Top Army and Marine Corps generals recently statedthat they believe that women should be required to register for the draft, now that they are no longer barred from most combat positions in the armed forces The longstanding rationale for excluding women from draft registration is that their inability to serve in most combat roles makes female draftees less valuable to the military. That theory is undercut by the Pentagon’s recent decision to permit women to serve in virtually all those positions previously barred to them.
The generals’ desire to eliminate sex discrimination in this field is commendable. But the best way to do it is to abolish draft registration for men, rather than expanding it to include women. That approach would simultaneously eliminate one of the last vestiges of open sex discrimination in federal government policy and protect men and women alike against the danger of being subjected to forced labor by the state.
Abolishing draft registration completely would thereby promote both liberty and equality. In addition, an all-volunteer military is likely to be both more effective and less wasteful than one staffed by unwilling draftees. Eliminating draft registration would help protect the volunteer nature of the military by making it harder to reinstate the draft.
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