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This bill (HR#163) to start up a military draft has been introduced by members of the Democratic Party with no bipartisan support. If you do not want a draft and would prefer to keep our military a volunteer force know that the Democrat’s have other ideas. Just read HR 163 IH, the Universal National Service Act of 2003 (Introduced in House) by Democrat’s Mr. RANGEL (for himself, Mr. MCDERMOTT, Mr. CONYERS, Mr. LEWIS of Georgia, Mr. STARK, and Mr. ABERCROMBIE). All of which are Democrat’s.

 

Remember that Richard Nixon (Republican), stopped the draft in 1973.

 

Here is the bill in its entirety

 

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Universal National Service Act of 2003 (Introduced in House)

 

HR 163 IH

 

 

108th CONGRESS

 

1st Session

 

H. R. 163

To provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes.

 

 

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

January 7, 2003

Mr. RANGEL (for himself, Mr. MCDERMOTT, Mr. CONYERS, Mr. LEWIS of Georgia, Mr. STARK, and Mr. ABERCROMBIE) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Armed Services

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

A BILL

To provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes.

 

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

 

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

 

(a) SHORT TITLE- This Act may be cited as the `Universal National Service Act of 2003'.

 

(B) TABLE OF CONTENTS- The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

 

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

 

Sec. 2. National service obligation.

 

Sec. 3. Two-year period of national service.

 

Sec. 4. Implementation by the President.

 

Sec. 5. Induction.

 

Sec. 6. Deferments and postponements.

 

Sec. 7. Induction exemptions.

 

Sec. 8. Conscientious objection.

 

Sec. 9. Discharge following national service.

 

Sec. 10. Registration of females under the Military Selective Service Act.

 

Sec. 11. Relation of Act to registration and induction authority of Military Selective Service Act.

 

Sec. 12. Definitions.

 

SEC. 2. NATIONAL SERVICE OBLIGATION.

 

(a) OBLIGATION FOR YOUNG PERSONS- It is the obligation of every citizen of the United States, and every other person residing in the United States, who is between the ages of 18 and 26 to perform a period of national service as prescribed in this Act unless exempted under the provisions of this Act.

 

(B) FORM OF NATIONAL SERVICE- National service under this Act shall be performed either--

 

(1) as a member of an active or reverse component of the uniformed services; or

 

(2) in a civilian capacity that, as determined by the President, promotes the national defense, including national or community service and homeland security.

 

© INDUCTION REQUIREMENTS- The President shall provide for the induction of persons covered by subsection (a) to perform national service under this Act.

 

(d) SELECTION FOR MILITARY SERVICE- Based upon the needs of the uniformed services, the President shall--

 

(1) determine the number of persons covered by subsection (a) whose service is to be performed as a member of an active or reverse component of the uniformed services; and

 

(2) select the individuals among those persons who are to be inducted for military service under this Act.

 

(e) CIVILIAN SERVICE- Persons covered by subsection (a) who are not selected for military service under subsection (d) shall perform their national service obligation under this Act in a civilian capacity pursuant to subsection (B)(2).

 

SEC. 3. TWO-YEAR PERIOD OF NATIONAL SERVICE.

 

(a) GENERAL RULE- Except as otherwise provided in this section, the period of national service performed by a person under this Act shall be two years.

 

(B) GROUNDS FOR EXTENSION- At the discretion of the President, the period of military service for a member of the uniformed services under this Act may be extended--

 

(1) with the consent of the member, for the purpose of furnishing hospitalization, medical, or surgical care for injury or illness incurred in line of duty; or

 

(2) for the purpose of requiring the member to compensate for any time lost to training for any cause.

 

© EARLY TERMINATION- The period of national service for a person under this Act shall be terminated before the end of such period under the following circumstances:

 

(1) The voluntary enlistment and active service of the person in an active or reverse component of the uniformed services for a period of at least two years, in which case the period of basic military training and education actually served by the person shall be counted toward the term of enlistment.

 

(2) The admission and service of the person as a cadet or midshipman at the United States Military Academy, the United States Naval Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, the Coast Guard Academy, or the United States Merchant Marine Academy.

