War Czar Touts Draft

LTG Douglas Lute, the war czar that has been strangely missing since his appointment, came out with a bang yesterday, saying it’s time to consider bringing back the military draft.

Frequent tours for U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have stressed the all-volunteer force and made it worth considering a return to a military draft, President Bush’s new war adviser said Friday. “I think it makes sense to certainly consider it,” Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute said in an interview with National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”

“And I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table. But ultimately, this is a policy matter between meeting the demands for the nation’s security by one means or another,” said Lute, who is sometimes referred to as the “Iraq war czar.” It was his first interview since he was confirmed by the Senate in June.

President Nixon abolished the draft in 1973. Restoring it, Lute said, would be a “major policy shift” and Bush has made it clear that he doesn’t think it’s necessary. “The president’s position is that the all-volunteer military meets the needs of the country and there is no discussion of a draft. Gen. Lute made that point as well,” National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

In the interview, Lute also said that “Today, the current means of the all-volunteer force is serving us exceptionally well.” Still, he said the repeated deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan affect not only the troops but their families, who can influence whether a service member decides to stay in the military.

Methinks it’s time for Lute to go back into hiding.

UPDATE: It’s been a while since I’ve written about the draft, so a glib dismissal of Lute’s proposal may be unwarranted. Check out these selected posts for a more detailed view:



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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Rick DeMent says:

    Me thinks it’s time for Lute to go back into hiding.

    Yes the truth is a tough thing to hear. That war may require sacrifice is un-American.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    Note that the Army fulfilled its recruiting quotas in July.

    I agree that we need to be willing to make sacrifices. However, the question is what sacrifices will lead to a more successful military? How about increasing the troop levels, military pay and benefits, and cutting discretionary spending? If we did that some of those making the sacrifices might turn out to be lawmakers. Mustn’t have that!

  3. Steven Plunk says:

    Merely stating an option is on the table means nothing. NPR brought it up and the general confirmed what we all know, the draft is an option. Likely? No.

    It’s important to note the General may have been doing work that is not public relations. Just because he has not been seen doesn’t mean he’s been in hiding. I hardly see getting on front of TV cameras as proof of substantial work product. Rather than “back into hiding” perhaps back to work is a better description.

  4. mannning says:

    The first question should be ‘what are our needs for the military over the next ten years or so.’ If the military is stressed to the limit, this argues for an increase of forces. Obviously, the forces can be increased by Congress authorizing and funding more billets, followed by recruitment of more volunteers. Another three or four divisions could possibly be raised this way in three to five years. That means about 40 to 60 thousand men. My reading is that we are not getting this number of volunteers for the army–not close!

    But, what about right now? If our gap is on the order of three divisions now, the only way to fill those billets rapidly is by drafting and training conscripts over a year or so, and perhaps have then replace veterans in non-combat slots in the US, thus freeing up a pool of volunteers for combat.

    It all depends on the first question, and the answer given by the powers that be. General Lute is quite right to bring the subject up. It is material to our status of forces and our capability to carry out the missions assigned.

    The subject will not die.

  5. Dodd says:

    Has anyone actually listened to the NPR interview? I tend to doubt that Lt. Gen. Lute brought the draft up on his own and the quoted wording (“I think it makes sense to certainly consider it”) suggests he’s answering a direct question on the subject. If so, there’s a lot less to this story than people are making of it.