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Defense Bill May Not Include Provision on Drafting Women

drafting women

By Debbie Gregory.

House and Senate negotiators plan to shelve the provision requiring women to register for the draft in favor of ordering up a study of the issue.

Last year at this time, Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the combat exclusionary rule for women and opened up all military jobs to women in the military who qualify. The Senate Armed Services Committee then said that Carter’s action had removed any justification for limiting draft registration to men.

A few months later, Rep. Duncan Hunter and Rep. Ryan Zinke, opposed to Carter’s action, introduced a bill titled the “Draft America’s Daughters Act of 2016” that would require women to register with the Selective Service System.

Both Hunter and Zinke said they were opposed to their own bill, but argued that a debate in Congress was necessary on lifting the combat exclusion rule for women.

Carter, the service secretaries, and the service chiefs have made clear that requiring women to register for the draft was up to Congress, and they have yet to voice any opposition to such a move.

President Obama supports requiring women to register for Selective Service when they turn 18. He is the first president to endorse universal draft registration since Jimmy Carter.

Obama believes adding women to the draft would serve two purposes: showing a commitment to gender equality throughout the armed services, and fostering a sense of public service that comes from requiring draft registration as a ritual of adulthood.

“As old barriers for military service are being removed, the administration supports — as a logical next step — women registering for the Selective Service,” said Ned Price, a spokesman for Obama’s National Security Council.

But the timing of Obama’s support makes it mostly symbolic, coming in the final weeks of his presidency.

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Will Women Soon Be Subject to the Draft?

draft women

By Debbie Gregory.

Rep. Duncan Hunter’s attempt to take a stand against women in combat backfired.

Hunter (R-CA), who is against integrating combat forces, proposed opening up the Selective Service to include women. “This is about a big war, meaning when you have tens of thousands of people dying — tens of thousands — that is when you have a draft,” he said. But he also vowed to vote against his own proposal.

Last December, the Defense Department decided to open all remaining gender-segregated combat jobs — about 225,000 — to female troops.

Selective Service law as it is currently written now refers specifically to “male persons” in stating who must register and who would be drafted. For women to be required to register with Selective Service, Congress would have to amend the law.

The proposal garnered enough support for female integration that members of the House Armed Services Committee voted in favor of opening the Selective Service and the draft.

The Selective Service measure is now part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act. If passed by Congress, for the first time in our nation’s history, women aged 18-26 would be required to register for the draft,  and could be forced into combat.

The U.S. came close to drafting women during World War II, when there was a shortage of military nurses. However, there was a surge of volunteerism and a draft of women nurses was not needed.

“I actually support your amendment and will be delighted to vote for it,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA). “If we want equality in this country, we want women to be treated precisely like men are treated and that they should not be discriminated against, we should be willing to support a universal conscription,” she added.

Retired Navy SEAL Rep. Ryan Zinke, (R-MT) and Hunter have been trying to build opposition to female integration since they introduced the Draft America’s Daughters Act, a bill that is the same as the amendment.

But political momentum appears to be building behind integration and changes to the draft system.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.