Author/Copyright holder: Robert L. Vaessen
Written: 10 April 2002
How congressional legislators are planning to take away the constitutional
rights and freedoms of American men aged 18-22, and significantly weaken
America by undermining a fundamental strength of the U.S. Military.
Recent news/An update
28 January 2002
20 Mar 2002
5 Apr 2002
11 April 2002
Origins: On the 20th of December 2001, Representative Nick Smith of Michigan, for himself and Mr. Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, introduced a bill onto the floor of the House of Representatives. HR-3598, also known as (Short title as introduced) "Universal Military Training Service Act of 2001" was immediately co-sponsored by Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett of Maryland co-sponsored this legislative atrocity on the 6th of February 2002. The bills stated title/purpose (Official title as introduced) was;
"A bill to require the induction into the Armed Forces of young men registered under the Military Selective Service Act, and to authorize young women to volunteer, to receive basic military training and education for a period of up to one year."
(Did you catch that? The title might throw you for a minute, but if you read a little further it's not to difficult to figure out what the authors of this bill intend. These individuals are sponsoring a bill which will require all men between the ages of 18 and 22 to receive basic military training and education as a member of one of the armed services for a period of six to twelve months.)
Let's get a little more specific regarding the main points of this legislation. The bills summary (as introduced) reads as follows:
Universal Military Training and Service Act of 2001:
No debate: Another ill advised bill that was not acted on when introduced on the floor of the house of Representatives. No call for votes was made. The sponsors knew that this legislation would never pass an open vote on the floor. Instead, the bill was immediately referred to the House Armed Service Committee. Just like a previous bill that had no chance of withstanding open debate on the floor ('The Military Honor and Decency Act of 1996'). The bills sponsors knew what they were doing. This action was necessary to ensure that it would bypass any critical debate and be passed swiftly by a group of like minded individuals.
Previously: Compulsory service, long required during time of war, and beginning (In U.S. History) primarily during the civil war, was reinstituted in the United States in 1940, as the United States was on the brink of World War II. The practice remained in effect through the turbulent 1960s but was suspended by President Nixon in 1973. In the late 1970s, Congress passed legislation officially halting the draft, but the Selective Service Act was reintroduced after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1980. The draft is not exactly the same as compulsory service. It's a little bit less draconian. During the draft, random individuals were pressed into service as more personnel were required. While some individuals never had their number called. Under this new law, all eligible men would be required to serve (With very few exceptions). The U.S. has used compulsory military service in the past. During times of war; declared or otherwise. This bill seeks to institute a compulsory military service during peacetime.
Purpose?: Who knows? It wasn't stated directly in the bill. Unlike many bills introduced to legislative bodies, this bill has no stated (or inherent) purpose. What are the reasons behind this bill? I can only speculate. Perhaps it's a preemptive measure based upon a perceived need? In the aftermath of 9/11, president bush has declared a war on terrorism. All wars need soldiers. Where does this legislation fit in with those plans?
|Opposition: I'd like to go through each part of the bill and expose what I see as problems with this proposed legislation. This will be a rather one sided debate. The bills sponsors haven't bothered to put out press releases (that I know of), supporting their stand on this bill.|
|SEC 1. Short Title and Table of Contents
(Alright, I'll refrain from arguing anything in Section 1)
|SEC 2. Definitions
(What's to argue here? How about the term United States? Apparently this compulsory service applies to all male citizens of the U.S. and its territories. That's right; Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are included even though they are afforded no voting representation on the matter. Thanks for providing us with canon fodder Guam. We really appreciate it.)
|SEC 3. Basic Military Training and Education
(I've got a beef with this section as well. Just in case the ladies were feeling left out, they're allowed to volunteer if they want to. Every female citizen of the U.S. can ignore this bill at will. Sound a little sexist? That's because it is! When people hear the word sexist, they automatically assume that women are getting the shaft; however, sexism works both ways. By virtue of sex alone, every man in America is now faced with being forced to "donate" a year of their life to the service of the country.)
|SEC 4. Period of Basic Military Training and Education
(The lucky conscript is forced into federal servitude for six months to a year. Being a member of the military, I can tell you that one year doesn't provide much in the way of education. 6-10 weeks of basic training. That leaves appx 10 months for training. While a conscript might be trained for a half way decent job in that amount of time, the military would have no time left to recoup any investment. It costs a lot of money to pay, feed, house, outfit and train recruits. If the goal is discharge within a year where does the military get any benefit? It wouldn't; unless of course it did away with the training part. Just send these conscripts through the most basic of training. No technical school, no specialized skills. Just use these conscripts for manual labor. That might make some sense. The way the bill reads it sounds like that's exactly what the bills author has in mind. Training beyond the most basic would be reserved for high school dropouts. Oh joy!)
