“We’re not going to have a draft — period.”

Since the Vietnam War the United States military has prided itself on being an all volunteer service. Time has shown that although this model is sufficient for minor operations, international policing or advising, surgical strikes and relief efforts in a wide range of conflicts including Lebanon (1982-1984), Grenada (1983), Operation El Dorado Canyon (15 April 1986), Operation Earnest Will (1987–1988), Operation Golden Pheasant (1988), Operation Just Cause (1989), Persian Golf War and subsequent Iraqi No-Fly Zone (1990-2003), Somali Civil War (1993-1995), Operation Uphold Democracy (1994), Bosnia and Herzegovina (1995-), Operation Infinite Reach (1998), Kosovo War (1999), Operation Enduring Freedom (2001-) and the Haiti Rebellion (2004) it may be proving to be ineffective at sustained conflicts such as the Iraq War (2003-). With the insurgency on the rise and large parts of Iraq under insurgent domain (such as the western al-Anbar province), with both inactive and active Reserves plus National Guard elements now on active duty and with many of our already campaigning troops scheduled to return home shortly or being placed on a involuntary extension of their enlistments, with all possible substitutes expended and recruitment advertisements failing to collect the numbers required to fill the gaps, perhaps the only answer is to instate the draft that would make military service compulsory. Before we can make an accurate decision on the activation of a draft we must first understand the severity of the manpower shortage, the Iraqi resistance and possibility of the conflict ending, rationale and international support for the war, and what would happen if we didn’t meet our force requirements. In the end the answer is not a simple yes or no.

One thing is certain: the United States Military needs more manpower. With recruitment quotas not being met and resistance increasing the Pentagon is now offering up to 30,000 dollars as an incentive for new recruits to join the military.  Considering over 100,000 soldiers have involuntarily had their tours extended to meet the bare minimum force requirement in Iraq and abroad the government is then willing to spend 300 million dollars, the same amount of total moneys spent in international Tsunami relief, to effectively bribe the American public to fill the gap. The Pentagon has also lowered its recruitment standards by twenty five percent and is now more likely to recruit high school drop outs. There is no other resource to bet on for the Pentagon, with international support paling in comparison to previous engagements due to ethical and socio-political opposition to the war itself. With large, typically dependable allies like France and Germany choosing not to commit manpower to the war, responsibility will fall primarily on the United States Military.  Although superior technology may win an engagement in open desert it seems to have overshadowed the crucial element of available infantrymen to garrison invaded territories.

According to Abu Dhabi TV/Zogby International a large minority, if not a majority, of Sunni Arabs consider armed attacks on U.S. forces legitimate and justified resistance, the majority of Iraqis disapprove of the presence of coalition forces, and a majority of both Sunnis and Shiites want an end to the occupation as soon as possible, although Sunnis are opposed to the occupation in somewhat greater margins. According to the Boston Globe (10 June 2005): “a recent internal poll conducted for the U.S.-led coalition found that nearly 45 percent of the population supported the insurgent attacks, making accurate intelligence difficult to obtain. Only 15 percent of those polled said they strongly supported the U.S.-led coalition.” A more recent poll by the British intelligence forces collected data suggesting that 45 to 65 percent of Iraqis support directly attacking coalition forces and over 82 percent oppose occupation of the country. According to Abdel-Wahed Tohmeh the Iraqi parliament has also voted on demanding withdrawal of US forces from the region, having been signed by one third of that body. According to Pat Kneisler, Michael White, and Evan D. as of October 22, 2005, 1994 U.S. soldiers, 96 British soldiers, 102 soldiers from other nations have died in Iraq. 14,902 U.S. soldiers had been wounded in action as ambushes, mortar attacks, improvised explosive device or IED detonations, suicide bombings, assassinations and skirmishing only increases. To make matters worse, according to the Pentagon over 5,500 US soldiers have deserted since the beginning of the conflict. What these statistics point to is that the conflict in Iraq is no where near from over and may only be escalating; we may need even more of a presence in Iraq.

