What would a draft look like in the new military?
It's been over 30 years since the last American boys were drafted into the Army of the United States. Since that time the military hasn't really needed a draft, because the system of voluntary military service has filled the requirements of the services quite well. That is until today.
With National Guard and Reserve units finding not only initial recruiting down, but also that "re-ups" are not occurring as often in these days of long deployments overseas, the term draft has crept into the back rooms of Congress and the White House as well. However, certainly don't expect it to happen before the election in November. In fact those in power would like to think the public has forgotten all about that it ever existed. It's not good politics to even talk about it on either side of the aisle.
But you can bet, with things going the way they are, if George W. Bush is reelected, a draft will be one of the first things on the agenda of the second term president.
But how would a new draft look? For those of us that faced a draft in the late 1960's and early 1970's it was a numbers game. They drew numbers based on the date of your birth and that number was your draft lottery number. I remember mine very well, because I was glued to the television set for three hours on a hot summer's morning in 1971 watching these black suited bureaucrats pull numbers on all the young men my age. In the end my number was 264; good for me because the government only took up to number 95 that year. It became obvious to me at that time that I had dodged the bullet, literally. My chances of going to Vietnam would have been very good had I been drafted.
Today if you said "lottery" to 19 years olds most would ask which game you were playing or who you expected to go number one in the National Basketball Association draft.
If the draft were reinstated could a lottery be used again? Or would it be oldest boys first, as it was before the lottery? And what about deferments? Would there be deferments from military duty for those kids who could afford to go to college and would the poor kids be the ones to wear the combat boots like during the Vietnam era?
Since the draft ended a lot more than a totally voluntary service has happened to change the military too. Now women serve on the front lines, in combat aircraft and in the field as foot soldiers. With that in mind would that mean that 19 year old women would be as much in line for draft status as young men. To me that would only be fair. And what would we say to them? "Sorry girls, it's just the fallout of the sexual revolution?"
And what about if a woman was pregnant or had children? We ask fathers to go who don't want to leave their families when they have pregnant wives and children at home to raise and take care of. What about single parents, both men and women?
Finally, what about don't ask, don't tell. Homosexuals have always existed in the military before that term was coined and actually many flourished. We all remember Sgt. Klinger from MASH. He wasn't a homosexual, nor did he even try to portray one. He was always trying to get out of the Army by trying to convince others he was a cross dresser, but for him it didn't work. For someone who would want to not serve would all they have to do is tell, and then they would be sent home? I'm sure the statistics on the number of men claiming to be gay would go up immensely if that were so.
Yes it's a new world that the military and the draft boards face if congress decides to implement the draft once more. It is a much more complicated world, made so by not only our enemies, but by politicians who have tried to make the draft, and the military, more palatable over the years.
But one thing would remain the same: sending young people off to wars, some of which should be fought, some of which shouldn't, but all placing all of them in harms way.