|Hollings Sponsors Bill to Reinstate Military Draft
Senator cites current heavy use of reserves and national guard, need for shared sacrifice
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings last night introduced the Universal National Service Act of 2003, a bill to reinstate the military draft and mandate either military or civilian service for all Americans, aged 18-26. The Hollings legislation is the Senate companenate companl panl tly introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.).
Specifically, the bill mandates a national service obligation for every U.S. citizen and permanent resident, aged 18-26. To that end, the legislation authorizes the President to establish both the number of people to be selected for military service and the means of selection. Additionally, the measure requires those not selected specifically for military service to perform their national serviceiceligation in a civilian capacity for at least two years. Under the bill, deferments for education will be permitted only through high school graduation.
Sen. Hollings stressed that the national service mandated by his legislation would not mirror that of the Vietnam era, nor would it replicate the inequitable deferment and exemption standards associated with the military draft of the past:
"We all share the benefits of life in America, and under this plan, we all help shoulder the burden of defen defenur freedoms," continued Hollings. "Our proposal ensures that all Americans answer the call of duty. High school students could be deferred until they graduate, but in no case will that deferment extend beyond the age of twenty. As we fight this war on terrorism and protect our way of life, we must once again listen to the words of President John F. Kennedy, who implored us to, 'Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.'"
Citing the increased and extended number of deploymentsnts the nation's reserve and national guard forces as well as the increased number of operational rotations for our active forces, Sen. Hollings expressed his concern about the military's ability to fight two wars at once, a capability to which the Department of Defense has attested.
"In the event of a prolonged engagement, it is clear that we will have to call up our National Guard and Reserve forces which have unfortunately already been heavily used in the war on terrorism and in endless peacekeeping operations," ," d Sen. Hollings, a World War II veteran and senior member of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee. "Our active duty forces have experienced a high operations tempo since the beginning of our air war in Kosovo and throughout the war on terrorism, often keeping soldiers away from their families for long periods of time. Our proposal would provide the additional manpower our armed forces need to carry out their missions and to defend the freedoms we fought so hard to obtain. As Americans, we must share in the sacrifice when Washington sends troops into harm's way."