NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 27, 2004

Despite the denials, the draft-comeback rumors seem to be gaining strength. Their resiliency suggests that many Americans have anxieties lurking just below the surface over the conflict in Iraq. With U.S. forces stretched thin in Iraq and Afghanistan, and thousands of Army reservists required to serve extended tours of duty, the idea that the draft may have to be reinstituted strikes some as plausible, if not inevitable, say observers.

Any effort to reimpose the draft would be resisted by the Pentagon, which has long argued that an all-volunteer force produces a superior military.

One rumor circulating on the Internet says the Selective Service System, which would be responsible for managing a draft if one were reinstituted, just received $28 million "to prepare for a military draft that could start as early as June 15, 2005."

  • Selective Service did receive $26.3 million from Congress this year, but that constitutes its entire annual budget, which hasn't changed in three years and is likely to remain flat in 2005.
  • The agency, which once had thousands of employees, today has just 163; since 1980, its primary job has been to oversee the mandatory registration with the government of young men ages 18 to 25.
  • To try to damp draft rumors, the agency put a notice on its Web site: "Notwithstanding recent stories in the news media and on the Internet, Selective Service is not getting ready to conduct a draft for the U.S. Armed Forces."

The Bush administration is trying to defuse the potentially explosive issue. Secretary of State Colin Powell, appearing yesterday on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," said that "President Bush has no plans for a draft, nor is a draft needed," because the military has enough volunteers.

Source: Christopher Cooper, "Rumors of Draft Are Hard to Kill Despite Denials," Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2004.

For WSJ text (subscription required),,SB109624063063328374,00.html


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