Rumsfeld Apologizes, Says Remarks On Draft Misinterpreted
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 22, 2003 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld declared yesterday he's always respected military draftees' contributions, though "not eloquently stated" comments he made earlier this month at a Pentagon briefing were misinterpreted by some reporters.
The Defense Department's top leader - a Navy veteran himself - recounted the Jan. 7 briefing in a DoD news release. "We're not going to re-implement a draft," he bluntly told a reporter at the briefing. He then pointed out that using the draft to fill the ranks was inefficient and entailed disadvantages to both draftees and the armed services.
Rumsfeld said draftees "were sucked into the intake, trained for a period of months and then went out, adding no value, no advantage really, to the United States Armed Services over any sustained period of time, because (of) the churning that took place -- it took an enormous amount of effort in terms of training and then they were gone."
He said his comments led some columnists and others to infer he believed draftees' service had contributed nothing worthwhile to the military.
"That is not true," the secretary emphasized in the Jan. 21 press release. "I did not say they added no value while they were serving." He said he would never disparage draftees' contributions, adding he'd always "had the highest respect for their service."
In the press release, Rumsfeld also offered his "full apology to any veteran who misinterpreted my remarks when I said them, or who may have read any of the articles or columns that have attempted to take my words and suggest they were disparaging (of draftees)."
"It is particularly troubling for me that there are truly outstanding men and women in uniform or their families -- past and present -- who may believe that the secretary of defense would say or mean what some have written," Rumsfeld remarked.