers. While many Americans assume that the military was composed primarily of draftees, and that draftees bore the brunt of the combat in Vietnam, the facts are otherwise.
In fact, only a quarter -- 25 percent -- of American servicemen who served in Vietnam were drafted, the rest were volunteers. Draftees accounted for a slightly higher percentage of those killed-in-action: 30 percent.
What effect did the conscripts have on the volunteers? The impact was negligible. Clearly, conscripts were more likely to be disgruntled by their forced participation in the war, but they were no more miserable than their fellow servicemen and women who had volunteered, and who overwhelmingly, according to surveys, are proud of their service and would serve again, even knowing the outcome.
The camaraderie inherent in squad and platoon-size units provides a bond between soldiers that is almost always stronger than any resentment they may have toward their situation in life. Those bonds, and the sense of fighting for each other, are extremely important to veterans of the war in Vietnam. Because draftees accounted for only a quarter of the troops involved in combat, they simply did not have a large impact on those who had volunteered.