U.S. eyes proposal to extend the draft to women

The chief of the U.S. Selective Service System has proposed registering women for the military draft and extending the age of draft registration to 34, up from 25 for both women and men. He would also require they inform the government about whether they have training in niche specialties needed in the armed services.


WASHINGTON—The chief of the U.S. Selective Service System has proposed registering women for the military draft and requiring that young Americans regularly inform the government about whether they have training in niche specialties needed in the armed services.

The proposal, which the agency’s acting director Lewis Brodsky presented to senior Pentagon officials just before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, also seeks to extend the age of draft registration to 34, up from 25.

The issue of a renewed draft has gained attention because of concern that U.S. military forces are stretched thin because of worldwide commitments.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist strikes, U.S. forces have fought and won two wars, have established a major military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq and are now taking on peacekeeping duties in Haiti.

The plan, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, highlights the extent to which agency officials have planned for an expanded military draft in case the administration and Congress authorize one in the future.

“In line with today’s needs, the Selective Service System’s structure, programs and activities should be re-engineered toward maintaining a national inventory of American men and, for the first time, women, ages 18 through 34, with an added focus on identifying individuals with critical skills,” the agency said in a Feb. 11, 2003, proposal presented to Pentagon officials.

The agency acknowledged that they would have “to market the concept” of a female draft to Congress, which would have to authorize such a step.

Agency spokesperson Dan Amon said the Pentagon has taken no action on the proposal.

“These ideas were only being floated for department of defence consideration,” Amon said.

He described the proposal as “food for thought” for contingency planning.

Hearst Newspapers

Author: Hearst News

News Service: Hearst

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