A Draft for the Willing

Truly believe in the Iraq War? Time to suit up.

Discomfort Zone

by Steve Dupree

Through the magic of the Internet, a few weeks ago, I got back in touch with an old friend from early on in my Navy days. If I remember correctly, I met him when we were in class â“Aâ” school at Corry Station in Pensacola, Fla. I was not yet halfway through being 18, and I imagine that he was about the same age. He certainly canâ’t be much younger than I and might be somewhat older.

So, weâ’re catching up via email and early on, he drops the bombshell (metaphorically speaking) that he is on active duty and is preparing to be deployed to Iraq. The preparation he is undergoing is basically turning him into a soldier. This Navy reservist, with training and experience as a Cryptologic Technician, is being deployed to Iraq not on a ship, not to a port city to support a ship. No, he is being trained for deployment as a soldier. Consider that when I met him, it was late 1973 or early 1974. Thatâ’s right, he is in his 50s. We are Vietnam-era veterans. Apparently, a decade plus after his initial active and reserve duty, he decided to go back into the reserves. He is pretty much gung ho and, unlike me, appears to believe there is a reason to be fighting in Iraq. (But, that is a tangent that I am not going off on.)

Anyway, I got to thinking about what he has done and is doing and realized just how many of the lame excuses I have heard from others that he is making a mockery of. Then I thought of a way to bring a little fairness to the world. I propose that we rename and re-conceptualize our military draft to the Not So Selective Service. I suggest that all of those who have been cheerleaders for the idiocy in the Middle East be considered for service. Given what my buddy has had to say about the training he has made it through, I suggest that retirement age be made the upper limit for service. He has made it sound as though an extended boot camp with some pretty intensive, regular and frequent physical training was actually not too much for folks our age. There are obviously a lot of Knoxpatchians who would benefit from such a regimen.

My buddy tells me that he has been married for 25 years now and has several children, some still minors. So, what say that the NSSS just smiles and ignores the hypocrites who say that they would willingly go but they have families to that depend on them. At least, the NSSS should ignore what they say and send them to boot camp. Business and financial concerns as well can all be ruled out as reasons to not serve. If those things arenâ’t getting my old friend out of going, why should anyone believe that they should get out of going for those reasons?

So letâ’s act like we are a nation at war, not just an army at war. Letâ’s have our draft, our selective service. The first pool we will select from will be those younger than retirement age who have never served in the military and who support the war. No deferments. If you have physical problems that need to be addressed, fine. We will bring in Occupational Therapists and Martial Arts Instructors who will design a program specific to the individuals to either improve their physicality or provide a workaround that allows them to still be militarily productive. Yep, it could take a while, you may be in boot camp, ineligible for promotion, for a couple of years. So what? No deferments; if you are legal to vote, you are eligible to serve. If we get through all of those tens of millions of lip-service patriots and still have a war to fight, we can start on those who have passively opposed the war and on from there until every American has a chance for service. Actually, even if the war should end, I think we should continue the program. We should make it so that every American stands ready to fight and die (or, you know, rescue people from disasters) regardless of who your father is.

What excuses will you lip-service patriots come up with now? Look at what my buddy is doing and read my suggestion again; then tell me what excuses you will use. Iâ’ll bet I can shoot those down, too.

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