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Senior Democrat renews call for military draft


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By Jackie Frank

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An influential Democratic lawmaker on Sunday called for reinstatement of the draft as a way to boost U.S. troop levels and draw a broader section of the population into the military or public service.

U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, the incoming chairman of the House of Representatives' tax-writing committee, said he would introduce legislation to reinstate the draft as soon as the new, Democratic-controlled Congress convenes in January.

Asked on CBS' "Face the Nation" if he was still serious about the proposal for a universal draft he raised a couple of years ago, he said, "You bet your life. Underscore serious."

"If we're going to challenge Iran and challenge North Korea and then, as some people have asked, to send more troops to Iraq, we can't do that without a draft," he said.

Rangel, who opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, also said he did not think the United States would have invaded Iraq if the children of members of Congress were sent to fight. He has said the U.S. fighting force is comprised disproportionately of people from low-income families and minorities.

"I don't see how anyone can support the war and not support the draft. I think to do so is hypocritical," he said.

The New York Democrat had introduced legislation to reinstate the draft in January 2003 before the Iraq invasion. The Pentagon has said the all-volunteer army is working well and there is no need for a draft, and the idea had no traction in the Republican-led Congress.

Democrats gained control of both the House and Senate for the first time in 12 years in the November 7 election, and a wholesale change in the leadership of Congress is to be made in January. Rangel is to head the House Ways and Means Committee, which is charged with U.S. tax and trade legislation.

The draft was in place from 1948 to 1973, when the United States converted to an all-volunteer army. But almost all men living in the United States - including most male noncitizens - are required to register with the Selective Service upon reaching 18, and federal benefits, including financial aid for college studies, are contingent on registration.

Rangel said his legislation on the draft would also offer the alternative of a couple of years of public service with educational benefits.

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To clarify a couple errors:

The draft was in place from 1948 to 1973, when the United States converted to an all-volunteer army. But almost all men living in the United States - including most male noncitizens - are required to register with the Selective Service upon reaching 18,

From Wikipedia:

"The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 was passed by the Congress of the United States on September 6, 1940 becoming the first peacetime conscription in United States history. This Selective Service Act required that men between the ages 21 and 30 register with local draft boards. The age range was later changed to 18-45." (The act was amended in 1948, not initiated).

Also, regarding non-citizens, only Resident Aliens, those with a 'Green Card" are required to register. Citizenship is only required for officers, and there is no requirement to be able to speak english to serve.

Interestingly, from 1946 till about 1995, male citizens of the Phillipines were allowed to enlist in the US military via competitive examination for a limited quota. This was in recognition of the fact that the Phillipines were a US territory for nearly 50 years following the Spanish-American war until the Phillipinos chose independence following WWII. This privilege was ended by Congress when the Phillipine government directed the removal of all US military presence.

Comment on the article: I suspect the army would be highly opposed to this proposal. First, dealing with draftees who are not willing placed, requires a much higher level of supervision and would have much higher rates of misbehavior, causing lower efficiency levels in training and even at the unit level. Second, if the term of service is only two years, this is insufficient to produce a trained soldier and get any significant amount of deployed service.

Unlike 35 years ago, the Army is much more technical and trains to a standard of proficiency unimaginable during the Vietnam era. Further the Army no longer treats the individual as a faceless cog to be plugged in wherever needed. Bootcamp is longer than in years past and is followed by a number of advanced schools. Units now are trained as a comprehesive team and undergo a training cycle that is at least a year long, and must pass rigorous operational exams to be declared combat ready. If the unit fails they keep training until they pass.

The upshot of this is that it probably takes nearly 2 years for a soldier to be fully trained. To then discharge a draftee then becomes a pointless exercise in wasted manpower and money. If the time of service was extended to 3 years, that would mean spending 2 years training a man, for one year of combat service. A new conscription act would need to be on the order of 5 years of service to get 2 combat tours from a draftee.

a.m.

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i don't understand how we could have elected a democratic congress that ran on the platform that we should have a timetable and pull out of iraq, and then suggest a draft. this is insane!

but my opinions on a draft-

1.) why 18 year olds? they're not old enough to drink, but they can die for their country . absurd.

2.) with all this training required, how could we prepare troops in time to save the day NOW, when we need them?

3.) why are women exempt from the draft? if we want equal rights, i believe we must have equal responsibilities. maybe we'd get more respect if we did, i don't know

4.) why are we in iraq in the first place, and when are we getting out?

5.) why can't we just devote ourselves to one front, win, and then move on, why are we dividing our forces when we don't have enough people to begin with?

