Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced last week that all positions in the U.S. military would now be open to any member of the armed forces who can meet the standards. This means that women will now have the right to serve in every position in the U.S. military. But rights and responsibilities go hand in hand. Women must now also share the responsibility to be called upon to serve and defend their country in the event that a draft is required.
In the wake of Secretary Carter’s announcement, Congress should now require young women as well as men to register for the Selective Service System. Since women will be able to serve equally in every position throughout the military, there will no longer be any reason to exclude them from this requirement.
The nation established the Selective Service System in 1917 in order to provide conscripted manpower to rapidly expand the U.S. military to fight World War I. That system ended after the war, but was used again for World War II and the Korean War. It then remained in place through the Vietnam War. Conscription throughout the 20th century was always limited to drafting qualified young men into the ranks.