No, the US military shouldn't lower the enlistment age to 16 so children can fight

Opinion

This photo shows a group of 12 to 16 year old German boys wearing uniforms of the "Deutscher Volkssturm," at an unknown location in Germany, on April 27, 1945. During the final days of World War II the Nazis mobilized the Hitler Youth as a last available reserve in manpower.

(Associated Press photo)

There are all sorts of reasons why the U.S. military enlisting 16 year olds (which means actually recruiting them at 15, 14, even 13 years old) is a bad idea.

Just to name five:


  • Misunderstanding the different brain chemistry of youth and their ability to make informed judgement;
  • Violating US labor law unless you make wildly different structures for them;
  • Undermining everything from combat effectiveness (for example, studies show mid/late twenties is best age for modern infantry) to unit cohesion (only the aged part of the force can deploy while the pre-18 year olds cannot, unless you want to commit a war crime by making them),
  • Destroying the day to day lives of the poor drill instructors and commanders of these teens' first unit;
  • Jeopardizing the way parents and the broader public think about the military and its currently unique status as trusted institution.

But since the rationale for the proposal really just boiled down to the observation that 13 year olds are, as the article wrote, "30 percent cheaper" to target with web ads than 18 year olds, it's really not worth writing hundreds of more words on it.

Signed,

Someone who literally wrote the book on child soldiers.

Peter Warren Singer is strategist and senior fellow at the New America think tank in Washington, D.C., and author of multiple books, including Ghost Fleet, LikeWar, and, pertinent to this topic, Children at War.

SEE ALSO: Generals Again Warn That America's Youth Are Getting Too Fat Or Dumb To Join The Military

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Two military bases in Florida and one in Arizona will see heat indexes over 100 degrees four months out of every year if steps aren't taken to reduce carbon emissions, a new study warns.

Read More Show Less

This Veterans Day, two post-9/11 veterans-turned congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation to have a memorial commemorating the Global War on Terrorism built on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Read More Show Less

Between 500 and 600 U.S. troops are expected to remain in Syria when all is said and done, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley said on Sunday.

Milley's comments on ABC News' "This Week" indicate the U.S. military's footprint in Syria will end up being roughly half the size it was before Turkey invaded Kurdish-held northeast Syria last month.

Read More Show Less
Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during a fund-raising fish fry for U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa), Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, at Hawkeye Downs Expo Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Associated Press/Charlie Neibergall)

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — On Veterans Day, Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg is proposing a "veteran-centric" Department of Veterans Affairs that will honor the service of the men and women of the military who represent "the best of who we are and what we can be."

Buttigieg, who served as a Navy intelligence officer in Afghanistan, said service members are united by a "shared commitment to support and defend the United States" and in doing so they set an example "for us and the world, about the potential of the American experiment."

Read More Show Less
Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a Climate Crisis Summit with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (not pictured) at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S. November 9, 2019. (Reuters/Scott Morgan)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders promised on Monday to boost healthcare services for military veterans if he is elected, putting a priority on upgrading facilities and hiring more doctors and nurses for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

To mark Monday's Veterans Day holiday honoring those who served in the military, Sanders vowed to fill nearly 50,000 slots for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals at facilities run by Veterans Affairs during his first year in office.

Sanders also called for at least $62 billion in new funding to repair, modernize and rebuild hospitals and clinics to meet what he called the "moral obligation" of providing quality care for those who served in the military.

Read More Show Less