The Full Wiki

Selective Service System: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Selective Service System

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Selective Service System
Agency overview
Formed May 18, 1917
September 16, 1940
Headquarters Arlington County, Virginia, United States
Employees (2008): 136 full-time civilians, 57 part-time civilian directors, 200 part-time reserve force officers (in peacetime), up to 10,830 part-time volunteers[1]
Annual budget $22 million (FY 2009)[1]
Agency executive Lawrence G. Romo, Director (as of December 2009)[1]

The Selective Service System is a means by which the United States maintains information on those potentially subject to military conscription. All males between the ages of 18 to 25 are required by law to register within 30 days of their 18th birthday.[2] As of the end of 2008, the names and addresses of over 14 million men are on file.[1][3]

Registration for Selective Service is also required for various federal programs and benefits, including student loans, job training, federal employment, and naturalization.[4]

The Selective Service System provides the names of all registrants to JAMRS for inclusion in the JAMRS Consolidated Recruitment Database. The names are distributed to the Services for recruiting purposes on a quarterly basis.[5]



The Selective Service Act of 1917 (40 Stat. 76) was passed by the 65th United States Congress on May 18, 1917 creating the Selective Service System.[6] The Act gave the President the power to draft men for military service. All males aged 21 to 30 were required to register for military service for a service period of 12 months; the age limit was later raised in August 1918 to a maximum age of 45. The draft was discontinued in 1920.

The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 was passed by the 76th United States Congress on September 16, 1940, establishing the first peacetime conscription in United States history.[7] It required all males between the ages of 18 to 65 to register for Selective Service. It originally conscripted all males aged 21 to 36 for a service period of 12 months, but was later increased to males aged 18 to 45 for a military service period of 18 months. Upon declaration of war, the service period was extended to last the duration of the war plus a six-month service in the Organized Reserves. The draft was ended in 1946 and the original Act was allowed to expire in 1947.

The number of volunteers in the post-war period was not enough, however, and the Selective Service Act of 1948 was passed to reintroduce conscription. All males 18 years and older had to register for Selective Service. All males between the ages of 19 to 26 were eligible to be drafted for a service requirement of 21 months. This was followed by a commitment for either 12 consecutive months of active service or 36 consecutive months of service in the reserves, with a statutory term of military service set at a minimum of five years total. Conscripts could volunteer for military service in the Regular Army for a term of four years or the Organized Reserves for a term of six years. Due to deep postwar budget cuts, only 100,000 conscripts were raised in 1948. In 1950, the number of conscripts was greatly expanded to meet the demands of the Korean War.

The outbreak of the Korean War forced the creation of the Universal Military Training and Service Act of 1951. This lowered the draft age from 19 to 18½, increased active-duty service time from 21 to 24 months, and set the statutory term of military service at a minimum of eight years. Students attending a college or training program full time could request an exemption. A Universal Military Training clause was inserted that would have made all males obligated to perform 12 months of military service and training if the Act was amended by later legislation. Despite successive attempts over the next several years, such legislation was never passed.

President Kennedy set up an Executive Order in 1963 granting an exemption from conscription for married men. President Johnson later rescinded this exemption by another Executive Order in 1965.

The Military Selective Service Act of 1967 expanded the ages of conscription to the ages of 18 to 35. It still granted student deferments, but ended them upon either the student's completion of a four-year degree or his 24th birthday, whichever came first.

On November 26, 1969 President Nixon signed an amendment to the Military Selective Service Act of 1967 that established conscription based on random selection (lottery). The first "draft lottery" was held on December 1, 1969.

In 1971, the Military Selective Service Act of 1967 was further amended to make registration compulsory; all males had to register within a period 30 days before and 29 days after their 18th birthday. Registrants were classified 1-A (eligible for military service), 1-AO (Conscientious Objector available for non-combatant military service), and 1-O (Conscientious Objector available for alternate community service). Student deferments were ended, except for Divinity students, who received a 2-D Selective Service classification. Also, draft board membership requirements were reformed: minimum age of board members was dropped from 30 to 18, members over 65 or who had served on the board for 20 or more years had to retire, and membership had to proportionally reflect the ethnic and cultural makeup of their communities.

On January 27, 1973, Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird announced the creation of an all-volunteer armed forces, negating the need for the military draft.

