updated 6/24/2005 9:22:30 AM ET 2005-06-24T13:22:30

Americans overwhelmingly oppose reinstatement of the military draft and most say they wouldn’t encourage their children to enlist in the service either, an AP-Ipsos poll found.

That resistance underscores the dilemma facing the Bush administration as it struggles to recruit a volunteer military in war time.

The Army is falling short of its recruiting goals this year at a time the country is fighting extended wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army has repeatedly missed its monthly recruiting goals this year, falling short by 42 percent in April.

And all four branches of military service are having trouble attracting recruits to their reserve forces.

Despite the recruiting problems, seven in 10 Americans say they oppose reinstatement of the draft, and almost half of those polled strongly oppose that step, the AP-Ipsos poll found. About a quarter of the people in this country say they favor reinstating the draft.

“Things have been working well with the all-volunteer army and that’s how it should stay,” said Kathy Fowler, a 44-year-old mother from Chillicothe, Ohio.

More than 1,700 members of the U.S. military have died since the start of the Iraq war and thousands more have been wounded. Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, told members of Congress on Thursday that the Iraqi insurgency is as active as six months ago and more foreign fighters are flowing in all the time.

Rumsfeld rules out draft
The shortfalls in military recruiting have led to speculation that the government might be forced to reinstitute the draft. But Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has ruled it out, saying the all-volunteer force has proved the wisdom of discontinuing the draft in 1973.

“There isn’t a chance in the world that the draft will be brought back,” Rumsfeld told a House hearing Thursday.

New York Congressman Charles Rangel introduced a bill in January 2003 to bring back the draft, and more than a year later he reintroduced it. The legislation went nowhere, which did not surprise the New York Democrat.

Rangel said he initially introduced the draft legislation because he thought people would think twice about going to war in Iraq if their own children might be required to serve. And he objects to the way the military is recruiting troops — offering cash bonuses to needy young people in poor neighborhoods.

The Army has responded to the recruiting slump by increasing the number of recruiters and offering bigger signup bonuses.

Some feel the military’s recruitment problems will force a return to the draft.

“If we had more manpower in the Middle East we could get this over with,” said James Puma, a retiree from Buffalo, N.Y. “I’m a Republican, I’m with the president. But things in Iraq are not going good at all.”

However, Jeremy Miller, a sales manager from Denver, said the Iraq war is “a situation the president has gotten us into and should be able to get us out of” without bringing back the draft.

On children, women
More than half of those polled said they would discourage a son who was the right age to serve from enlisting in the military, while two-thirds said they would discourage a daughter from joining.

If a military draft were reinstated, more than half in the poll, 54 percent, said they would oppose women being drafted.

The American public has strongly opposed reinstating the draft for the past couple of decades, according to various polls. And the decreasing support for the war in Iraq suggests that is unlikely to change anytime soon.

“People simply don’t want their kids to be sent off to Iraq to be shot at in a situation in which the value of the war is becoming more and more questionable,” said John Mueller, a political science professor at Ohio State University and author of “War, Presidents and Public Opinion.”

Men were more likely than women to favor reinstating the draft, those over age 50 were more likely to favor it than younger adults. And Republicans were more likely than Democrats to support the idea. But a majority of each of those groups opposed the draft.

“The draft has never been popular and there’s little reason to believe it would be popular now,” public opinion analyst Karlyn Bowman said.

The poll of 1,000 adults was conducted June 20-22 for the AP by Ipsos, an international polling firm, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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