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Remarks Concerning Changes in Draft Calls and Pending Draft Legislation

September 19, 1969

Ladies and gentlemen:

I have an announcement today, and the Secretary of Defense will answer questions on that announcement when it is concluded.

Acting on the recommendation of the Secretary of Defense, the programmed draft calls for the months of November and December--32,000 for November and 18,000 for December--will be canceled.

The draft call previously announced for the month of October will be phased out over the final quarter of the year.

These actions have been made possible by the reduction in our forces of 60,000 in Vietnam which I announced on Tuesday1 and by other actions taken by the Department of Defense under the manpower program.

1 See Item 361.

Further, with regard to the future of the draft program, as you know, we have been considering that in the National Security Council. The Secretary of Defense had a meeting yesterday with various congressional leaders on it. I have an announcement to make with regard to that program at this time.

On May 13, I submitted legislation to the Congress which would have removed from vulnerability to the draft all young men between the ages of 20 and 26, and which would provide for draft eligibility only those 19 years of age under a system of random selection.

The Congress has not yet acted on this legislation; and we have decided that if the Congress does not act on this legislation during this session of the Congress that then I shall take, by unilateral action, by Executive order, the recommendation of the Secretary of Defense which he will describe in detail, which will move toward that objective and which will remove uncertainties from the age group of 20 to 26, although it will not accomplish the objective as clearly and as fairly as would the legislation if it were passed.

The Secretary of Defense will be able to answer all your questions on the technical details of these two actions, and I will now turn the press conference over to him.

Note: The President spoke at 11:36 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. The news briefing by Secretary of Defense Laird, following the President's remarks, is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 5, P. 1283).

Richard Nixon, Remarks Concerning Changes in Draft Calls and Pending Draft Legislation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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