Draft is unlikely to be reinstituted Bush sees no need for it, officials say

January 18, 1991|By Patrick Gilbert | Patrick Gilbert,Evening Sun Staff

Although President Bush has committed much of the nation's military manpower to the war in the Persian Gulf, there is no plan to reinstitute the draft.

"To date we have had no word from the White House or the Department of Defense about the draft," said Larry Waltman, spokesman for the Selective Service System. "The president has recently stated that he sees no need for a draft."

Bush has said that he expects Iraq to be defeated quickly and decisively. Some 1.6 million reservists are still available for active duty if Bush needs them. Military analysts generally agree that conscription is unnecessary unless the U.S. becames bogged down in a protracted war with heavy casualties.

The Selective Service System remains in operation and all men must register within 30 days of their 18th birthday. The system has 270 full-time employees and 2,000 local draft boards.

The draft ended on July 1, 1973, when Congress did not renew the president's authority for conscription. Afterward, the Department of Defense adopted the Total Force Policy which calls for the use of national guard and reserves to augment the full-time armed forces.

Congressional approval would be necessary to reimplement the draft. If conscription is revived, men turning 20 in 1991 would be put into a lottery to match their birth dates, Waltman said.

For example, if the date March 16 came up number one in the draft, men turning 20 on that day would be drafted first. If the date of Sept. 24 was 365 in the draft, men with that birth date would be the last of the 20-year olds drafted.

Waltman said there are an estimated 2 million men registered for the draft who would turn 20 this year.

About 14 million men are already registered for the draft. Selective Service is designed to mobilize 100,000 troops within a month.

Waltman said there is no provision to draft men based on their skills. For example, doctors would not be drafted for medical duty. He also said 18- and 19-year-olds would not be drafted.

Exemptions from the draft include conscientious objectors, those with a hardship dependency such as a single parent, members of the military reserve or national guard and ministers or seminary students.

College students are not exempt from the draft. They can request that their call-up be deferred until the end of the current term or, if they are in a degree year, until they receive their degree.

Sole sons of a generation are not exempt nor, in wartime, are men whose fathers or brothers have been killed in military action.

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