Commentary

Draft Women? Social Experimentation Triumphs Over Common Sense

Steven P. Bucci
By Steven P. Bucci | June 15, 2016 | 3:35 PM EDT

April 19, 2015 file photo: One of the 20 female soldiers, center, who is among the 400 students who qualified to start Ranger School, runs in place in between obstacles at Fort Benning, in Goergia. (AP File Photo/Robin Trimarchi/Ledger-Enquirer)

The Senate’s reauthorization of the National Defense Authorization Act includes language that would require women to register for the Selective Service—a step the House version of the bill was unwilling to take.

Since Secretary of Defense Ash Carter opened all military specialties to women, overriding the best military advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and regardless of the effects on readiness and potential social costs, many observers have concluded the next logical step is to make women draft-eligible—just like their male counterparts.

The policy implications of such a shift could be disastrous for women and for the military.

If enacted, the measure would not only open women to draft registration and eventual conscription, but would force females into combat roles, right alongside drafted men. That is, if a future government deemed the need to execute a draft necessary.

What began as a campaign for “social equality” to open combat roles like Marine and Army infantry, Navy SEALs, and Army Green Berets to a select group of women who desired such an opportunity, has morphed.

Now, not just the elite group who has both the motivation to cross this line and the skills and strength to pass the rigorous requirements of entry combat readiness dictated for such units, but any women who was drafted, could be assigned to these units in war time.

Any intellectually honest person knows that the entire purpose of a draft is to fill out the infantry and other large fighting formations when needed for a big war. If women are drafted, that is where they will go, shoulder-to-shoulder with their brothers.

This is a triumph of social experimentation over common sense andmilitary capability.

Women have served with heroism and skill in the heat of battle. No honest person would deny that. Some have met the toughest standards of training like the Army’s premiere leadership school, the Ranger Training Course.

All that is true, but it is also irrelevant to combat capability, as the highly empirical U.S. Marine Corps study proved. Women have important roles in modern warfare, and I have fought proudly with sisters as well as brothers at my side.

Instead of doing the hard work of finding ways to include women in fighting roles that will increase combat effectiveness, the Obama administration has chosen to score a cheap political victory that lessens the readiness of already struggling military services. It is happily content to see this next step of a draft for women go forward.

The supporters of the measure should admit that they now would like to also begin drafting our daughters into front-line combat units, regardless of their desires. This is not some insignificant “gesture” that will have no tangible effect. Those in Congress who recognize this social and national security train wreck for what it is need to act. Drafting women is simply the wrong policy.

The administration wants a legacy. Well, this will certainly be a big part of it. It will be a legacy of failure—failure to lead, failure to understand the needs of the military, and a failure to provide for the common defense.

If this misguided policy passes and becomes law, President Barack Obama’s social tinkering will have been the main catalyst.

At that point, the only thing I will be able to say is, “Congratulations Mr. President, you got your wish.” He will also have done incredible damage to America’s national defenses.

Congress must rally to stop that outcome.

Steven P. Bucci, who served America for three decades as an Army Special Forces officer and top Pentagon official, is a visiting research fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by The Daily Signal.

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