 

(3) The enrollment and service of the person in an officer candidate program, if the person has signed an agreement to accept a Reserve commission in the appropriate service with an obligation to serve

on active duty if such a commission is offered upon completion of the program.

 

(4) Such other grounds as the President may establish.

 

SEC. 4. IMPLEMENTATION BY THE PRESIDENT.

 

(a) IN GENERAL- The President shall prescribe such regulations as are necessary to carry out this Act.

 

(B) MATTER TO BE COVERED BY REGULATIONS- Such regulations shall include specification of the following:

 

(1) The types of civilian service that may be performed for a person's national service obligation under this Act.

 

(2) Standards for satisfactory performance of civilian service and of penalties for failure to perform civilian service satisfactorily.

 

(3) The manner in which persons shall be selected for induction under this Act, including the manner in which those selected will be notified of such selection.

 

(4) All other administrative matters in connection with the induction of persons under this Act and the registration, examination, and classification of such persons.

 

(5) A means to determine questions or claims with respect to inclusion for, or exemption or deferment from induction under this Act, including questions of conscientious objection.

 

(6) Standards for compensation and benefits for persons performing their national service obligation under this Act through civilian service.

 

(7) Such other matters as the President determines necessary to carry out this Act.

 

© USE OF PRIOR ACT- To the extent determined appropriate by the President, the President may use for purposes of this Act the procedures provided in the Military Selective Service Act (50 U.S.C. App. 451 et seq.), including procedures for registration, selection, and induction.

 

SEC. 5. INDUCTION.

 

(a) IN GENERAL- Every person subject to induction for national service under this Act, except those whose training is deferred or postponed in accordance with this Act, shall be called and inducted by the President for such service at the time and place specified by the President.

 

(B) AGE LIMITS- A person may be inducted under this Act only if the person has attained the age of 18 and has not attained the age of 26.

 

© VOLUNTARY INDUCTION- A person subject to induction under this Act may volunteer for induction at a time other than the time at which the person is otherwise called for induction.

 

(d) EXAMINATION; CLASSIFICATION- Every person subject to induction under this Act shall, before induction, be physically and mentally examined and shall be classified as to fitness to perform national service. The President may apply different classification standards for fitness for military service and fitness for civilian service.

 

SEC. 6. DEFERMENTS AND POSTPONEMENTS.

 

(a) HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS- A person who is pursuing a standard course of study, on a full-time basis, in a secondary school or similar institution of learning shall be entitled to have induction under this Act postponed until the person--

 

(1) obtains a high school diploma;

 

(2) ceases to pursue satisfactorily such course of study; or

 

(3) attains the age of 20.

 

(B) HARDSHIP AND DISABILITY- Deferments from national service under this Act may be made for--

 

(1) extreme hardship; or

 

(2) physical or mental disability.

 

© TRAINING CAPACITY- The President may postpone or suspend the induction of persons for military service under this Act as necessary to limit the number of persons receiving basic military training and education to the maximum number that can be adequately trained.

 

(d) TERMINATION- No deferment or postponement of induction under this Act shall continue after the cause of such deferment or postponement ceases.

 

SEC. 7. INDUCTION EXEMPTIONS.

 

(a) QUALIFICATIONS- No person may be inducted for military service under this Act unless the person is acceptable to the Secretary concerned for training and meets the same health and physical qualifications applicable under section 505 of title 10, United States Code, to persons seeking original enlistment in a regular component of the Armed Forces.

 

(B) OTHER MILITARY SERVICE- No person shall be liable for induction under this Act who--

 

(1) is serving, or has served honorably for at least six months, in any component of the uniformed services on active duty; or

 

(2) is or becomes a cadet or midshipman at the United States Military Academy, the United States Naval Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, the Coast Guard Academy, the United States

Merchant Marine Academy, a midshipman of a Navy accredited State maritime academy, a member of the Senior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, or the naval aviation college program, so long as that person satisfactorily continues in and completes two years training therein.

 

SEC. 8. CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION.

