- - Monday, October 30, 2017


Women have voluntarily served in the military ranks of the United States, serving with men through all the nation’s wars, and with great distinction. The question now before the makers of defense policy is whether women should be required to sign up for the draft and risk the rigors of the battlefield whether they want to or not.

Equality of the sexes is a banner the federal government ostentatiously waved during the Obama era, and the admirals and generals dutifully saluted. A new Defense Department study on future of the Selective Service System recommends continuing to register young men and, for the first time, require young women to register for conscription.

A benefit of universal registration, the study argues, is that the supply of fodder for war would grow dramatically: “A broader, deeper registrant pool would enhance the ability of the [Selective Service System] to provide manpower to the Defense Department in accordance with its force needs. This is particularly important because future wars may have requirements for skills in non-combat fields in which the percentage of individuals qualified would not be as variable by gender.” Translated into plain English, “sometime in the future there may not be enough men to go around.”

The current system registers 2 million draft-eligible men aged 18 to 25 annually. The Pentagon says including women would add another 11 million draftees “in short order.” In recent years, the military jobs open to women have gradually expanded beyond health services and clerical positions to include fighter pilot and even front-line combat roles.

“The registration of women,” the study argues, “would promote fairness and equity. That no segment of the population from ages 18 to 25 would be exempt from draft registration would ensure an equity not previously possible in the registration process and would comport the military selective service system with our Nation’s touchstone values of fair and equitable treatment, and equality of opportunity.”

Bureaucrats, including the rear-echelon bean counters at the Pentagon, naturally drool at the prospect of enlarging the numbers under their control and command, but the U.S. Supreme Court has already dismissed the Pentagon’s “equity argument.” In Rostker v. Goldberg in 1981, the high court upheld the Selective Service Act of 1948, holding that Congress is entitled to focus the law on the issue of military need rather than notions of equity.

Sweeping women into the draft would advance the wishes and dreams of the social engineers to “prove” that differences between male and female — whether biological or behavioral — are only imaginary. Treating men and women as equals in every way, however, would open the possibility of women being required to serve in combat where they could face injury, rape and death.

Only a handful of nations subject women to conscription now, among them Bolivia, Chad, Eritrea and North Korea. With the exception of Norway and Israel, a tiny country surrounded by enemies that drafts women but provides exemptions for motherhood and religious reasons, this is not exactly an enviable group to set the standard for the United States.

John Kelly, a distinguished Marine and the White House chief of staff, mused the other day that “When I was a kid growing up a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred and looked on with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore.”

The United States has never sent its women to do the job that men are required, by custom, nature and tradition, to do. If women are required to join men as dealers of death on the battlefield, America is surely destined for a brutish future. Women can do many things as well as men, and some things better than men. Women have certain responsibilities to bear, but going to war is not one of them.

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