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Former commander backs return of military draft

A former commander of the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq said this week it might be time for the United States to discuss bringing back the military draft.

On Monday, retired Maj. Gen. John Batiste told News 10NBC in Rochester, N.Y., that in order to “win the peace” in Iraq, current troop levels there would need to be nearly doubled to 300,000, adding that to make numbers like that possible, a military draft might need to be considered. The draft was last used in the U.S. in 1973.

“We’ve had generations of Americans now who have not served their country, they don’t know what the word means,” Batiste told News 10NBC. “And I’m here to tell you that’s probably not a healthy situation.”

It’s not the first time that Batiste, who left active duty in November 2005, has given his opinions on the U.S. involvement in Iraq. Batiste was one of several former generals who gained prominence as outspoken critics of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

In April of last year, Batiste wrote a commentary for The Washington Post titled “A Case for Accountability,” saying “We took down a regime but failed to provide the resources to build the peace (in Iraq). The shortage of troops never allowed commanders on the ground to deal properly with the insurgency and the unexpected. What could have been a deliberate victory is now a long, protracted challenge.”

During 2004, Batiste led the Big Red One on its last major deployment before moving from Leighton Barracks in Würzburg, Germany, to Fort Riley, Kan., last July.


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