Draft

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The Draft: "A military draft is the practice of a government forcibly conscripting members of the population into the armed forces."[1]


"Locked on Course to Wider War"

Paul Craig Roberts wrote April 22, 2004, for antiwar.com that the U.S. is locked on course to a wider war: "The American public has been deceived and locked on a course toward conscription and a wider war."

Roberts pointed directly at senior Republican Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel who said on April 20, 2004, that "deteriorating security in Iraq may force the United States to reintroduce the military draft." [2]

Hagel told "a Senate Foreign Relations Committee [that] 'There's not an American ... that doesn't understand what we are engaged in today and what the prospects are for the future ... [Adding, if] that's the case, why shouldn't we ask all of our citizens to bear some responsibility and pay some price?' Hagel said, arguing that restoring compulsory military service would force 'our citizens to understand the intensity and depth of challenges we face.'" [3]

Hagel added "that a draft, which was ended in the early 1970s, would spread the burden of military service in Iraq more equitably among various social strata. ... 'Those who are serving today and dying today are the middle class and lower middle class,' he observed."

The Agence France Presse pointed out that the "call to consider a imposing a draft comes just days after the Pentagon moved to extend the missions of some 20,000 US troops in Iraq." [4] See Iraqi sovereignty: June 30, 2004 and Operation Iraqi Freedom: Year Two for context.

There is no general support for a draft. While Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY) and Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-SC) introduced proposals to restore the draft in 2003, it enjoys no support in Congress. As Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) observed, "I think I'm the only member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who would reinstate the draft." There is no support from the military for a draft. Robert Scales, Jr., Retired general, former commandant of the Army War College and historian, observed,

A return to the draft is a very bad idea whose time passed with the world wars, Korea and Vietnam. These wars were tragically wasteful because in large measure they were fought with drafted soldiers.

Drafted soldiers are far more likely to die in combat than long-service professionals. Military leaders know from painful experience that it takes years to produce a fully competent combat soldier. They also know that older soldiers live longer in combat. Drafting teenagers and committing them to combat within only a year of enlistment will create an Army of amateurs. Our Army in particular has a sad history of committing to battle men who are too young and inexperienced to have much hope of surviving against a hardened and skillful enemy.

Drafted units can be kept together for only a short time and invariably march to war as random collections of strangers. Our soldiers performed so superbly in Iraq because they were seasoned. Good soldiers, like good wine, can be produced only with careful cultivation and patient aging. Unfortunately, amateur armies learn to fight only by fighting. Inevitably, the cost of that education is too horrific for the American people to bear. [5]

Because of Sen. Kerry's (D-MA) recurring claims that a draft under President Bush was imminent--based on a bill introduced by two Democrats--the House voted on that bill, defeating it 402-2. Democrats, such as Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), who voted against the Iraq War, "criticized this week's draft-killing vote as a Republican effort to manipulate public opinion in favor of President Bush just weeks before voters head to the polls." [6]

Recommendations

The May 3, 2004, Toronto Star reported that Lewis Brodsky, acting director of the U.S. Selective Service System, "proposed registering women for the military draft and requiring that young Americans regularly inform the government about whether they have training in niche specialties needed in the armed services.

"The proposal[, which was] presented to senior Pentagon officials just before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, also seeks to extend the age of draft registration to 34, up from 25."

"....Some of the skill areas where the armed forces are facing 'critical shortages' include linguists and computer specialists, the agency said. Americans would then be required to regularly update the agency on their skills until they reach age 35." [7]

Also see Eric Rosenberg's May 1, 2004, "Selective Service eyes women's draft. The proposal would also require registration of critical skills," Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Writing on March 31, 2003, the Federal Citizen Information's National Contact Center stated: "Although there is currently no military draft, men who are American citizens (regardless of country of residence) or aliens who are permanent residents of the United States are required to register within 30 days of their 18th birthday. Within the U.S., registration forms should be available at any Post Office. On-line registration is also available. To find out more about registration and related issues, you may visit the Selective Service System's web site." accessed 8 December 2003.

Refusal to discharge is an involuntary draft

"The Army's refusal to release tens of thousands of soldiers who have completed their terms of service amounts to drafting them on the very day they fulfill their obligations. These men and women have already risked their lives. They should not have to risk them a second time through involuntary service, through being forced to stay in Iraq. This is a draft. A draft forces people to serve involuntarily."—Dennis Kucinich, December 31, 2003.

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