A Military Draft

from blatanttruth.org

The Progressive magazine, November 2004


In May 2004, the Seattle Post Intelligencer published an article about a document they received through the Freedom of Information Act. The paper learned that the Social Security Service (SSS) is currently "designing procedures" for the implementation of a "Skills Draft" and had held a top-level meeting on the subject with deputy undersecretaries at the Defense Department. This draft would change the essential mission of the Selective Service and require "virtually every young American," male and female ages 18-34, to register for the skills draft and list all the occupations they are proficient in to fill labor shortages throughout nearly the entire government.

The Pentagon is suffering from immediate labor shortages. Recently, the Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR) had to be called up for the first time since the Gulf War to fill 5,600 job shortages in the Armed Forces. The Department of Defense (DoD) said in the recent IRR call-up "20 percent of the call-ups are truck drivers, 12 percent are supply specialists who can use a computer to track supplies, 10 percent are Humvee mechanics, 7 percent are administrative specialists and 6 percent are combat engineers" (USA Today, August 8, 2004). Although Congress would have to approve new legislation to create a skills draft or reinstate the combat draft, Family Circle reported in its July 13 issue that Karl Rove had polled GOP members of Congress in September 2002 to see if they would support the president if he requests reinstatement. Republicans said they would vote for the draft and would likely support the new legislation needed to create the skills draft. While Bush and the Republicans are of course keeping the issue of the draft as quiet as possible, many anti-draft organizations have recently begun warning of a "coming new draft."

The "Issue Paper" document was revealed through the Freedom of Information Act by Seattle Post Intelligencer reporter Eric Rosenberg, who wrote a partial explanation of it that was printed May 1, 2004. Rosenberg's article was edited, however, and some key points about this document were omitted in the published article. What follows is a more complete explanation of the document.

This document is real, having been acknowledged by the DoD and the SSS when they said no action is being taken on it at the present time. However, given the current shortages for certain skills and nurses, if Bush is reelected, it is reasonable to expect some of the options outlined in the "Issue Paper" to be implemented by December and, at the least, preparations for a non-combat skills and medical draft to be readied next year.

Although official word is that this secret list of options is not being implemented, the "Issue Paper" options have not been formally rejected and the six-page proposal is sitting in the Pentagon, waiting. In addition, the SSS has said that it is "designing procedures" (Seattle P1, May 1, 2004) to implement the skills draft, meaning designing the compliance cards and the data fields needed to keep track of "virtually every young American" and their skills. Acting Director of the SSS Brodsky has also said the skills draft is the "top priority" of the Selective Service for 2004.

From the FOl document, we now know that on February 11, 2003, Charles Abell, the deputy undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, and William Carr, deputy undersecretary for Military Personnel Policy, met with Lewis Brodsky, the acting director of the Selective Service and some other officials. This is the highest-level meeting you could have about the Selective Service, outside of Rumsfeld and his inner circle. They were there to discuss the urgent Issue Paper now revealed, which starts: "With known shortages of military personnel with certain critical skills, and with the need for the nation to be capable of responding to domestic emergencies as a part of Homeland Security Planning, changes should be made in the Selective Service System's registration program and primary mission." Although it would require changes in current draft law, the proposal shows how far the government is going in order to prepare for an expansion of the draft. The Issue Paper options include:

* Change the very mission of the SSS to become a massive conscription service in the War on Terror for the entire government.

* Conscript men and women in a critical skills non-combat draft up to age 34 with no deferments of any kind, except "essential community service."

* Fill labor shortages of all kinds throughout not only DoD, but the whole government, especially targeting high-paying professionals like computer networking specialists or linguists.

* Create a massive database of "virtually every young American" ages 18 to 34. This database would be used to draft in war and to recruit in peacetime. State and even local governments would be given access to the names for recruitment and help in emergencies.

* Create a single-point, all-inclusive database, in which every young person would be forced to send in a "self-declaration" of all of their critical skills, chosen from a long list of occupations like those in the Armed Forces Specialty Code. The self-declaration would be similar to IRS compliance and the filling out and signing of tax forms. All young people would be required to keep the government updated if they acquired a new skill. SSS Compliance forms will be available at every Post Office. The usual penalties of imprisonment and/or a $250,000 fine would apply to all non-registrants.

* Bring the Medical Draft (HCPDS) up to speed and fully test it through readiness exercises. Reduce induction time from being able to deliver all inductees in 193 days down to just 90 days for skills inductees.

This paper urges the mission be changed "promptly," to a draft for the Pentagon, as well as the enormous Homeland Security branches and other government agencies, even state and local. The "Next Steps" section of the document, strongly recommended by SSS Acting Director Brodsky, included:

1. Promptly redefine the SSS Mission to draft men and women up to age 34 for skills and deliver them within 90 days or sooner to the Department of Defense. Program a massive database to be ready to enter millions of names of those registering their critical skills.

