From the NYT:
More than one-third of nearly 3,900 former soldiers mobilized under a special wartime program have resisted their call-ups. The Army National Guard fell nearly 10 percent short of its 2004 recruiting goal of 56,000 enlistees. The Army, concerned about recruiting, has eased some standards. And there have been bipartisan calls in Congress to expand the Army by more than 20,000 soldiers.Yeah, I probably abused "fair use" in this post, but I think that facing the possiblity of the draft is worth stepping on the Times' copyright.
Just months ago, Pentagon officials suggested that a new draft could be avoided if recruitment and retention numbers stayed high. But as fighting in Iraq escalates, signs are growing that those numbers may not be adequate in the coming years. Thus, the new talk about a draft.
In the combined American armed forces there are 1.4 million active-duty troops, with another 865,000 National Guard members and reservists. That may sound like a big pool to draw from, but consider: Total active Army and Marine personnel are about 655,000, and that includes support units, training units, headquarters personnel and others who do not go to the front. During a prolonged war like that in Iraq, units sent to the front have to be rotated out and replaced with an equal number while they rest and retrain.
So maintaining a level of 135,000 ground troops in Iraq, another 20,000 in Afghanistan and a smaller force in the Balkans, while a garrison of 36,000 (soon to be reduced) guards the Korean armistice line and other troops maintain bases in Europe, creates a major strain. The current system is already drawing on Guard and reserve units to fill the gap. What is more, some military officers and political figures have long questioned whether 135,000 troops is a large enough force to prevail in Iraq.What if another big deployment is needed? Estimates vary widely on how many additional troops might be required, but some analysts say the current overall force could easily fall short by more than 70,000 ground troops.
A Pentagon-appointed panel recently concluded that the military would lack the forces to handle its current combat and stabilization operations if new crises emerged. The report, which has not been made public, apparently did not address the issue of a draft. But some policy makers have said it points to the potential need for one.