An article yesterday misstated the maximum fine for failing to register for the military draft. It is $250,000. (Published 8/9/90)
If recent history is any precedent, sending U.S. forces into combat should result in a few more young men registering for the U.S. military draft, the director of the Selective Service System said yesterday.
"They're simply reminded they have a responsibility and an obligation that they haven't fulfilled yet," said Navy Capt. H. W. "Pete" Walls, executive director of the Selective Service System. "It could very well be construed as patriotism."
Walls said about 14 million young men are registered, or about 96 percent of those age 18 to 25 who are required to do so under an executive order issued by President Jimmy Carter in January 1980.
Draft registration at local post offices, Walls said, was 3 percent above average the week after the Grenada invasion in 1983 and the Libya bombing in 1986, but he said a similar "spike" did not occur after the Panama invasion last December. He said evidence of any increase in the last week would not be available for a month.
Most of seven post offices in the District and Maryland surveyed at random yesterday reported no increase in draft registration, although the Bowie Post Office said the number there had doubled last week, according to Sandra Stewart, a spokeswoman for the southern Maryland division of the U.S. Postal Service.
At the pacifist American Friends Service Committee in Philadelphia, Harold Jordan expressed doubts about the reported increases in registration after the Grenada and Libya invasions. He said the possibility of war scares young men who must register.
"My experience is that military invasions tend to discourage people from signing up," said Jordan, who coordinates a national youth and militarism program. "We get more calls about military service at times like these."
Federal laws make draft registration a requirement for receipt of college student aid and job training as well as executive branch employment. The maximum penalty for failing to register is a $25,000 fine and a five-year prison sentence.