Return to the Draft

How Would Selective Service Conduct a Return to the Draft

When the all-volunteer force was established, it was not intended to stand alone in time of national emergency. If, by law, it is determined that a return to the draft is required, the Selective Service System would be responsible for supplying manpower through the induction process to fill vacancies that could not be filled through voluntary enlistments.

In the event of a return to conscription, the Selective Service System would expand significantly. Its Reserve Forces Officers would be called to active duty to establish State Headquarters and Area Offices at predetermined locations, and at the same time approximately 2,000 Local and Appeal Boards would be activated throughout the nation, staffed by 11,000 volunteers. Computer links between all Agency locations would be activated. Current planning is based on the Department of Defense requirement which requires the first inductees about six months after notification. Selective Service is also capable of providing inductees with special skills, such as health care personnel, after authorizing legislation is passed by Congress and a draft is ordered by the President.

An early step in the resumption of the inductions process would be to hold a lottery, sequencing dates of birth by random drawing, to determine the order in which registrants of prime draft age would be called for processing for induction. For a conventional draft of "untrained" manpower, a man is in the first priority group for a possible draft during the calendar year of his 20th birthday. Beginning January 1 of the year he turns 21 he would drop into the second priority category, and men born the year after he was born would move into the first priority group. Each succeeding year, a draft eligible man drops into the next lower priority group until he has reached his 26th birthday, at which time he is over the age of liability for the draft.

Registrants facing possible induction would first be ordered to report for examination to establish their acceptability for military service. Those found acceptable will have the opportunity to file a claim for postponement, deferment, or exemption from military service prior to receiving an induction order. The Agency would also administer an Alternative Service Program for men classified as conscientious objectors who are required to perform such service in lieu of serving in the military.

Current plans are frequently tested, evaluated, and revised as necessary. If implemented, they will guide the Selective Service System in making a smooth transition from current reduced readiness levels to full conscription within six months. 

For more information see: 

     Sequence of Events
     Selective Service Lottery
     How the Draft Has Changed Since Vietnam
     Draft Cards
     Medical Draft in Standby Mode
     Postponements, Deferments, Exemptions
     Non-Citizens and Dual Nationals
     Only Sons and Sole Surviving Sons
     Effects of Marriage and Fatherhood on Draft Eligibility