Local News

Congress Considers Reviving Draft, Including Women

Posted August 9, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT

— No one is required to join the military. Almost a quarter of a century ago, the practice of forcing young men to put on a uniform and sometimes forcing them to fight stopped, but two South Carolina lawmakers want to bring back the draft and this time they want women included.

With a good economy and a low unemployment rate, the military is having a hard time recruiting a few good men and women. Reinstating the draft is an option that is getting mixed reviews.

"We all owe something to our founding fathers," says Vietnam veteran Moses Best, who is proud of his 29 years in theArmy.

Best was not drafted. He volunteered at the age of 17. The 67-year-old thinks after 26 years, it is time to reinstate the draft.

"It teaches people how to get along, teaches about leadership and how to treat your fellow man," Best said.

Best believes a volunteer Army is not working when it comes to recruiting. This year the Army set a goal of enlisting 74,500 soldiers. They estimate a shortfall of more than 8,000.

Even with those predictions, some soldiers say the military needs to remain voluntary.

"Maybe if there's a war, not in peacetime, I do not think that's a good idea," says Sgt. Alan Silva.

Some lawmakers believe better pay and benefits is the solution. Others say a draft, including women, is the only way the United States can maintain its commitment abroad.

"If women don't want to be in the Army, I don't think they should have to," one female soldier said.

The Army is not the only branch of the Armed Services having problems with recruitment. TheAir Forceexpects to be up to 2,000 airman short this year. TheMarines, on the other hand, has met its goal.