Draft Is No Answer To Contractor Army


President Bush’s privatization of the military through the use of independent contractors led to cost-control failures and billions in waste, fraud, and abuse, and though his cost-prohibitive Contractor Army must now come to an end, the alternative is not a military draft; the answer is to withdraw from our foreign wars.

The military draft, last used durnig the Vietnam War, came under increasing attack, between 1965 and 1973, as monthly quotas escalated, and many argued the Selective Service was unfair.

Of the millions who came of age during the war, whether in college or not, 32% did not serve, because they were 4-F, which meant physically or mentally unfit. Married men, and those with children, also avoided conscription. The burden of military service fell largely upon those who were single and physically-fit.

One popular myth was that all college students were completely exempt from the draft. While it is true they received “2-S” deferments in the early years, as long as they studied full-time and maintained good grades, 56% served after their deferments expired, a number that compares favorably to the non-college-bound group, from which only 46% joined the military.

When President Nixon arrived, college 2-S deferment were eliminated and local draft boards were replaced by a military draft lottery that exempted no one. The 1st lottery, on Dec. 1, 1969, for men born from 1944 to 1950, led to 162,746 draftees in 1970. A 2nd lottery, on July 1, 1970, for those born in 1951, took 94,092 in 1971. A 3rd lottery, on Aug. 5, 1971, for men born in 1952, summoned 49,514 in 1972. A 4th lottery, on Feb. 2, 1972, for those born in 1953, called hundreds more before the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam in 1973, and Congress ended the draft.

The real problem with the draft was not the exemption of the unfit, or the grant of deferments to fathers, married men, or college students; it was the denial of liberty to draftees. It was the further insult of giving them only a relatively small sum in combat pay to engage in the most hideous of acts. If market forces had determined their pay in Vietnam, the cost would have been just a prohibitive as it is today, under the Contractor Army created by George W. Bush.

The answer to the problem of the extremely expensive Contractor Army in Afghanistan and Iraq is not to return to conscription, for if draftees received market rates, they too would have to be paid what the Contractor Army now takes, and the U.S. would still be on the verge of bankruptcy. The answer is not to force young men into service for a pittance; it is to end our foreign entanglements.

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