December 23, 2006
By ERIC LICHTBLAU
WASHINGTON, Dec. 22 — As the de facto media contact for the Selective Service System, Dick Flahavan is the Maytag repairman of government press people. With the military draft out of business since 1973, the Selective Service just doesn’t get a lot of calls these days.
But by midday Friday, Mr. Flahavan’s office had fielded dozens of inquiries, not just from reporters but from some anxious parents as well, all with some variation of the same urgent question: Are you reinstituting the draft?
So adamant was the denial that Mr. Flahavan, a bit beleaguered, had his staff members post an unplanned update Friday morning at the top of Selective Service’s Web site: “No Draft on Horizon!”
What prompted all this was a Hearst wire service article noting that the Selective Service was making plans for a “mock” draft exercise that would use computerized models to determine how, if necessary, the government would get some 100,000 young adults to report to their local draft boards.
The mock computer exercise, last carried out in 1998, is strictly routine, Selective Service officials said, and it will not actually be run until 2009 — if at all. The exercise has been scheduled several times in the last few years, only to be scuttled each time because of budget and staffing problems, and Mr. Flahavan said he would not be surprised if it was canceled this time around, too.
No matter. With President Bush saying that he wants to increase the size of the Army and the Marine Corps, the military strained near the breaking point and the secretary of veterans affairs suggesting publicly this week that a reconstituted draft could “benefit” the country, even the notion of a mock exercise seemed to strike a nerve.