The top generals of both the Army and the Marine Corps testified on Feb. 2 that women should be required to register with Selective Service now that the Pentagon has lifted all exemptions for women from direct ground combat positions.
In response to a question from Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Marine Corps commandant Gen. Robert Neller and Army chief of staff Gen. Mark Milley both agreed that any eligible and qualified American should register for the draft, according to The Washington Post.
“Gen. Neller is correct in believing that the new rules, taken to their logical conclusion, would result in women being required to register with [Selective Service],” Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness and a member of President George H. W. Bush’s 1992 Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces, told me.
Donnelly pointed out that for years, a U.S. Supreme Court decision tied women’s exemption from Selective Service registration to their exemption from direct ground combat (DGC). The 1981 Rostker v. Goldberg decision ruled male-only Selective Service registration was constitutional.
“Change the facts, so that women are ‘similarly situated’ [with respect to] eligibility for DGC, and the premise of the Rostker v. Goldberg precedent no longer exists,” Donnelly said.
The Selective Service question came during a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee about how the services would begin to integrate women into combat units and training programs for combat-related jobs. The sometimes contentious hearing also exposed the reluctance of Marine Corps leaders to bring women into certain demanding infantry, armor, and special operations jobs, citing studies showing combined-gender units are not as effective as male-only units.
“We have a decision and we’re in the process of moving out,” Neller told the senators. “We will see where the chips fall. And, again, our hope is that everyone will be successful. But hope is not a course of action on the battlefield.”
Although the service chiefs repeatedly assured the committee standards would not be lowered to bring women into combat jobs, they warned that inherent physical differences and different injury rates between men and women will have an impact on how the integration moves ahead.
Donnelly pointed out that in Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s Dec. 3 announcement lifting the DGC exclusion for women, he confirmed military women would now be assigned on the same basis as men, which means women who meet the minimal standards could be involuntarily assigned to combat units.
“This is being done even though officials are well aware that women’s physical capabilities are far less than men’s and their risks of injury are far greater,” Donnelly wrote in a prepared statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee. “This is not a ‘pro-woman’ policy.”
Donnelly is concerned that military conscription would be especially unfair to women, who would not “have an equal opportunity to survive, or help fellow soldiers survive, in a direct ground combat environment.”
But even eliminating Selective Service registration altogether would not resolve the issue, according to Donnelly.
“[Selective Service] is a low-cost insurance policy that should not be abolished just because the administration has been so irresponsible in ordering women into direct ground combat units,” she told me. “Potential enemies planning major wars against America would be pleased.”
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Publication date: February 8, 2016