The Army in the Marketplace: Recruiting an All-Volunteer Force, by Beth Bailey


In 1973 the United States abandoned the draft in favor of an all-volunteer military, despite the warnings of the House Armed Services Committee that such a force could be achieved only through a draft. The primary mover behind the shift to a volunteer force was neither public discontent nor youthful protesters, but a group of free-market economists surrounding Richard M. Nixon. Beth Bailey analyzes the move from a troubled military system based on the obligations of (male) citizenship to one that relied on market logic and on sophisticated marketing campaigns that pinpointed the supposed psychological needs of America’s youth and promoted military service as a way to fulfill them.

Featured Supplement

This installment features an interactive timeline that ties together the army’s advertising campaigns with the changing demographics of its forces.

Timeline Screenshot

Sections Guide

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The full text of the article as it appeared in the June 2007 issue of the Journal of American History.

Teaching the Article

The author’s comments about using this article in the classroom. This installment includes 4 exercises:

Primary Sources

A set of primary source documents and images selected for use in teaching this article.

Further Reading

A bibliography of related secondary sources recommended by the author.


A list of links to related Web sites.