Listen up ladies! Uncle Sam might want you too

Tennnnnn-hut, ladies! The next time Uncle Sam comes calling, he's probably going to want you, too.
Feb 25, 2013


The Obama administration's recent decision to lift the ban on women in combat has opened the door for a change in the law that currently compels only men between age 18 and 25 to register for a military draft, according to legal experts and military historians.

Never before has the country drafted women into military service, and neither the administration nor Congress is in a hurry to make them register for a future call-up. But, legally, they may have no other choice.

It is constitutional to register only men for a draft, the Supreme Court ruled more than three decades ago, because the reason for registration is to create a pool of potential combat troops should a national emergency demand a rapid increase in the size of the military. Women were excluded from serving in battlefield jobs, so there was no reason to register them for possible conscription into the armed forces, the court held.

Now that front-line infantry, armor, artillery and special operations jobs are open to female volunteers who can meet the physical requirements, it will be difficult for anyone to make a persuasive argument that women should continue to be exempt from registration, said Diane Mazur, a law professor at the University of Florida and a former Air Force officer.

"They're going to have to show that excluding women from the draft actually improves military readiness," Mazur said. "I just don't see how you can make that argument."

Groups that backed the end of the ban on women in combat also support including women in draft registration as a matter of basic citizenship. Women should have the same civic obligations as men, said Greg Jacob, a former Marine Corps officer and policy director for the Service Women's Action Network. "We see registration as another step forward in terms of equality and fairness," Jacob said.

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., supports draft registration for women, according to his spokeswoman. Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., who heads the House Armed Services Committee, hasn't made up his mind. McKeon said through a spokesman that he's awaiting a Defense Department report due in the coming weeks that will assess the legal impact of lifting the ban women in combat on draft registration.

But if you're worried a draft notice is going to soon be in your mailbox, take a deep breath. There is no looming national crisis that makes a military draft likely.

A draft would be enormously unpopular; a new poll by Quinnipiac University found that American voters firmly oppose a return to conscription. Also, adding women to the mix just doesn't appear to be a high priority for a battle-weary nation nearing the end of more than a decade of war.

The U.S. military has been an all-volunteer force for the past 40 years and women have become an integral part of it. Nearly 15 percent of the 1.4 million troops on active duty are female. More than 280,000 women have served in Iraq, Afghanistan or other countries in support of the wars. There have been 152 women killed in the fighting.

Americans overwhelmingly support allowing female volunteers to serve in ground combat roles by a 75-25 margin, according to the Quinnipiac poll. But the survey of 1,772 registered voters found them conflicted over mandated military service for women.

On the question of re-establishing a military draft, male and female voters said they were opposed, 65-28, according to the poll. If a draft were called, however, men backed the conscription of women as well as men, by 59-36, the poll said. But 48 percent of the women surveyed said they did not want women to be drafted while 45 percent said they should be.

Maj. Mary Jennings Hegar, a California Air National Guard pilot who served three tours in Afghanistan, said excluding women from a draft reinforces a stereotype that they are less capable than men and need to be protected. Not every woman can handle a close combat job, she said, and neither can every man.

But they can contribute in other ways if a crisis demands their service, said Hegar, who received a Purple Heart for wounds she suffered when her Medevac helicopter was shot at during a mission near Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Hegar and three other female service members filed a lawsuit last year challenging the combat ban on the grounds that the policy unfairly blocked them from promotions and other advancements open to men. The suit did not address the question of draft registration for women.

"You can't pick and choose when equality should apply to you," Hegar said. "Making generalized statements like, 'Women are capable of being in combat' or 'Women are incapable of being in combat,' are equally ignorant. People are either competent or they're not competent."

For baby boomers in particular, talk of conscription stirs memories of the social and political upheaval of the late 1960s and early 1970s caused in large part by the unpopularity of the Vietnam war and the perceived unfairness of the draft. Research published in the late 1970s showed that men from low-income or disadvantaged backgrounds were more likely to fight in Vietnam than men from middle- and high-income families who could avoid being drafted by going to college or finding a slot in a stateside National Guard unit.

"The American people lost confidence in the draft as a means of raising an army when it ceased to require equal sacrifice from everyone that was eligible to serve," said Bernard Rostker, a former director of the Selective Service System and the author of "I Want You! The Evolution of the All-Volunteer Force."

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., has made several attempts over the past decade to reinstitute the draft on the grounds that a small fraction of U.S. citizens are bearing a disproportionate burden in fighting the nation's wars. But his bills have gone nowhere.

That hasn't stopped him from trying. Just this month, Rangel introduced another bring-back-the-draft bill that also would require women to register.

"Women have proven that they can do the very same tasks, military and non-military, that men can," Rangel said.

