Top Generals: Issue Women Draft Cards

February 5, 2016

The top generals in the Army and Marine Corps told Senate lawmakers that women should be required to register for the draft.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the generals said it would take about three years for women to fully integrate into combat roles, following Secretary of Defense Ash Carter's directive to open up all military jobs to women.

The topic of the hearing was on how the services were moving forward under the new implementation of the full integration directive, but the topic of women and registration for the draft quickly took center stage.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said they believe every physically qualified American should be required to register for the draft. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Acting Army Secretary Patrick Murphy were more nuanced in their responses, saying the topic should be put to a national debate.

The service leaders all agreed that they would not lower standards to accommodate women.

Although America officially ended the draft and moved to an all-volunteer force (AVF) in 1973, men between the ages of 18 and 26 still are required to register for the draft to create a pool of eligible recruits in the event of a national emergency. Women have previously not needed to register because they weren't allowed to fill critical combat specialties.

That has changed, as previously closed military specialties are now open to women.

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