Cato Policy Analysis No. 86 May 7, 1987

Policy Analysis

Draft Registration:
It's Time to Repeal Carter's Final Legacy

by Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a nationally syndicated columnist with Copley News Service. As a special assistant to President Reagan in 1981 and 1982, he worked with the Military Manpower Task Force.

Executive Summary

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan seven Decembers ago did more than turn that nation into the globe's newest killing field. It also caused an embarrassed Jimmy Carter to adopt several desperate measures designed to demonstrate toughness in foreign policy. One of his responses--ordering the resumption of draft registration--has proved to be his most lasting legacy.

Ironically, conservative Ronald Reagan was one of Carter's most articulate critics. Reagan argued that the draft sign-up not only would "do little to enhance our military preparedness" but could "actually decrease our military preparedness, by making people think we have solved our defense problems." An even more "fundamental objection," said Reagan, was moral: "draft registration destroys the very values that our society is committed to defending."[1]

With Reagan's election in November 1980, various commentators expected registration to be one of the first programs to be swept away by the Reagan Revolution. But it was the middle of 1981 before he even established the Military Manpower Task Force to review the issue. Several tortuous months of bureaucratic warfare then ensued before Reagan announced, on January 7, 1982, that "we live in a dangerous world" and that he was maintaining registration.[2]

As a result, Reagan, whose record of opposition to the draft extended back to his days as California's governor during the 1960s, when he signed a petition calling for the end of conscription, became the president who restarted Selective Service prosecutions.

So far, the total number of indictments--20--has been small. This statistic, however, understates the enforcement effort. The Selective Service System has used driver's license, high school, and voter registration lists, as well as federal student loan records, to locate nonregistrants. According to Selective Service, "data [have] also been provided by the Federal Aviation Administration, the Social Security Administration, the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation, and the Veterans Administration."[3] Selective Service has used these voluminous information sources to identify nonregistrants, send them threatening letters, and, ultimately, refer their names to the Department of Justice for prosecution.

Moreover, nonregistrants are ineligible to receive federal student loans or job-training benefits or to hold federal jobs. Several states have copied the federal provision regarding educational aid, and in 1985, Selective Service director Thomas Turnage expressed the hope that "private corporations, when made aware of the law" regarding federal job eligibility, would "adopt an employment policy based on the federal model."[4]

This ongoing campaign of intimidation is all the more disturbing because there is no justification for retaining the increasingly costly and intrusive draft registration program. Mandatory peacetime registration, along with the government's ever-more-draconian enforcement practices, is not only inconsistent with Reagan's professed political philosophy; for the very reasons once cited by Reagan, it also fails to advance America's security.

Finally, even if a special pool of manpower was needed for immediate induction in the event of a national emergency, it could be raised through a voluntary program--one consistent with what Reagan termed the "values that our society is committed to defending." Today's pool of 15 million registrants could be replaced by a Reserve Volunteer Force with barely 1 percent as many members, which would better ensure the availability of the untrained manpower needed to fill the army's training camps during a large-scale mobilization.

The History of Registration

When Congress instituted the draft in 1940--for the first time in U.S. peacetime history--young men were registered en masse by the Selective Service System. A system of ongoing registration was later established, a procedure continued even after the All-Volunteer Force was created in 1973. President Gerald Ford suspended the program in 1975; he planned to substitute a new system of periodic registration, but political opposition killed that proposal. The Selective Service System was then placed in "deep standby" status.

Fears that the system was unable to meet the Pentagon's desired mobilization schedule led to growing pressure for a return to registration. In 1979, for instance, the House Armed Services Committee voted to force the Carter administration to resume draft sign-ups for male 18-year-olds, but the full Congress rejected the proposal.

Selective Service, with increased funding from Congress, began to upgrade its capabilities, all the while maintaining that registration was unnecessary. The agency developed a post- mobilization sign-up program that was to deliver the first inductee on M-day (mobilization day) plus 17 days and provide 100,000 draftees by M+35, well within the DoD requirement of 100,000 by M+60.[5] Thus, before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, draft registration seemed to be a dead issue. However, President Carter, then in the midst of a tough reelection battle, was profoundly humiliated by the Soviet action, and on January 23,

1980, he turned to registration as both a domestic political and an international diplomatic symbol. After rancorous debate, Congress enacted his proposal.[6]

The Purported Justification for Registration

Carter publicly justified his action on national security grounds. For instance, three administration officials asserted in a joint statement to Congress that registration was "a necessary step to preserving or enhancing our national security interests."[7] This rationale was undermined, however, when Selective Service's report of January 16, 1980, was leaked to the press. The official study estimated that advance registration would save only seven days in terms of delivering the first inductee, time that was of no practical value because Selective Service would already be providing as many draftees as the military could train. Indeed, the report concluded that postmobilization registration was "preferable" because it "should substantially exceed defense requirements, employs the fewest number of full- -time personnel and costs the least." The Carter administration then fell back on the supposed talismanic powers of registration. According to John White, deputy director of the Office of Manage-ment and Budget, Carter was "indicating to the world our re-solve."[8]

Similarly, President Reagan officially based his policy reversal in 1982 on the nation's security needs, citing a savings of "as much as six weeks in mobilizing emergency manpower."[9] Claims made about the supposed benefits of registration grew steadily greater over time. Seven and then eight weeks became the new figure; ultimately, Selective Service director Turnage contended that the system would "save months of time" if America ever had to go to war again.[10]

Ironically, Reagan's arguments too were undercut both by leaks and by the disclosure of internal administration documents that indicated that political symbolism rather than mobilization requirements was the actual reason for retaining the draft sign- -up. For instance, even as Reagan's top aides were citing the important time savings from registration, unnamed officials revealed that "the State Department had argued that ending registration would be a sign of weakness at a time when the U.S. is talking tough to the Soviet Union over the Polish crisis."[11] Nevertheless, Edwin Meese III, the White House counselor to the president, maintained that "the major consideration" was "the new information" developed by the Military Manpower Task Force regarding the time savings from advance registration.[12]

But this "new information" was hard to find in the official task force report. Although Selective Service no longer stood by its 1980 study, which promised the first inductee by M+17, the task force offered three alternatives to the peacetime program: (1) a slow postmobilization registration program, (2) an accelerated postmobilization sign-up through the use of pre - positioned Selective Service materials and special sorting and data processing procedures, and (3) premobilization registration in the face of a growing crisis abroad. The advance sign-up was estimated to save about six weeks over the first option but only two weeks over the second. Moreover, the third option, instituting registration before an imminent mobilization, could yield the first inductee as quickly as an ongoing peacetime program. The task force also concluded that taking other steps, such as improving the Individual Ready Reserve, "would diminish the urgency of rapid delivery of inductees and perhaps obviate the need for peacetime registration."[13]

As a result, Barry Lynn, president of the group Draft Action, charged the administration with "lying to the public about the need" for registration. A Pentagon official was forced to ac-knowledge that the task force had made no recommendation, and Selective Service spokeswoman Joan Lamb conceded some "misstate-ments" by the Selective Service director on the time saved by advance registration.[14] The program survived the controversy, but its contribution to the nation's security seemed more prob-lematical than ever.

Is Registration Needed?

