Monday, March 29, 2004

Are You Between 16 And Oh...Say 24?

If you are, you need to be paying attention, as it's becoming more and more likely that a military draft is coming back. The buzz began last year with stories about recruiting for Selective Service Boards across the country. These are the folks charged with hearing cases requesting conscientious objector status, or other reason for not serving. The spin at the time was that many of these Boards were losing members whose terms just happened to be expiring and they needed to have new members "just in case."

Now comes word that the Pentagon has begun the earliest steps to create a "special skills targeted draft" in the event of emergency.
Nonetheless, the agency has begun the process of creating the procedures and policies to conduct such a targeted draft in case military officials ask Congress to authorize it and the lawmakers agree to such a request.

"Talking to the manpower folks at the Department of Defense and others, what came up was that nobody foresees a need for a large conventional draft such as we had in Vietnam," said Richard Flahavan, a spokesman for the Selective Service System. "But they thought that if we have any kind of a draft, it will probably be a special skills draft."

Flahavan said Selective Service planning for a possible draft of linguists and computer experts began last fall after Pentagon personnel officials said the military needed more people with skills in those areas.

A targeted registration and draft "is strictly in the planning stage," he said, adding that "the whole thing is driven by what appears to be the more pressing and relevant need today" -- the deficit in language and computer experts.

The spokesman said it could take about two years to "to have all the kinks worked out."

The agency already has a special system to register and draft health care personnel ages 20 to 44 in more than 60 specialties if necessary in a crisis. According to Flahavan, the agency will expand this system to be able to rapidly register and draft computer specialists and linguists, should the need ever arise. But he stressed that the agency has received no request from the Pentagon to do so.
I wasn't aware of any health care draft. Has anyone had experience of this they can relate?

The article goes on to claim that Congress has shown no interest in a draft, but that's not true. Several Representatives (I can't find the story link.) last year, as a jab at Bush mostly, introduced legislation to restart the draft. The bill in somewhere in Congress right now.

So, the idea is out there, slowly moving along. It's been introduced, and is now gaining slow momentum. It all depends on who the next President is, and what they plan to do internationally, but if Bush wins I wouldn't be surprised to find more forward action on the draft. He's already explicitly told the nation that we are in a war that will take many years to resolve. While the Pentagon has said that they have the forces they need to do the job, it would still take a couple of years to build up the US military if new troops were introduced. Would a call for more volunteers do the job?

If I were between 16 and 22 or so, I'd be watching this one very closely.

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