 

(a) CLAIMS AS CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR- Any person selected under this Act for induction into the uniformed services who claims, because of religious training and belief (as defined in section 6(j) of the Military Selective Service Act (50 U.S.C. 456(j))), exemption from combatant training included as part of that military service and whose claim is sustained under such procedures as the President may prescribe, shall, when inducted, participate in military service that does not include any combatant training component.

 

(B) TRANSFER TO CIVILIAN SERVICE- Any such person whose claim is sustained may, at the discretion of the President, be transferred to a national service program for performance of such person's national service obligation under this Act.

 

SEC. 9. DISCHARGE FOLLOWING NATIONAL SERVICE.

 

(a) DISCHARGE- Upon completion or termination of the obligation to perform national service under this Act, a person shall be discharged from the uniformed services or from civilian service, as the case may be, and shall not be subject to any further service under this Act.

 

(B) COORDINATION WITH OTHER AUTHORITIES- Nothing in this section shall limit or prohibit the call to active service in the uniformed services of any person who is a member of a regular or reserve component of the uniformed services.

 

SEC. 10. REGISTRATION OF FEMALES UNDER THE MILITARY SELECTIVE SERVICE ACT.

 

(a) REGISTRATION REQUIRED- Section 3(a) of the Military Selective Service Act (50 U.S.C. 453(a)) is amended--

 

(1) by striking `male' both places it appears;

 

(2) by inserting `or herself' after `himself'; and

 

(3) by striking `he' and inserting `the person'.

 

(B) CONFORMING AMENDMENT- Section 16(a) of the Military Selective Service Act (50 U.S.C. App. 466(a)) is amended by striking `men' and inserting `persons'.

 

SEC. 11. RELATION OF ACT TO REGISTRATION AND INDUCTION AUTHORITY OF MILITARY SELECTIVE SERVICE ACT.

 

(a) REGISTRATION- Section 4 of the Military Selective Service Act (50 U.S.C. App. 454) is amended by inserting after subsection (g) the following new subsection:

 

`(h) This section does not apply with respect to the induction of persons into the Armed Forces pursuant to the Universal National Service Act of 2003.'.

 

(B) INDUCTION- Section 17© of the Military Selective Service Act (50 U.S.C. App. 467©) is amended by striking `now or hereafter' and all that follows through the period at the end and inserting `inducted pursuant to the Universal National Service Act of 2003.'.

 

SEC. 12. DEFINITIONS.

 

In this Act:

 

(1) The term `military service' means service performed as a member of an active or reverse component of the uniformed services.

 

(2) The term `Secretary concerned' means the Secretary of Defense with respect to the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the Coast Guard, the Secretary of Commerce, with respect to matters concerning the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, with respect to matters concerning the Public Health Service.

 

(3) The term `United States', when used in a geographical sense, means the several States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam.

 

(4) The term `uniformed services' means the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and commissioned corps of the Public Health Service.

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Draft Fears Fueled by Inaccurate E-mails

A scare story spreads electronically, but it gets facts wrong.

 

June 15, 2004

Modified:September 29, 2004

Summary

 

Several FactCheck subscribers have asked about an e-mailed rumor that is causing a lot of anxiety. It claims that steps are being taken to resume military conscription next year. But the message abounds with misinformation and half-truths. And some experts say conscription is the last thing the military wants or needs, despite being stretched thin in Iraq.

 

Analysis

 

We can't say whether this one is deliberate misinformation or just sloppy reporting, but it sure is generating a lot of needless anxiety. It amounts to another "lying e-mail" of the kind we've warned about before (check the links to "related articles" at the end of this one.)

 

Draft? Wrong!

 

(Excerpts from misleading e-mail)

 

The possibility of mandatory drafting for boys and girls (age 18-26) starting June 15, 2005, is something, I believe, everyone should know .

This literally affects EVERYONE since we all have or know children that will have to go if this bill passes. If there are children in your family, READ this.

