The United States is considering deeming military drafts gender-inclusive, according to The New York Times. Currently, only able-bodied American men aged 18-25 are required to register for the Selective Service System, which is the nation’s apparatus for issuing mandatory enlistment into national service.
Due to a decrease in the number of American volunteer soldiers, America might need a draft in the future. In 2018, the army failed to meet their goal of 76,500 recruits, according to Stars and Stripes. With the possibility of a draft, all able-bodied Americans should be held to the same standard by being required to register for the SSS.
Since 2015, women have been allowed to serve in all divisions of the military, including combat. In 2018, The Army Times interviewed Lt. Gen. Thomas Seamands on the state of the military since the integration of genders took place.
“We have females that are volunteering to go to infantry, armor out of all the commissioning sources,” Seamands said. “I asked West Point, the think tank up there, to tell me what they saw [with] the propensity, and looking at the West Point cadets, the propensity is actually going up among our females.”
Allowing women to register for the SSS will maximize opportunities for women in the military.
Opponents of a gender-inclusive military draft assert that it will weaken the military as a whole. Marine veteran Jude Eden said, “Women have far higher injury rates and risks than men” according to USA Today. “In warfare it means higher turnover, more casualties and lost battles.”
Although some women may be unfit for the military, the SSS has a multitude of criteria that must be met in order to register. Individuals may only register if they meet the age range as well as certain physical and mental standards. A large population of women certainly meet these criteria, but their potential is overlooked due to their gender.
Eileen Patten and Kelly Parker at the Pew Research Center explain that men and women in the military are similar in that “they are just as likely to be officers; they joined the armed services for similar reasons; and post-9/11 veterans of both sexes have experienced a similar mix of struggles and rewards upon returning to civilian life.”
Some believe a women’s duty during a time of crises is to take care of the children and the community. In a society that constantly challenges the boundaries of gender roles, this task may be equally fulfilled by men.
A concern that many have about a gender-inclusive SSS is a women’s eligibility for enlistment to change due to pregnancy or family life. For instance, a woman is unable to serve if they become pregnant during a period proximal to an issued draft.
A solution to this possible issue would be to implement detailed exemptions for how soon after a pregnancy a woman can serve in the military. Women would be required to update the SSS much like one would update the SSS with any other change in their physical state.
The SSS would also have to take family life into account by ensuring that all households have one guardian capable of caring for the children, regardless of sex. The SSS already makes exceptions for various situations that may occur, so accommodating more should not be an issue if it means increasing the number of Americans included in the draft.
As Americans, it is our duty to serve our nation. By making the SSS gender-inclusive, individuals of all genders will be held to the same standard.