(So what would the conscript get in return for this year of slavery? A pro-rated version of the GI Bill, military pay below that of the lowest rank (35% of E1 recruit pay), and the exciting opportunity to learn how to field strip an M16-A1. A conscript wouldn't likely be entered into the more expensive and demanding training schools. Those that take up to a year or more to complete, and leave the trainee with a set of valuable real world skills. The U.S. military currently requires a minimum 3 year enlistment in order to recoup it's investment in such recruits.)
(Section 4 also talks about transfer of the conscript to national and community service programs. Can you say AmeriCorps, or Homeland Defense? So these conscripts could conceivably end up working security at airports (That sure makes me feel secure; Not!), prisons, cleaning up highways, building roads, and various other manual, menial, and dangerous duty. All this should make the conscript feel really good about doing his civic duty. So sorry you got stabbed during a prison uprising. Thanks for 'Donating' a year of your life for the sake of your country.)
|SEC 5. Educational services and prorated Montgomery GI bill benefits
(As I mentioned above, the lucky conscript receives pro-rated GI bill benefits. One years worth of GI bill benefits don't add up to much. Oh yeah, and by the way, GI benefits are not free. The recipient pays part of the tuition costs under the GI bill. It's not a free year of college education on Uncle Sam.)
|SEC 6. Role of Selective Service System
(Under this bill the instruments established under the Selective Service System will be used to identify, register, examine, classify, allocate and deliver conscripts to the military. In my opinion, we should just do away with the Selective Service System altogether. I'm not the only one with that opinion either. As a matter of fact, there seems to be more support for complete abolition of the draft (S.S.S.), than there is for this ill advised legislation. You may want to take a look at another bill. H.R. 1597 (To repeal the Military Selective Service Act).)
|SEC 7. Induction of conscripts and acceptance of volunteers
(According to this section, you can avoid being a conscript by volunteering. What? So basically your choice is volunteer or be conscripted.)
|SEC 8. Deferments and postponements
(If you're lucky, the training camps will be full, and they won't be able to accept you until next year. What does that mean for those who want to join the military? I guess they'll be turned away as well. "Sorry the camps are full son, we don't have room for someone who actually wants to serve in the military. We're too busy training all these men who don't want to be here." Perhaps the military will have to set up additional training camps. Actually, it's a sure bet that they'll have to. It's not like basic training bases run at only 10% capacity. How much will it cost to train, house, feed, and 'educate' these conscripts? How will the government pay for this new army of conscripts? Read my lips "More new taxes".)
|SEC 9. Exemptions
(Short of volunteering for the military, mental or physical impairment is the only way out of this draft. What's really scary is that even if you've already volunteered to enter the military on your own, you're only exempt if you've already served six months. It doesn't matter whether you've already completed and advanced training. It doesn't matter that you've been stationed to you first permanent duty station. It doesn't matter that you're a jet engine mechanic learning the details of the job on the flight line. You've just become a conscript. Don't you just love it! Something else to note. While previous drafts have exempted college students, this bill offers no such exemption. It would pull young men out of college in order to force them into the military. So much for the benefits of a good education.)
|SEC 10. Military training in branch of member's choice; Conscientious Objection
(The only choice you have under this bill is which branch of the military you wish to serve you compulsory service under. Provided of course that the Air Force has room, and decides you've got the right stuff. Even the conscientious objectors will be required to serve. In a non military manner of course. We'll exclude the M16-A1 training from their basic training, and put them to work in some other public service capacity. Building more prisons to keep America safe.)
