Congress appears unlikely to require women to register with Selective Service as part of new defense legislation, but the idea is quickly gaining in popularity in both parties, and a retired female U.S. Marine Corps gunnery sergeant says it’s because lawmakers and policy don’t know what they’re talking about.
Late last year, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced all ground combat roles in the military were open to women. Multiple service chiefs subsequently stated they believe the new policy ought to require women to register with Selective Service, meaning they could be conscripted into ground combat roles if the U.S. ever brought back the draft.
To the surprise of many, multiple Republican presidential candidates indicated they would back the the idea. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., then proposed an amendment to the current defense bill. The amendment passed, even though Hunter opposed it. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., then added the provision to the Senate defense bill. The issue was put on the back burner, however, when the House Rules Committee stripped the Hunter amendment from the final version.
But the momentum of the idea of requiring women to register for the draft is unmistakable. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he supports the idea.
“We’re talking here about registration for Selective Service, should we ever go back to a draft. And given where we are today, with women in the military performing virtually all kinds of functions, I personally think it would be appropriate for them to register just like men do,” McConnell stated on May 17.
McConnell was quick to add he does not think the draft needs to be re-instated.
The fact Congress came so close to the new requirement is appalling to retired U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Jessie Jane Duff, who is now a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research. She told WND and Radio America lawmakers failed to oversee the Obama administration’s policy move.
“I actually don’t think Republicans even understand the issue,” Duff said. “There was a nine-month study done by the Marine Corps, and the study results were not even reviewed by the [Senate] or House. They were not even reviewed by Congress.”
She said there is plenty of blame to go around when it comes to people in power who dropped the ball.
“The letter from Gen. (Joseph) Dunford that actually stated the key points of why they were seeking an exemption from putting women in ground forces was ignored by Sec. Ash Carter, was ignored by the secretary of the Navy. And the House and Senate never challenged the Pentagon for changing the policy,” she said.
Duff said while few in Washington failed to protest the Obama administration decision, the public was left in the dark.
“Meanwhile, the American public was sitting at home eating dinner, not even realizing that their daughters, who are on active duty right now, can now involuntarily be assigned to the infantry.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with retired U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Jessie Jane Duff:
She says politicians are more concerned about appearances of equality than remembering the purpose of ground combat.
“They’re looking at it as, ‘Oh, women are so capable. They’re performing in all jobs. What they’re failing to understand is that the draft is to replace combat roles, not support roles,” Duff said. “It is to replace your infantry and ground units. And the whole purpose of our infantry and our ground units is to literally cut the throats or shoot the heads off of your enemy.”
She continued, “Women overall are not capable of performing to the same levels as men are. It’s been proven time and time again. We obviously, genetically are designed completely differently. We have roughly 40-45 percent less muscle mass. We have 20 percent less lung capacity.”
Duff stresses that only women who have been anywhere close to front line combat can assess whether women should be in those roles at the “tip of the spear,” rejecting support for women in combat from the likes of female veterans Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., and Rep. Tammy Duckworth, R-Ill., who served in the air.
“I did go on the humps with the men. I did do the marches. I did wear those packs. I understand that over long, sustained periods of time, the female body breaks down faster,” Duff said. “Why would you want your daughters, your sisters, your mothers in hand-to-hand combat with ISIS? That’s what it’s going to boil down to.
“Why are you setting women up for failure instead of success? Women like me will become obsolete.”
Duff uses athletics as an example of why this is a terrible policy, pointing out that colleges have both men’s and women’s teams in most sports. She said there’s also a reason there are no women in the major professional sports.
“Why aren’t women in the NFL? Because we want to win. If anyone thinks that running around with 120 pounds of gear in ground combat for six to seven months at a time because they’re doing forward operations, long-term operations on the ground, kicking down doors, seeking out the enemy,” Duff said.
“Do we want an NFL team that wins or do we want to start having quotas for the most important measures of our life – our national security, combat readiness? This is not an equal-opportunity issue. This is a combat readiness issue.”
She said the Marine Corps, the only branch to oppose the move to insert women into direct ground combat roles, is also the only branch to research the issue.
“Four-hundred women went through infantry training on the enlisted side. Only 35 percent of them graduated, whereas 98 percent of the males graduated. What happened to that other 65 percent?” Duff asked. “Women get injured at a six to 10 times higher rate more than men.”
Other service leaders, including Navy Sec. Ray Mabus, dismissed the study as flawed and supported the Obama administration move.
“People tried to say these studies are flawed,” Duff said. “Then show me the evidence that they can do it. We have no substantiating evidence that demonstrates that the women can sustain themselves with those packs, with that gear, with those weapons. We have none.”
So why were the Marines the only branch to oppose the change?
“The Marines are the least of the politically correct people and not afraid to tell you what reality is,” Duff said.
She said 92.5 percent of women currently in uniform do not want to be engaged on the front line. And she said she would have a very difficult time urging any young woman to join the military now.
“Honestly, how could I look a young lady in the eye and say, ‘Go in the Marines or Go in the Army now’?” Duff asked. “She could, if she’s one of those top physical performers, could be assigned involuntarily to one of these units.”