The war itself was never popular or justified. The rationales for invading Iraq have mostly been debunked. No weapon caches were ever found. There is minimal, if not negligible evidence of mass graves. No nuclear refinement plants or even chemical weapon plants were ever found. According to iraqbodycount.net between 26,797 and 30,163 Iraqi civilians have lost their lives since the beginning of the Iraq War due to direct military action of the United States Military. We must also keep in mind that this should be considered a grossly conservative number due to the exacting criterion demanded for validation of the casualty by the site staff; the actual number of dead probably exceeds 100,000 or more. As of October 4, 2005 other conservative estimates include 10,000-27,000 (The Brookings Institution), 10,000 (UK Foreign Secretary), at least 37,000 (People’s Kifah) and at least 100,000 (Lancet). With little international support for what many consider an illegitimate war and with less then 39 percent of Americans supporting President Bush’s decisions (Nov 4, 2005, The Washington Post) the options are even more limited to increase manpower overseas.

Morally the majority of the American people want nothing to do with directly involving themselves with the war; polls show that less then 20 percent prefer the draft. Those involved in the war are primarily the poor, particularly minorities who have no other option then to enlist or starve. Not a single family member of congress are in Iraq right now and President Bush has said “We’re not going to have a draft — period.” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in an Op-Ed detailed “the idea of reinstating the draft has never been debated, endorsed, discussed, theorized, pondered or even whispered by anyone in the Bush administration.” Although the American people may not want to experience war, there are few options left. When the strong arming and mercenary bribing fails what other option is there than a draft? Although the heads of government have time and time again denied the possibility of a draft in February 2003 a memo was released under the Freedom of Information act that spoke of a specialized draft that might be issued in the near future, specifically, “some officials to conclude that, while a conventional draft may never be needed, a draft of men and women possessing these critical skills may be warranted in a future crisis.”

What would happen if we didn’t meet our force requirements? Our troops are already spread as thin as possible. Forces would be forced to abandon outlying provinces and countryside and instead focus on garrisoning city centers like Baghdad and Basra. In all likelihood the countryside, now free of military policing and administration would become a hotbed for the insurgency and cities like Mosul and Tal Afar, already dangerously shifting in control on a day to day basis, would probably become rebel capitals as Ramadi is today. There would be a very real possibility of a rebel regular army emerging that might gather enough strength to directly engage and/or besiege coalition positions. As it is right now the country of Iraq is barely in coalition control and any reduction in standing presence might very well result in a full scale rebellion. US presence in the region would be eventually worn down (as it was in Vietnam) and extraction would be the only answer. This might lead to a new totalitarian, Taliban style government emerging; Iraq would be in dire straits. The regime displayed to us meriting an invasion on CNN might actually be created in the wake of such a catastrophic failure.

A draft may not be necessary but additional manpower certainly is. We need at least 100,000 additional recruits (and preferably more) to sustain our presence in Iraq. The most obvious way of getting the manpower we so sorely need would be beseeching our international allies for help. The United States must remain humble and stress the severity of the situation and possible fallout for the international community if help is not rationed. If international aid fails, we might consider hiring mercenaries from adjacent countries to Iraq such as Turkey, Pakistan and India. If that fails we might consider bringing the auxiliaries such as the CAP and ROTC as well as state militia groups into active service. Although these would-be soldiers might not be best suited for front-line combat, they could be used as support while the active support could be promoted to the front. If all of this fails the only options left are to withdraw from Iraq or call a draft. We wouldn’t need a full draft obviously, only needing a couple hundred thousand fighting men, but it would be a draft none the less. Certain people such as war veterans, college students and women could be exempt. The draft would be random and a lottery system not unlike the one used in Vietnam could be utilized.

In the end it can be concluded that some action must be taken to increase the fighting presence in Iraq and abroad. Although a classical draft might be unnecessary, indeed something must be done. If something is not done Iraq may very well slip into a state of anarchy and emerge as a new terror state as force levels decrease. If that were to happen all the lives wasted thus far would have been for nothing and the convictions of our government would have been nothing more then a superficial bargain to push the agenda. We have fumbled, yes, but there is still time left to set things right again.