Although there has been talk of requiring women to register for the Selective Service, the director of the system said he knows of no specific action that would require women to register.
Samuel Kenric Lessey Jr. said including women in the registration process would double the workload of his department. When asked during Senate hearings about the cost of such an endeavor he said it would be "a tremendous additional cost."One of the reasons why Congress may not want to register women is because the draft is mostly used for combat soldiers, he said. Recruiting continues during a crisis, and wom-en, like men, are always welcome to enlist.
Lessey said he sees no real resistance among men who are required to register. "The registration number is between 98 and 99 percent of the draft-eligible group."
Since the beginning of the Reagan years, Lessey said he has seen an increase in patriotism among American males. When Reagan first took office, the number of draft-eligible men registered was between 70-77 percent. "The increase has reflected his (Reagan's) administration."
Those few who do not register are sent letters reminding them of the requirement. After the third letter, the case is turned over to the Department of Justice. "There have been only about 20 prosecutions since 1980," Lessey said. "Registration is our goal, not prosecution."
Lessey said he has recently seen an increase in editorials and discussions about the rebirth of the draft but said that is not likely. "There's no specific plan . . . no intention whatsoever of the Reagan administration or Department of Defense to initiate the draft."
If needed, however, he said his organization is prepared to carry out mobilization responsibilities. "We are prepared no matter what set of circumstances." Within a very short period, registration information could be made available to the Selective Service System, and the first inductee would be ready for duty within 13 days. Within 30 days, Lessey said he could have 100,000 inductees ready for duty.
To accommodate a possible draft, 11,000 civilian volunteers have been trained and are prepared to sit on local draft boards. An attempt is made to have the boards reflect the composition of the community, he said. Approximatelely 100 Utahns participate in the program.
Lessey said his organization is struggling to carry out its mission of "mobilization readiness" under budget restrictions. It is operating with $3 million less than previous years. However, even with the restrictions, he said, "the state of the Selective Service is excellent."