“Obvious Inequities:  Lessons Learned from Vietnam War Conscientious Objection”



Jean A. Mansavage, Ph.D. (Texas A&M University, 2000)

Deputy Director, Archival Research Directorate

Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office



20421 Swan Creek Court

Potomac Falls, VA 20165

703 430 9855


This paper seeks to fuse previous research from my doctoral dissertation that examines Vietnam-era conscientious objectors (COs) with my recent investigation into how both the Selective Service System and CO advocacy groups are currently preparing for a potential return to conscription.  First, I provide a brief overview of major trends in conscientious objection in America before the Vietnam War.  By examining the history of the rights of conscience in America, focusing on the changes that occurred in draft law during the 20th century, we can clearly see a broadening of CO provisions over time.  I then concentrate on the changes in CO legal precedents during the Vietnam era that are still in place in Selective Service System law today and on problems with unfair Selective Service System classification processes during the Vietnam War that came close to collapsing the draft apparatus.  The remaining majority of this paper then investigates current-day Selective Service System plans for any future draft.  It shows how draft law changes initiated toward the end of the Vietnam era, but never allowed to fully develop before conscription ended, set in motion many of the Selective Service reforms evident in current regulations.  In light of today’s increasing military personnel requirements, this paper considers whether the problems evident at the end of Vietnam-era conscription have been corrected and how the Selective Service System would classify conscientious objectors and assign them to civilian alternative service if conscription resumed.  The paper also examines how present-day conscientious objector advocacy groups (traditional peace churches and a draft counseling organization) are reacting to the threat of a return to conscription.


Brief Overview of Conscientious Objection in America

During the colonial period, official responses to conscientious objectors varied according to individual governing bodies, some colonies excusing objectors from compulsory militia service, and others forcing them to choose between fidelity to their religious beliefs and heavy taxes, fines, or even prison.  Early in the American Revolution, the Continental Congress adopted a resolution recognizing and respecting religious conscientious objection to compulsory military service in state militias and allowing various forms of noncombatant alternatives.  The Civil War was the first time that a law provided religious COs opportunities for noncombatant duties in hospitals and caring for freedmen. 


The trend in conscientious objection during the twentieth century has been toward exempting men with increasingly diverse pacifist belief systems from military service and accepting a broader range of alternate duties in lieu of combatant duty.  World War I draft law limited recognition of COs to men belonging to pacifist denominations and placed all COs—noncombatants and alternate service objectors alike—under military jurisdiction.  In April 1917, legal COs were sent to military training camps until the government decided what to do with them.  Finally, in June 1918, following the first American offensive in Europe, the War Department acted on an executive order to place noncombatants in the Medical and Quartermaster Corps; however, plans still ignored COs who rejected noncombatant duty.[1]  Eventually, Congress passed the Farm Furlough Act, which took effect in June 1918, giving the Secretary of War authority to furlough conscientious objectors who refused noncombatant duty to farms for agricultural production, Quaker relief work in Europe, and certain types of industrial labor.[2]


World War II draft provisions extended conscientious objector eligibility to men whose objections were based on "religious training and belief" instead of limiting access to peace church members.  In addition, the civilian-run Selective Service System, rather than the military, assumed authority over alternate service objectors in the newly-created Civilian Public Service (CPS) camp program.  Essentially an extension of the depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps, CPS camps perfunctorily employed COs and isolated potential troublemakers from the general public.  Most World War II conscientious objectors served as noncombatants (1-A-O) in the armed forces.  Initially, noncombatants received assignments to the Corps of Engineers and the Signal and Quartermaster Corps, but after 1943, Secretary of War Henry Stimson declared that all COs in the military would be assigned to the medical services of the Army and Navy unless otherwise requested.[3] 


During the Vietnam War, the Supreme Court expanded provisions for legal recognition of conscientious objection to include nonreligious objectors whose beliefs occupied a defining place in their lives as faith in God did for traditional COs.[4]  The Supreme Court's decision in U.S. v. Seeger (1965) significantly changed the limits of beliefs that qualified for legal conscientious objector status.[5]  Historically, the Selective Service System had interpreted the 1948 draft law's CO clause "reason of religious training and belief" as requiring traditional Christian or Jewish religious training to qualify for conscientious objector status.  In Seeger, the Court changed that perception by renouncing the draft agency's interpretation of the 1948 statutory definition of conscientious objection and establishing that legal COs no longer had to demonstrate belief in "God" or a "Supreme Being."  But the Court also ruled that COs had to prove a "sincere and meaningful belief which occupies . . . a place parallel to that filled by . . . God," and held that the phrase "religious training and belief" did not include beliefs based on "essentially political, sociological or economic considerations" or a "merely personal moral code."[6]  As with many landmark rulings, the Court did not specify a deadline for implementation, and it was not until October 1968 that the Selective Service System translated Seeger into its application forms.  Only then did large numbers of registrants with nonreligious beliefs who were not well counseled learn they could legally apply for the CO classification. 


The Supreme Court further clarified qualifications for legal conscientious objection during the Vietnam War in U.S. v. Welsh (1970), which expanded principles expressed in Seeger to include nonreligious beliefs.  The majority stated that deeply-held moral or ethical principles that are entirely secular met the legal tests for CO status if they were as strong as traditional convictions; even strongly-held atheistic beliefs against war could meet the criteria established for conscientious objectors as long as they were ethical and moral beliefs and not political or philosophical beliefs.[7]  Rather than nullifying the CO clause entirely because it unconstitutionally delineated between religious and nonreligious beliefs, the Court extended its coverage to the latter.[8]


Changes in CO provisions during the Vietnam era allowed greater numbers of men with secular pacifist beliefs, including atheists and agnostics, to obtain CO status.  Further, the civilian alternate service program, created in 1951 and in operation during the Vietnam War, denoted a significant structural change from the World War II CPS camps used to harness alternate service COs' efforts.  Although the framework for employing alternate service COs had changed significantly between World War II and the Vietnam War, many alternate service job assignments during both wars were comparable.  Additionally, the medical duties that military officials assigned to noncombatant COs during those two conflicts were virtually identical, and varied little in essence since the colonies first allowed men of conscience to care for the sick. 


To clarify Selective Service System draft classifications for the remainder of this paper:  1-O conscientious objectors oppose both combatant and noncombatant duty in the military and are available for civilian alternative service, if called for duty, they are  reclassified 1-W and performed two years of alternative service.  Noncombatant COs who refuse to train for battle or carry weapons in war, but will serve in the military are classified 1-A-O and, if drafted into the armed forces, served for 2 years.  Lastly, men classified 1-A are available for induction into the military for combatant service.


Comparison of CO Numbers in 20th Century

The successive expansion of legal conscientious objection eligibility allowed larger percentages of draft registrants to qualify and serve as COs during the Vietnam War than in World War II.  The table below shows a higher ratio of men actually performing civilian alternate service to inductees during the Vietnam era than during World Wars I or II.  During the Vietnam War, legal conscientious objectors performing some form service—either 1-W or 1-A-O—were approximately 4.13 percent of those inducted into the armed forces, in World War II they had been .38 percent of total inductions and in World War I, .74 percent.  Beyond the growth in proportion of 1-W and 1-A-O objectors who served, the greatest difference between World War II and the Vietnam War CO populations was a reversal in the type of CO that was more prevalent.  During World War II, Civilian Public Service objectors (classified as IV-E) comprised approximately 32 percent of the total IV-E/1-A-O population versus 81 percent of alternate service COs of the total 1-W/1-A-O population during the Vietnam era.  While noncombatants comprised approximately 68 percent of all objectors during World War II, they were only 19 percent of the Vietnam War 1-W/1-A-O population.  That variation in proportions was in part due to the liberal alternate work program during the Vietnam War which made alternate service a more palatable alternative to noncombatant service than CPS was during World War II. 











                                                                                                                             Total        Total CO
      Conflict              # of           # of            Total COs*       Inductions*            % of
                               1-Ws*     1-A-Os*                                  (in millions)        Inductions

World War I**        4,000        16,800             20,800                 2.81                      .74%

World War II        12,000        25,000             37,000                 9.84                      .38%

Vietnam[10]             65,500        15,000             80,500                 1.95                      4.13%

*Numbers are only approximations.

**Exact delineations of World War I COs are complex; the above are only approximate comparative figures.

Because data on Korean War COs is unreliable, similar comparisons will not be made.


It appears that Vietnam-era objectors considered civilian alternate service, which required COs to work for only two years in residential communities, a more attractive alternative to noncombatant military service, as opposed to World War II COs who for various reasons preferred noncombatant duty over six years of confinement in isolated Civilian Public Service camps.  In addition, the relatively negative perceptions of military service during the Vietnam War may have made noncombatant status a less desirable option than civilian alternate service.


Although the structure of the Vietnam-era alternate service work program was significantly different from the World II, many Vietnam War 1-Ws labored in similar work assignments.  Jobs in mental and medical hospitals and forestry projects were a long-standing precedent for COs and met Selective Service requirements for acceptable alternate service work during both wars.  However, Vietnam War 1-Ws' were not confined to CO camps and they had the option of finding more unique positions.  The alternate service program sanctioned increasing numbers of jobs in more rewarding social work and medical research assignments, and it even allowed 1-Ws to serve in Vietnam War refugee-relief programs.  In both wars though, the Selective Service's attempts to balance the sacrifices of men serving in the armed forces against those of COs often resulted in objectors being placed in alternate service work that made little use of their education and skills.


