The Pentagon has begun recruiting for local draft boards, dredging up painful memories of Vietnam-era conscription at a time of deepening misgivings about the US' occupation of Iraq. \nIn a notice posted on the defense department's Defend America Web site, Americans over the age of 18 and with no criminal record are invited to "serve your community and the nation" by volunteering for the boards, which decide which recruits should be sent to war. \nThirty years have passed since the draft boards last exerted their hold on the US, deciding which soldiers would be sent to Vietnam. After Congress ended the draft in 1973, they have become largely dormant. \nHowever, recruitment for the boards suggests that in some parts of the Pentagon all options are being explored in response to concerns that the US military has been stretched too thin in its occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. \nAlthough Pentagon officials denied any move to reinstitute the draft, the defense department Web site does not shirk at outlining the potential duties for a new crop of volunteers to the draft boards. \n"If a military draft becomes necessary, approximately 2,000 local and appeal boards throughout America would decide which young men who submit a claim receive deferments, postponements or exemptions from military service, based on federal guidelines," it said. \nPentagon officials were adamant that there were no plans to bring back the draft. \n"That would require action from Congress and the president and they are not likely to do that unless there was something of the magnitude of the Second World War that required it," said Dan Amon, a spokesman for the selective service department. \nBringing back conscription would be catastrophic for US President George W. Bush in an election year, and at a time when parallels are increasingly being drawn between Iraq and Vietnam. \nHowever, officials were not immediately able to explain how the advertisement appeared on the site. Amon said the notices were a response to the natural attrition in the ranks of the draft board, where some 80 percent of 11,000 places are now vacant. \n"It is the routine cycle of things," he said. \nBut it was unclear why the Pentagon decided at this time it was necessary to fill staff bodies which had played no function since the early 1980s. \nThe idea of a draft has never entirely disappeared, and is contemplated by Democrats and some military experts. \nIn the run-up to the war, the New York congressman Charles Rangel argued for a draft on the grounds that the US military was disproportionately made up of poor and black soldiers, and that it was unfair for America's underclass to go off and die in wars. \nIn recent weeks, there has been growing concern within the defense department about relying too heavily on members of the National Guard and army reservists. \nSome 60,000 of the 130,000 US soldiers in Iraq are members of the National Guard or the reserves. An opinion poll last month in the Pentagon-funded Stars and Stripes newspaper, showed 49 percent threatening not to re-enlist. \nThe families of reservists have become increasingly vocal in their complaints after the Pentagon's decision to extend duty tours to up to 15 months.
‘HONORED’: The DPP’s Lin Fei-fan said friends working in the foreign media, the diplomatic corps and at think tanks congratulated him for making the sanctions list The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday slammed China for sanctioning Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) and six other Taiwanese officials for being “diehard separatists,” saying its attempt to intimidate Taiwanese would backfire. China has no authority to dictate the actions of Taiwanese, because Taiwan is a democratic nation that upholds the rule of law, and would never yield to intimidation and threats from an authoritarian regime, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) told a news conference in Taipei. China’s state-run Xinhua news agency earlier yesterday reported that the Taiwan Work Office of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee has imposed
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