Peacetime registration is always discussed in terms of a mobilization for a major conflict--principally a Warsaw Pact/NATO confrontation. In reality, though, an advance draft sign-up, however much time it saved, would probably have little impact on the outcome of such a war. Even with the current system, the very first inductee would not leave the training camp until M+103. Including processing and deployment time, the first draftee would be unlikely to reach the battlefield until at least four months after the United States had mobilized.[15] Thus, in the critical early period of any war, registration

would play no role at all.

For this reason, a sizable reserve force, consisting of troops who would be immediately available to augment the active forces, is far more important than an advance draft sign-up. After Carter first proposed peacetime registration, Hoover Institution senior fellow and manpower expert Martin Anderson wrote that although a peacetime sign-up might advance the date at which draftees poured forth, the result "would be hundreds of thousands of teenage soldiers, some serving reluctantly, most with no experience and little training, flooding into the ranks of the armed forces many months too late." Instead, he concluded, "what is vital to our national security is a large, well-trained reserve force, one that is really ready, one that can be called into service in a matter of days in case of an emergency."[16]

Moreover, strengthening the reserves would automatically diminish the impact of any time saved by peacetime registration. First, more pretrained soldiers would be available during the first four months after mobilization, reducing future manpower needs. Second, the number of reservists who either had not yet been trained or needed reschooling, and who would therefore fill up the limited training-base capacity, would increase.

But setting aside the reserves issue, does peacetime registration measurably contribute to the nation's security? Two different rationales for it have been advanced.

Symbolism appears to have been the prime motivation for both Carter and Reagan. In the face of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, for instance, Carter and his aides emphasized the need to show firmness; Reagan, too, was worried about exhibiting weakness when confronted with the Polish government's crackdown on the labor union Solidarity. General David Jones, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reflected this general attitude when he termed registration a "visible sign of commitment--to allies, friends, potential enemies" and a "clear manifestation of U.S. will."[17]

Of course, it is difficult to judge what actions allies and adversaries alike view as evidence of resolve. Reagan once did not believe a draft sign-up was a potent signal; on May 5, 1980, he wrote Sen. Mark O. Hatfield (R-Oreg.) that "the Soviets can tell the difference between computer lists of inexperienced young men, and new weapons systems, a million-man reserve, and an experienced army." And given the fact that registration- - even in conjunction with other punitive measures--has had no apparent effect on Soviet or Polish behavior, Jones's contention seems to have little force.

The second justification for an advance draft sign-up is that some period of time is saved by peacetime registration, thereby speeding up the induction of young men in wartime. Although this claim has been accepted on faith by most of those outside the Pentagon, there are in fact no important security grounds for continuing the program.

Registration and National Security

To determine the impact of peacetime registration on U.S. military preparedness, it is useful to pose four key questions:

1. Are we satisfied that the current manpower requirements do not overstate the number of personnel needed in the event of a mobilization?

2. Would enough people to fill the training camps be available before a postmobilization registration system began delivering inductees?

3. Is it possible to accelerate a post-M-day sign-up so that only a minimal amount of time is lost without advance registration?

4. Does the current program suffer from any deficiencies that make it less accurate than postmobilization registration?

Only if peacetime registration better provides otherwise unavailable, but necessary, manpower does such a program have any military value. So unless the answer to all four questions is no, the draft sign-up does not advance U.S. security. These four issues deserve to be reviewed in turn.

Manpower Requirements

Are we satisfied that the current manpower requirements do not overstate the number of personnel needed in the event of a mobilization? The manpower levels demanded by DoD obviously drive the entire Selective Service System, since the only reason men are registered and drafted is to meet the military's demand for manpower.

Most important, the supply of soldiers needed depends upon the number and seriousness of U.S. defense commitments. It is this nation's membership in NATO that provides the main scenario under which a wartime draft--and thus registration--is considered necessary. If U.S. foreign policy became less interventionist, the military's manpower needs would fall.

The impact of accepting global military commitments can be clearly seen in the size of the armed forces. The United States had 4.3 million men under arms when World War I ended in November 1918. The number was just 248,000 in June 1933; even with Europe at war in June 1940, the United States had only 458,000 active- -duty military personnel. In contrast, during the past decade, the active forces have totaled about 2.1 million.[18]

The difference between 1933 and 1986, of course, is that the United States now has defense guarantees to more than 40 nations. Indeed, the reason that Congress terminated the nation's brief post-World War II experiment with a volunteer military is that the United States was having difficulty maintaining its newly acquired global role.

But the world has changed dramatically since the late 1940s. It is now time to reevaluate the link between protecting foreign lands and America's own security. President Carter, for instance, proposed a withdrawal of troops from Korea, though the United States would have maintained its security guarantee; observers such as Earl Ravenal, a Georgetown University professor and former Department of Defense analyst, have argued for cutting that commitment as well.[19] Even conservatives such as Irving Kristol, Henry Kissinger, and Zbigniew Brzezinski are thinking the unthinkable: a partial or total troop withdrawal from Europe, whose defense is the linchpin of U.S. globalist policy.[20] Moving in this direction would reduce both the likelihood of a major conflict and the number of military personnel needed after a mobilization.

Even if one accepts the legitimacy of existing defense commitments, the case for registration remains weak. It is enormously difficult to estimate manpower needs in the event of a conflict because the flow of needed manpower depends upon the casualty rate expected in the war.[21] Complicating the issue even further is widespread disagreement over the likely course of another European war. If NATO quickly escalated to theater nuclear weapons--which some observers believe is inevitable- - the troop flow four months after M-day would be of academic interest only.[22]

What deserves particular attention is the fact that the Pentagon's official manpower requirements have generally been based on its training-base capacity, not some measure of necessity. That is, DoD has regularly asked Selective Service to provide draftees simply because there is space available to train them.

In the mid-1970s, DoD requested that Selective Service provide the first inductee by M+110 and the first 100,000 draft- ees by M+150; in 1977, those requirements were changed to M+30 and M+60, respectively.[23] However, the revision appears to have been motivated almost entirely by a reassessment of the army training-base capacity. The Pentagon told Selective Service that the latter requirements "would keep the Defense training base operating approximately at capacity"; however, DoD warned, "The Army review [of its training capabilities] should be completed this spring, at which time we will reassess our mobilization schedule for untrained manpower."[24]

Even into early 1980, however, the Pentagon did not ask for any inductees before M+30; explained Richard Danzig, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense, "We have lots of use for this training capacity," including training people in the Delayed Entry Program, who had already signed up to join the military.[25] But later that year, the army expanded its training-base capacity--and therefore its manpower requirements- - once again.[26]

Finally, in November 1980, DoD requested the first inductee by M+13 and the first 100,000 men by M+30. This mandate was based on the improved ability of Selective Service to deliver draftees--because of registration. Admitted Selective Service director Bernard Rostker, "Defense imposed this more demanding delivery schedule because peacetime registration makes earlier induction possible."[27] In short, Selective Service is now required to deliver a set number of men within a given time simply because it is able to do so; peacetime registration is necessary because we have peacetime registration.

Filling the Training Camps

Would enough people to fill the training camps be available before a postmobilization registration system began delivering inductees? Assuming that the DoD requirements accurately reflect U.S. security needs, advance registration has value only if it provides otherwise unavailable manpower. However, even official army figures demonstrate that this is not the case.

