May 31, 2024

Congress is weighing automatic registration for wartime draft

Source: Task and Purpose

Journalist: Patty Nieberg

Kate Kuzminski, deputy director of the Washington D.C. think tank, Center for New American Security’s program on Military, Veterans & Society said the measure could be simply bureaucratic as a way to make sure that the agency has up-to-date information.

“Another challenge is that the Selective Service relies on physical addresses,” Kuzminski said. “How many kids between the ages of 18 and 26 change addresses multiple times and perhaps never think to update that with selective service?”

The measure comes amid a resurgence of mandatory military service being considered and reinstated by other European nations as the war in Ukraine drags on and NATO assesses threats posed by Russia. Latvia, which borders Russia, reinstated the draft this year and Denmark plans to broaden the draft to include women, and extend the length of service. Last week, the UK’s governing Conservative Party vowed to mandate all 18-year-olds in Britain do a year of mandatory military or civilian national service if the party wins its July 4 national election.

But not all are in agreement. Hungary’s foreign minister called the “crazy proposals” to reinstate the draft across Europe “unacceptable.”

Kuzminski said policy conversations about military drafts haven’t been this widespread since World War II but that “in the face of a truly existential threat” like Ukraine with Russia or Taiwan with China, more countries are thinking about it.

“But we are not having that conversation in the United States because there’s no constituency in Congress. Who’s gonna argue pro-draft, right? This is a break glass in case of emergency situation,” she said. “No one wants to be pro-draft.”

Even though someone is registered for the Selective Service, it does not automatically mean they will be inducted into the military should a draft be implemented. In the event that Congress and the President call upon the agency to use its registry for a draft, men would be called “in a sequence determined by random lottery number and year of birth.” They would then undergo mental and physical fitness tests before being deferred, exempted from military service or inducted into the U.S. armed forces, according to the Selective Service website.

Read the full story and more from Task & Purpose.


  • Katherine L. Kuzminski

    Deputy Director of Studies, Director, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

    Katherine L. Kuzminski (formerly Kidder) is the Deputy Director of Studies, and the Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society (MVS) Program at CNAS. Her research special...