By Jonah Bennett
Military analyst Elaine Donnelly has criticized GOP Sen. John McCain for inserting a provision to force women to sign up for the draft in the Senate version of the annual defense bill.
“People who support both women and military readiness will be surprised and disappointed to know that behind closed doors, Senate Armed Services Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) deliberately slipped into the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) damaging legislation to impose Selective Service obligations, including a possible future draft, on unsuspecting girls-next-door,” Donnelly said in a statement.
GOP Sen. Mike Lee apparently tried to insert an amendment to strike down the draft provision, but it was defeated by 7-19. All Democrats on the Senate Committee on Armed Services voted in favor of the draft provision.
The justification for excluding women from having to sign up for Selective Service essentially evaporated after Secretary of Defense Ash Carter opened all combat roles to women in December. Since then, military leaders have supported making women sign up for the draft. Legislators, too, have jumped on the bandwagon. While the original proposal in the House was forwarded with the intent to illustrate the absurdity of drafting women, legislators adopted it by a vote of 32-30, much to GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter’s chagrin.
Donnelly argues that the Selective Service system functions like an insurance policy in the case of a national security emergency. While the draft hasn’t been utilized since 1973, men still have to sign up within 30 days of turning 18. Military leaders aren’t interested in leaving an all-volunteer force model. Still, the need could potentially arise.
Given a national security emergency, the most pressing need would be for troops in combat arms, but because of intractable physical differences, the vast majority of women flooding the Selective Service system would not be able to meet physical standards necessary for infantry.
“The Selective Service system would have to divert scarce time and resources trying to evaluate great numbers of women, just to find the small percentage who might be minimally qualified for the combat arms,” Donnelly said. “This would create a political crisis and a paralyzing administrative overload that would weaken our armed forces at the worst possible time.”