Noncombatant COs from World War II and the Vietnam War had roughly similar experiences in the military.  Of approximately 15,000 noncombatants who served during the Vietnam War, between 98 and 99 percent served the Army in medically-related roles and the remainder were truck drivers or cooks—virtually the same duty profile as in World War II.  During both conflicts, roughly half of the 1-A-Os were Seventh-day Adventists, although that percentage declined in the later years of the Vietnam War.  Noncombatants were generally accepted by their comrades after proving themselves in combat situations.  Honors given to 1-A-Os for heroic service included commendations for superior service in combat.  Noncombatant conscientious objectors received two of the total 155 Medals of Honor (1.29 percent) awarded in the United States Army during the Vietnam War.  That ratio was noticeably higher than the proportion of approximately 15,000 1-A-Os out of the 1.95 million men inducted into the Army (.75 percent).[11]  This illustrates that enlisted men and officers accepted noncombatant conscientious objectors with whom they served as equal members of the military.[12]


Likelihood of a Renewed Draft

Since September 11, 2001, world events have coalesced to create a precarious military personnel shortage in the United States.  The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not going away anytime soon; the death toll from those wars continues increasing and negatively impacting recruiting efforts; and lengthened tours of duty in war zones increase the strain on U.S. active-duty, Reserves, and National Guard and discourage staying in the military.  In the opinion of many military professionals and experts on the draft, the United States is on a precipice of requiring conscription to maintain a viable force.  Lawrence Korb, a former senior Pentagon personnel official testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee, “The current use of ground forces in Iraq represents a complete misuse of the all-volunteer military . . . .  The all-volunteer force was never designed for a protracted ground war, but that is exactly what it faces. . . . if the United States is going to have a significant component of its ground forces in Iraq over the next five, 10, 15, 30 years, then the responsible course is for the president and those supporting this open-ended and escalated presence in Iraq to call for reinstating the draft.”[13]  Retired Army General Barry McCaffrey added that “for the first time since Vietnam, we are caught with no strategic reserve.  We simply do not have strategic fallback position for the crisis that will come inevitably.”[14]  Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan, said that he too is concerned about the toll the war in Iraq and extended deployments are taking on U.S. Forces and that from a military perspective, a return to the draft should be an element of solution to the current strain on military personnel.[15] 


After 9/11, the hot wars, implied threats toward North Korea, Syria, and Iran, and unrest in Pakistan have led the pacifist group leadership to warn the public about the conditions that could necessitate the return of conscription.  J.E. McNeil, executive director of the Center on Conscience and War (CCW), a conscientious objector advocacy group, believes that President George Bush could call for a draft before he leaves office in 2009.  She explained, it is “important for everybody in the country to be prepared for a draft, and I hope that we all go to our graves without having one, but I think we are in a position right now where we are at the place of a perfect storm all the elements are in place.  All we need are the right butterfly wings—invading Iran is the right butterfly wings.”[16]  Gary Councell, Chaplain, Colonel, U.S. Army retired, and currently Associate Director of Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, also believes increased manpower mobilization is possible.  Councell said, “I think it is in the realm of possibility that it could occur given a rapid change in the military-political situation or some major terrorist-type of attack that would result in a devastating—dirty bomb, take out a whole city scenario. . . . If nothing else there could be an emotional reaction that would call for a return to conscription.”[17] 


Theo Sitther, a lobbyist at CCW added, “No one in the administration is talking about a draft, but people in the Pentagon are.  That is one reason why leadership of the peace churches and CCW believe it is important to continue to educate and provide alternatives for people faced with the possibility of a draft.[18]  Although the coalition leaders of a dozen Mennonite, Quaker, and Brethren churches that shun the military have been told that the Pentagon does not intend to reinstate a military draft, these group are also “concerned about a ‘back door draft’ targeting the poor and minorities.  Church leaders referred to what they called ‘intensified, high-pressure military recruitments . . . where poverty and racism exclude our brothers and sisters from the opportunities that give life meaning and hope.”[19]


Politicians have also employed the specter of a return to the draft to protest continued American involvement in the Iraq War.  In December 2001, January 2003, May 2005, and most recently in January 2007, Representative Charles Rangel of New York, a strong opponent of the Iraq War, introduced legislation that required military or civilian service for all men and women, aged 18-26.  Initially an expression of his opposition to the pre-emptive attack against Iraq, Rangel has stated that his continued introduction of draft legislation is “not because I support the war in Iraq or the President’s plan to escalate the conflict.  The reason is my belief that if Americans are to be placed in harm’s way, all of us, from every income group and position in society, must share the burden of war.”[20]


In this context of increasing angst over the possible return of conscription, official government pronunciations dispel the likelihood of the draft, while also expressing the need for manpower procurement mechanisms to remain vigilant.  Selective Service Director, William Chatfield, said, “Congress, not the president, would have to approve it [the draft] and I have seen nothing to indicate there is any support for it there.”  Nonetheless, Chatfield said it was “incumbent on the Selective Service to be prepared in the event Congress changes its mind.”  He continued, “I like being ready to go, although not necessarily need to use it.”[21]  As described by Dan Amon, public affairs specialist with the Selective Service System, the agency pursues a delicate dual mission:  keeping the draft machinery ready, without sparking fear that it is coming back.  He said the Selective Service was “like a small-town volunteer fire company.  There may never be a fire, but you still want that department there just in case.”[22]  Cassandra Costley, manager of the Agency’s draft board training division said “I don’t have any expectation that there is an immediate need for what I do, but my responsibility as a public servant is to make sure we are ready to do a good job should something happen.”[23]


Vietnam-Era Selective Service System Inequities

During the Vietnam War, the Selective Service was organized much as it had been during World War II with minor modifications.  Social scientists James Davis and Kenneth Dolbeare, in their in-depth analysis of the Vietnam-era Selective Service System, observed that the "Selective Service System of the late 1960s . . . is in no important respect distinct from the System erected in 1940."[24]  This lack of genuine change in the draft system was largely the result of legislative inertia and neglect.  After World War II, Congress simply extended the Selective Service law through March 31, 1947, then allowed it to expire.  Legislators then reinstated the draft through passage of the Selective Service Act of 1948, which was essentially the 1940 law.  In 1951, Congress merely renamed the conscription law the Universal Military and Service Act after making minor changes to most draft regulations—including the CO provision.  The 1951 law was automatically extended by Congress every four years until the end of the draft in 1973.[25]  The adoption of the draft lottery in 1969 was the only substantial revision to the draft mechanism since World War II.


Since the creation of the Selective Service System in 1940, the courts had given local draft boards considerable discretionary power in making classification decisions, including requests for conscientious objector status.  Local board autonomy, combined with vague rules issued by National Selective Service Headquarters, led many boards to believe they had complete freedom in CO cases.[26]  That practice continued during the Vietnam era when different standards were applied by almost every board:  "[l]eft to their own devices, the four thousand draft boards developed four thousand very different policies" and, consciously or not, a board treated "deferments and exemptions as rewards for young men who shared these [local members'] values."[27]


The approaching expiration and required renewal of draft legislation in June 1967 generated numerous studies of conscription aimed at correcting numerous inequities in the Selective Service System.  The most comprehensive study was In Pursuit of Equity: Who Should Serve When Not All Serve?, a report prepared by the National Advisory Commission on Selective Service appointed by President Johnson in July 1966.[28]  In general, the Commission examined issues affecting the fairness and equity of the draft, and specifically local draft board variability and the effect of economic and racial inequities on deferment qualifications.[29]  The Commission’s conclusions, based on a detailed analysis of the variability of local draft board decision-making processes in 240 counties of 21 states, that the lack of rules governing the classification process and local draft boards' desire for autonomy as the main causes of conscription inequities.[30]  Virtually complete legal autonomy granted local draft boards and the absence of precise and mandatory classification guidelines from the National and State Selective Service Headquarters and without inspection process by which local draft board behavior could be monitored and standardized caused many of the agency's problems.[31]


The Presidential Commission discovered that almost all local draft boards deviated from existing national norms, making the classification system a relatively arbitrary process.[32]  Board members often based decisions about deferments on newspaper articles they had read, individual assumptions, and private prejudices or relied upon a well-informed draft board clerk's knowledge.[33]  One local board chairman in rural Pratt County, Kansas, stated, "We run the boards pretty much like we want to."[34]  This meant men requesting CO classifications were often based on outdated Selective Service regulations and board members' subjective definitions of conscientious objection and pacifist.


Through the end of the Vietnam War, local draft boards operated under the Military Selective Service Act passed by Congress on July 1, 1967, and modified slightly in 1971, as a result of pressure from President Richard Nixon, who had argued during the 1968 presidential campaign, that the existing draft system must be made more equitable.[35]  In May 1969, the president presented his draft priorities to Congress, asking for and receiving power to create a lottery system, continue undergraduate deferments, and delay calling graduate students for a full academic year.[36]  Acting on congressional authority, Nixon ultimately implemented the draft lottery in December 1969.  This lottery established the induction sequence that was applied consistently in every state and limited the prime draft-age group each year to all available and qualified 19- and 20-year-old males.  Nixon also began phasing out occupational, agricultural, and educational deferments in an effort to better regulate the fairness of draft liability for all registrants.[37]


Another significant change in the Selective Service System was Nixon's removal of General Hershey as director of the agency in 1970.[38]  The 75-year-old general, who had been Selective Service Director since 1942, refused to rein in local draft board autonomy or implement modernizing policies that would have standardized the classification process and helped quiet the furor over the draft.  When Hershey refused to resign, Nixon promoted him out of the Selective Service, named him Special Advisor on Manpower to the President, and awarded him his fourth star and a Distinguished Service Medal.  On October 10, 1969, the White House press secretary announced Hershey's reassignment effective February 1970.[39]


In April 1970, Curtis Tarr assumed direction of the Selective Service System.  A former college president, scholar of defense organization, and Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower, Tarr was perceived by some government officials "as more tolerant toward the political views that were afoot in the country."[40]  Tarr proved supportive of extensive agency reform and of Nixon's plans for greater reliance on voluntary recruitment.  He also attempted to reform the draft by replacing many older officials with young management experts.  Tarr urged state directors to recommend to their governors that they nominate younger, more racially diverse representatives to replace the board members who retired from local draft boards each year.[41]  Also significant, Tarr appointed a new general counsel whose main task was to review all of the draft regulations, and directives used by state and local officials.  To impose greater conformity on local draft board decision-making processes, Tarr also increased training and attempted to standardize that training for board members and developed a national system for supervising local boards.[42]


Future Draft would be Significantly Different from the Vietnam-era

The current Selective Service System has perpetuated and augmented many of the nascent Agency reforms initiated in the waning years of the Vietnam-era draft to create the most fair and equitable draft possible.  In rare agreement, the Selective Service System, traditional peace churches, and the major CO advocacy organization concur that if there were a draft tomorrow, new conscription mechanisms would remedy many of the past practices that permitted gross inequities in the Vietnam-era draft. 


Today, the broadest Selective Service reforms involve the decreased number of deferments available to draft registrants; a refinement of the draft lottery process; altered composition of local draft boards; and increased checks and balances on local board decisions.[43]  Additional reforms of significance to this paper relate to the classification of conscientious objectors and the administration of the Alternative Work Program for 1-O objectors.  According to Cassandra Costley, of the Agency’s training division, the Selective Service has learned from its mistakes during the Vietnam era.  She said that most of the changes in how the Selective Service System operates today have been in response to lawsuits and challenges to old policies.  She added, that today the Agency “is an organization that has reformed itself because of its need for public support.  We can’t do our job if the public thinks were not being fair if they think we are being inequitable, if they think there is any . . . . way to beat the system, we can’t be successful, because when you start sending young men off to war, the public needs to know that their son is no more at risk than the guy’s son down the street.”[44]


The draft lottery is the primary method of making the risk of being drafted more equitable among draft-age men and helping alleviate the uncertainty a man faces while he is of draft age.  Before the lottery was implemented in the latter part of the Vietnam War, local draft boards called men classified 1-A, 18 1/2 through 25 years old, men, the oldest first.  This resulted in uncertainty for the potential draftees during the entire time they were within the draft-eligible age group. 