No one has been conscripted into the U.S. military since 1973 when an apprentice plumber from California named Dwight Elliott Stone became the last draftee to be inducted. Stone, now 63 and living in San Francisco, didn't go happily. "I just wanted to do my two years and get the hell out," Stone said. He ended up serving about 17 months, and never had to go overseas.

The rules have been changed to make a future draft more equitable than it was during the Vietnam era. Being a college student is no longer an out; induction can only be postponed until the end of a semester.

Men who don't register with the Selective Service System, an independent federal agency that prepares for a draft, can be charged with a felony and fined up to $250,000. But the Justice Department hasn't prosecuted anyone for that offense since 1986.

There can be other consequences, though. Failing to register can mean the loss of financial aid for college, being refused employment with the federal government, and denied U.S. citizenship.

The Selective Service System maintains a database of nearly 17 million names of potential male draftees, yet the odds of a draft being called are remote, according to national security experts. Volunteers typically are more motivated, more disciplined and more physically fit than draftees. They're also more willing to re-enlist, which creates a more experienced force.

The Pentagon's top brass didn't push for a draft in 2005 when recruiting efforts slumped and they needed more troops for the expanding wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Andrew Bacevich, a professor of international relations and history at Boston University. Instead, it hired contractors by the thousands, called up reservists, and used an arcane rule known as "stop-loss" to extend, involuntarily, by months the tours of active-duty troops, said Bacevich, a retired Army colonel.

With formation of the all-volunteer force under way, President Gerald Ford ended the peacetime draft registration process in 1975. But after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan a few years later, World War III suddenly seemed possible, and President Jimmy Carter ordered a return to registration as a show of resolve. Carter, ever the progressive politician, added a twist. He wanted young women, not just young men, to sign up.

But Congress and certainly the country weren't ready for such a seismic cultural shift, and lawmakers refused to allow the registration of women.

Elaine Eidson, a mother of three sons and a daughter from Haleyville, Ala., spoke for what she described as the country's "silent majority" in testimony she gave in March 1980 to a House subcommittee that quickly shelved Carter's proposal. "This I will not stand for, nor will the American people stand for it," said Eidson, a member of the conservative Eagle Forum, according to the hearing record. "You cannot draft our women."

The Supreme Court's ruling came a year later and validated Congress' rejection of Carter's plan. The case that triggered the decision took a circuitous route to the high court. It was originally filed in federal court in Philadelphia during the waning days of the Vietnam War by a young medical school student named Robert Goldberg. He challenged the constitutionality of the Military Selective Service Act on the grounds that it discriminated against men by excluding women from draft registration. While Goldberg was subject to the draft, his number was never called.

When Ford ended draft registration, Goldberg's case languished. Carter's decision to revive the process gave it new life. A district court ruled in favor of Goldberg, finding that the Selective Service Act unconstitutionally discriminated between men and women.

The federal government appealed and the Supreme Court reversed the lower court. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice William Rehnquist said that Congress "acted well within its constitutional authority to raise and regulate armies and navies when it authorized the registration of men and not women."

Goldberg is now 59 and a doctor living and practicing near San Francisco. He said there is a "delicious irony" in the Pentagon's decision to end the ban on women in combat nearly 40 years after he challenged the idea that women couldn't cope with the rigors of military service.

"As a 20-year-old, I wasn't trying to make history," Goldberg said. "All I was trying to do was to see that the Selective Service System be declared unconstitutional by one means or another. It seemed patently obvious to me that a woman could do a job as well as I could."



Selective Service:

Service Women's Action Network:



Make them sign up for the draft. They wanted equality, now give it to them. With no restrictions on Combat, they certainly should have no problem with signing up for the draft. With the pending decrease in military retirement benefits, they are going to need a bigger pool of draftees as they will likely need to institute it in the near future, as fewer people make the military a career.


...and they need to pass the same physical fitness tests that the males do. None of this push-ups on knees crap that they got away with in school! If the males need to do 30 pull-ups then the females do also!


..including prostate exams.




Good one!!!! LMAO!!!!


And mammograms for the men!


More cannon fodder for the political ruling class' Endless War.

"Be the first one on your block To have your boy (or girl) come home in a box."

- Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag


How about all the ILLEGAL ALIENS that will be granted amnesty? Are they going to be required to register? All those teens/young adults here by no fault of their own? They want to stay here, they can register too! And I agree with the other post....with the cuts to the military and the benefits going down the drain, not many will sign up voluntarily. There is no incentive anymore.


A not very well thought out post, My apologies.


I served my country and I am a combat veteran. I did so with pride and would do it all over again without hesitation. It's not about you, it's about the person next to you. I am a sane person and yes, I have visited military cemeteries. I did it for you, your family, my family, and every other American. I am not ashamed of my military service and shame on you for your disrespectful comments. Without combat veterans like myself you wouldn't be able to make your ignorant comments. If you love your freedom, thank a Veteran.


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).


