Provocative Thoughts: Expanded Selective Service would be fair, patriotic, practical

By Mike Zdunich

Editor’s Note: This is the first in series of opinion pieces by Mike Zdunich, a senior communications major at UWF. Through his Provocative Thoughts column, Mike will present new and nuanced ways to think about important issues. In this week’s installment, Mike addresses the concept of expanding Selective Service to include women.

The United States Selective Service program is an outdated form of conscription that penalizes men for non-registration for the remainder of their natural-born lives. At the same time, it suggests that females are either not fit for service to their country or not capable of providing the equal delivery of the services that would be required by their government.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1981 that women did not have to register for the draft, stating women should not face the same requirements as men because they did not participate on the front lines of combat.

The men and women who serve in uniform today, both in and out of combat situations, thrive on situational awareness, teamwork, the chain of command, structure, duty, country and, above all else, honor.

These things are the lifeblood of the military and the core of what makes an equitable system run smoothly. No color, race, religion or creed is seen.

Bullets do not have names on a battlefield. A drone operator does not care if you are a man or woman when they press the button to release a hellfire missile on target, nor should we care about your sex if you are filling out the Selective Service form.

Americans come from all walks of life and bring an enormous number of skillsets and variety of intangibles that cannot be accounted for and are absolutely necessary on the battlefield and behind the lines.

We cannot discriminate based solely on the sex of the person filling out a form.

We are halving our pool based on genetics and an outdated chivalrous bravado that, frankly, many other countries are looking down on us for.

Our own history has shown, when the going gets tough, our women are the ones who have stepped up in the factories, businesses, and battlefields in every major war, although they do not get enough credit.

Men are required to register for the Selective Service. If they do not, they face a host of lifelong penalties including:

  • Loss of federal student financial aid
  • Loss of state-funded student financial aid
  • Loss of federal employment
  • Loss of state employment
  • Loss of security clearance for contractors
  • Loss of job training under the workforce innovation and opportunity act
  • Loss of U.S. citizenship
  • A fine of up to $250,000
  • Imprisonment for up to 5 years

The list of men who are required to register for Selective Service is quite amazing. We will take almost any man over a healthy woman. Here is a list of the people required to register:

  • All males who are 18 but not yet 26
  • Members of the Merchant Marine Academy
  • ROTC Students (All of them, everywhere)
  • National Guardsmen and Reservists not on active duty and Civil Air Patrol members. Even if you wear the uniform, went to boot camp, and have taken the oath, you still have to register.
  • Delayed Entry Program enlistees. People who intend to enlist in the military still have to register for the draft.
  • Men who have separated from active military service for any reason before age 26. You served your country, but they still might draft you back.
  • Men rejected for enlistment for any reason before age 26. We will take rejected men before taking healthy women.
  • Permanent resident immigrants
  • Refugee, parolee, and asylum-seeking immigrants
  • Undocumented immigrants. I am not sure how they would draft undocumented immigrants, but that is what the law reads.
  • Dual national U.S. citizens
  • Men incarcerated, hospitalized, or institutionalized for medical reasons less than 30 days
  • Men able to function in public with or without assistance
  • U.S. citizens or immigrants who are born male and have changed their gender to female

These are all facts that are listed on the Selective Service website.

We are one of the most, if not the most, patriotic countries on the planet. We are striving for equality now more than ever in every facet of our society.

This is one area that we should all agree needs to be changed. Either we apply these laws to all people or we remove the conscription process completely.

We all know that the latter is never going to happen, especially with the current climate. If men and women can serve in the military as equals, with equal roles, then we should agree the draft will apply to all.

Further, once in the military, women should be allowed to do any job. Today, women are still excluded from some roles due to the nature of physical limitations. In my opinion, so long as women can complete the mandatory physical requirements, they should be allowed to pursue those jobs.

In 2016, Sen. John McCain, at the recommendation of the Marine commandant and Army Chief of Staff, proposed legislation that would have expanded Selective Service to include women who wanted to be involuntarily assigned to direct ground (infantry) units.