A draft held today would use a lottery system similar to that initiated in December 1969.  In the updated version of the lottery, a man would spend only one year in first priority for the draft—either the calendar year he turned 20 or the year his deferment ended.  Each year after that, he would be placed in a lower priority group and his liability for the draft would lessen.  As a result, the time the registrant would spend not knowing if he would be drafted is greatly decreased.[45]  Also relevant to the issue of draft equity are the recent reforms of student deferments available to those whose lottery numbers are called.  For virtually all of the Vietnam-era draft, a man could receive a student deferment if he could prove he was a full-time student progressing toward a degree.  Under the current Selective Service Act a college student can have his induction postponed only until the end of the current semester and a senior can have induction postponed until the end of the academic year.  There are no longer any long-term student deferments.[46] 


If a draft is deemed necessary by both Congress and the President, the Selective Service System would be responsible for supplying manpower through the induction process to fill vacancies not filled through voluntary enlistments.  The Agency would expand significantly and rapidly, utilizing Reserve Forces Officers to establish State Headquarters and Area Offices at predetermined locations.  As of March 2, 2007, Selective Service System operated 2,069 local draft boards and 96 District Appeal boards with total of 9,468 individual members.[47]  Current planning will permit the Selective Service to provide the Defense Department inductees about six months after the draft is initiated.[48]  Today, men who are registered with the Selective Service are not placed into any classification and the classification process to determine who would be inducted into the military and who would receive exemptions would only begin after the decision to resume conscription is made.[49]


Local Draft and Appeal Board Changes

The draft boards during the Vietnam era were comprised predominantly of white, male community leaders, over 50 years of age, who had previously served in the military and few women, minorities, or young people served on these boards.  Today, Cassandra Costley says that “our boards look like America.”[50]  The boards are convened by zip codes and the Selective Service Systems makes every attempt to ensure that the local draft board represents the people who will come before it and that there will be some sensitivity to the issues those particular ethnic, racial, or other groups of people.  Costley explains that, “you won’t have a group of all white males” attempting to interpret the life experiences that are used to substantiate deferment or exemption claims from of “a largely Hispanic population.”[51]  The current Selective Service Act requires that local boards are “proportionately representative of the race and national origin of those registrants within their jurisdictions;” however, “no action by any local board shall be declared invalid on the ground that any board failed to conform to any particular quota as to race or national origin.”  There is no quota for the number of women on local draft boards, but the Selective Service attempts to have both male and female representation on each board.[52]  Additionally, board members must be at least 18 years old and U.S. citizens and cannot serve on either a local or appeal board for more than 20 years.  Board members cannot be an active or retired member of the Armed Forces or any reserve component of the Armed Forces; cannot be an employee of any law enforcement organization; and must not have been convicted of any criminal offense.[53]


The discretionary power of the local draft boards has also changed significantly since the Vietnam era.  Today, the boards have a different responsibility from the Vietnam era.  In the past, local draft boards had quotas for the number of men they were required to send for induction into the military.  Now, the authority to administratively classify young men into 1-A status (available for combatant military service) is the responsibility of the Director of the Selective Service System.[54]  If there is a draft in the future, local draft boards would be responsible for classifying “a registrant into any judgmental class which he requests and for which he is eligible.”  Judgmental classifications include 1-O and 1-A-O conscientious objector claims, ministerial training and hardship deferments, and ministerial exemptions.[55]  According to Costley, once a registrant is classified 1-A, that individual would then decide whether or not he wanted to put in a claim for any judgmental classification.  Only then does the young man to before the draft board for a decision on his judgmental claim.  The local boards “don’t get to select anybody, they only get to pass judgment on people who come to them for the judgmental claims, which are the things you can’t present papers to prove.”[56]


The idea that local boards should only grapple with the sincerity of the registrant’s claim was sounded by Curtis Tarr in 1970.  He asserted that it was not up to local draft boards to decide whether a conscientious objector was reasonable—only whether his pacifist views were sincere and influential in his life.[57]  Boards could only refuse the CO classification to those whose objections to war were "not deeply held" and to those whose objection was based "solely upon consideration of policy, pragmatism or expediency."[58]  Attempting to guarantee equity to all men applying for CO status, as well as all other registrants, Tarr established the Inspection Services Division; its mission was to make certain that National Headquarters' directives were understood and being followed by state and local draft boards.[59] 


Today, in addition to the traditional appeals available to draftees, there are additional checks and balances in place to assure the public that the local boards are not abusing their authority.  If, for example, through a review of monthly statistical reports a State Director notices that a specific local board never permits any conscientious objector claims, he or she has the authority to more closely examine the decisions of local draft boards and over-rule their judgmental decisions.  The average citizen now has an accessible avenue to approach their State Directors and ask for a review of their local board’s decision-making process if they think there is a problem with bias or inequity on the board’s part.  Costley stated that the Selective Service System has worked hard to develop “all the fairness and equity that we think that we can build into a system.”  She continued, that even though the new system has never been tested, and that she hopes is never will be operational, that she believes that the safeguards for registrants are in place.[60]


A serious deficiency of the Selective Service System during the Vietnam era was the lack of draft board training and direction from the National Headquarters.  Tarr observed that it was "incredible how little information National Headquarters gave to states and thus to local boards [regarding the application of new CO laws]."[61]  He concluded that his predecessor, General Hershey, believed that the local boards knew best who should be chosen to serve in the military and needed their autonomy to meet draft calls.  Hershey rarely implemented changes in national policies or demanded local board compliance when the courts mandated uniformity within the System.[62]   The failure of National Headquarters to ensure that local draft boards were following the new laws led to serious problems with the efficiency of the draft system.  Most acquittals for draft violations were won in cases where registrants were able to prove that the Selective Service System had committed prejudicial procedural errors.  By April 1970, the Solicitor General of the United States, Erwin Griswold, personally warned Tarr that many cases "were so rife with procedural errors that U.S. attorneys could not prosecute them."[63]  Many of those problems resulted from the inability of local draft boards to understand or properly implement the rapidly-evolving CO laws.  The task of developing legitimate basis in fact for denying CO claims was very difficult for local and appeal boards, and some board members simply decided, "to hell with it, we don't want to be bothered . . . ."[64]


To overcome the problem of uninformed local draft board members the National Headquarters of the Selective Service System has worked diligently since 2004 to develop training modules for all levels of the draft board system to ensure that decisions are made based on identical rules.  According to Costley, this relatively new phenomenon will guarantee that boards in each state and jurisdiction are “singing off the same sheet of music” to avoid special treatment for any individual or groups.[65]  In 2004 and 2005, the Selective Service’s Readiness-Training Program examined and refined existing training methods to better utilize interactive and self-study programs that accommodated the needs of field personnel in the most remote areas of the nation.  During that time, the Agency provided training and/or training materials to state directors, and more than 10,000 volunteer local, district, and national appeal board members annually.[66]  Offered to members of the board system in electronic self-study training packets, the materials teach new personnel their duties and provide an overview of the Agency’s mission, its readiness requirements for mobilization, and operational responsibilities under various scenarios.  The Selective Service has also designed new training materials for board members that simulate “hands-on” mobilization activities.  These exercises are designed to force board members to use the available resources to resolve each issue.  District appeal boards, which have responsibility of deciding alternative service worker job assignment appeal claims also received a self-study package accompanied by a fictional case files and audio role-play on cassette.[67]  


The development of training materials continues today.  Costley emphasized that the Agency wants to accomplish the training in peacetime to make certain the boards have the needed skills should a draft emergency arise.  These efforts have received praise from conscientious objector advocates.  J.E. McNeil, executive director of the Center on Conscience and War, said that she believes the training “helps make [the draft classification process] better, make it more consistent, and consistency is to be desired from both [the draft boards and the CO applicants].”[68]


Conscientious Objector Claim Processes

During the Vietnam era, young men eligible for the draft were required to register with their local Selective Service draft boards at age 18, initiating a formal dialogue between each registrant and the Selective Service System.  Shortly after registering, each man received a Selective Service System Form 100, the Classification Questionnaire, which determined his draft status.  After submitting that form to the Selective Service System, the young man was entitled to request the Special Form for Conscientious Objectors (Selective Service System Form 150).  This form required a detailed elaboration of the registrant's subjective pacifist beliefs and objective evidence of those philosophies to determine if he fell within the terms of the draft law.  Whether the applicant requested CO status at the time of initial registration or later, the administrative process of applying for the classification was the same.  Upon receiving Form 150, the applicant had 10 days in which to complete and return it to his local board.  The local board first considered the registrant's request for conscientious objector status (either 1-O or      1-A-O) and decided whether to grant the claim, deny it outright (classifying the registrant 1-A), or assign him a lower classification.  The board could also postpone classification altogether and call the registrant to an oral hearing.  If the draft board granted a claim, the registrant received his desired CO classification.  If denied, he could request a hearing before the draft board.  After his personal appearance, if CO status was still denied, the registrant had thirty days to file a written appeal to his local board requesting a review before a State Selective Service appeal board.  Within 5 days, the local draft board then forwarded the registrant’s file to the appeal board within his district for a review.  This appeal board had the power to overrule the local board and grant the CO request.[69]


Today, the Selective Service System will not accept any documentation supporting a conscientious objector claim until the draft has resumed and after a registrant has been selected for processing.  In general, registrants whose birthdates are called in the lottery would be ordered to report to the Military Entrance Processing Station for a pre-induction physical.  Those who pass the physical would be classified 1-A, available for unrestricted military service.  The draftees would then be informed of their right to apply for reclassification—including CO status—provided information on how to do so, and have 10 days to file a claim.  A registrant could not be inducted until he has exhausted all of his appeals or fails to appeal in the proper amount of time. 


After requesting conscientious objector status the applicant must appear before his local draft board to explain his beliefs.  The board would decide whether to grant or deny a CO classification based on evidence the applicant presented.  A man who is denied the status may appeal to a Selective Service appeal board.  If he is again denied, but the vote was not unanimous, he may further appeal the decision to the National appeal board.  Beliefs which qualify a registrant for CO status may be religious in nature, but are not required to be; they may also be moral and ethical beliefs.  However, a man cannot base his objection to participate in war on politics, expediency, or self interest.  In general, the man’s lifestyle prior to making the claim should reflect his current claims.[70]  Local boards are not allowed to alter the CO claim for which a draftee is applying as they could during the Vietnam War.  If he asks to serve in a noncombatant capacity in the military, the board only has to determine if he is sincere in that desire.  According to Costley, the “board can’t decide that [a registrant] really doesn’t really want to do that (1-A-O claim), you really want this other (1-O).  The board doesn’t change that classification; the registrant has to know his own mind.[71]


Today, men who receive 1-O CO status will be assigned to civilian work in the “national health, safety, or interest.”  The CO may present his own choice of approved work or be assigned by the Alternative Service Office manager to a job selected by a computer match of employer needs and applicant skills.  Those who are classified 1-A-O will report to induction and sent to modified basic training and assigned to non-combatant duties in the Armed Forces


In the Vietnam era, as is today, local draft boards were crucial in qualifying young men for conscientious objector status and registrants depended on them to be knowledgeable about the most current legal interpretations of CO laws and to be fair-minded about the process.  Unfortunately during most of the Vietnam era, board members' decisions were often unfounded or inconsistent because the Selective Service System National Headquarters had failed to implement evolving legal requirements in conscientious objector law into its regulations expeditiously—or at all. 


