Landmark Draft Policy Change Proposed

Landmark Draft Policy Change Proposed

( – The US Military Commission has just proposed the biggest change to the draft in its 103-year history. There’s been growing pressure for years to reform or abolish the draft, which hasn’t been actively used since 1975. The Commission has rejected the idea of abolition – instead, they want to double the pool of potential draftees.


The US hasn’t used the military draft since 1975 when the Pentagon moved to an all-volunteer force during the post-Vietnam reforms. The system has been kept in case we need it again – but in recent years it’s been challenged on constitutional grounds.

  • The draft was established by the Selective Service Act in 1917 to expand the US Army during WWI. It was dissolved then the Burke-Wadsworth Act reinstated the draft during peacetime. This was used for WWII and then kept operating until conscription was suspended in 1975.
  • Since then, apart from a brief pause between 1975 and 1980, all male US citizens have had to register for the draft within a month of their 18th birthday.
  • Since the Selective Service System was restarted by President Carter there have been several constitutional challenges to it, mostly because of the male-only requirement. The first came in 1981; the Supreme Court ruled that a male-only draft was constitutional because its purpose was to provide combat troops, and at the time women were barred from combat roles in the US military.
  • Since 2015, all combat roles have been open to women, so the 1981 defense is no longer valid. The National Commission on Military, National and Public Service opened a review last year to decide whether to keep the draft and in what form.
  • Now the Commission has issued a report on its conclusions. They recommend that the Selective Service system should stay, but be opened to all Americans – not just men.
  • According to the Commission, “Roughly doubling the pool from which the Nation might obtain conscripts would improve military readiness by raising the quality of those who might serve.” They say that extending draft eligibility is “a necessary and fair step.”
  • The Commission also wants to see an expansion of public service, with enhanced civic education and a range of service options – including non-military ones – available to all adults. They believe that making service “a rite of passage” for young adults will improve society and enhance the common good.
  • So far this is only a recommendation, but with a federal appeals court considering a ruling that a male-only draft is unconstitutional, there’s increasing pressure for change.

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