Each day roughly 65,000 American women turn 18. If they were men, they’d have to register for the selective service, otherwise known as the draft.
By law, registration is male only, but some say that may have to change. Leo Shane, congressional reporter for the Military Times, has been following this shift in thinking.
Last month, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter made history when he ordered the military to open all jobs to women, including combat and commando posts. Some are saying that with equal rights come equal responsibilities, and are asking if it’s time to add women to the selective service rosters.
“We’ve already had a couple of legal challenges to this,” Shane says. “This is one of the many side-effect issues that the Defense department is struggling with now. The logic has been that, since women weren’t eligible for combat jobs, they didn’t need to register for the draft.”
But now, Shane says, there are several groups that have offered challenges. He says so far those challenges are in limbo, or have been knocked down. Carter and other Pentagon officials are discussing the appropriate steps to take.
“It remains to be seen exactly how some of that would go down,” Shane says. “Congress would have to intervene at some point. There could be some court orders.”
The other option is to stay with the all-volunteer military that the U.S. has now, and disband the draft.
To reinstate the draft, Shane says we’d be “talking about pretty catastrophic social change anyways.”
“We’re far away from the Vietnam era and what the force looked like there,” Shane says. “The preference is an all-volunteer army: the highly trained, the selected and the best of the best that they get in there and get that training for certain roles.”