This legislation was attached to the annual tax bill and was debated by quite a few senators on the floor. However, it was removed from the final version of the bill in December 2016.

One reason for the removal was that Conservative groups targeted any senators who supported the measure and ran ads that portrayed these senators as anti-military and anti-family.

One of these groups, Heritage Action for America, portrayed females as the traditional home rearing, family oriented, individuals who would leave the taking up arms to the men. This could not be farther from the truth.

There are a variety of melting pots in our society, which makes our country the strongest in the world.

Using all of the skills and tools of all of our people will only make us stronger. Currently, we are only at half strength with the limitations we are putting on ourselves.

If we ever have to use a conscription of troops, let us hope that it is for a purpose that our country can unite behind and that we are able to pull from everyone, regardless of sex, so that we may conquer whatever horrible evil we are fighting.

In such dire times, we wouldn’t want to look at someone as a man or a woman, but as a resource to end whatever conflict was plaguing us.

7 Responses to Provocative Thoughts: Expanded Selective Service would be fair, patriotic, practical

  1. JS says:

    I agree with the argument that selective service should either be eliminated, or expanded to include women, and yet I find it impossible to imagine ever getting to either point.

    I am curious about your view on women in combat roles. A year-long study done by the Marine Corps found that mixed-gender units took longer to perform critical tasks. Of particular concern was the extended time it took units to evacuate wounded Marines from combat zones. Are you familiar with this study, and if so, what do you make of it?

  2. Michael Zdunich says:

    I am familiar with that particular study. I would find it hard to believe that the study being done was objective, had political connotations, and the goal was obvious from the start of the drill.

    A study conducted by the Marine Times revealed While the experiment was closely controlled, there was a key experience gap: Many male task force volunteers came from combat units where they had previously served, while female volunteers came directly from infantry schools or from noncombat jobs. One task force unit, a provisional rifle platoon, attempted to mitigate this problem by comparing the performance of male and female troops who received no formal infantry training.

    This was conducted in 2015. I think we need to actually talk and or study the female Marines who have actually seen combat such as the Lion Marines, or a host of others if we want actual data. If we are going to assimilate mass data, we need data that is not skewed to a desired outcome.

    • JS says:

      Good point about the study. I actually had not considered that. I agree that further study should be conducted. I was all for qualified women in combat, but the results of this study gave me pause. I would not want the women’s service to be to the detriment of her unit members’ safety.

      Besides, imagine the grandeur and spectacle of our military parade if our military were operating at full strength 🙂

      • Michael Zdunich says:

        Military parades are charades in and of themselves. Our military has not been at full strength for some time. We are not taking into account women from the Selective Service pool nor the talent we could select if it were to ever be initiated so we don’t know the true talent they could bring to the totality of the conflict, not just in a close quarters combat situation.

        • JS says:

          I had used same argument regarding gays in the military, back when we as a nation were having that argument. The notion of turning away fit men who wished to serve, just on principle, when we had over-extended, battle-fatigued soldiers fighting two wars made no sense to me.

          About the parade, what a great photo op though – thousands in uniform, marching down Pennsylvania Ave., saluting their commander-in-chief. All for the bargain price of $20 million. What’s not to love?

  3. J P Couch says:

    I cringe at the idea of more women becoming prisoners of war although that already happens. There are recognized physical limitations between the sexes, thus I can see combat rolls that should be limited to men. There are a lot of gifted women that have tried to pass elite combat training and almost all have failed and I fear the lowering of standards to accommodate inclusion. All in all there sure are a lot of women clamoring for equality and I believe equal conscription would stick in their craw. Being very conservative however conscription for my daughter or sister or wife just doesn’t seem right, not sure where to put my finger on the reasoning for that except for a protective male instinct perhaps fed by societal norms.

    • Michael Zdunich says:

      It is the requirement of registering for the Selective Service and repercussions of not doing so that infringes on the equality which is the issue at hand. Women who would be conscripted are not necessarily sent to the front lines of combat, or to combat at all. This is a common misconception.

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