It may have been good for the country, but it damn near killed the army. Sir Richard Hull
He first tried to introduce a bill to reinstate the Draft in 2003, no luck.
On February 15, 2013, Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel(D-NY), proposed the “Universal National Services Act” of 2013 (H.R. 748), which was then referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel on March 6th. The summary is as follows:
It is the obligation of every U.S. citizen, and every other person residing in the United States, between the ages of 18 and 25 to perform a 2-year period of national service, unless exempted, either through military service or through civilian service in a federal, state, or local government program or with a community-based agency or entity engaged in meeting human, educational, environmental, or public safety needs, requires induction into national service by the President. This bill allows persons to be inducted only:
- under a declaration of war or national emergency,
- when members of the Armed Forces are engaged in a contingency operation. Requires each person, before induction, to be examined physically and mentally for classification for fitness to perform. Sets forth provisions governing:
- induction deferments, postponements, and exemptions, including exemption of a conscientious objector from combatant training and military service;
- discharge following national service.
The reasons that Charles Rangel believes that the Draft should be reinstated are as follows:
- To strengthen the military by reducing the burden of the disproportionate number of soldiers who are making sacrifices.
- To engage national debate about who is fighting our wars and whether all of America can say that they’re sharing the sacrifice.
- To reduce the incidents of high combat exposure, combined with multiple deployments, that have resulted in unprecedented incidents of post-traumatic stress disorder, brain injury and suicide, because the burden is exclusively placed on less than 1% of the population which has become a “virtual military class”.
Since the draft was replaced by an all-volunteer force in 1973, our nation has been making decisions about wars without worry over who fights them. I sincerely believe that reinstating the draft would compel the American public to have a stake in the wars we fight as a nation. That is why I wrote the Universal National Service Act, known as the “draft” bill, which requires all men and women between ages 18 and 25 to give two years of service in any capacity that promotes our national defense. Charles B. Rangel, Special to CNN updated 10:33 AM EST, Sat January 26, 2013
As a member of the 503rd Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division during the Korean War Congressman Rangel does know something about what it takes to be on the front lines of combat. In November of 1950, the Chinese Army poured in like waves to support Kim Il Sung and U.N. forces were in retreat from the Yalu River. Rangel’s unit was assigned to hold their position near Kunu-ri while the rest of the Eighth Army could retreat to Sunchon, 21 miles further south. On the night of November 29, 1950, the 2nd Infantry was attacked by the Chinese Army, who set up a fire block to cut off any U.S. retreat. The freezing night air was pierced by bugle calls and Charles Rangel was hit by a blast and pitched into a ditch. This saved him because when he woke up, the line of retreat had erupted into chaos. In his book, And I Haven’t Had a Bad Day Since, Rangel recounts the memory of how unit cohesion evaporated as men were slaughtered, their screams shrill and pitiful in the night, others were taken prisoner never to be seen again. Yet, in spite of fear and difficulty Rangel managed to escape, but also led 40 other men out of the danger and back to safety. At the time he was only 20 years old and a Private First Class. As a result he was awarded a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star with Valor and a Presidential Unit Citation.
Thirty years later when I was stationed in Korea, I heard similar stories from Korean veterans of that era. They were so grateful for the help that they received from American soldiers and happy to not be part of North Korea’s insanity. For those who say this war was a useless waste, take a good look at the difference between North and South Korea today! This is a war that should never be forgotten! Yet, this was warfare waged in ways that now seem ancient to us. With todays technology we can and should expect a different kind of battlefield. However, Iraq and Afghanistan are fine examples of old ways that have not and probably never will die, just the soldiers who bleed in such campaigns.
This is combat at its most primitive, hand to hand, up close and in your face, this is the ugly reality, the nasty business of just how difficult warfare can be. With this in mind, new social concerns are reflected so that the “Universal National Services Act” of 2013, would be different in a variety of ways from conscription of the past, such as:
- All men and women from 18 to 25 will be expected to serve. This legislation would require those between the ages of 18 and 25 to perform two years of national service in either the armed services or a civilian component. Women would be expected to enroll in the Selective Service System. On the subject of women in combat and the issue of draft I do have a perspective since I am a woman and I was active duty in the Army for 10 years, but that opinion and one other, from Capt. Katie Petronio, who served in both war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan are presented in my article Should Women Serve in Combat Infantry and that of her excellent essay to be found here.
- Reforms to make the draft more equitable along gender and class lines.
- Elimination of higher education as a shelter. Underclassmen would only be able to postpone service until the end of their current semester. Seniors would have until the end of the academic year. Before 1971, a young man could qualify for a student deferment if he showed that he was registered as a full-time student making satisfactory progress toward a degree.
From 2003 to 2006, Charles Rangel submitted two versions of a draft bill. The first applied to men and women aged 18 to 25, and the other to men and women from 18 to 42. Don’t worry the only bill up for debate is for the 18 to 25 year olds. The President and the Pentagon would then determine the needs of the military and others would be required to do some kind of national civil service. Yet, no serious attention was given to his proposals until an insufficient number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan required prolonged extension of deployments. This action forced vets who had previously served in combat to be recalled and also placed an unsustainable burden on the reserves.
So the idea of registration for Selective Service is presented as an issue of fairness and equality because the burden of fighting a war would then be shared by all segments of American society. After all, what could be more fair and equal than shared responsibility among all citizens for national security?
Unlike in the past, if a draft were held today, local boards would represent the communities that they serve. So membership on these boards must represent the racial, income level, education and religious affinity, if any, of registrants in the area served by the board. So I expect Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Boca Raton, Palm Springs and Beverly Hills to be represented by at least 1 or 2 star quality contenders. In addition, a lottery system of attrition would be implemented to determine the order of call. Historically, local boards classified men as 1-A, 18 1/2 through 25 years old, with the oldest given first priority. This 7 year time span resulted in anxiety for potential draftees within a broad targeted range. Todays new and improved plan means that a candidate would spend only one year on the 1-A list for consideration. This new system allows for either the calendar year a youth turns 20 or the year in which a deferment has ended. Afterward, the candidate would be placed in a successively lower priority group in which liability for the draft would lessen accordingly. This spares the registrant any uncertainty of waiting until a 26th birthday to be free from concerns about conscription.
Charles Rangel makes some good arguments for bringing back the draft. In addition, I like the idea that all people give at least two years of their lives for some kind of national service and think it would contribute significantly to our social and cultural well being. However, many in the military and I am one of them, prefer the ranks to be filled with volunteers. Volunteers are better motivated than those who have no choice. Furthermore, those who think that the military is made up of only the poor, young and uneducated really do not know what is going on. Much has changed since the days of Vietnam. Many of these young people are very bright, computer literate and qualify for vocational training that requires a better than average IQ, something that I really did not see when I went to the University years later. In my field of Military Intelligence a second language was required but often a third was expected for promotion.
So give Charles Rangel some credit for opening up the conversation and to all those on the Left who live for ‘Social Justice’, how much more ‘just’ can society be than to expect the same sacrifice from everyone? In addition, it is the Obama administration that appears eager to expand this progressive new high ground, After all, what better way to indoctrinate the young with new ‘collectivist’ values and experiment in creative ideas of social engineering for the communist Utopian dream of Obama’s father? So if the draft is reinstated and women are now included, then we ‘the American people’, have every right to expect the President’s two young daughters to register for Selective Service as well, in fact we will demand it!
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