On March 29, 1975, President Ford signed Proclamation 4360, Terminating Registration Procedures Under Military Selective Service Act, eliminating the registration requirement for all 18–25 year old male citizens.[8] Following, on July 2, 1980, President Carter signed Proclamation 4771, Registration Under the Military Selective Service Act, retroactively re-establishing the Selective Service registration requirement for all 18–26 year old male citizens born on or after January 1, 1960.[9] Only men born between March 29, 1957, and December 31, 1959, were completely exempt from Selective Service registration.[10] The first registrations after Proclamation 4771 took place on Monday, July 21, 1980, for those men born in January, February and March 1960 at U.S. Post Offices. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays were reserved for men born in the later quarters of the year, and registration for men born in 1961 began the following week.[11]

Who must register

Under current law, all male U.S. citizens are required to register with Selective Service within 30 days of their 18th birthday. In addition, foreign males between the ages of 18 and 26 living in the United States must register. This includes permanent residents (holders of Green Cards), refugees, asylees, dual citizens, and undocumented/illegal aliens.[2] Foreign males in the United States as lawful non-immigrants (international students, visitors, diplomats, etc.) are not required to register.[2] Failure to register as required is grounds for denying a petition for US citizenship.

In the current registration system a man cannot indicate that he is a conscientious objector (CO) to war when registering, but he can make such a claim when being drafted. Some men choose to write on the registration card "I am a conscientious objector to war" to document their conviction, even though the government will not have such a classification until there is a draft.[12] Several religious, nonsectarian, and secular organizations allow conscientious objectors to file a written record stating their beliefs.[13][14][15][16][17]

In 1987, Congress ordered the Selective Service System to put in place a system capable of drafting "persons qualified for practice or employment in a health care occupation", if such a special-skills draft should be ordered by Congress. In response, Selective Service published plans for the "Health Care Personnel Delivery System" (HCPDS) in 1989 and has had them ready ever since. The concept underwent a preliminary field exercise in Fiscal Year 1998, followed by a more extensive nationwide readiness exercise in Fiscal Year 1999.[18] The HCPDS plans include women and men age 20–54 in 57 job categories.[19]

Men who were female at birth and have changed sex are not required to register.[20] There is no consistent policy as to whether registration is allowed when not required. Failure to register can cause problems such as denial of Pell Grants, even when registration is not allowed.[21]

Failure to register

In 1980, men who knew they were required to register and did not do so could face up to five years in jail or a fine up to $50,000 if convicted. The potential fine was later increased to $250,000. Despite these possible penalties, government records indicate that from 1980 through 1986 there were only 20 indictments, of which 19 were instigated in part by self-publicized and self-reported non-registration.[22] As one of the elements of the offense, the government must prove that a violation of the Military Selective Service Act was knowing and willful. This is almost impossible unless the prospective defendant has publicly stated that he knew he was required to register or report for induction, or unless he has been visited by the FBI, personally served with notice to register or report for induction, and given another chance to comply. The last prosecution for non-registration was in January 1986, after which many believed the government declined to continue enforcing that law when it became apparent that the trials were themselves causing a decline in registration. Unlike the situation at the time when the draft was in effect, routine checks for identification virtually never include a request for draft card.

As an alternative method of encouraging registration, federal legislators passed laws requiring that to receive financial aid, federal grants and loans, certain government benefits, eligibility for most federal employment, and (if the person is an immigrant) eligibility for citizenship, a young man had to be registered (or had to have been registered, if they are over 26 but were required to register between 18 and 26) with Selective Service. Those who were required to register, but failed to do so before they turn 26, are no longer allowed to register, and thus may be permanently barred from federal jobs and other benefits, unless they can show to the Selective Service that their failure was not knowing and willful.[4]

Most states, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and Virgin Islands, have passed laws requiring registration in order for men 18–25 to be eligible for programs that vary on a per-jurisdiction basis but typically include driver's licenses, state-funded higher education benefits, and state government jobs.[23] Alaska also requires registration in order to receive an Alaska Permanent Fund dividend.[23] Eight states (Connecticut, Indiana, Nebraska, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming) have no such requirements, though Indiana does give men 18–25 the option of registering with Selective Service when obtaining a drivers license or an identification card.[23]

There are some third-party organized efforts to compensate financial aid for those students losing benefits, including the Fund for Education and Training (FEAT) and Student Aid Fund for Non-registrants.[24][25]

Alien Registrant Status

Some registrants are not American citizens; they fall instead into one of the following categories:

