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The Army will permit men between 18 1/2 and 25 years of age to escape the draft if they volunteer for a six month period of active training duty, the Defense Department announced recently. National Guardsmen will also be required to take six months of active training.
Volunteers can begin their service at any date they choose. The six months active duty is followed by five-and-a-half years in the ready reserve. During this period the volunteers must report for weekly training and spend fifteen days at a training camp each summer.
The revised National Guard provisions have met vigorous opposition from the National Guard Association, a powerful lobby group representing 405,000 Guardsmen.
Maj. Gen. Ellard A. Walsh, president of the association, has accused the army of trying to "relegate the National Guard to a second-string position in national defense, if not to destroy it." He feels that the Guard will lose about 100,000 men, almost a quarter of their total force, because of the six month training provision.
A congressional fight against the new ruling has been threatened by the association. It points out that the states' control of the National Guard has been severely limited by the federal government in recent years. Guard units are now subject to Army inspection, and officers' commissions in the Guard may be revoked by the Defense Department.
Gen. Walsh said defense officials "have not heard the last word on the issue from the states."
Little Effect on ROTC
The new reserve provisions will have little effect upon the University's officer training program, according to Col. DeVere Armstrong, chief of Army ROTC at the University.
"I don't see how the new program will have any effect on us, except in isolated cases," said Armstrong. "The student's chances of being drafted while still at college are very remote."
Armstrong thought that some students might elect the six month program after graduation, put added that participation in the ROTC would prepare him for "a more fitting role in the Armed Forces, that of leadership."
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