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Alert! New Military Draft!
I AIN'T NO SENATOR'S SON!
By M. Alex Pierson

While the idea of a new military draft has been floated around by some politicians for many years, more and more recent evidence suggests that a new draft may be imminent. The U.S. military is currently stretched dangerously thin around the world, with 1.4 million troops scattered in former Cold War areas and current hot spots including Japan, Germany, South Korea, Afghanistan, and the 140,000 currently fighting in Iraq. Many in Congress and the military, including Senator John McCain, insist that America needs more troops in Iraq, yet a recent poll in the Army's Stars and Stripes found that half of the Army's enlisted soldiers in Iraq say they are "not likely" or "very unlikely" to reenlist. In addition to the falling support amongst the troops in Iraq, many reserves and The National Guard are already serving extended periods in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now considering that the Selective Service System has an additional $18 million in their budget to create a specialized draft for those skilled in computers and linguistics, as well as a current bill in Congress to re-instate the draft, there is serious cause for concern if you or anyone you know is between the age of 18-26.

Estimates have suggested that 46% of the soldiers currently deployed in Iraq comprise of Army Reserve and National Guard, many who are untrained and ill-prepared for the often stressful and dangerous pligh t of fighting in Iraq. This figure is estimated to grow as more part-time soldiers are brought in to help carry the burden of restoring Iraq. Some soldiers being summoned by the government include 5,600 soldiers from the Individual Ready Reserve, former soldiers that do not serve during the year but are eligible for duty if needed. As the military continues to reach into its' limited amount of rarely used reserves, current troops continue to shoulder the burden.

Due to the increasing need for new soldiers as many reservists fulfill their obligations, the government has placed stop-loss orders to keep reservists in Iraq. Though estimates suggest this strategy will keep 30,000 additional troops in Iraq, it will be at the expense of the men and women who have already served in Iraq for as long as a year. Democratic presidential challenger John Kerry, when discussing the subject, said, "They have effectively used a stop-loss policy as a back-door draft." And indeed, many are beginning to believe that the policy of maintaining our military size in Iraq at the expense of those serving will undermine the troop's morale, effectively hindering our international efforts, and creating a greater need for more troops that may have to come from a military draft.

While the Bush Administration continues to insist that there are no plans for a future draft, the Selective Service System, the government agency in charge of the draft if one were to happen, has begun the initial work for the creation of a special skills draft for those skilled in computers and foreign languages. While an SSS spokesman stated the targeted registration and draft is "strictly in the planning stages," the SSS is working quickly as the military's current need for computer skills and linguists, particularly those speaking Arabic, are increasingly sought after. The specialized draft could significantly increase the military's numbers and effectiveness, though the support for such a draft, without increased necessity, is likely to be very low. However, despite low support for a draft, the agency will be reporting to the President on its' capability for a full-blown resurrection on March 31, 2005. The SSS has beefed up its' operations this year and has the look of a re-energized organization that may have a lot more work ahead in the not too distant future as America's military strength continues to be challenged globally.

Besides the work being done within the Selective Service System, several politicians are supporting a new draft as well. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY) have both supported new legislation to reinstate the draft. Rangel, a veteran of the military, said "I strongly believe that fighting for our country must be fairly shared by all racial and economic groups," highlighting the larger percentage of African-Americans and lower-middle class citizens fighting on the front-line for America. The twin bills in Congress, S. 89 and H.R. 163, have been around since 2003 and have thus far been stagnant, receiving little support from Congress. However, the bill, which would create fewer exemptions for avoiding the draft than in the Vietnam era, could gain future support if the current military needs continue to increase and fewer full-time and reserve soldiers choose to not re-enlist. This likelihood is a growing cause for concern, and many believe may inevitably lead us to a draft situation as our global manpower needs outpace our military's ability to recruit and sustain more Americans, particularly those with skills and training.

So will a military draft in fact occur next year, or several years, down the road? The answer may not be definite but the prospect is certainly there. The military will continue to lose morale and numbers due to its' pressure and long tours of duty for many who have already been promised, and re-promised, an end to their service. They will also find it increasingly difficult to recruit soldiers as our international battles get more drawn out and our soldiers suffer more casualties. Furthermore, with such potential battlegrounds as North Korea and Iran, and the continuous battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, this hawkish administration may continue to seek out more battles, and thus demand more troops. In any case, there is a very real reality that may involve a military draft in our near future. Stay educated on the matter at websites like rethinkreality.com in order to be prepared for any future government decisions that may affect you and your plans for the future.


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