Chances of a draft seem highly unlikely

The U.S. Department of Defense recently granted full participation rights for women in combat roles in the United States military. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told senators during a Senate hearing that full integration will likely take a few years. Before implementation, the Selective Service System must be addressed. The Selective Service System was instituted in 1917 to help curb the issue of low military enrollment. It provides a list of who the U.S. government can call on if the draft is ever needed again. As of now, all males between the ages of 18-26 are required to sign-up for Selective Service.

Selective Service laws have never required women to subject themselves to the draft and face the prospect of being forced into armed service. Women were exempt due to previous battlefield restrictions; however, since those restrictions are no longer in place, the law should be amended to require women to also register.

Both Miller and Neller agree with this notion and agree that all eligible men and women should register for the draft. Sen. Claire McCaskill and Sen. Joni Ernst also support this idea. There was some pushback by a few Republican senators, who quickly criticized the decision to drop the gender restrictions in the first place. They also pressed the generals about whether job standards would be lowered for women to fill quotas. The military leaders refuted this and pointed out that not only would this action be against the law, but it would also endanger the safety of Marines.

Controversy about women serving in combat positions is outdated, just like the Selective Service System. The chances of another draft happening is highly unlikely for two reasons. For one, the draft is very unpopular. Reinstating it would be career suicide for any member of Congress. Secondly, the Department of Defense reports show recruitment goals being met year after year. Also worthy of note, the U.S. military has been cutting the number of active units in service due to budget slashes. They are looking to cut 40,000 troops to reach an active duty end strength of 450,000.

So why not do away with the Selective Service System altogether? There is a better alternative to Selective Service and the draft, the All-Volunteer Force. Started by the Nixon administration the AVF has been quite successful. The quality of the volunteers are far better than draftees. According to a 2007 report by the Congressional Budgeting Office the AFV has produced “a greater proportion of high-quality recruits–those with high school diplomas and above-median scores on the Armed Forces Qualification Test–than were obtained using the draft in the Vietnam War.”

Forbes also reports that the AFV enjoys higher re-enlistment rates and lower turnover compared to the draft. Selective Service and the draft are relics of a bygone era. Doug Bandow of Forbes put it best, “A society which no longer wins the voluntary allegiance of its people has no moral authority to coerce them into its service.”