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thedrifter
04-12-06, 08:47 AM
Bush official talks draft

Head of federal Selective Service System visits college
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 04/12/06
BY JOSEPH PICARD
TOMS RIVER BUREAU

DOVER TOWNSHIP — The chances of the military draft being reinstated are "slim," the director of the federal Selective Service System told a group of Ocean County College students Tuesday.

"Conscription has not been active for 33 years, and I hope it never is activated again," said William A. Chatfield, who has headed the Selective Service since November 2004. "But we maintain the program to be ready to face some potential situation down the road. You never know how the world scene may change."

Chatfield served in various appointed positions in the Reagan White House before returning to government service under President Bush. He addressed about 30 students in the college's Solar Lounge.

Most in the audience were members of the Western Civilization II class of Alan Smith, while a few other students dropped in to hear Chatfield discuss not only the Selective Service, but also government and politics in general.

Chatfield and Smith, both ex-Marines, are old friends. Chatfield spoke to the students at Smith's request.

"The mission of the Selective Service is preparedness," Chatfield said. "We see ourselves as the third line of defense."

The first line of defense is the volunteer military, which he said was "doing very well, despite what has been said in some media reports."

The National Guard and the Reserves are the second defensive tier.

"Only if some imminent threat other than our current military enemies became apparent, some challenge that may tax our current forces — only then would we consider returning to conscription," Chatfield said.

Chatfield discussed the volatile nature of international politics and pointed to Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and China as nations that could possibly put the United States in a confrontational stance in the near future.

"That's why I'll say the chances of conscription returning are slim, but I won't say they are slim to none," he said.

Chatfield said that if a situation were to arise that required the draft's reinstatement, neither he nor Bush could reinstate it. The approval of both houses of Congress is needed, he said.

"I don't believe the draft is coming back," said William Bartholomew, 30, a student from Harvey Cedars. "The Army is stretched thin now, but I don't think they see the draft as necessary. But that could change if the administration decides to make a move on Iran, which I think would be crazy."

Chatfield, who began working for the House of Representatives in the late 1970s, also answered questions about government service, explaining that about 2 percent of government jobs are held by political appointees, while the rest are nonpartisan civil service positions.

"We, the political appointees, cannot use our position to promote, or hire or fire, workers according to political allegiance," he said. "That's against the law."

Ellie