Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett might get drafted next year
… by the Army!
Due to the increase in violent resistance to the U.S.-led
occupation of Iraq and decreasing international support of the
campaign, American military might is being stretched paper-thin.
The Department of Defense unveiled a plan this week to keep
short-term troop strength in Iraq at more than 135,000, and at the
same time Congress mulled over ways to increase the long-term
strength of the U.S. military by 30,000-plus soldiers.
While the congressional debate is mostly centered around ways to
recruit and finance an extra two divisions of troops, Sen. Chuck
Hagel, R-Neb, recommended Tuesday that Congress consider
reestablishment of a military draft.
Does this congressional consideration mean you should renew your
passport? Not yet. The November election should give those of you
who don’t mind saying “eh?” at the end of every sentence ample time
What should arouse your emotions is the fact that a supporter of
the war in Iraq is presenting the draft proposition as a solution
to a very critical problem facing our military. The radical nature
of the problem and its proscribed solution are each a testament to
how deeply involved we are in this conflict and what achieving
victory might cost.
David Segal, director of the University of Maryland’s Center for
Research on Military Organization, is quoted in the Christian
Science Monitor as saying, “Our volunteer army is closer to being
broken today than at any point in its 30-year history.” Segal
elaborates further by explaining how the U.S. military no longer
uses reserve troops for their intended purpose – as reserve
While some reserve troops are always a necessary part of any
major deployment for the U.S. military, an over-deployment of
troops usually results in those who volunteered for duty seeing
their tours suddenly extended or, in some cases, doubled. When
combined with falling enlistment rates because of waning public
opinion of the conflict, our overburdened army risks becoming what
Fox News’ Peter Brownfield calls a “hollow force,” or a military
lacking enough volunteers to maintain its commitments.
Congress faces a formidable task in trying to keep its volunteer
army standing during this drawn-out conflict. With spending already
plagued by a record deficit, Congress is having to make ever
sweeter the pay increases and/or bonuses offered to those who
enlist and reenlist.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a member of the Senate Armed Services
Committee, has even recommended scrapping funding for the F/A-22
fighter. After 15 years of development costing nearly $40 billion,
the F/A-22 is scheduled to enter service next year and is slated to
replace almost every tactical warplane in the U.S. military
Sen. Hagel’s proposition is not the first time since Sept. 11,
2001, lawmakers have considered the possibility of a draft, but it
is the first time the idea has been floated because of its
perceived merit and not because of political protest.
Two bills calling for a reinstitution of a military draft, HR
163 and SB 89, were proposed in 2003 and are currently buried in
committee awaiting the apocalypse. These bills, however, were not
written in favor of a draft but instead to condemn the action
against Iraq. The bills’ sponsors, Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and
Sen. Fritz Hollings, D-S.C., intended to highlight for Americans
the potential consequences anything less than a flawless victory in
Iraq might bring.
After more than a year of occupation, errors have been made and
there is no clear victory in sight. Support of the occupation is
quickly fading both at home and abroad, as is the morale of
soldiers on the front line.
Do I think a reactivation of the draft is inevitable and just
over the horizon? Not necessarily. As long as we aren’t compelled
to topple another third-rate despot and as long as our campaigns in
Iraq and Afghanistan don’t spill over into neighboring states,
we’ll be just fine.
If any of the above does happen, though, I’m just gonna hack off
a couple toes on my left foot. Or volunteer for the Coast
Joe is a senior majoring in history. His column appears every