Everyone cool your jets. There is no military draft, the U.S. Army assures people.
After text messages claiming to be from the Army scared people across the country into thinking they’d been conscripted into fighting a war in Iran, the service released a statement declaring the texts fraudulent.
“U.S. Army Recruiting Command has received multiple calls and emails about these fake text messages and wants to ensure Americans understand these texts are false and were not initiated by this command or the U.S. Army,” the U.S. Army Recruiting Command said in Tuesday’s statement.
The fake text messages landed amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran after the U.S. on Friday assassinated an Iranian military leader in a drone strike in Baghdad. President Donald Trump then ordered nearly 3,000 additional soldiers to the Middle East. Tehran retaliated Tuesday by firing a barrage of missiles at military bases in Iraq housing U.S. forces.
One of the phony texts tells the recipient to “come to the nearest branch … for immediate departure to Iran.” It adds: “You’ll be fined and sent to jail for a minimum 6 years if no reply,” according to a screenshot obtained by NPR.
The messages appear to have targeted people randomly, Lisa Ferguson, media relations chief for U.S. Army Recruiting Command, told NPR.
“I spoke with a mom on Monday whose 14-year-old daughter had received the text and her friends had also received a text,” Ferguson said. “We have no way of knowing, you know, why people are getting them or who’s being sent the text.”
Congress, which has the sole power to declare war under the Constitution, has not said that the U.S. is at war with Iran. Trump, who famously received a medical draft deferment during the Vietnam War, signaled no immediate escalation to the hostilities in a televised address on Wednesday. Earlier, he had threatened the U.S. “will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner” if Iran should “strike any U.S. person or target.”
The Selective Service System, which still requires men ages 18 to 25 to register with basic information, said earlier this month on Facebook that it’s “conducting business as usual.” The system, which would administer any draft, reminded people that reinstating a draft would be a decision for Congress.
Congress has declared war 11 times since 1812. Its last declaration was for WWII in 1942.
The draft has not been in effect since 1973. Military service has been voluntary since.
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