From Burning Draft Cards to Drafting Women?

 

It was 22 or 23 years ago, I think, that I wrote in the Air Force Times a cautionary article on the combat exclusion that prohibited women from joining front line combat units. My concern then, as now, was that lifting the combat exclusion would removed the only remaining barrier to our daughters, wives, moms, and sisters being eligible for a military draft.  

Asked about the issue yesterday, outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta conceded that his lifting of the combat exclusion could indeed make women eligible for the draft. With characteristic grit and determination, he added that he doesn’t know who runs the Selective Service, but predicted that they will, “…have to exercise some judgment based on what we just did.”  

In 1982, the Supreme Court ruled in Rostker v. Goldberg, that the requirement for males to sign up for Selective Service was constitutional precisely because women were excluded from serving in front line combat units. “The court ruled that the Selective Service process is designed to assemble combat-ready people, and right now women are excluded from combat arms,” said Professor Anne Coughlin, of the University of Virginia School of Law in Charlottesville.  “Therefore,” she said, “they can’t participate in the very thing that the draft is for.” But that was then. Now, retired Colonel Peter Mansoor, a former US Army brigade commander and veteran of two tours of duty in Iraq, currently a professor of military history at Ohio State, says, “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.”  

Say, does anyone remember the part of President Obama’s little presentation of The Life of Julia, where she gets her draft notice?  What about the part where draftee Julia is involuntarily deployed to some hellhole in the Mideast where the beneficent and diligent attention of Secretary of State John Kerry has germinated a fresh crop of Islamic fanatics? I can’t remember seeing the slide of her poorly defended position being overrun by said fanatics while her commander pleads for assistance that, pace Benghazi, never arrives. But, as Hillary Clinton said, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” It’s merely a bump in the road of progress.  

It speaks volumes that the party of young men who once gleefully burned their draft cards has degenerated into the party of old men who declare their daughters and granddaughters eligible for the draft. But to do so in Orwellian tones of, “…moving forward with a plan to eliminate all gender-based barriers to service,” adds injury to insult. Progressives, who once accused Republicans of waging a war on women for declining to force others to pay for Julia’s sexual proclivities, now wage a literal war on women complete with the possibility of involuntary combat assignments. 

Were the American people consulted on this? Did their representatives in Congress have a chance to weigh in on an issue that affects over half the population? To echo Ms. Clinton, “What difference does it make?” What difference indeed, to the man who, at his inauguration only a few days earlier, described us as, “…a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.” But apparently, this generation can’t be trusted to choose its own light bulbs or toilets, let alone deal with weighty issues like making our daughters eligible for involuntary military service.  

Personally, one of the reasons I spent 20 years in uniform and volunteered to go to very unpleasant places was so that my daughter, my sisters, my mother and grandmothers might never have to taste the bitter cup of life under such inhumane and inhuman conditions. It seems now that my service in that regard might have been squandered. Which brings me to the question of what has become of our military leaders?  

The peculiarities of my work on active duty required that my immediate supervisor had to be a colonel or higher. As a result, I worked directly for literally dozens of colonels, brigadier generals and major generals during my career. Of these senior leaders, there were maybe a half dozen that I felt routinely put the interests of their troops over that of their own careers. Of these half dozen, there were two that I would gladly follow to storm the gates of hell itself. They never made it beyond the rank of brigadier general. The worst of the bunch progressed to three and four-star rank. The problem, as I saw in the Air Force at least, was that promotions in the senior ranks were highly political affairs. Combat prowess and a devotion to duty as well as to the troops, took second place to checking off various requirements for progression through the ranks.

“Everything you write is correct, Sergeant Carter,” a colonel on the verge of retiring said to me one day when I presented a letter for his signature. The letter detailed the disastrous effects of a new policy and advocated a change in direction. “But I can’t sign it,” he said, “because it would put me in a ticklish situation.” The guy was two weeks from retirement and, even at that late stage, couldn’t be persuaded to take a stand. Such fecklessness, such foolishness from people who have been decorated for valor under fire, is as beyond comprehension now as it was then.  

Where are the flag officers who refuse to take part in the further destruction of our force? Where were the commanders that refused to  be complicit in our surrender and defeat in Afghanistan? What in the world has gotten into the heads of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that they give their imprimatur of approval to a policy that can’t help but detract from combat effectiveness and puts in jeopardy the very people our troops fight to defend? Is there not a single one prepared to resign in protest over the shabby treatment of the people under his command? Just once, I’d like to see a senior military leader actually lead something other than own career interests. Just once, I’d like to see them subordinate their interest to that of the troops who have trusted them with their very lives. The nation deserves better than this.  

