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DoD Celebrates 25 Years of the All Volunteer Force

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 10, 1998 – Defense leaders unveiled a mural celebrating the 25th anniversary of the All Volunteer Force during a Pentagon ceremony July 7.

"This is a dramatically different military because of All Volunteer Force," Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre said at the ceremony. "It is far more professional, more stable, largely married, and [it] reflects America."

The All Volunteer Force started in 1973. American involvement in the Vietnam War focused attention on the draft and sparked many protests around the nation. Then-Defense Secretary Melvin Laird and Congress worked on legislation to create a volunteer military. June 30, 1973, marked the end of the draft.

Hamre said the All Volunteer Force is a very successful project.

Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Rudy deLeon echoed Hamre's words. "The U.S. military is widely regarded as the most capable and professional force in the world," deLeon said. "It is the model for militaries around the world."

Both Hamre and deLeon said keeping the quality of the military high is the first priority of the Defense Department. DeLeon cited recruiting and retention as the key issues to maintaining the force "that won the Cold War and has met every challenge since."

The military on the cusp of the new millennium is one of the most integrated -- both by race and gender -- institutions in the United States, Hamre said. "The lesson from this is we have to keep managing racial and gender integration every day," Hamre said.

Hamre congratulated personnel professionals for their performance in shaping the All Volunteer Force. "Very few understand the role 'personnelists' performed in forging the secret weapon that won the Cold War," Hamre said.

The mural, which hangs outside deLeon's Pentagon office, is composed of photos illustrating 12 military virtues: leadership, teamwork, diversity, determination, integrity, excellence, commitment, heart, high technology, discipline, courage and honor.

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