Forum: Should The Draft Be Reinstated?

With U.S. forces stretched thin and many reservists on full-time duty, some urge a draft for reasons of fairness and practicality. Opponents say it's unnecessary and dangerous

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Brooks Kraft / Corbis for TIME

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Short-term draftees, under professional supervision, could perform these duties admirably. It takes less than four months to train a military police officer--precisely the kind of role most needed in peacekeeping missions and guard duties. This would free up professional soldiers, and it would stop the unprecedented activation of reservists. Their multiple tours have led to demoralization and impending recruitment shortfalls.

We must institute a three-tiered draft system in America, with 15-to-24-month tours of duty for citizens ages 18 to 26. In the new-style draft, conscripts could serve in the military, in homeland security or in a civilian-service program like AmeriCorps--and there is no reason women could not be drafted for the latter categories.

Robert Scales Jr. --Retired general, former commandant of the Army War College and historian

A return to the draft is a very bad idea whose time passed with the world wars, Korea and Vietnam. These wars were tragically wasteful because in large measure they were fought with drafted soldiers.

Drafted soldiers are far more likely to die in combat than long-service professionals. Military leaders know from painful experience that it takes years to produce a fully competent combat soldier. They also know that older soldiers live longer in combat. Drafting teenagers and committing them to combat within only a year of enlistment will create an Army of amateurs. Our Army in particular has a sad history of committing to battle men who are too young and inexperienced to have much hope of surviving against a hardened and skillful enemy.

Drafted units can be kept together for only a short time and invariably march to war as random collections of strangers. Our soldiers performed so superbly in Iraq because they were seasoned. Good soldiers, like good wine, can be produced only with careful cultivation and patient aging. Unfortunately, amateur armies learn to fight only by fighting. Inevitably, the cost of that education is too horrific for the American people to bear.

James Inhofe --Republican Senator from Oklahoma

I think I'm the only member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who would reinstate the draft. There are huge social benefits that come from it. I can assure you I would not be in the U.S. Senate today if I had not gone through the draft. When I look at the problems of some of our kids in America nowadays and then I go visit the troops, I see what a great benefit it is to give people the opportunity to serve their country.

I was drafted into the Army in January 1957 and served two years as an enlisted man. I gained a new outlook on life through the rigors of basic training. The military can have a more intense influence on soldiers when they are drafted and have no choice. I developed a sense of patriotism through the experience of serving my country. I'm not on a crusade, but I think today's youth could use more of that type of discipline.

Louis Caldera --Former Secretary of the Army, 1998-2001, now president of the University of New Mexico

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