NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — People across the country are on alert this week as rumors of a war have swirled in light of recent tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
And now Army officials are warning about a phone and social media draft hoax, CBS2’s Charlie Cooper reported Wednesday.
#IranVSAmerica is one of several war concern topics trending after Iran’s retaliatory missile attacks Tuesday night on two Iraqi bases hosting American troops. They followed U.S. airstrikes that killed Iran’s top military commander in Baghdad last week.
“It doesn’t surprise me that there’s talk about it and it doesn’t surprise me that people are being misled by things on social media,” Brooklyn resident Kristin McGowan said.
Also circulating are fake messages about restarting the draft of young men for military service, putting people on edge. Some are even concerned that signing up for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid — or FAFSA — could land them in the Army, since the FAFSA form offers draft registration.
In an address to the public following Iran’s attack, President Donald Trump said despite the country’s strong military, the goal isn’t exactly to go to war right now.
“Our great American forces are prepared for anything,” Trump said Wednesday. “The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it. We do not want to use it.”
Fact check: The @USArmy is NOT contacting anyone regarding the draft.
Text messages currently circulating are false and are not official Army communications.
Read more: https://t.co/csGpTQNfQc
— U.S. Army Recruiting (@usarec) January 7, 2020
Meanwhile, Army officials took to Twitter to put the draft rumors to rest, saying “If you are receiving texts, phone calls or direct messages about a military draft, they are not official communications from the U.S. Army.”
The Army shared two examples of the fake message going around:
“Hello, we are contacting you in regards to the United States offical army draft, we tried contacting you through your email several times and have had no response. You’ve been marked eligible and must come to the nearest branch in the New Jersey Area for immediate departure to Iran. Please contact us at the following number immediately (phone number).
United States Army Referral Program. Ask for (name)
Another version of the message added a threatening line at the end of the text.
“We’re aware that this number is not disconnected, you’ll be fined and sent to jail for minimum 6 years if no reply.”
The decision to enact a draft is not made by the U.S. Army, but by the Selective Service System. These days, all men aged 18 to 25 are required to register for the draft, but don’t have to serve.
“We’re an all-volunteer force,” Lt. Col. Whitney Jensen, the commander of the NYC Recruiting Battalion. “Any change to the all-volunteer force, which has been in effect since 1973, would have to come from Congress, through legislation and approved by the president of the United States.
That, would take some time to implement.
How U.S. Military Service Draft Works
- Any person assigned the sex of male at birth who is between the ages of 18 to 25 is required to register for the draft. Eligible citizens are required to register within 30 days of turning 18, and immigrants must register within 30 days of entering the U.S.
- If someone who is eligible for the draft has not yet registered, they’re generally unable to get federal financial aid for higher education. FAFSA offers applicants a way to register for the draft in the aid application. Those who are ineligible for draft exemption and who failed to register are not granted federal financial aid, according to the Federal Student Aid Handbook.
- Draft exemptions include males currently in the armed services and on active duty, not including members of the Reserve and National Guard who are not on active duty, males under the age of 18 at the time they complete their FAFSA, non-citizens of the U.S. who came to the country after turning 26 years old, and transgender males.
- Eligible males who forgo federal student loans or do not go to college are not omitted from the draft. Those who choose not to register are susceptible to a felony charge and a fine of up to $250,000, a prison sentence of up to five years, or a combination of the two.