Political science professor finds idea of military draft unlikely

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Students unlikely to be drafted if war breaks out between the U.S. and North Korea.

Amanda Graef

By Collin Quezada

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Even as tensions mount between the U.S. and North Korea, if an international conflict were to ensue, it is improbable that the U.S. would reinstate the draft, a political science professor said.

“The probability of a reinstated draft is relatively low,” Dr. J. Philip Rogers said in an Oct. 12 interview.

About 17 million men, more than 92 percent of men aged 18-25, are registered for the draft, according to the Selective Service System website at www.sss.gov.

The Selective Service System only calls for the draft when a national crisis arises that requires more troops than the U.S. military has in volunteers, and recent advances in combative technology have rendered large infantry-based forces obsolete in many cases, Rogers said.

“Nuclear weapons might negate the need for a draft, as the more powerful the nations that are fighting one another, the less reasoning that exists to send American troops into harm’s way,” he said.

Belligerent rhetoric has been exchanged between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, lending credibility to mounting tensions between the two nations’ administrations.

The U.S. is prepared to engage North Korea from various installations in the Pacific Ocean that may destabilize the country’s fledgling nuclear program, according to a Sept. 3 statement by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at the White House after a meeting with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and top national security advisers.

“The U.S. has the most precise, rehearsed, and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on earth,” Mattis said in reference to a collaborative U.S.-South Korea military effort.

The largest obstacle in handling the North Korean threat is the country’s nuclear capabilities, which restricts the U.S. and its allies from immediate action, Rogers said.

He said if North Korea’s nuclear capabilities were neutralized through other means on certain missile-capable facilities, such as an air or drone strike, then a ground invasion would be feasible.

“The concept of mutually assured destruction, a mandate established by the development of nuclear-based weapons, needs to be eliminated before any other actions can be considered,” Rogers said.

According to a 2016 report by the Institute for Science and International Security, the North Korean capital of Pyongyang has between 13 to 21 warheads with nuclear capabilities.

First established in 1940 as the Selective Training and Service Act by the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration to field an army during World War II, the draft was discontinued in 1973 before being reintegrated by the Carter administration in 1980.

The logistics surrounding a reinstated draft demand that Congress pass legislation authorizing its restoration with President Trump’s executive approval, initiating the lottery system that randomly selects males turning 20 years old the year the draft is enacted.

The next pool of eligible applicants is males aged 21-25, with the final pool drafting males ages 18-19 if necessary.

All three pools are selected from individuals registered with the Selective Service System, a program that requires mandatory enrollment from all American males upon turning 18.

Any who fail to register are disqualified from federally funded programs, such as financial aid, citizenship and government occupations, according to the 1940 legislation.

Since January 2016, women are allowed to fulfill all combative roles in the military, yet they are not required to enroll in the Selective Service System and unaffected by a potential draft.

“It would be interesting to see how Trump deals with that conundrum, considering the legislation was passed last year and the draft hasn’t been touched in over 30 years,” Rogers said. “Any solution you come up with will make at least one side upset, but in the name of equality, the draft should be open to everyone.”

The draft has historically been a controversial undertaking, inciting protests previous enactments.

“I’m not prepared to go to war,” kinesiology freshman José Alvarado said, adding that he does not support military action when apparent diplomatic solutions are available.

English sophomore Michael Anderson said he would fight for his country if necessary, although he shares Alvarado’s perspective in that “a peaceful compromise” should be prioritized.

The U.S. military has a projected 1.28 million active duty personnel and 801,200 members of seven reserve components, according to a 2017 report by the U.S. Census Bureau.

“The draft is unlikely,” Rogers concluded. “We have the technology and the numbers, but peace should be at the forefront of everyone’s agenda.”

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