Women, Combat and the Military Draft
HandelontheLaw.com Staff Writer
The first week of December 2015 was mighty military for U. S. women. First, they were officially allowed in all combat jobs; and then they were told to face the possibility of registering with the Selective Service System.
On December 3, 2015, Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered all military branches to open all combat jobs to women. Our military branches have until January 1, 2016 to submit plans to facilitate the order.
This does not mean that women were previously excluded from all combat roles. Women have served in combat positions for years; however, they were excluded from certain military occupation specialties. Defense Secretary Carter’s order eliminates that distinction.
Now that all combat roles will be open to women, the President and certain congressmen are discussing whether women should be required to register with the Selective Service System. Men aged 18 – 25 are currently required to register, per the Selective Service Act. Should U. S. women aged 18 – 25 now be required to register with the Selective Service System? It depends on who you ask.
Some congressmen believe there is no need for registration at all; that the current system is a waste of tax dollars, can be shelved for now and in the event of war or other significant military action, we can blow the dust off the process and use it then. Other congressmen believe no change is needed and the Selective Service System should simply continue to require the registration of young men.
Finally, some congressmen on both sides of the political aisle believe the admission of women to all combat roles necessitates amendment to the Selective Service Act to include women. Representative Duncan Hunter (R – Calif.), who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, reasons that women should now be required to register because “if there was a World War III and bad things happen, you don’t draft people to work the supply chain, you draft people because there are grunts dying.” Another perspective that also supports requiring women to register comes from Representative Charles Rangel (D – NY), who believes requiring universal registration will “compel the American public to question why and how we go to war, and think twice about sending our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters into harm’s way."
In the coming months, the President intends to confer with Congress to determine what amendment, if any, is needed. If the Act is changed, that amendment must come from an act of Congress.
By Kathy Catanzarite
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