The House of Representatives voted on a crucial military bill on Wednesday, Sept. 1 that included a section mandating all women ages 18-25 to register for the Selective Service System, more commonly known as the draft. This means that the majority of NC State’s women might soon be required to register for the draft if the bill passes the Senate floor. Requiring women to join the draft has been a controversial debate since 2016, but it is not the debate we should be having. Instead of wasting time and expenses debating this bill, Congress should be voting on a bill to end the draft altogether.
Historically, a military draft has been present in America since the Civil War, but our current Selective Service System wasn’t enacted until May of 1917. Since then, all American men, with some eligibility exceptions, have been forced to register for the draft or face being charged with a felony. Refusing to register will also result in the person being excluded from government aid, including college financial aid.
At the time of its creation, the draft was critical for arming men to fight against the Central Powers, and it did an excellent job equipping the U.S. army, but times have changed and the system has outlived its purpose.
In 1917, the U.S. Army consisted only of a small volunteer force of about 100,000 men. Comparatively, the modern American military is one of the largest military forces in the world consisting of over 1.3 million active duty soldiers and 845,000 reserve soldiers, or part-time militants who live civilian lives but maintain training in case they ever need to be deployed. This shows us that a draft was needed at one point in our history, but the U.S. military has grown and evolved since then and is beyond capable of deploying against an enemy without a draft.
Additionally, the nature of war has also changed since the establishment of the draft. War today consists of more special forces, drones and cyberattacks than war in 1917 did. Our weapons are also more advanced than ever before. This change in war strategy means that fewer people are needed to fight. So if we already have more than enough people, why do we have to keep a system of draftees?
Some people make the argument that the Selective Service System acts as a third layer of protection just in case anything happens, such as World War III. However, America has already fought several wars since 1917 without needing to institute the draft. The First Gulf War, the war in Iraq and the conflicts in Afghanistan were all handled by enlisted soldiers with reserve soldiers left over. We have already proven that we can efficiently suffice without the draft, so why do we need to waste time and money to maintain the Selective Service System?
America is not the only country in the world who has faced this controversy, but it is one of the only ones who are still holding on to an archaic military strategy. Eighty-five countries in the world do not have any form of laws mandating conscription. Furthermore, 23 countries that do have conscription laws do not actively follow them. Comparatively, the United States is only one of 60 countries that are still carrying out a form of conscription.
Congress should not be wasting any more time debating anything in regards to the draft besides its elimination. It is an unnecessary outdated system that no citizen should have to register for. Instead of forcing our NC State women to hop onto a failing train, Congress needs to take all of our names out of the draft.