Air Force Secretary: ‘I Think Women Should Register for the Selective Service’

By Melanie Arter | June 6, 2016 | 11:07 AM EDT

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James (AP Photo)

( - Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” on Friday that women should register for the draft, just as young men should.

“So in my opinion, I think women should register for the selective service. I see no reason not to. Of course, this is a timely debate, and reasonable people have differences of opinion. There are people who say perhaps we don’t need a selective service approach at all these days, because it has been years since the draft,” said James.


James is “the 23rd Secretary of the Air Force and is responsible for the affairs of the Department of the Air Force, including the organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of its nearly 660,000 active-duty,” the U.S. Air Force website noted.

“So, literally my vote as an American, my opinion as an American is that women, we should have a selective service. It’s an insurance policy for the United States, and I think women should register, just as I think young men should register,” James said.

When asked whether she had any sense as to what Congress will do about the issue, James said, “You know I think it’s still early days. It’s too close to call. It’s of course in play in both houses of Congress, so we’ll just have to wait a bit longer and see how it goes.”

A provision narrowly approved by a House panel in April required that women register with the Selective Service and be eligible to be drafted in the military. The proposal, sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), an Iraq War veteran, passed the House Armed Services Committee without Hunter’s support. He introduced the bill to force congressional conversation about the role of women in the military, the Military Times reported on April 28.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter opened all combat positions to women earlier this year.

Senators must sign off on the draft review and changes to the bill before the measure can be sent to President Barack Obama to become law, the Military Review reported. Congress is expected to finalize the authorization bill in the fall.

Sponsored Links