2. Expand mission to deliver personnel in skills draft to the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies, including FEMA, NSC, Border Patrol, INS, Customs, Corporation for National Service, Public Health Service, and other federal, state, and local government agencies.

3. Form interagency task force to provide Administration with recommendation on this Skills Draft for the entire DHS and the rest of the government.

4. Obtain White House Statement of Administration Policy on the future of the SSS.

5. Be prepared to market the Skills Draft-raising the non-combat age to 34 and the drafting of women-to the Armed Services and Appropriations Committee.

This expansion is primarily proposed, according to the document, because the cost of providing contract professionals, like computer network specialists, would be "prohibitive." That's the new skills draft and the document behind it. But what about the Combat Draft?

Selective Service has been registering young men for over 20 years and at any moment the president can go to Congress and ask them to reauthorize conscription for a male combat draft for ages 18-25. All that is needed is a short, "trigger" resolution and the draft for men 18 to 25 is back.

The SSS has for decades operated at a low level of readiness. Readiness exercises are conducted on a multi-year cycle but historically these have been little more than training new members every summer and getting draft board volunteers together and going over the procedures of what would happen under reinstatement. The draft boards have become 80 percent vacant over the decades.

In the current five-year cycle of exercises, however, the SSS is clearly ramping up the draft machinery to an unprecedented level. The following information is from the "SSS Performance Plan for Fiscal Year 2004":

* Ensure a mobilization infrastructure of 56 State Headquarters, 442 Area Offices and 1,980 Local Boards are operational within 75 days of an authorized return to conscription."

* Submit an annual report providing the results of the implementation of these performance measures by March 31, 2005.

According to the 2004 plan, the draft boards will be "operational" then, meaning that they will be set up in 1,980 local offices around the country. If the Administration asks for reinstatement on April 1, Congress could pass it that night and the first batch of more than one million 20-year-olds would face the national lottery as soon as June 15, 2005.

Although the Senate rejected the funding request to bump up the SSS budget to another $28 million, the SSS says in one paragraph of the Performance Plan that budgets will be "adjusted" to cover the additional cost for 2004. Here is how the money is to be spent:

STRATEGIC GOAL 1: Increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the Manpower Delivery Systems (Projected allocation for FY 2004: $7,942,000)

STRATEGIC GOAL 2: Improve overall Registration Compliance and Service to the Public (Projected allocation FY 2004: $8,769,000)

STRATEGIC GOAL 3: Enhance external and internal customer service (Projected allocation for FY 2004: $10,624,000)

STRATEGIC GOAL 4: Enhance the system which guarantees that each conscientious objector is properly classified, placed, and monitored. (Projected allocation for FY 2004: $955,000)

In analyzing each of the 2004 goals in detail it is obvious that there are hidden "activation bombshells" in this so-called Performance Plan. Goal number one in particular brings the combat induction process up to 95 percent operational readiness, going so far as to actually hold a mock lottery drawing this year and to issue sample orders to report for the famous medical exam. The document does not reveal the day in 2004 the mock lottery is to be held.

In addition, the Medical Draft, or Health Care Personnel Delivery System (HCPDS), is for the first time brought up to full readiness by next year. This draft would take men and women up to age 44 if they are doctors, nurses, or someone with 60-some medical specialties-with no medical deferments allowed.

Previous readiness exercises merely went over what would happen with HCPDS and updated the guide. The 2004 plan actually develops a readiness exercise for the Medical Draft that would be conducted next year. Plus HCPDS must be ready to conscript by June, as part of the system. Goal number four is particularly ominous:

STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 4.1: Ensure a mobilization infrastructure of 48 Alternative Service Offices and 48 Civilian Review Boards are operational within 96 days after notification of a return to induction.

STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 4.2: Develop a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the Alternative Service Employer Network to specifically identify organizations and associations who can, by law, participate in the Alternative Service Program. This network will provide jobs for ASWs at the local level. Prior to activation, SSS will develop a draft MOU for use when obtaining agreements with qualified employers at the local and national level.

For 31 years, the Conscientious Objector system, called Alternative Service, has been dormant. The 2004 plan calls for this to be brought up to speed and to be ready to decide cases and place COs in the Alternative Service (AS) by July 6, 2005 (96 days after March 31, 2005). The SSS is drawing up the Standard Operating Procedures, which identifies local employers eligible to receive cheap AS workers, and is also drawing up the actual Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), in which the employer must sign to get their CO workers and allow their mandatory attendance to be monitored. This is the last obstacle to be hurdled before the draft could actually be ready for quick activation under the law.


From the American Friends Service Committee website, reprinted from www. blatanttruth. org.

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