The United States government has had many different forms of a military draft throughout its history. Today, the requirement for males to register with the Selective Service System is because of President Carter’s presidential proclamation in 1980. This registration is in case the government feels it’s necessary to enact a draft, but currently the United States does have enough volunteers to maintain a large enough military. Congress hasn’t revisited the draft much since 1980, but recent social movements have suggested the possibility of expanding the draft to all citizens rather that just men for reasons relating to equality. However, revisiting the draft is much more complicated than it may seem.
Adding women to the draft is often supported because it’s another step towards gender equality. Physical differences between men and women in the military matter even less today because of modern technology. A large portion of military jobs can be done with no concern about the soldier’s strength, such as being a pilot or communications equipment operator. Women in the military today have sufficiently proven that they are just as capable as men of becoming good soldiers.
On the surface, the issue seems to have a clear solution. However, there are complications with revisiting the draft at all. Gallup polls from 2003 and 2007 show a steady trend that eighty percent of Americans oppose enacting the draft. If Congress brings up the draft for review and brings the issue to the attention of the American people, it may likely lead to a public movement to abolish the draft altogether. While the system of an all-volunteer military is sufficient now, involvement in a major war in the future may require a draft to fulfill military needs. With that in mind, it would be in the best interest of the government to attract as little attention as possible to the draft in order to keep it in case it’s eventually needed.
There is also the issue of sustaining the civilian population in the event of the draft. If the United States opened the draft up to everyone and later enacted it, there is the possibility of sending too much of the population to war, leaving very little of the country left. This would defeat the purpose of the military because if almost everyone is in the military fighting abroad, there is no country back home to fight for. Leaving a large section of the population out of the draft ensures there are adults to take care of children and sustain the country at home. While the idea that it should automatically be the woman’s job to do so is nearing archaic, there does need to be a system in place to ensure that there is at least someone there to do it.
While adding women to the draft seems like an obvious step towards achieving gender equality, it becomes evident that it cannot be simply done when taking into account the larger ramifications of doing so.