Page images

System has worked with an amazing absence of personal corruption. To select young men for military service is a painful task, and the use of local community personnel has reduced hostility to rules and regulations. Moreover, there is a general feeling that local boards have been fair in applying national directives to local situations. Decentralized operating procedure has reduced local friction, but it produced considerable variation in practice from state to state, and these differences have become a new source of criticism.

Selective service and its local boards operate with local quotas, not on the basis of a national manpower pool which would take wide discrepancies in population characteristics among communities into consideration. Moreover, there are wide variations in quotas on a month-to-month basis. Another problem is that the Selective Service System has emerged more and more as a procurement agency for the Department of Defense without adequately representing the interests of the registrants in the larger society. While local boards are civilian, all other officials from national headquarters to state directors tend to be military in rank or orientation.


The Selective Service System as it operated after the Korean war was adapted to the realities of the American political system and to American strategic commitments during a period of international tension without actual military operations.

First and most basically, it was seen as a temporary system. The resistance to a permanent Selective Service System has been pervasive in the United States, even after World War II.

Second, it operated with a minimum of disruption of civilian society while at the same time requiring manpower for the type of armed forces the Executive wished to create. The new instruments of mass destruction require an increasingly professional force with a high concentration of intermediate and long-term career commitments. During much of the period between Korea and Vietnam the size of the ground forces was limited and a limited selective service was able to meet their requirements. Even during the period of gradual military expansion after 1960 the selective service operated without great social strain or disruption. In good part this was due to the career opportunities the military establishment offered to the socially disadvantaged.

Third, a temporary Selective Service System couplied with an extensive reserve component helped keep alive the citizen-soldier concept which has strong roots in the American scene. More tacitly than explicitly, the Selective Service System is seen, and in fact does operate, as a force for civilianizing the armed services and overcoming the sharp segregation of the military from civilian society that characterized the armed forces before World War II.

The temporary nature of selective service operated to inhibit both long-range planning and public discussion of its operations since there was a pervasive feeling that at some future date it would no longer be needed. In fact, in 1964 President Johnson authorized a study to probe the possibility of its ultimate elimination.

Instead, events in South Vietnam demonstrated the rigidities and inequalities of present procedure. During this period of actual military operations, the Selective Service System operates ineffectively and produces considerable social and political strain. Selection criteria have been lowered, but the armed services have not developed the kinds of remedial programs which operated during World War II to utilize manpower which civilian society has not adequately prepared for adult responsibility and service in the military establishment. Contrariwise, college deferments had to be altered to meet manpower requirements.

The Selective Service System, in order to develop criteria for utilizing college students on a partial basis, turned to the American Council on Education. In retrospect it is incredible that the American Council on Education did not engage in wider consultation with its constituency, but merely endorsed the repetition of a system that was used during the Korean hostilities. The changed political circumstances and heightened sensitivity to issues of social justice, as well as the arbitrary character of the system of deferments based on academic performance, have led to the current agitation.

Recommendations for change in the Selective Service System usually rest on an admixture of the above arguments based on moral justification, plus economic

costs, military efficiency, and broad conceptions of the national interest in both domestic and foreign policy. Three basic positions of criticism contain some similar features, but express different conceptions of who shall serve in the armed forces of a political democracy.

The armed forces should be a completely voluntary establishment based on a competitive pay scale, regardless of the costs. Immediate personnel shortages should be made up by some form of a temporary lottery system to meet particular emergencies.

The Selective Service System should be reformed. The current system is inefficient as well as morally unjust but to rely exclusively on a "mercenary" army is politically risky and disruptive and probably not economically feasible. Into the foreseeable future, some form of selective service is required to produce manpower for the military establishment. The current system should be reformed mainly by a lottery to augment those who volunteer to


There should be some form of national service in which most young men of draft age serve the country either in the armed forces or in other national programs. In this perspective effective education as well as the pressures of social and political change underscore the desirability of broad involvement of American young people for one or two years in various types of national service, both domestic and international. Selective service is required, but it must operate in a moral and political setting which makes it legitimate. To insure military needs, selective service would rely on a lottery plus differential incentives. Those who do not serve in the military either as volunteers or selectees would be expected (or alternatively, required) to perform national service in a variety of programs, including non-governmental ones. In my own view, the alternative service should be voluntary, and I believe if properly administered it would succeed in involving the bulk of the youth who don't serve in the armed forces.

