Ever since the Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that some combat jobs would be opened to women, the question was raised regarding whether or not women would then be required to register for the draft.
When Secretary of Defense Ash Carter updated that policy, opening all combat jobs to women, the question was raised again – and now multiple military officials are saying that, yes, women need to register for the draft.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller are agreed on the subject. Said Neller:
“It’s my personal view in light of integration that every American physically qualified should register for the draft.”
Senator John McCain (R – Arizona), a veteran and former POW himself, cautioned officials against moving too quickly:
“I am concerned that the department has gone about things backward. This consequential decision was made and mandated before the military services could study its implications, and before any implementation plans were devised to address the serious challenges raised in studies.”
The studies he cites suggest that putting more women in combat roles may be progressive, but may not benefit the military: Women are injured more often and more severely, even in training. They respond to stress differently and are more likely to become anxious and depressed.
The main concern raised by all critics is whether or not training standards or physical demands of certain jobs would be lowered to accommodate women in order to ensure an inclusive environment. Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst (also a veteran) voiced such concerns:
“I fully support the changes, as long as standards are not lowered to boost the number of women in combat jobs or force them to meet quotas. We need to ensure we don’t set up men or women for failure.
It’s clear we need to ensure that we’re taking into account the impact this could have on women’s health.”