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The pentagon and the draft

by Mark Smith, Opinion editor

Uncle Sam doesn’t want you…unless, of course, you’re willing to volunteer. That’s the word from the Pentagon, which released information in January confirming that it is trying to avoid reinstating the draft because today’s military forces are composed of volunteers, and joint chiefs want to keep it that way.

On Jan. 7 New York Representative Charles Rangel (D.) introduced a bill to Congress to reinstate the draft. Under this bill, the draft would apply to men and women ages 18 to 26. Current high school students would be allowed to finish school, while those in college would be forced to drop out and serve. Those who cannot perform military service due to medical conditions would be asked to perform community service instead.

According to CNN, Rangel’s proposal is focused on making Congress reconsider military action against Iraq, as the draft would include all able-bodied Americans, a group which contains the children of congressmen and other government officials. He believes that reinstating the draft would cause Congress to reconsider strikes against Iraq as their own loved ones would be placed in danger.

The United States used the draft between 1948 and 1973. The draft required all able-bodied men to serve their country in times of war. It was most controversial during the Vietnam War which lasted from 1964-1975. The fear of being drafted caused a number of men to leave the country, particularly to Canada. The Selective Service was activated in 1980. All young men between the ages of 18 and 26 are required to register. This gives the government a large list of names to call on should the United States find itself in a state of emergency.

When the draft ended in 1973, the United States created the all-volunteer military, which is still operating today. To draw more interest in joining the military, the government has offered many options such as money for college which can range to $30,000. The military also offers job training in the technical, administrative, and medical fields which has also helped to keep the numbers of enlistees high.

The military also has a large pool of people to pull from, which would make the draft unnecessary. Tours with the military usually last between 4 to 8 years. This is followed by the same number of years of inactive service called the Inactive or Individual Ready Reserves (IRR). During the IRR phase of one’s military contract, military personnel are released from active duty to return home and may be called up again to serve in the case of a national emergency.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld responded to Rangel’s proposal by stating that the draft will not be re-implemented. Rumsfeld went on to tell reporters that the military has had no problem with attracting interested and qualified personnel and the draft simply would not be necessary.







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