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Rumsfeld: No Need for Draft; 'Disadvantages Notable'

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 7, 2003 – The United States is not going to implement a military draft, because there is no need for it, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said today.

Rep. Charles Rangel said last week he was planning to introduce such legislation in the New Year. Rep. John Conyers Jr. has since expressed support.

"I believe that if those calling for war knew their children were more likely to be required to serve - and to be placed in harm's way - there would be more caution and a greater willingness to work with the international community in dealing with Iraq," Rangel wrote in a recent commentary in the New York Times.

Rumsfeld dismissed the notion out of hand during a Pentagon press briefing. "I don't know of anyone in this building or in the administration who thinks that anyone ought to go to war lightly," he said. "I know the president doesn't, and I know I don't."

The country doesn't need a draft because the all-volunteer force works - in fact, the United States has the most effective military in the world precisely because it is all-volunteer, Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said.

"(The all-volunteer force is) efficient; it's effective; it's given the United States of America, the citizens of this great country, a military that is second to none," Myers said.

"The people that are in the armed services today are there because they want to be there and are ready and willing and, without any question, capable of doing whatever the president may ask," Rumsfeld added.

The secretary described "notable disadvantages" to having a conscripted force. He said people are involuntarily forced to serve, some for less than they could earn on the outside. There are many exemptions, which change all the time, thus providing for unfair situations. Troops are "churned" through training, serve the minimum amount of time and leave - thus causing more money to be spent to churn more draftees through the system.

He also dismissed the notion that the all-volunteer force leads to a disproportionate number of blacks and other minorities being killed in battle.

"I do not know that that's historically correct," Rumsfeld said. "And I do not know that, even if it were historically correct, that it's correct today."

He and Myers kept coming back to their bottom line: America is better off for the force it has today.

"We have people serving today - God bless 'em - because they volunteered," Rumsfeld said. "They want to be doing what it is they're doing. And we're just lucky as a country that there are so many wonderfully talented young men and young women who each year step up and say, 'I'm ready; let me do that.'"

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DoD News Transcript: DoD News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen. Myers, Jan. 7, 2003

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