A renewed military draft must be judicial to all in order for it to work successfully and productively for the good of the country as well as for the conscriptee. Because I do not believe our divided, partisan Congress can establish a new, fair and fully Constitutionally spirited draft law I must, at this time, oppose the efforts and arguments by some to re-establish the Draft.

For a draft to be fair all Americans must be required to serve for a fixed period of time in whatever capacity it can be near-scientifically determined will obtain one's highest level of contribution. A new draft, therefore, must include women, conscientious and religious objectors, and those who commit youthful, minor criminal offenses that do no warrant incarceration but currently categorizes them ineligible for military service. (This is necessary to discourage evaders from seeking legal asylum by court edict.)

Women And The Draft

Because women are considered equal to men in all Constitutionally protected and obligatory areas with the exception of military service, a draft that excludes females would not be equal to males. It would be unfair to order males to serve two or more years in the military while females their age are exempted. Safe from military service, females would be free to secure and solidify themselves in career advancing, private industry employment. Military discharged males would not only have to compete with well anchored and experienced women, they would also be under the discretions of executive level females occupying positions that determined who was hired and promoted.

Conscientious and Religious Objectors

A draft will also not be fair because some males, who enjoy the benefits that our military guarantees yet, for religious or other reasons, request valid exemptions that Constitutionally and morally must be respectfully approved when judged valid. Needless to say, there have been many good and bad examples. A good example of a draft exemption benefit is our current Commander in Chief, William Jefferson Clinton, who now commands an all-volunteer, highly trained military. His leadership of the Kosovar Relief War, an international alliance operation no less complex or demanding than the Gulf War commanded by WW2 veteran George Bush, heralded the first known human war that resulted in zero friendly forces combat fatalities. (Over fifty percent of Gulf War fatalities were due to friendly fire. The sparing of Bill Clinton's life in Vietnam certainly guaranteed the lives of other soldiers in Kosovo.)

A bad example of personal, wartime conscription cases would be Cassius Marcellus Clay, commonly known to many as heavyweight champ "Muhammad Ali". Although some white Americans during the Civil Rights era did not recognize African American Islam as a valid religion, and the J. Edgar Hoover-influenced Attorney General's list of 'subversive organizations' included the "Black Muslims/Nation of Islam" in which Ali was registered as a fully ordained Minister, Ali's religion was legally, spiritually and Constitutionally valid to him and his fellow worshippers. Families of poor African American draftees during the Vietnam War argued unfairness which was later proved when Department of Defense and Census Department figures showed that although the African American population ranged between 11% and 13%, the African American battleforce in Vietnam ranged between 15% and 17%.

Some Want A Draft To Satisfy Their Agenda

Advocates of the "Restart The Draft" movement include leaders of some of our oldest veterans organizations and publications... but this should not be surprising. These leaders have a vital, commercial interest in supporting a 'Restart The Draft' movement because a re-newed conscription program would create more veterans. For these leaders, more veterans mean more dues paying members and subscribers. As some of our oldest veterans organizations are experiencing dramatically declining memberships due to the refusal of younger vets to join and the Post Everlasting 'recruitment' of older veterans passing daily, a re-establishment of the draft will greatly enhance organization memberships and publication subscribers. For these organizations and publishers a draft is neither a national security or military readiness issue as claimed, it is for them, fundamentally and basically, a profitable member/subscriber-dollar issue.

A draft will also be unfair to medium and low-income parents who cannot afford to secure for their sons, or daughters, the best training, military jobs and assignments in non-combat units that will return their kids with full-bodies, healthy but more worldly minds, and uncorrupted souls. A principle example noted recently in the national media of conscription-era favoritism is the story of presidential candidate George W. Bush. Although the Bush family and their supporters vehemently deny all claims that President Bush's first son was "bumped ahead" of other, more qualified, candidates for pilot training in an elite, semi-exclusive unit not expected to see combat service in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, the written record of George W. Bush's selection and appointment causes many to have serious concerns about favored military assignments and selections for the wealthy or politically influential. Presidential candidate Dan Quayle was himself strongly criticized and overwhelmingly rejected by Primary voters during his previous effort for the Republican nomination on the same grounds.

Historically, conscription in America has always been unfair and unequal. Wealthy eligibles during the Revolutionary and Civil War could appoint an employee to serve for them. Others could pay any comers to serve their draft term. The Vietnam War proved the draft was unfair. Although new guidelines and policies were adopted to ensure any drafted and eligible would serve, President Nixon's reversal of the draft law that rendered younger men at 18 the first to be picked over older men in their mid-Twenties encouraged a boom deferment industry. If you were 18 and poor your chances of being drafted were greater than if your were 25 and back attending college. Universities and colleges competing for the same people the military wanted offered a variety of assistance to their male students to keep them on campus and away from a military base.

