Republicans Debate: Should Women Be Drafted?
Toward the end of the eighth Republican presidential debate on February 6, the moderators introduced a new subject which had been absent from stump speeches and ignored in the seven previous debates. ABC’s Martha Raddatz, who covered the war in Iraq, asked the candidates whether young women should be required to sign up for Selective Service if the military draft is reinstated, just as young men are required to do.
Senator Marco Rubio, whose teenage daughters were seated in the first row, was called on first. “I have no problem whatsoever with people of either gender serving in combat,” Rubio began. “I do believe that Selective Service should be opened up for both men and women in case a draft is ever instituted.”
Rubio has been ridiculed for the way he seems to deliver memorized, canned talking points, but his answer suggests he was unprepared for this question. He said he had no problem with women in combat “so long as the minimum requirements necessary to do the job are not compromised.”
The debate was held the night before the Super Bowl, where some of the nation’s best athletes compete before a world audience. Since there’s no rule preventing “people of either gender” from playing football in the NFL, why has no woman ever appeared in the Super Bowl? Even if an exceptional woman could meet “the minimum requirements necessary to do the job” of playing football, that’s not good enough for the physical demands of the NFL — or for military combat.
Rubio’s reference to “minimum requirements” was echoed by the next candidate to speak, former governor Jeb Bush. “If women can meet the minimum requirements for combat service, they ought to have the right to do it. For sure.”
Rubio and Bush have been the loudest voices calling for rebuilding the U.S. military into a force capable of defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Why should we shoot ourselves in the foot by assigning women to combat merely because a few exceptional women “can meet the minimum requirements”?
Even when they “meet the minimum requirements” for military service, women are injured at twice the rate of men, just as female athletes in high school and college sports suffer much higher rates of injury. The higher injury rate for women is one reason why a Marine Corps study found that all-male teams outperformed mixed gender units on a wide range of tasks.
Yes, women can fight hard against enemy attackers, but it takes real men, backed up by unit cohesion, to say “Let’s go get him” and initiate the fight against armed enemies. There is no evidence that women are the equals of men in actual combat.
When I was asleep in bed with my late husband and we heard a noise downstairs that sounded like someone was breaking into the house, I assure you my husband didn’t say “Honey, why don’t you go downstairs and check out that noise?” My husband did the manly thing and went downstairs himself.
Yes, women can pass many tests for strength needed for combat, but there are no tests to find out who will say “Let’s go kill a vicious enemy soldier bent on killing you any way he can.” We have plenty of evidence that men can and will walk into that kind of peril to save their buddies.
The naive premise that women can perform in combat to the same standards as men was refuted by retiring Marine General John F. Kelly, the outgoing commander of U.S. Southern Command. In his final briefing General Kelly warned of the coming “pressure to lower standards, because that’s the only way it’ll work in the way that the agenda-driven people want it to work.”
When it turns out that few if any women are actually serving in combat units, General Kelly predicted, “the question will be asked why aren’t they staying, why aren’t they advancing as infantry people? The answer is, if we don’t change the standards, it will be very, very difficult to have any real numbers.”
The third Republican candidate to endorse women in combat was Governor Chris Christie who, like Rubio, is the father of two teenage daughters. “There’s no reason why young women should be discriminated against from registering for the Selective Service. That’s what we should aspire to for all of the women in our country.”
Senator Ted Cruz was not allowed to speak on this topic in the debate, but he unloaded the following day. “It was striking that three different people on that stage came out in support of drafting women into combat in the military,” Cruz said. “I have to admit, as I was sitting there listening to that conversation, my reaction was: Are you guys nuts?”
“We have had enough with political correctness, especially in the military,” Cruz said to loud applause. “The idea that we would draft our daughters, to forcibly bring them into the military and put them in close combat, I think is wrong, it is immoral, and if I am president, we ain’t doing it.”
Male and Female Still Matter in Combat
Less than a year after the Supreme Court decided that marriage no longer needs partners of the opposite sex, the other two branches of the federal government are moving rapidly to eliminate all rational distinctions based on sex. Taken together, these new actions reflect the unscientific (but oh-so-politically correct) dogma that there are no fundamental, biological differences between male and female.
From the executive branch, controlled by President Obama and the Democrats, came a joint letter from the Departments of Justice and Education addressed to the nation’s public schools and colleges that receive federal financial assistance. The letter instructed schools that henceforth they must recognize students’ “internal sense of gender” as superseding “the sex they were assigned at birth.”
The federal letter was prompted by the controversy over North Carolina’s new law prohibiting men from entering women’s restrooms, but it’s not limited to restrooms with private stalls. It also requires schools to allow students to enter the group shower and locker room that accords with the student’s “internal sense of gender” and even to be addressed with the pronoun they prefer.
Not to be outdone, the Republican-controlled Congress had its own bout of gender dysphoria, the trendy new ailment defined as stress caused by inability to identify with your biological sex. The Armed Services Committees of both Houses approved legislation that would require young women to register for Selective Service, which puts them on a list to be called up for military combat.
The House committee acted first, voting 32-30 on April 27 to include young women in the registration for a military draft. Two weeks later the Senate committee included a similar provision by order of its chairman, John McCain, and a motion to delete that provision was defeated by a vote of 19-7.
Senator McCain, who once joked that the liberal media is “my base,” may feel that catering to the feminists will earn him enough free media to fend off a primary challenge from the conservative state senator, Dr. Kelli Ward. The draft-our-daughters provision was also supported by Republican feminists on Armed Services such as Sen. Kelly Ayotte (NH), Sen. Joni Ernst (IA), and Rep. Martha McSally (AZ).
Mandatory registration of women for military service was rejected by a Democrat-controlled Congress in 1980 after it was proposed by President Jimmy Carter. The exemption of women was upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in a decision written by the late Chief Justice Rehnquist during the term when his law clerk was the future Chief Justice, John Roberts.
