The U.S. Army wants Americans to know they have not been selected for a military draft despite a rash of texts that falsely tell people they’re heading to fight a war against Iran.
The warning comes amid escalating tensions with Iran. Last week, the U.S. launched a drone strike that killed the top Iranian military leader, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and in retaliation, Tehran launched more than a dozen missiles at two military bases in Iraq on Tuesday.
“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,” officials said in a statement on Wednesday.
The notice clarified that the decision to enact a draft is not made at or by U.S. Army Recruiting Command. It is made by the Selective Service System, a separate agency outside of the Department of Defense.
A screenshot of one of the messages claims Army officials have made repeated attempts to contact the individual.
“We’ve tried contacting you through the mail several times and have had no response. You’ve been marked eligible and must come to the nearest branch in Jacksonville, Florida, for immediate departure to Iran,” the text says.
It also threatens that the recipient will “be fined and sent to jail for minimum 6 years if no reply.”
A second version of the message states, “You’ve been marked eligible and must come to the nearest branch in New Jersey Area for immediate departure to Iran.” It also instructs the recipient to contact officials immediately.
There does not seem to be any particular demographic that is being targeted by the messages.
“It does seem pretty random,” 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,” she added.
The draft has not been held since 1973 and the military has been an all-volunteer force since then.
For now, Ferguson said, Army recruiting operations are proceeding as normal.