It was not until Tarr assumed leadership at the Selective Service in 1970 that National Headquarters issued guidelines designed to assist local draft board members in developing and documenting legally acceptable reasons for denying an applicant's request for CO.  Although newly-developed local board training instructions stressed broad principles of fairness, additional guidelines explained the "basis in fact" concept and instructed local boards how to explain in writing why a registrant did not meet CO criteria.  A memo from National Headquarters read:  “What, then must the board do if it does not believe the registrant's belief and wishes to turn him down? . . . The way to do this is to make sure that the file contains some adverse facts in writing which show that the registrant is not 'sincere.'  It is not enough for the board to simply decide that it does not believe the registrant.”[72] 


However, the Selective Service National Headquarters’ memo also cautioned local boards against listing specific reasons for rejecting a CO claim which a court might find inappropriate.  For example, if a local board listed the following as reasons for finding lack of sincerity—an applicant's voluntary membership in ROTC; unfamiliarity with his Scripture quote on Form 150; and an anonymous letter describing the CO applicant as a "long-haired Communist hippie type who took drugs and participated in riots and demonstrations"—a court would likely find the last justification invalid and nullify the first two appropriate reasons for finding a lack of sincerity.[73]


Within three months of Tarr's swearing in as Director of the Selective Service System, the Supreme Court clarified qualifications for legal conscientious objection during the Vietnam War in  U.S. v. Welsh (1970), which expanded principles expressed in Seeger to include nonreligious beliefs.[74]  Three weeks after Welsh, Tarr issued Local Board Memorandum No. 107 (LBM 107), "Criteria for Classification of Conscientious Objectors," which instructed local members how to interpret the opinion into their classification of conscientious objectors.  The LBM emphasized that a legal objector still had to object to all wars, not just a specific war; that the registrant's beliefs had to be sincere and be the controlling force in his life, but did not have to be religious; and that beliefs had to be based on ethical, moral, or religious convictions.[75]  The memorandum also attempted to incorporate the Court's tests for both Welsh and Seeger because, as Tarr observed, the "System never had published instructions to its boards following the landmark ruling in 1965."[76] 


The legal precedents established during the Vietnam era are incorporated into today’s CO law.  Selective Service System training manuals today emphasize that CO claimants must prove to the satisfaction of the board that his claimed beliefs are sincerely held in order to receive CO status.  However, Cassandra Costley explained that the Agency does not “train our boards to look for specific forms of evidence because once you start doing that,” then board members will expect all CO applicants to provide the same proof of sincerity.  Instead, the Selective Service instructs board members to examine each individual case before them and to be aware of the details of a person’s life, to understand the community he is from and to ask him to demonstrate how his pacifist beliefs have influenced his life.  She added that the guidance emphasizes that there are any number of different kinds of people who will come to local boards seeking CO claims and that many different types of rationale could qualify for the exemption.  Costley illustrated, for example, “if you are an Amish youth, you probably wouldn’t have spent time at peace centers or marching in the street or doing any of those sorts of things because the Amish are not politically active.  So the criteria would have to be different for the individual based on who they are and where they’re from and what their belief or the reasons for their objections are. . . . .  COs won’t look like one type of person, they’ll be a variety of different people, lifestyles, religious, ethical, or moral beliefs that they will have to take a look at.  And all these people may be conscientious objectors.”[77]


Under current law, a registrant must establish to the satisfaction of the board that his request for exemption from combatant or in the case of a 1-O claimant, combatant and noncombatant military training and service in the Armed Forces, is based upon his moral, ethical, or religious beliefs which play a significant role in his life; that he is sincere in his claimed beliefs, and that his objection to participation in war is not confined to a particular war.  A registrant whose beliefs are not religious in the traditional sense, but are based primarily on moral or ethical principles, should hold such beliefs with the same strength or conviction as the belief in a supreme being is held by a person who is religious in the traditional sense.  The registrant who claims religious beliefs for the basis of his objection need not be a member of a “peace church” or any other specific church, religious organization or religious sect.  If the registrant is, or has been, a member of a church, religious organizations or religious sect, and if his claim of conscientious objection is related to such membership, the board may inquire about he membership and religious teachings of the church or other and the registrant’s religious activities. 


The nature and extent of a registrant’s conscientious objection must be determined by the information he provides to the local board.  The board’s finding must be supported by the evidence in the file and may not be based on unsupported conclusions.[78]  The board can make a finding of insincerity based any evidence—such as demeanor and statements during his personal appearance—that casts doubt on the veracity of the registrant’s claim.  To cast doubt on a registrant’s sincerity, any behavior that is shown to be inconsistent with his state convictions must have occurred after he acquired the beliefs on which his claim is based in order to be relevant.  A registrant’s CO claim cannot be found insincere because of flagrant public acts of civil dissent or use of profanity.  A finding of insincerity based on letters of reference or supporting statements of friends, relatives, or acquaintances must be explained in a statement of denial and specific mention must be made of the particular material relied upon to deny the claim.[79]




Alternative Service Work Program

Few people realize that the current-day mission of the Selective Service System is twofold.  In additional to delivering manpower to the Department of Defense, the Selective Service is also required to administer an Alternative Program for 1-O conscientious objectors should the nation return to conscription.[80]  According to Selective Service Director Charles Chatfield,


Our goal, in any return to conscription, is to provide a 24-month term of fully supervised alternative civilian service to any man classified as conscientiously opposed to both combatant and noncombatant military training and service.  Our pledge to America is that in fulfillment of their citizens’ obligations, the alternative civilian service of conscientious objectors will benefit the nation’s health, safety, and interests. We simultaneously pledge to conscientious objectors that their right to productive, fair, and honorable alternative service will be protected.[81]


The additional Agency responsibility for the Alternative Service Work Program (ASW) resulted from revisions in the Selective Service Act in 1971 which charged the National Selective Service System Headquarters with finding work for 1-O conscientious objectors and supervising their participation in the civilian alternate service program.  This constituted a change from the past when COs located their own alternate assignments or were assigned by their local draft boards.  Initially, under the new Vietnam-era law, National Headquarters wanted to place some objectors in the Peace Corps; Volunteers in Service to America; the Department of Health, Education and Welfare; and the Department of Interior.  However, Congress failed to provide the funds to put COs to work, even though those organizations' leaders believed employing 1-W objectors was a good idea.[82]  Although the 1-W program revision had little practical effect on alternate service employment, it illustrates Congress' recognition of the need for greater centralized control of the program.


Tarr made a serious effort to modify the administration of alternate service and established a     1-W (Alternative Service Work) section of Selective Service in an attempt to implement the new draft provisions.[83]  While the revisions improved the administration of civilian alternate service by ensuring greater uniformity of job assignments, it was too late in the war for Selective Service to gain effective control of the programs to which assignments would be made.  Although Tarr began reforming the work program, he had little time to fully implement the changes.  The draft officially ended in January 1973 and all of the men performing alternate service at that time, pending satisfactory work records, were declared eligible for release on November 22, 1974, with no further obligation under the Military Selective Service Act.[84]


Plans for any future Selective Service System Alternative Service Program will attempt to match COs with local employers.  Many types of work are available, but the job must be deemed to make a “meaningful contribution to the maintenance of the national health, safety, and interest.”  Examples of this type of work include positions in conservation, care for the elderly or children, education, and health care.  The length of service in the program is roughly equal to the amount of time required in military service, approximately 2 years.[85]  Costley added that the Selective Service System today recognizes the limitations that the Vietnam-era ASW faced and is attempting to be more “creative in developing work assignments that actually improve the county, that show the benefit of the work of this group of people . . . .  “We don’t want a situation we might have had in the past where an individual dug a hole and filled it in . . . .  We want to put these individuals’ efforts to good use, to use all the skills that these people have and we don’t view alternative service as a punishment.”[86]  In 2008, the types of work that would be deemed acceptable for the ASW by the Selective Service System are virtually identical to those approved during the Vietnam era.  Employers considered appropriate for ASW assignments are limited to:  the U.S. Government or a state, or other jurisdiction; and organizations, associations, or corporations primarily engaged either in a charitable activity conducted for the benefit of the general public for the improvement of the public health, welfare, or environment, including educational and scientific activities.[87] 


During the Vietnam era, the Selective Service System imposed additional prerequisites for what types of employment qualified for ASW.  The Agency required that alternate service jobs purposely disrupt "the registrant's normal way of life."  Local Board Memoranda No. 64 (LBM 64) stated that an alternate service position should not be one that could be readily filled from the local labor market.  Local Board Memoranda No. 98 (LBM 98) specified that a CO job should not be "sought after by other qualified people," or one that "qualifies a registrant for occupational deferments."[88]  Further, "the conscientious objector's pay would be reasonably comparable to the pay, allowances, and other benefits received by the man inducted into the Armed Forces and his assignment should be beyond commuting distance from his home."[89]  State and local draft boards' interpretations of those regulations varied considerably, leading to such informal standards as on unspoken home community prohibition, requiring that alternate employment be at least 50 miles from the CO's hometown.[90]  Other guidelines the Selective Service National Headquarters issued recommended that local boards ask the following questions to determine if a CO position was acceptable:  will the local public tolerate the presence of the conscientious objectors in the community and on the job?; will other employees be replaced by these conscientious objectors?; and will the establishment of this program create a political or labor union issue? [91]


Costley said that she has considered these issues, but “what we don’t want to do is have people from the alternative service program competing with in the job market for jobs other Americans can do.  My preference would be to have them take the sorts of jobs that other people don’t necessarily want to do because they are not high paying.  However, current ASW criteria have omitted the distance from home requirement for employment locations, according to Costley, good, solid alternate service jobs can be “2 to 1,000 miles away” and that the Agency was not going to impose an arbitrary reason to force COs go move away from their support systems.[92]  She added that they Selective Service was still grappling with the issue of pay scales for those performing alternative service, but that the COs should earn roughly what they would if they had been inducted into the military, a remnant the Vietnam era, was being given consideration. 