There are two issues: what is the training-base capacity, and are other sources of untrained manpower available to fill it? According to Pentagon specialists, the army's current training capacity is about 81,000 people by M+30 and 153,000 by M+60.[28]

The size of the training base is critical because advance registration saves time only if early inductees can be drilled immediately; the program provides no security benefits if the camps are filled anyway. Indeed, Reagan made his decision to keep registration based on wildly inflated Pentagon estimates of future training capabilities. Although the Military Manpower Task Force acknowledged that the training base that existed in 1982 might not be able to accommodate any draftees for two months, it stated that "the Army is expanding its mobilization training base through 1986. Even with large numbers of volunteers . . . the enlarged training base could not be filled without either peacetime registration or a registration which began at least one month before mobilization."[29] In reality, the training base has grown only slightly; the disconcerting projections of thousands of wasted training slots without an advance sign-up were just a mirage.[30]

Given the failure to expand the training base as promised, are the current figures accurate? The Pentagon stands behind them, but independent observers have raised serious doubts about the army's ability to train 81,000 people by M+30 and 153,000 by M+60.

In November 1984, for example, the General Accounting Office (GAO) highlighted severe shortages in "trained and experienced personnel, such as supervisory technicians or tank commanders," that sharply reduced the number of soldiers who could be trained in the event of a mobilization. The GAO concluded that "the Army's training bases could handle only 56,000 and its reception centers only 14,000"--leaving the army 19,000 spaces short during the first month alone. Indeed, the GAO stated that even as DoD pressed for peacetime registration, it "knew that its schedule exceeded the Army's training capacity." The Pentagon responded to the report by acknowledging the problem and reviewing different solutions--including reducing the number of draftees to be called immediately after mobilization.[31] Yet the sole military purpose of registration is to increase the number of men available for induction.

This was not the first GAO study critical of the army's training capacity. In 1979, the agency found "that the training centers may be hindered in housing and will be unable to train" new draftees. A year later, the GAO observed "several improvements" but concluded that "the Army still has a shortage of trainers, equipment, and training companies needed for mobilization."[32]

Also in the fall of 1984, Elliot Feldman, special projects officer to the assistant secretary of defense for manpower, installations, and logistics, visited several army training centers and reported that his "overall impression" was "of plans that are incomplete, facilities that generally are inadequate, equipment that does not exist, and qualified instructors in hopelessly short supply." In his view, manpower goals needed "to be reexamined, not merely in terms of how the mission now assigned can be met, but in terms of what level can be achieved sensibly so that a realistic picture emerges of our training capability."[33]

Feldman's contentions were controversial. A new army study was ordered, and it generally supported Feldman. However, the Pentagon subsequently took a more positive view of its training capabilities and downplayed Feldman's work. Feldman remains skeptical that the army has remedied the many deficiencies in the training base. "There are some small fixes in the works," he says, but the fundamental problems involving facilities, equipment, and personnel are considerable; indeed, he does not "think it can be fixed," at least not "at a price Congress will accept."[34]

If the army cannot adequately train all the would-be soldiers that Selective Service is to provide--and privately, one Pentagon official acknowledged that there "still is a lot of iffiness" in the figures--then any time saved through advance registration is meaningless.

Other Sources of Manpower

Even if the current estimates of 81,000 trainees by M+30 and 153,000 by M+60 are accurate, advance registration is of value only if those slots cannot be filled otherwise. And the evidence is almost wholly to the contrary.

Until 1980, DoD did not want the first draftee until M+30 because other personnel had first priority for the limited training spaces. Stated DoD's Danzig, "If we talk about the need for a registration system or a draft system, one of the striking things is that we have lots of uses for a training base before we would be terribly interested in raw recruits."[35] Danzig was even more categorical at another point, explaining, "Although, if constantly updated, peacetime registration would give us a ready list of people that we could call instantly in an emergency, I think our capacity to call them would exceed our ability to begin training. . . . [W]e would not be able to accept draftees within the first weeks of an emergency mobilization."[36]

And that remains the case today. Four major categories of personnel to be trained would be available without a draft: (1) Delayed Entry Program (DEP) participants, who have agreed to enter the service within a year but who could be mobilized immediately; (2) Reservists Awaiting Training (RAT), principally non-prior-service personnel who have just joined; (3) Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) members, who must be retrained before being sent into combat because their skills have deteriorated; and (4) volunteers.

The number of DEP members varies seasonally because many are high school seniors, but the Pentagon estimates the annual average to be about 40,500. Pulling in all DEP participants

would fill one-half of the available 81,000 spaces during the first month, but DoD counts only 12,500 people toward filling the training-base capacity.

First, Pentagon planners exclude all 25,300 high school students. This, explained the army's Sgt. Maj. Frank Sheffery, "is part of the mobilization policy." Seventeen-year-olds may join the military only with parental consent, and, said Sheffery, it is "army policy" that a recruit is "not eligible to ship out if he is in school."[37]

However, neither of these reasons justifies overlooking so many DEP members in an emergency. Surely it is preferable to rely first on individuals who have volunteered to serve, rather than on reluctant draftees. Nor is there any insurmountable problem in changing the military's mobilization policy; a 17 - year-old who wanted to join the DEP would merely need parental consent for early induction in an emergency. And if the United States became involved in a conflict that required full-scale mobilization, DEP members could be taken out of their senior year of high school; their schools could give them diplomas as a matter of course.

Second, DoD discounts the number of available DEP personnel because about 7,200 of them are women. As long as women are barred from combat, their role in a mobilization will be limited. This does not mean, however, that the 7,200 female DEP volunteers could not be used. Of the 650,000 people expected to be inducted during the first six months after a mobilization, the military estimates that 80,000 would be women. Indeed, the Carter administration intended to register women, although the proposal was rejected by Congress. Argued President Carter, "Their presence could free more men for close combat jobs."[38] Thus, it makes sense to train the 7,200 female DEP volunteers before bringing in male draftees.

The Pentagon has similarly discounted the available pool of some 22,000 RAT members, who must undergo initial active-duty training. About 6,500 are in high school and 1,200 of the remaining reservists are women, leaving just 14,600 "male available." However, for the same reasons discussed earlier, if the nation faces a crisis serious enough to justify mobilization, the volunteers should be taken first. Army policy is simply not justified by military necessity.

Further, the army estimates that roughly 15,000 training slots would go to IRR members, but this number is highly suspect. Just six years ago the army forecast was 21,000.[39] Today, some DoD officials privately say that 100,000 reservists would need retraining. In any case, if the army continued to expand the size of the IRR, there would be a growing number of reservists who needed reschooling.

Thus, if all available already-committed military personnel were called up, at least 77,500 training spaces would be filled. Assuming a capacity to train 81,000 by M+30 and 153,000 by M+60, plus an additional 18,000 spaces in reception centers, which must be continually filled to maintain a constant recruit flow, the net gap would be 21,500 and 93,500, respectively, which would have to be filled by volunteers or draftees. (See Table 1.)

