War On Terrorism Calls for Draft, Former Senator Says
By Lawrence Morahan Senior Staff Writer
January 23, 2003

Washington ( - In order for all segments of American society to participate equally in fighting the war on terrorism, the United States should reinstate the military draft and some other types of national service, such as the Peace Corps, a former senator said Wednesday.

"I think all strata of our society should share in this next 20 years we have ahead, which is undoubtedly going to have a lot of combat situations come up," former Ohio Democratic Sen. John Glenn told .

"We're not looking forward to just a little bit of combat once in a while; this is liable to be a much greater combat role than anybody ever thought we were getting into," Glenn said.

The war on terrorism, threats by North Korea against U.S. troops in South Korea and a buildup of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf in preparation for a possible war against Iraq have strained military personnel reserves and ignited a debate on the draft, which was abolished in 1973 in the closing days of the Vietnam War.

Earlier this month, Democratic Reps. Charles Rangel (N.Y.) and John Conyers (Mich.) introduced a bill that would reinstate a draft for military or alternative national service for men and women 18 to 26 years of age.

Opponents of the draft said, however, that bringing more people into the armed services will not solve the security problems America faces today. Studies by the Pentagon and the General Accounting Office said the all-volunteer force was more effective than the draft.

Former Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North said he favored maintaining registration of draft-age individuals but didn't yet see the need for military service for eligible candidates.

"Even if you recruited all these guys, it could be very difficult to get them anywhere," North told .

Glenn and North were guest speakers at a Press Club luncheon Wednesday hosted by the Foss Institute, an organization that is encouraging veterans to share their military experiences with students around the country in order to promote patriotism.

The non-profit Foss Institute was founded in honor of General Joe Foss, a World War II Marine ace and Medal of Honor recipient who died Jan. 1. Foss received the country's highest award for bravery for his critical role in holding Guadalcanal, later recognized as the turning point of World War II in the Pacific.

The Foss Institute plans to send volunteer veterans to one million school-aged children across America every year with the aim of restoring patriotism, integrity and an appreciation for America's freedoms, members said. Veterans also will talk about their combat experiences, not to glorify war, but to make young people more aware of the price of freedom, they said.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz praised the Institute's mission as a "great project.

"I can't think of anything more worthy than this project of inspiring America's youth to dedication and to patriotism and to national service at a time when our country needs it, and we will need it unfortunately, I think, for a good long time," he said.

Wolfowitz noted "some spectacular successes" early in the war on terrorism.

"But as the president and the secretary of defense and everyone tries to remind us constantly, [terrorists are] still out there, they're still plotting actively, they are still working against us, and it's not going to be over anytime soon, so the spirit of national service and national dedication is something that we enormously benefit from as a country," he said.

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