As the U.S. Army reported falling short of its annual recruiting goal for the first time since 1999, suggestion have arisen that the military draft may be reinstated for the first time in 32 years. But, who wants a draft? Not the people, not Congress, and, most of all, not the U.S. Military.
According to recent polls, a very politically-significant 70 percent of Americans oppose reinstatement of a military draft.
Congress Doesn't Want the Draft
Reinstating the draft would require the approval of Congress. In October 2004, the House of Representatives defeated by a vote of 402-2, H.R. 163 -- The Universal National Service Act of 2003, which would have required that "all young persons in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security."
Politicians have good memories, and you can bet today's politicians remember the effects of the draft during the Vietnam War. They remembers how the draft greatly contributed to the erosion of the public's belief in the legitimacy of the war. They remember how the draft, with its class-oriented deferments, increased citizens' distrust of the the federal government. And most of all, they remember how many past politicians were sent back to the farm, largely due to voter resentment of the draft.
The Military Doesn't Want the Draft
The Pentagon has, on many occasions, made it clear that military leaders have no desire to wage modern warfare with drafted troops.
The complex, high-tech battlefields of the war on terror, says the Pentagon, demand war fighters with a level of professionalism and motivation attainable only in an all-volunteer environment.
In January 2003, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated his opinion (which remains unchanged today) on what he called the "notable disadvantages" of a drafted force. Rumsfeld noted that draftees, forced to serve, often earn less than they could in civilian life. As a result, draftees are "churned" through training, serve their minimum required time and leave, thus causing more money to be spent to churn more draftees through the system.
As recently as June 9, 2005, Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, Chief, Army Reserve, speaking to members of the 7th Army Reserve Command (ARCOM), clearly stated his belief that a draft is an inefficient way to build a modern armed force.
I came in the Army when there was a draft induced Army, said Helmly. We had some awfully great Soldiers during that time, weve had great Soldiers throughout our history, but, todays all-volunteer Army is a higher quality force. Our President has said we will not have a draft and I agree with him."
Army Plans to Sweeten the Recruitment Pot
On June 10, the U.S. Army announced it planned to double to $40,000 the cash bonus for new recruits who agree to fill a limited number of hard-to-fill positions requiring special skills or education.
As an added incentive, the Army proposed to offer up to $50,000 in home mortgage payments for recruits who enlist for up to eight year of active duty. Both incentives will require the approval of Congress.