Note: This node pertains to the practices that would be put into place in the good ol' US of A. Other countries probably have something of their own or something vaguely similar should situations warrant. On with the show.
Given the current state of the world affairs, there’s been a lot of talk in the news lately about the re-institution of the draft. On one side of the coin, you’ve got Republicans who claim that they have no intention of doing so and on the other you have the Democrats saying that there already is such a thing as a “back door draft” and that a full blown draft is a real possibility if the current Administration has its way.
I won’t pretend to say I’m smart enough to say who’s right and who’s wrong when it comes to arguing this touchy subject. There are plenty of well paid so-called pundits on both sides of the fence that can take care of that. I’ll try and stay focused on the details.
As many of you know, these days in America, the active duty military is made up of all volunteers. Should events in the world take a turn for the worse, the President is authorized to activate troops in the reserve corps and even mobilize the National Guard to help supplement our fighting forces. So far, no problem. All of these folks have volunteered of their own free will and have cashed paychecks from Uncle Sam for performing their duties. (I won’t go into who gets paid what, another subject for another time.)
Now, let's suppose that things get way out of hand and the current forces on duty are either not sufficient in number to handle the job or that vital interests at home or abroad are threatened to such an extent that our national security is put in danger. It’s at this point that the President and Congress would have to consider re-instituting the draft.
The first order of business would be for Congress to pass the appropriate legislation. After that dogfight, if it passed, the President would then have to sign said legislation into law. After that, the wheels are set in motion.
After all of the bells and whistles sounded, those fine folks at the Selective Service System would promptly switch gears from just registering folks for the draft to actually drafting them.
The first thing on their agenda would be to come up with an impartial national draft lottery starting with eligible men (sorry ladies!) who would attain the ripe old age of 20 in the year the draft was being conducted. The actual impartiality of the draft, while always questioned, especially by those whose tickets are about to be punched, is determined by something called the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Here’s the nuts and bolts of what happens.
Step one, a computer
spits out every date in the current year in some kind of random order and the dates are placed in small capsules.
Step two, the same computer then randomly spits out the numbers 1-365 (or 366 if it’s a leap year
) and those too are placed in small capsules.
Let The Games Begin
Ever seen anybody play bingo? Well, if you have then you might have an idea of what’s coming next. The capsules with the dates are put into one drum and the capsules with the numbers are placed into another. Assorted government officials, newspaper reporters and camera crews are on hand to make sure no hanky panky takes place.
Yes Folks, We Have A Winner!
Or loser, depending on one's point of view.
A government official will then pull a capsule from the drum containing the dates. Next, he or she will pull a capsule from the drum containing the numbers.
And The Number Is?
Okay, for argument's sake, let’s say your birthday is April 6, 1985 and that was the first date that was pulled out of drum number one. If you have an instinct to gamble, you’re probably in pretty good shape. You only have a 1 in 365 (or 366 if it’s a leap year) odds that the number pulled out of drum number two will be the number 1. (If it is, get your bags packed because you’ll be hearing from those friendly folks at the induction center real soon because you’ll be in the first group called.).
Anyway, the process is completed until all of the dates have been assigned numbers.
If there aren't enough bodies to fill the coffins
or do the jobs required the process is repeated and a separate lottery is held for those turning 21.
Still Not Enough?
Repeat in sequence until age 25.
How Much Is Enough?
After all of those eligible for the draft between the ages of 20 through 25 have been assigned numbers and the powers that be determine that it’s still not enough, the process works backwards. Next in line would be the 19 year olds and if there aren’t enough of them, last in line would be the 18 year olds.
The Check Is In The Mail
If you come home one fine sunny day and find a letter in your mailbox postmarked from a place called Palantine, Illinois, you have become part of the process. That’s where the sequence of all those numbers that were drawn was sent to and they are the ones formally notifying you that your ass has been drafted.
The letter will also direct you to report your “regional military entrance processing station” where you undergo a variety of tests and assorted poking and probing to determine whether you’re fit to serve Uncle Sam. You have ten days from the date you were notified to file an exemption, postponement or deferment based upon your individual beliefs and circumstances such as marriage, kids, college, etc.
I think I can speak for all parties concerned when I say that hopefully, the day shall never pass when this become necessary.