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ons. The effectiveness and the readiness of the armed services would be reduced by the tremendous training load and constant turnover. Men under training for a year would just commence to be of usefulness when they would be discharged.

U.M.T. would not benefit the regular services or solve their manpower problems; it would create a mass, partly trained, Reserve. The effect of U.M.T. upon the mores and political and social habits of a democracy is probably unpredictable, but certainly it might tend to emphasize the influence of purely military power in an age when economic, industrial, technological and moral powers are even more major elements of national power. There have been no reasoned cost estimates of U.M.T.; there is, however, no doubt that it would add billions to the defense budget.

In short, U.M.T. might provide military quantity (at a price); it would not provide quality.


The concept of compulsory national service for all young men (and, some advocate, young women) has great idealistic appeal. This plan would require all youths reaching 18 to serve the Government (not merely to be trained by Government). But, unlike U.M.T. recruits, some national-service conscripts might serve in civilian jobs, a provision that appeals to those who dislike military service.

But the concept of compulsory national service carries with it-despite its idealistic and democratic purposes-overtones of totalitarianism. Regimentation on a national scale-in or out of uniform-is potentially dangerous to any democatic society, particularly one like our own in which the power of the executive branch of the Federal Government has increased so tremendously.

National service, like U.M.T., would imply the enlistment in some form of Government service or program of a great many more youths than any present program can usefully employ.

The Peace Corps has only 14,000 volunteers; all of the rest of the other highminded, but often ineffective, Government programs-such as VISTA, the Job Corps, the Teachers Corps, etc.-can usefully employ only a fraction of the 2,000,000 men coming of age every year. More important, most of these endeavors require trained and mature men of judgment; high ideals are not enough. To utilize in such programs the one-third or more of the recruits who are rejected each year by the military services-many of whom are from the low-income, depressed groups which the Job Corps and similar ventures are intended to help would be like assigning the halt to lead the blind.

National Service would not be a help in remedying the present inequality of sacrifice. Any form of compulsory service which put some men into uniform and kept others in civilian clothes, which subjected some to the hazards of death or maiming, and others of the same generation to Government desk jobs would be bound to cause invidious comparisons and lowered morale.

And compulsion would destroy the idealistic concept of volunteer servicewhich is the bone and marrow of the present Peace Corps. Draft exemptions for such non-military service might well have produced the same results.

Finally, the attempt to find places, nitches, for all of the youths achieving 18 each year could lead to enormous waste-even a national boon-doggle.


The present draft law has proved to be an extremely flexible instrument for the recruitment of military manpower; it has met needs, without undue strain, varying from more than 400,000 men a month in World War II, to 65 men in June of 1961.

The clamor for reform is familiar; some of the same complaints heard now were loudly voiced in World War II and during Korea; it is only when large numbers of men are required and draft calls are increased that the inequities inherent in any law are dramatized and brought home forcefully to the public. The chief complaints about the current draft law-outside of the basic philosophical one of the small minority who are opposed to any form of military compulsion and of those who refuse to participate in any kind of combat-are five.

(1) It is alleged that the law is inequitable and unfair in general; (2) that it fosters uncertainty in planning an education or a career since men cannot count upon any definite date of call-up, or even know with certainty whether they will be inducted; (3) that its deferment system tends to discriminate against

the lower-income brackets and the noncollege student; (4) that it inducts older men first instead of the younger age groups who are preferred, as the Pentagon study points out, by combat commanders; and (5) that the Department of Defense standards for enlistment and induction have tended-particularly in the years between Korea and Vietnam-to reject men with "lesser mental ability and educational attainment," thus depriving them of the training and educational opportunities the services offer.

Some of these complaints are incompatible and mutually contradictory; some are oversimplified or just plain incorrect.

For instance, the lowering of service-acceptability standards to permit drafting and enlistment of lower mental category groupings is certain to increase the number of so-called "underprivileged”—particularly of Negroes-in the armed services.

Any major increase in the proportion of Negroes to whites in the services I could have deleterious military and social results. For instance, many civilrights and liberal organizations have already made an issue of the statistics on Vietnam combatants; i.e., that 23.5 per cent of all Army enlisted men killed in Vietnam during 1965 were Negro, although Negroes represent only about 11 per cent of the entire U.S. population.

