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Is The Military Draft Coming Back 2024

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You may be asking, is the military draft coming back? Remember when everyone worried about getting drafted during Vietnam? Those days might feel distant, but the question lingers—will the draft come back?

The idea isn’t just for history buffs or conspiracy theorists. It’s a genuine concern in today’s unpredictable world. Wars aren’t what they used to be; neither is our military readiness.

If you’re like me, you’re wondering how this could affect your life—or those of young men born after 2000 who never gave it much thought. Let’s break down what would happen for Uncle Sam to send induction notices again.

Table of Contents:

The History of the Military Draft in the United States

The military draft has been a part of American history since the Civil War. It’s a controversial topic that’s led to protests, policy changes, and a major shift in how our armed forces are staffed. Let’s take a closer look at the origins and evolution of the draft in the U.S., from the Civil War to the Vietnam War and beyond.

Early Beginnings and the Civil War Draft

The first military draft in the United States occurred during the Civil War in the 1860s. Both the Union and Confederate armies relied on conscription to fill their ranks, setting a big precedent. It was the first time the federal government asserted the power to compel citizens into military service, and it definitely wouldn’t be the last.

The Vietnam War Draft and Its Impact

Fast forward about a century to the Vietnam War. This is where the draft really left its mark on American culture and politics. During Vietnam, thousands of young men were drafted into service. Many didn’t want to go. Protests erupted. Burning draft cards became a symbol of defiance.

The Vietnam draft lottery was particularly controversial. It randomly decided who would be called up based on birthdays. This left many feeling that the system was arbitrary and unfair.

Opposition to the Vietnam War and the draft was a defining issue of the 1960s and 70s. It sparked a massive cultural shift. Trust in the government declined. The anti-war movement swelled. Conscientious objectors sought to avoid service on moral grounds.

Transition to an All-Volunteer Force

After Vietnam, the draft was on thin ice. The public had turned mainly against it. So, in 1973, the U.S. shifted to an all-volunteer military. The draft ended, but Selective Service registration continued. Men still register today, but only in case of a national emergency that requires rapid expansion of our armed forces.

The shift to an all-volunteer force was a big deal. It changed the makeup and culture of the military. Some say it made the armed forces more professional and committed. Others argue it puts the burden of service on the economically disadvantaged.

Regardless, the end of conscription was a major turning point. It’s shaped the character of our military for the past 50 years. However, the Selective Service System remains in place just in case the draft needs to make a comeback.

How Selective Service Works Today

So, the draft is history, but Selective Service is still around. What exactly is it? And how does it work today? In simple terms, Selective Service is the system that registers men and maintains information on those potentially subject to military conscription. That’s a fancy way of saying it keeps track of who could be drafted if needed.

Registration Requirements for Young Men

By law, virtually all male U.S. citizens and immigrants aged 18-25 must register with the Selective Service System. That includes everyone from high school students to college kids to young working professionals. Registering is easy. You can do it online in just a few minutes. But a lot of guys don’t even realize they have to. Maybe they miss the fine print when getting a driver’s license or applying for student loans.

The Selective Service keeps names and addresses on file. Theoretically, this allows the government to quickly locate potential draftees and call them into service in an emergency.

Consequences of Failing to Register

Not registering with Selective Service is technically a crime. Practically, very few young men are prosecuted. But other consequences can catch guys by surprise.

In many states, Selective Service registration is required for things like getting a driver’s license, applying to college, or qualifying for federal jobs or job training. Not being registered can be a roadblock.

Not registering is a felony punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 or 5 years in prison. Those penalties are rarely imposed, but it’s still a big risk to take.

The bottom line? Even though the draft isn’t active, Selective Service registration is still necessary for young men. It’s just a part of growing up and entering adulthood in the U.S..

The Draft Lottery System Explained

Okay, so we have this system where almost all young men have to register with Selective Service. But what happens if the draft comes back? How would people get called up? The answer is the draft lottery. It’s a system that’s been around since the Vietnam War, and it would likely be used again if the draft were ever reinstated.

How Birth Dates Determine Draft Order

In a draft lottery, each day of the year is randomly assigned a number from 1 to 365 (or 366 for leap years). This is done through a literal lottery drawing, usually involving picking numbers out of a big glass jar.

The order in which the dates are drawn determines the order in which registered men are called up for service. So if January 1st is picked first, all the guys born on January 1st are at the top of the list. If December 31st is picked last, those poor New Year’s Eve babies are at the bottom.

Once the order is set, the military would start at the top and work its way down. Based on the lottery results, they’d call up as many men as needed to meet their manpower requirements.

Historically, the lottery has been a controversial system. It feels pretty random to have your fate decided by the luck of the draw. During Vietnam, many people saw it as unfair and even rigged against certain groups.

But the idea is that a lottery is impartial. It doesn’t discriminate based on race, class, or other factors. Everyone has an equal chance of being called up based on the random order of their birthday.

Of course, all of this is hypothetical unless the draft is reinstated. However, the lottery system is the most likely way it would go down. So, if you’re a young man, your birthday could one day be significant.