There is pending legislation in the House and Senate (twin bills: S 89 and HR 163) which will time the program's initiation so the draft can begin at early as Spring 2005 -- just after the 2004 presidential election. The administration is quietly trying to get these bills passed now, while the public's attention is on the elections, so our action on this is needed immediately.

. . . Please send this on to all the parents and teachers you know, and all the aunts and uncles, grandparents, godparents . . . . And let your children know -- it's their future, and they can be a powerful voice for change!

. . . $28 million has been added to the 2004 selective service system (sss) budget to prepare for a military draft that could start as early as June 15, 2005. . . . The pentagon has quietly begun a public campaign to fill all 10,350 draft board positions and 11,070 appeals board slots nationwide. . . .

Dodging the draft will be more difficult than those from the Vietnam era. College and Canada will not be options. In December 2001, Canada and the U.S. signed a "smart border declaration," which could be used to keep would-be draft dodgers in. Signed by Canada's minister of foreign affairs, John Manley, and U.S. Homeland Security director, Tom Ridge, the declaration involves a 30-point plan which implements, among other things, a "pre-clearance agreement" of people entering and departing each country. Reforms aimed at making the draft more equitable along gender and class lines also eliminates higher education as a shelter. Underclassmen would only be able to postpone service until the end of their current semester. Seniors would have until the end of the academic year

 

Basic Facts About Draft

 

Let's start with a few essential facts. Military conscription ended in the US in 1973. Males aged 18 through 25 still are required to register with the Selective Service System, but it would take an act of Congress to resume actual conscription into military service.

 

That's not likely. Here's what Selective Service says on its website as of June 14 (emphasis added):

 

Selective Service System: Notwithstanding recent stories . . . on the Internet, Selective Service is not getting ready to conduct a draft for the U.S. Armed Forces -- either with a special skills or regular draft.

 

Both the White House and the Pentagon have denied repeatedly that they're planning any return to military conscription. Here's what Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said May 17, addressing the conservative Heritage Foundation (emphasis added):

 

Rumsfeld: I can't imagine our country going back to a draft. We don't need it. We're able to attract and retain wonderful people the way we're doing it as long as we provide the appropriate incentives. And certainly this is a country that's wealthy enough to do that.

 

The Scare Story

 

A different -- and misleading -- story is being circulated by e-mail and posted on any number of mostly left-leaning websites, claiming that the Bush administration is "quietly trying" to pass legislation to reactivate the draft, and that $28 million has been added to the Selective Service budget this year to prepare for a military draft that could start "as early as June 15, 2005."

 

The message is false or misleading on several counts.

 

--The bills are not being pushed. It's quite true that the two bills mentioned would require both men and women aged 18 through 25 to perform a two-year period of "national service," which incidentally could be either military or non-military service. But the bills are sponsored only by Democrats, and there's not the slightest evidence that the Bush administration is pushing for them, quietly or otherwise.

 

One bill is HR 163 , whose principal sponsor is Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel of New York. It has 14 co-sponsors, all of them Democrats in a Congress controlled by Republicans. The bill was dead on arrival: it sits in a House subcommittee with no hearings or votes scheduled and no action expected.

 

In fact, Rangel told FactCheck.org through his spokesman Emile Milne that even he isn't pushing for passage, let alone Bush (emphasis added):

 

Rep. Rangel: I'm not pushing this bill . It's up to the President to come to me when he needs it.

 

The identical Senate bill, S. 89 , introduced by Democratic Sen. Ernest Hollings, and also was DOA. Not one other senator has co-sponsored it. It also sits in committee with no action scheduled or expected.

 

Both bills in question were drawn up  before the Iraq war started, mostly to make a political point. Rangel said he acted to highlight Democratic objections to use of military force against Saddam Hussein. He wrote , "I truly believe that decision-makers who support war would more readily feel the pain of conflict and appreciate the sacrifice of those on the front lines if their children were there, too."

 

The Selective Service Budget has not been increased. The scare story also gets it wrong when it claims the budget for the Selective Service is being increased by $28 million in 2004. In fact, the Selective Service System's budget is flat. Its total operating budget was $26 million in fiscal year 2003 (which ended last Sept. 30), and is $26 million for fiscal 2004 as well. Furthermore, the President is asking for $26 million again for fiscal year 2005, and the Office of Management and Budget actually projects that the agency will shrink in size from 161 employees to 156 next year. That's hardly gearing up for a draft.