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  1. Profile Photo Member
    @
    Black Prince

    Judithann Campbell

    Black Prince: I’m all for drafting women…bring it on!!!  Equality, baby, equality…sometimes it’s a b*tch!  Oh, and chivalry?  Forget it about it! · 2 minutes ago

    Edited 1 minute ago

    What about the men who are forced to serve alongside those women? Do you plan on being one of them? Men who who are forced to fight alongside unqualified women will die needlessly; does that concern you? · 0 minutes ago

    Gee…that’s pretty sexist…why can’t a women fight just as well as man? · 0 minutes ago

    I assume from your answer that you have no intention of ever joining the military. Good for you.

    • #31
  2. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Judithann Campbell

    Black Prince

    Judithann Campbell

    Black Prince: I’m all for drafting women…bring it on!!!  Equality, baby, equality…sometimes it’s a b*tch!  Oh, and chivalry?  Forget it about it! · 2 minutes ago

    Edited 1 minute ago

    What about the men who are forced to serve alongside those women? Do you plan on being one of them? Men who who are forced to fight alongside unqualified women will die needlessly; does that concern you? · 0 minutes ago

    Gee…that’s pretty sexist…why can’t a women fight just as well as man? · 0 minutes ago

    I assume from your answer that you have no intention of ever joining the military. Good for you. · 1 minute ago

    Well, you know what they say about “assuming” things. =)  Women are more than capable of fighting—it doesn’t take a [reference to male sex organ deleted] to pull a trigger.

    • #32
  3. Profile Photo Member
    @
    Black Prince

    Judithann Campbell

    Black Prince

    Judithann Campbell

    Black Prince: I’m all for drafting women…bring it on!!!  Equality, baby, equality…sometimes it’s a b*tch!  Oh, and chivalry?  Forget it about it! · 2 minutes ago

    Edited 1 minute ago

    What about the men who are forced to serve alongside those women? Do you plan on being one of them? Men who who are forced to fight alongside unqualified women will die needlessly; does that concern you? · 0 minutes ago

    Gee…that’s pretty sexist…why can’t a women fight just as well as man? · 0 minutes ago

    I assume from your answer that you have no intention of ever joining the military. Good for you. · 1 minute ago

    Well, you know what they say about “assuming” things. =)  Women are more than capable of fighting—it doesn’t take a [reference to male sex organ deleted]to pull a trigger. · 0 minutes ago

    How many wars have you fought in? Where did you acquire your military  expertise?

    • #33
  4. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Judithann Campbell

    Black Prince

    Judithann Campbell

    Black Prince

    Gee…that’s pretty sexist…why can’t a women fight just as well as man? · 0 minutes ag

    o

    I assume from your answer that you have no intention of ever joining the military. Good for you. · 1 minute ago

    Well, you know what they say about “assuming” things. =)  Women are more than capable of fighting—it doesn’t take a [reference to male sex organ deleted]to pull a trigger. · 0 minutes ago

    How many wars have you fought in? Where did you acquire your military  expertise? · 0 minutes ago

    How many wars have YOU fought in?  Where did you acquire YOUR military expertise?  =)  I’m just telling you what I’ve been told from the time I entered kindergarten to the time I graduated from university to what I continue to be told in the workforce.  I think you need to re-examine your outdated notions of what women can and cannot do! =)

    • #34
  5. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Even some on Ricochet seem to not care at all about the fate of women who will be drafted into combat, and the men who will be forced to serve alongside them; a couple of older women have stated that they want women to be drafted, because they want their sons to be treated fairly. I hope to God that some relatively powerful conservatives do something, because even many conservatives do not seem to understand what is at stake. 

    • #35
  6. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince

    @Judithann Campbell:  Before you take my comments too seriously, check out this link.  Have a nice evening!

    • #36
  7. Profile Photo Member
    @Sweezle

    I see no major problem with the idea of women in the military serving on the front line. Providing they pass the more strenuous physical requirements of combat. I don’t want the physical requirements to be lowered to include more women on the front lines though. Keep the standards and let qualified women participate fully in our military efforts and advance their careers accordingly.

    Even if it opens the door to a draft in a large-scale global war, I think military women deserve this opportunity. In a world in which sexual orientation appears less important, surely gender shouldn’t be a barrier. We live in a different world now so maybe this is another step we need to take.

    That seems a much simpler problem to solve than the advancement of too many high ranking leaders in the military that got their by being highly political and often too careful to speak out when necessary. When your career is based more on the mistakes you don’t make, the less likely our best and brightest get to the very top.

