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Military draft registration could extend to US women

By JohnThomas Didymus     Feb 26, 2013 in World
While a group is involved in an effort in Congress to abolish the Selective Service System and military draft registration, another group is pushing to expand the draft registration to women after combat positions in the US military were opened to women.
According to IB Times, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) has introduced a bill to create a version of the draft that includes women.
Rangel, a Korean war veteran, had introduced similar bills at least three times in the past, IB Times reports. His new bill, the National Universal Service Act, would require eligible citizens of the US, irrespective of sex, to give two years of service either in the armed services or in civilian services such as the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps.
The bill provides no exception for students in college or universities.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-MiCch.), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, backs the plan to expand the draft registration to include women. Groups such as the Service Women's Action Network (SWAN) also back the plan.
UPI reports that former Marine Corps captain and executive director of SWAN Anu Bhagwati, said: "SWAN advocates for the inclusion of women into Selective Service. Lifting the ban on women officially serving in combat is about giving qualified women the opportunity to serve and making our military stronger, and that would include having women register for Selective Service."
AP reports that Diane Mazur, a law professor at the University of Florida, and a former Air Force officer, said that now that combat positions are open to women, it has become difficult to explain why women should continue to be exempt from registration. Maszur said: "They're going to have to show that excluding women from the draft actually improves military readiness. I just don't see how you can make that argument."
Greg Jacob, a former Marine Corps officer and policy director for the Service Women's Action (SWAN), said: "We see registration as another step forward in terms of equality and fairness."
AP reports that meanwhile, Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), and Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), are involved in an effort in the House of Representatives to abolish the Selective Service System, the independent federal agency that manages draft registration. Supporters of the move to abolish the military draft registration say it is a waste of money given the success of an all-volunteer force in four decades.
DeFazio said: "There is no one who wants this except 'chicken hawk' members of Congress." DeFazio's expression "chicken hawk" refers to Congress members who have never served but push for military action.
Selective Service director Lawrence Romo, however, disagrees with DeFazio's view that the agency is a waste of money, saying the agency is an "inexpensive insurance policy," and "the true backup for the true emergency."
AP reports that the Selective Service has a budget of $24 million, a full-time staff of 130, and a database of about 17 million potential draftees who could be mobilized in the event of an emergency that requires a rapid increase in the size of the military.
According to IB Times, US law requires all eligible U.S. residents to register for service within 30 days of their 18th birthday. Failure to register may lead to a fine of up to $250,000, loss of college financial aid and denial of employment by the government. Women are currently not required to register.
AP reports that the draft was discontinued in 1973 and the U.S. military has been an all-volunteer force for the last 40 years.
AP also notes that a draft would be very unpopular at the moment. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that American voters were firmly opposed to mandated military service for men as well as women.
Although the Quinnipiac poll showed that Americans supported allowing female volunteers to serve in combat positions by a 75-25 margin, they were opposed to re-establishing military draft: Male and female respondents opposed the draft, 65-28. However, the poll found that men supported the conscription of men as well as women by 59-36, in the event of a draft. The poll also found that 48 percent of women opposed re-establishing the draft, while 45% supported it.
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