Table 1
Training-Base Capacity and Alternative Sources of Manpower
  Minimum/DoD Plan Maximum Possible
Category M+30 M+60 M+30 M+60
Training-base capacity 81,000 153,000 81,000 153,000
Reception-station capacity 18,000 18,000 18,000 18,000
Total manpower spaces to be filled 99,000 171,000 99,000 171,000
Delayed Entry Program (DEP) 12,500 12,500 40,500 40,500
Reservists Awaiting Training 14,600 14,600 22,000 22,000
Individual Ready Reserve 15,000 15,000 15,000* 15,000*
Total precommitted manpower 42,100 42,100 77,500** 77,500**
Number of additional personnel needed 56,900 128,900 21,500 93,500

*The number of IRR members requiring retraining would likely be far greater, but no solid estimate of the maximum pool is available, in contrast to the DEP, for instance. Informal estimates range up to 100,000.

**This figure obviously would rise if more IRR members were reschooled.

Could the United States count on getting enough volunteers- -21,500 within the first month, 93,500 within two months? Historical experience indicates that the country would receive far more.

The army bases its mobilization plans on 8,000 volunteers a month, the level recorded during the nadir of the Vietnam War. Yet the Military Manpower Task Force reported:[40]

Analysis indicates that if large numbers of volunteers--equal to or greater than the number who volunteered immediately after Pearl Harbor as adjusted for population growth--were to come forward today, the Army's current mobilization training base would not be large enough to accept any inductees immediately. Indeed, the training base would be filled by volunteers, if we experienced a volunteer rate equal to 70 percent of the volunteer rate immediately following Pearl Harbor.

The official monthly estimate of 8,000 is manifestly unrealistic, for that level occurred in 1964, at the onset of an ambiguous conflict that lacked clear public support. Furthermore, the pool of available enlistees was exceptionally low, reflecting the depressed birth rates during the pre-baby-boom years. In fact, although there were only 98,294 non-prior-service male enlistments in 1964, the number jumped to 166,737 in 1965 and 186,696 in 1966, monthly rates of almost 14,000 and 15,600, respectively.[41]

Equally important, the principal scenario upon which a full-scale mobilization and a wartime draft are based is a major European war, not a limited Third World conflict. It would therefore be more helpful to look back at the nation's experience in the two world wars.

In the first 30 days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, approximately 42,000 men volunteered for regular army service; 49,000 joined during the second month, for a total of 91,000.[42]

These figures actually understate the current volunteer potential because the size of the 17-to-35 age cohort has grown considerably--from 16,303,000 in 1941 to 28,147,000 in 1986. Thus, the equivalent number of volunteers today in post-M-day months one and two would be roughly 72,500 and 84,600, respectively. Enlistments of this magnitude would virtually fill all the training and reception centers, even without the army's relying on any DEP, RAT, or IRR personnel.[43]

The number of volunteers in World War I was even more impressive. Within 30 days of the U.S. declaration of war on April 6, 1917, 94,700 men had joined. During the next month, another 113,600 men signed up, for a total of 208,300. Indeed, reported the military: "At the outset of the war in April 1917 enlistments would undoubtedly have been larger, but immediately after the declaration of war the recruiting stations actually turned men away because they had no authority to make enlistments beyond those necessary to bring the Regular Army up to strength."[44]

Obviously, the volunteer ethic has long been part of America's heritage. (See Table 2.)

Table 2
Historical Experience with Volunteers

Number of Army Volunteers after M-Day
Category 0-30 days 31-60 days 0-60 days
World War II, actual* 42,000 49,000 91,000
Spanish-American War, actual** 75,700 75,700 151,400
World War II, adjusted for population growth 72,500 84,600 157,100
World War I, actual 94,700 113,600 208,300

*Total military enlistments were substantially higher in World War II than in either the Spanish-American War or World War I; the difference is that more than half of the World War II volunteers went into the navy or the army air corps.

**DoD has only a three-month figure of 227,000 available, so an average is used.

Given the renascence of patriotism today--exhibited by the enlistment surge after the bombing of the marine barracks in Lebanon, for instance--we can safely count on the 93,500 volunteers necessary to fill the army's training camps. Moreover, we would need that many voluntary enlistments only if a postmobilization registration system ran eight weeks slower than the current program, as claimed by Selective Service.

An Accelerated Postmobilization Plan

Is it possible to accelerate a post-M-day sign-up so that only a minimal amount of time is lost without advance registration? If so, the peacetime system does little to speed inductions, whatever the status of the training base.

During the Reagan administration's internal debate over advance registration, Selective Service said that the earliest it could deliver the first inductee under a postmobilization plan was M+58; the date was later pushed to about M+69. In contrast, the current system is to provide the first draftee by M+13, yielding a savings of roughly six to eight weeks. However, the agency's figures are clearly self-serving, given its bureaucratic interest in protecting the registration program and budget. Indeed, Selective Service has previously underestimated its ability to meet Pentagon targets.

In 1978, for example, Selective Service estimated that it could provide the first inductee by M+110. In contrast, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the draft agency could reach the same goal much more quickly: between 65 and 95 days after mobilization.[45] Nevertheless, before registration was reinstituted for political purposes, Selective Service did not doubt its ability to meet the DoD requirements without a peacetime sign-up, as long as its budget was adequately increased. "We are firmly convinced that we can develop and demonstrate a capability to register and deliver inductees within 30 days," reported the Selective Service director in 1978.[46]

The CBO calculated that Selective Service, with an upgraded post-M-day registration plan, could deliver the first inductee by M+25 and the first 100,000 troops by M+60, faster than requested by DoD.[47] In 1979, Selective Service presented a one- day postmobilization registration plan that relied on state election personnel; the first draftee would report for induction by M+30.[48] The agency developed an even more sophisticated sign-up before Carter proposed advance registration; the first draftee would arrive at camp on M+17, and the 100,000 inductees then demanded by the Pentagon within two months would be provided by M+35.[49]

This study caused the Carter administration significant embarrassment and was immediately repudiated. Although the plan was probably overly optimistic, even Selective Service director Rostker, then forced to support the Carter program, conceded that "given sufficient resources, and the time neces-sary to develop our operating procedures, train people and test our plans," the agency could still meet DoD's requirements with-out an advance sign-up.[50]

Although the M+17 system may have been impractical, it did provide the groundwork for developing a workable post-M-day program. The Military Manpower Task Force included as an option an accelerated program that relied on a two-day registration, followed by a lottery and the sorting of information by birthdate, to allow expedited handling of the names of those who faced early induction. In fact, this schedule--which would have pro-vided the first draftee within 36 days--could have been acceler-ated even further by, for example, pre-positioning registration materials in individual post offices and nearby postal centers rather than trucking them in after mobilization, a step that the Postal Service said it was willing to take.[51]

Moreover, the experience with previous mass registrations demonstrates that Selective Service can surely provide the first inductee earlier than M+69, the current worst-case estimate. Even in World War I, postmobilization registration resulted in almost 100 percent compliance, and the first soldier was inducted 73 days after mobilization--in just four days longer than Selective Service says it would take today. Similarly, after the passage of draft legislation in 1940, the first inductee reported for duty 63 days after he had registered.[52]

As Selective Service director Robert Shuck testified in 1979, "Certainly we should be able to at least match the accomplishments of 39 and 62 years ago. With American ingenuity and technology we are confident we can do better."[53] Indeed, given the advances in communications, transportation, and computerized data processing in the last four decades, the agency should be able to do far better, greatly reducing the difference

between pre- and postmobilization registration systems. (See Table 3.)

