Conscription : Conscription during World War Two
Conscription during World War One; ..
The Scullin Labor government 1929-32 abolished compulsory military training so, on the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 the conservative government, led by Robert Menzies, chose to reintroduce the measure. All single men on turning 21 were required to undertake three months training with the militia to prepare them for home defence. Over the next two years the military position greatly worsened. The Japanese successes in the Pacific meant that Australia faced a serious threat of invasion. In February 1942 the Labor Prime Minister, John Curtin (an opponent of conscription in the First World War), expanded the definition of 'home defence' to cover the south-west Pacific.
Conscription during World War Two
For a short period after the Allied victory in 1945, conscription became a non-issue. The development of a 'cold war' between the Western powers and the countries of the Soviet bloc led the conservative Menzies coalition government to introduce yet another conscription scheme with universal national service for 18 year old men. Conscripts were not part of the Australian forces who served in Korea, Malaya and Borneo. From 1954 communist North Vietnam and South Vietnam were at war. In the 1960s hundreds of thousands of United States troops were involved in support of South Vietnam and the Australian government also decided to commit troops.
Conscription : Conscription during the Vietnam War
Conscription refers to the act of forcing individuals to serve in the military. In addition to a formal military draft, compulsory training and militia service is also a part of conscription history. While it has precedents from the Roman Empire and the feudal era in the Western Hemisphere, conscription really began to be cemented as a part of the modern military service dynamic during the Napoleonic Era. In the United States, the American Civil War saw the first use of a draft in both the Union and Confederate armies. All of the major global wars since the 19th century have seen conscripted armies fight in combat, and in some cases the major European powers maintained a large involuntary force prior to World War I. World War II was largely a war of conscripts as well. In the United States, with its Cold War-era wars in Korea and Vietnam, conscription played a major role in the dynamics of those conflicts both on the home front and the battlefield, particularly during the Vietnam years. Furthermore, it was the Vietnam experience that helped bring an end to conscription in the United States in 1973. Conscription was also a part of the European military dynamic during the Cold War, such as with National Service until 1963 in Great Britain, or as in the case of the Soviet Union throughout its existence. Also of great significance to the conscription debate is conscientious objection and anti-war movements, which in many cases became somewhat of an anti-draft movement. Due to a large number of sources on conscientious objection within the history of conscription, those works are woven in to a discussion of their respective wars, unless the work covers conscientious objection or draft resistance in a larger sense.