Saturday, January 13, 2007

Rangel pushes second military draft bill

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Jan 13, 2007 6:53:12 EST
The Air Force Times

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., introduced a new military draft bill Wednesday and a resolution calling on the Defense Department to drop all restrictions on families, the public and the media being present when the remains of service members arrive and depart from military bases.

Neither of his proposals have much chance of passing.

His draft bill is HR 393. The resolution on watching the arrival and departure of remains from bases in the U.S. and overseas is HConRes 29. Both measures were referred to the House Armed Services Committee for consideration.

Rangel said HR 393 “requires that, during wartime, all legal residents of the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 42 would be subject to a military draft.” The number of people drafted would be left to the president.

“No deferments would be allowed beyond the completion of high school, up to age 20, except for conscientious objectors or those with health problems,” he said.

The bill also would mandate that anyone not needed in the military would have to serve two years of civilian service, working in hospitals or in homeland security jobs.

“President Bush warned the nation that we are in for further sacrifices in Iraq. But the truth is, the sacrifice is being borne exclusively by the 1 million-plus troops who have served, and their families. Three thousand have made the ultimate sacrifice and 22,000 have been wounded and maimed,” Rangel said.

The Pentagon strongly opposes a return to the draft, last used during the Vietnam War. In 2004, the House of Representatives voted against a similar Rangel bill by an overwhelming 402-2 margin.

But Rangel says things have changed.

“I don’t see how anyone who supports the war in Iraq would not support reinstatement of the draft,” he said.

The 21,000 additional troops President Bush wants to send into Iraq “will not be fresh troops,” he said. “Many of them are already on the ground in Iraq and will have their deployments extended. Almost 250,000 of the troops currently deployed in Iraq have served more than one tour, and some have been deployed as many as six times.

“Since the start of the war, more than 14,000 discharged Army veterans — members of the Individual Ready Reserve — have been called back from their jobs and families to serve in Iraq.”

The resolution on viewing the transfer of flag-draped coffins, aimed at overturning a Defense Department that military officials have said is designed to protect family privacy, would be nonbinding. It simply asks for, but would not require, a policy change that would open such transfers to the public and the press. The resolution would allow for individual families to request and receive privacy so that they or the coffin containing the remains of their family member are not seen by members of the public or media.


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