The Pentagon has not only recommended that the current mandatory draft registration requirements for male citizens and residents age 18 to 25 should remain in place, but that the mandate should be expanded to include women as well. The details of the recommendation are contained in a Defense Department report that was requested by Congress.
As reported by The Washington Times, the Pentagon report is intended to serve as a starting point for examining military, national, and public service.
Though around 2 million male citizens and residents are required to register for the draft each year, women have never been subjected to such a mandate. It is estimated that extending the mandatory registration to women would, “in short order,” add approximately 11 million people to the Selective Service System database.
When mandatory draft registration was restarted by President Carter in 1980, Congress did not require women to participate since they did not serve in combat roles in the military. Today, women are eligible for a variety of combat roles ranging from combat pilot to infantry soldier.
According to the Pentagon report, “It appears that, for the most part, expanding registration for the draft to include women would enhance further the benefits presently associated with the Selective Service System.”
The report also asserts that a gender-neutral approach “would convey the added benefit of promoting fairness and equity not previously possible in the process and would comport the military Selective Service System with our nation’s touchstone values of fair and equitable treatment, and equality of opportunity.”
Last November, Congress was progressing towards enacting a law that would extend the draft registration mandate to women, and even had support from both Republicans and Democrats. Ultimately, it was decided that a commission would be formed to conduct a two-year examination.
Two other significant findings were also included in the report. First, the Pentagon determined “the Department of Defense currently has no operational plans that envision mobilization at a level that would require conscription.”
According to the report, “Even in the face of sustained conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, DoD has maintained its ability to recruit and retain a professional volunteer force without resorting to a draft.”
Second, the report states, “Eliminating military selective service could be interpreted by adversaries of the United States as a potential weakness, thus emboldening existing or potential enemies.”