“The effects of sequestration over the next 10 years will threaten the foundations of the all-volunteer force, putting the nation’s security on a vector that is potentially dangerous,” Amos said.
At a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing this week on the impacts of budget cuts on military strength, lawmakers heard confirmation that despite Obama’s pledge to put troops first that many may be on the chopping block.
“In the case of the Army, we will come to a point where unfortunately we’ll have to use some involuntary separation measures,” Army Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Howard B. Bromberg testified. “In the case of the Army, it will probably be about 24,000 enlisted and about 7,000 officers.”
Why Obama has been lackadaisical about the risks posed by force reduction and readiness cuts may reflect his unwillingness to fight new battles after campaign-talking-point pullouts from Iraq and, next year, Afghanistan. His desire for major cuts in nuclear weapons and endorsement of the Global Zero initiative reflect a worldview willing to power down regardless of moves taken by nefarious regimes or terrorist entities.
Even Obama’s proposal to avert the sequester, which puts 50 percent of the cuts on a department that uses 18 percent of the budget, would take $250 billion out of the military in addition to tax hikes.
His new Defense secretary, fueled by opposition to the Iraq war, said in 2004 he was “not so sure that isn’t a bad idea” to bring back the draft.
Appearing with Chuck Hagel on an episode of the Today show back then, Sen. Joe Biden said he didn’t rule out a draft, adding, “I don’t think it’s necessary now.”
“The whole notion of shared burden is something we should be talking about well beyond the issue of just the draft,” Biden said in a statement that could similarly apply to the administration’s fairness doctrine on tax rates.
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) this month advocated the use of a draft as an anti-war tool, saying “if a president can’t convince the Congress to support the draft, then he should not be bringing the question of war in front of the Congress or the American people.”
“If this country has its security threatened, I would like to believe that all of us, no matter how old we are, would want to do something. And in this case, it will be universal,” he said. “…Listen, the military takes what it can get.”
Rangel introduced a bill after the Pentagon’s announcement women would be allowed in combat roles to require Selective Service registration for all, effective 60 days after the bill’s passage. It has one co-sponsor, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.).
Still, Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) have re-launched a quiet effort to eliminate the Selective Service altogether, arguing that the office is antiquated and is a waste of $24 million a year.
“The Selective Service System was never meant to be permanent. Now, 31 years and over $700 million later, Congress has yet to give serious consideration to establishing a conscripted force,” Coffman, a combat veteran, wrote in 2011 after first introducing the bill. “It is time to end the registration requirement and dismantle the Selective Service System.”