U.S. Taking Steps toward Drafting Women

June 28, 2017

The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, in agreement with its counterpart in the House, has recommended requiring women to register for a military draft. The recommendation, included in an annual defense bill, was prompted by the Pentagon's decision to lift all gender-based restrictions on front-line combat units. In a summary of its bill, the committee stated that the Pentagon’s decision had removed any justification for exempting women from the draft. Women must begin to sign up with the Selective Service beginning in January 2018, according to the committee's measure. The recommendation to draft women was initiated by Rep. Duncan Hunter, an opponent of women in combat He stated that his purpose was to stimulate a needed discussion of women’s role in the military and to force elected officials to put their positions on record. When I proposed my amendment, I even did so with the intention of voting against it.  It passed by a vote of 32-30, with Democrats on the Armed Services Committee uniting in support.  They are now on the record as upholding draft registration for women—I am not, along with 29 others who voted no. Let me be clear: I don’t support women in the infantry or special operations, nor do I support women registering for the draft.

Although accepted by both the Senate and the House Armed Services committees, the issue of drafting women will undoubtedly provoke heated debate when considered in the full Senate and House. However, even if Congress votes that women should register for the selective service just as men do, within 30 days of turning 18, a return to a military draft seems highly unlikely.  No one has been drafted since 1973 when the Vietnam War was winding down. Military leaders have expressed support for continuation of an all-volunteer force and the public seems to have no appetite for a draft. A final result of this discussion may be the end of selective service registration for all.  In fact, the Senate committee’s bill also included the recommendation to create a commission to study whether the selective service should be eliminated. Sources: .

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