Weaknesses in the Selective Service System's Emergency Registration Plan

FPCD-79-89: Published: Aug 29, 1979. Publicly Released: Aug 29, 1979.

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The Selected Service System has been developing an emergency plan to meet the Department of Defense's (DOD) manpower requirements without the use of continuous registration of America's youth. In recent testimony the Selected Service System stated that if it were provided the $9.8 million budget requested, it could meet DOD requirements without returning to peacetime registration.

The Selective Service System would use the State election machinery in combination with a system of highly automated data processing equipment to conduct a mass 1-day registration. The Selective Service must also take numerous other actions before and after mobilization day to meet DOD requirements. These include prepositioning supplies and equipment, recruiting and training local and appeal board members, identifying sites for registration, and arranging the delivery of induction notices. It is questionable whether the procedures being developed for the emergency registration plan can be fully implemented. Formal arrangements have not been made with States for using their election machinery, nor have States been formally asked if they could begin registration in M plus 10 days; the data processing equipment tested was not representative of the equipment necessary to handle the workload in an actual situation; and logistical arrangements for distributing prepositioned supplies and equipment have not been developed. Another overriding issue centers around the concept of equity. Should any one of the planned procedures fail, serious legal questions could arise concerning fair and equitable treatment of those involved. In view of all the uncertainty, the lack of complete staff work, the assumptions that everything will work as conceived, and that all barriers are are surmountable, reinstating some form of national registration will best meet DOD manpower requirements and carries with it the least amount of risk for the nation in the event of war or national emergency.

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