 

Military experts say a draft doesn't make sense.   Numerous news accounts have quoted military experts as saying a draft would cause more problems for the military than it would solve. Here's one example, from an excellent story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last month (emphasis added):

 

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "The draft would be the Army's worst nightmare," said retired Lt. Col. Leonard Wong, now a research professor at the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks. "We have a high quality Army because we have people who want to be in it. Our volunteer force is really a professional force. You can't draft people into a profession."

 

The Selective Service System figures it would take 183 days from the the time an order comes down to begin a draft until the first conscript reports for training. Training conscripts and forming them into military units would take many months more to meet the requirements of today's high-tech military.  If more trained uniformed men and women are needed, it would be much faster to mobilize additional National Guard units. The Post-Gazette  reports that of 38 Army National Guard combat brigades only three have been called to active service and four others were mobilizing, leaving 31 upon which to draw. (Note: National Guard Spokesman Scott Woodham confirmed these figures when FactCheck.org inquired on June 15.)

 

Other Dubious Claims

 

The e-mail ominously states that "the Pentagon has quietly begun a public campaign to fill all 10,350 draft board positions." But it turns out that's nothing new: the Selective Service has been trying to fill vacancies on local boards for several years, and the Selective Service isn't part of the Pentagon anyway -- it's an independent agency.

 

It's true that a notice appeared briefly last year on a Department of Defense website urging anyone who might be willing to serve as an unpaid volunteer on a local draft board to contact the Selective Service System in Washington. The notice touched off a flurry of news reports speculating that a renewed draft might be in the works, after which the notice quickly disappeared. (A copy of the notice was preserved here. The spot on the DOD website from which it disappeared is here.)

 

As an Associated Press story later explained, however, the search for volunteer board members has been on since 1999 when many original board members started hitting their 20-year term limits. The current board system was established in 1979.

 

The e-mail also notes -- correctly -- that student deferments wouldn't be a ticket to avoid military service in any renewed draft, the way they were during the Vietnam war. Back then, anyone with the means and inclination could stay in college and graduate school and keep pursuing degrees until too old to be drafted. That couldn't happen today. Should a draft resume, deferments would only allow a draftee to delay induction to finish high school or, if in college, to finish the current semester. But that's nothing new, either. Congress reformed student deferments more than 30 years ago, as the Vietnam era draft was winding down.

 

Finally, the e-mail speculates that a US-Canadian agreement reached in December, 2001 would make it harder for draft evaders to flee to Canada, as many American men did to avoid service in Vietnam. However, the "smart border declaration " makes no mention of US draft laws. Whether Canadian officials would be any more inclined to run down US draft evaders in the future than they were 30 years ago is a matter for conjecture.

 

Sources

 

Federal Document Clearing House, Inc., FDCH Political Transcripts, "Secretary Of Defense Rumsfeld Delivers Remarks To The Heritage Foundation," 17 May 2004.

 

US Government Printing Office, "Budget of the United States Government,

 

Fiscal Year 2005 -- Appendix," (Other Defense - Civil Programs ), Jan 2004; 933.

 

Jack Kelly, "Rumor Aside, Draft's Return Most Unlikely," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette , 24 May 2004: A1.

 

Pauline Jelinek, "Pentagon Can't Seem to Kill Idea of Draft," The Associated Press , 1 June 2004.

 

Scott Canon, "Fear of draft's renewal exists in spite of political, social obstacles," Kansas City Star, 25 May 2004.

 

Associated Press, "Selective Service notice creates flurry of press reports suggesting return of draft," USA Today.com, 11 Nov 2003.

 

Selective Service System, "DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE SELECTIVE SERVICE TODAY AND DURING VIETNAM," agency website accessed 14 June 2004.

 

Canadian Embassy, Washington DC, " The Smart Border Declaration ," 12 Dec 2001.