Much can and will be made of such statistics by the agitators and provocateurs, even through the reasons behind such statistics are not what they seem. Negroes have no monopoly on valor, nor is there any concerted plot by the services to assign Negroes as "cannon fodder." The facts are that there are nowand long have been-a disproportionate number of Negroes in the rifle battalions, companies and platoons-the cutting edge of the sword. In many line outfits in the Army, Negroes make up between 30 to 60 per cent of the personnel. Some officers consider this an undesirable, and indeed, a dangerous proportion, from the military point of view, and one which has had obvious repercussions from the social point of view.

But this condition-which is not peculiar to Vietnam, but is an Army-wide phenomenon is not due to the draft, per se, or to bias on the part of the Army. The reasons are two. The first is that the Negro has never had it so good as he has in the Army; in many cases he has found there not only a greater degree of acceptance, but more psychic and material rewards, more security than he can find in civilian life. He tends, therefore, to re-enlist at a much high rate than the white-and particularly in such extra-pay outfits as the paratroopers or Special Forces.

The second reason is that the average Negro has a far lower educational background and once in the service is classified in a lower mental category than the average white soldier. Thus, when he is assigned on the basis of his knowledge and ability, more than not he does not qualify for the more advanced technical jobs and he ends up as a rifleman.

This is a problem which the draft can't cure, and for which it should not be blamed.

Nevertheless criticisms of the current law and its implementation are at least in part true.

Many of the inequities of the draft law are inevitable; some of them can be eliminated only by the introduction of other inequities. This is one reason Congress is so chary of reform; students of the draft know that if basic changes or restrictions in the present deferment system are proposed pressure groups of all sorts will argue the need for the exemption of deferment of agricultural laborers, divinity students and "you name it..."

Yet a completely equitable society cannot be developed in the world of man. Some proposals for improving the draft law would centralize control of classification, induction and deferments in Washington, largely scrapping the present system of more than 4,000 local draft boards. These boards now have, within general guidelines laid down by the Congress and the President, a great deal of autonomy. This is one reason why X may be puzzled as to why he is inducted and his high-school chum, Y, with an almost identical background and profilebut registered with a different draft board-is deferred.

But proposals to eliminate the local draft boards, or to curtail their powers too greatly are distinctly risky. Lieut. Gen. Lewis B. Hershey, director of Selective Service for 25 years, has explained the basic reasons:

"No system of compulsory service could long endure without the support of the people. . . . The Selective Service System is, therefore, founded upon the grass-roots principle, in which boards made up of citizens in each community

determine when registrants should be made available for military service." The Selective Service System has experimented with various forms of data processing for the past 20-odd years. It has found that the "replacement of local boards with machines designed to digest evidence and render judgment" is not feasible. Selective Service also maintains that "most of what has been alleged to be a lack of uniformity between local-board decisions has been found, upon inquiry into confidential evidence in registrant files, to be a recognition of actual difference in circumstances of the registrants involved."

There are, however, several modifications to the draft which might improve its operation and reduce its inevitable discrimination without destroying the machinery that makes the flexible mobilization of the manpower of the country possible.

Some kind of deferment system to prevent atomic physicists, for instance, from being assigned to a rifle company, is essential, and some degree of local autonomy for draft boards to meet varying local conditions is necessary. But there are not many essential atomic physicists, aged 18, in the United States If the draft reversed its present procedure and inducted the young age groups first, rather than the older ones (as the Pentagon would like to have it do); and if educational deferments were eliminated or sharply curtailed, some of the objections to the present law-that it interrupts education and careers, breaks up family life and prevents adjustments to a steady job-would be eliminated or eased.

The draft boards would still face the difficult task of choosing one man for possible death, another for life. A national lottery properly applied (coupled with a more restricted and more logical system of deferments; and machinery to provide physical examinations, classification and notification of call-up or deferment a year or so in advance) would help to meet this problem.

