The Corner

Army Chief of Staff and Marine Corps Commandant: Women Should Register for the Draft

This morning, the New York Times had a short article covering the testimony of the Marine Corps commandant, General Robert B. Neller, and the chief of staff of the Army, General Mark A. Milley, before a Senate hearing on women in combat.

The two generals, along with the acting secretary of the Army, Patrick Murphy, recommended that Congress look into compelling women to register for the draft now that the Pentagon has opened all combat roles to females.

“Every American who’s physically qualified should register for the draft,” General Milley testified.

Under current law, all American men age 18 to 26 are required to register with the Selective Service System — a system that could be used to draft the nation’s manpower into service in the event of a big war.

The editors of National Review, Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran David French, and my brother, Zack “Cookie” Wright, a Marine Corps infantryman and veteran of the Iraq war, have written extensively on the Pentagon’s unwise decision to open the combat arms to women.

The progressive Left’s argument has always been that only those women who are qualified and can meet the high physical standards of the combat arms will be placed in combat units. Implicit is the admission that only a small minority of women would meet those standards.

This is, of course, only evidence of continued sloppy thinking on the Pentagon’s part — influenced by politically correct ideas about the “equality” of the sexes.

Conscription is intended to raise manpower (no microagression intended) in bulk. If only a small minority of women could qualify for the combat arms in ideal circumstances, why should the military be forced to sift through the tens of thousands of likely unqualified females thrust upon them in the event of a national emergency — the only situation in which a draft would be instituted?

Missouri senator Claire McCaskill, a supporter of the idea, opined during the hearing, “Part of me believes that asking women to register as we ask men to register would maybe possibly open up more recruits as women began to think about, well, the military is an option for me.”

But the military, unlike almost every other path in life, is not about what is best for the individual. It’s not about creating “options” or “opportunities” for young Americans. It’s not about fairness or equality or college scholarships. It’s about what’s best for the nation, about defending the United States from its enemies by waging war and defeating them. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer Americans show evidence of grasping this basic point.

Proponents of this proposal should be asked to answer a simple question: In what way would registering females for the draft unambiguously improve the national security of the United States?

It’s a shame that even our highest ranking military officers have declined to answer the question.

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