Risks increasing of military draft

[email protected]

Please forward to the editor in chief, managing editor, news editor. Thanks.One of the news items in the article below is about the secret Selective Service System document, that surfaced this year. Pentagon officials requested that the Selective Service System plan for a “critical skills” draft to cover military shortages of people with abilities in computers, health care professions, and languages–with conscripts up to age 34. I originally wrote this article for college students and parents, and hope some of the info is useful for your publication. Please feel free to distribute or use any or all of the sections of this article. You have my unreserved permission to pass along this article or incorporate it into your writings and publication, in the way you see fit.

I work as a behavioral health therapist and have counseled vets (and their family members) who served in Korea, Viet Nam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and now Iraq. I lived through the life-dislocations and grief resulting from Viet Nam war policies. I’m the father of four sons, one of whom is an ex-Marine and one who is age 15. So I’m looking out for policies that may increase the momentum toward conscription. to feed U.S. military reactions.

Title: No More Draft Worries?

By Howard Steiner

President Bush has now frequently declared there will be no military draft. So can people near the conscription ages of 18-25 rest easy? Or are there other realities that campaign assurances aren’t mentioning? Though it seems so unlikely that any politician would re-institute the draft, current facts indicate that Mr. Bush is actually on the verge of skidding the Country into years of conscription. A classified Pentagon study, reported in the October 18 Time, concluded the all-volunteer force is vastly undersized. Rumsfeld has had plans for a 30,000 expansion. Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institute and other military planners recommend 40,000. Even that level of troop expansion would not begin to meet this Administration’s current military ideas for stabilizing Iraq, if a destabilizing crisis occurs elsewhere. Look out, if Iraq continues to be a quagmire for our 138,000 troops, while potential hotspots like North Korea or Iran become more of a threat.

Where are all those volunteers supposed to come from, when there is currently a growing crisis in military recruitment and retention? The fact is, for the last year, the National Guard is 5000 short of its’ annual target for recruitment, while the Reserves were down by 10% from their goal. Last month’s targets were nowhere close to being reached, with the Reserves down by 45% compared to last year at this time and the Guard down 30%. It’s an open question whether recruitment incentives and bonuses will be enough to counteract the grim reality of a long urban war “on behalf of “an ungrateful populace harboring insurgents, resulting in tens of thousands of U.S. casualties and upwards of 100,000 civilian deaths.

Jonathan Alter observed in Newsweek: ” If we need, God forbid, to occupy another country that truly threatens the United States, we will either do it with the help of our allies or with the conscription of our kids.” If large numbers of our troops continue occupying Iraq, one more crisis involving substantial U. S. troop levels would likely force a draft. “The threshold question before the election is this: which candidate is more likely to have so few international friends amid a crisis that he would have to move beyond the all-volunteer force?”

“Stay the course” in Iraq looks more and more like “The flies have conquered the flypaper.” The Bush policy has flown in without a clear exit strategy. Without realistic replacements for our troops anytime soon, the greater the risk of the next inevitable crisis happening at the same time as Bush attempts a quixotic occupation. This means a greater risk of having to draft young Americans. This time, it’s not only young adults who are at risk of being conscripted. A fact not mentioned by Mr. Bush is that the Pentagon requested a plan last fall for drafting adults, through age 34, for filling critical shortages in the military. An internal Selective Service System (SSS) plan was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and reported on in the March 13, 2004 Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The SSS document states, “In line with today’s needs, the SSS’ structure, programs and activities should be re-engineered toward maintaining a national inventory of American men and (for the first time) women, ages 18 through 34, with an added focus on identifying individuals with critical skills.” The document described drafting people for “…shortages of military personnel with certain special skills, such as medical personnel, linguists, computer network engineers, etc.” The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that procedures now exist for this targeted draft, in case the military asks Congress to authorize it. [The SSS document is reproduced at http://www.blatanttruth.org/selective_service091304.pdf.] We also haven’t heard Mr. Bush say we ought to save the 26 million dollar annual budget of the SSS and dismantle that agency. Funny that he hasn’t mentioned wanting to save those millions, when it funds the readiness of the Selective Service System to rapidly fill the ranks of combat personnel with college students and other young men. It’s still a fact, though not widely recognized, that a new conscription law for ages18 to 25 does not have to be crafted and passed by Congress, but only reauthorized in a quick, up-or-down vote. The present draft regulations do not allow college students to delay being drafted for more than a semester, except for seniors who can finish up their last year. Following the next major crisis, it wouldn’t take long for patriotic appeals for everyone’s sacrifice and service to fuel a rapid re-authorization by Congress. A first semester freshman in September could be headed for boot camp by December.

The most plausible way for the next President to avert a draft is to mobilize significant military participation from major European armies. New partnerships with Europe and a stronger public diplomacy are not an absolute certainty with Kerry, but are definitely an impossibility for Bush with his historically low favorabilty ratings for a U. S. president in world public opinion. A Pew Research poll last March showed only 14 percent of Germans, 15 percent of the French, 39 percent of Britons, 28 percent of Russians and 7 percent of Pakistanis viewing Bush favorably. As long as the Bush Administration holds to their doctrine of “stay the course” on making a war of occupation on terrorists-which inevitably will result in many more civilian deaths, casualties, and damaged mosques-there’s not much chance of alliance-building-or the load coming off our troops, or future conscripts.