- The Washington Times - Monday, August 9, 2021

Senate Republicans are urging Congress not to pass legislation that would expand the military draft to include women.

The Senate Armed Services Committee approved an amendment last month as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, which would amend the Military Selective Service Act to require women to register with the Selective Service System.

“Forcing our daughters into the draft creates a burdensome and disproportionately increased risk of injury and fatalities for our nation’s women, as readiness data shows,” Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, said Friday in a statement. “This policy change is rushed and unnecessary in our current time of peace, and unduly harms women more than advancing any notion of equality. While American women should be empowered to serve in our Armed Forces, they should not be forced to fight.”

Mr. Lee joined Republican Sens. James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, Roger F. Wicker of Mississippi, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Marco Rubio of Florida in introducing the “Don’t Draft Our Daughters” resolution urging Congress not to pass the amendment. 

“Our all-volunteer military is the finest fighting force the world has ever known,” Mr. Lankford said. “Women have shown they are more than capable of fully serving in our Armed Forces, and I commend our brave daughters, sisters, and mothers who serve our nation. There is no reason to add women to the outdated Selective Service System to prepare for a draft.”

The senators said women would suffer higher injury rates than men in combat roles, citing a Marine Corps study that found the injury rate to be six times higher for women in combat roles than for men.

The senators also cited the Army’s rollout of its gender-neutral Combat Fitness Test, which showed a fail rate between 65% to 85% for women, compared to a 10% to 30% for men.

“Women have always served in the military,” Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness and former adviser to President George H.W. Bush, told The Washington Times last month. “They’ve always stepped up to volunteer. Whether it’s a civilian emergency or a military emergency, there’s no reason to believe women would not do the same.”

Mrs. Donnelly said the specific purpose of the draft is to replace combat casualties sustained by those serving in combat roles such as infantry and special operations, rather than support roles that, until 2015, were the only roles open to women.

As of 2019, 653 women had served in Army combat roles, according to the Center for a New American Security. The Army has had 1,055 women in its training pipeline for combat roles but faced an attrition rate of up to 72%, depending on the specialization.

Several women have completed the grueling training for elite special operations billets. Two female Army officers completed Ranger school in 2015 alone. By March 2020, 44 women had graduated. In 2019, two female soldiers passed selection to serve in the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment. A National Guard soldier last year became the first woman to complete the Army’s selection to become a Green Beret.

The senators argue that the amendment to extend the draft goes too far.

“When we have faced national security threats over the past four decades, men and women who love our country have volunteered in massive numbers to protect our nation with great distinction,” Mr. Lankford said. “Women are eligible to serve in any role in our military that they choose, but they should not be compelled to sign up for selective service.”

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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