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U.S. Marine, Army top brass say women should register for the draft

Reuters

The top U.S. Marine Corps and Army generals said on Tuesday that women should be required to register for the military draft, along with men, as the armed forces move toward integrating them fully into combat positions.

“I think that all eligible and qualified men and women should register for the draft,” Gen. Robert Neller, the commandant of the Marine Corps, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on women in combat.

Gen. Mark Milley, the chief of staff of the Army, also backed registration for women, although two other witnesses, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Acting Army Secretary Patrick Murphy, said only that there should be a discussion of legislation requiring women to register for the Selective Service.

The U.S. military is currently an all-volunteer force, but young men are required to register in case the draft is reactivated.

The military leaders said it would take years for women to be fully integrated into combat units, although they generally voiced strong support for the plan to skeptical committee members.

Milley estimated full integration would take “no less than one to three years of deliberate effort.”

President Barack Obama’s defense secretary, Ash Carter, announced in December that the military would let women serve in all combat roles. The historic announcement was greeted with intense skepticism by many Republican members of Congress, as well as expectations it would require women to register for the draft.

Republican Sen. John McCain, the committee’s chairman, said at the time it would have “a consequential impact” on U.S. forces and their war-fighting capabilities.

On Tuesday, McCain said he worried there had not been enough planning. “I am concerned that the department has gone about things backwards,” he said.

Many Republicans said they fear the imposition of quotas mandating a specific number of women in some units, such as Marines in positions that might require hand-to-hand combat.

The military leaders repeatedly rejected that suggestion. “It would endanger not only the safety of Marines, but also the safety of our nation,” Mabus said.

Obama’s fellow Democrats expressed strong support.

Sen. Jack Reed, the top committee Democrat, said physical abilities alone do not determine whether a military unit is effective.

“Fighting and winning wars, as I’m sure our panelists know well, involves much more than that,” Reed said.

  • Mark Longmoore

    Al rite Peeps remember one thing about drafts and selective service……Military is voluntary no matter how much they may threaten you. The law prescribes that you report!!!! NOT CROSS THE LINE!!!! YES, there is a line and a military man CAN NOT order a man or a man with a womb to cross that line…..Show up to the place of registration upon receiving the letter sign all paper under duress and then stand your ground when behind the big wide line you stand before. I remember this well and the practice is continuing. do not let your emotions get to you when some ass yells at you with no authority to do so. Tye have no authority until you CROSS THAT LINE…