World War II
The Draft

The Draft
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 8 to 10
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.06

     challenging words:    discriminators, prewar, universally, non-combat, tenacity, conscription, deserting, duration, servitude, patriotism, domestic, rehearsal, passionate, weakness, whichever, objectors
     content words:    Civil War, First World War, United States, President Wilson, Selective Service System, General Staff, National Guard, Pearl Harbor, Selective Service, Training Act

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The Draft
By Mary Lynn Bushong

1     What does a country do when it's getting ready to go to war? Obviously weapons and uniforms are needed, but the most important part is the manpower. Many men volunteer at the start of a war, but what about later on? The passionate fire of patriotism can start to burn low when a war drags on. What is a country to do then? The answer is invariably conscription or the draft.
2     Those conscripted in the Civil War had the option of paying someone else to take their place. Some men made a business of taking another man's place by accepting the bounty for signing up and then deserting at the first opportunity, only to sign up again under another name somewhere else.
3     In many ways the First World War was like a dress rehearsal for the Second. When the United States joined the Allies in 1917, they had no supplies stockpiled and no industrial set up for producing war materials. Even the military leadership was unsure of what they would need in manpower and equipment.
4     A month after war was declared, President Wilson signed a new draft bill. This new bill eliminated bounties for those who signed up for service and also stopped the use of substitutes. The Selective Service System was a national program that was run on the local level. These local boards did a good job and soon showed that the weakness was not in the supply of men, but in the supply of equipment.
5     In 1923, the General Staff came up with a plan they called M-Day or mobilization Day. It was a peace time plan for raising an army. The goal was to have six field armies. The numbers would start at 400,000, reach 1.3 million in four months, and keep increasing from there. The trouble with the plan was its rigidness in planning, and it only came into effect after a war was declared. By 1939, government planners finally developed more flexible plans.

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