Deficiencies in Peacetime Registration

Does the current program suffer from any deficiencies that make it less accurate than postmobilization registration? Supporters of the advance sign-up have raised "equity" as an issue. In 1982, Selective Service argued that a post-M-day plan would result in a total yield (compliance rate multiplied by data accuracy) one-third less than that of the ongoing program.[54] However, the accuracy issue is much less significant than these figures suggest. As noted earlier, registration compliance during World War I and World War II was extraordinarily high, probably greater than the current compliance rate for 20- and 21-year-olds, who would be inducted first. Besides, any problem with data quality, acknowledged the Military Manpower Task Force, "is a temporary one since the lists are corrected over time."[55]

Equally important, the reliability of the current list is in some doubt. Although advance registration gives Selective Service more time to correct errors, it also creates lists that become less accurate over time. Admitted the task force, "We don't know how complete peacetime or post-mobilization lists will be at the time inductions are to begin."[56]


Table 3
Induction Timetables
Plan First Inductee Provided
Current peacetime program M+13
Selective Service proposal of January 16, 1980 M+17
Accelerated post-M-day option advanced by Military Manpower Task Force M+36
Slow post-M-day system developed by Selective Service
World War II actual experience M+63
Present Selective Service estimate for Present Selective Service estimate for M+69
World War I actual experience M+73

Selective Service now estimates that 97 percent of all 18- to-25-year-olds have registered. There is a time lag for compliance, however; the agency estimates that 92 percent of 19-year-olds and 96 percent of 20-year-olds have signed up. However, compliance rates can only be approximated. Said Lewis Brodsky, assistant Selective Service director for public affairs: "There is no way to talk hard figures with a population that changes daily."[57]

Moreover, the accuracy of the compliance rate estimate depends upon the accuracy of the age-cohort projections. During the 1970s, before registration was terminated, the Census Bureau understated the relevant population, causing Selective Service to overestimate sign-ups.[58] That problem may yet persist; in 1980, the GAO pointed out that Selective Service relied on Census Bureau data that excluded Americans living abroad and those residing in U.S. territories and possessions. As a result, the number of nonregistrants was underestimated by 96,000.[59]

More important, even though the list of any particular age group becomes more complete as more nonregistrants sign up, the data deteriorate as young men move. Males between the ages of 18 and 25 are highly mobile; roughly one-quarter move every year. One highly critical GAO report estimated that 85 percent of registrants did not notify Selective Service of their new addresses; "as a result, address information for between one - fifth and two-fifths of the registrants in the prime induction group--those to be called first in the event of an emergency- - could be outdated. At the end of eight years [the duration of draft eligibility], almost three-fourths of the addresses could be outdated."[60]

According to Donna Bahls of Selective Service's Office of Registration, the agency "established a verification program" in response to the GAO study. If Selective Service has not heard from a registrant within 15 to 16 months, it sends him a letter asking him to make any address corrections; the Postal Service sends forwarding information back to Selective Service. The program is "quite expensive," said Bahls, so it is limited to the two age groups that would be subject to induction first. No official statistics on list accuracy are available, she said, but some managers have informally estimated a figure of 97 percent to 98 percent.[61]

Whether such a figure is realistic is hard to say. In 1985, Rep. Les Aspin (D-Wis.) revealed that of the 183 men then threatened with prosecution for failure to register, only 95 had actually been contacted by Selective Service; 55 letters had been returned as undeliverable, 32 letters remained unsent because of inadequate addresses, and 1 letter had been lost in the mail.[62] Although this sample may not be representative, it is hard to have confidence in a system that reached only 52 percent of those facing legal action.

Presumably some young men leave no forwarding address, perhaps simply to thwart Selective Service. Others may ignore the Selective Service follow-up letter and, if the Postal Service's forwarding information does not make it into the registration data banks, thereby become unreachable. Although no one knows how many young men are in each of these categories, the total could be significant. So there is no guarantee that the peacetime list is substantially more accurate than one garnered from a postmobilization sign-up. Indeed, the GAO recommended consideration of periodic registration, which was used in 1917 and 1940, to minimize deterioration of Selective Service lists.

Thus, for reasons ranging from questionable manpower require-ments to other means of filling up the training-base capacity to the potential for accelerating a post-M-day sign-up to the doubtful accuracy of the current lists, peacetime registration does not serve any vital security need. The program could be abolished without reducing U.S. mobilization readiness.

However, the Washington experience is that programs, once started, are hard to dismantle. In particular, Pentagon planners like the illusion of security that peacetime registration provides. So is there an alternative to the advance sign-up, one that provides a sure source of emergency manpower but is simultaneously consistent with the freedoms that today's volunteer military is theoretically defending?

The Reserve Volunteer Force

What is needed is a registration analogue of the All - Volunteer Force--essentially a reserve pool of untrained volunteers who would be subject to immediate call-up upon mobilization: a Reserve Volunteer Force (RVF). The Pentagon says it has a training-camp/reception-center capacity of 171,000 for M+60; the army is willing to count on 42,100 DEP, RAT, and IRR members.[63] Thus, using the Pentagon's highly pessimistic estimates, roughly 130,000 men would be needed to guarantee sufficient manpower for two months. Additional members could be recruited to meet any unexpected contingencies; thus, an RVF of 150,000 should be more than adequate.

Although DoD apparently has never seriously considered establishing an untrained reserve force, voluntary registration plans have been proposed in the past. In 1980, for instance, Rep. Jim Weaver (D-Oreg.) introduced legislation directing the president to establish a voluntary registration system. Signing up would have created no direct legal obligation to serve; instead, Weaver apparently expected the resulting list to substitute for a mandatory roll if necessary.[64]

A different proposal was advanced by White House aide John McClaughry in 1981. Registrants for what he called a National Patriot's Register, explained McClaughry, "would understand that they would be viewed as expected volunteers for military service if it ever became necessary for the President to issue an emergency call for volunteers--but they would incur no legal obligation to volunteer."[65]

Neither the Weaver nor the McClaughry proposal received serious consideration. However, combining the voluntary nature of a National Patriot's Register with a legal obligation to serve in the event of an emergency would yield a system that should meet the military's security concerns. Young men could join the RVF to provide a pool of untrained manpower for use in a mobilization, just as today they can join the active or reserve forces.

The RVF would have four essential elements:

1. A volunteer would sign up for a set term, during which he could be inducted into the military in the event of a national emergency.

2. Members of the RVF would receive a modest financial stipend; more important, they would be invited to become part of the "military family" through involvement with the active forces, reserves, and armed services associations.

3. The RVF could provide an initial screening of volunteers' skills to allow an earlier call-up of individuals who might best meet special service needs.

4. Selective Service would be charged with developing a post-M-day registration plan to meet the army's manpower needs after the RVF was exhausted. The agency would then be returned to "deep standby" status and would retain only enough employees to administer the RVF.

The RVF would be open to all American males between the ages of 18 and 25--that is, to those who are currently draft- eligible.[66] (The president could be given discretion to expand the program's age limit to, say, 35 years, which was the upper bound of draft eligibility under the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940.) Enlistment in the RVF would be for a term of between one and seven years, limited only by the volunteer's eligibility to serve in the force. Participation in the RVF would be terminated if the individual joined the active or regular reserves.

