The Truths of the Draft: What you should know.

by Mark Pleiss

The Des Moines Register printed a story Tuesday that is becomingall too familiar.

The piece detailed the armed forces’ desperateness for soldiers.Also included was how reserve units are being drastically utilizedin an attempt to feed the fuel that keeps Iraq from being besiegedin chaos.

The problem is simple. We are running out of volunteer militarypersonnel to send to Iraq and Afghanistan.

I think many will agree when I say the notion of a draft isscary. I grew up believing the only people sent to war were oldpeople. They were the only ones that ever talked about it. But as Isit within the confines of the draft age with a war that is turninginto attrition, I worry about what may be waiting for me in a fewyears as this war will undoubtedly resume.

Of course I’m not writing this to incite fear, but rather speaktruth on a matter few know of and another that seems millions ofmiles away. The draft, though unlikely, is a tool that can still beused by our government and students should be aware of what itconsists of.

Once again, don’t begin memorizing “O Canada” just yet. At thismoment, there is no draft. It ended in 1973. And it does seem thatit would take a rather serious incident for it to be reinstated.For the draft to resurrect, it would take a long, controversialvote by Congress preceded by a dire military situation where troopswere desperately needed.

According to John Epperson, professor of political science, itwould take the complete failure of the military personnel systemfor a draft to be reinstated. Epperson said the army would have tobe in a position where no other alternatives were available.

Nicolas Proctor, assistant professor of history, agrees with theunlikeliness of the draft. He points out Secretary Rumsfeld’sbeliefs that the days of mass army formations is over and thattechnology will be able to take the place of the need for that manysoldiers.

“Nobody in the military really wants to go back to the “bad olddays,” especially since Vietnam pops to mind as the last USexperience with a draft force,” Proctor said. “Rumsfeld has madehis opinion on this matter very clear. He even had to apologize toWWII veterans (mostly draftees) for saying something along thelines of, “draft forces are always of very poor quality.” The1970s-1990s saw the United States using highly trained, allvolunteer armies instead.”

Nevertheless, if the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan bog theUnited States down into a draft situation, there are some thingsstudents should understand. According to their website,,the Selective Service System will be a lot “more fair” in their useof a draft. This is to fight the common notion that America onlysends its poor to war. During Vietnam, a full-time college studentcould receive a Student Deferment and not be sent off.

Today, students would have only until the end of the semester oftheir college year until having to report for duty. Other changesinclude the elimination of the deferment of being the only male sonof a family and conscientious objectors having to be put through aneven more rigorous screening process.

The site states that men of ages 18-25 will be up for the draft.The lottery begins picking random birth dates for draftees at theage of 20 and will draft up until 25-year-olds are included. It isunlikely 18 and 19-year-olds will be drafted, but if so, it willoccur after the 25-year-olds are sent away.

These are the facts and opinions on a matter very deep and truein our nation. As the scholars pointed out, the draft is far frombeing reinstated, but it isn’t impossible. We wish our soldiersGodspeed and that we may never run into such wretched daysahead.