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College students, already lost in a swirl of conflicting draft and reserve programs, can take some faint measure of hope from the fact that the Universal Military Training plan which has just been submitted to Congress will almost surely not affect them. But those interested in the nation's struggle to get an adequate Army in a hurry will notice that UMT as proposed to Congress is no solution at all.
The UMT plan as drawn up by a five-man committee would take all physically and mentally un-handicapped young men as soon as they are 18 years old for a six-month training period. These men would not be in the Army, but in a semi-military organization in which they would receive practical military training.
While one may not agree with the committee's preliminary statement that "all free society is engaged in mortal struggle with Soviet communism," the principles behind UMT are sound and Congress should take prompt affirmative action. The final details of the plan have not as yet been worked out, but when they are Congress should take care that 18-year olds who wish to go on to college do not lose one or two academic years.
The big trouble with the UMT plan is that, as the commission itself admits, it would not be able to go into operation until the Army's man-power needs are smaller--until the present emergency is over. It is a measure designed to give the United States a large reservoir of men who have had some military training.
It does not and is not intended to come close to the problem of drafting students, of exempting certain graduate students, and of maintaining a large standing Army. Until such a law is passed, students and others will still remain at the mercy of the arbitrary decisions of their local boards.
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