6.) why is this war costing so much? why is halliburton making so much money off of us?

7.) if we need to win iraq then we'll need them to cooperate with us. this isn't the age anymore of bringing in tons of weapons, especially in metro areas, this is the age of intelligence and a media war- they have to believe in us and fight the insurgency themselves on their own homefront too

8.) we're not behind the war. if we want to win, we need to believe in it and have a reason. we don't.

9.) if we have a draft, who will want to go, and wouldn't canada get a lot of new residents?

10.) why aren't we using our strong global power in the world to fight these wars and resorting to our military instead? why can't we get cooperation on international trade sanctions, etc? bring down pressure on uncooperative nations...

just some of my thoughts...

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i1.) why 18 year olds? they're not old enough to drink, but they can die for their country . absurd.

Because MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, hounded congress for years to increase the drinking age, because the individual states, being in closer touch with the people refused to. The majority of the states at that time had drinking ages varying between 16 - 21. So congress added a clause to the federal highways funding act stating that if a state didn't increase the drinking age to 21, they would lose all funding for their highways. This was an example of the federal government illegally forcing states to pass laws where congress had no authority.

2.) with all this training required, how could we prepare troops in time to save the day NOW, when we need them?
You can't, unless you invent microwave instruction. If it did exist university degrees would only take a year.

3.) why are women exempt from the draft? if we want equal rights, i believe we must have equal responsibilities. maybe we'd get more respect if we did, i don't know

Because we are still clinging to the quaint notion that women hold a special place in society and should be protected from the rougher aspects.

6.) why is this war costing so much? why is halliburton making so much money off of us?
Because the after the Cold War, America demanded a "Peace Dividend". The military was downsized by nearly half with the concept of fighting in only one theatre, and not for a protracted time. In order to maximize combat units, every effort was made to shift support services to civilian contractors who can be hired and fired on little notice. That is why you find that the Navy no longer has any tugboats to move it's ships, and the Army no longer has field cooking units, and uses civilian trucks to move cargo and fuel, and all the services have civilian logistics companies moving cargo and operating warehouses.

Based on the perceived will of the people Congress has not seen fit to expand the size of the Army to provide the overwhelming manpower necessary to meet the combat conditions.

9.) if we have a draft, who will want to go, and wouldn't canada get a lot of new residents?

It doesn't matter who wants to go. A draft by definition is compulsory. People comply with the law or face the penalties.

a.m.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just to address the women in military thing. My cousin was navy his wife army. The kids went to my Aunts house to live. They gave her medical, financial, educational powers etc for the duration of their tours of duty and other documents should one or both of them not come home. When they came home they took them back. Many believe that women shouldn't serve because if there is a serious case of multiple male deaths in war they'd need to rebuild the American population(Yes I know how old that train of thought is). Women are excellently qualified to serve should they so desire in my opinion.

lilie

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how about if one gets a call to tour, then the other cannot go anywhere and must stay at home?

when women can be soliders at home and train as men do, and then not face the same fights, i think that is discrimination towards both men and women.

i think that in a subtle way, women being exempt from military fighting helps to propagate the notion that women are inferior.

i know israel had women in their military, and i don't know if they still do, but looking at their experience would be interesting.

there are also countries (germany, for example) that require males to perform either military service or time on the homefront in some kind of community service capacity. why aren't women expected to do the same?

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Hi All:

AM wrote this:

Because we are still clinging to the quaint notion that women hold a special place in society and should be protected from the rougher aspects.

i am clinging by my pink wool gloves with a velvet bow.

I cant get my hands dirty....this started as kid in pre-school who could not finger paint. no way in hell was i getting my hands dirty.

if a woman wants to be in the military - good for her. but i do not think it should be mandatory for women to be in the military.

db

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The upshot of this is that it probably takes nearly 2 years for a soldier to be fully trained. To then discharge a draftee then becomes a pointless exercise in wasted manpower and money. If the time of service was extended to 3 years, that would mean spending 2 years training a man, for one year of combat service. A new conscription act would need to be on the order of 5 years of service to get 2 combat tours from a draftee.

However, the commitment is likely to be 2 yrs. Active Duty, 4 yrs. Reserve Duty, with somewhat limited

call-up jeopardy for some years afterward. Similar to the current obligations imposed on volunteers to

recoup training and equipment costs, but it sounds nicer when you call it "only 2 yrs. active duty." This

would not be a measure to boost the standing forces as it is a measure to keep the drilling Reserves from

hemorrhaging personnel fed up with being treated as military perma-temps.

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