All three positions give a role to a lottery system if only as a temporary or stand-by device. Civilians who urge this change must recognize that the idea of a lottery system strikes at a sensitive theme in the military self-image. The professional soldier often believes that civilians perceive him has a man who has somehow failed in the occupational competition of the larger society. Many officers hold the view that a lottery for the selection of enlisted men would strengthen and substantiate this stereotype that military service is a job for losers, as members of a luckless legion. Further, the military believe that the motivation of the soldier selected by a lottery might contaminate the attitudes of regular personnel and thus weaken efficiency.

I believe a national service system to be the most desirable format as a long term alternative to the Selective Service System, even though it clearly could not be launched overnight. In the summer of 1966, Secretary McNamara delivered a speech on national service which served to focus attention on this topic. It produced widespread response, and the President's Commission on Selective Service is specifically charged with exploring the dimensions of national service. In considering the logic of a national service system, two elements are of crucial importance:

In my opinion the national service system supplies a sound basis for coping with the deficiencies of any draft system, including one that must rely on a lottery system. In other words, I have no objection to arguing that some form of national service would make the lottery, if it had to be used, more acceptable to all involved. The national service program would emphasize voluntarism plus positive incentives.

More crucial is the argument that a national service program supplies a powerful weapon for preventing the creation of a predominantly or even allNegro enlisted force in the army, an “internal foreign legion," which would be disastrous for American political democracy.


To anticipate military manpower requirements for even a year or two in advance has been hazardous in the past. However, to design an alternative to the current Selective Service System, it is necessary to make assumptions for a 10 to 20-year time period. While the military manpower aspects of a national service system could be introduced very rapidly, other elements of a national service system would have to be developed over a five-year period.

CHART I.-New military manpower actually procured in 1965

National Military Establishments:
Enlisted: 1st enlistments--.


Reserves-active duty training---.


Officers: Commissioned_‒‒‒‒‒

318, 209 102, 555

94, 374

515, 138

Officer candidates:

46, 535

[blocks in formation]

NOTE. Includes special Federal programs-Coast Guard, U.S. Public Health Service, and Merchant Marine Academy.

Chart I (above) shows that the number of new personnel procured by the armed forces in 1965 was over 570,000. This includes the small number in the special Federal programs of the Coast Guard, US Public Health Service, and the Merchant Marine Academy. In 1966 with the South Vietnam build-up this figure went well over 800,000.

As a point of departure for planning a national service program, it is assumed that the required level of manpower will be equal to that before the current build-up. This implies a reduction of international tensions and in particular some degree of stabilization in Southeast Asia, without which even larger amounts of military manpower will be required. For the purposes of this analysis it is projected that all the various procurement programs for officers and enlisted men will need 550,000 to 600,000 men for each of the next 10 years and a slowly decreasing number during the tenth to the twentieth year.

Each year in the United States approximately 1,800,000 young men reach the age of 18. This figure can be expected to increase slowly in the years ahead before it declines. To many manpower specialists this presents a real dilemma. (See chart II below.) We have too many young men to operate only with a selective service system, and on the other hand, military manpower requirements are too large to rely upon a voluntary system. Among other issues, a national service system is designed precisely to deal with this dilemma.

CHART II.-Number of males attaining age 18 for selected years, July 1

[blocks in formation]

National service is based upon a dual concept. Military manpower needs must be met by a fair and flexible selective service system, recognizing that there will be hardships and imperfections in any system. At the same time all young men

should engage in some type of national service. The notion of national service could apply to young women and also, but for the purposes of this discussion it is given a second level of priority.

For those young men who do not enter military service, either as volunteers or under a reformed system of selective service, national service should be voluntary. There must be a maximum amount of free choice in the type of national service and a heavy emphasis on the role of private and voluntary groups in developing opportunities for national service. In short, the goal is to fuse a reasonable selective service system with a broad concept of national service. The basic features and principles are strikingly simple.

First, each new group of 18-year-old men would be required to participate in a national registration at which each young man would make known his personal service preference. He would have the opportunity to indicate his choice of three basic alternatives:

-Declare intension to volunteer for military service and indicate interest in the various specialized procurement programs including enlistment in a reserve program with active duty training.

—Declare himself subject to selective service and indicate what type of alternative volunteer national service he prefers in the event he is not selected by lottery for military service.

-Apply for exemption on the basis of being a conscientious objector by virtue of religious conviction or other criteria set forth in the decisions of the US Supreme Court. There would be no marital exemptions and while there would be some family hardship and financial hardship exemptions, a federal allotment system would be used wherever required to eliminate gross inequalities. Deferment on the basis of critical skill (as defined by the Department of Labor) would be kept to a minimum, handled as under present arrangements, and administered by local selective service boards.