  • Alien: A person who is not a citizen of the United States. They are defined in four classes.
    • A registrant who has resided in the United States for less than one year. When two or more periods of U.S. residency are involved which total one year or more, the registrant will be deemed to have resided in the United States for one year and will be ineligible for Class 4-C. In computing the length of such periods, any portion of one day shall be counted as a day. He will be eligible for this class only until he has resided in the United States for one year. To support this claim he must submit his Immigration and Naturalization Service Form 1-151 (Alien Registration Receipt Card), showing his date of entry into the United States. If he has resided in the United States for two or more periods, he must furnish documentation for each period of residence. A registrant who receives this classification will be exempt from military training and service during his first year's residence in this country, but will become liable for servicthe people following his one year residence.
    • A registrant who left the United States before his Order to Report for Induction was issued and whose order has not been canceled. He may be classified in Class 4-C only for the period he resides outside of the United States. Upon his return to the United States, he must report the date of return and his current address to the Selective Service Area Office.
    • A registrant who registered at a time required by Selective Service law and thereafter acquired status within one of its groups of persons exempt from registration. He will be eligible for this class only during the period of his exempt status. To support this claim, the registrant must submit documentation from the diplomatic agency of the country of which he is a subject verifying his exempt status.
    • A registrant, lawfully admitted for permanent residence, as defined in Paragraph (2) of Section 101(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended (66 Stat. 163, 8 U.S.C. 1101) who, by reason of their occupational status, is subject to adjustment to nonimmigrant status under paragraph (15)(A), (15)(E), or (15)(G) or section 101(a). In this case, the person must also have executed a waiver of all rights, privileges, exemptions, and immunities which would otherwise accrue to him as a result of his occupational status. To support this claim, the registrant must submit documentation from the diplomatic agency of the country of which he is a subject verifying his occupational status.
  • Dual National: The person is a citizen of both the United States and another country at the same time. The country must be one that allows its citizens Dual-Citizenship and the registrant must be able to obtain and produce the proper papers to affirm this status.
  • Treaty Alien: Due to a treaty or international arrangement with the alien's country of origin, the registrant can choose to be ineligible for military training and service in the armed forces of the United States. However, once this exemption is taken, they can never apply for US citizenship.

Legal issues

Although the Selective Service System is authorized by the Selective Service Act, the Constitutionality has been disputed over the years.

The act has been challenged in light of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution of the U.S. Constitution which prohibits "involuntary servitude."[26]

This, however, has not been supported by the courts; as the Supreme Court stated in Butler v. Perry (1916):

The amendment was adopted with reference to conditions existing since the foundation of our government, and the term 'involuntary servitude' was intended to cover those forms of compulsory labor akin to African slavery which, in practical operation, would tend to produce like undesirable results. It introduced no novel doctrine with respect of services always treated as exceptional, and certainly was not intended to interdict enforcement of those duties which individuals owe to the state, such as services in the army, militia, on the jury, etc.[27]

During the First World War, the Supreme Court ruled in Arver v. United States (1918) that draft did not violate the United States Constitution.[28]

Later, during the Vietnam War, a lower appellate court also concluded that the draft was Constitutional in United States v. Holmes (1968).[29]

Exemption of women

Currently, the law exempts women from registration.[30] The issue of women being exempted was addressed and approved in 1981 by the United States Supreme Court in Rostker v. Goldberg, with the Court holding "The existence of the combat restrictions clearly indicates the basis for Congress' decision to exempt women from registration. The purpose of registration was to prepare for a draft of combat troops. Since women are excluded from combat, Congress concluded that they would not be needed in the event of a draft, and therefore decided not to register them."[31]

At the request of President Bill Clinton, the Department of Defense reviewed the issue, but concluded that the exclusion remains justifiable in light of past draft results.[30]

Structure and operation

The Selective Service System is an independent federal agency within the Executive Branch of the Federal government of the United States.

The Director of the Selective Service System reports directly to the President of the United States of America.[32]

During peacetime (current structure), the agency comprises a National Headquarters, three Regional Headquarters and a Data Management Center.[33] During a mobilization (draft), the agency would greatly expand by activating an additional 56 State Headquarters, 400+ Area Offices as well as 40+ Alternative Service Offices.[34]

