Revision of the Draft System

June 11, 1941

Report Outline
Cnscrition and the National Defense
Adoption of the Selective Service Law
Peacetime Conscription in Operation
Proposals for Revision of the Draft Act

Cnscrition and the National Defense

Experience Under Present Law; Needs of the Future

Young men who have reached the age of 21 years since the first registration for Selective Service on October 16, 1940, estimated to number from 800,000 to 1,000,000, will be required to register for military training on July 1. While a new group of youths is thus about to become liable to conscription, the Senate has approved an amendment to the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 authorizing the President to suspend indefinitely the drafting of men over 27 years of age.

Enactment of this amendment, advocated by Army chiefs and Selective Service officials in the light of difficulties experienced in applying the Selective Service System to older men, may be viewed as a definite step in the direction of converting the present emergency draft program into a permanent system of universal military training. The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 was modeled on the Selective Service Act of 1917, whose purpose was to make possible the rapid mobilization of a mass army. The present emergency has not yet necessitated the enlistment of so large a number of men. Furthermore, when the men already inducted have completed the year's training for which the existing act provides, they will, in normal course, pass into the reserves and be succeeded by fresh groups of draftees.

Such a program, concentrated on the building up of a force of trained reserves rather than on fulfillment of immediate war needs, can, in the opinion of Army authorities, be conducted more efficiently and serve better the ends for which it is designed if it is restricted to younger men. If the defense needs of the United States are going to require indefinite continuance of peacetime conscription, it is almost inevitable that the draft system will more and more take on the aspects of pre-war European systems, under which all young men upon reaching a certain age were called to the colors to perform a specified term of military service.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Military Draft
Aug. 19, 2005  Draft Debates
Jan. 11, 1991  Should the U.S. Reinstate the Draft?
Jun. 13, 1980  Draft Registration
Jun. 20, 1975  Volunteer Army
Nov. 17, 1971  Rebuilding the Army
Nov. 18, 1970  Expatriate Americans
Mar. 20, 1968  Resistance to Military Service
Jun. 22, 1966  Draft Law Revision
Jan. 20, 1965  Reserve Forces and the Draft
Feb. 14, 1962  Military Manpower Policies
Jun. 03, 1954  Military Manpower
Sep. 24, 1952  National Health and Manpower Resources
Oct. 24, 1950  Training for War Service
Aug. 21, 1950  Manpower Controls
Aug. 13, 1945  Peacetime Conscription
Sep. 09, 1944  The Voting Age
Apr. 15, 1944  Universal Military Service
Feb. 17, 1942  Compulsory Labor Service
Jun. 11, 1941  Revision of the Draft System
Aug. 14, 1940  Conscription in the United States
Apr. 24, 1939  Conscription for Military Service
Military Draft
U.S. at War: World War II