Second, entrance into the military service takes place when the young man is 19, or in an orderly fashion on a basis of completing a given school year. Those who wish to volunteer for military service are directly incorporated on the basis of their preference and qualifications. Volunteers, of course, must be matched against the available openings. Military manpower requirements beyond those filled by voluntary choice would be met by the Selective Service System through a lottery. Normally, a young man would be subject to the selective service lottery only once in his life at age 18. Such an approach would eliminate the great uncertainty which exists in the present system. It would be expected that young men who did not enter the armed forces would complete their alternative volunteer national service by the time they reach 26 years of age. Only in the event of a major national emergency would young men between the ages of 19 and 26 be liable for subsequent exposure to selective service procurement.

Third, it is clearly recognized that there would be differential incentives and rewards. Those who served in the armed forces would receive a GI Bill of benefits, while alternative national service would not have such features, or very limited ones in the case of the Peace Corps. Alternative service might very well be longer than military service. The Peace Corps, for example, requires 27 months in contrast to 24 months of military service, reflecting an appropriate differential incentive and differential obligation. The type of alternative national service would depend on the skills and qualifications of the man involved as well as his preference. The time at which a person would complete his national service would be determined by his convenience and by the time he is best prepared to perform his national service.

This system does not imply that the armed forces will become the manager of large numbers of young men. To the contrary, the administration of selective service would rest in the present structure. Once military manpower needs are met, the armed forces would have no involvement with the rest of the age group. For example, young men might voluntarily enter the Peace Corps after they had been exposed to the lottery system. The same is true for all forms of alternative service described below.

The national service concept emphasizes maximum reliance on voluntary compliance along with the lottery which is designed to meet military manpower needs. But it is a system of voluntary service in a context of already changing social and political goal definitions. Expansion of the voluntary aspects would be based upon the creation of real and meaningful opportunities for fulfilling these goals, requiring both public and private funds of noteworthy magnitude.


The initial step in examining the logistics of national service is to recognize that the existing standards of eligibility for selective service-both medical and educational-are not relevant. In the past, of those young men who were subject to examination by selective service, 15 percent were rejected on medical grounds. If one adds those rejected by educational standards and on administrative grounds (moral and criminal records), rejections in some years rose to over 45 percent with the bulk turned down for educational deficiencies. Men who volunteered for military service had, of course, a much lower rate of rejection, so a more realistic rejection rate on the basis of past military standards for 18-year-old youths would be approximately 30 percent. Thus under present arrangements the 1,800,000 young men of a given 18-year-old cohort would be allocated as follows: 600,000 enter military service; 600,000 are rejected; and 600,000 become surplus by various forms of exemptions and deferments.

A basic objective of national service is to eliminate arbitrary educational standards either through remedial efforts by the armed forces, or by substitute service in a National Job Training Corps. Thereby, many young men would have a second chance to enter the mainstream of American life. However, those with severe medical problems, gross bodily deformities, incapacitating psychiatric maladjustments, mental retardation, or asocial personalities would be rejected under any circumstances. There are, in addition, those young men who suffer from limited defects, especially medical ones, who would be better off not participating in any of the group experiences of national service. In all, about 15 percent of the 18-year-old group, approximately 270,000 persons, would be rejected-leaving a total manpower pool of roughly 1,530,000. In Chart III (below) allocations of manpower to the various programs of a national service system are set forth on the basis of this figure.

CHART III.-Manpower allocations under projected national service program Total age group (19 years old).

Not eligible for national service (15 percent medical and administrative)

Eligible annual manpower__

Projected annual allocations for national service:
National Military Establishment:
Enlisted personnel

Officer personnel


Military remedial programs___

Special Federal programs (substitute service) U.S. Public Health

Service, Coast Guard, merchant marine..

Police Cadet Corps (substitute service).

National Teacher Corps_

National Health Corps-

Vista workers and similar public programs.

Private domestic programs_.

Peace Corps

Private Peace Corps programs.

National Job Training Corps.
Conscientious objectors

Not allocated


NOTE. Does not include 90,000 enrolled in high school ROTC programs.

1, 800, 000


1, 530, 000

500,000 75,000

575,000 40, 000

10,000 100, 000 150, 000 50,000 70,000 30, 000 50,000

20, 000

400, 000

10, 000

25, 000

1, 530, 000


If force levels can be reduced to their size before the South Vietnam build-up, the armed forces will require approximately 575,000 new men each year. For the normal intake of enlisted personnel, both volunteer and selected by a lottery system, 500,000 will be required. Because of the impact of a lottery, the Air

« PreviousContinue »