SELECTIVE SERVICE REGISTRATION
Background of Selective Service
***Note: This is the history of the official Selective Service System located at www.SSS.gov. If you would like to learn more about our company and services, please visit our "About Us" page HERE.
The Selective Service System is an independent civilian agency within the Executive Branch of the federal government. The Director of Selective Service is appointed by the President.
Following the U.S. declaration of war against Germany on April 6, 1917, 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. President Woodrow Wilson signed the Act into law after the U.S. Army failed to meet its target of expanding to 1 million men after six weeks. The Act gave the President the power to conscript men for military service. All men aged 21 to 30 were required to register for military service for a service period of 12 months. As of mid-November 1917, all registrants were placed in one of five new classifications. Men in Class I were the first to be drafted, and men in lower classifications were deferred. Dependency deferments for registrants who were fathers or husbands were especially widespread. The age limit was later raised in August 1918 to a maximum age of 45. The military draft was discontinued in 1920.
The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 was passed by Congress on September 16, 1940, establishing the first peacetime conscription in United States history. It required all men between the ages of 18 to 64 to register with Selective Service. It originally conscripted all men aged 21 to 35 for a service period of 12 months. In 1941 the military service period was extended to 18 months; later that year the age bracket was increased to include men aged 18 to 37. Following the sneak Japanese air raid attack on Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941, and the subsequent declarations of war by the United States against the Empire of Japan and then a few days later against Nazi Germany, the service period was subsequently extended in early 1942 to last for the duration of the war plus a six-month service in the Organized Reserves.
The Selective Service System created by the 1940 Act was terminated by the Act of March 31, 1947. The Selective Service Act of 1948, enacted in June of that year, created a new and separate system, the basis for the modern system. All men 18 years and older had to register with Selective Service. All men 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 United States 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 chosen in 1948. In 1950, the number of conscripts was greatly increased to meet the demands of the Korean War (1950–1953).
The outbreak of the Korean War fostered the creation of the Universal Military Training and Service Act of 1951 (Selective Service Act of 1948). This lowered the draft age from 19 to 18 1⁄2, 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, which was extended as long as they were students. A Universal Military Training clause was inserted that would have made all men 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, however, such legislation was never passed.
35th President John F. Kennedy set up Executive Order 11119 (signed on September 10, 1963), granting an exemption from conscription for married men between the ages of 19 and 26. His Vice President and successor as 36th President Lyndon B. Johnson later rescinded the exemption for married men without children by Executive Order 11241 (signed on August 26, 1965 and going into effect on midnight of that date). However, married men with children or other dependents and men married before the Executive Order went into effect were still exempt. 40th President Ronald Reagan revoked both of them with Executive Order 12553 (signed on February 25, 1986).
The Military Selective Service Act of 1967 (Selective Service Act of 1948) 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, 37th President Richard Nixon signed an amendment to the Military Selective Service Act of 1967 (Selective Service Act of 1948) that established conscription based on random selection (lottery). The first draft lottery was held on December 1, 1969; it determined the order of call for induction during calendar year 1970, for registrants born between January 1, 1944, and December 31, 1950. The second lottery, on July 1, 1970, pertained to men born in 1951. The highest lottery number called for possible induction was 125. The third was on August 5, 1971, pertaining to men born in 1952; the highest lottery number called was 95.
In 1971, the Military Selective Service Act (Selective Service Act of 1948) was further amended to make registration compulsory; all men 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. Men who were not classifiable as eligible for service due to a disqualification were classified 1-N. Men who are incapable of serving for medical or psychological unfitness are classified 4-F. Draft classifications of 1-A were changed to 1-H (registrant not currently subject to processing for induction) for men not selected for service after the calendar year they were eligible for the draft. (Note: these, and many other, draft classifications were in place long before 1971: they did not simply come into being with the act of 1971, as this paragraph erroneously implies.) 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 the local community.
The seventh and final lottery drawing was held on March 12, 1975, pertaining to men born in 1956, who would have been called to report for induction in 1976. But no new draft orders were issued after 1972. 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, 38th President Gerald R. Ford, whose own son, Steven Ford, had earlier failed to register for the draft as required, signed Proclamation 4360 (Terminating Registration Procedures Under Military Selective Service Act), eliminating the registration requirement for all 18- to 25-year-old male citizens.
On July 2, 1980, 39th President Jimmy Carter signed Proclamation 4771 (Registration Under the Military Selective Service Act) in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the previous year of 1979, retroactively re-establishing the Selective Service registration requirement for all 18- to 26-year-old male citizens born on or after January 1, 1960. As a result, only men born between March 29, 1957, and December 31, 1959, were completely exempt from Selective Service registration.
The first registrations after Proclamation 4771 took place at various post offices across the nation on July 21, 1980, for men born in calendar year 1960. Pursuant to the Presidential proclamation, all those men born in 1960 were required to register that week. Men born in 1961 were required to register the following week. Men born in 1962 were required to register during the week beginning January 5, 1981. Men born in 1963 and after were required to register within 30 days after their 18th birthday.
In 2014, due to a clerical error at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, information about 14,250 men born in the years 1893–97 (in addition to 1993–97) was provided to the Selective Service System. Draft registration notices were then sent to the men.
A bill to abolish the Selective Service System was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on February 10, 2016. H.R. 4523 would (a) end draft registration and eliminate the authority of the President to order anyone to register for the draft, (b) abolish the Selective Service System, and (c) effectively repeal the "Solomon Amendments" making registration for the draft a condition of Federal student aid, jobs, and job training.
On April 27, 2016, the House Armed Services Committee voted to add an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 to extend the authority for draft registration to women. On May 12, 2016, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to add a similar provision to its version of the bill. If the bill including this provision had been enacted into law, it would have authorized (but not require) the President to order young women as well as young men to register with the Selective Service System. The House-Senate conference committee for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 removed the provision of the House version of the bill that would have authorized the President to order women as well as men to register with the Selective Service System, but added a new section to create a "National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service" (NCMNPS). This provision was enacted into law on 23 December 2016 as Subtitle F of Public Law 114-328.
SELECTIVE SERVICE HISTORY
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