in the minds of students Two months ago, it was a subject reserved for history classes. But today, the very mention of it can fill a young man's head with visions of the Saudi-Kuwaiti border. Or the Canadian border. Although only military volunteers have been deployed to Saudi Arabia, the crisis in the Persian Gulf has left college-age men worrying about the possibility of a draft. "Since the [Iraqi] invasion, you hear a lot of guys joking about getting drafted," Wharton junior Adam Elkins said last night. "But you can tell that, in the back of their minds, they're a little bit worried about having to go half way around the world to fight in some war." And anxiety is building as the situation in the Gulf intensifies. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney said yesterday that although 100,000 troops have already been deployed in Saudi Arabia for "Operation Desert Shield," the flow of troops into the region will continue. But according to government officials and political analysts, the chance of a draft, even if a shooting war breaks out in the Middle East, is very slim. "In my opinion, only a global conflict, a World War II-type conflict, would require a draft," Defense Department spokesperson Harold Heilsnis said this week. The last Selective Service draft, which lasted from 1948 until 1973, exempted college students from service. The exemption was widely criticized during the Vietnam War, and officials and analysts said this week that it is unclear whether a similar exemption would be part of a new draft law. "A lot of people felt that [the exemption] was a way for rich kids to avoid war and to get the poor kids to fight it for them," said American Civilization Chairperson Murray Murphey, who teaches a seminar on the 1960s. Defense Department spokesperson Heilsnis said that if the number of draftees needed could be covered by men out of school, congress would likely exempt college students. He added, however, that it is "primarily a political decision" to be handled by congress and the president. A White House spokesperson declined to comment on any aspect of a draft, but Heilsnis and analysts emphasized that the chance of a draft is remote. "There's not going to be a draft," History Professor Bruce Kuklick, a scholar of recent American history, said this week. "I really don't think Bush would do that. He's in enough trouble already." Heilsnis said that the recent call up of the reserves may have led people to believe that a draft is imminent, but emphasized that the military calls specialists in the reserves even before all active military personnel have been deployed. Selective Service spokesperson Barbi Richardson said this week that if Congress passes legislation calling for a draft, a lottery drawing would be conducted to determine the order in which men would be called. Richardson said the first priority group would consist of men in the calendar year of their 20th birthday. Each succeeding year men drop into a lower priority group until they reach their 26th birthday, at which time they are over draft age, she said. The next priority group would be men who are 19-years-old and lastly 18-year-olds, Richardson added. The Associated Press contributed to this story.Comments powered by Disqus
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