Sen. John Stennis (D-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called yesterday for a new military draft system and said the allvolunteer concept is a failure.
Stennis, one of the most influential voices on military affairs in Congress, also said the existence of at least standby draft machinery could spell the difference between victory and defeat if a war broke out.
In a Senate speech, Stennis called for an end to the six-year-old all-volunteer army experiment and the creation of a "new type of selective service equitable to all."
He proposed a "fair and impartial -- a truly selective service" with exemptions only for those who cannot qualify mentally or physically.
"I believe we should proceed to a full and complete study of this veryserious problem just as soon as possible," Stennis said.
"I see a need to be innovative and to search for new procedures in this field rather than merely returning to the old systems which have been tried and found wanting." cept is clearly the weakest link in the
Stennis said, "The all-volunteer convital chain of our national security."
He said military leaders have done their best "overall" and have had "a full and fair opportunity to determine if the all volunteer service will work.
"I am forced to the conclusion that the all-volunteer concept has failed its test and has proved not to be the answer to either our peacetime or our wartime military manpower requirements," Stennis said. "I believe that the time has come to end the experiment."
Although it has offered prospective volunteers many inducements, he said, the military has failed to attract recruits in the numbers and the quality needed.
"Many valuable months would be lost in gearing up, calling and training the necessary personnel. It would mean the difference between defeat and victory."
The Carter administration is asking Congress for $5 million to build up the standby draft system, which now has a staff of 92 persons.
Various experts agree that the standby selective service would be unable to meet the nation's minimum needs in case of a sudden non-nuclear war in Europe. Those needs require the first draftees in 30 days, with 100,000 in two months and 650,000 in six months.
Two senators, Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) and Harry F. Byrd (Ind.-Va.) are pushing legislation to require young men to register for the draft.
In the House, Reps. Charles E. Bennett (D-Fla.) and Sonny Montgomery (D-Ala.) have introduced different bills to revive the draft. Bennett's measure would require the government to compile a list of 18-year-old men, but would not make registration mandatory. Montgomery's bill would require 18-year-old males to register and would draft 100,000 to 200,000 men over five years for six month's active service and five years in the reserve.
Defense Secretary Harold Brown, in congressional testimony last week, said that if draft registration is resumed, women as well as men should be required to register.