    • #37
  8. Profile Photo Podcaster
    @DaveCarter
    Sweezle: I see no major problem with the idea of women in the military serving on the front line. Providing they pass the more strenuous physical requirements of combat. I don’t want the physical requirements to be lowered to include more women on the front lines though. …

    When asked about how military standards will apply to women in combat fields, General Dempsey said yesterday,

    “Importantly, though, if we do decide that a particular standard is so high that a woman couldn’t make it, the burden is now on the service to come back and explain to the secretary, why is it that high? Does it really have to be that high? With the direct combat exclusion provision in place, we never had to have that conversation.”

    In short, the physical requirements will be lowered, as they already have been in other specialties.  

    • #38
  9. Profile Photo Podcaster
    @DaveCarter
    Sweezle: …Even if it opens the door to a draft in a large-scale global war, I think military women deserve this opportunity. In a world in which sexual orientation appears less important, surely gender shouldn’t be a barrier. We live in a different world now so maybe this is another step we need to take. …

    There is a distinction, isn’t there, between women who want the opportunity to serve in combat units and those that want to be left alone and not drafted into the military?  Do we put our daughters at mortal risk so that women who volunteer for service can have greater access to higher ranks?  I view the combat exclusion as less of a barrier than a protection for those we hold in special esteem.  That we live in a different world is indisputable,…that it is an indisputably worse world and one whose continued degradation we ought not sell our souls to, is my contention.  

    • #39
  10. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Liz Wirth: However, face to face with a man pointing a weapon, who I know is also someone else’s son, brother or husband it might cause me that split second of analysis that proves deadly to myself and others I would be with.  

    Liz, Liz, Liz…come on now…be honest…we’re all friends here…you can’t really be serious.  I’m 99.99999% sure that if confronted by a man pointing a weapon at you in a combat situation with the intention to kill, the last thing—the VERY last thing—to enter your mind is to think that he’s someone else’s son, brother or husband.  I was serious when I said that it doesn’t take a [reference to male sex organ deleted] to pull a trigger.  My grandmother would have pulled that trigger without a second’s hesitation.  I think you should give yourself a little more credit! =)

    • #40
  11. Profile Photo Member
    @Sweezle

    I disagree with General Dempsey. I am still hopeful that is opinion will be ignored and that the standards will not be lowered to fill quotas. No one serving in combat should have to rely on anyone that cannot do the job. But I’m also not sure that many people already serving in combat don’t face that problem already.

    Dave Carter

    Sweezle: I see no major problem with the idea of women in the military serving on the front line. Providing they pass the more strenuous physical requirements of combat. I don’t want the physical requirements to be lowered to include more women on the front lines though. …

    When asked about how military standards will apply to women in combat fields, General Dempsey said yesterday,

    “Importantly, though, if we do decide that a particular standard is so high that a woman couldn’t make it, the burden is now on the service to come back and explain to the secretary, why is it that high? Does it really have to be that high? With the direct combat exclusion provision in place, we never had to have that conversation.”

       · 12 minutes ago

    • #41
  12. Profile Photo Inactive
    @jetstream
    Dave Carter

    Sweezle: I see no major problem with the idea of women in the military serving on the front line. Providing they pass the more strenuous physical requirements of combat. I don’t want the physical requirements to be lowered to include more women on the front lines though. …

    When asked about how military standards will apply to women in combat fields, General Dempsey said yesterday,

    “Importantly, though, if we do decide that a particular standard is so high that a woman couldn’t make it, the burden is now on the service to come back and explain to the secretary, why is it that high? Does it really have to be that high? With the direct combat exclusion provision in place, we never had to have that conversation.”

    In short, the physical requirements will be lowered, as they already have been in other specialties.   · 7 minutes ago

    The U.S. military is on the verge of achieving a new level  personnel efficiency …  i.e. the careerist officer corp is now almost perfectly interchangeable with Post Office bureaucrats.

    • #42
  13. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Sweezle: I disagree with General Dempsey. I am still hopeful that is opinion will be ignored and that the standards will not be lowered to fill quotas.

    Hope.  That hasn’t been a very fruitful tree for conservatives.  My money is on lower standards.

    • #43
  14. Profile Photo Member
    @JoeBoyle
    Sweezle: Having a healthy, warm body will be a big factor in for the info…I suppose it also depends on how badly we need the troops.  In a Vietnam-like situation we could afford to pick and choose, but in a “we’re-on-the-verge-of-losing-the-country” situation, we might take a more “all hands on deck” approach to the draft. · 8 hours ago

    Edited 8 hours ago

    I was drafted in a Vietnam-like situation. Many of my fellow draftees clearly didn’t belong in the Army. One, who I guess by today’s standards would be classed as autistic, ended his ordeal with a M16 round.

