It’s time for the ladies to sign up for the draft.
At least that’s the opinion of two of the military’s top officers, according to a recent report in the Washington Post.
During a Senate committee hearing on Tuesday, the top officers of the Army and Marine Corps — Gen. Mark A Miley and Gen. Robert B Neller respectively — offered the opinions following the Pentagon’s decision to open all combat jobs to female service members.
Signing up for the Selective Service — essentially, the draft — is a requirement for virtually all men in America between the ages of 18 – 25. At present, if a man doesn’t sign up for the Selective Service, they are ineligible for federal student loans, government workforce training or practically any federal jobs. Failure to comply with the Selective Service can result in a $250,000 fine, five years in jail or a combination of the two.
Expanding Selective Service requirements to include women is a move in the direction of fairness and equality, certainly. But it’s also a largely empty gesture.
The draft that pulled so many young men into Vietnam ended in 1973. Since then, the military has been a totally volunteer force.
During the years following the Vietnam War, there may have been a need to ensure that a proper fighting force could be gathered quickly in the event of a land war with Russia or some other foe.
No one took the idea of the draft returning seriously in the ‘90s during the Persian Gulf War. Certainly no one should take it seriously now. Recent trends in military development point to a future of drones and the use of specially trained commandos. Speed and precision are key. Massive land armies accompanying armor columns are not the future.
In the event that a war breaks out that warrants a change in strategy away from unmanned vehicles and precision strikes, it seems — based on the public’s response immediately following 9/11 — there would be no problem drawing a force of volunteers to rise to the occasion.
It’s probably for the best that women sign up for the Selective Service. Despite the incredible unlikelihood of a draft, it is a consistent step in the direction of actual equality. But maybe rather than extending the Selective Service to women, we should consider whether the Selective Service should continue to exist.
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