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Draft Quotas Being Missed With New Lottery System

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Section Two


Ann Arbor, Michigan, Tuesday, February 24,1970

Pages 17 to 30

Draft Quotas Being Missed With New Lottery System

Like an infant learning to walk, the Selective Service’s new lottery system is getting off to only a toddling start.

This month Washtenaw County will join the growing number of counties unable to meet their quotas by falling 10 men short of its allotment, the local offices report.

The county’s largest office. No. 341 in Ypsilanti, reports that unless it gets some more voluntary inductions, it will fall 10 men short of its quota of 16. The Ann Arbor office, No. 85, reports that it was able to fill its quota this month, only two, but that it fell three short of fulfilling its five-man quotas in January.

And, according to Col. Arthur Holmes, Michigan selective service director, the problem is not local or statewide, but national. Col. Holmes says many of the state’s draft boards will not be able to meet their quotas for February.

The chief obstacle, oddly enough, has been the system itself, Holmes said. Under the old system, the local boards could just start with their oldest eligible draftees and go down the line until their quotas were filled. Now, however, national officials have been setting limits on how high the local boards can go in choosing sequence numbers (the individual’s draft priority number determined by his birthday).

Through January, for instance, selective service officials could go no higher than the first 30 birthdays chosen in the random drawing last December. After going through these 30 dates the boards had to stop regardless of whether or not the quotas were met. Thus far federal officials have been adding on 30 birthdays each month, with the February number going up to 60 and the March draft covering numbers up to 90.

Col. Holmes said that Michigan has missed its draft quotas for both January and February, but he said the problem was being experienced in every state. In January the state was 65 men short, he reported, and in February the deficit reached 225.

The colonel said he held higher hopes for the lottery system straightening itself out in the future months. ”We knew when we started spreading the call that it would take a while to complete the change to an entirely different system,” he said. He added that the system should get a boost this summer with college graduates, and that the Michigan situation should improve since the March quota is 300 less than in February.

The quotas also should be increasingly less difficult to reach in the future, he said, because draft boards will have a steady procession of higher numbers with which to choose draftees. He said the policy is still to choose the lowest numbers first. So, for instance, in March board members will again be able to start at number one and go all the way to number 90. This will continue with the list getting larger as the year goes by.

And each month the boards may be able to find more draftees through the “pipeline,” the system by which young men are continuously receiving physical examinations for classification, and through reclassifications.

Holmes added that the difficulties the draft has been experiencing in meeting its quotas would seem to him to be an indication the armed services are getting less than the manpower they need. But, he said the situation was not reaching the serious stages or federal officials would be taking more drastic measures to obtain inductees.

Meanwhile the local draft boards must continue struggling in an attempt to meet the quotas handed down to them. Washtenaw County’s quota for March is 18, the same as in February, but eight more than the January quota. Next month the Ann Arbor board will select eight and the Ypsilanti board 10.