Mobilization (draft) procedures

  1. Congress and the President authorize a draft: The president claims a crisis has occurred which requires more troops than the volunteer military can supply. Congress passes and the President signs legislation which revises the Military Selective Service Act to initiate a draft for military manpower.
  2. The Lottery: A lottery based on birthdays determines the order in which registered men are called up by Selective Service. The first to be called, in a sequence determined by the lottery, will be men whose 20th birthday falls during the calendar year the induction takes place, followed, if needed, by those aged 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 19 and 18 year olds (in that order).
  3. All parts of the Selective Service System are activated: The Agency activates and orders its State Directors and Reserve Force Officers to report for duty.
  4. Physical, mental and moral evaluation of registrants: Registrants with low lottery numbers receive examination orders and are ordered to report for a physical, mental, and moral evaluation at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) to determine whether they are fit for military service. Once he is notified of the results of the evaluation, a registrant will be given 10 days to file a claim for exemption, postponement, or deferment.
  5. Local and appeal boards activated and induction notices sent: Local and Appeal Boards will begin processing registrant claims/appeals. Those who passed the military evaluation will receive induction orders. An inductee will have 10 days to report to a local Military Entrance Processing Station for induction.
  6. First draftees are inducted: According to current plans, Selective Service must deliver the first inductees to the military within 193 days from the onset of a crisis.[35]

Lottery procedures

If the agency were to mobilize and conduct a draft, a lottery would be held in full view of the public. This would be covered by the media. First, all days of the year are placed into a capsule at random. Second, the numbers 1–365 (1–366 for lotteries held with respect to a leap year) are placed into a second capsule. These two capsules are certified for procedure, sealed in a drum, and stored.

In the event of a draft, the drums are taken out of storage and inspected to make sure they have not been tampered with. The lottery then takes place, and each date is paired with a number at random. For example, if January 16 is picked from the "date" capsule and the number 59 picked from the "number" capsule, all men of age 20 born on January 16 will be the 59th group to receive induction notices. This process continues until all dates are matched with a number.

Should all dates be used, the Selective Service will then conscript men at the age of 21, then 22, 23, 24, and 25. Men ages 18 and 19 are not likely to be inducted to the system. Once all dates are paired, the dates will be sent to Selective Service System's Data Management Center.[36]


If a draft were held, local boards would classify registrants to determine whether they were exempt from military service. According to US Code of Federal Regulations Title 32, Chapter XVI, Sec. 1630.2[37], men would be sorted into the following categories:

Class Categories (1948–1976)
1-A Available for unrestricted military service.
1-A-O Conscientious objector available for noncombatant military service only.
1-C Member of the Armed Forces of the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or the Public Health Service. (Enl.) Enlisted. Member who volunteered for service, (Ind.) Inducted. Member who was conscripted into service, (Dis.) Discharged. Member released after completing service. (Sep.) Separated. Member released before completing service.
1-D Members of a reserve component (Reserves or National Guard), students taking military training (ROTC), or accepted Aviation Cadet applicants (1917–1961).
1-D-D Deferment for certain members of a reserve component or student taking military training.
1-D-E Exemption of certain members of a reserve component or student taking military training.
1-H Registrant Not Subject to Processing for Induction. Registrant is not subject to processing for induction until a draft is enacted. All current registrants are classified 1-H until they reach the age of exemption. They then receive the classification of 5-A.
1-O Conscientious objector to all military service. A registrant must establish to the satisfaction of the board that his request for exemption from combatant and noncombatant military training and service in the Armed Forces is based upon moral, ethical or religious beliefs which play a significant role in his life and that his objection to participation in war is not confined to a particular war.
1-O-S Conscientious objector to all military service (separated). A registrant separated from the Armed Forces due to objection to participation in both combatant and noncombatant training and service in the Armed Forces. The registrant is still required to serve in alternative service.[38]
1-S(H) Student deferred by statute (High School). Induction can be deferred either until graduation or until reaching the age of 20.
1-S(C) Student deferred by statute (College). Induction can be deferred either to the end of the student's current semester if an undergraduate or until the end of the academic year if a Senior.
1-W Conscientious objector ordered to perform alternative service.
1-Y Registrant available for military service, but qualified only in case of war or national emergency. Usually given to registrants with medical conditions that were limiting but not disabling (examples: high blood pressure, mild muscular or skeletal injuries or disorders, skin disorders, severe allergies, etc.). Class was discontinued in December, 1971 and its members were reclassified as 4-F.
2-A Registrant deferred because of civilian occupation (non-agricultural).
2-B Registrant deferred because of occupation in a war industry: (Defense contractor or reserved occupation).
2-C Registrant deferred because of agricultural occupation.
2-D Registrant deferred because of study preparing for the ministry. Deferment lasted either until graduation or until the registrant reached the age of 24. Exemption was created in December, 1971. Previously considered part of Class 4-D.
2-S Registrant deferred because of collegiate study. Deferment lasted either until graduation or until the registrant reached the age of 24. Exemption was discontinued in December, 1971.
3-A Registrant deferred because of hardship to dependents.
3-A-S Registrant deferred because of hardship to dependents (Separated). Current serving member or registrant undergoing induction separated from military service due to a change in family status. The registrant's deferment can last no longer than six months, after which they may re-file if the hardship continues to exist.
4-A Registrant who has completed military service.
4-A-A Registrant who has performed military service for a foreign nation.
4-B Official deferred by law.
4-C Alien or dual national.
4-D Minister of religion.
4-E Conscientious objector opposed to both combatant and noncombatant training and service. Alternative service in lieu of induction may still be required.
4-F Registrant not acceptable for military service. To be eligible for Class 4-F, a registrant must have been found not qualified for service in the Armed Forces by a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) under the established physical, mental, or moral standards. The standards of physical fitness that would be used in a future draft would come from AR 40-501.[39]
4-G Registrant exempted from service because of the death of a parent or sibling while serving in the Armed Forces or whose parent or sibling has Prisoner of War or Missing In Action status.
4-T Treaty alien.
4-W Registrant or conscientious objector who has completed alternative service in lieu of induction.
5-A Registrant who is over the age of liability (26) or if previously deferred (35)


