Non-veterans who are sweating out an imminent draft call will be allowed ample time to plan for spring registration according to a statement of War Department plans made yesterday by Howard C. Petersen, Assistant Secretary of War at the Statler Hotel in Boston.
Adding to the recent public announcement that no men would be called during the month of January Petersen said, "We will make known in early January whether we intend to make draft calls in February and March." The present Selective Service Act runs out at the end of March and unless the War Department feels it necessary and Congress agrees to extend the law there will be no more "Greetings" from the President, he explained.
"We want to avoid asking for a continuation of the draft," Petersen remarked, pointing out that the present policy calls for a stable, 100 percent volunteer, regular army but that enlistment recruiting had fallen off sharply in the last few months and that many one year enlistments were ending.
He said that the Army had no deficit of troops at the moment but that unless short term enlistees decide to sign over there may have to be a call in February and March as well as a renewal of the draft law.
Visiting Boston for the purpose of defending the War Department's program for universal Military training, Petersen is a strong advocate of the new program which calls for six months training for 17 to 20 year old men. He spoke last night on an M.I.T. Radio Forum debating the proposal.
He said that the program, which he hopes will be passed by the new Congress, will take a year to put into operation once passed by Congress, thus some men may avoid service both under the regular Selective Service Act and under the new one.
In a further description of the proposed compulsory training law, Petersen said that at the end of six months the trainees would have an option of taking six months in ROTC, the National Guard, or other special programs. The trainees would be paid very little, he remarked, in order to make the greatest differentiation between the temporary trainees and the regulars. If the plan passes he is convinced that "We will have the best possible force available for M day."
"As for all this talk about the morals of the troops--I don't think they are any worse than a group of men at a convention," he concluded.