Bring Back The Draft?

If America Fights A War, Should The Government Draft Soldiers?

The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News correspondent Andy Rooney.



There have been stories recently about the problem the Pentagon is having recruiting enough soldiers to do the fighting that we're committed to do in Iraq.

In an attempt to get the soldiers they need, recruiters have reduced the standards for getting into the Army or Navy.

They have reduced the educational standards, for example, so that they're getting more soldiers who didn't go to high school, let alone graduate from high school.

Recruiters are granting thousands of what they call "moral waivers". A "moral waiver" it turns out means they'll take someone who has committed a crime or even someone who has been in prison. Last year, a total of 8,129 "moral waivers" were given to men who volunteered for the Army.

Are these the people we want representing us? As American soldiers, they're going to give the people they meet around the world the impression that they are what all Americans are like and if they have been taken from the bottom of the barrel, they are not what we're all like.

In August of 1941, I had just finished my junior year in college when I was drafted into the Army. Hundreds of my classmates were drafted at the same time.

I hated everything about Army life. I hated the Field Artillery regiment I was assigned to. Most of the guys in it were high school dropouts and the Army wasn't using the term "moral waiver," yet but a lot of them would have needed it.

They had joined before the draft so they had already been promoted to being corporals or sergeants and they were in charge of the rest of us.

In 1942 we were at war with Germany and it wasn't long before drafted college students and high school graduates dominated our military. It changed the United States Army for the better and in two years made it the best fighting force there has ever been. The Army and Navy were no longer made up of losers.

Now comes the part of this I never thought I'd hear myself say: Whenever we, as a nation, decide to fight a war – in Iraq or anywhere else – it should be fought by average Americans who are drafted.
Written By Andy Rooney
  • Daniel Schorn

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