The only ongoing duty of RVF members would be to report address changes and the occurrence of any disabling diseases or accidents. Most important, members would agree to report for duty during a mobilization if notified by Selective Service.

In return for joining the RVF, members would receive $100 annually. Such token remuneration would not only help strengthen RVF members' sense of obligation but also increase the likelihood of their notifying Selective Service of address changes. (In any case, sending out regular follow-up letters for 150,000 men would be far cheaper than maintaining a list of 15,000,000 names.)

RVF members would also be included in a network of military people--active-duty, reserve, and retired. These "senior patriots" would be asked to contact RVF volunteers to provide any possible assistance in employment or educational matters, as well as providing positive role models and developing friendships. The president, too, could be brought into the process, hosting a White House reception for selected RVF members--perhaps chosen by lot--and writing letters thanking those who joined. Such extra benefits should provide a more significant inducement than the $100 for young men to promise to defend their country.

In addition, participants should be offered an opportunity to visit military installations, view troop exercises, and participate in limited training to give them a taste of military life. A smattering of military units and associations already work with local communities and young people; these sorts of activities should be encouraged by DoD, perhaps even coordinated by a small staff within the Pentagon.

The RVF would also provide an initial screening of volunteers to determine whether they possessed education, vocational experience, or interests that could meet special needs during a mobilization. For instance, the fact that someone had worked as a translator would be entered in his file, allowing him to be called up early if there was an acute need for foreign - language-speaking soldiers. Or if someone was a mechanic, a construction worker, or an electronics buff, that fact too could be recorded. In a sense, the RVF would conduct a rough skills inventory of the manpower that would be available during mobilization.

Obviously, the value of the experience possessed by RVF members would vary greatly. According to Selective Service, "young men aged 18-20 generally have few skills or specialties of interest to the military. The skills and specialties they do possess change rapidly."[67] However, some RVF volunteers would be older and therefore would have more to offer. Indeed, the Pentagon presently surveys its IRR members, banking information on their abilities and physical conditions and requiring them to notify the military of any changes.[68]

Finally, an RVF would reduce the activities of Selective Service. The agency would be charged with developing a post-M- day registration plan and maintaining the RVF list; it would revert to its inactive role of the late 1970s.

The Benefits of a Reserve Volunteer Force

An untrained reserve force would have several advantages over peacetime registration. The first, and perhaps least important, would be financial. Selective Service's FY 1986 budget was roughly $26.1 million; although determining the cost of ongoing registration is difficult, it accounts for the bulk of the $18 million to $20 million increase since FY 1979.[69] With an assured manpower supply for two months or more, the agency's other ongoing "revitalization" activities, such as establishing standby draft boards and implementing regulations for alternative service, could be dropped as well.

Terminating registration would also marginally shave costs at other government agencies. The Department of Justice and local U.S. attorneys would have fewer cases to prosecute, for instance.[70] Counterbalanced against a potential savings of more than $20 million would be the $100 payment to 150,000 RVF members--a total of $15 million a year. So the net annual savings should be in excess of $5 million.

More significantly, an RVF would offer the military a better source of emergency manpower than does the current system. Today, potential draftees must be classified and their claims for exemptions and conscientious-objector status heard; Selective Service estimates that it would have to issue 600,000 draft notices to be assured of 100,000 inductions. In contrast, RVF members would automatically report once they were called up.

Moreover, the army would possess a small but significant inventory of manpower skills to tap for unique mobilization shortages. RVF members also would have gained some familiarity with the military through the support network, and as volunteers, they would be better suited for army service than unwilling draftees.

The RVF would be flexible; its size could be adjusted to fit any desired "safety margin." At a higher cost, the army could, for instance, assure itself of a three-month troop flow into its training camps. And with an RVF, Congress would have time to thoughtfully review the need for a draft as the war unfolded instead of reflexively acting on M-day. It might even decide that conscription was unnecessary.

Most important of all, the RVF would be a voluntary system. In 1980, Ronald Reagan argued that in any time other than "the most severe national emergency" mandatory service or registration "destroys the very values that our society is committed to defending." In contrast, the RVF would be consistent with America's ideals of freedom and a logical adjunct to the All - Volunteer Force, both active and reserve. Indeed, the RVF would demonstrate to the world just how important those principles are to thousands of young Americans.

And this sort of symbol would have far more impact on the Soviet Union, or any other nation, than the current system has had. "Let us send a strong message to the Russians, if we want to do that," argued Rep. Weaver in support of his voluntary registration proposal, "that our young people are willing to serve and willing to register voluntarily."[71]

Are there 150,000 young men ready to go in the event of an emergency? Almost certainly yes. Not only did the number of potential recruits jump sharply after the bombing of the marine barracks in Lebanon, but draft registrations also rose. Indeed, more young men also signed up after the invasion of Grenada and the Soviet downing of a South Korean airliner; an average of 40,000 weekly registrations increased to 52,000. This phenomenon "tells me that the young men of today love their country. They want to do their part in preserving their society," said former Selective Service director Turnage.[72]

The sort of men who attend the Citadel in South Carolina-- -where an education is not cost-free, as it is at the service academies--are likely candidates for an RVF. So too are the 13 of every 14 applicants rejected by the U.S. Naval Academy, for instance, and the would-be army enlistees who are now turned away because the military is a much more popular career than it was even a half-dozen years ago.


Although the administration has carefully separated the issues of registration and conscription, many observers link the two, as did Reagan during the 1980 presidential campaign. Both advocates and opponents of a draft sense that registration may be merely the opening round in the ongoing campaign to bring back the draft. In 1980, for example, Rep. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) described registration "as a first step toward what I consider to be essential to the adequate defense preparedness of this country--the reinstatement of the military draft." Later in the same debate, Rep. Ronald V. Dellums (D-Calif.) attacked the proposal: "Make no mistake about it. If this funding resolution passes today, it will be nothing [other] than the first step on the road to total peacetime conscription."[73]

However, so far, at least, the All-Volunteer Force has survived, as well it should. In 1967, a congressional advisory group, the Clark Commission, dismissed proposals for a volunteer military for "placing faith in [the nation's] own citizenry to rally to its defense when the national security is threatened."[74] Yet barely six years later, the American people chose to do just that, as did their ancestors in winning the colonies' independence. And the return to our volunteer tradition is working.

All of the services, including the army, are more than

meeting their manpower goals with high-quality recruits who on average are brighter and better educated than their civilian counterparts. The administration's position, said Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger, is "that the experiment is over.

We know now that an All-Volunteer Force can succeed. . . . Therefore, from today it will not be the policy of the Department of Defense to speak about our military as the all-volunteer armed forces. From today, that can go without saying. Our men and women in uniform . . . are simply the armed forces, and the finest armed forces this country has ever known."[75]

That being the case, it seems only fitting that we replace registration with a volunteer system, one that relies on the same patriotic young people who are now manning the active and reserve forces. The creation of a Reserve Volunteer Force would enable the military to respond more effectively in an emergency. Moreover, abolishing registration would represent a permanent commitment to raise America's armed forces in a manner consistent with the fundamental freedoms that underlie the founding of our nation and that the military is tasked to defend.


