Bush War Adviser Says Draft Worth a Look

The Associated Press

Friday 10 August 2007

Washington - Frequent tours for U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have stressed the all-volunteer force and made it worth considering a return to a military draft, President Bush's new war adviser said Friday.

"I think it makes sense to certainly consider it," Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute said in an interview with National Public Radio's "All Things Considered."

"And I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table. But ultimately, this is a policy matter between meeting the demands for the nation's security by one means or another," Lute added in his first interview since he was confirmed by the Senate in June.

President Nixon abolished the draft in 1973. Restoring it, Lute said, would be a "major policy shift" and Bush has made it clear that he doesn't think it's necessary.

"The president's position is that the all volunteer military meets the needs of the country and there is no discussion of a draft. General Lute made that point as well," National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

In the interview, Lute also said that "Today, the current means of the all-volunteer force is serving us exceptionally well."

Still, he said the repeated deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan affect not only the troops but their families, who can influence whether a service member decides to stay in the military.

"There's both a personal dimension of this, where this kind of stress plays out across dinner tables and in living room conversations within these families," he said. "And ultimately, the health of the all-volunteer force is going to rest on those sorts of personal family decisions."

The military conducted a draft during the Civil War and both world wars and between 1948 and 1973. The Selective Service System, re- established in 1980, maintains a registry of 18-year-old men.

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., has called for reinstating the draft as a way to end the Iraq war.

Bush picked Lute in mid-May as a deputy national security adviser with responsibility for ensuring efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are coordinated with policymakers in Washington. Lute, an active-duty general, was chosen after several retired generals turned down the job.



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Rep. Schakowsky: Petraeus Hints at Decade-Long Iraq Presence

By Patrick Fitzgerald

The Hill

Friday 10 August 2007

Gen. David Petraeus told a congressional delegation visiting the Middle East that success in Iraq will require a U.S. military presence there for about a decade, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said Friday.

The commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, who will deliver a highly anticipated progress report next month, said the U.S. "will be in Iraq in some way for 9 or 10 years," according to Schakowsky. The general also highlighted progress in Anbar province, where former Sunni insurgents have turned against Al Qaeda extremists in recent months.

"It was pretty upbeat from his point of view," Schakowsky said. "He said he wanted to be frank and honest. But still we would have to be there for some time - for a long time." The lawmaker added that she believes that the American public would "not tolerate" such a continued presence in Iraq.

A co-founder of the House Out of Iraq Caucus, Schakowsky chaired a bipartisan delegation of six Representatives that traveled to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The visit included lunch in Baghdad with Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker. The delegation also included Reps. Tom Allen (D-Maine), Thelma Drake (R-Va.), Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) and Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.).

Schakowsky said she came away from the trip convinced that the United States was fighting the wrong war, calling Iraq "a huge distraction from the real war on terror" in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"Because of our engagement in Iraq we can't afford to give [fighting al Qaeda leaders and a resurgent Taliban] the kind of attention that we need to," she said. "We know what the mission is there."

Schakowsky also described a meeting with an Iraqi deputy prime minister in which the official said that the kind of reconciliation necessary in Iraq will not be done by the time the report is due or even by September of 2008. Other representatives reached different conclusions from the visit, as Republicans point to signs of military progress while asking for more patience regarding Iraq's political situation. Both sides are bracing for what will likely be a sharply partisan debate when Petraeus presents his report in September.

"I continue to be optimistic about the future, continue to feel great pride in what our military has been able to accomplish," Miller said. "We need to finish the job, allow the Iraqi government to stand up their own government and help them believe in themselves."

"We're going to have a different view, no question," Schakowsky said. "It will break down on partisan lines."