    • #44
  15. Profile Photo Member
    @Sweezle

    Dave,

    I took this separately because it seems more complicated.  My point was that women who serve in the military already, want to serve in combat on the front lines, “deserve” to have that opportunity because it is a career necessity to advance in the military. That seems fair to men and women in the military and serving on the front lines.

    Yes, you are absolutely right. The draft is a separate issue and has little to do with the women serving today in our volunteer military. And I have no answers about how a draft should work with women who are stay-at-home moms or do not want to serve in the military at all.  In a draft many men are forced to fight so why do women deserve preferential treatment?

    Dave Carter

    Sweezle: …Even if it opens the door to a draft in a large-scale global war,I think military women deserve this opportunity…

    There is a distinction, isn’t there, between women who want the opportunity to serve in combat units and those that want to be left alone and not drafted into the military?  · 9 minutes ago

    • #45
  16. Profile Photo Member
    @Sweezle

    I think that will be the wrong decision. And one we should challenge. I grant you that not as many women as men can pass the same physical requirements. But it doesn’t mean the standards should be lowered. It would be unfair to anyone in combat.

    Black Prince

    Sweezle: I disagree with General Dempsey. I am still hopeful that is opinion will be ignored and that the standards will not be lowered to fill quotas.

    Hope.  That hasn’t been a very fruitful tree for conservatives.  My money is on lower standards. · 7 minutes ago

    • #46
  17. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Dave Carter

    Sweezle: …Even if it opens the door to a draft in a large-scale global war,I think military women deserve this opportunity.

    There is a distinction, isn’t there, between women who want the opportunity to serve in combat units and those that want to be left alone and not drafted into the military?

    I’ll play a little devil’s advocate here…what about the men who want an opportunity to serve in combat units versus those that want to be left alone and not drafted into the military?  Why can’t men have a choice too?  Look, is anyone really surprised that we’ve reached this point? Drafting women into the military was the next logical step in the feminist/politically-correct progression of our society.  Personally, I have to act and react to the world as it IS, not as I would like it to be.  So unless we (as a society) are willing to roll-back to a place and time where men and women follow more traditional roles, I’m not going to get too worked up about the military drafting women.

    • #47
  18. Profile Photo Member
    @Sweezle

    If you are correct than maybe it is a good thing that this President has decided that we are no longer fighting wars.  I’m not so sure the world will allow us to do that, but if the military will become like the post office we need to protect those brave folks who still volunteer to fight for this country.

    jetstream

    Dave Carter

    Sweezle: I see no major problem with the idea of women in the military serving on the front line. Providing they pass the more strenuous physical requirements of combat. I don’t want the physical requirements to be lowered to include more women on the front lines though. …

      The U.S. military is on the verge of achieving a new level  personnel efficiency …  i.e. the careerist officer corp is now almost perfectly interchangeable with Post Office bureaucrats. · 12 minutes ago
    • #48
  19. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Sweezle: I think that will be the wrong decision. And one we should challenge. I grant you that not as many women as men can pass the same physical requirements. But it doesn’t mean the standards should be lowered. It would be unfair to anyone in combat.

    With respect to standards…in a real war-time situation (e.g. WWII) I doubt that we’ll have the same standards for draftees as we currently do for volunteers.  If physical requirements were the main factor in determining whether a person is drafted or not, if given a choice between a healthy and fit women and an overweight, out-of-shape man on the verge of a heart attack, the woman is the better candidate.

    • #49
  20. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Sweezle: If you are correct than maybe it is a good thing that this President has decided that we are no longer fighting wars.  I’m not so sure the world will allow us to do that, but if the military will become like the post office we need to protect those brave folks who still volunteer to fight for this country.

    Well, the situation that took place in Benghazi isn’t very encouraging.

    • #50
  21. Profile Photo Member
    @RobertELee
    Black Prince

    I’m really curious about this…can you direct me to any resources with this information? · 7 hours ago

    Three quick links:

    http://www.nytimes.com/1992/06/29/us/female-pow-is-abused-kindling-debate.html

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/06/military-sexual-assault-defense-department_n_1834196.html

    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/20/16039249-reported-sex-assaults-leap-23-percent-at-us-military-academies

    These are just the first links that popped up after a brief search.  More authoritative material is available with a bit more diligence.

