News,  Politics

Drafting Women into Combat?

Last week, the GOP majority in the House of Representatives passed the 2025 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). According to an executive summary released by the Senate Armed Services Committee, the bill would “require the registration of women for Selective Service.” If this were to become law and if the draft were ever to be reinstituted, women could be drafted into a U. S. military that no longer has barriers to women serving in combat.

When news of this broke last week, I saw no major news outlets reporting on it. I wrote a column about it for WORLD magazine, but I hardly saw any major news outlets discussing it. That changed today with a story from The New York Times that finally reports on what actually is in this bill. From the report:

The United States military has not activated a draft in more than 50 years, but Congress is weighing proposals to update mandatory conscription, including by expanding it to women for the first time and automatically registering those eligible to be called up…

Women have since 2016 been allowed to serve in every role in the military, including ground combat, and there is some degree of bipartisan support for the idea that they should also be required to be subject to the draft.

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood has been speaking to the issue for much of my tenure as president. Colin Smothers and I are both Southern Baptists and have gotten our own denomination to speak to the issue through resolutions as the matter has been developing over the last decade or so. Here are some of the key developments along with our responses:

2013 – Leon Panetta leads DOJ to remove all barriers to women serving in combat units (source).

2016 – Army and Marine Corps chiefs call for women to be eligible for the draft, which leads to Congress commissioning a study on requiring women to register for Selective Service (source).

2016 – Denny Burk offers resolution against women being eligible for the draft. SBC messengers adopt (source).

2016 – The US Congress appoints a National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service to investigate the question of expanding Selective Service registration to all Americans, which would subject women to potential military conscription, and to report back to the President and Congress in March 2020.

2019 – CBMW contributes a position paper to the National Commission (source).

2019 – Colin Smothers offers a resolution against expanding Selective Service to include women. SBC messengers adopt (source).

2020 – National Commission completes its report and recommends that Selective Service be expanded to include women (source).

2024 – Senate Armed Services Committee releases an executive summary of the current draft of the 2025 National Defense Authorization Act, which calls for the Military Selective Service Act to be amended “to require the registration of women for Selective Service” (source).

If you read through the source material, these measures made news precisely because all barriers to women serving in combat units began to be dismantled in 2013 and because the Army and Marine chiefs were calling in 2016 for female conscription into a military force that no longer had those barriers. Those who offered testimony to the National Commission in favor of expanding Selective Service wanted this expansion to allow females to serve in combat.

Throughout this discussion, the only barriers to women serving in combat units were physical aptitude. But as we all know, those standards have been lowered to accommodate women. In terms of military readiness, this is a problem that few politicians are willing to talk about.

After I received news of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s executive summary last week, it was the first indication that I had seen that Congress may finally be acting upon the recommendation of the National Commission. According to The New York Times report today, it looks like this may be the first real attempt to getting it into the annual bill funding our national defense.

For my commentary on this bill, see this column in WORLD. Among other things, it says:

Is there a father in America who would under any circumstance risk having his daughter exposed to this? Is there a husband in this country who thinks it OK for his wife to risk being captured by our enemies? To risk becoming a prisoner of war? Is this the kind of people we want to be? I would sooner cut off my arm than allow such a thing to happen to my own wife and daughters, and I don’t think I would be alone.

It will take some time for Congress to sort out the final version of this bill. In the meantime, we all need to be paying close attention to this bill. Very close attention.