Selective Service System Must Allow for Women Registrants

The Editors

America’s Selective Service System is completely outdated and inequitable.

The system, which requires men from the age of 18 to 25 to register for a military draft, does not require women to register.

The longer it stands as our country’s “insurance policy,” the longer women will face another front on which they are losing the battle for fair and equal treatment in our country and indeed, our world.

We need to change this troubled provision.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter reinstated conscription for men under the Military Selective Service Act. Women were considered for registration, but were passed over because they are not allowed in ground combat.

This system must be amended to allow for the registration of women, or it should be dismantled altogether.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton requested the Secretary of Defense update its mobilization requirements for the draft, as he included that bringing women to the draft should be considered with a fresh viewpoint. The Department of Defense returned with a report stating that “the restriction of females from assignments below the brigade level whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground, provides justification from exempting women from registration (and a draft) as set forth in the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Rostker v. Goldberg (1981).”

That same report also recognized that a 14 year-old precedent might not hold up as well in the discussion, due to the growing percentage of women enlisting in the U.S. armed forces.

Ultimately, the report from the Defense Department concluded that “the success of the military will increasingly depend upon the participation of women.”

A report by the Government Accountability Office in 1998 showed that with the simple addition of several staff members and a moderately increased budget, the “Selective Service System could register women if its authorizing legislation, the Military Selective Service Act, is amended to allow registering women.”

A very recent Government Accountability Office report recommended the Defense Department review the System. This is the first time since 1994 the Defense Department has reviewed its requirements, and there is a slight possibility it could decide to put the program back into “deep standby,” as it was in the mid-to-late seventies.

Although The Pioneer may not agree with the necessity for a draft, the issue at hand is equality.

Women currently comprise around 14 percent of the active duty armed forces in the U.S., and they are in 91 percent of the army occupations. They also hold roughly 16 percent of the commissioned officer posts. Even without direct combat roles, women fight and die for our country, and play critical roles in an array of areas throughout our defense systems.

Still to this day, women in America earn roughly 77 percent of what a man makes in the same position. Seventeen women hold seats in the Senate of 100, and only 92 of 435 in the House are women.

Women do not yet have true equality in America, and their exclusion from the Selective Service System only continues the process of denying women an equal position in society.

Our government must amend the Military Selective Service Act, or it must be abolished altogether.