This essay (one of two), which originated as an academic paper at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, is being used as an example of academic writing on the blog “Straight from the CSM.” The views expressed in this essay are those of the author and in no way represent the views of the U.S. government.
The Draft: Expanding Selective Service
MSG John P. Castillo
United States Army Sergeants Major Academy
October 4th, 2016
The purpose of this paper is to show why women should have to register for the Selective Service System, also known as the draft. This paper will cover equality, talent management and the potential for advancement as key points for registering women. Women have made significant strides in gender equality in all aspects of American life over the last 100 years. The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution authorized women the right to vote. In a joint resolution (1920), the 66th Congress of the United States of America stated, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Since then, women have had larger opportunities in many facets of America, from the opening up of military academies to women in 1975, to General Ann Dunwoody becoming the first woman to achieve the rank of four-star officer.
Recently, all military occupations have opened to women. The last 15 years have seen women play direct roles in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, leading many to believe allowing them to serve in all positions is a by-product of their excellence. Many women believe that they can now compete with men on better terms due to the changes. The Army’s search for equality, its desire to find the best talent, and its intent of promoting career advancement are reasons why women should sign up for the Selective Service System.
Women have sought equality in the workplace for a long time, and as mentioned previously, have seen significant progress. Men have been required to register for service in some form or another since 1917. The U.S. Government enacted the Selective Service System due to slow enlistments during World War One. According to the Selective Service System website (2016), one of the agency’s missions is:
“To furnish manpower to the Defense Department during a national emergency, to manage alternative service for men classified as conscientious objectors, and to register, with only a few exceptions, all male U.S. citizens and male immigrants in the United States who are ages 18 through 25”.
Webster-Merriam (2016) defines manpower as “a body of persons at work or available for work.” As such, the Selective Service System should be applicable to men and women. Including both genders ensures the Army maintains its current theme of equality, and asks an equal sacrifice from both genders. Many Americans argue the draft should not include women, as it is incomprehensible to see America’s daughters subjected to the perils of the draft. With changes in the system, and with the all-volunteer Army, it is unlikely that either gender will face the same challenges Vietnam-era draftees faced. Since any future draft will apply to both sexes, the increased pool will now offer America a greater selection of future leaders by increasing and diversifying the talent pool.
On December 3, 2015, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter stated one important factor in opening up all occupations to women was to “add strength to the force” and to ensure there were no “barriers limiting our access to talent.” Women have shown repeatedly that they are as physically and mentally capable as men in many occupations. In August 2015, two women joined 94 of their male counterparts in graduating from the U.S. Army Ranger School, one of the toughest courses available to Soldiers. In addition to those two women, 17 more attempted the course, displaying that they too were willing to challenge themselves. As General Dunwoody has shown, women have the capacity to lead at the highest levels, and maximizing the potential of both genders throughout our force would be beneficial for our Nation. This will afford women the chance to be a part of current male-centric units, steeped in rich history and traditions, such as the 75th Ranger Regiment. Having women in positions of leadership within these organizations will serve as a beacon that will draw out future leaders from amongst our ranks of women warfighters. Soldiers currently argue that these organizations will never allow women to take leadership positions in these types of unit because of the image they need to protect. The counter-argument is that if a woman is fully qualified and capable, Soldiers will welcome her as simply another member of the team. She will have proven herself by her actions and potential, not by her gender. Many Army organizations operate like this now, and many more will in the future. In addition to taking advantage of all available talent, the promotion of career advancement is another reason for integrating women into the Selective Service System.
A Bright Future
While it would be incorrect to state that men and women are on equal footing in the military now, opening up all occupations provides the framework for a reality to see an increase in career-enhancing promotion opportunities for women. Previously off-limit schools and jobs will make women more marketable across the Army. People have said that allowing women to serve in typically male-centric units will ultimately lower the standards necessary to win, which could place lives at risk. This argument is null as the expectation will be that all Soldiers, regardless of gender, will be required to meet current standards. Out of nearly 4,000 Ranger School candidates in 2015, only about 25 percent passed, with the overwhelming majority of those being male candidates, showing that even males have difficulties passing this course.
Women have sought equal treatment in the workplace, and the Department of Defense has worked diligently towards that goal. The military has assessed the need to retain talented leaders from our female population. Our Army has prepared the field to achieve assignment parity and to reward potential. The Department of Defense has done its part; it is time for women to register with the Selective Service System in order to show that they are willing to make the same sacrifices that men are already required to make.
Carter, A., (2015) Remarks on Women-in-Service Review. Pentagon Press Briefing Room. Washington D.C.
Manpower (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster online. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/manpower
United States Executive Branch. (2016). Selective Service Systems Missions Statement. Retrieved from Selective Service System Homepage, www.sss.gov/
19th Amendment, Constitution of the United States., General Records of the United States Government; Record Group 11, National Archives.