The military has removed all gender barriers to combat roles, but the military draft remains for men only. Should women have the right to register?
At Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women Summit three weeks ago, Air Force Secretary Deborah James says it’s time for young women to register for selective service.
Under President Obama’s administration, the Pentagon has worked to fully integrate women into front-line and special combat roles.
Women will now be able to contribute to the mission in ways they could not before. President Obama has rallied around this effort as a chance for the military to widen the talent pool.
Deborah James is the Air Force’s top civilian official and has no record of military service. So, would James enlist in the Air Force if she were 18 now? “I would seriously consider it,” she says, citing the military’s “unparalleled educational, travel, and leadership opportunities.”
These benefits are vital tools to fixing what James refers to as the Air Force’s people problem of not having a wide enough talent pool. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley agree with James that every American who’s physically qualified should register for the draft.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Army Acting Secretary Patrick Murphy don’t necessarily have the same sentiment, but do believe the issue should be up for national debate. In 1981, the Supreme Court upheld the decision to exempt women from registering for the draft. Congress has to change the law in order for women to register.
As an Army veteran, I am curious to see what happens and how women feel. If I was 18 years old today, I would not want to be required to register for the military draft.
I enlisted in the Army because of the reasons Deborah James stated: educational, leadership and travel opportunities. It was my decision and I don’t believe anyone should be required to do it.