Any woman can seek to enlist in our all-volunteer military, but men are six times more likely than women to volunteer and serve. The military meets its self-imposed quota of 15 percent women by providing child care, “reproductive care” and other benefits that young male soldiers don’t need or want.
It makes no sense to force all young women to register for a future draft when only a small percentage of them would ever enlist. Our national defense is not enhanced by maintaining a list of millions of women who have no intention of becoming soldiers and would never be fit for combat. The purpose of our military is to field the finest troops possible to defend our Nation and win wars. The goal of feminists, however, is to impose a mindless equality, regardless of how many people it hurts.
Women lack the upper-body strength that men have. Soldiers need to carry into the battlefield gear weighing 60 to 120 pounds, which is impossible for most women. Soldiers must also move quickly while carrying these heavy loads, which creates stress for their knees and other joints. Medical studies show that women athletes have four to six times the risk of men in suffering knee injuries.
An injury on the battlefield endangers not only a soldier who is hurt, but also others around her. Studies show that men tend to spend too much time helping an injured female soldier, rather than advancing the military objectives of the battle.
Last year the Marine Corps did a study that compared the effectiveness of all-male troops to that of co-ed troops. In results that should surprise no one, the all-male units had much lower injury rates and higher overall performance than mixed-gender units.
Our national security is not served by this misguided attempt to force young women to register for a military draft. Tell your Representative and Senators to remove this offensive provision when the national defense bill (NDAA) comes to the floor in September.
Congress Is Close to Drafting Our Daughters
Ever since Donald Trump effectively won the Republican presidential nomination by decisively defeating Ted Cruz in the Indiana primary, Congressional Republicans led by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have engaged in unseemly public hand-wringing about whether they will or will not accept the people’s choice. Unwilling to support the positions that Trump campaigned on — reducing immigration, adopting a pro-American trade policy, and returning education to the local level — Speaker Ryan dusted off his own policy agenda and promised to roll out a series of position papers to compete with those of the presumptive nominee.
One of Ryan’s six task forces, entitled Restoring Constitutional Authority, announced its purpose to “Reclaim power ceded to the executive branch by . . . exercising the power of the purse and conducting more robust oversight.” That’s a worthy goal, and the annual defense bill (known as NDAA) now moving through Congress is a great opportunity for Congress to reclaim its power to limit the use of women in the armed forces.
Unknown to most Americans, the Obama administration unilaterally decided to make military women eligible for assignment to ground combat units in the infantry and special forces. Our nation has never allowed the assignment of women to units whose mission is to seek out, engage and kill the enemy, and no other country (not even Israel) does so today.
Although women have not yet been assigned to special forces and combat infantry, the official change in policy has already raised the risks for military women who serve honorably in non-combat roles. It has opened the door for women to be drafted into service as combat troops in a future war.
From 1940 to 1973, the Selective Service System drafted young men into the armed forces; that’s how we got combat troops for World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Since 1980 all young men age 18-26 have been required to register with Selective Service for a potential future draft, and those who fail to register are disqualified from federal student loans.
Everyone knows that the President is the commander-in-chief of America’s armed forces. But our Constitution gives Congress the power “to raise and support armies;” “to provide and maintain a navy;” and “to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.”
Congress has no more important responsibility than to prevent the compulsory assignment of women to military combat, and there’s no better reason why grassroots Republicans are frustrated with this Republican Congress than its failure to do so. Despite the “robust oversight” promised by Speaker Ryan, Congress has not held a single hearing on this radical change in policy about women in the military.
The failure continued in the House Armed Services Committee, where a draft-our-daughters provision was attached to the annual defense authorization bill (NDAA) with the support of 6 of the 36 Republicans on that committee. Only a procedural maneuver by the House Rules Committee was able to strip out the provision before NDAA passed the full House on May 18.
When the Senate Armed Services Committee took up its version of the NDAA, the chairman, John McCain, exercised his prerogative to add a draft-our-daughters provision to the bill. A motion by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) to strike that provision was defeated when 7 Republican Senators joined all the committee’s Democrats to support the registration of women for military service.
There’s no Rules Committee in the Senate, which requires unanimous consent for most action, and Senators refused to allow Mike Lee’s amendment to be considered on the floor. As a result, a “No” vote on the entire NDAA was the only way to prevent the draft-our-daughters law from passing the full Senate. Only 6 of the 54 Republican Senators voted no.
The 2012 platform of the Republican Party declares categorically: “We support military women’s exemption from direct ground combat units and infantry battalions.” The platform also states: “We reject the use of the military as a platform for social experimentation and will not accept attempts to undermine military priorities and mission readiness.” This year’s Republican platform committee meets on July 11-12 in Cleveland.
Military combat units draw their strength from “unit cohesion,” not diversity. The U.S. Marine Corps’ gender integration study, which is the most comprehensive research ever conducted on this issue, reported last September that all-male combat teams outperformed mixed-gender teams on a wide variety of measures of speed, endurance, lethality, negotiating obstacles, and evacuation of casualties.
The female Marines studied were physically fit, but they nevertheless experienced injuries at twice the rate of male Marines. Combat troops fight in small teams where the loss of one member can be fatal to all.
Relying on its study proving that mixed-gender units are less effective, the Marine Corps requested permission to keep some combat roles male-only. Obama’s Secretary of Defense not only denied that reasonable request, but ordered the Corps to require Marines to undergo training to erase “unconscious bias” and clamp down on potential misgivings about women in combat.
Schlafly Readies Draft Fight was published 36 years ago, the last time Congress considered forcing young women to register for military combat. We defeated that bad idea in 1980 and, with your help, we can defeat it again in 2016.