Veterans Corner April 2, 2017

Will Military Build-Up Use Selective Service?


A lot of talk lately on the idea of ‘building-up’ our US Military Forces. One of the first concerns in planning a larger military force is the number of personnel needed to accommodate the increase. That has been of particular interest in the conversations around the ‘coffee table’ lately. Interesting to note that our early settlers were all rather ‘self-motivated’ with the idea of protecting their families and friends, homesteads and towns with whatever means were available, so everyone basically ‘volunteered’. This was also the case in the buildup to and the ensuing battles of our ‘Revolutionary War’. Though enticements of land were offered, attempts by Washington and other early Presidents to register all men for service did not pass legislation.

So, realizing the importance of having ‘able bodied and armed men’ available to quell any type of threat to the Country at a moments notice, something had to be done. Enter the 1st forms of Military Draft.

In 1792 the second US Congress passed two “Militia Acts”. The ‘First Militia Act’, in May of 1792, provided for the creation of ‘State Militias’, and for the US President to take command of these militias whenever there was the possibility of ‘imminent invasion or insurrection’. The ‘Second Militia Act’ in May of 1792 actually provided for the ‘organizing’ of these State Militias. It required that all able bodied male citizens between the ages of 18 and 45, will purchase a musket, bayonet, belt, 2 spare flints, a cartridge box with 24 bullets and a knapsack and join their local ‘State Militia’. Those men owning rifles were just required to provide their own powder horn, ¼ pound of gunpowder, 20 rifle balls, a shooting pouch and a knapsack and join their local ‘State Militia’. Of course (even then) Congressmen exempted themselves, but also exempted stagecoach drivers and ferryboatmen!!! Each State was responsible for dividing their Militias into divisions, brigades, regiments battalions and companies.

During the War of 1812, Congress authorized President Monroe to call up 100,000 men from the “State Militias’. Not very successful and some states even refused.

Now enters the “Enrollment Act” also known as the “Civil War Military Draft Act” enacted during the Civil War in March of 1863 by the 37th US Congress. This act was to provide needed manpower for the Union Army and required the enrollment of every male citizen and those immigrants who filed for citizenship, between the ages of 20 and 45. This replaced the “Militia Act of 1862” also enacted by the 37th US Congress, that allowed African-Americans to participate as war laborers and soldiers in the Civil War. And in 1862 the Confederacy passes their conscription law requiring 3 years of service by all white men between the ages of 18 and 35. This didn’t work well and in 1865 started conscripting slaves.

During the Spanish-American War in 1898, Congress declared that ALL males between the ages of 18 and 45 are subject to military duty. Then during WWI in May of 1917, the ‘Selective Service Act’ is passed by Congress to register ALL men between the ages of 21 and 30 for service in WWI. This is followed in 1940 by the “Selective Training and Service Act” for ALL males between 21 and 35 to register for the draft and lottery, and as the war progressed the draft age was lowered to 18 and changed to the oldest going first.

Between 1973 and 1980 the Selective Service Act was inactive, and in late 1980 was re-activated.

Though the U.S. currently operates as an all ‘volunteer’ armed forces, all male US citizens and male immigrant non-citizens (that’s permanent residents, holders of green cards, refugees, asylees and illegal ailiens) between the ages of 18 and 25 are still required within 30 days of their 18th birthday to register and are liable for training and service until the age of 35.

So, there still exists in the “build-up” mode of our Armed Forces, a potential to use the ‘Draft-Selective Service System’, and also the potential now to retain many existing men and women who will have greater opportunity for advancement when re-enlisting, thus giving us more experienced personnel protecting our Country. GOD BLESS AMERICA !!!!!!!!


I offer neither pay, nor quarters, nor food; I offer only hunger, thirst, forced marches, battles, and death. Let him who loves his country with his heart, and not merely with his lips, follow me.” Giuseppi Garibaldi