WASHINGTON – None of the members of Maine’s congressional delegation favors reinstitution of a military draft.

Maine’s Sen. Susan Collins, who serves on the Senate Committee on Armed Services, believes a draft is not needed because the Department of Defense already successfully meets its retention and recruitment goals, her spokeswoman said.

Collins, a Republican, has said more coalition troops are needed in Iraq. But rather than extending the tours of American reserve and guard units, the Bush administration should appeal to the United Nations for deployment of international peace-keeping troops, said Jen Burita, Collins’ press secretary. Moreover, part-time soldiers should not be serving more time in Iraq than full-time troops, Collins said.

Several bills in Congress call for bringing back a general draft. Another bill would require all American men between ages 18 and 22 to serve in the military, where they would learn basic training and education.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, also a Republican, echoed Collins’ sentiments, saying there is “no evidence a draft is required.”

In the House, both of Maine’s U.S. representatives, Democrats Tom Allen and Mike Michaud, are opposed to any efforts to reinstitute a draft.

Allen said he does believe the Department of Defense needs to reassess the current level of its full-time military, in light of recent heavy reliance on reserve and guard units, said Mark Sullivan, Allen’s spokesman.

“The current situation really is not what people had intended or anticipated,” he said. “And it’s, again, another one of the predictable yet failed policies of this administration that they moved forward without taking into consideration the impact it would have on the Guard and Reserves.”

Analysts in Collins’ office predicted any draft efforts were likely to fail for three reasons:

• Department of Defense officials have opposed it;

• The U.S. all-volunteer military is considered best in the world; and,

• Costs associated with training the military would “escalate dramatically.”

Burita said Collins’ offices have received about three dozen phone calls and letters with roughly 95 percent against a draft.

Sponsors of both bills proposing a draft, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Nebraska, and Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-New York, reasoned similarly that if more soldiers in the American military came from wealthier homes – which the draft would cause – they would constitute a more representative force. Furthermore, Rangel, who proposed legislation before the Iraq invasion and opposed a rush to war, said support for the war might be viewed as less tolerable to more people if there were a draft.

Both bills would draft men and women.

“Why shouldn’t we ask all of our citizens to bear some responsibility and pay some price?” said Hagel, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The military draft was instituted in 1948 and was suspended in 1973, near the end of the Vietnam War two years later. Since 1980, the Selective Service has required men between ages 18 and 26 to register with the U.S. military in the event a draft were reinstituted, according to published reports.



Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.