In my testimony to the NCMNPS in April 2019, I told the Commissioners:
Any proposal that includes a compulsory element is a naïve fantasy unless it includes a credible enforcement plan and budget…. How much are you prepared to spend, and how much of a police state are you prepared to set up, to round up the millions of current draft registration law violators or enforce a draft?
The Commission’s recommendations with respect to Selective Service registration are just such a naïve fantasy, completely unfeasible and with no foundation in research or reality. The Commission kept its head firmly in the sand, carefully avoiding any inquiry into whether or how the current (unenforced and widely violated) registration requirement for men, much less an expanded registration requirement applicable also to women, could be enforced.
Whatever the NCMNPS recommends, the release of its report is unlikely to get much attention this week in the news or from Congress. But it will be one of the most significant events in decades in relation to military conscription, setting the stage for a Congressional debate about the future of the Selective Service System that can no longer be postponed indefinitely in light of ongoing court cases, and that is likely to occur sometime in the next year or so.
Today’s NPR story is the first mainstream news report on Rostker’s testimony, accuracy of the SSS database, or whether a draft based on the current system would be possible (regardless of whether it is regarded as desirable or who supports or opposes it on political or ideological grounds).
The Commission was created in 2016 to study and report to Congress and the President on whether registration with the Selective Service System for military conscription (“the draft”) should be ended, extended to young women as well as young men, extended to older women and men with skills in special demand by the military (in health care, computer science, STEM, foreign languages, etc.), or replaced with something else such as compulsory “national service” with both civilian and military options.
The Commission’s goal in its interim report released today is not really to “report” on what it has done, but to set the terms of debate (excluding options like, “Admit that draft registration has failed”), and test the political reaction to some of the proposals the Commission is considering.
For the most part, the report was as expected, including a complete absence of any mention of issues of compliance, enforcement, or feasibility of any compulsory service scheme.