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National Defense Is About Defeating the Enemy, Not Equality

Conservative lawmakers oppose measure requiring women to register for the draft.

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is pushing a resolution in the Senate expressing opposition to a measure in the National Defense Authorization Act that would require young women to register for the national draft. Lee’s “sense of the Senate” resolution relies on data from several studies of women in combat training showing they are less effective than men.

The resolution states:

Whereas mandating the registration of women for Selective Service System has the potential to unduly increase the fatality and injury risks of women in the United States and hinder combat unit readiness in battle: Now, there- fore, be it Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that the Senate should not pass legislation mandating the registration of women for Selective Service System.

The Senate Armed Services Committee included language in its version of the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act to require women, for the first time, to register for the draft.

Congress has debated for several years whether to require women to sign up with the Selective Service, as men must do between the ages of 18 and 25. No American has been drafted in nearly a half-century, but the Selective Service provides the government with information that could be used if a new draft were to occur in a time of national emergency.

Congress’s previous efforts to require women to register for the draft have fallen short despite widespread bipartisan support for the move.

The debate over registering women picked up steam in 2015, when women were permitted to perform so-called combat roles in the U.S. armed services.

In 2016, both the House and Senate Armed Services panels approved the change, but it did not make it into the final fiscal 2017 bill.

Jessie Jane Duff, Gunnery Sergeant, USMC (Ret.), spoke to Americans for Limited Government to express her opposition to requiring women to register for the draft.

“Our national defense is about overwhelming and defeating the enemy,” Duff said. “It is not about equality.”

Duff served 20 years on active duty in the Marine Corps. Along with multiple overseas deployments and combat-related exercises, she provided logistical support to combat arms and wing units throughout her career, including Desert Storm and the Iraq/Afghanistan wars. In a collateral duty, Duff served on the Executive Staff as the Equal Opportunity Advisor to the Commander of Marine Forces Pacific, the largest operational command in the Marine Corps prior to her retirement. She completed her career as a Motor Transport Operations Chief at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri.

Duff explained that the very nature of the military’s requirements is discriminatory. “We reject candidates for all sort of reasons. We have to,” Duff said. “When you consider the general population of women in this country, perhaps only 10 percent are even qualified for military service, to say nothing about serving in combat roles which require even greater strength.”

According to Senator Lee, data from the Marine Corps demonstrates that injury rates in combat roles are significantly higher for women than men. The Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force found that musculoskeletal injuries were twice as high for women. Research conducted at the Infantry Training Battalion demonstrated an injury rate for enlisted women six times higher than the rate for men.

In addition, physical fitness required for combat roles are only achievable for a small percentage of women. Data from the Army’s gender-neutral Combat Fitness Test show a fail rate ranging between 65%-85% for women compared to 10%-30% for men.

The data demonstrates a fundamental fact: Men are less at-risk and more physically adept for combat roles. Forcing our daughters into the draft creates a burdensome and unnecessary increased risk of injury and fatalities for our nation’s women. Moreover, this policy will hurt our nation’s children, as young parents face the prospect of a mother and father now being drafted into battle.

“This policy change is rushed, unnecessary in our current time of peace, and unduly harms women more than it advances any notion of equality,” Lee said. Senator Lee’s resolution would express that the Senate should not pass legislation mandating the registration of women for the Selective Service System. “American mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters should be allowed and empowered to serve in and contribute to our Armed Forces, but they should not be forced to fight in our wars,” concluded Lee.

“Serving in infantry combat roles is like going into a mixed martial arts cage with the enemy,” Duff said. “It is about hand-to-hand combat. We must have our strongest war fighters in those roles.”

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