Hidden Agenda: A National
Draft in the Future?
By Gov. Howard Dean, M.D.
September 21, 2004
A key issue for young Americans
and their families to consider as they prepare to cast their
votes in the upcoming presidential election is the real likelihood
of a military draft being reinstated if President Bush is re-elected.
President Bush should tell us now whether he supports a military
Here is the evidence that makes
a draft likely:
- The U.S. Army has acknowledged
that they are stretched thin and that finding new recruits is
challenging. They recently placed 300 new recruiters in the field.
Bonuses for new recruits to the Army have risen by 67 percent
to a maximum of $10,000 and $15,000 for hard-to-fill specialties.
- The extended tours of duty
have made service less attractive for both the regular armed
forces, and particularly for the National Guard and Reserves.
To meet this year's quota for enlistees, the Army has sped up
the induction of "delayed entry" recruits, meaning
they are already borrowing from next year's quotas in order to
meet this year's numbers.
- Reservists are now being called
away for longer periods. In 2003, President Bush dramatically
extended the length of time for the Guard and Reserves deployment
in Iraq. Extended tours of up to a year have become common.
- In a further sign of a lack
of adequate staffing, the armed forces are now in the process
of calling up members of the Individual Ready Reserves. These
are often older reservists usually waiting retirement. They are
typically in their mid-to-late forties, and have not been on
active duty and have not trained for some time. Traditionally,
they are only supposed to be called up during a time of national
emergency. In 2001, President Bush authorized their call up but
never rescinded this order even after he declared "Mission
Accomplished" in Iraq in May of 2003.
- The Armed Forces are already
chronically understaffed. In 2003, General Eric Shinseki testified
before Congress that an additional 50,000 troops would be needed
beyond what the Bush administration said would be necessary to
stabilize Iraq after the invasion. The President ignored him.
We do not have enough troops in Afghanistan to be able to stabilize
the country, as shown by the continual putting off of elections
well past their announced date. In an effort to free up yet more
troops in the coming years, we are moving troops away from the
Demilitarized Zone in Korea and reducing the number of troops
on the Korean Peninsula at a time when North Korea poses more
of a danger to the U.S. - not less. Because of the President's
military adventurism, our Armed Forces are under enormous pressure.
The only place to go for more troops is a draft.
- Selective service boards have
already been notified that 20-year-olds and medical personnel
will be called up first.
President Bush will be forced
to decide whether we can continue the current course in Iraq,
which will clearly require the reinstatement of the draft. The
Pentagon has objected to a draft but, the President has ignored
other Pentagon recommendations in the past.
American families and young
people are owed an explanation about the President's plans. Will
the President withdraw from some of our military commitments
or will he reinstate the draft? We need to know that before we
vote, not afterwards.
Email Howard Dean at
Howard Dean, M.D. and former
governor of Vermont, is the founder of Democracy
for America, a grassroots organization that supports socially
progressive and fiscally responsible political candidates.
Copyright 2004 Howard
All Rights Reserved.
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