A new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center urges the Pentagon and Congress to make women register for the draft.
For the Bipartisan Policy Center, the current Selective Service System, among other Pentagon personnel issues, is badly out of date and in desperate need of reform, which requires cooperation from both the Pentagon and Congress.
“The biggest mistake—indeed, the worst outcome for the Defense Department—would be to do nothing,” the report released Monday stated. “Elected officials and Pentagon leadership should take meaningful action to advance personnel reform by the end of 2017. Through bipartisan cooperation and leadership from public officials, the United States can ensure that its longstanding military advantage can endure well into the 21st century.”
The report proposes to make Selective Service gender-equal and redesign the system to pay far more attention to specific skills or technical qualifications possessed by participants. In the event of a major disaster, the military would be able to institute a “smart draft,” that is, funnel in draftees with particular aptitude in a high-demand area.
Since Selective Service was instituted prior to the establishment of an all-volunteer force, the report argues that it is woefully out of date, unless modified to collect much more useful information.
“The current system is limited to males and only requires basic identifying information, making it only useful for the enhancement of military manpower through mass-conscription—which is unlikely to occur and equally unlikely to be helpful in future conflicts,” the report notes.
And of course, the first way to fix this is to require that registrants complete the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery in high school. Once permission is given, these scores would be sent to military recruiters, who could then get in touch with students and persuade high-scoring ones to join the service.
The Obama administration supported forcing women to sign up for the draft given that all combat roles were opened to women.
“As old barriers for military service are being removed, the administration supports — as a logical next step — women registering for the Selective Service,” Ned Price, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said.
But that line of reasoning didn’t persuade Congress, and instead, the defense authorization bill passed late in 2016 included language calling for a review of the rationale of the draft system altogether.
It’s likely that Democrats will attempt to bring up the issue of expanding the draft to women in 2017, but because Republicans have a strong grip on both Congress and the White House, there is little to no chance draft expansion will see the light of day.
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