Please join us for an informal dinner and discussion with Major General (Ret.) Dennis Laich about the civil-military divide and the efficacy of the All-Volunteer Force to defend the United States now and in the future.

Major General (Ret.) Dennis Laich is the Executive Director of the All-Volunteer Force Forum. The All-Volunteer Force Forum is an apolitical network of national security experts, military officers, academics, and concerned citizens established to examine the methodology for populating the US Armed Forces. The Forum seeks to encourage, facilitate, and document a fact-based national dialogue in response to its position that the All-Volunteer Force is unfair, inefficient, and unsustainable and contributes to the civil-military gap and the militarization of US foreign policy. They consider this to be an issue that affects not only national security but also the social fabric of our democracy.

General Laich was commissioned through Army ROTC at Lafayette College, Easton Pennsylvania, in 1971. He served in a variety of command and staff assignments primarily in Military Police, Transportation, and logistics units. The last 14 consecutive years of his 35 years of service were in command positions at the full Colonel through two star level including joint command, culminating in command of the 94th Regional Readiness Command at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. His civilian education includes a bachelor’s degree from Lafayette College and master’s degrees from West Virginia University and Saint Francis University. His military awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Joint Meritorious Service Medal. Major General Laich’s civilian career was spent in manufacturing and finance assignments as president, chief operating officer, and plant manager with several large and mid-cap private and publically held companies. Major General Laich, and his wife Colleen, live in Columbus, Ohio, and have two grown children.

General Laich is also the author of: Skin in the Game: Poor Kids and Patriots, in which “Gen. Laich delivers a detailed assessment of America’s all-volunteer force, elaborating on what led to its creation in 1973 and evaluating its performance since then—particularly as it’s waged two wars at once in Iraq and Afghanistan.” - Kirkus Book Review

 

General Laich is also the author of: Skin in the Game: Poor Kids and Patriots. Kirkus book review says this about the book:

“A retired general offers his opinions on the state of America’s volunteer army and some suggestions for its future. In this short but substantial book, former U.S. Army Gen. Laich delivers a detailed assessment of America’s all-volunteer force, elaborating on what led to its creation in 1973 and evaluating its performance since then—particularly as it’s waged two wars at once in Iraq and Afghanistan. His statistics are grim: Returning veterans are much more likely than civilians to commit suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, and become homeless. He underscores the unfairness of the volunteer model, which fills the armed services with disproportionate numbers of lower-income people, leaving wealthier, better educated people underrepresented. He also decries the planning failures that led to the use of reservists and National Guard troops in combat despite their lack of readiness and to the redeployment of servicemen for combat tours after insufficient recovery time stateside. He clearly has no patience for the civilian and military leaders who’ve let these situations arise. However, Laich’s main point is that the AVF has failed because it was asked to conduct a protracted overseas war—something it was never intended to do. The author handles this complex subject with a firm hand, marshaling data effectively to prove his points and striving to maintain an objective approach throughout. He’s very direct about how the military, by its very structure, discourages the sort of creative thinking needed to push through necessary reforms. He also resists the temptation to expound on policy—specifically, the wisdom of waging particular wars in the first place—which gives him added credibility. He accepts that America will inevitably become involved in military conflicts overseas; he just wants those deployments to be fair, efficient and sustainable. An absolutely essential read for those concerned about the U.S. military, its purpose and its future.”

 

For more information please contact:

ERNESTO M. DIVITTORIO, Lt Col, USAF

National Security Fellow

Harvard Kennedy School

ernesto_divittorio@hks.harvard.edu