Coming into the final weeks of his presidency, President Barack Obama made a symbolic move, announcing that the White House officially supports women registering for the draft, though he also reiterated his support for the idea that the military remain all-volunteer force, according to USA Today. The news also comes just one day before Congress will vote on a law on the same subject, which could alter a controversial defense policy bill passed in June that includes a provision requiring women to register with the Selective Service System — the formal name for the military draft — when they turn 18 years old. So with that timing in mind, Obama’s support for a universal draft shows commitment and another progressive step towards gender equality in the nation’s armed services, a historically male-dominated force.
"As old barriers for military service are being removed, the administration supports — as a logical next step — women registering for the Selective Service," Ned Price, a spokesman for Obama's National Security Council, told USA Today on Thursday.
According to Fox News, Obama had been considering whether to take an official position on the controversy since last year, specifically when Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered the military to open all jobs to women, including combat roles. On Thursday, however, Ned Price, a spokesman for the White House's National Security Council, told Fox News that Obama believes women have "proven their mettle" while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.
And the White House is not alone on its support: The Defense Department also expressed its support for a universal draft, saying it "makes sense." Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook told USA Today on Thursday said Defense Secretary Carter "thinks it makes sense for women to register for Selective Service, just as men must."
Under current law, women can volunteer to serve in the military but aren't required to register for the draft, but all men between the ages of 18-35 years old are required to register with Selective Service within 30 days of their 18th birthday. The law also extends to male immigrants in the same age bracket who live in the United States.
While there are no plans to reinstate the draft any time soon, as previously mentioned, Obama has made it clear throughout his presidency that the White House is committed to an "all-volunteer force", which is another controversial debate regarding whether both women and men should be forced to serve in the military at all.
With the debate underway and Congress about to vote on the inclusion of women in the draft, it's important to note that more than 200,000 jobs were made available to women when they were able to enlist in 100 percent of military jobs.
The military certainly isn't for every man or every woman, but it's only logical that any person who wants to serve and have a career in the armed services is given the ability to do so, whether it's a requirement or not.