The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) included language requiring women to register for the Selective Service to become draft-eligible in the markup of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This language was spearheaded by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and passed with only five ‘no’ votes from SASC members. The NDAA is considered “must-pass” legislation and will head to the Senate floor for a full vote later this year. Efforts to draft American daughters for mandatory military service politicizes and jeopardizes our national defense.
The Selective Service Proposal
Current law requires all males to register with Selective Service when they turn 18 years old. Chairman Reed’s amendment would require all Americans to register and become draft-eligible by striking exclusive references to males. In 2016, previous efforts to draft women as part of the annual NDAA failed, resulting in the creation of a commission to “study” the issue. The commission released its findings in March 2020 in a 225-page report recommending women be drafted.
Purpose of the Draft
The Selective Service defines itself as follows: “We are a trusted, actively engaged National Defense partner, and the sole source of conscripted talent for national security in the event of a national emergency.” Furthermore, the first portion of the stated mission is: “To register men and maintain a system that, when authorized by the President and Congress, rapidly provides personnel…”
The stated purpose of the draft is to rapidly replace combat losses in a situation clearly defined as a national emergency. As such, any registration system should focus on those who are most readily able to meet the physical realities of direct combat without bogging down the screening system with a high volume of registered individuals who are significantly less likely to be qualified, physically and otherwise, to put into hand-to-hand combat scenarios.
The current system rationally identifies the need to be selective about who is joining the ranks of front line combat units in a national emergency (men age 18-25). Though the upper age limit of the draft has differed throughout our history, it has adjusted downward over time as the overall population of the United States has increased and the available number of men has increased to ensure the nation always has enough access to combat ready troops.
Implications of Women in the Selective Service
The proposal to draft America’s daughters is a uniquely bad policy proposal that undermines America’s defense posture, communicates the wrong values to citizens and foes alike, and substitutes “equity” for combat effectiveness. Consequences of this move include:
- Re-defining Purpose: The purpose of the United States Armed Forces is to win wars, defeat our enemies, and defend the American people and our republic. Drafting America’s daughters in the name of “equity” elevates woke ideology as a higher priority than defense of the nation. Therefore, it is a policy proposal that is inherently divorced from what is both necessary and militarily sound.
- Degrading Physical Standards: Following a 2019 report wherein 84 percent of women failed the gender-neutral Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) compared to 30 percent of men, the Army rolled out a third version of the test in April 2021 with diminished physical standards in order to placate concerned progressive politicians over the high failure rate of females. Lowering fitness standards severely disadvantages our combat soldiers, further endangering them against battlefield foes who are attempting to maim and kill them. Drafting our daughters will lock in these new, dangerous standards.
- Diminishing Combat Effectiveness: Drafting America’s daughters would necessarily entail frontline combat duty following the Pentagon’s move to open all combat roles to women in 2015. It is an empirical fact that women in the military have far higher injury rates than men when undergoing the same training. This will unnecessarily kill Americans, increase combat casualties, hamstring unit cohesion and effectiveness, and reduce our military’s ability to defeat our enemies on the battlefield.
- Dismissing Inherent Biological Truths: The study issued by the Marine Corps’ Gender Integration Task Force showed that all-male combat units demonstrated higher performance levels on 69 percent of combat tasks compared to mixed-gender units. All-male units are empirically faster, more lethal, better marksmen, physically stronger, and more adept at overcoming battlefield obstacles. In general, men are physically faster and stronger than women. The military must be able to consistently train and prepare troops for the brutality of warfare, and therefore depends on the standards that men can reliably attain. Extraordinarily athletic women that may meet minimum combat standards represent a tiny fraction and still fall below the assessments made by most men.
- Ignoring Threats: As communist China threatens our allies in Taiwan and Japan, subjugates Hong Kong, and grows its military presence throughout the South China Sea and Pacific, it is imperative that American policymakers put the combat effectiveness of our Armed Forces as the highest possible priority to avoid losing a major war. Simply put, drafting America’s daughters weakens our ability to counter Beijing. Peer adversaries are not putting women in their combat units. The U.S. should be preparing the military for the harshest realities they will face in direct combat, not a diversity utopia that reality will quickly discard once bullets and bombs start flying.
- Downplaying America’s Waning Strength: The U.S. has overextended itself in futile nation-building exercises, undermining both military readiness and combat capabilities. It is past time to reorient our defense posture. These defense policy failings, often at the behest of elected officials, have been exacerbated by overly-political top brass who push dangerous proposals in the name of radical ideologies while having failed to defeat our enemies for the better part of three decades. Conscripting women plays into our prevailing defense vulnerabilities instead of seeking to remedy where we have lost our edge.
- Exacerbating Inefficiency During National Emergencies: Screening draft applicants is a rigorous and resource heavy process that analyzes applicant suitability for rapidly replacing combat casualties during a national emergency. Adding millions of applicants to this process, a high percentage of which will neither be physically-qualified for the demands of front line hand-to-hand combat, nor meaningfully effective against a determined, violent, and physically large enemy, is a militarily self-defeating policy. It decreases the average survival rate of those sent into combat and endangers adjacent combat units.
The move to incorporate language that would draft our daughters is poor policy that would unquestionably undermine the military’s combat prowess, lead to greater wartime casualties, and elevate woke ideology over defense capability. Simply put, lawmakers can alter language all they want, but they cannot alter basic biology. Men and women are not physically the same and women do not possess an equal opportunity to survive on the battlefield in direct combat with battle-hardened and violent men.
Women have long contributed to the efficacy of the United States military. However, given the Pentagon’s foolhardy decision to open all combat roles to women (a decision which should be rescinded), drafting America’s daughters into frontline combat duty elevates social experimentation over warfighting prowess. The consequences of such ideologically-driven decision-making could result in the United States losing a major military conflict with needless and much higher casualties.
A major war will pose an existential threat to our way of life and the survival of the American idea. Policymakers must not wantonly gamble our civilization for the sake of meaningless ideological accolades and the approval of soft, out-of-touch elites. Decisions must be made that are worthy of the sacrifices that have allowed our nation to survive and flourish.
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