Video: Draft rumors

Image: Jim Miklasszewski
By Jim Miklaszewski Chief Pentagon correspondent
NBC News
updated 10/4/2004 12:48:16 PM ET 2004-10-04T16:48:16

Twenty-year-old Jeremy Tor, a junior at the University of Arizona, got the scare of his life recently — an e-mail that told him if George Bush is re-elected, he will reinstate the military draft.

"I thought, this is incredible. You know, to suggest that a draft is going to be instituted, harkening back to the days of Vietnam, is a scary, scary thought," he says.

Wednesday, Vice President Dick Cheney strongly denied it.

"The notion that somebody's peddling out there that there is a secret plan to reinstitute the draft — it's hogwash, not true," Cheney said on the campaign trail.

But college-age students and their parents across the country are being bombarded with the draft warning. Internet postings claim the Selective Service System has been given $28 million to prepare for a draft, and is secretly hiring 10,000 people for draft boards nationwide.

Pentagon officials call it bunk.

The e-mails also highlight two bills to reinstate the draft that are pending in the House and Senate. But both have almost no political support and both are sponsored by Democrats.

Congressman Charles Rangel, D-New York, admits he introduced his bill, in part, as a protest to the war in Iraq.

"I want to make it clear. This war is stupid, it is unnecessary," says Rep. Rangel.

It may sound strange, but most Pentagon and military leaders actually oppose the draft, because they say the all-volunteer army is working. Generally, today's soldiers are in the Army because they want to be. Drafted soldiers would be forced to serve for only two years — barely enough time to train them for today's high-tech force.

"There are so many specific skills you need that you can't just bring somebody in, train them for six months and bring them to Iraq," says military expert Loren Thompson. "They won't know what to do."

If the military needs more soldiers, they'll increase incentives to volunteers, like enlistment bonuses up to $20,000.

Jeremy Tor has decided the draft scare is a political hoax. But it has still convinced him to vote in November.

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