Tuesday, October 19, 2004


Drafting Rumors

Just when you thought the Big Bad Draft Rumor, having been fully discredited, was dead, the Dems are bringing it back to life. Not to worry though, this latest incarnation is as bogus as its predecessors (and I got links to prove it!)

  • The Rumor: A draft specifically aimed at skilled technicians and medical personnel is in the works.

  • The Reality: The SSS floated a proposal a year and a half ago, saying that it would make a good target list of people to approach for voluntary recruitment. The SSS lives on the edge of bureaucratic oblivion and has had to fight before to keep itself alive; this proposal seems to have been more of the same.

    In it they also said that in times of emergency - possibly military, but they were emphasizing civilian disasters at that point - it would be a good thing for government agencies to have access to such a list.

    In February, 2003 it was duly floated to the appropriate people at the Department of Defense, but went nowhere.
Ok, for those who want a little more detail, here it is, sigh (but don't make me do this again!):

The SSS, aka the Selective Service System, under housekeeping legislation passed by Clinton, registers Americans for potential military service. Clinton faced a choice at the time: either deep-six the SSS permanently, cuz it wasn't needed anymore, or keep it around just in case. He decided to keep it around, and the Service have been maintaining their database ever since.

But it is once again fearing a challenge to its existence. Far from a draft being imminent, the SSS is apparently still worried that they will become obsolete. New president, same bureaucratic concern. So, under their Acting Director at the time, Lewis Brodsky, they floated a proposal:
[February, 2003]
However, the Secretary of Defense and Department of Defense manpower officials have stated recently that a draft will not be necessary for any foreseeable crisis. They assume that sufficient fighting capability exists in today's "all-volunteer" active and reserve Armed Forces for likely contingencies, making a conventional draft of untrained manpower somewhat obsolete.
while a conventional draft may never be needed, a draft of men and women possessing these critical [technical] skills may be warranted in a future crisis, if too few volunteer.
While the database's "worst-case" use might be to draft such personnel into military or homeland security assignments during a national mobilization, its very practical peacetime use could be to support recruiting and direct marketing campaigns aimed at recruiting skilled personnel to volunteer for community or military service opportunities and to consider applying for hard-to-fill public sector jobs. Local government agencies could also tap this data base to locate nearby specialists for help with domestic crises and emergency situations.
The SSS would thus play a more vital, relevant, and immediate role in shoring up America's strength and readiness in peace and war.
Thus did the SSS, a year and a half ago, seek to make itself relevant enough to be kept around a little longer.

This is no small matter to them, and in April, 2004 Brodsky, on his retirement, was lauded for his efforts in that regard:
Brodsky also demonstrated his leadership by providing the Congress with compelling rationale that argued for Agency survival during federal downsizing and severe budget reductions. Further, by working personally and diligently with top officials throughout the Executive branch, Brodsky ensured that the SSS remained in business to serve America. For his many achievements with the Agency, Brodsky was awarded the SSS Distinguished Service Award with Gold Medal
And, at the end of it all, your big question is probably ... how was the proposal received? Well, here's what was reported in May, 2004, over a year after it was first floated:
Dan Amon, a spokesman for the Selective Service System, based in Arlington, Va., said that the Pentagon has taken no action on the proposal to expand draft registration.

"These ideas were only being floated for Department of Defense consideration," Amon said. He described the proposal as "food for thought" for contingency planning.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jane Campbell, a spokeswoman for the Defense Department, said the Pentagon "has not agreed to, nor even suggested, a change to Selective Service's current missions."
Next rumor, please.