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Questions raised about including women in military draft registration

Witness tells House Armed Services Committee that including women in the military draft would be in the country's national interest.

WASHINGTON — If the United States military ever needed to resume the military draft, should women be in the mix?

As federal law stands now, only men have to register with the Selective Service.

All U.S. citizens and immigrant non-citizens between 18 and 25 and assigned male at birth are required by law to have registered within 30 days of their 18th birthdays.

An expert told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday that women should have to register, too.

"In the event of a draft, the nation must leverage the skills and talents of all Americans, regardless of gender. Including women in Selective Service registration is what the national security interests of the United States demand," said Dr. Joseph J. Heck, Chairman, National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service. "The disparate treatment of women in the context of the Selective Service system unnecessarily bars women from sharing in the fundamental civic obligation. America is simply stronger when we all engage in the obligations of citizenship."

Meanwhile, the  Selective Service Repeal Act of 2021 (H.R. 2509 and S. 1139) was introduced in Congress in April with bipartisan support. If passed, the measure would end draft registration and abolish the Selective Service System altogether.

“No young person -- regardless of gender -- should be subject to a military draft or be forced to register for a draft in the United States,” Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon), co-sponsor of the bill, said while introducing it.

The United States hasn't imposed the draft since January 1973, when it was winding down the Vietnam War and the nation went to an all-volunteer force.