Director[40] Tenure Appointed by
1. Clarence Addison Dykstra 1940-10-15 – 1941-04-01 Franklin D. Roosevelt
2. Lewis Blaine Hershey 1941-07-31 – 1970-02-15 Franklin D. Roosevelt
Dee Ingold 1970-02-15 – 1970-04-06 (Acting)
3. Dr. Curtis W. Tarr 1970-04-06 – 1972-05-01 Richard Nixon
Byron V. Pepitone 1972-05-01 – 1973-04-01 (Acting)
4. Byron V. Pepitone 1973-04-02 – 1977-07-31 Richard Nixon
Robert E. Shuck 1977-08-01 – 1979-11-25 (Acting)
5. Bernard D. Rostker 1979-11-26 – 1981-07-31 Jimmy Carter
Dr. James G. Bond 1981-08-01 – 1981-10-30 (Acting)
6. Thomas K. Turnage 1981-10-30 – 1986-03-23 Ronald Reagan
Wilfred L. Ebel 1986-03-24 – 1987-07-08 (Acting)
Jerry D. Jennings 1987-07-09 – 1987-12-17 (Acting)
7. Samuel K. Lessey Jr. 1987-12-18 – 1991-03-07 Ronald Reagan
8. Robert W. Gambino 1991-03-08 – 1994-01-31 George H. W. Bush
G. Huntington Banister 1994-02-01 – 1994-10-06 (Acting)
9. Gil Coronado 1994-10-07 – 2001-05-23 Bill Clinton
10. Alfred V. Rascon 2001-05-24 – 2003-01-02 George W. Bush
Lewis C. Brodsky 2003-01-03 – 2004-04-28 (Acting)
Jack Martin 2004-04-29 – 2004-11-28 (Acting)
11. William A. Chatfield 2004-11-29 – 2009-05-29 George W. Bush
Ernest E. Garcia 2009-05-29 – 2009-12-04 (Acting)
12. Lawrence Romo 2009-12-04 – present Barack Obama

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Quick Facts and Figures from the Selective Service System website
  2. ^ a b c [1] When to register.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Benefits and Programs Linked to Registration, from the Selective Service System website
  6. ^
  7. ^ Holbrook, Heber A. The Crisis Years: 1940 and 1941, The Pacific Ship and Shore Historical Review, 4 July 2001. p. 2.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Military Selective Service Act". 
  11. ^ Facts on File 1980 Yearbook p.493
  12. ^ Brethren Witness, Peace and Justice, "Conscientious Objection". 
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "". 
  19. ^ "Health Care Personnel Delivery System regulations" (PDF). 
  20. ^ How does the Military Selective Service Act apply to individuals who have had a sex change? "Selective Service". 
  21. ^ HUDSON'S FTM resource guide. "HUDSONS GUIDE". 
  22. ^ "Prosecutions of Draft Registration Resisters". 
  23. ^ a b c State/Commonwealth Information from the Selective Service System website
  24. ^ "Fund for Education and Training". 
  25. ^ "Student Aid Fund for Nonregistrants". 
  26. ^
  27. ^ Butler v. Perry 240 U.S. 328
  28. ^ Arver v. United States, 245 U.S. 366 (1918)
  29. ^ Holmes v. United States, 391 U.S. 936 (1968)
  30. ^ a b "Women Aren't Required to Register". 
  31. ^ "Rostker v. Goldberg, 453 U.S. 57 (1981)". 
  32. ^ "Selective Service System: Director's Biography". Retrieved 2007-04-12. 
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^ Past Directors Of The Selective Service System

External links



Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address