WASHINGTON -- Preparations for mandatory military registration of 18 million young American men could be completed in several months, Selective Service System officials said today.
The agency quickly began following up on President Carter's request Wednesday night for a resumption of peacetime registration following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Carter noted he is at present only calling for registration not a return to the actual draft. No American has been drafted since 1973 and none registered since 1975.
A Selective Service System spokesman said registration is anticipated for men only between the ages of 18 and 26. There are about 2 million men in each year group within the limits, a total pool of about 18 million.
Women may not be registered under the current Selective Service Act and Carter did not say whether his call for resuming registration would include women. But the issue would be hotly debated in Congress.
"Registration is not going to happen immediately. It's probably several months away," said the spokesman.
Carter's draft registration announcement in his State of the Union address before Congress Wednesday night was alternately praised by defense-minded legislators and denounced by civil liberties groups. One student group said it will actively protest the move.
Congress is expected to quickly approve funding for a resumption of registration.
Immediately after the end of the Vietnam War in 1973, President Richard Nixon ended the draft. The last man to enter the military services through the draft was inducted June 30, 1973.