Women may be eligible for the draft

Women may soon have to register for the draft.
Women may soon have to register for the draft.
Illustration from a Library of Congress image.
Women already tackle dangerous missions and even qualify for elite jobs in the armed forces. But soon, they may have to register for Selective Service -- making them eligible for a draft in the event of war.

    The Senate Armed Services Committee on May 12 voted in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a provision to have women, along with men, register for Selective Service beginning Jan. 1, 2018. The full Senate will have to vote on the act, which would authorize $602 billion in funding for the Department of Defense and national security programs of the Department of Energy.
    "Because the Department of Defense has lifted the ban on women serving in ground combat units, the committee believes there is no further justification in limiting the duty to register under the Military Selective Service Act to men," said a statement from the committee. "Furthermore, each uniformed chief of the services testified to their personal support of including women in the requirement to register for Selective Service." 
    While women have long been part of the battlefield -- a tradition that dates back to the American Revolution -- this would represent the first time women would be eligible for the draft. By law, a man must register within 30 days of his 18th birthday, according to the U.S. Selective Service System. 
    Even so, more than 40 years have come and gone since the country last drafted young men into the military. As the U.S. was pulling out of Vietnam, the Department of Defense announced in Jan. 27, 1973, that it was suspending the draft, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica’s website. In the wake of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter in 1980 reactivated the Military Selective Service Act, requiring that men 18 to 26 register for the draft.
    In December 2015, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that the Department of Defense was lifting gender-based restrictions on military service.


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