The Franklin Project envisions a network that by 2023 would allow 1 million Americans between 18 and 28 to serve the country each year through the military or civilian programs such as Teach for America or the Peace Corps and eligible nonprofit organizations. Unlike a wartime draft, this program would rely on a cultural norm that service is expected.

McChrystal argues that a belief in service is already embedded in U.S. culture but that it isn’t mobilized. He refers to a 2010 Pew Research Center poll that reported that 57 percent of the millennial generation (those born after 1980) had done volunteer work in the previous 12 months.

Data from existing programs show a striking imbalance between the desire to serve and the opportunities to do so. McChrystal cites AmeriCorps, a program to encourage service in schools, nonprofits and other civic organizations. In 2011, it had 580,000 applications for about 80,000 slots, he writes. Similarly, Teach for America, a program to recruit teachers for schools in disadvantaged areas, had 48,000 applications for 5,200 openings in 2011.