U.S. Congressman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said he will reintroduce legislation to abolish the Selective Service System and put it in "deep standby" status.
Deep standby would suspend draft registration, reduce a significant portion of the system's staff and disband the Selective Service System boards.
DeFazio's announcement comes in the wake of recent revelations that the Selective Service System plans to conduct a "readiness exercise" for the system by 2009, including tests for randomly choosing military draftees by birth date and notifying those chosen. The system of appeals boards and the method of dealing with conscientious objectors and those seeking deferments also will be scrutinized. DeFazio called the tests a "mock draft."
DeFazio also announced his intention to offer an amendment during the fiscal year 2008 appropriations process to prohibit the selective service from carrying out this exercise.
"Our all-volunteer military is the best in the world," DeFazio said. "As the Pentagon, the president and the House of Representatives have agreed, there is no military or national security imperative to reinstate the draft. The current selective service infrastructure is obsolete and unnecessary. Taxpayers should not be forced to continue funding it."
If the country truly faced a national emergency DeFazio said he had "no doubt that citizens would voluntarily mobilize to protect it. American citizens can be mobilized just as effectively and at less cost if we get rid of the existing selective service infrastructure."
DeFazio has long opposed the selective service on grounds of fiscal responsibility as well as a desire to protect personal liberties, which, he said, are threatened when the government is able to mandate military service. He first introduced legislation to abolish the selective service in 1990 and has reintroduced it in several subsequent sessions of Congress. In 1995, DeFazio offered an amendment on the House floor to remove funding from the selective service. The amendment was defeated.
Taxpayers will spend $25 million this year, and they have spent more than $650 million since 1980, on the Selective Service System. Going to deep standby could save taxpayers more than $20 million a year, plus the cost of running the "mock" draft planned for 2009, according to the Oregon congressman.
DeFazio said the selective service is not necessary for national security nor military readiness. A 1993 report by Secretary of Defense Les Aspin noted, "Peacetime draft registration could be suspended with no effect on military mobilization requirements, little effect on the time it would take to mobilize and no measurable effect on military recruitment."
If a mass mobilization were necessary, it could be accomplished with a selective service that is in deep standby. In fact, the selective service has already developed a standby system that would provide for a rapid mobilization of health care professionals after the declaration of a national emergency.
The selective service was established by Congress and President Franklin Roosevelt in the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, which created the nation's first peacetime draft.
From 1948 until 1973, both during peacetime and during periods of conflict, men were drafted to fill vacancies in the armed forces that could not be filled through voluntary means.
The draft was ended in 1973 and the U.S. converted to an all-volunteer army.
In 1975, President Gerald Ford suspended the selective service and put it in deep standby status.
President Jimmy Carter decided to reinstate the selective service and the registration requirement after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1980.
The House has twice voted to abolish the selective service. In 1993, the House Veterans Affairs-Housing and Urban Development Committee appropriations subcommittee zeroed out funding for the selective service. An effort to restore the funding on the House floor was defeated.
In 1999, the House Appropriations Committee again removed funding for the selective service. An effort to restore funding on the House floor was again defeated. However, in both cases, funding for the selective service was restored during the conference committee with the Senate.