Perhaps it is time to make several pertinent observations concerning that small minority of our military personnel who are resisting duty in the Middle East crisis {''The Other Side of Mobilization: Those Who Don't Want to Go,'' news story, Sept. 5}.

I thought we saw the last of the conscientious objectors with the end of the military draft. While I fully support an individual's right to seek an exemption from induction into military service by filing for CO status, I cannot for the life of me understand how a person can volunteer for military duty while claiming that he or she objects to that same service as a matter of conscience.

Several instances cited in Laurie Goodstein's article serve to illustrate a serious shortcoming in the motives of some of the enlistees in our all-volunteer military. A good case in point is Marine Cpl. Jeffrey Paterson, who enlisted to ''get away from small town life in Hollister, Calif.'' Now there's a good reason to join the Marines. What about the oath he took when he was sworn into the corps? Does it only apply to doing his duty as a Marine if that duty meets with his approval?

There seems to be some misunderstanding among a few members of our armed forces about the primary purpose of military service. The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps are not in the sole business of providing job training or subsidized education benefits to their personnel. What they are in the business of is (or should be) training men and women to serve the military needs of our nation. If those needs include deployment to a hostile area then so be it. I find it interesting that Cpl. Paterson waited to file for CO status until he received orders to deploy to a potential combat zone. I guess Hollister looks pretty good to him now.

I'm thankful that the overwhelming majority of our men and women in uniform are sincerely dedicated to their duty and are willing to work long hours under difficult circumstances to carry out that duty.

MIKE CORBETT Alexandria