Women Belong in the Military—and the Draft
Fairness and preparedness demand that females be required to register
The Pentagon has struck a blow for military preparedness and sex equality by opening all combat jobs to women. Allowing female troops who meet the same standards as men to fight improves a nation’s ability to protect itself and its interests.
As the military takes this big step, it inevitably comes up against a next one: equality in Selective Service registration. Fair treatment demands that young women—age 18 to 25—be required to sign up. Men have to register within 30 days of their 18th birthday, even if they’re disabled or wouldn’t realistically be suited for active duty. Failure to do so is a felony, and though prosecution is rare, it can mean ineligibility for federal jobs and benefits, college loans, and driver’s licenses.
The U.S. hasn’t had a draft since 1973 and has never come close to reinstating it, despite being involved in major wars. But the Selective Service requirement remains essential to keeping the U.S. prepared for the unthinkable. It’s important to have a registry of all potentially eligible participants.
In recent decades, American women have demonstrated their ability to serve throughout the military. They now make up 15 percent of active forces and 23 percent of new officers. Last summer two women graduated from the U.S. Army’s rigorous Ranger School. In Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 100 have been killed and almost 1,000 wounded. Air Force Secretary Deborah James has said she has no objections to requiring women to register. Army Secretary John Mchugh said it is a matter of “true and pure equality.”
No female draftee, if it came to that, would be forced onto the battlefield, just as female enlistees won’t be. Decisions about exactly what female conscripts would do need not be made ahead of time. All that’s necessary now is to acknowledge that, when it comes to military service, women should have the same opportunities—and responsibilities—as men. <BW>