|SEC 11. Pay and allowances
(As I mentioned previously, the conscripts wages will be lower than dirt. Monthly basic pay shall not exceed 35 percent of the basic pay of an enlisted member in a regular component in the pay grade E-1 with less than four months of service. As of Jan 1st 2002, That's approximately $357.95 per month. Hmmm, that works out to about $12.00 a day, or $1.50 an hour. I was an E1 back in 1984/1985 and the pay was a lot less back then. I can tell you from personal experience, E1 pay is not much. This is one third the pay of an ordinary E1. Why bother paying them at all? They are after all conscripts. They don't have any say in the matter.)
|SEC 12. Discharge following training
(O.k. here's a section that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever (As far as I can tell anyway). So we train all these conscripts, and then do nothing with them. What? How do we pay for that? read my lips "More new taxes". This is insane. We force people to undergo mandatory military training, and them send them packing? What's the purpose of this legislation? To frivolously waste the taxpayers money? I can't believe this. I must be missing something. The training must not be over yet. That must be it. It certainly doesn't make any sense to give them highly skilled training without any return. That costs a lot of money. So we must be talking about very basic training. It doesn't make any sense to release them as soon as they're done with basic training, and that doesn't take anywhere near 6 months. Which is the minimum amount of time that a conscript is forced to serve. The answer must be some sort of compromise. We provide them with basic military training, and then ship them off somewhere for 'On-the-job' training. In the Air Force everyone receives 'On-the-job' training of some sort. It's the training you receive in the field, at your first duty location. I can only imagine that conscripts will undergo this sort of training as well. That makes a little more sense, but it's purely conjecture. Unfortunately, this bill doesn't spell out that sort of detail.)
|SEC 13. Relation to authorized end strengths for active forces
(According to this section, the conscripts inducted into the ranks of the military will not be counted against currently authorized force strengths. As of February 29, 2000. Our Active duty end strength is appx. 1,369,022, and represents (according to U.S. census statistics for the year 2000) appx 10% of the male population (aged 18-22). So we should expect to see a military strength of appx 10,000,000 plus for the U.S. military! During peace-time! What's the purpose of this bill? What will we do with this conscripted military force? Do the drafters of this legislation have something in mind? How costly, in lives and dollars, is this conscript army going to be?)
|SEC 14. Conforming amendments
(Of course they'll have to change a bunch of laws if this one becomes reality. Let's pray that it doesn't)
|SEC 15. Transitional provision
(If this bill becomes a law, males between 18-22 will be spared from conscription if they have obtained a high school diploma (or equivalent) prior to January 1st 2003. Everyone (males between 18-22) is fair game after that date)
More thoughts: This bill is a horrid example of how to make America, and America's Military as weak as those of other lesser nations. As a member of the armed forces (TSgt serving on active duty in the USAF) I am personally offended by the introduction of this bill. In my opinion, our all volunteer military is the key to our military might. Many other nations are now doing away with conscription. Even Russia is abolishing compulsory military service. Other nations have seen the model that we've created. They've seen the professionalism, excellence, and pride exhibited by the worlds greatest military, and they want the same for their nation. Our military did not become the worlds most professional fighting force through compulsory military service. It got that way through volunteers who sought to better themselves and this nation through dedication and excellence in arms. Our military today is a highly trained cadre of professional men and women who rely on each other, and the values instilled by voluntary service. Let's keep it that way.
Other nations have used conscription as a means of oppression, repression, and conquest. Conscription is the worst thing that could possibly happen to our military. It would create an enemy within, slowly sapping our strength and ultimately leading to a weak and ineffective force. Studies have shown that the social impact of conscription can only be countered when the consequences of military defeat are greater than the considerations of the individual. During war a conscripted force may be necessary. During peace-time such a force is folly, and the fallout from such consequences would be horrendous.
Forcing American citizens into military service is contradictory to the principles of freedom embraced by this nations founding fathers. Involuntary induction will produce a predictable civil backlash unseen since the conflict in Vietnam. Conscription is not something that our society will likely submit to willingly, unless the consequences of military defeat are greater than those of individual freedom in service of our nations continued existence. Let's look at the Constitution, shall we? The founding fathers, whom the GOP are so terribly fond of invoking when it suits their needs, put their thoughts down in writing in section 8 of the first article of the Constitution, expressing that the government is allowed to "(call) forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions." Arguably, we're at war now, but this bill doesn't provide for compulsory military training in a time of war only; it's for any time, every time, for all time.
