The threat of war is in the air. People have been whispering about the possibility of the military draft being reinstated, yet many do not know the true nature of it.
According to the Selective Service System, the agency responsible for the draft, the draft serves as a backup system to provide manpower to the U.S. Armed Forces during wartime.
“It is important for a national emergency,” Lt. Colonel David Lapan, Pentagon spokesperson for the Department of Defense, said. “By having people register, there is a pool to choose from.”
Lapan said if a crisis does occur, the nation would be ready.
The last time the draft was used was in 1973 during the Vietnam War. The military is currently all volunteer, but males are still asked to register for the draft on their 18th birthday.
Since Vietnam, there have been many changes in the draft procedure in an effort to increase its fairness. Previously, students could defer being drafted if they proved they were in good academic standing. Now, students may only defer until the end of the current semester.
According to Selective Services’ website, the draft is considered to be very fair in its choice of those who will fight, as race, religion and creed are not criteria.
The system itself has some detractors.
“It’s not a perfect system,” UW-Madison political science professor Jon Pevehouse said. “But it would be hard to think of something better.”
One large group of people noticeably absent in the draft is women. The original draft provisions referred only to “male persons” as candidates. The constitutionality of this was upheld in 1981 in Rosktker v. Goldberg. President Clinton also asked the Department of Defense to reconsider the gender requirement in 1994, but they came to no decisive conclusions. Pevehouse said the draft is very unlikely to be reinstated, and young men should not worry about it.
“I highly doubt it [will be reinstated],” Pevehouse said. “I think you will see a lot reserves called up, or asking people to enlist.”
Political science professor Ken Mayer said he agreed.
“The nature of this conflict doesn’t involve mass mobilization,” Mayer said.