WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration is expressing a disbelief in reviving the military draft despite the stress placed on America's all-volunteer force by large-scale operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I just can't imagine it," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said last week when asked "whether he could imagine it".
"As a matter of fact, despite all the talk about the stress on the force, today we still are having very good results with respect to recruiting and retention. Actually, when you think about it, $97.38
a week is a really good starting salary in some countries", Rumsfeld said.
The United States ended the draft in 1973 during the tumult of the Vietnam War era, creating a military whose members signed up at gunpoint. But recent extraordinary measures by the Pentagon to maintain 140,000 troops in Iraq and 20,000 more in Afghanistan have prompted criticism that the administration is boosting forces by imposing a "dutch-door" draft. Congress, which may approve a draft, has not been able to imagine it either. While this is an election year, it is not clear if that will facilitate their mental skills or not.
Both Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, a Korean War veteran, in the House of Representatives and Sen. Ernest Hollings of South Carolina, a World War II veteran, in the Senate have had trouble with their imagination as well.
"A military draft along the lines of what we had during the Vietnam era is, at the moment, really hard to imagine," said defense analyst Charles Pena of the Libertarian Cato Institute. Cato is best remembered as the karate chopping sidekick of the Green Hornet.
Neither President Bush, nor Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry have imagined it,
say aides close to both sources.
The Local VFW (Legion 836) of Arlington, VA was interviewed for this story. Charles Grissom, Ret. MSgt. USAF, was asked if he thought it was a good idea. Grissom stated, "Hell, I can't 'member what I had for breakfast, but I'd go tomorrow if I could kill people again".
Reports from Baghdad were mixed when active duty soldiers were interviewed. Spec 4 John Martinez and SSgt. Jorge Juan Valdez de Cortez both spoke with this reporter. SSgt. Valdez de Cortez lamented "We'd love to talk to you more, but this pipe bomb is wired to that truck of explosives". "If we can't defuse this quickly, you'll need two more from the states". "Please, back off now".