Monday, January 28, 2013

Opening all combat positions to women could mean women register for the draft (or could it mean the end of Selective Service registration forever?)


On Monday, January 28, 2013, the Washington Post has a Letter by David Dixon, pointing out that the opening of all combat areas to women in the military removes the one reason the Supreme Court have given in 1981 for upholding the male-only draft (Selective Service) registration, in the case Rostker v. Goldberg.  That opinion had been predicated on the idea that women could not perform some combat duties.  Now, there is a legal case for saying that women should be required to register for Sel;ective Service if men have to.  The link is (website url) here. Women are definitely drafted in Israel.

Actually, that opinion was issued after Nixon had ended the draft (1973), but shortly after the possibility of resuming the draft had been contemplated when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, eventually leading to some of the problems that would connect to 9/11.  After 9/11, some politicians, like Carl Levin (D-MI) talked about resuming the draft.

The ruling also came down shortly after the Pentagon, right before Reagan took office, had “hardened” its “old” policy barring gays from the all volunteer military (with “asking”), enforcing the same ban across all services.   In fact, Charles Moskos, after 9/11, abandoned his support for his own “don’t ask don’t tell” policy and argued for resuming conscription (including gays, and I believe he wanted to conscript women, too).   Back during the latter part of the Vietnam war, the military induction physical had stopped “asking” and rarely rejected men for sexual orientation.  This part of history seems to have been forgotten. 

It’s possible to take the new development for women as a reason to disband Selective Service altogether.  On the other hand, some people want to push the idea of mandatory national service.  

The middle ground position on the opening of all combat roles in the military to women is that for any particular MOS or job, any women that fill them would have to pass the same physical qualifications as men. John McCain now supports this position.  The practical result will be that relatively few women will want to become Navy Seals  even if they pass (and most won’t).  Most men, because of genetics, have more upper body strength than most women.  In fact, many civilian men in distant fields (even the arts, like music and ballet) could actually pass the Navy Seals physical.  (You usually have to be very strong to be a stage, concert, ballet or opera performer or actor.  It helps to be slender and lean.)  A few people (Kathleen Parker in the Washington Post Jan. 25) have argued against the change allowing women to serve in all combat positions (even gradually) because of the unusually aggressive nature of infantry combat and the possibility of capture.  However, it’s not clear that “the Queen of Battle” is more dangerous or demanding than some civilian occupations with many women, like firefighting.  

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