US military draft: What you need to know

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Iran launches retaliatory attack on Israel

Iran launched a retaliatory drone attack on Israel.

Google searches for "WWIII" and "US draft age limit" spiked Saturday in the wake of news that Iran deployed multiple drones toward Israel. 

This follows Israel's bombing that resulted in the deaths of several Iranian officials earlier this month, the IDF confirmed.

RELATED: LIVE: Iran launches attack on Israel

The drone attack late Saturday marked the first time Iran had ever launched a full-scale military assault on Israel, despite decades of enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Associated Press reports.

RELATED: Why Iran wants to attack Israel: The history of the conflict explained

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Downtown LA Iran protest

Demonstrations around the world marked the 44th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

While there isn't currently a draft in place, Congress and the president can reinstate the draft and force male citizens to serve in the military in the event of a national emergency or war that all-volunteer military can't adequately support.

Here's what you need to know about the military draft. 

What is the draft?

The military draft - officially known as the Selective Service System - requires nearly all male U.S. citizens and male immigrants ages 18 to 25 to register with the government, in accordance with federal law. 

"The Selective Service System and the registration requirement for America’s young men provide our Nation with a structure and a system of guidelines which will provide the most prompt, efficient, and equitable draft possible, if the country should need it," the official website explains.

The selective service is a government bureau separate from the Defense of Defense.

Who needs to register?

Almost all men who are 18-25 years old and live in the U.S. must register for Selective Service. This includes:

  • U.S. citizens (U.S. born, dual citizens, and naturalized)
  • U.S. citizens who live outside the country
  • Immigrants (legal permanent residents and undocumented immigrants)
  • Refugees and asylum seekers
  • Transgender people who were assigned male gender at birth
  • People with disabilities

If you are a military veteran or a military reservist, you are still required to register with Selective Service. However, if you served in the Armed Forces and are 26 or older, but failed to register, your DD Form 214 is evidence that your failure to register was not knowing and willful. Learn more here.

Several groups are exempt from registering, such as those currently on active duty, some disabled persons and those who are incarcerated. Conscientious objectors are required to register. A conscientious objector is one who is opposed to serving in the armed forces and/or bearing arms on the grounds of moral or religious principles.

If you served on active duty and were discharged before your 26th birthday, you still have to register.

If you are 26 or older, it's too late to register.

You can see the Selective Service's full list of requirements here.

Are women eligible to register for the draft?

The law currently requires that only men register with Selective Service. In the event that the law is changed to include registering women, "Selective Service is prepared to expand registration," the website reads.

What if you don't register?

According to law, it is considered a federal felony, punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 or a prison term of up to five years, or a combination of both, if you fail to register with Selective Service.

A felony conviction means you lose your right to vote and the right to own, possess and use a firearm, among other things.

How do you register?

The easiest way to register is online.

Forms are also available at post offices, high schools, and DMV locations.

If implemented, how would the draft work?

According to the Selective Service, the draft, if implemented, would have similarities to that of the Vietnam War. 

That means the Selective Service would most likely hold a draft lottery based on dates of birth. The number 1 would correspond to Jan. 1, 15 to Jan. 15, etc. Officials would draw numbers similar to drawing numbers for a lottery. If your birth date is the first one drawn, you are the first to be drafted.

According to the Selective Service, if a draft were held today, those who are 20 years old -- or turning 20 during the year in which the numbers are drawn -- would be the first to go. Beginning Jan. 1 of the year an eligible male turns 21, he would drop into the second priority category, and men born the following year would move into the priority group one. Each succeeding year, a draft eligible man drops into the next lower priority group until he has reached his 26th birthday, at which time he is over the age of liability for the draft.

If you're drafted, will you automatically go to combat?

It's important to note that even though someone is registered and their number is called, they may not be inducted automatically into the military. They may be eligible for a deferment; categories might include married persons or college students.

You may also be excluded for medical or psychological reasons, may declare yourself to be a conscientious objector, or may even be able to enlist in a specific branch or career field to avoid combat duty.

In the event a national emergency required a draft, the Selective Service has protocol in place for when that happens.

First, the president and Congress would need to authorize the draft. Then, Selective Service activates and orders all personnel to report for duty. Afterward, a publicly attended, nationally televised and live-streamed lottery is conducted. You can learn more about the process here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.