]Army and Marine Corps chiefs: It’s time for women to register for the draft
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By Dan Lamothe February 2 at 11:53 AM
Marine Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller, left, and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus take their seats to testify at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the implementation of the decision to open all ground combat units to women on Feb. 2, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
The top officers in the Army and Marine Corps testified on Tuesday that they believe it is time for women to register for future military drafts, following the Pentagon’s recent decision to open all jobs in combat units to female service members.
Gen. Mark A. Milley, chief of staff of the Army, and Gen. Robert B. Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, both said they were in favor of the change during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. They offered their opinions in response to a question from Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who said that she also is in favor of the change.
The comments are a first in the Defense Department. Previously, senior defense officials have said that the issue would need to be researched following Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter’s historic decision in December to open all jobs in the military to women without exception.
Carter’s action allows women for the first time to apply for a variety of physically punishing positions, including Army and Marine Corps infantryman, as well as Special Operations jobs, including Navy SEAL and Green Beret. The Defense Department plans to begin implementing associated changes in training and evaluation by April 1.
The Selective Service System has existed for decades, and was created to make sure the military has enough manpower when it is short-handed in a time of war. A variation of it was first adopted in 1917, as the United States prepared to join enter World War I.
But Selective Service laws have never required women to subject themselves to the draft and face the prospect of being forced into military service. The current version of the Military Selective Service Act requires that virtually all men in the United States between the ages of 18 and 26 register, most within 30 days of turning 18. That includes non-U.S. citizens living in the United States, such as refugees.