This week, Americans found out that North Korea had created nuclear weapons small enough to attach to missiles. And in response, President Donald Trump vowed to unleash "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if the country threatened the United States. Given this tension, some people may be starting to wonder what might happen if things escalate into war. And one of those big questions remains: If the United States goes to war with North Korea, would there be a draft?
The most likely answer is no. The last time a draft was enacted in the United States was during the Vietnam War, four decades ago. According to ABC News, the draft was first established in 1940. It was known as the Selective Training and Service Act. In 1973, it was discontinued, but President Carter reinstated it in 1980.
In order for a new draft to take place, Congress would have to pass legislation to authorize a draft and Trump would also have to approve it. Then, a lottery would kick in. According to the Selective Service System, the lottery begins with males turning 20 years old the year the draft is enacted. Then it calls upon males ages 21 to 25. If needed, 18- and 19-year-olds could be drafted last, but it's not a likely possibility.
Those who are requested are gathered and evaluated on a mental, physical, and moral basis to see if they are fit for service. Those who pass and do not seek deferment are then inducted into the service.
Just because there isn't a need for a draft right now doesn't mean that Americans don't have to register, though. Most American men are required to register for the draft at age 18 through Selective Service. If they don't, they could be disqualified for federal financial aid, citizenship, federal job training, and federal jobs, according to ABC News.
Questions about who is eligible for the draft would also arise. Trump recently declared that the U.S. military would no longer welcome transgender Americans. And women are currently not included in the draft.
In 2016, the Senate passed a bill for women to register for the draft attached to a spending bill. However, the House of Representatives passed a different version of the bill and former President Barack Obama signed a version of the bill into law that did not include a requirement for women to sign up for the draft, even though the government opened up combat roles to women in 2015. So, if a draft were to take place, it would be for men ages 18 to 25.
According to the Selective Service System, a draft is put in place when a crisis occurs that need more troops than the military has volunteers. And nuclear weapons use might negate the need for a draft. The more powerful the weapons countries use to harm one another, the less reason there might be for ground combat and sending Americans out to fight.
So, the chance of a draft happening in the case of a war could be low, but there's always a possibility, especially with a president who often declares orders without informing government channels.