From the 13th Amendment: Neither Slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Granted, time of war has abrogated 13th Amendment rights (as upheld by the Supreme Court), but we're not only talking about time of war here. We're talking about any time, every time, all time. The 14th Amendment is supposed to guarantee the privileges and equal protection of our citizens. "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." How exactly is extorting a year from every single man (but not women) is equal protection. How does a year of involuntary servitude comply with the rights of liberty clause?
If this bill is passed, the average law abiding American man will be afforded fewer rights under the law than a convicted felon. Patriotism cannot be forced down anyone's throat; it's something born of freedom, principles, and pride. We cannot make our military better by holding a gun to it's back. Drafting American men during peace-time in order to perform work deemed socially or civically valuable is morally unconscionable. Will forced servitude teach anyone the value of civic duty? I doubt it.
Whose idea?: This bill was introduced by Representative Nick Smith of Michigan for himself and Representative Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania. It was co-sponsored on the 6th of February 2001 by Representative Roscoe G. Bartlet of Maryland. All three of these individuals are Republicans, and two of them (Bartlet and Weldon) serve on the House Armed Services Committee. The only one who has served in the military was Rep. Smith who served in the USAF as an Intelligence Officer from 1959-1961. Mr. Bartlet was a co-sponsor of another piece of legislative crap; the Military Honor and Decency act of 1996. While Mr. Smith has served in the US military, his point of view may be somewhat out of date with regards to the military. I would suggest that all three of these individuals solicit the views of our military leaders regarding this proposed legislation.
Likelihood: On February 1st, the San Francisco Chronicle ran an article quoting Bush as saying, "All Americans [should] give 4,000 hours of service over their lifetime to their country." A seemingly meaningless statement until you realize that 4,000 hours is one day shy of 6 months, the minimum service requirement under this new Bill.
While this bill seems so extreme that it's not likely to go very far, keep in mind that only one Member of Congress voted against military action this fall. Congress has allowed erosion of civil liberties that would have been unthinkable a few months ago. In these times unusual things can happen. At the very least, this changes the current discussion concerning the possible return to the draft. It opens the possibility of a "more reasonable" proposal getting through Congress.
IF you've read this far I'd like to urge you to get involved. Write your Congressman/Representative; I did. They may not respond (mine didn't), but at least they'll know where you stand on the matter. To this day I've found very little support for this bill. And none from any of the bills sponsors. If you know where I can find their point of view regarding this matter please let me know.
The bill moves forward: After introduction (12/20/2001) , the bill was
immediately referred to the House Armed Services committee. Soon after that (28/01/2002),
the House Armed Services committee requested executive comment from the DOD.
the bill was further referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.
(I can't wait to hear what the DOD has to say about this bill!)
Enlightened minds in Congress?:On the 20th of March 2002, Representative Ron Paul sponsored and introduced House Congressional Resolution 368. Expressing the sense of Congress that reinstating the military draft or implementing any other form of compulsory military service in the United States would be detrimental to the long-term military interests of the United States, violative of individual liberties protected by the Constitution, and inconsistent with the values underlying a free society as expressed in the Declaration of Independence.
(It appears that someone other than me agrees that H.R. 3598 is crap. On the 5th of April 2002, the resolution was referred to the House Armed Services Committee. As of 18 Sep 2002, resolution 368 has 6 sponsors.)
Unbelievable good news!: One of the bills co-sponsors has withdrawn his support for this piece of legislative garbage. On the 11th of April 2002, Representative Curt Weldon withdrew his support for the bill.
(It looks like someone talked some sense into Rep. Weldon. Let's hope that this bill dies in committee.)
References/Sources: Listed below are a few of the various research references and sources that I consulted (and or used) when writing this article. Learn more about the Universal Military Training Service Act of 2001. Both Pro (What little of it that I could find) and Con positions are presented.
If you have any comments, concerns, or questions regarding this page(s), or this law in general, please feel free to write me.
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