Written by Torry Barnes and Avery Baker, @TorryBarnes, @a_osborn2013
Two republican House Representatives introduced a bill to Congress Feb. 2 that would require women to register for the draft.
Rep. Duncan Hunter of California and Ryan Zinke of Montana introduced their bill for debate after Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced in December that the Pentagon would open all military combat positions to women.
Women have always been excluded from the Selective Service System, a decision upheld by a 1981 Supreme Court ruling which stated that because women were restricted from combat, it was appropriate for them to be treated differently than men by not being included in the draft.
The senators titled the bill, “Draft America’s Daughters Act,” which is meant to provoke conversation in legislature on the role of women in the United States, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“If this Administration wants to send 18-20 year old women into combat, to serve and fight on the front lines, then the American people deserve to have this discussion through their elected representatives,” Hunter said.
Army Gen. Mark Milley and Marine Gen. Robert Neller both said they agree that women should be included in the requirement to register for the Selective Service at age 18.
Currently, men ages 18-25 are required to register for the Selective Service. However, neither a peacetime or wartime draft has been active since 1973.
Lindsey Thomson, a mechanic in the Air Force, said she feels women are not only capable of fulfilling combat duties, but would be valuable to any military unit.
“If military officials have deemed women in combat beneficial to the mission and defense of our country, then women have an obligation to defend it just as men have always had,” Thomson said.
Thomson said she believes this will be a huge step in the right direction for women’s rights.
“A draft that requires all male participants and doesn’t allow females is simply sexist,” Thomson said. “Equal rights means equal obligations.”
Thomson said pardoning women from the draft further contributes to a common idea that women are not capable or willing to participate in military combat.
“Right now we have a volunteer force in which women serve with honor and distinction,” Thomson said. “Selective service is a necessary fail-safe in case we need large amounts of bodies quickly.”
Brook Lasater, a junior studying exercise physiology, said she grew up in a military family and can see the benefits the military can provide for a woman.
“As a woman who strongly believes that I can do anything a man can do, I think it’s fair that women should be drafted,” Lasater said.
Lasater said she admires the women who contributed to World War II in the 1940s.
“I think people don’t realize the ideas that women have, and the plans that women can bring to the table,” Lasater said.
Women have become more involved with combat in recent decades despite the official stance of the Department of Defense. Over 280,000 women served in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts but could not receive the same recognition as male members of the military because their combat service could not officially be recognized. While the opening of combat jobs to female members of the military has opened up the discussion about women and the draft, it has also allowed women to be recognized for their service in combat zones.
Garrett Jones, a junior studying business management and a member of Reserved Officers’ Training Corps, said women are great assets to the military, but physical combat should be left to the men.
“Women, as great as they are, don’t achieve the physical standards men can,” Jones said.
Jones said military combat is physically demanding, and should not be forced on women.
“The military isn’t a place where career advancement should trump unit lethality and peak capacity to clear our wounded during battle in order to save more lives,” said Amy Otto of The Federalist.
Otto said she stands by data that shows mixed sex military units to perform more poorly than same sex units. She pointed to numbers that have shown women in the Marines who rank in the highest percentile for anaerobic and aerobic capacities overlap the bottom percentile of men in the same categories.
“I don’t personally believe a government should force you to put your life at risk, male or female,” Jones said. “Especially in regards to women.”
Megan Mabey, a member of the ROTC and a junior majoring in international studies, said that forcing women into the draft could be very detrimental to the family unit.
“I feel women are more maternal,” Mabey said. “They are there for the child. Men are usually the ones that go and get the jobs.”
In 2012, the Cato Institute’s Doug Bandow reported that since the draft ended and an all-volunteer force established, morale and reenlistment rates have been higher within the military.
“The difference is simple: recruits who want to serve and succeed are likely to perform better than draftees who want out, the sooner the better,” according to Cato.
The Selective Service System is able to accommodate female citizens if required, according to the Selective Service System website. No changes have been made as of January 2016.