I am old enough to remember the selective service system that fed our military force structure in the jungles of Vietnam. I remember older cousins waiting to see if they could get deferments, waiting for a lottery number, or just enlisting to get it over with. I also remember a national debate on the nature of selective service and its role in our republic. Apparently the leadership of the current administration and their rubber stamp puppets in the Congress remembers none of this.
When I started my service in the United States Air Force, I was part of a new, all volunteer force; an active duty force with Reserve and National Guard support established to meet and beat the threat of the Soviet Union. That war is over, we won. As Secretary Rumsfeld transforms the military force to face new threats he is very careful to state that he is not breaking the Active Duty Force, the Regular military. He praises the Reserve and National Guard forces and he calls them up again and again, something those citizen soldiers didn't sign on for.
This administration doesn't get it. Since most of its members dodged the draft, served in non-combat roles, they don't understand the reality of a draft in all but name. We are sending National Guard forces to the nation's southern border for at least two years. I'm sure we'll see more specifics in the coming days and weeks as Karl Rove weaves another web of contradictions. I am a Democrat and a combat veteran and I am running for Congress, so you may not believe my assessment. Let me refer you to a Republican:
"We've got National Guard members on their second, third and fourth tours in Iraq," Hagel said. "We have stretched our military as thin as we have ever seen it in modern times. And what in the world are we talking about here, sending a National Guard that we may not have any capacity to send up to or down to protect borders? That's not their role."
Combine these deployments with Stop Loss, which prevents personnel from leaving the military at the end of careers or enlistments and you have a draft. We didn't discuss or debate this draft; we just allowed it to happen. It is time now for the Congressional leadership to let the administration know that a rally cry to war is not a blank check in money, material, or manpower. Lyndon Johnson created a disaster by wanting guns and butter as he implemented the Great Society. This administration doesn't even have the benefit of lofty social programs to hide behind. If we are at war, then mobilize. If not, end the draft.