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WASHINGTON — A New York congressman has once again proposed reinstating the draft, not just to boost the ranks of U.S. fighters but also to discourage what he sees as some politicians’ cavalier attitude toward military action.

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., has introduced the legislation twice before, each time with no success. Two years ago the House rejected his idea by a 402-2 vote.

Rangel, a Korean War veteran who has been a critic of the war in Iraq, said he doubts the measure will make any progress this time either, but believes debate over the issue will re-emphasize the sacrifice of U.S. servicemembers.

“And I would suggest if you support war you should be prepared to make a personal sacrifice,” he said. “I think it will be very awkward for my colleagues to say they support war in North Korea or Iran if their children or their grandchildren are going to be placed in harm’s way.”

The bill differs only slightly from one Rangel introduced last year, this time extending the age range for mandatory military service for all men and women between 18 and 42.

The change reflects the Army’s recent decision to allow citizens up to 42 years old to enlist.

Rangel said deferments from military service would only be permitted for completion of high school, health reasons, or religious or “conscience” objections. Recruits refused by the military would be required to perform some other form of national service.

He said the Army’s recent recruitment problems show the need to at least discuss the idea of reinstating the draft.

“We depend on the military when our nation is faced with a threat,” he said. “I would like to believe that if our national security is threatened, that men and women of any age would be prepared to make some sacrifice. But there are recruitment problems.”


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