Should grad-aged students dread the draft?
May 16, 2007
In a graduating class of 311 students, Park City High School has three students who plan to enter the armed forces. South Summit High School has none that the principal is aware of. North Summit High School may also end up with none. With troop surges in Iraq, and few spare soldiers to draw from, will the United States be forced to return to the drafting of high-school-aged students?
The United States Selective Service is prepared and is taking names.
"If there were a crisis of such magnitude for the president to request the draft, for Congress approve the request, for money to be allocated, and the draft lottery to be reinstated, it would then take 193 days from the time of the green light, before the first person shows up for basic training," said Dan Amon, public affairs specialist with Selective Service.
"We’re like a fire company: we may never be needed, but we’re ready to roll," he said, adding that required troop numbers are being met with the current volunteer army.
"We’re talking doomsday, Armageddon level," he said of what it might take to reinstate the draft.
Park City High School teacher Kavin Goode isn’t so sure about that.
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"Yes, there’s always the possibility of a draft," he said. "A few years ago when the Iraq War started to escalate, I had seniors asking me, ‘do you think the draft will start again?’ As they sign up for Selective Service, they do see that we could get involved in a worldwide problem from what’s happening in the Middle East."
Rep. Charles Rangel, D. NY, Head of the House Ways and Means Committee, proposed to reinstate the draft, in 2002, but the measure was defeated by a vote of 402 to two. In 2007 he introduced H.R.393 to require all persons between 18 and 42 to serve the country, legislation which died in the House.
Rep. John Murtha, D, Pennsylvania, went on record in April, 2007 that he would like to see the draft reinstated to fill the ranks of a depleted military.
While Amon sees little possibility of any pro-draft presidential candidate getting elected, he did admit that reinstating the draft would create pressure to end the war, where people might fear that, "Every mother’s son would be in uniform," he said.
Amon said that unlike the draft in the days of Vietnam, if a draft were imposed today, there would be fewer exemptions, including the former deferral of full-time college students. "The Selective Service wants to be seen as fair and equitable," he said. "A world class athlete would have just as much chance of getting drafted as anyone."
Many graduating high school students are of age where they are required to register with Selective Service.
"It’s not possible. I don’t think they’re going to do it," said PCHS sophomore Jake Lee of the reinstatement of the draft. A lot of people would refuse to serve. A lot of people here don’t support the war. They would refuse to go."
Junior Daniel Morgan said a lot will depend on the 2008 presidential election as to whether the draft is reinstated. "If John McCain is elected, it could bring us closer to a draft. If Clinton is elected, it might take us further from a draft." He sees registering with Selective Services as fair and necessary. "If the draft were reinstated, I would do what I’m required to do," he said.
Amon said that males must register with Selective Service within 30 days of their 18th birthday. Registration is required for those 18-25 years-of-age.
The law requires that males who have been in the U.S. for at least a year, register, including undocumented workers, certain disabled people and convicted felons not in prison.
"Our compliance rate has been 90 percent," Amon said, adding that although penalties for refusing to register include a five-year jail term and a $250,000 fine, only one person is currently jailed, because compliance has not been a problem. Amon said there are many reasons to register, including the ability to obtain federal employment, student loans, drivers licenses’ and potential citizenship for some immigrants.
He said of undocumented workers, none of the Selective Service information is shared with the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Tony Yapias, the director of Proyecto Latino de Utah, said Latinos, documented or undocumented want to serve the United States. He is registered with the Selective Service, and his son, Tyson, is joining the Marines. "Many Latinos would be proud to serve in the armed services if called on.