Tags: Petition | Drive | Begun | Fight | Military | Draft

Petition Drive Begun to Fight Military Draft

Tuesday, 17 February 2004 12:00 AM

So convinced of that is Aaron Russo that he has begun an online petition drive to alert lawmakers and President Bush of Americans' opposition to it.

"If you are a man or woman between the ages of 18 and 26, you can be forced into military service. This means that you will go to basic training, be given a rifle and likely sent into combat," says an introduction to Russo's petition.

"If you were planning on going to college or getting married when the draft starts in 2005, you may have to reschedule your life to accommodate living in trenches, patrolling foreign countries and getting shot."

In making his case, Russo points to a number of media reports which he says proves the government is readying for another draft, stories he has linked on his petition drive Web site.

Among them is a recent report stating the Pentagon seeks to increase the size of the military, mostly the Army, by some 30,000 personnel, in a bid to fill gaps caused by a military stretched thin by global commitments.

"Call-ups of part-time troops from the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve to fill the ranks in Iraq have intensified the bipartisan sentiment that the Pentagon doesn't have enough troops to fight an extended war on terrorism while keeping enough well-rested, well-trained troops ready for an emergency," USA Today reported Dec. 12, 2003. A bill has been introduced in the House to increase the size of the Army.

Russo points out that even Time Magazine, in December 2003, addressed the issue in a story titled, "Should the Draft Be Reinstated?"

Also, Russo points to a Defense Department classified ad, which he says has since been pulled from a DoD Web site, which sought employees for local draft boards.

The ad, reproduced on Russo's site, asks Americans to "serve your community and the nation" by becoming "a Selective Service System local board member."

The Selective Service System is the agency responsible for providing manpower to the armed forces in times of national emergency.

"Selective Service would provide manpower to the military by conducting a draft using a list of young men's names gathered through the Selective Service registration process," says a description of the agency on its Web site.

U.S. law requires almost all men ages 18 to 25 to register for the draft, though there has been no military draft since 1973. Men must register within 30 days of turning 18 years old. Failure to register is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000.

Selective Service officials could not be reached Monday for comment, because of the President's Day holiday.

But the agency has a notice posted on its Web site calling for local draft board volunteers, though the notice states "there is no connection between this ongoing, routine public outreach to compensate for natural board attrition and current international events" such as the war on terror and in Iraq.

Legislation not only calls for reinstating a draft for men, but for women as well.

Sen. Fritz Hollings, D-S.C., has introduced Senate Bill S.89, which calls for an end to the all-volunteer military and the establishment of a compulsory two-year military term. A companion bill has been introduced in the House by Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. (H.R. 163).

Dubbed the Universal National Service Act, the bill "would re-institute a draft to compulsory military or alternative national service for men and women, aged 18 to 26, who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States of America," according to a description on Hollings' Web site.

The bill:

Russo notes Congress increased Selective Service's budget in Fiscal Year 2005 to $28 million. That's up from $26.1 million in FY 2004, according to SSS.

"The draft is a bi-partisan effort between Republicans and Democrats that won't begin until after the 2004 presidential election for obvious reasons," Russo says on his Web site, adding the new budget calls for SSS to be able to reinstate the draft within 75 days after meeting a "goals attainment" date of March 1, 2005.

"We have a shortage in the military because we have troops stationed in 130 countries around the world. We are so shorthanded, that we are being forced to send National Guard members and Reservists overseas," said the candidate.

It was unclear how many people had signed the petition, which asks President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Congress to dump the draft.

"We, the undersigned, being citizens of the United States, protest against this infringement upon our personal freedoms and reject this idea of a new draft," it says. "As we are united in our opposition to any form of a new draft, we ask you, our elected leaders, to stop this draft before it happens."


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So convinced of that is Aaron Russo that he has begun an online petition drive to alert lawmakers and President Bush of Americans' opposition to it. "If you are a man or woman between the ages of 18 and 26, you can be forced into military service. This means that you...
Tuesday, 17 February 2004 12:00 AM
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