Women in the military have come a long way. Today, they can take part in special missions and lead soldiers into battle. But if the U.S. suddenly needed a massive number of combat troops, women wouldn’t be forced to serve. Only men ages 18 to 25 must register for the draft—the system for selecting people who must serve in the armed forces.
The U.S. military has been an all-volunteer force since 1973, and there are no current plans to revive the draft. Yet mandatory enlistment could return if the U.S. faced a grave threat. The Supreme Court ruled in 1981 that only men could be drafted. At the time, women weren’t allowed to fight on the front lines, so drafting them made little sense. But in 2015, the U.S. made a historic move by opening combat roles to women.
Now some people say that women should also be required to register for the draft. They contend that female troops have proved that they’re just as capable as their male counterparts. Plus, supporters say, women have the same responsibility as men to protect their country.
But others disagree. They point out that most women in the military still serve in support roles, such as medics and helicopter pilots—not in combat. Drafted troops would need to be capable of fighting on the front lines, performing tasks that most women couldn’t physically handle, opponents say.
Should women have to register for the draft? Two experts weigh in.