Will you compel your daughter to register with selective service?

8 Feb

If you thought that erasing gender distinctions in military combat only meant that women who want and can fight in combat should be able to do so, think again:

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Defense Secretary Leon Panetta today lifted the ban on women serving in combat positions, opening the door to more than 200,000  new military posts and raising a number of important questions, including: Will women eventually be eligible for the draft?

By law, all male U.S. citizens and permanent residents must register with the Selective Service System within 30 days of their 18th birthday. Registration puts those “male persons” on the list the government uses if ever the draft returns and conscription in the military is deemed necessary in a time of war.

As of a 1994 review, women were still exempt from registering because they did not serve in combat positions. Today’s change in Pentagon policy, however, could ultimately result in a change to the law.

But it will take more than just the stroke of the defense secretary’s pen for the Selective Service Act to include mention of women.

With any change to personnel policies, the Defense Department  is “required to provide an analysis of its impact on the Selective Service Act,” said a senior Pentagon official said on the condition of anonymity.  “So that will be part of the notification to Congress.”

But what comes next is  unclear.

“With regard to what will happen from there, I can’t say,” said the official.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta later admitted to reporters that he, too, did not know the potential impact of the change to the Selective Service Act.

“That’s not our operation,” said Panetta.

Known for his use of colorful language, Panetta then said, “I don’t know who the hell controls Selective Service, if you want to know the truth.”

“But, you know,” Panetta added. “Whoever does, they’re going to have to exercise some judgment based on what we just did.”

So what’s a Christian, a father of a young girl, a Christian father of a young girl, to make of this should the law be changed?  Will he compel his daughter to register?  If not, on what grounds biblical or otherwise, will he refuse?  This could be a tough one for many of us with daughters.  There are certainly some who feel that this is a good and necessary decision to bring about a fully egalitarian society.  They think, if the military can be made radically egalitarian, all of society must follow.  Consider (from the Christian Science Monitor):

“The answer to that question is clearly yes,” says Anne Coughlin, a law professor at the University of Virginia School of Law in Charlottesville. “The legal argument is clear: If it comes to that kind of wrenching emergency where we have to press young people into service, there is no legal justification for saying that men alone need to shoulder that burden.”

The wars of the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan have been fought by an all-volunteer force, since the US military discontinued the draft in 1973. Males between the ages of 18 and 25, however, are still required to register for the Selective Service.

Once the combat exclusion policy is lifted, “My belief is that if we open up combat arms to women, even on a voluntary basis, if there is a draft, we should be able to force women into those positions,” says retired Col. Peter Mansoor, a professor of military history at the Ohio State University in Columbus and a former US Army brigade commander who served two tours in Iraq.

“If women are acceptable to serve in combat, they are acceptable to serve whether they volunteer or not. You can’t have the frosting on the cake and not the cake underneath,” he says.

 

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