The additional issue of what entities will pay for health benefits—not an issue of significant concern during the Vietnam era—is one for which the Agency has not yet completed planning.  Costley assumes that the Federal government will have to provide some form of assistance, particularly for emergency medical expenses.  Further, Costley explained that the Agency was striving to put in place some safety net for young men in situations where performing alternative service could cause significant financial hardship, such as repayment of student loans or loss of a hardship deferment when a man has children.  She emphasized that “service to your country should not lead to your financial ruin.  We can plan it in a way that respects peoples’ beliefs without being a punishment.[93]


In any return to conscription the Director of Selective Service is responsible for finding alternative civilian work for 1-O.  The Director will place these registrants with members of the Alternative Service Employer Network (ASEN), a pool of eligible civilian employers who agree to provide jobs to alternative service workers in a draft.[94]  In late 2004, the Selective Service System initiated a plan to expand the ASEN and to press for memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with corporations and federal agencies that meet the requirements to become alternative service employers.[95]  In 2006, the Agency continued to develop tangible means of ensuring its ability to operate an alternative service program in the event of a return to conscription and strove to remove roadblocks to agreements on MOUs with the U.S. Public Health Service and the Corporation for National and Community Service to hire COs.  Additionally, the Selective Service System initiated discussions with Mennonite Voluntary Service, Christian Aid Ministries, Weaverland Disaster Service, and the Old Order Amish for them to develop MOUs for approved alternative service employment.[96]


Over the past four years, the Selective Service System has made significant strides toward developing stronger working relationship with conscientious objector advocacy groups, traditional peace churches, and potential ASW employers.  This stands in stark contrast to what was once an adversarial relationship with the traditional peace denominations during the Vietnam era.  On several occasions during 2005 and 2006, Selective Service System officials met with peach church representatives, and even members of the Buddhist faith, both at the National Headquarters and at peace church gatherings around the country to discuss the possibility of a military draft, military recruitment, and share information about how the alternative service program would work during any return to conscription.[97]  Costley explained that since funding for official travel is very limited, she has increased her reliance on state draft board directors to reach out and begin building relationships with peace church leaders in their states.  She believes that by establishing working relationships during peacetime the Selective Service and the peace churches can develop familiarity and trust.  Should there be a draft emergency, then all the players will know their counterparts and likely already have developed tangible plans for alternative service work.[98]


Peace Church Efforts for CO Preparation

The communication initiated by the Selective Service System with the traditional peace churches has prompted those faith groups to develop contingency plans for their young men who would likely seek CO status in the event of a draft.  In 2004, draft officials urged the peace churches to “dust off long-standing alternative service work programs that provide 1-O conscientious objectors a means to fulfill the two-year alternative work requirement in lieu of military service.[99]  In December 2004, the Church of the Brethren’s council voted to “maximize our efforts” on alternative service as well as help “guide our youth in their choice of nonviolent service.”[100]  Chris Bowman, moderator that conference, stated, “We don’t want to miss the part of providing resources to our youth that will help them understand and embrace the Brethren peace witness.”[101]  Later, at a two-day conference in March 2005 the Anabaptist Consultation on Alternative Service convened 90 members of the historic peace churches, Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, Brethren in Christ, Quakers, and other peacemaking traditions, to address the possibility of a renewed military draft.  The consultation resolved to work together in the event of a draft and said they will continue to coordinate their plans for alternative service programs for conscientious objectors should a draft be reinstated.[102]  In December 2005, the Council of Moderators and General Secretaries (COMS) of Anabaptist denominations met to discuss issues of alternative service and the potential for a military draft.[103]  The COMS discussed alternative service under church agencies and non-church agencies, support for registrants, relationship of churches to the government and Selective Service, and collaboration with other historic peace churches and the Center on Conscience and War.[104]


In addition to developing alternative work programs for COs, the traditional peace churches and CO advocacy groups are implementing programs to counsel draft age men (and women) and their parents about the conscientious objector position.  J.E. McNeil, executive director of the Center on Conscience and War said that her organization was already training draft counselors and meeting to discuss draft options with young people, adding “we [will] need it right now if we have a draft.”  McNeil believes that since the Vietnam War ended, and the advent of the all-volunteer military, that Americans have become too complacent about war, thinking that they will never have to personally deal with the details of who will serve.  However, she warns, “the minute you stop thinking about war is when it creeps back up on you.”[105]


In addition to counseling resources, most of the peace churches have developed new resources to educate their congregations about draft and conscientious objection issues.  The Church of the Brethren has developed and distributes to its youth ministries a range of peace and draft-related teaching guides and curriculum materials, including “Teaching an Alternative Voice to War:  Challenges and Opportunities in Counter Recruitment.”  The Quakers have developed a six-lesson interactive guide for its high school students, “Raising Conscientious Objector Consciousness Among Our Youth.”  And the Center on Conscience on War provides numerous online draft information publications and provides draft registration advice.[106]  All of these organizations eagerly share these resources with any individual or group who seeks guidance on the issue.


In order to help prepare young men to make difficult draft decisions, Leo Hartshorn, a minister of peace and justice for Mennonite Mission Network who faced being drafted at age 19 in 1968, voiced his concern about how well the churches and parents have prepared young men to make a face the possibility of being drafted into a war.[107]  Hartshorn called upon fellow Mennonites to utilize available teaching resources to help youth think through what kinds if questions they might face in seeking a CO classification.  He asserted that preparation of young men, parents and congregations for a draft is crucial if those men seeking CO status are to qualify for the claim from their local draft boards.[108]   Hartshorn expressed the message echoed by many other CO supporters:  “What would it say about our peace witness if we have to scramble in the face of a draft to teach our youth, their parents and our congregations what we believe about violence, war, military service, peace and justice?  Ongoing education and action for peace . . . may not keep away a draft, but it prepares the church to live as faithful peacemakers, as followers of Christ's way.”[109]


The Seventh-day Adventist Church, the denomination that comprised half of the population of noncombatant conscientious objectors in the military during both World War II and the Vietnam War, has also begun to question if it is adequately prepared to counsel its young men if the draft returns.  The Adventist Church sanctions the military's role in American society and believes that genuine Christianity manifests itself in good citizenship and loyalty to civil government, but that the outbreak of war does not alter the Christian's supreme allegiance and responsibility to God.  Seventh-day Adventists opt for the noncombatant position in order to save, and not destroy, human life while still meeting the obligations of American citizenship by serving in the military.[110] 


Prior to 1969, the Adventist Church advised its young male members to fulfill their legal military obligations primarily as noncombatants.  It counseled its members against entering the military voluntarily because the armed forces did not acknowledge any enlistees as noncombatants and thus any Adventist entering the military as a combatant by volunteering could not avoid using weapons, nor keep the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday as required by his faith.[111]  As the Vietnam War grew more contentious, political divisions and antiwar sentiment infiltrated and influenced the thinking of Adventist church members and leadership.  In 1969, the Church Annual Council reaffirmed that the official position of the church is noncombatancy, but allowed members to elect to be pacifists as well (1-O conscientious objection).  And in 1972, the Council added that the question of conscientious objection and military service is a personal matter for each member.[112]  Gary Councell, Chaplain, Colonel, US Army retired, Associate Director of Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries, stated that today “the church is very clear on our official position.  While we advocate noncombatancy, and while we don’t encourage placing oneself in areas that are going to be potential faith conflicts, we do say that this is not a test of fellowship, that this is a matter of individual conscience and the church respects the dignity and the priesthood of each believer to determine for themselves their belief.”[113]


Councell believes that antiwar sentiment, and later the absence of the draft, led the church to remove literature on military-related issues from Adventist curriculum and church publications following the Vietnam War.  He surmises that “35 years of benign neglect in educating our members” about the biblical and ethical considerations of the Adventist position on military issues “left generations of young Adventists to fend for themselves in assessing the ethics of combat. . . .  “Prior to the 1970s, the thought of a practicing church member volunteering for a combatant role in the military would have been inconceivable to the vast majority of Adventists.  Not so anymore.”[114]  Today an estimated 7,500 Adventists serve in the United States military and virtually all of them are enlisted as combatants.[115]  Councell asserts that current socioeconomic conditions are largely responsible for Adventists enlisting in the military.  He added, Adventists “are likely to view the military as a viable career option.  Why, because it offers stability and a sense of belonging.”[116]


In the event of a renewed draft, the Adventist Church would prefer its members accept the 1-A-O conscientious objector position, it will also support its members who choose the combatant, 1-A position; the alternative work, 1-O position; and well as the total pacifist position or non-cooperation with the draft.  Councell said, “We understand this is a matter of conscience, but regardless of your choice, the church is still going to provide you spiritual support and pastoral care.  There is no judgment.”[117]  One implication of the Adventist’s official acceptance of the 1-O position is that the church will develop an alternative service work program for members of its faith.  The church currently operates the Adventist Development Relief Agency, serving in disaster relief work and humanitarian efforts to help people overseas.  Councell believes that such an organization could be utilized in some way to channel 1-O conscientious objectors.  He added, “it is a valid need that we need to be forward looking toward. . . . I think we should be addressing those kinds of issues.”[118]


The possibility of renewed conscription, coupled with the significant numbers of Adventists entering the military as combatants, has prompted the church to renew its military service awareness program.  To better instruct its members about the role of their faith in decisions to join the military, the Adventist Church has produced a documentary for young adults in which Adventist military veterans and current soldiers were interviewed and the individual vignettes are placed in the context of the Adventist faith tenets and provide a decision-making model for the young people to consider.  Councell said he hopes the production would encourage young people to “look at the biblical and ethical and moral issues . . . not just be enticed by $40,000 or $14,000 enlistment bonuses.  Don’t sell your soul.[119]  Further outreach efforts include assigning field representatives from the Adventist chaplaincy office, people who have dealt with combat and who have personally experienced the military, to Adventist high schools and colleges to teach young people about the faith issues involved if they join the military.  The church is also revising many outdate publications on the subject of noncombatancy and military service and is also publishing articles in church journals.


Military Provisions for Noncombatants

While the Selective Service System has established well-planned procedures for registering, classifying, and inducting draftees and has initiated memorandums of understanding with organizations that would provide alternative service employment for 1-O conscientious objectors, how the military would utilize noncombatant conscientious objectors in its ranks is nebulous.  In the last two years both the Department of Defense and the Department of the Army have updated their regulations dealing with conscientious objectors; however, these rules are directed primarily toward the reclassification of active-duty personnel who are seeking in-service CO status.  The recent publications offer little detail about how the military would deal with large numbers of 1-A-O objectors serving in the armed forces via conscription. 


Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) Number 1300.06, May 5, 2007, Section 5.6., written in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, has only one paragraph on the subject of 1-A-O conscientious objectors classified by the Selective Service.  It reads, “Persons who were classified as Class 1-A-O Conscientious Objectors by the Selective Service System prior to induction shall upon induction be transferred to a training center, or station, for recruit training, and shall be subject to non-combatant service and training.  Such persons will be required to sign and date a statement as set forth in the form attached hereto as Enclosure 4.  Thereafter, upon completion of recruit training, such persons shall be assigned to non-combatant duty.”[120]


The Army Regulation related to conscientious objection is of great significance because during the Vietnam War the Army was the only service that accepted noncombatant conscientious objectors classified as such by the Selective Service.  The Air Force, Navy and Marines only took draftees classified 1-A, combatants, and rejected COs.  Army Regulation 600-43, Personnel, General, “Conscientious Objection,” August 21, 2006, Section 1-6, establishes uniform standards for processing conscientious objector applications during mobilization.  It implements conscientious objector policy found in DoDI 1300.06.  It reads:


Persons who are classified 1-A-O by Selective Service before induction and whose DD Form 47 (Record of Induction) indicates that they are conscientious objectors or who enlisted as 1-A-O noncombatants for the medical career management field will, upon completion of processing at the U.S. Army Military Entrance Processing Command (MEPCOM), be reassigned to a U.S. Army training center for modified basic training (MBT).  These persons must sign and date a counseling statement as set forth in figure 2-1, which will be placed in the person’s Military Personnel Jacket (MPRJ, U.S. Army).  Upon completion of reception station processing, these persons will be assigned to a basic training company for MBT, which excludes training in the study, use, or handling of arms or weapons as stated in paragraph 2-10a.  Upon successful completion of MBT, a (1-A-O) classified person will be reassigned to training in the medical career management field.  The reporting date to the new unit of assignment will be determined and entered in assignment orders as prescribed in AR 600-8-105.  Such persons will not be allowed to avoid the important or hazardous duties that are part of the responsibility of all members of the medical organization.  A person who does not meet the requirements for this training, who fails to complete the prescribed course of instruction, or who otherwise cannot be assigned to this duty, will be assigned to other noncombatant duties.[121]


The Department of Defense Directive and the Army Regulation say little about establishing a distinct training program for 1-A-Os as existed at Fort Sam Houston during the Vietnam War.  Nor does the language describe how 1-A-Os would be assigned to field units after advanced basic training in the medical field.  However, the wording of the Army Regulation closely resembles that used for noncombatants during the Vietnam era, when virtually all 1-A-Os were assigned to medical military occupational specialties and many operated with combat units in Vietnam.  When I followed the proper chain of command in an attempt to obtain more detailed information on this subject, I ultimately reached Dr. Curt Gilroy, Director, Accession Policy, Department of Defense (DoD).  Unfortunately, Dr. Gilroy did not respond to my specific questions and I was referred back to the Selective Service System for information on noncombatant CO.  Unfortunately, the Selective Service System has no jurisdiction over 1-A-O objectors once they are inducted into the military because they are considered part of the active-duty force.  Based on the information provided by the DoD and from my perspective, the DoD has not established a thorough plan for utilizing noncombatant objectors and thus it is highly likely that the military will resurrect Vietnam era procedures should conscription resume.



This recent investigation into the readiness of the Selective Service System to classify and utilize conscientious objectors has demonstrated a considerable effort by that Agency to develop and implement the most fair and equitable process possible during forced conscription.  The Agency has examined carefully the underlying causes that created distrust in the Selective Service System and its classification processes during the Vietnam War and has taken heed of the changes Curtis Tarr began implementing in the draft process.  As a result, if confronted with conscription in the future, draft-aged men would face local draft boards that more closely resemble their own communities; are aware of the laws that define what beliefs qualify men for conscientious objector status; and are better trained to judge the sincerity of men with very different pacifist belief systems.  Even those individuals who are typically critics of the Selective Services System offer praise for the reforms the Agency has made to the draft and CO classification processes.  J.E. McNeil of the Center on Conscience and War said, “The structure of the draft is such that there is a lot more emphasis on the fairness of the system within the hearing—clearer-cut attempts at fairness, especially toward CO applicants.  You can look at how they are defining what a church is and see it took a lot of thought and effort in establishing a system which is uniform from draft board to draft board by their definition.”[122]


Further, the Selective Service has demonstrated that that they accept the gravity of the responsibility for administering the Alternative Work Program for COs and have taken substantial steps to develop approved employment options during peacetime that will allow them to be well prepared should the need for those jobs arise.  Selective Service System outreach during peacetime to the communities from which the majority of conscientious objectors originate has cultivated relationships and trust among the individuals who would work together on CO programs in the event of a draft.  Leaders of the traditional peace churches have expressed appreciation for the Agency’s efforts and the respectful dialogue that has taken place and believe that the Selective Service has a more thorough understanding of the principles underlying conscientious objection today.  While drafts of memorandums of understanding between the Agency and potential Alternative Service Work providers may not have final approval from legal authorities, should the work assignments be needed in the case of a draft, the groundwork is complete.  So, while all parties involved hope that their efforts will never be tested, they are diligently preparing in the event the draft returns.




[1]The Selective Service System, Conscientious Objection, Special Monograph No. 11 (2 vols., Washington, D.C., 1950), I, 56-59 and Bob Seeley, "Three Hundred Years: The Struggle for Conscience in America" (Philadelphia, 1975), 2, National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors Records, Document Group 25, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, (Swarthmore College Archive, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania).

[2]John W. Chambers, To Raise an Army: The Draft Comes to Modern America (New York, 1987), 215-16 and U.S. Department of War, "Statement Concerning the Treatment of Conscientious Objectors in the Army" (Washington, D.C., 1919), 17, 20.

[3]Neither the U.S. Navy nor the U.S. Army accepted COs for voluntary enlistment, only through induction.  Further, the Navy did not receive any noncombatants until February 1943 because it had not inducted any draftees.  Noncombatants in the Navy were generally assigned to shore bases, construction work, and medical duties, however, their numbers were very small.  Selective Service System, Conscientious Objection, I, 114.

[4]U.S. v. Seeger, 380 U.S. 163 (1965).


[6]U.S. v. Seeger, 380 U.S. 163, 176, 173 (1965).

[7]U.S. v. Welsh, 398 U.S. 333, 345 (1970).

[8]U.S. v. Welsh, 398 U.S. 333, 334, 361-367 (1970).

[9]Selective Service System, Conscientious Objection, I, 53, 315; Chambers, To Raise an Army, 216; and Mulford Sibley and Philip Jacob, Conscription of Conscience: The American State and Conscientious Objection, 1940-1947 (Ithaca, New York, 1952), 83-84.

[10] The number of 1-O and 1-W conscientious objectors was counted each year using Selective Service System annual and semiannual reports, Selective Service System, Annual Report of the Director of Selective Service, 1963 (Washington, D.C., 1963), Table 10, 52-55; Selective Service System, Annual Report of the Director of Selective Service, 1964 (Washington, D.C., 1964), Table 10, 50-53; Selective Service System, Annual Report of the Director of Selective Service, 1965 (Washington, D.C., 1965), Table 10, 56-59; Selective Service System, Annual Report of the Director of Selective Service, 1966 (Washington, D.C., 1966), Table 10, 64-69; Selective Service System, Annual Report of the Director of Selective Service, 1967 (Washington, D.C., 1967), Table 10, 66-71; Selective Service System, Semiannual Report of the Director of Selective Service July 1-December 31, 1968 (Washington, D.C., 1968), Table 3, 32-37; Selective Service System, Semiannual Report of the Director of Selective Service July 1-December 31, 1969 (Washington, D.C., 1969), Table 3, 38-43; Selective Service System, Semiannual Report of the Director of Selective Service July 1-December 31, 1970 (Washington, D.C., 1970), Table 1, 14-19; Selective Service System, Semiannual Report of the Director of Selective Service July 1-December 31, 1971 (Washington, D.C., 1971), Table 1, 34-37; and Selective Service System, Semiannual Report of the Director of Selective Service July 1-December 31, 1972 (Washington, D.C., 1972), Table 1, 18-21. 

The number of men classified 1-A/1-A-O, 1963-1972 came from a Selective Service System internal document, "Civilian Work Program, 1952-1971: Conscientious Objector Ratio in Available Registrants, 1952-Present."  Total 1-A/1-A-O classification data cannot be obtained reliably from the Selective Service System Annual and Semiannual Reports, 1963-1972 because the subheadings within those classifications vary considerably over the ten-year period.  The Selective Service System internal document provides more consistent data.  The 1972 1-A/1-A-O total was not available in the Selective Service System internal document and was obtained from the Selective Service System, Semiannual Report of the Director of Selective Service July 1-December 31, 1972 (Washington, D.C., 1972), Table 1, 18-21.  The simplified 1-A/1-A-O category number came into use in the 1971 Semiannual Report and agrees with the internal document cited above.  Total numbers of inductions for the period are found in Selective Service System, Semiannual Report of the Director of Selective Service July 1-December 31, 1972 (Washington, D.C., 1972), 56.

1-O and 1-W numbers for the years 1963 to 1967 match the figures in the Semiannual Report of the Director of Selective Service January 1-June 30, 1975, Appendix 27, 82 (Appendix A of this dissertation) because both the primary source data I used for this dissertation, the Selective Service System annual reports, 1963-1967, and the cited 1975 semiannual report were taken at midyear.  The numbers of 1-Os and 1-Ws for the years 1968-1972 in Table 8 are the same as those in Semiannual Report of the Director of Selective Service July 1-December 31, 1973, 32, Appendix 13 because both tables cite end-of-year data which finally became available with the advent of the semiannual report in 1968. 

For purposes of this dissertation, for years 1963 to 1967 (years in which only annual reports were published), only midyear state-by-state data is available.  However, during the period of the greatest increases in the numbers of COs, 1968-1972, end-of-year data is available in the semiannual reports and utilized in this table.  Although some consistency is lost by combing both mid and end-of-year data, the increased accuracy of the yearly changes in CO numbers during that half of the war is crucial in determining the effect evolving CO law had on the overall objector population.  Moreover, when midyear data is used for 1968-1972, the general trend for 1-Ws (one of the main subjects of this dissertation) using year-end data is confirmed.

Virtually all 1-A-Os entered the Army rather than the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard.  During both World War II and the Vietnam War, 1-A-Os could only be draftees, not volunteers.  Noncombatants in the earlier war served both in the Army and Navy Medical Corps.  But because the Army absorbed almost 98 percent of all draftees during the Vietnam War, virtually all 1-A-Os served in that service's medical corps.  Andrew Glass, "Defense Report/Draftees Should Burden of Fighting and Dying in Vietnam," National Journal, 2 (August 15, 1970), 1747, 1754; Department of the Army, "United States Army in Texas," Fort Sam Houston information paper, n.d.; U.S. Army Medical Training Center, "Fact Sheet," n.d.; and U.S. Army Medical Training Center, "History," n.d., Medical Training Center Files, Fort Sam Houston Museum (Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas). 

Colonel Charles Pixley (later a retired general), in William W. Church, "Only the Weapons are Missing," Army Digest, 23 (September 1968): 22, is quoted, "Nearly 99 percent of them [1-A-Os] stay at Fort Sam Houston for another 10 weeks and train to become medical aidmen."; Pixley told the author in a 1998 interview that although he did not remember the exact statistics, "If that's what I said [to a reporter], I must have been familiar with the figures . . . If I said that [quoted those statistics] then, I wouldn't have said it if . . . [I hadn't] had some facts and figures at my fingertip from somebody."  He added that the statistics "would be a safe figure during the entire Vietnam era.  I think it would be quite safe," interview, Retired General Charles Pixley, commanding officer, 1967-1972, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, interviewed by author, June 28, 1998, telephone interview from Washington, D.C., to San Antonio, Texas, tape recording; Nicholas C. Chriss, "Special Training: Army Takes on New Breed of War Objector," Los Angeles Times, October 4, 1969, 2, Records of the Selective Service System, wrote that "The Army sends all conscientious objectors who join its ranks to Ft. Sam Houston because 98% of the COs become medics—whether they like it or not."; Sean McNulty, "Without Weapons: Army Unit Unique," San Antonio Light, December 29, 1968, 1E, stated, "According to statistics, 99 per cent of the COs serve in the Army Medical Corps; the remaining 1 per cent serve as clerks or in other noncombatant units."; and Clark Smith, Director, Seventh-day Adventist National Service Organization stated in reference to Seventh-day Adventist COs only that "better than 98% of Adventists 1-A-Os go into the medical department as medical soldiers," Clark Smith, Director, Seventh-day Adventist National Service Organization, to Lieutenant Colonel David E. Mueller, Director, Conscientious Objector Section, Selective Service System, September 27, 1972, Records of the Selective Service System.