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Draft Fear

 

Claim:   The U.S. military will be reinstating the draft by Spring 2005.

 

Status:   Probably not.

 

Example:   [congress.org, 2004]

 

http://www.congress.org/congressorg/issues...=ua_congressorg

 

Pending Draft Legislation Targeted for Spring 2005

 

The Draft will Start in June 2005

 

There is pending legislation in the House and Senate (twin bills: S 89 and HR 163) which will time the program's initiation so the draft can begin at early as Spring 2005 — just after the 2004 presidential election. The administration is quietly trying to get these bills passed now, while the public's attention is on the elections, so our action on this is needed immediately.

 

$28 million has been added to the 2004 Selective Service System (SSS) budget to prepare for a military draft that could start as early as June 15, 2005. Selective Service must report to Bush on March 31, 2005 that the system, which has lain dormant for decades, is ready for activation. Please see website: www.sss.gov/perfplan_fy2004.html to view the sss annual performance plan — fiscal year 2004.

 

The pentagon has quietly begun a public campaign to fill all 10,350 draft board positions and 11,070 appeals board slots nationwide.. Though this is an unpopular election year topic, military experts and influential members of congress are suggesting that if Rumsfeld's prediction of a "long, hard slog" in Iraq and Afghanistan [and a permanent state of war on "terrorism"] proves accurate, the U.S. may have no choice but to draft.

 

Congress brought twin bills, S. 89 and HR 163 forward this year, entitled the Universal National Service Act of 2003, "to provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons [age 18-26] in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes." These active bills currently sit in the committee on armed services.

 

Dodging the draft will be more difficult than those from the Vietnam era.

 

College and Canada will not be options. In December 2001, Canada and the U.S. signed a "smart border declaration," which could be used to keep would-be draft dodgers in. Signed by Canada's minister of foreign affairs, John Manley, and U.S. Homeland Security director, Tom Ridge, the declaration involves a 30-point plan which implements, among other things, a "pre-clearance agreement" of people entering and departing each country. Reforms aimed at making the draft more equitable along gender and class lines also eliminates higher education as a shelter. Underclassmen would only be able to postpone service until the end of their current semester. Seniors would have until the end of the academic year.

 

Even those voters who currently support US actions abroad may still object to this move, knowing their own children or grandchildren will not have a say about whether to fight. Not that it should make a difference, but this plan, among other things, eliminates higher education as a shelter and includes women in the draft.

 

The public has a right to air their opinions about such an important decision.

 

Please send this on to all the friends, parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and cousins that you know. Let your children know too — it's their future, and they can be a powerful voice for change!

 

Please also contact your representatives to ask them why they aren't telling their constituents about these bills &mdash and contact newspapers and other media outlets to ask them why they're not covering this important story.

 

 

Origins:   As U.S. military involvement in Vietnam came to an end in 1973, so did the draft. For the first time since the days of World War II, the U.S. military shifted to an all-volunteer force; all vacancies in the armed forces were filled through recruitment and re-enlistments rather than conscription. (The requirement for young men to register with the Selective Service was not abolished until 1975, however, and it was reinstated in 1980.)

 

As recent U.S. military involvement in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq has required the largest commitment of American troops since the mid-1970s, and the military has had to double the deployment periods of some units, call up additional reserves, and extend tours of duty by a year in order to maintain adequate staffing levels, the specter of a resurrected draft has been looming on the mind of many a young person. Although the possibility of a reinstatement of conscription cannot be ruled out, a renewal of the draft anytime soon appears unlikely, and one implemented as early as June 2005 seems rather improbable.

 

As reflected in the message quoted above, the draft issue has largely come to public attention due to pair of bills introduced in Congress (S.89 and H.R.163) which seek to obligate all citizens and residents of the U.S. beween the ages of 18 and 26 (both male and female) to perform a two-year period of national service (not necessarily as part of the military), and the Selective Service's advertising for volunteers to man draft boards around the country. However, both these bills were introduced not by legislators genuinely seeking to reinstate the draft, but by Democrats seeking to make an anti-war statement. The bills have since languished in committee, and the Selective Service maintains that the timing of ads to fill draft board positions was coincidental, part of a process of filling expired board positions that has been underway for several years:

About 10,000 to 12,000 people serve 20-year terms as unpaid board members. [selective Service spokesman Pat] Schuback said because the current board system was set up in 1979, and the bulk of volunteers stayed the full 20 years, many of the appointments expired beginning in 1999.

