The announcement that the Pentagon will lift the ban on women in combat has raised a controversial question: What does this mean for the draft?
Some are wondering if the decision will ultimately lead to women being required to sign up for military drafting. Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced on Thursday that women would be allowed to serve in military combat roles.
“If they can meet the standards, there is no reason why they shouldn’t have the chance,” Panetta said during a news conference at the Pentagon.
While the move was supported by the President, lawmakers on both sides, and by equal-rights advocacy groups, not everybody is on board with the changes.
But critics say that allowing women to fight will eventually lead to forcing women into combat.
“Once you allow women into combat, you are then essentially ordering all women to fight,” Tommy Sears, executive director at The Center for Military Readiness, told Fox News. “You have a vocal minority forcing women who would rather not be fighting to go to war.”
Sears believes that once women are allowed on the front lines, all women will be held to the same standard as men. The government would then be obligated to expand the draft — should it be activated — to women.
“There are interest groups for women who will actually make it a point to see that that happens,” he said.
Panetta, however, says that’s not the goal of the ban lifting.
“That’s not our operation,” Panetta said during a press conference at the Pentagon. “I don’t know who the hell controls Selective Services if you want to know the truth. … Whoever does, they’re going to have to exercise some judgment based on what we just did.”
The Selective Service System is an independent federal agency within the executive branch of the federal government. The director reports directly to the president.
U.S. law states that if there are changes in policy regarding where women can serve in the military, the Pentagon must provide a “detailed analysis of the legal implication of the proposed change with respect to the constitutionality of the application of the Military Selective Service Act … to males only.”
Currently, men between the ages of 18 and 25 must sign up for the draft. The draft is basically a random lottery, where a computer chooses those who will be called upon to serve. While the nation usually uses volunteer troops, the president has the authority to call up the National Guard and reserve troops as needed. If more are necessary, Congress and the president make the decision to reinstate the draft.
“The department’s goal in rescinding the rule is to ensure that the mission is met with the best-qualified and most capable people, regardless of gender,” Panetta said in a statement.
Since the ban has been lifted, logistics are now consuming leaders. The military now must decide how many of the battlefront positions will go to women. Military service chiefs are still able to recommend whether women should be excluded from any of those more demanding and deadly positions, such as Navy commandos or the Army’s Delta Force.
The military services have until January 2016 to make the case that some positions should still remain closed to women.