I agreed with this article arguing that women should be required to register for Selective Service in addition to men, though I found their justifications to be more than a little wishy-washy.
To me, the argument comes down to fundamental fairness. Drafting someone into the military is pretty much the most intrusive thing that our government is legally allowed to do to you without. Equality in the eyes of the law is a two-way street – equal rights means equal responsibilites. Putting only 50% of the population onto draft rolls is leaving “money on the table” so-to-speak, because it doesn’t allow you to leverage the population you have.
The current lack of a draft has made this a low-priority issue – if an actual draft ever comes back, I think men will (justifiably) question why they are being forced to go when women aren’t. By then, it will be too late, though – the whole point of Selective Service registration is that if the need for soldiers is dire enough to warrant a draft, it’s also probably too immediate of a need to ALSO require figuring out who is eligible and where they live. Requiring EVERYNE to register sidesteps this objection and, in the unlikely event we have to bring the draft back, gives us a “deeper bench” of talent and manpower to draw from.
The other side of that coin, of course, is that women need to be afforded equal rights in the military as well – including the right to serve in combat assignments. The barriers continue to come down , but some still exist, most notably in front-line combat units. There’s increasing evidence that women in combat roles can serve as a force-multiplier. Not because they “think differently” or any nonsense like that, but because they are, in fact, different – look at the success of the Female Engagement Teams in Afghanistan.
I’m unconvinced by the TIME author’s argument that:
Women soldiers don’t form the same judgments about fighting wars as their male colleagues. A recent Pew poll found that 63% of women soldiers thought the war in Iraq was “not worth fighting for” compared to only 47% of male soldiers.
It seems much more likely to me that the disparity in opinion is generated by the difference in military experiences of men and women (i.e. combat vs. non-combat) than it is by any inherent differences in men and women. I suspect that if you looked at the opinions of front-line male soldiers vs. support male soldiers, you would also get a similar difference of opinion. There are much better reasons to include women in the “Total Force” than some outdated notion of women “thinking differently” from men – Senior female officers have shown they can be every bit as narrow-minded, insular and cruel as the worst of their male colleagues. Selective Service and combat roles should be extended to women because it’s the right thing to do – for men, for women and for an effective military.