 

That means hiring replacements has been going on for several years. Confusion arose in recent weeks when someone posted the hiring notice on www.defendamerica.mil, a Pentagon Web site about the war on terror, even though the Selective Service System is not a part of the Defense Department.

 

"Serve Your Community and the Nation — Become a Selective Service System Local Board Member," it said.

 

Several newspapers around the world wrote stories, leading to questions about whether the government was planning to restart drafting enlistees. The stories appeared as news media wrote increasingly about the Pentagon's extensive mobilization of National Guard and Reserve troops for duty in Iraq.

 

"It was a case of bad timing because of the war in Iraq and news about deployments," Pentagon spokesman Maj. Michael Shavers said of the Web posting. "It created a tempest in a teacup."

Opinions — from both those inside and outside the military — differ as to what the manpower requirements of the U.S. armed forces will be in the near future, and whether the services will be able to continue to meet those requirements under the current all-volunteer system. And certainly not everyone agrees that general conscription is the best solution to potential staffing shortfalls, for a variety of reasons:

While many in the military support conscription on the grounds of social equity or national service, nearly all professional soldiers think that bringing back the draft now would reduce the quality of the military, while driving up its cost.

 

"The draft would be the Army's worst nightmare," said retired Lt. Col. Leonard Wong, now a research professor at the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks. "We have a high quality Army because we have people who want to be in it. Our volunteer force is really a professional force. You can't draft people into a profession."

 

A fundamental problem with a draft today, experts say, is that the historic two-year period of conscription isn't enough time to get a return on the investment in training that modern soldiers require. "There's just too much equipment [draftees] could break," Pike said.

 

A related problem: the cost of feeding, clothing, training and paying a large influx of unskilled personnel would gobble up funds the military needs for other purposes.

 

"We're a personnel-based institution," Wong said. "If we have a lot more people walking in the door, it would suck up all of our resources."

Since a reimposition of conscription would require Congressional approval, which has not yet been given, it is unlikely that a draft (even if approved by Congress) would be underway as early as Spring 2005:

And even if the draft were reinstated tomorrow, it would take at least two years before it could produce additional soldiers for Iraq and Afghanistan, the experts say.

 

"It will take 193 days from the time that we get started until the first person is presented to the Department of Defense," said Alyce Burton, a spokeswoman for the Selective Service. It would then take a year and a half to two years to train the draftees and form them into new combat units, Krepinovich said.

Even if the draft started up again, it might be of a much more limited nature than in previous years, with only those who could fill specialized positions in certain fields (e.g., health care, linguistics, computer technology) being conscripted.

 

There is as yet no definitive answer to the question of whether or not the U.S. will reinstitute a draft. Obviously some thought has been given to the issue, but the possibility that such thoughts will be turned into reality appears rather small at this point. Still, conditions and attitudes can change very quickly — another event of the magnitude of the September 11 attacks could prompt some rapid shifts in government policy and public opinion.

 

Last updated:   23 September 2004

 

 

The URL for this page is http://www.snopes.com/politics/military/draft.asp

 

Urban Legends Reference Pages © 1995-2004

by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  Sources:

     Gross, Karen.   "Feel the Draft."

   Philadelphia City Paper.   20 September 2001.

 

     Kelly, Jack.   "Rumor Aside, Draft's Return Most Unlikely."

   Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.   24 May 2004.

 

     Lindorff, Dave.   "Oiling up the Draft Machine?"

   Salon.com.   3 November 2003.

 

     Associated Press.   "Selective Service Notice Creates Flurry of Press Reports Suggesting Return of Draft."

   USA Today.   10 November 2003.

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