The lottery has been sharply opposed by General Hershey and others on the basis that our present law supports to "the greatest possible degree both our armed forces and our national economy," and that a lottery would substitute chance for rational processes in the allocation of available manpower resources. But the basis of that argument is that essential deferment classifications and exemptions and local draft-board judgments cannot be entirely replaced. They need not be. The lottery might be used, as has been suggested, after the local boards have performed their function.

If the present draft law were modified as described, youths could count upon a period of military service between high school and college. They would be examined and classified about a year before call-up; lottery numbers assigning them priorities for call-up would be drawn, and at the same time the Defense Department would announce its approximate manpower needs for the forthcoming year.

After a fixed interval-a year or 18 months, or two years-the period of "jeopardy" or liability would be ended; young men who were not called in that period would be dropped to the bottom of the manpower pool of eligibles, and could count on continuing their education and careers. They would face military service only in the event of general war or national emergency.

Such modifications to the draft law would meet all of the principal criticisms except one-that Defense Department induction standards bar the less fit. This is not a new problem; nor have the services always rejected the illiterates, the slow-witted, the emotionally unstable, even those with some physical deficiencies. The pathetic sight of the Army training grown men to read and write was a familiar one at Fort Dix and other Army posts during World War II. The problem is the cut-off point. Some men in these categories will profit by the training they receive and will become useful to the services. Others are dead drags; they will spend more of their active duty time in prison stockades or hospitals than in useful duties.

There is no doubt that reduction of the standards for induction imposes an extra training load and more expense on the services; the lower the standards the greater the load, and the greater the difficulty in placing in proper slots some of the recruits. Carried to an extreme, the process could have-as it has had in the past-a severely adverse effect upon discipline, efficiency and combat effectiveness.

The real question is whether the services should properly be the training school for slow learners; whether, indeed, they should be used to effect educational and social reforms. This is not their purpose; the armed services exist primarily to deter war or to win it if it comes; ancillary objectives can dan

gerously impair the primary objective. Some officers think this has already occurred; others feel that the services would have to use the lower half of the manpower pool in any general emergency and that they had therefore better learn how best to employ such men now.

The question, really, is one of degree-how deep into the less-educated, less-fit mass of our population the draft and the recruiting sergeants should dredge. The test, in any case, it to be made. Starting this fall and throughout the remainder of this fiscal year some 40,000 men in the lowest mental categoryGroup IV-as classified by the Armed Forces Qualification Test (the equivalent of a fifth grade education) will be enlisted or inducted into the services. Next year the services will be required to take in 100,000 men in this category. All of the services-the Army in particular-already have been tapping this group for recruits. The Navy has accepted 5.5 percent of its recruits from Group IV personnel; the Air Force, 7.2 percent; the Marines, 13.5 percent, and the Armythe only service that has used the draft, instead of voluntary enlistments regularly-about 25 percent.

The Navy and Air Force soon will be required to accept 15 percent of their total quarterly quotas from this group, the Marines 18 percent; the Army's quota will remain at 25 percent. This requirement will probably mean that the Navy and Air Force and to a lesser extent, the Marines, will have to turn down some volunteers of higher mental categories in order to recruit their quota of Group IV's.

The rationale originally advanced by Secretary of Defense McNamara for this acceptance of men who were formerly included among the military "rejects" was based on the nation's antipoverty and "Great Society" programs, and it appeared to meet the objections of some who have said that service standards excluded the culturally deprived.

However, it now seems certain that the program will have some adverse military and perhaps social results. Contrary to original impressions, the increased numbers of Group IV's will not receive any special remedial training, but will be "ploughed into"-along with their higher category fellows-the regular service training programs.

Nor will the services receive any increased funds or larger training cadres to compensate for the increased strain-incident to the slow learners-imposed upon the already greatly overburdened training facilities. It is unfortunate that the armed forces have been saddled with this extra training load at the very time when they are still struggling to meet the needs of Vietnam.

The program could also have an adverse psychological effect racially. For some 33 per cent of the men affected by the new reduced standards will, it is estimated, be Negroes. Very few, if any, of these will qualify for any extensive service schooling; most of them will probably end up in the Army and Marines, at least-with an M.O.S. (Military Occupational Specialty) of rifleman, and will thus increase the present imbalance of Negro to white in the rifle platoon, company and battalion-the units that do the fighting and take the casualties. Thus, the disproportionate percentage of Negroes in the combat units (particularly of the Army) will be increased-not decreased-by the latest attempt to provide more manpower for Vietnam. And, since there's a war on, and the training the Group IV's will receive will not be specialized or adapted to slow learners, the new program will have little, if any, beneficial effect sociologically.

