The Committee on the Present Danger will support Universal Military Service before Congress in January, President Conant said yesterday. Members of the 25-man group, which includes Conant and six other college presidents are now preparing their case for presentation before the Congressional committees that will handle manpower bills next session.
Conant explained that the Committee was composed of educators and others interested particularly in getting an adequate defense for Europe. "To that end," he said, "we believe that the nation must have U.M.S."
Last week's resolution of the Association of American Universities contains the details of the program which the Committee on the Present Danger is backing, Conant said. That program would draft all men at 18, without exception, to serve up to 27 months. During the first few years of the program there would be some deferments for students already in college on the basis worked out by General Hershey's Advisory Committees (announced Monday in Washington).
There is no question that discussion of the draft question--among educators and legislator--will continue to be quite vigorous, Conant said. If the Administration puts U.M.S. in its manpower bill, he continued, the Committee will certainly argue for it. And, Conant pointed out, there is the possibility that a bill which did not come up to expectations could be amended.
In answer to arguments President Charles C. Cole of Amherst stated against U.M.S. in a magazine article last week. Conant made two points: 3 first, that there need not be a full-scale hiatus for the nation's schools when Universal Service is first put into effect. "This can be adjusted," Conant said, pointing out the temporary deferments system that the A.A.U. program would install, and that the army would always be discharging a good number of men.
Secondly, answering Cole's argument that U.M.S. could not provide enough men, Conant stated that the nation would always have to rely to some degree on long-term enlistments to maintain a large standing army; this would hold true under continued Selective Service too, he said.
In backing U.M.S., the Committee on the Present Danger said, "The danger of all-out war is so serious that all of our young men must have military training." Its statement argued that this training could be accomplished with the least interference to men's lives if it commenced after graduation from high school.