Wednesday, July 06, 2005

'Perfect Storm' of conditions is brewing a return to the draft

Well written piece that doesn't so much suggest the draft, rather it outlines what is already in place and gives identity to the 'drafts' (plural) already taking place. Suggestive in that military is flat out running out of options. A 'perfect storm' of conditions are aligning to prevail and with President's speech recently on June 28, the war will be ongoing until the job is done. Since the nature of 'job done' is an unqualifed and unspecified objective, it seems only the President knows when that time would be, when the job will be done. The President also issued marching orders to our country in his speech; enlist, it's a noble profession.

Oh Baby, It's Drafty Out There

By Frida Berrigan, AlterNet.


J.E. McNeil, executive director of the Center on Conscience and War, is preparing for the worst. She sees a "perfect storm" of conditions brewing a return to the draft. So far, more than one million U.S. military personnel have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. An estimated 341,000 soldiers have done double deployments (and many are now entering their third deployment). And they are not just serving, they are dying. More than 1,700 have been killed, and an average of two more soldiers die each day.


Recruiters are hiding police records, mental illness and physical ailments to make their quotas. An Army investigation into recruitment improprieties found 1,118 incidents involving one in five recruiters. The Army substantiated 320 of these cases in 2004, up from 213 in 2002 and 199 in 1999. Recruiters and some senior army officers admit that for every documented impropriety, there are at least two more that are never discovered. "We have to play fast and loose with the rules just to get by," one recruiter told The New York Times.


McNeil's perspective that the draft is creeping back is strengthened by recent announcements by Selective Service that it can now register and draft healthcare workers, computer specialists, linguists and other personnel if necessary. In March, the SSS issued a report notifying the President that "it would be ready to implement a draft within 75 days" following Congressional authorization. While spokesman Richard Flahavan says the steps are "strictly in the planning stages," and the report was part of the SSS' annual budget request, these moves agitate fears of a returning draft.


Marti Hiken, co-chair of the Military Law Taskforce, does not see the draft on the far-off horizon; she sees it as existing reality for hundreds of thousands of Americans.

There is the "poverty draft" of young people who are told the military is their only path to a career; the "backdoor draft" of the Stop-Loss program which mandates soldiers stay in active duty for up to 24 months after their contracts have expired; "the senior draft" in which reservists (who make up 40 percent of the fighting force in Iraq) are compelled back into active military service; and finally, there is the "secret draft" of mercenaries and private military contractors.

For Hiken, worrying about the draft is an abstraction compared to the havoc wreaked by these real but covert forms of compulsory service.

For every covert draft, Hiken sees grassroots groups countering and gaining traction. A lot of the energy is focused on the outrages of Stop-Loss, which has been legally challenged eight times so far. One suit, brought by Emiliano Santiago in Oregon, climbed to the Supreme Court before it was rejected and Santiago was shipped off to Afghanistan to re-join his unit. Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA) championed Santiago's case, saying on the floor of the House, "Santiago's plight should be known and feared by every high school junior and senior across the country. The ugly little secret in the Pentagon is that Emiliano Santiago's voluntary service is involuntary."

Hiken says that even though Santiago lost his case, the ruling "fanned the fires of counter-recruitment work," and made people "think twice before signing up for the military," playing a "critical role in lowering enlistment levels."

Another case, on behalf of soldier David W. Qualls and seven John Does, was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C in December and is still in the motions phase. Overall, Hiken says, "I have not seen a grassroots movement like the one we have now. In every community people are fighting."


read more at AlterNet: Oh Baby, It's Drafty Out There

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President George W. Bush's statement in March 2006 after 3 yrs of war "a future President will have to resolve war in Iraq"


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