This does not mean, of course, that the schooling and training facilities the services provide cannot be usefully employed to give remedial help to the underschooled, or the under-talented. There is no reason why such a program should not succeed from both national and military points of view-IF the numbers of such men are strictly limited, if the men selected are emotionally stable and normal, if they are capable of learning simple tasks, and if their physical defects such as hernia and bad teeth-are correctible within about six weeks.

Two factors clearly limit the success of any such program. One is that the sociological improvements incident to military duty must be clearly a secondary and minor mission of the services. The second is that such programs are much more effective in peacetime--when there is ample time for recycling slow learners and providing special training for the backward—than in times of strain such as today.

Plainly, the present program is going to do more to increase the manpower base available, even though reducing its quality, than to uplift the underprivileged.

The same comment, with variations, might be applied to the drafting of older men-a process already started. Men heretofore immune-at least since Korea--to the draft (25 and 26 and older) have been receiving substantiating physical examinations and many of them, whether married or not, "settled" in jobs or not, are now feeling the hot breath of the draft down their necks.

Given the present system of student deferments and of other exemptions, the needs of Vietnam cannot be fulfilled without drafting older men, an undesirable requirement from the military view, but a necessary one, given the present ground rules.

This discussion of the problems of utilizing the nation's military manpower leads, first, to the inescapable conclusion that any new program will cost the taxpayer more money immediately. Even the suggested modifications in the draft law would add to the defense budget; a national lottery and a system of earlier classification and notification would require more employes, more clerical effort.

The second conclusion is that much more spadework needs to be done before either the Presidential commission or Congress can reasonably recommend new legislation. The Pentagon's failure, for instance, to give an adequate accounting of the savings and costs of a long-term professional volunteer force needs rectification. A detailed scenario for a national lottery system-and its effects-should be developed, published and studied.

The third and definitive conclusion is that the draft-though perhaps in modified form-will be with us for a while. It would be unthinkable to shift the entire manpower procurement process into new and totally untried channelsleast of all, in the midst of a war. It is essential that more material and psychic inducements to military professionalism be provided. In time, when the nation is experiencing a more relative degree of peace than is true today, it might even be desirable to embark-for a limited test period-on a "trial run" of an allvolunteer force.

But for today and tomorrow, the draft must stay. And tomorrow, no matter what we do, there will be other Cassius Clays, more George Hamiltons, who will cause the neighbor next door to wonder why "Johnny" was called and they were not. Clearly, what must be done is to reduce such cases to a minimum, to explain why there are seeming or actual inequities and to increase public confidence in the fairness of the draft and in its implementation.

[From the New Republic, Nov. 5, 1966]


by Daniel P. Moynihan

If the Selective Service System did not exist, it would be impossible to invent it. There are now some 4,088 local draft boards throughout the country staffed by upwards of 38,000 volunteers, including almost 8.000 medical advisers, with only a tiny cadre of career officers. The system processes 170,000 registrants each month and keeps tab on nearly 31 million men. Through much of its history, the decisions the boards have been required to make have been almost, by definition, arbitrary and unfair, but the system works. The world is unjust; most people know this and, perceiving the impartiality of the injustice meted out by the draft boards, accept the decisions.

There is something peculiar about American intellectuals and academics that they have shown almost no interest in the subject. The experience of prolonged peace-time conscription is virtually unexamined as a significant aspect of American life. Even now, one may be confident that these are being planned on the Ethico-Religious Origins of Draft Card Burning as an Existential Act of Witness. (As well there should be.) But the draft itself continues as an object of scholarly unconcern with just perhaps a touch of distaste added to the indifference. The price paid for this is that we have failed to perceive the potential of the Selective Service System as an instrument of social analysis and change. There have been and presumably there will continue to be a fairly steady output of proposals for eliminating the present system and replacing it with something

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