NewsHour Extra Feature Stories
NewsHour Extra features stories can help students identify and interpret key issues
in current events. This activity anticipates one class period, but the follow-up
essay might be assigned as homework, or in another period.
Up: Use initiating questions to introduce the topic and find out how much
your students know.
Activity: Have students read NewsHour Extra's feature story and answer the
questions on the reading comprehension handout.
Use discussion questions to encourage students to think about how the issues outlined
in the story affect their lives and express and debate different opinions.
Students can write an 500-word editorial on the topic expressing their views
and send it to NewsHour Extra [firstname.lastname@example.org]
for possible publication.
Students are graded on their answers to reading comprehension questions and/or
Strained Military Resources in Iraq Lead to Fears of a National Draft, 10/13/04
1. What is a draft?
2. Do you think the U.S. will have to instigate a draft?
What criteria should the government use before instigating a draft?
Comprehension Questions: (click here for printout)
When can the U.S. government require its citizens to sign up for military service?
service in the United States is strictly voluntary-- men and women serving in
the armed forces do so by choice. But, during times of war, that can change. Mandatory
service, called conscription but known popularly as the "draft," allows
governments to require men, and sometimes women, of a certain age to serve in
a military crisis.
When did the peacetime draft end?
controversial, the peacetime draft remained in place until America pulled out
of Vietnam in 1973. Today, Congress can give the military the right to draft troops
Why are some people worried that a draft may be re-instituted?
many Americans have begun to worry that the shortage of troops caused by the wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan may lead President Bush or his successor to reinstate
fears have been compounded by the numbers. Of the country's 1.4 million active
duty troops, according to a New York Times report, 655,000 are Army and Marine
personnel, the pool from which troops in Iraq are drawn. Because the 191,000 troops
currently stationed in Iraq and elsewhere in the world must be rotated often,
military resources could deteriorate fast.
addition, both President Bush and his opponent Senator John Kerry have called
for more troops to help secure peace leading up to Iraq's first Democratic election
in January. The problem is no one seems to know where those troops would come
What is President Bush's proposal for finding the troops to fill the gap in Iraq?
president has proposed pulling troops out of places like Europe and South Korea.
However the current nuclear crisis with North Korea could require troops to remain
in the region.
What is Senator Kerry's proposal for getting more troops to Iraq?
Kerry has said if he's elected he would expand the Army by 40,000 members but,
according to Army National Guard reports, recruiting levels are already low.
How would the draft work?
it gets the green light from Congress, the Selective Service would begin a lottery
system, choosing young men whose 20th birthday falls in the year of the draft.
The military would then draft men starting with 21-year-olds and ending with 25-year
olds. So far, women are exempt from being drafted.
Are non-U.S. citizens exempt from the draft?
men, hospitalized men and men who claim "conscientious objection," an
objection to military duty based on religious or moral beliefs, could claim exemption.
Dual citizens and non-U.S. Citizens are not exempt from the draft.
Activity (more research might be needed):
Do you think a draft should be used only when another country invades the United
States or should it be used when the U.S. takes preemptive action?
Should women continue to be exempt from the draft?
If there were a draft, would you fight or would you be a conscientious objector?
4. Do you
think conscientious objectors are unpatriotic? Why or why not?
a 500-800 word essay on any of these topics providing clear examples. Send your
completed editorial to NewsHour Extra [email@example.com].
Exceptional essays might be published on our Web site.