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Women in the Draft

Women in the Draft

Every year, Congress passes the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to fund the military. But this year the routine bill includes some historic changes.

Section 513 of the bill proposes a “Modernization of the Selective Service System.” This modernization includes replacing “male persons” with “persons” in the Military Selective Service Act. This means that women would be required to register for the draft upon turning 18.

Traditionally, the purpose of conscription has been to provide combat replacements. That would also change under Section 513 of the NDAA. According to the bill, the purpose of the draft with women added would be “ensuring adequate personnel with the requisite capabilities to meet the mobilization needs of the Department of Defense during a national emergency.”

Women, who make up 16 percent of all military personnel, are unquestionably a valuable military asset. But adding women to the draft isn’t as simple as updating legislative language. A change this massive would require detailed logistical planning—which seems to be lacking.

Even though the updated language proposed in the NDAA suggests women drafted would not necessarily be serving in combat roles, there is a lack of detail about how the military would effectively assign jobs and integrate more women into service on short notice.

Do you think an annual budgetary bill is the best place to squeeze in historic changes to the military service that will have major implications for hundreds of millions of Americans?

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