Updated May 16, 2004









U.S. Draft in 2005

Actions Indicate Administration Has Plan To Reinstate Military Draft if Bush Re-Elected


By Mike Blair


A military draft may be reinstated by mid-2005 if President George W. Bush is re-elected in November. An appropriation of $28 million has been provided in the current defense budget to bring the nation’s Selective Service System up to speed, which many people believe will likely lead to a national draft of young men and women by June 15, 2005.

U.S. military professionals have told American Free Press that due to the Iraq war and large troop deployments in Korea and Europe, a manpower shortage in the armed forces has reached “a state of critical mass.”

Neither Bush nor his Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), would dare to push for reinstating the draft during an election year. The draft was ended in 1973. But many people believe Bush has put the machinery in place to begin a draft by June 15, 2005, which includes setting up and staffing local Selective Service boards throughout America.

The Pentagon has begun a program to fill 10,350 local draft board positions and 11,070 appeals board posts as soon as possible.

Last September, the Pentagon ran an ad for volunteers to fill the slots. But when it was reported in the news media, the ad was quietly pulled.

Registration for the draft ended in 1975. Under President Jimmy Carter, however, registration was reinstated for all men between the ages of 18 and 25 in 1980, in an amendment to the Military Selective Service Act.

Currently, legislation is pending in the House and Senate to renew the draft.

In the House there is H.R. 163, which was introduced last year by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.). It was referred to the House Armed Services Committee and the House Subcommittee on Total Force.

H.R. 163 has 14 co-sponsors, including Reps. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), Donna M. Christensen (D-Va.), John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.), John Lewis (D-Ga.), James P. Moran (D-Va.), Fortney “Pete” Stark (D-Calif.) Corrine Brown (D-Fla.), William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas.), Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), and Nydia M. Velazquez (D-N.Y.).

Most of those who have signed on to support the bill are members of the Congressional Black Caucus. However, Rangel and the bill’s co-sponsors contend, as Rangel puts it: “Those who love this country have a patriotic obligation to defend this country. For those who say the poor fight better, I say give the rich a chance.”

Rangel said primarily the poor and minorities are serving in Iraq, getting wounded and killed.

Under the bill, the draft would apply to men and women ages 18 to 26, the 20-year-olds being taken first, with exemptions to allow people to graduate from high school. But college students would have to serve, unlike during the Vietnam War, when attending college was a stay-home pass.


In the Senate a companion bill, S. 89, has been introduced by Sen. Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings (D-S.C.), which has been referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

Said Hollings: “We all share the benefits of life in America, and under this plan, we all help shoulder the burden of defending our freedoms. Our proposal ensures that all Americans answer the call of duty. High school students could be deferred until they graduate, but in no case will that deferment extend beyond the age of 20. As we fight this war on terrorism and protect our way of life, we must once again listen to the words of President John F. Kennedy, who implored us to ‘ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country’.”

Army commanders in Iraq want more troops to combat the growing guerrilla war that is engulfing the country and causing daily deaths among U.S. troops.

Even Republican members of the Senate are beginning to talk about a draft being needed to fill manpower gaps.

“Why shouldn’t we ask all of our citizens to bear some responsibility and pay some price?” said Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) at a recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. His comments came just after the Pentagon moved to extend the missions of some 20,000 of the 134,000 troops in Iraq.

Hagel said that restoring the draft would force “our citizens to understand the intensity and depth of challenges we face.”

Only one Army division remains in the United States.

The continued deployment of the National Guard and Reserves has created a mass exodus of troops from their ranks.

For example, the Massachusetts National Guard’s recruiting was down 30 percent last year. Of Reserve and National Guard troops sent to Iraq, 46 percent said they had no intention of re-enlisting. This has not only resulted in a manpower crisis but a critical loss of talent for the Guard and Reserves.

Further angering National Guard and Reserve troops, the Bush administration has initiated what is referred to as a “stop loss” program, which mandates that members of the Guard and Reserves cannot leave the military until 90 days after they have been deactivated.

“I just shudder to think what would happen if another war scenario pops up suddenly somewhere in the world, with a single division of regular troops remaining as reserves. We would be in big trouble, and I cannot emphasize enough how big ‘big’ is,” a retired Air Force officer told American Free Press.