WASHINGTON — No American has been drafted into military service since 1973, but for the last 31 years every 18-year-old male in the country has been required to sign up for the draft just in case. Now, at least one Republican lawmaker wants to dismantle the draft altogether.
Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., has introduced legislation to abolish the Selective Service System, calling it “an outdated program that has cost us well over $700 million in the last 31 years.” The Army and Marine Corps veteran, who served in Iraq in 2005, said the move could save taxpayers up to $24 million a year and free up military personnel currently assigned to handle paperwork associated with the program.
In a statement announcing the plan, Coffman also called the move an overdue recognition of the success of the all-volunteer military.
“Every year since the draft ended in 1973 the Army has improved the quality of its personnel, training, and professionalism,” Coffman said. “I saw firsthand how ineffective the draft Army of the early 1970s was compared to the highly professional, all volunteer military of today.”
The Selective Service System was disbanded in 1975 but reestablished five years later, following the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. Coffman called that move a “symbolic gesture,” one never meant to last another 31 years.
Coffman’s bill would allow the president to reinstate the draft in a time of national emergency.
In recent years, Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., has unsuccessfully pushed legislation to reinstate the draft, arguing that low-income families have unfairly borne the burden of the current wars overseas.