Mark Shields' column {"Bellicose Hypocrites," Nov. 2} is exactly right. A few years ago, I attended a 10-year anniversary meeting of the all volunteer force program. In examining the advertising material and displays at the conference, I was struck by the complete lack of the combat role that such a force might have to fill. The focus on learning high technology systems, self motivation, discipline and gaining money for college are all positive aspects of the all volunteer force.

Nevertheless, over the years there seems to have been lost an understanding that while the hoped for role of a military force is to prevent war, its existence is predicated upon the belief that there may be war.

Gen. William T. Sherman said that war is hell. People who have been involved in battle, as Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf has remarked recently, do not want war because they know how terrible it is. Mr. Shields has focused on a chilling aspect of the all volunteer force: its members are unknown to the principal policy makers in Washington.

For 15 years, Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) has been an advocate of national service, so that everyone, rich and poor, privileged and helpless, majority and minority would have to devote time for national needs. This would not necessarily bring this mix into the military, but it has a far greater likelihood than the current all volunteer force. JOHN F. AHEARNE McLean The writer was principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for manpower from 1975 to 1977.