Commission Recommends Making Women Eligible for U.S. Military Draft

Army First Lieutenant Audrey Griffith (left) stands guard with Specialist Heidi Gerke during a force-protection exercise at Forward Operating Base Hadrian in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, in 2013. Both women are members of the 92nd Engineer Battalion. (US Army)

The National Commission on Military, National and Public Service, formed by Congress to assess various military issues, will recommend making women eligible for the U.S. military draft, Politico reported on Tuesday.

“This is a necessary and fair step, making it possible to draw on the talent of a unified Nation in a time of national emergency,” the commission wrote in a report to be released on Wednesday.

The report was required by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017. The recommendations therein are non-binding, but could provide support to Congress members should they wish to allow the draft to apply to women.

Currently, male U.S. citizens are required to register for the draft, although no one has been conscripted into the army in 40 years. The U.S. formally barred female soldiers from combat roles until 2015, when then-defense secretary Ash Carter canceled the Pentagon’s longstanding ban. The military has since integrated around 224,000 women into combat positions, and 30 women have completed the elite Army Ranger school as of summer 2019.

Objections to women serving in combat are “due in large part to natural physical differences between men and women that have practical consequences for the lethality of gender-integrated fighting units,” the report reads. Proponents of allowing women in combat roles, meanwhile, have urged the commission to reconsider longstanding Pentagon policy.

“Today, women…are able to hold any military job for which they are qualified,” Katey van Dam, a Marine Corps veteran and attack helicopter pilot, told the commission in 2019. “As society expects opportunity parity for women, it is time to also expect equal civic responsibility. In the event of a major war that requires national mobilization, women should serve their country to the same extent as male citizens.”

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

(C) 2020 National Review

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