Veterans Association of America, Inc.
Sunday, May 24, 2020
Serving those who've served this Country

Draft Is Contemplated

Draft Prepared For Unlikely Call
Cox News Service
June 10, 2005

ATLANTA - When the Pentagon releases its May recruiting figures Friday, the numbers are expected to show a continuing decline in those signing up for the Army and Marine Corps.

If that downward trend continues, the specter of a military draft to fill the ranks with able bodies is likely to loom large in Washington once again.

But William Chatfield, the new head of the nation's Selective Service System , said he did not anticipate that happening any time soon.

"Congress, not the president, would have to approve it and I have seen nothing to indicate there is any support for it there," Chatfield said Wednesday during a visit to Atlanta.

The Army and the Marines , which are carrying the brunt of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and suffering the bulk of the casualties, have been struggling in recent months to meet recruiting goals.

Chatfield said modern technology would enable the Selective Service to conduct specialized drafts in the event people with specific skills such as linguists, medical personnel or computer experts were in critical demand by the military. But any future draft will be significantly different than the Vietnam-era draft, he said.

A congressional resolution introduced last fall by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), a Korean War veteran , called for the draft _ which was abolished in 1973 _ to be reinstituted.

While that resolution was largely seen as a ploy to embarrass President Bush in an election year, Chatfield believes the 402-2 vote against it reflects the true congressional opposition to the issue.

Military officials also oppose a draft, saying the all-volunteer force is easier to train and maintain than a force of reluctant draftees.

Chatfield, a Marine Corps Reserve chief warrant officer, said it was nevertheless incumbent on the Selective Service to be prepared in the event Congress changes its mind.

"I like being ready to go, although not necessarily needing to use it," he said of the system.

Among the new Selective Service guidelines if a draft is implemented:

-- Few student deferments or exemptions would be allowed.
-- Conscientious objector exemptions would be based on moral, ethical or religious beliefs, not solely on religious beliefs.

-- Men would be most draft eligible in the year they turn 20, with 21- to 25-year-olds less likely to be called. In the previous draft, local boards often first drafted the oldest men who had not yet turned 26 .

-- Local draft and appeal boards would better reflect the racial, ethnic and cultural makeup of the communities in which they are based.

"One of our missions is to make sure that any future draft is fair and equitable," said Keith Scragg, a retired Air Force colonel who is director of the Selective Service's Southeast region.

Federal law requires all young men to register with the Selective Service within 30 days of turning 18.

Failure to do so is a felony and those who do not register can be denied student and other federal loans.

Scragg said the national average for registration is 76 percent for 18-year-olds and 90 percent for those 19 to 25.

By federal law, women are still not required to register .