    • #51
  22. Profile Photo Podcaster
    @DaveCarter
    Sweezle: I disagree with General Dempsey. I am still hopeful that is opinion will be ignored and that the standards will not be lowered to fill quotas. …

    Dave Carter

    Sweezle: I see no major problem with the idea of women in the military serving on the front line. Providing they pass the more strenuous physical requirements of combat. I don’t want the physical requirements to be lowered to include more women on the front lines though. …

    When asked about how military standards will apply to women in combat fields, General Dempsey said yesterday,

    “Importantly, though, if we do decide that a particular standard is so high that a woman couldn’t make it, the burden is now on the service to come back and explain to the secretary, why is it that high? Does it really have to be that high? With the direct combat exclusion provision in place, we never had to have that conversation.”

       · 12 minutes ago

    51 minutes ago

    Unfortunately, he’s the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  His opinion won’t be ignored,…though it ought to be.  

    • #52
  23. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Robert E. Lee

    Black Prince

    I’m really curious about this…can you direct me to any resources with this information? · 7 hours ago

    Three quick links:

    http://www.nytimes.com/1992/06/29/us/female-pow-is-abused-kindling-debate.html

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/06/military-sexual-assault-defense-department_n_1834196.html

    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/20/16039249-reported-sex-assaults-leap-23-percent-at-us-military-academies

    These are just the first links that popped up after a brief search.  More authoritative material is available with a bit more diligence. · 2 minutes ago

    Thanks, Robert!

    • #53
  24. Profile Photo Podcaster
    @DaveCarter
    Sweezle: Dave,

    I took this separately because it seems more complicated.  My point was that women who serve in the military already, want to serve in combat on the front lines, “deserve” to have that opportunity because it is a career necessity to advance in the military. That seems fair to men and women in the military and serving on the front lines. …

    Respectfully, the military’s mission is not career advancement, though you wouldn’t know it from the conduct of many senior officers.  I submit that what’s fair is that our troops defeat the enemy and come back like good airplane trays,…”in the upright position.”  Anything less seems unfair to me.

    • #54
  25. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Can’t wait to see the expressions on the faces of those women who will be forced to urinate into a bottle and crap in a plastic bag within inches of their male grunts while in a transport vehicle that is not going to stop for anything! Let alone all the hygiene issues while out on  combat patrols. Just saying. 

    • #55
  26. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Dave Carter

    I submit that what’s fair is that our troops defeat the enemy and come back like good airplane trays,…”in the upright position.”  Anything less seems unfair to me.

    Is anyone aware of examples in history where women fought alongside men in combat?  If so, what was the result?

    • #56
  27. Profile Photo Podcaster
    @DaveCarter
    Sweezle: … The draft is a separate issue and has little to do with the women serving today in our volunteer military. And I have no answers about how a draft should work with women who are stay-at-home moms or do not want to serve in the military at all.  In a draft many men are forced to fight so why do women deserve preferential treatment?

    In the second world war, women went to work on bases, in hospitals, and in factories across the country.  The war would not have been won without their work.  Many people, like myself, served and sacrificed so that their daughters and sisters and moms wouldn’t have to.  If you are saying that ladies should be treated as less than ladies, then I suppose we’ll have to agree to disagree.   One of the things our troops fight for is American culture itself,..our ideals and heritage.  If that is thrown into the dustbin, then we have reached an ugly point in our society in my humble opinion, and I have to wonder what we’re even fighting for.  

    • #57
  28. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Dave Carter

    One of the things our troops fight for is American culture itself,..our ideals and heritage.  If that is thrown into the dustbin, then we have reached an ugly point in our society…

    I hate to say it, but if we’re not there already, we’re pretty darn close.

    • #58
  29. Profile Photo Podcaster
    @DaveCarter
    Black Prince

    Dave Carter

    One of the things our troops fight for is American culture itself,..our ideals and heritage.  If that is thrown into the dustbin, then we have reached an ugly point in our society…

    I hate to say it, but if we’re not there already, we’re pretty darn close. · 9 minutes ago

    I know.  Believe me,…I know.  

    • #59
  30. Profile Photo Podcaster
    @DaveCarter

    Ricochet Contributor and all around gentleman /scholar Victor Davis Hanson addresses this topic nicely on NRO.  His concluding paragraph: 

    One way or another, we have now apparently made a number of assumptions: that in the next war we will see overtly gay men and women fully integrated in small ground units amid firefights and carnage at the front; that this will not affect negatively, but more likely improve, U.S. combat efficacy;and that those intolerant reactionaries who object and feel less safe or simply less comfortable will shun the military — and that the military will not suffer as a consequence of their absence, but more likely improve. If all true, then we are onto the brave new world!

    • #60
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