Women in the draft

Are women strong enough to fight alongside men?

In early June, the Senate passed a bill that would require women to sign up for the military draft starting in 2018. The bill will not affect women who will turn or have turned 18 before January 1st of 2018. Officials occupying high positions in the military spoke out in support of the bill. Marine Corps commander General Robert Neller says, “It’s my personal view in light of integration that every American physically qualified should register for the draft.” General Mark Milley, the Army’s chief of staff, also backs the decision. In December of 2015, President Obama’s Defense Secretary announced that the military would allow women to serve in all combat positions. The recent decision to allow female soldiers to fight on the front lines sparked the conversation.

The US has not used the draft since 1973 during the Vietnam War. The effects of adding women into the draft could alter the entire process if it were to be reinstated. Some lawmakers are concerned that the military has not done enough research to account for the changes they would need to make to go through with this decision. The fact is, women are already going to war, and women are already in leadership and combat positions in all strands of the military. The bill is both supported and rejected heavily by lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum.

Bobcats were asked their opinion on the topic.  Sophomore Kyle Rowland-Mungo says, “I think this is a big step for women, since they have been fighting for gender equality. People who think that women shouldn’t [have the same roles] in the military are sexist.”

Senior Keara Goodary in JROTC shares her view, “I am glad that women are now included in the draft; they now have equal opportunity to draft for selective service as well as joining the front lines of combat. I don’t think it is something to worry about because it is unlikely that our military will need to use the draft any time soon.”

Critics of the decision frequently argue that due to physical differences, females should not have the same roles as male soldiers. A study published by the Center for Military Readiness talks about the failure rates of men versus women in physical requirement tests. The study done in Whales included information from several countries that had integrated military forces. The study found that on average, the failure rate among women was severely higher than that of men. In a test requiring soldiers to carry 90 pounds of artillery shells over measured distances, the male failure rate was 20 percent, while the female failure rate was 70 percent. In a 12.5 mile march carrying 60 pounds of equipment followed by target practice and simulating conditions under fire, men failed 17 percent of the time while women failed 48 percent of the time. The study also found that women are generally slower in lengthy “fire and move” situations and are more prone to injuries in hand to hand combat. Other studies have been done by organizations like  Life Science and Veterans for a Strong America and have published similar data concluding that on average men are stronger than woman, which poses the question, are women strong enough for the front lines?

Senior Brandon Brown shares “I do believe that men and women are equal, but I do feel like it’s the men’s job [to be on the front lines] first. There are definitely some women that can fight even harder than some men can, but I do feel the majority of women that could get drafted aren’t among those few.”

Decisions are still being made on the issue as information comes out on how the military will adapt.