This analysis is adapted from a chapter in a forthcoming book on mobilization manpower issues being published by the Mobilization Concepts Development Center at National Defense University.

[1] Letter from Ronald Reagan to Sen. Mark O. Hatfield, May 5, 1980.

[2] Statement by the President, Office of the Press Secretary, White House, Jan. 7, 1982.

[3] Semiannual Report of the Director of Selective Service, Apr. 1, 1985-Sept. 30, 1985, p. 4.

[4] Letter from Thomas Turnage to the recipients of the Semiannual Report, Dec. 2, 1985.

[5] Improving Capability to Mobilize Military Manpower: A Report by the Director of the Selective Service, Jan. 16, 1980, pp. 2, 8.

[6] Carter proposed that the sign-up include women, but Congress, after a heated debate, refused to allocate the necessary funds. And the Supreme Court upheld this "gender-based discrimination" as constitutional in Rostker v. Goldberg, 453 U.S. 57 (1981).

[7] Joint statement by John White, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Bernard Rostker, director of the Selective Service System, and Richard Danzig, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense, regarding Department of Defense (DoD) authorization for appropriations for FY 1981, Hearings on S. 2294 before the Senate Committee on Armed Services, 96th Cong., 2d sess., 1980, p. 1805.

[8] George Wilson, "Selective Service Told Carter Registration Is Unnecessary," Washington Post, Feb. 23, 1980, p. A-1.

[9] Statement by the President, Jan. 7, 1982.

[10] Thomas Turnage, "Peacetime Registration: A Key Element in Preparedness," American Legion Magazine, Apr. 1984, p. 36.

[11] Gerald Seib, "Reagan Decides Draft Registration Must Continue," Wall Street Journal, Jan. 8, 1982, p. 2.

[12] The White House, Transcript of Briefing for Reporters by Mr. Edwin Meese and Secretary Caspar Weinberger, Jan. 7, 1982, p. 2.

[13] Military Manpower Task Force, A Report to the President on Selective Service Registration, Dec. 15, 1981.

[14] David Wood, "U.S. Lied about Draft, Group Charges," Los Angeles Times, Oct. 27, 1982, p. 9.

[15] This figure understates the problem if the training period is extended beyond 12 weeks. Specialized programs, in the intelligence and health areas, for instance, involve months of schooling after basic training. Although most of the combat arms personnel are now slated to go through the 12 weeks mandated by Congress, during World War II the training time was increased from 12 to 16 weeks because field officers complained that their new soldiers were inadequately prepared. The training period was eventually cut back to 12 weeks, but some DoD specialists believe that the army would again have to expand the training time, pushing back the point at which registration and the draft would supplement units engaged in battle.

Elliot Feldman, former special projects officer to the assistant secretary of defense for manpower, installations, and logistics, went even further, arguing that participants in the "next great conventional war . . . will require particular skill, courage, and creativity. . . . Hence, reserves and replacements for such a war probably will need better training than even the active force gets with the extended lead time of peace." Yet, he concluded, "current plans prepare to do exactly the opposite of what is required." See "Mobilization Training Base Visits," Feldman's memorandum to Dr. Lawrence Korb, assistant secretary of defense for manpower, installations, and logistics, Dec. 17, 1984, p. 1.

[16] Martin Anderson, "Build Up the Reserves, Not Registration Lists," Washington Post, Feb. 3, 1980, p. C-1.

[17] "Case for Peacetime Registration," memorandum from Joint Chiefs of Staff to chairman, Interagency Working Group, Military Manpower Task Force, Dec. 4, 1981, p. 2.

[18] Department of Defense, Selected Manpower Statistics: Fiscal Year 1984, pp. 55-57.

[19] Earl Ravenal, "The Way Out of Korea," Inquiry, Dec. 5, 1977, p. 15.

[20] Gar Alperovitz, "Naked NATO," New Republic, Sept. 29, 1986, p. 20. Earl Ravenal has gone even further, arguing for a general policy of "strategic disengagement"; see Ravenal, Defining Defense: The 1985 Military Budget (Washington: Cato Institute, 1985) and "The Case for Strategic Disengagement," Foreign Affairs, Apr. 1973, p. 505.

[21] "Considerable uncertainties exist in projecting wartime manpower requirements and assets," admitted one defense assistant secretary; see memorandum from John White, assistant secretary of defense, manpower, reserve affairs, and logistics, to director, Selective Service System, Oct. 13, 1977. DoD uses sophisticated computer programs to assess the number of personnel that are necessary to support U.S. involvement. The disagreements over the appropriateness of the current model are legion but are best not detailed here.

Virtually no one outside the Pentagon seriously tries to critique the DoD projections. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), for example, observed that "although a number of points could be raised about the size and timing of DoD's current wartime induction requirements, CBO assumed these requirements to be valid for purposes of this study" of Selective Service's capabilities. See Congressional Budget Office, The Selective Service System: Mobilization Capabilities and Options for Improvement, Nov. 1978, p. xiii. A GAO review of the military's manpower requirements, initiated at the request of House Armed Services Committee chairman Les Aspin, concluded that the navy was somewhat overstating its needs. But the GAO's auditors reported that since they had not "examined the Army's new manpower management programs in detail, we are unable to comment on the accuracy of the Army's requirements." See General Accounting Office, DoD Manpower: Information on the Accuracy of Defense Manpower Requirements, NSIAD-86-87BR, Mar. 1986, pp. 6, 10.

[22] Andrew Pierre, ed., The Conventional Defense of Europe: New Technologies and New Strategies (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1986), pp. 2-3.

[23] Improving Capability to Mobilize Military Manpower, p. 2.

[24] Letter from Robert Pirie, Jr., assistant secretary of defense, manpower, reserve affairs, and logistics, to Bernard Rostker, director, Selective Service System, Feb. 10, 1980.

[25] Hearings on Military Posture and H.R. 1872 (pt. 5, "Military Personnel"), House Committee on Armed Services, 96th Cong., 1st sess., 1979, p. 709.

[26] Letter from Secretary of Defense Harold Brown to Rep. Norman Dicks, Mar. 6, 1980; memorandum from Robert Pirie to director, Selective Service System, Nov. 10, 1980.

[27] Answer of Bernard Rostker to question no. 2 from Sen. James Exon, "Mobilization Requirements and Peacetime Registration," before hearings of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Manpower and Personnel, Mar. 10, 1981. See also answer of Bernard Rostker to question from Rep. Martin Sabo, "Latest Wartime Requirements," before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on HUD-Independent Agencies, Mar. 26, 1981.

Similarly, the GAO reported: "The Department of Defense has no documentation or calculations to support" its estimates; instead, "the requirement apparently was the result of informal inquiries by the Office of the Secretary of Defense to the services on their training base capacity." See General Accounting Office, Actions to Improve Parts of the Military Manpower Mobilization System are Underway, FPCD-80-58, July 22, 1980, p. 2.

[28] These figures were garnered from discussions with DoD personnel and by reviewing official, although unclassified, briefing materials. As discussed elsewhere in this paper, some outside analysts believe that the training camps could handle far fewer servicemen.