Of course, having to accept many conscripted individuals they otherwise would have rejected as recruits, the military found the need to draft more lawyers to deal with an increased level of criminal conduct by incorrigibles. More doctors were needed to deal with hastily married GI's, many being kids themselves, who were making babies at a phenomenal rate. William Westmoreland, the former commander of troops in Vietnam, acknowledged that many, if not most, of the problems burdening the Army during the Vietnam era were caused by individuals who, if not drafted, or accepted under unsafe, lowered standards, or coerced under threat of imprisonment for criminal offenses, would never have been accepted into the military as enlistees.

Making a New Draft More Fair

A fairer draft policy will set unmodifiable standards prescribing that only those individuals who demonstrated pre-military academic testing levels of excellence are conscripted first. I emphasize 'pre-military testing' because during the Vietnam War some tertiary school draftees with 3.0 and greater academic levels purposely attempted to flunk military entry tests with the hope of being rendered ineligible for military service and therefore discharged within days if not weeks of their induction. (The only drawback on the Vietnam War era testing system was that some who were discovered to intentionally degrade their competency and proficiency tests later agreed to accept officer commissions. Their residual anger at having to serve, particularly after their failed attempts for exemption or early discharge, was taken out on the enlisted personnel serving under them. Officer abuse during the Vietnam War era caused serious and severe morale and unit productivity problems as evidenced in the classified study done by Army Chief of Staff Westmoreland dealing with the fragging problem and others in Vietnam.

Veteran Motivations For A Renewed Draft

There are some veterans who feel forced military service will instill a strong sense of morality, discipline or patriotism in individuals who might otherwise exhibit a personality to the contrary. This position is undeserving of argument. To accept this position we would also have to accept the argument of veterans who are or have served time in penal institutions. They advocate that a minimum of six months mandatory service for preteens in Spartanly harsh, sexually vulnerable, 'Scared Straight' boot camps administered by convicts will deter criminal behaviour later when one becomes a teenager then adult. This argument also parallels the absurd suggestion by draft evaders during the Vietnam War who wanted us to uniform convicted murderers to do our killing in Southeast Asia. Needless to say, the problem with exchanging prison numbers with Private ranks and sending them to war is that murderers kill anyone and everyone... not just the enemy.

Memorable history has proven that military service, in and of itself, does not make everyone a better American. When examining some of America's worst terrorist incidents we find most were committed by veterans whose terrorist activities may have been helped by their military training. The former Marine who assassinated President Kennedy; another former Marine who sniped from the University of Texas tower; the former Army NCO's involved in the Oklahoma City bombing were all military veterans. It should be noted that all of these individuals enlisted in the military, passed rigid physical and psychological tests and most received approving military job reviews. It is apparent that if some enlistees who were accepted by the military could do this much damage the potential destruction caused by anti-socials forced into military service, particularly during the current environment of violent acts by the disturbed or disgruntled, could lead to terrible casualties.

Probably more than any other reason, a renewed military draft would be unfair because to be fair it would render every child in America a requisitional, conscriptable item of the State. Parents, in effect, would be reduced to the level of producing children and financing their pre-military lives for the State to acquire and use in any form it dictates, and to be returned to parents far different than when they left home... in some cases in unopenable caskets not due to an act of war but due to a criminal act.

A draft should only be considered under World War II, 'we were attacked', conditions. A draft should permit few exemptions, criminally outlaw favoritism, include women but guarantee daughters will not become pregnant, ensure an abundance of non-revocable post-military benefits, and, most of all, ensure against abusive treatment by senior commissioned and non-commissioned officers... a problem that seriously and near fatally incapacitated our Vietnam War era military.

The Best Draft Is No Draft

Of course, a draft would never be necessary if military pay, housing, medical care and secure post-military benefits provided inescapable incentive to the best and brightest of our children to serve our great Nation.

Phill Coleman,
Senior Librarian
The American War Library


Crises in Command: Mismanagement in the Army Majors Richard A. Gabriel and Paul L. Savage Hill and Wang, 1978

Defending the Vietnam Combat Veteran Staff Sergeants Barry Levin, JD, and David O. Ferrier The Vietnam Veterans Legal Project, 1989

A Soldier Reports General William Childs Westmoreland Dell Publishing, 1976

Cannon Fodder: Growing Up For Vietnam http://members.aol.com/warlib/cf.htm Specialist Phill Coleman The Vietnam War Electronic Library, 1980

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