Since the birth of the United States, a military draft (also known as conscription) has been utilized in all major wars, including the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. However, conscriptions were broad and existed only during extreme wartime needs. There was no federal infrastructure in place to maintain a peacetime mechanism for military manpower. This was directly addressed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who signed into law the Selective Training and Service Act in 1940. Although an all voluntary force did exist at the time, this Act helped create a backup system for sufficient manpower in the event of potential large-scale warfare.
Gavin P. Smith
November 20, 2009 in History - Vietnam War and Policy