[29] Military Manpower Task Force, A Report to the President, p. 5.

[30] The total number of training slots through M+60 was to jump from 146,000 to 301,000, according to the Military Manpower Task Force, A Report to the President on Selective Service Registration (draft), Oct. 26, 1981. Today, it is 153,000. (The task force's draft report was much longer and more detailed than the final version.)

[31] "Army Crisis Training Plan Found Inadequate," New York Times, Nov. 4, 1984, p. 27.

[32] General Accounting Office, Manpower Effectiveness of the All-Volunteer Force, FPCD-81-38, July 15, 1981, pp. 16-17.

[33] Feldman, p. 1.

[34] Personal interview, Sept. 24, 1986.

[35] Hearings on Military Posture, p. 709.

[36] Anderson.

[37] Personal interview, Sept. 5, 1986.

[38] Selective Service Registration, Message from the President of the United States, 96th Cong., 2d sess., H. Doc. 96-265, Feb. 12, 1980, pp. 27, 28.

[39] Answer of Bernard Rostker to question from Rep. Martin Sabo before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on HUD -Independent Agencies, Mar. 26, 1981. And DoD's Richard Danzig testified before Congress that the mismatch of IRR-member skills to mobilization needs could be handled by sending "many of these people back through the training base and retrain[ing] them." See Hearings on Military Posture, p. 708.

[40] Military Manpower Task Force, A Report to the President, p. 5. The study went on to state that the number of volunteers would not be large enough after the army more than doubled its training-base capacity by FY 1986, but that expansion, of course, never took place.

[41] All the manpower figures cited in this paper were obtained from DoD or Selective Service.

[42] These were estimated because the official records provide monthly, rather than weekly, totals, and the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred after the first week in December. Also, the raw army figures were higher than the figures cited here but had to be adjusted downward to reflect the fact that 36.7 percent of army enlistees/inductees went into the army air corps.

Interestingly, the December 1941 and January 1942 ratio of navy to army enlistments was roughly double that in November 1941. Presumably men chose the navy because it was the service that had been initially attacked and badly mauled; unless World War III began with a similarly spectacular attack on the navy, the army would probably gain proportionally more volunteers because it would then be the service most at risk.

[43] The inclusion of an estimate for women volunteers, who should average 6,700 a month and total 80,000 by M+180, would obviously increase these projections further.

[44] Department of War, History of Military Mobilization in the United States Army: 1775-1945, DA Pamphlet no. 20-212, p. 249.

[45] Congressional Budget Office, Nov. 1978, p. xvi.

[46] Letter from Byron Pepitone, Selective Service director, to Rep. Melvin Price, Dec. 14, 1978, p. 1.

[47] Congressional Budget Office, pp. xvii-xviii, 39-45.

[48] Testimony of Barry Lynn, president of Draft Action, Reinstitution of Procedures for Registration under the Military Selective Service Act, Hearings before the Subcommittee on Manpower and Personnel of the Senate Armed Services Committee, 96th Cong., 1st sess., 1980, pp. 93-94.

[49] Improving Capability to Mobilize Military Manpower, pp. 7-8.

[50] Letter from Bernard Rostker to Rep. Edward Boland, Mar. 3, 1980, p. 2.

[51] Barry Lynn, A Critical Analysis of the President's Military Manpower Taskforce Report on Draft Registration (Draft Action), Oct. 26, 1982, p. 3; letter from William Bolger, postmaster general, to Martin Anderson, assistant to the president for policy development, Oct. 29, 1981.

[52] Selective Service in Peacetime, First Report of the Director of Selective Service: 1940-41, pp. 77, 234. Indeed, it was the success of the World War I and World War II efforts that prompted Selective Service to propose reliance on state election organizations in its 1979 plan. See testimony of Robert Shuck, director, Selective Service, Reinstitution of Procedures, p. 183.

[53] Shuck.

[54] Military Manpower Task Force, A Report to the President (draft), p. 15.

[55] Military Manpower Task Force, A Report to the President, p. 6.

[56] Ibid.

[57] Personal interview, Sept. 4, 1986.

[58] Military Manpower Task Force, A Report to the President (draft), p. 3.

[59] General Accounting Office, Evaluation of the Recent Draft Registration, FPCD-81-30, Dec. 19, 1980, p. 3. Selective Service later admitted that its data understated the number of people liable to sign up, increasing the estimated number of nonregistrants by 120,000. See Barry Lynn, "Uncle Ron Wants You!" Inquiry, Sept. 2, 1981, p. 14.

[60] General Accounting Office, Failure of Registrants to Report Address Changes Would Diminish Fairness of Induction Processing, FPCD-82-45, Sept. 24, 1982, p. 1.

[61] Personal interview, Aug. 20, 1986.

[62] "Draft Evaders Unwarned: Aspin," Chicago Tribune, Mar. 15, 1985, p. 3.

[63] The army also projects 8,000 volunteers a month. But since they may have joined the RVF, no volunteers should be counted in the most bearish assessment.

[64] H.R. 6670, 96th Cong., 2d sess., Feb. 28, 1980; "Dear Colleague" letter, Apr. 21, 1980, p. 1.

[65] "The National Patriot's Register: An Alternative to Registration," memorandum from John McClaughry to Martin Anderson, Sept. 8, 1981.

[66] Unless women are placed in combat roles, only a limited number will be needed by the military. Therefore, it makes sense to limit the RVF to men and to rely on volunteers to fill the female spaces after mobilization.

[67] Military Manpower Task Force, "Questions Raised in Oct. 30, 1981 Task Force Meeting," addendum to Tab E, Briefing Book, Oct. 30, 1981.

[68] According to Richard Danzig, "We are very concerned, not simply with the numbers that we have, but, above all, with the match of numbers to the skills required." There were, in short, too many clerks and administrators and not enough combat infantry-men. See Hearings on Military Posture, p. 708.

[69] Selective Service once estimated that a budget of $9.7 million was required "to keep the Selective Service System in a true standby posture," based on the 1980 post-M-day plan to provide inductees by M+17; see Improving Capability to Mobilize Military Manpower, p. 8. But if, as with the RVF, the first inductee would not be needed until M+60, agency costs could be cut further, especially by dropping such activities as setting up draft boards and writing regulations on conscription procedures.

[70] In the 1960s and 1970s, the average Selective Service prosecution ran about $30,000 from investigation through imprisonment. See "Estimated Costs of Prosecuting One Selective Service Act Violation Case," memorandum from Frayda Levin to Doug Bandow, Dec. 2, 1981. There have been too few cases since 1982 to make a comparable estimate.

[71] Congressional Record, Apr. 22, 1980, p. H-2748.

[72] "Events Abroad Spur Draft Registration," San Diego Union, Dec. 19, 1983, p. A-10.

[73] Congressional Record, Apr. 22, 1980, pp. H-2749, H-2751.

[74] Citizen Advisory Panel on Military Manpower Procurement, Report to the Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives, 90th Cong., 1st sess., Feb. 28, 1967, p. 18.

[75] Caspar Weinberger, "The All-Volunteer Force in the 1980s: DoD Perspective," in William Bowman et al., eds., The All - Volunteer Force after a Decade: Retrospect and Prospect (Washington: Pergamon-Brassey's, 1986), p. 5.

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