Women in Combat Fallout! - The Missourian: Opinion

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Women in Combat Fallout!

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Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 12:00 am

It kinda reminds us of a home remodeling project. You plan one thing, but it requires or leads to other work. Happens all the time. We have an example in the Obama administration’s recent decision to lift the ban on women in combat.

It may be that women now will be required to register for the Selective Service draft, just as young men are required to do when they reach age 18. Apparently, that was not anticipated when the women in combat decision was made. But now legal experts and military historians believe the door has been opened for women to register for possible military duty.

The United States has never drafted women before. The military, the administration and Congress are not rushing to make women register for the draft, but the law may require it.

It is constitutional to register only men for a draft, the Supreme Court ruled more than 30 years ago, because the reason for registration is to create a pool of potential combat troops should a national emergency require a rapid increase in the size of the military. Women were excluded from serving in battlefield jobs, so there was no reason to register them for possible service into the Armed Forces, the court ruled.

Diane Mazur, a law professor at the University of Florida and a former Air Force officer, said that now that front-line infantry, armor, artillery and special operations positions are open to female volunteers who can meet the physical requirements, it will be difficult for anyone to make a strong argument that women should continue to be exempt from registration.

Groups that backed women for combat roles, the AP reported, welcome registration for women. Top leaders in Congress also back female registration. Polls have shown that a draft for men and women would not be popular. The reason there haven’t been more protests about our involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is that we are fighting with volunteers, active duty regulars, national guardsmen and reserve forces. Attempts to reinstate the draft have met with opposition in Congress. We haven’t drafted anybody since 1973. It is a felony crime for men who fail to register for the draft, but no one has been prosecuted for that offense since 1986.

Nearly 15 percent of the 1.4 million troops on active duty are women. There have been 152 women killed while on duty in the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Requiring women to register for the draft probably isn’t going to cause an uproar. We do wonder whether allowing women to serve in combat only if they volunteer is going to be a legal issue. Men do not have that option although it can be argued that with an all-volunteer force, the men have volunteered for any duty in the military.

/opinion

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