Universal Military Service

April 15, 1944

Report Outline
Universal Military Service
Peacetime Conscription in Foreign Nations
Military Policy After World War I
Military and Non-Military Aspects

Universal Military Service

Questions of military Policy Before Congress

A Permanent Policy of compulsory military training is recommended for the United States by Secretary of War Stimson and Secretary of the Navy Knox and at present enjoys substantial support in Congress. Universal service is urged by its proponents as the only means of affording adequate protection against future aggressions by foreign powers. They contend also that a year of military training for all young men in their late ‘teens would raise the standards of education, health, civic responsibility and personal integrity of the nation's youth.

Proposals for universal service will receive major attention from the committee set up by the House of Representatives, March 28, to study the postwar military needs of the United States. Chairman Woodrum (D., Va.), of the special committee, urged “a steady, orderly and progressive strengthening” of the country's military establishment as long ago as 1927. In his first statement as chairman of the new committee he warned that the United States must not repeat “the blunder of postwar disarmament.” Two members of the committee—May (D., Ky.) and Wadsworth (R., N. Y.)—have already introduced bills for universal military service, on which they have said they would seek early action by Congress.

President's Statements on Compulsory Service

Six months before the United States entered the present conflict, the President told the country that the question of retaining forced military service in time of peace would depend upon the outcome of the war in Europe. “Permanent conscription of our manpower” would be necessary to maintain even the crippled independence that would be possible if Hitler won. On June 18, 1940, two days before the Burke-Wadsworth selective service and training bill had been introduced in the Senate and House, the President had announced his intention to ask congressional approval of a program which would provide for “some form of universal compulsory government service” for American youth. He said the plan he had in mind would require young men, and probably young women also, to undergo a year's training in one or another service category such as the Army or Navy, a force of communication and aviation technicians, a non-combatant force of industrial technicians for production of essential military goods, or a service of agricultural workers. The White House stated, June 19, that Sidney Hillman, labor member of the National Defense Advisory Commission, had been asked to prepare the plan in detail. It was indicated that some two million young people, aged 19 to 21, would be trained, mainly under the auspices of the C. C. C., the N. Y. A., the W. P. A., and the Office of Education. The President's proposal encountered stiff opposition from a number of sources; instead of pressing his idea he turned to the Burke-Wadsworth bill which he endorsed without naming it, and the compulsory youth-training program was placed in abeyance.

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
Defense Personnel
Military Draft