The Draft is Coming Back

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The Draft has a long history in America but has been absent since the Vietnam war. However, given the need for troops in Iraq a draft seems more likely to some people.

The Army clearly needs more troops. It has already forced some soldiers whose terms of enlistment were due to expire to remain in the military. It has also explored calling up the Individual Ready Reserve, the reservoir of over 100,000 veterans who are not part of any active military of national guard unit but who have not completed their eight year military service obligation (an obligation that usually continues after the soldier leaves his unit).

The military has also been quietly recruiting ordinary citizens for draft boards. Some irresponsible alarmists have conflated this with two bills introduced by Democrats in congress that seek to reinstate the draft. These bills are activist measures and opposed by the government. Some groups have seemed to claim that the draft reinstatement bills are secretly being supported by the Bush administration, but this is laughable both because the bills were deliberately DOA and so no quiet Bush effort could get them passed.

Does Bush plan to reinstate the draft? We can't know. However, it seems unlikely that such a bill would pass congress and even if it did it would require a tremendous expenditure of human capital. Furthermore the Pentagon would oppose it, and surely call up the entire individual ready reserve before taking draftees.

The Army has recently raised its cap on enlistment age to 42 years.

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