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2016 promises to be a year of demographic revolution in the military on par with the racial desegregation of troops in 1948. But making a change as enormous as introducing women to combat jobs isn’t like flicking a switch. Even after President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981, integrating the armed forces on paper, it took decades to deal with issues like equal housing, promotions, and so on.
It’s going to be the same with women. Gender integration has been signed off on, but there will be an array of smaller issues to sort out going forward.
One of those issues is the question of whether or not women should have to register with the Selective Service System. It would seem logical that since all men of the appropriate age are required to, in the name of complete gender equality, women should have to also. Great arguments have been put forth in favor of women being held “equally responsible for shouldering the burden of their own security,” as Ellen Haring wrote for Task & Purpose. Two branch chiefs have even thrown their support behind forcing women to sign up for the draft.
And to an extent I agree — if young men are going to be forced to register in the Selective Service, then so should women. But I don’t think young men should be forced to register with Selective Service. It’s an antiquated system that no longer serves the needs of the Pentagon. I think it would be better to abolish the Selective Service System altogether.
To understand why we don’t need it, it’s probably important to understand what the Selective Service is and what it does. First of all, it’s an independent agency; it doesn’t fall under the purview of the Department of Defense. It’s also fairly small for an independent governmental organization, with only 124 full-time civilian employees and an annual budget of $23 million. Every man is required by law to register with the Selective Service within a month of turning 18, and then notify the organization of any change in contact information until they’re 25. Failing to register could result in losing student aid benefits, naturalization status, and being unable to be hired for federal jobs or get a driver’s license in some states.
After reading that, it might be obvious what the problems with the Selective Service might be, but let me connect the dots for you. Let’s assume that there’s an alien invasion and the government wants to very quickly institute a draft. How many 22-year-olds do you know are updating their contact information with the Selective Service as they move? I’m going to go out on a limb and say none. The only government audit of the system to ever be conducted found that 20%-40% of the contact information for the people who would theoretically be the first drafted was outdated, and that 75% of the men registered in their last years of eligibility would be invalid for the draft for one reason or another. It’s safe to say that any sort of draft instituted using the Selective Service would be slow, complex, and ineffective. There’s no reason to believe that it would work well during an emergency.
What the system does do well, however, is punish the young men who don’t register. A scathing article in The Washington Post wrote that “the price for failure to register is high and is largely born by the men who can ill afford to pay it: high school dropouts, disconnected inner city residents, ex-offenders and immigrants – legal and unauthorized – who do not know that the failure to register can jeopardize citizenship. In other words, those precisely in need of the type of job training, education, and citizenship opportunities that could help move them from the margins to the mainstream.”
The same article estimates that failure to register for Selective Service was responsible for the loss of $99 million in educational benefits and job training programs in California alone between 2007 and 2014. There’s not going to be a draft anytime soon, and most of these kids weren’t even aware of the registration requirement in the first place.
Besides it being an ineffective and arbitrarily cruel program, maybe the most compelling reason to do away with the Selective Service is that the Pentagon doesn’t want it. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter recently said to the Senate Armed Services Committee, “It stands to reason that you will reconsider the Selective Service System and its treatment of females in view of the Department of Defense policies and practices with respect to women. But the second thing I’d like to say about the Selective Service System and the draft generally is this: We want to pick our people. We don’t want people forced to serve us.”
Simply put, drafting large amounts of hastily trained civilians doesn’t fit the Pentagon’s vision of the future of the armed forces. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, either. For years both the president and the Pentagon have pushed a vision of the military that relies less on massive industrial bulk and more on intelligence and automation.
Reporting from the Future of Warfare Conference this year, Rosa Brooks wrote, “The future of war may involve no soldiers, weapons, or battlefields at all. Think of ‘cyber war’: If you want to wreak havoc on an enemy all you need is a skilled coder, a half-decent computer, and a working Internet connection. … Meanwhile, developments in robotics and artificial intelligence will render large groups of armed humans less and less important in warfare.”
It’s an unalloyed good thing that the Pentagon now has access to the best people for whatever job it needs them for. The battlefield of the future will certainly include women. But there’s simply no place on it for an antiquated, unwieldy, and punitive agency like the Selective Service. It’s time to abolish it.
GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would back the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies that Washington fears may be under threat by Iran.
Worries about a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since attacks last week on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane at the entrance to the Gulf. Washington blamed long-time foe Iran for the incidents.
Tehran denies responsibility but the attacks, and similar ones in May, have further soured relations that have plummeted since Trump pulled the United States out of a landmark international nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018.
Trump has restored and extended U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. That has forced countries around the world to boycott Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
But in an interview with Time magazine, Trump, striking a different tone from some Republican lawmakers who have urged a military approach to Iran, said last week's tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman had only a "very minor" impact so far.
Asked if he would consider military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons or to ensure the free flow of oil through the Gulf, Trump said: "I would certainly go over nuclear weapons and I would keep the other a question mark."
Minnesota Democratic Party staffer under fire for calling USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul a 'murder boat'
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday he is appalled by a state DFL Party staff member's tweet referring to the recently-launched USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul as a "murder boat."
"Certainly, the disrespect shown is beyond the pale," said Walz, who served in the Army National Guard.
William Davis, who has been the DFL Party's research director and deputy communications director, made the controversial comment in response to a tweet about the launch of a new Navy combat ship in Wisconsin: "But actually, I think it's gross they're using the name of our fine cities for a murder boat," Davis wrote on Twitter over the weekend.
'We are there to deter aggression' — Pompeo addressed CENTCOM on Iran mere moments before Shanahan announced his departure
TAMPA — Minutes before the Acting Secretary of Defense withdrew Tuesday from his confirmation process, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at MacDill Air Force Base about the need to coordinate "diplomatic and defense efforts'' to address rising tensions with Iran.
Pompeo, who arrived in Tampa on Monday, met with Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. and Army Gen. Richard Clarke, commanders of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command respectively, to align the Government's efforts in the Middle East, according to Central Command.
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — The trial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher officially kicked off on Tuesday with the completion of jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimony indicating that drinking alcohol on the front lines of Mosul, Iraq in 2017 seemed to be a common occurrence for members of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon.
Government prosecutors characterized Gallagher as a knife-wielding murderer who not only killed a wounded ISIS fighter but shot indiscriminately at innocent civilians, while the defense argued that those allegations were falsehoods spread by Gallagher's angry subordinates, with attorney Tim Parlatore telling the jury that "this trial is not about murder. It's about mutiny."
President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will "not to go forward with his confirmation process."
Trump said that Army Secretary Mark Esper will now serve as acting defense secretary.