Sunday, January 21st, 2018

Women in the draft: An issue that has spanned 50 years

Posted on February 23, 2016 in News
By USM Free Press

By Bradford Spurr/Free Press Staff

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time,” wrote Leo Tolstoy in his epic masterpiece War and Peace. Few things in life are as inevitable as birth and death, save war. Back in 1968 the USM paper was known as The Stein, and an anonymous staff writer had been exploring the topic of “Should The U.S. Draft Its Women?” (Vol.1 No. 20, March 8, 1968).

The article opened up with “While women are never drafted, they are now doing about everything else men do in this country.” This point of view is further explained  by lines like the following: “‘They have the right to vote for years now[nearly 50 years in fact], and, indeed, their numbers are the crucial factor in electing presidents, but they do not have to fight in the wars those presidents pursue.”

To put this in perspective, there was no public animosity surrounding the draft at the time of the Vietnam War,  since the last draft before that war was during World War II. The year 1973 marked the escalation of the Vietnam conflict, where nearly 650,000 men were drafted into combat roles which accounted for about 25% of the total in country service members.

On December 3, 2015,it was announced by the Pentagon that they would be opening up all combat roles to eligible women who passed the same prerequisite physical regimens that men were subject to. So naturally the next hurdle will be that since women are now able to serve in any and all combat roles, should they then be eligible for the draft?

The Stein argued that the “Pentagon is is overflowing with burly sergeants and corporals assaulting typewriters, filing papers, mimeographing press releases and going for coffee. Women could replace them with hardly any strain on the system, and they could certainly improve the manners around the place.”

The current climate of the military has just finished grappling with the issue of “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” a standard of practice that had plagued the system for almost two decades. And with this last obstacle for military operations equality  behind them it remains hopeful that the antiquated format formed through necessity has finally entered this century.

In 2015 the Marine Corps was conducting research surrounding what impacts gender inclusion has on battlefield readiness and efficiency. At the end of the trial period all twenty nine hopefuls had fallen short of the Infantry Officer Course standards thatwhich the Marines use as the first benchmark for their training stratagem. This research will be used to help identify the most effective way to integrate women into combat roles.

This is a far cry from the Rosie the Riveter types where women were restricted to desk jobs and nurse duties. Currently women can fly helos and participate in a more active role in the military environment compared to their involvement in the past. The role of women in the military has grown leaps and bounds and this new policy change only proves to exemplify that.

In the real world women are now allowed to be on the frontlines and make the ultimate testament of bravery and lay their lives down in defense of this country, something that had been arbitrarily restricted to them by the archetypal patriarchy that had dominated Western politics since revolutionaries threw crates of tea in the Boston Harbour.

The  article closes with the sentiment that  “They [being women] have created the most bizarre role in our history for themselves and the rest of us have finally accepted it.” Women are no longer accessories to the times, simply a party to societal norms that dictated their role in the gentle fabric of the male ego. Assumptions and indoctrinated servitude have translated into thoughtful discourse between men and their equals, womankind. Semper fidelis. Semper paratus. Honor, courage, commitment. This they’ll defend, whenever it is that our country will call upon its brothers and sisters to serve. And they will be ready, men and women alike.