Pixley in Church, "Only the Weapons are Missing," 22, is quoted, "Between six and eight percent of all Army medical aidmen are conscientious objectors."; also in reference to the percentage of medical aidmen who were COs, Pixley told the author that although he did not remember the exact statistics, "If that's what I said [to a reporter], I must have been familiar with the figures . . . If I said that [quoted those statistics] then, I wouldn't have said it if . . . [I hadn't] had some facts and figures at my fingertip from somebody."  He added that the statistics "would be a safe figure during the entire Vietnam era.  I think it would be quite safe," Pixley interview; the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors also states that ". . . about 6 to 8% of all medics are COs," Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, Handbook for Conscientious Objectors, 11th edition (Philadelphia, 1971), 90; McNulty, "Without Weapons: Army Unit Unique," 1E, wrote, "In the course of a year, 25,000 men are trained at Fort Sam Houston.  Traditionally, only 8 percent of these are conscientious objectors."; and Art Wiese, "Conscientious Objectors Make Great GIs," Houston Post, November 17, 1968, 14, sec. 2, reported that, "Only about eight percent of the 25,000 combat medics trained yearly at Fort Sam Houston are conscientious objectors."  In addition to those citations, additional accounts present data for a given year or years of the war and the percentage of 1-A-Os/total medics trained in that particular year or years falls roughly between 6 and 8 percent.  Using data in "Fort Sam Houston's Combat Medic Training," Fort Sam Houston talking paper, Fort Sam Houston Museum, Year Files, 1954-1970, ca.1967, which states that   ". . . last year produced the largest number of medical corpsmen in any one year in its history: approximately 27,000.  In addition, the center graduated approximately 1,700 from the Modified Basic Training Program conducted for conscientious objectors."  From those numbers it can be calculated that   1-A-Os made up approximately 6.3 percent of the medics trained in the year.  In another article, Hirsch, "The Draft: Soldiers Without Arms," 31, Records of the Selective Service System, the author wrote, "Those who object only to bearing arms are classified 1-A-O and trained as Army medics; some 3,500 are now serving . . . "  Considering that all draftees spend two years in the Army, that would mean that the 3,500 number measured the number of 1-A-Os for 1965 and 1966.  According to Table 9, approximately 45,500 medics were trained in those two years and thus noncombatant COs would be approximately 7.7 percent of the total medics trained.  Chriss, "Special Training: Army Takes on New Breed of War Objector," 2, Records of the Selective Service System, wrote that "The U.S. Army Medical Training Center here trains about 26,000 medics a year.  Last year this figure included 2,225 COs . . . ."  Calculating those figures, COs made up approximately 8.5 percent of the medics the article states were trained in 1968, slightly above the other estimates.  An aberration to the 6 to 8 percent approximation was found in Clark Smith, Director, Seventh-day Adventist National Service Organization, to Lieutenant Colonel David E. Mueller, Director, Conscientious Objector Section, Selective Service System, September 27, 1972, Records of the Selective Service System, in which Smith stated that "between two and three percent of the medical soldiers trained annually are 1-A-Os."  However, in light of the above stated evidence, I believe the between 6 and 8 percent estimate is an accurate ratio from which to derive an approximation of the total number of 1-A-Os who were classified as such by the Selective Service System during the Vietnam era.  U.S. Army Medical Training Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Army Medical Service Activities Report (Reports Control Symbol MED-41), 1962-1972, Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (7, USARVN).  This total number of 1-A-O objectors is only an approximation because no official government records denoted the exact number of noncombatants. 

[11]Congressional Medal of Honor Society, "Medal of Honor Breakdown by War and Services as of 13 May 1997," from U.S. Army Center of Military History website, www.army.mil/cmh-pg/mohstats, January 14, 1999.  The total number of inductions was derived from the United States Selective Service System, Semiannual Report of the Director of Selective Service, July 1-December 31, 1972 (Washington, D.C., 1972), 56.

[12]Nowhere in the documentation supporting these Medal of Honor nominations is there mention by fellow soldiers of the medics' conscientious objector status.  U.S. Army Pacific Command, "Recommendation for Award of the Medal of Honor (LaPointe)," February 13, 1970 and U.S. Army Pacific Command, "Recommendation for Award of the Medal of Honor (Bennett)," June 19, 1969.  Records of the U.S. Army in Vietnam, RG 472, (National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland).

[13] Marine Corps Times, “Experts:  Force Increases may not be Enough,” April 29, 2007, http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2007/04/military_groundforces_draft_070417w/, accessed September 15, 2007.

[14] Ibid.

[15] National Public Radio, All Things Considered, ‘War Czar’ Concerned over Stress of War on Troops,” August 10, 2007, transcript.

[16] Interview, J.E. McNeil, executive director, Center on Conscience and War, interviewed by author, October 26, 2007, Washington, D.C., tape recording.

[17] Interview, Gary Councell, Chaplain, Colonel, US Army retired, Associate Director of Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries, Department of General Conference, and Military Endorser for Adventist Church, interviewed by author, November 13, 2007, Silver Spring, MD.

[18] Church of the Brethren Newsline, “Anabaptist Leaders Meet to Discuss Alternative Service,” December 13, 2005, http://www.brethren.org/genbd/newsline/2005/dec1305.htm, accessed December 10, 2007.

[19] The Christian Century, “Peace Churches War of ‘Back Door Draft’,“ April 5, 2005, Vol. 122, Issue 7, 15.

[20] Quote in Charles Rangel, Press Release, “Congressman Rangel Introduces New Bill to Reinstate the Military Draft,” January 11, 2007, http://www.house.gov/apps/list/hearing/ny15_rangle/sCBRStatementDraft01112007.html, accessed December 26, 2007 and Charles Rangel, Press Release, “War’s Burden Must be Shared by Congressmen,” January 7, 2003, http://www.house.gov/apps/list/hearing/ny15_rangle/sharedsacrifice010703.html, accessed December 26, 2007.

[21] The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, “New Draft Rules Ready if Needed Congress Unlikely to Act, System Chief Says,” January 9, 2005, 15.

[22] The Washington Post, “After 30 Years, Draft Fears Rise; Some Youths and Parent Worry Despite Government’s Assurances,” June 2, 2005, B01.

[23] Interview, Cassandra Costley, Manager, Training Division, Selective Service System, interviewed by author, October 18, 2007, Arlington, VA.

[24]James W. Davis and Kenneth M. Dolbeare, Little Groups of Neighbors: The Selective Service System (Chicago, 1968), 19.

[25]Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, Handbook for Conscientious Objectors, 10th edition, (Philadelphia, 1969), 4 and Stephen Butter, Legal Rights to Draft Deferments (Cleveland, Ohio, 1971), 3-4.

[26]Davis and Dolbeare, Little Groups of Neighbors, 196-97 and National Advisory Commission on Selective Service, In Pursuit of Equity: Who Serves When Not All Serve (Washington, D.C., 1967), 20-21, 31-36.

[27]Lawrence Baskir and William Strauss, Chance and Circumstance: The Draft, the War and the Vietnam Generation (New York, 1978), 24. 

[28]Members of the Commission included: Thomas S. Gates Jr., former Secretary of Defense; John McCone, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency; General David M. Shoup, former Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps; and George Reedy, former Presidential Press Secretary.  Burke Marshall, former head of the Civil Rights Division in the Department of Justice was appointed chairman.  Other members included representatives of higher education, labor, business, and minority groups.

[29]National Advisory Commission on Selective Service, In Pursuit of Equity: Who Serves When Not All Serve (Washington, D.C., 1967), 19-29 and Davis and Dolbeare, Little Groups of Neighbors, 18-19, 26.

[30]National Advisory Commission on Selective Service, In Pursuit of Equity, 83-86 and Davis and Dolbeare, Little Groups of Neighbors, 18-19, 26.  Computers had not been used to maintain uniform records from the thousands of local draft boards until late in the Vietnam War.  Lack of simple technology and sufficient funding were cited as the reason.  This would have required additional funding for the Selective Service System because until 1970, the agency continued to keep the majority of its records in hand-written formats.

[31]Davis and Dolbeare, Little Groups of Neighbors, 196-97.

[32]National Advisory Commission on Selective Service, In Pursuit of Equity, 26-29, 83.

[33]Ibid., 28-29 and Dorothy Alvey, local Selective Service System draft board clerk, Grayson County, Kentucky, 1950-1971, interviewed by author, April 13, 1994, Washington, D.C., tape recording.

[34]Wall Street Journal, November 23, 1965, 1, Personal Collection of J.A. Mansavage (Washington, D.C.).

[35]George Q. Flynn, The Draft (Lawrence, Kansas, 1993), 241.

[36]Ibid., 239 241-45; "ABC's of Draft Lottery," U.S. News and World Report, December 15, 1969, 33-35; and interview, William Sessions, Chief, Government Operations Section, Criminal Division, Department of Justice and former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, interviewed by author, July 19, 1994, Washington, D.C., tape recording. 

[37]Flynn, The Draft, 252-54.

[38]Ibid., 242.

[39]Flynn, The Draft, 243.

[40]Sessions interview.

[41]James Gerhardt, The Draft and Public Policy: Issues in Military Manpower Procurement, 1945-1970 (Columbus, Ohio, 1971), 346-47, 363; Flynn, The Draft, 253-54; and Sessions interview.

[42] Gerhardt, The Draft and Public Policy, 347 and Baskir and Strauss, Chance and Circumstance, 78.

[43] Selective Service System, “How the Draft Has Changed Since Vietnam,” not date, http://www.sss.gov/viet.htm, accessed September 12, 2007.

[44] Costley interview.

[45] Selective Service System, “How the Draft Has Changed Since Vietnam,” not date, http://www.sss.gov/viet.htm, accessed September 12, 2007.

[46] Selective Service System, “The Military Selective Service Act” (50 U.S.C. App 451 et seq, as amended through July 9, 2003), Section 456i, 25.

[47] Selective Service System, “Quick Facts and Figures,” http://www.sss.gov/quick.htm, accessed September 12, 2007.  In the 1940s there were over 6,000 local draft boards in 54 state or territorial jurisdictions, approximately 250 appeal boards, and staffed mainly by National Guard personnel.  By 1967 the draft agency consisted of 4,087 local draft boards, 50 state boards, and 6 boards for the key jurisdictions of New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the Panama Canal Zone (Davis and Dolbeare, Little Groups of Neighbors, 20-22, 33, 39 and National Advisory Commission on Selective Service, In Pursuit of Equity, 17-20) and Selective Service System, “How Would Selective Service Conduct a Return to Conscription?, no date, http://www.sss.gov/FactSheets/FShow_would.pdf, accessed September 12, 2007. 

