The Draft

A correspondent to The Wall Street Journal‘s Tuesday’s Letters wrote of the consequences of ending the military draft and of the need for reinstating it.

He’s spot on, including his call for keeping exemptions to a bare minimum.

If we are to reinstate the draft, exemptions must be few and confined to medical reasons. American youth deserve fairness if they are to respond to the call of freedom.

I agree with reinstating the draft, but I would add two opportunities for delay by one drafted.

College/trade school students who are drafted should be allowed an opportunity to finish their degrees/certifications before heading to boot camp. That opportunity, though, should come with its own limit. College degrees take four, or at most five years, and trade school programs take two, or at most three years. A drafted student’s delay clock should start from the first year of his time in school, and the delay should expire at the end of those four/five years or two/three years, whether he’s finished his program or not.

Graduate students would have no such delay; they should be required to report on the specified date.

The other delay—which could convert to an exemption—should apply to those enrolled in ROTC programs. When I went through USAF ROTC some while ago, the program proceeded in two phases. The first was a General Military Course, which lasted for two years, and at the conclusion conferred no obligation to enlist. Any student could enroll in the GMC. The second phase, the Professional Officer Course, was open only to those who had completed the GMC (the requirement could be waived, but that was only rarely done), and enrolling in the POC involved formally enlisting in the Air Force as an NCO. Cadets could resign from the POC at any time, but they were then expected to report for duty at their NCO rank (a requirement that, in the realization, wasn’t always enforced.)

A draft/delay exemption would apply to ROTC enrollees in this way. Their draft delays would date from their enrollment in the GMC. Resigning from the GMC, or declining to subsequently enroll in the POC would require the draft-delayed student to report to boot camp on the next available date. Students who resign from the POC would be required—with no exceptions—to report for duty at their NCO rank. A cadet who completes the ROTC program and is commissioned would see his draft status OBE.

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