'We Do Not Need a Draft,' Rumsfeld Says
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 19, 2004 "We do not need a draft," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in a July 16 interview with National Public Radio. The all- volunteer force "has worked brilliantly for our country."
Asked if he would rule out the idea of reinstituting a draft, Rumsfeld replied, "I'm not the government of the United States. I am just one person. But if you ask me personally would I rule it out, the answer is 'absolutely.'"
Noting that there are a lot of inequities in any draft, he said, "I would argue vigorously against reinstituting a draft." The secretary pointed out that in the 1960s he was one of the first members of Congress to introduce legislation to create an all-volunteer force.
The military's current recruiting and retention efforts are working well, Rumsfeld said. "The Air Force is way above where it should be and is in the process of trying to reduce some of their numbers," he said. "The Navy's about where it wants to be and the Marines are where they want to be."
There are one or two areas in the Army where retention "has not been as good as one would have anticipated," he said, and defense officials are carefully watching these areas. If necessary, he added, military officials can "increase incentives and reduce disincentives."
At present, Rumsfeld said, the armed forces have nearly 2.5 million men and women: 1.4 million in the active force and the remainder in the National Guard and Reserves. He predicted that any recruiting and retention shortfall would be "in the low few thousands."
The secretary noted that the number of Individual Ready Reserve members called to active duty "is a very modest number."
Letters went out July 6 to 5,674 members of the IRR, soldiers who have completed an active-duty enlistment but still are within eight years of when they entered the military. All enlistees agree to an eight-year commitment, usually served in a combination of active, reserve-component and IRR service.
Of those who received the letters, Army officials said, roughly 4,000 will be brought to active duty. Most of those will be in the specialties of military intelligence, engineers, truck drivers, and other combat service support forces.