[48] Selective Service System, “How Would Selective Service Conduct a Return to Conscription?, no date, http://www.sss.gov/FactSheets/FShow_would.pdf, accessed September 12, 2007. 

[49] Ibid. and Selective Service System, “Classifications,” http://www.sss.gov/classif.htm, accessed September 12, 2007.

[50] Costley interview.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Sec. 460. Selective Service System, (b) Administrative provisions, 30-31, http://www.sss.gov/PDFs/MSSA-2003.pdf, accessed December 12, 2007, and Costley interview.

[53] Selective Service System, Board Member Requirements, no date, http://www.sss.gov/FSbrdreq.htm, accessed September 12, 2007 and Selective Service System, Local Board Membership Information Request , no date, ,https://www.sss.gov/localboardmembers/bminquiry.asp, accessed October 30, 2007.

[54] Selective Service System, Registrant Integrated Processing System Manual (RIPS), Chapter 5, “Classifications, Claims and Appeals, Section A,” 5-2, January 2002.

[55] Ibid., 5.23-5.34, January 2002.

[56] Costley interview.

[57]The Muskegon Chronicle, May 29, 1970, no page number, Records of the Selective Service System.

[58]Los Angeles Times, July 7, 1970, no page number, Records of the Selective Service System.

[59]Selective Service System, Semiannual Report of the Director of the Selective Service System, July 1-December 31, 1971 (Washington, D.C. 1971), 30-31; interview, Curtis Tarr, Director, Selective Service System, 1970-1972, interviewed by author, July 13, 1998, telephone interview from Washington, D.C. to Savannah, Georgia, tape recording; interview Kenneth Coffey, Director of Public Affairs, Selective Service System, 1970-1972, interviewed by author, July 13, 1998, Washington, D.C., tape recording; and Curtis W. Tarr, By the Numbers: The Reform of the Selective Service System, 1970-1972 (Washington, D.C, 1981), 21.

[60] Costley interview.

[61]elective Service System, Semiannual Report of the Director of the Selective Service System, July 1-December 31, 1971 (Washington, D.C. 1971), 30-31; interview, Tarr interview; Coffey interview; and Tarr, By the Numbers, 21.

[62]Tarr, By the Numbers, 18 and Gary Wamsley, Selective Service and a Changing America (Columbus, Ohio, 1969), 55-56.

[63]Tarr, By the Numbers, 58.

[64] Lieutenant Colonel David Mueller, Conscientious Objector and Ministerial Branch Manager of the Selective Service quoted in Memorandum from Lieutenant Colonel David E. Mueller to All State Directors regarding "Conscientious Objectors" (no date is legible on the memo, however '72 is hand-written on the front page, this year coincides with the period Mueller held this position), Records of the Selective Service System.

[65] Costley interview.

[66] Selective Service System Annual Report to the Congress of the United States, Fiscal Year 2005, FY 2005 Readiness – Training, 12-13, http://www.sss.gov/PDFs/AnnRpt2005.pdf, viewed December 24, 2007.

[67] Ibid.

[68] J.E. McNeil interview.

[69]Selective Service System, "General Principles of Classification," Registrants Processing Manual, SSSRPM 600.1, Selective Service System Research Library, Arlington, Virginia. 

[70] Selective Service System, Fast Facts, “Conscientious Objection and Alternate Service,” http://www.sss.gov/fsconsobj.htm, accessed September 12, 2007.

[71] Costley interview.

[72]Memorandum from Conscientious Objector and Ministerial Branch Manager (Lieutenant Colonel David E. Mueller) to Local Boards regarding "Basis in Fact for Denying a Registrant's Claim for Conscientious Objector Classification," n.d., Records of the Selective Service System.


[74]U.S. v. Welsh, 398 U.S. 333, 333, 341 (1970).

[75]Selective Service System Local Board Memorandum No. 107, "Criteria for Classification of Conscientious Objectors," July 6, 1970, Selective Service System Research Library.

[76]Tarr interview.

[77] Costley interview.

[78] Service System, Registrant Integrated Processing System Manual (RIPS), Chapter 5, “Classifications, Claims and Appeals, Section A,” quote on 5-3, Section C, 5.24-5.25, January 2002 and Selective Service System, “2003 Local Board Continued Training: Trainer Instructions,” Basis for denial LBCT 03, 21-22

[79] Ibid., quote on 5-3, Section C, 5.24-5.25, January 2002.

[80]Selective Service System, The Military Selective Service Act ( 50 U.S.C. App. 451 et seq., amended through July 9, 2003), Sec. 456, Deferments and exemptions from training and service (j) [Conscientious Objectors], 26, http://www.sss.gov/PDFs/MSSA-2003.pdf, accessed September 14, 2007 and Selective Service System, “How Would Selective Service Conduct a Return to Conscription?, no date, http://www.sss.gov/FactSheets/FShow_would.pdf, accessed September 12, 2007.

[81] Charles Chatfield, Director, Selective Service System, Selective Service System Annual Report to the Congress of the United States, Fiscal Year 2005, http://www.sss.gov/PDFs/AnnRpt2005.pdf, 10.

[82]Tarr interview and "ABC's of Draft Lottery," U.S. News and World Report, December 15, 1969, 33-35.

[83] Tarr, By the Numbers, 87-90, 147-48.

[84]Selective Service System, press release #74-4, October 17, 1974, Records of the Selective Service System and Selective Service System, Semiannual Report of the Director of the Selective Service System, January 1-June 30, 1975 (Washington, D.C. 1975), 11.

[85] Selective Service System, Fast Facts, “Conscientious Objection and Alternate Service,” http://www.sss.gov/fsconsobj.htm, accessed September 12, 2007.

[86] Costley interview.

[87] Selective Service System, “Alternative Service Employer Network (ASEN),” http://www.sss.gov/PDFs/PrinterFriendly/asen.pdf, viewed December 24, 2007.

[88]Selective Service System Local Board Memoranda No. 64, "Civilian Work In Lieu of Induction," March 1, 1962 and amended September 12, 1968, and rescinded February 8, 1972 and quote in Selective Service System Local Board Memoranda No. 98, "Determination of Appropriate Work for 1-W Service," September 11, 1969, and rescinded September 11, 1972, Selective Service System Research Library.

[89]Selective Service System Local Board Memoranda No. 98, "Determination of Appropriate Work for 1-W Service," September 11, 1969, and rescinded September 11, 1972, Selective Service System Research Library, Rosslyn, Virginia.

[90]Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, "Details of Compulsory Work Program for Conscientious Objectors," information paper, March 1966, 6, Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors Records, Document Group 79, Peace Collection, (Swarthmore College Archive).


[92] Costley interview.

[93] Ibid.

[94] Selective Service system Annual Report to the Congress of the United States, Fiscal Year 2004, Alternative Service Division, p, 13-14 http://www.sss.gov/PDFs/SSS_Annual_ReportFY04.pdf, viewed December 24, 2007 and Selective Service System, “Alternative Service Employer Network (ASEN).”

[95] Selective Service system Annual Report to the Congress of the United States, Fiscal Year 2005, http://www.sss.gov/PDFs/AnnRpt2005.pdf, 10-12, accessed December 24, 2007.  Employment programs or activities generally considered to be appropriate for Alternative Service work include: (1) Health care services, including but not limited to hospitals, nursing homes, extended care facilities, clinics, mental health programs, hospices, community outreach programs, and hotlines; (2) Educational services, including but not limited to teachers, teacher’s aides, counseling, administrative support, parent counseling, recreation, remedial programs, and scientific research; (3) Environmental programs, including but not limited to conservation and firefighting, park and recreational activities, pollution control and monitoring systems, and disaster relief; (4) Social services, including but not limited to sheltered or handicapped workshops, vocational training or retraining programs, senior citizens activities, crisis intervention, and poverty relief; (5) Community services, including but not limited to fire protection, public works projects, sanitation services, school or public building maintenance, correctional facility support programs, juvenile rehabilitation programs, and (6) Agricultural work.

[96] Selective Service System Annual Report to the Congress of the United States, Fiscal Year 2006, http://www.sss.gov/PDFs/AnRepFY06.pdf, 23-24, accessed December 24, 2007.

[97] Selective Service System Annual Report to the Congress of the United States, Fiscal Year 2005, p., 10-12, accessed December 24, 2007 and Selective Service System Annual Report to the Congress of the United States, Fiscal Year 2006, 23-24, accessed December 24, 2007.

[98] Costley interview.

[99] National Catholic Reporter, “Brethren Prepare for Return of Selective Service,” January 21, 2005, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1141/is_12_41/ai_n8709310, accessed September 12, 2007.

[100] Ibid.

[101] Ibid.

[102] Church of the Brethren Newsline, “Anabaptist Special Report,” March 7, 2005, http://www.brethren.org/genbd/newsline/2005/mar0705.htm, accessed December 10, 2007 and The Christian Century, “Peace Churches War of ‘Back Door Draft’,“ April 5, 2005, Vol. 122, Issue 7, 15

[103] Church of the Brethren Newsline, “Anabaptist Leaders Meet to Discuss Alternative Service,” December 13, 2005, http://www.brethren.org/genbd/newsline/2005/dec1305.htm, accessed December 10, 2007.

[104] Ibid.

[105] J.E. McNeil interview.

[106] The Christian Century, “Peace Churches War of ‘Back Door Draft’,“ April 5, 2005, Vol. 122, Issue 7, 15

[107] Leo Hartshorn, “Feeling the Draft,” Peace Signs, April 21, 2004, http://peace.mennolink.org/cgi-bin/m.pl?a=40, accessed September 12, 2007.

[108] Ibid.

[109] Ibid.

[110] Seventh-day Adventist position paper, “Noncombatancy:  Conscientious Objection to Bearing Arms,” no date, copy available from Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries, http://www.adventistchaplains.org/.

[111]Seventh-day Adventist Church, "Military Service and You," pamphlet, May 1972, Records of the Selective Service System, National Archives and Records Administration.

[112] Seventh-day Adventist position paper, “Conscientious Objection and Noncombatancy,” no date, copy available from Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries, http://www.adventistchaplains.org/.

[113] Councell interview.

[114] Elizabeth Lechleitner, Adventist Review, “Young Adventists in a World of War”, No month or day, 2006, http://news.adventistreview.org/article.php?id=1191, accessed November 1, 2007.

[115] Ibid.

[116] Councell interview

[117] Ibid.

[118] Ibid.

[119] Ibid.

[120] Department of Defense Instruction Number 1300.06, “Subject:  Conscientious Objection,” May 5, 2007, Section 5.6 (page 6), http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/dod/i1300_06.pdf, accessed September 12, 2007.

[121] Army Regulation 600-43, Personnel, General, “Conscientious Objection,” August 21, 2006, Section 1-6 (page 2), http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/army/ar600-43.pdf, accessed September 12, 2007.

[122] J.E. McNeil interview.