An abreviated version of this post was published as a Letter to the Editor in the Star News, Wilmington, NC, June 23, 2016.
With no public debate the Senate passed the FY17 NDAA which includes forcing women to register for Selective Service. This is problematic for many of the same reasons as putting women in combat units. It’s not a rights issue. We enjoy equal rights under law. That doesn’t mean we’re the same in physical abilities. Even top-performing military women are not interchangeable with infantrymen, and replacing infantrymen is what the draft is for. It’s not for desk jobs to “free a man to fight.” Few women qualify for the military, near none for combat standards that would have to be lowered to induct them. Military women already average 2-10 times men’s injuries. To cull through millions of registrants to find the 1 or 2 who could meet infantry demands but would still have at least double the injury risk would be a huge waste for little ROI. Women are also higher-value targets to our vicious enemies for propaganda and much worse. We serve with courage and excellence, have always volunteered in wartime and will again, but we have risks in war that men don’t. While the combat exemption was a barrier against women’s draft, its repeal does not mean there is nothing else to consider. Given the administrative burden, cost and readiness degradation, Congress is amply justified in opposing it. The draft and women’s inclusion should be publicly debated not slipped in behind closed doors and voted on with no scrutiny.