Well said ladydye. I tried to keep my response civil and not taken down. Thank you.


First off, I meant no disrespect as i have served myself. I served because it was my duty as well. My point of the post is, Anyone who has been in actual combat would NOT fight for the opportunity to go back let alone to open the doors to more people to fight these wars. I have no problem with women in the military at all, I do however have a problem with drafting women for front line troops. War is a horrible thing and those that argue for the chance to be front line troops have little to no idea what that entails, That being said, Arguing for a opportunity to be in such a horrible predicament shows the mentality of those that want it. War is not a video game, Nor is it somthing that most normal people would want to be in. As veterans you can answer the question, Was it fun and enjoyable, Do you want your daughters being drafted to enjoy the wars? (See my point) War itself is a form of insanity.


What was your mos?


My husband VOLUNTEERED for every tour he was on. It was his duty. It is not fun or enjoyable, it is a duty. It is an HONOR to fight and defend your country and your fellow citizens. I will agree, war is horrible. It is not fun or enjoyable. BUT there are some PEOPLE (men and women) who do it for a reason higher than you seem to be able to comprehend. With the attitude you have, I find it hard to believe you served. Any fellow veteran who would call others mentally ill is a disgrace. I am sorry, you comment was offensive, even MORE so being a former serviceman yourself. *oh and just for the record what was your MOS?*


I was in the Navy, TM2 (Thats a Torpedoman 2nd class). Again i mean no disrespect to anyone who has or will serve in the future, My point was the futility of war and fighting to include future generations of women who could have avoided the aspect of the draft and forcing them on the front lines is a case of insanity (Or being mental). I volunteered myself and i do not think anyone in the military is mental, I just think the idea of opening up the draft to women to force them to be on the front lines is just furthering the insanity of war itself. As i said would you want your daughter to be drafted and put on the front lines when it has always been avoidable and not neccessary for them to take part, But now because of this mentality they are forced to take part? Seriously, Ask yourself that.


I believe you didn't mean any disrespect, but it sure sounded like it. I think you'll agree if you re-read your post. I was an 0331, machine gunner, USMC. Don't take this the wrong way, but you have no idea about combat. You were a torpedoman. Again, no disrespect and thank you for your service. Some of the best people I served with were Navy Corpsman. To answer your question. No, I would not want any of my 3 daughters in a combat unit. I personally don't think women should be attached to combat units as having been there myself and having 3 daughters. But the women want it and our current President is doing it. Both women who recently tried Marine Corps Infantry Officers training have both washed out so I don't see it anytime in the near future.


I re-read it after I read your responses and I do agree it does not sound good, My thoughts on the subject do not cross over into writing as i would have liked. I just cannot understand the mentality of those who would open up the flood gates to include more people into serving on the front lines when it could be avoided, Thats all.(I have a daughter and would not want to see her in harms way especially if she was drafted and forced to be there) Thank you for your service and i hope you accept my apologies for anything i said that showed disrespect for you or those serving.


No problem. I agree with you in not wanting my daughters there, but at the same time I feel it's not right to only have men sign up for selective service. If women are eventually in combat units then all should register. Keep in mind and here is the important part. Not all men make it in infantry units just as not all women will. If there ever was a draft women could fill all kinds of non combat roles in the military. So technically I think men and women should register


I have always looked at our military as a volunteer force and that is what has always made it stronger than any other, Because those that enter into it are protecting those that reside within our borders and that gives them the stregnth to be the best fighting force on the planet. To open up a entire segment of our population who have in the past been exempt from the draft somehow feels foriegn to me. I do think women can and do make effective fighting forces as has been shown in the past with russia and asia conscripting them, Yet i have always believed that the US has been above foriegn militarys because we never intruded apon women and expected them to be front line troops. I guess to me (My personal opinion)it was a sign of our power that we could pull together enough citizens willing to fight for our country to avoid dragging our daughters into conflicts as other militarys had to do because there werent enough volunteers. I have served along side plenty of women in the Navy and they do a heck of a good job, So it is nothing sexist about it at all, Yet i guess it is sexist that i would rather me in my advanced age go to fight rather than a wife or a daughter. I know i was never on the front lines, But i have a good idea as most if not all my friends and relatives have served and i would not want my wife or daughter being pushed into that situation.

Kottage Kat

To ALL here have served and have family members serving
as a woman I am torn on this issue
Will look forward to an interesting discussion.


I think G Richardson makes some very good points. However, I do not feel it is my "duty" to possibly get blown to pieces. I respect those that choose to but it is my choice not to. Most that join the miltary do not expect to see combat but there's no guarantee you won't. Face it, most join for the so called benefits. Women are already on the front lines and should get credit for it.


That's why I chose to serve our country at the Old Navy. Like the slogan said, "It's not just a job, it's denim and fleece!".


For the people that like to create problems in our town I say prison or service.…