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Selective Service Eyes Women's Draft
By Eric Rosenberg
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Saturday 01 May 2004
The proposal would also require registration
of critical skills.
WASHINGTON -- The chief of the Selective Service System
has proposed registering women for the military draft
and requiring that young Americans regularly inform
the government about whether they have training in
niche specialties needed in the armed services.
The proposal, which the
agency's acting Director Lewis Brodsky presented to
senior Pentagon officials just before the U.S.-led
invasion of Iraq, also seeks to extend the age of draft
registration to 34 years old, up from 25.
The Selective Service System plan, obtained under
the Freedom of Information Act, highlights the extent
to which agency officials have planned for an expanded
military draft in case the administration and Congress
would authorize one in the future.
"In line with today's needs, the Selective Service
System's structure, programs and activities should
be reengineered toward maintaining a national inventory
of American men and, for the first time, women, ages
18 through 34, with an added focus on identifying individuals
with critical skills," the agency said in a Feb.
2003, proposal presented to senior Pentagon officials.
Brodsky and Richard Flahavan, the agency's
director of public and congressional affairs, reviewed
the six page proposal with Pentagon officials responsible
for personnel issues. They included Charles Abell,
principal deputy undersecretary for personnel and readiness,
and William Carr, deputy undersecretary for military
The agency officials
acknowledged that they would have "to market
the concept" of
a female draft to Congress, which ultimately would
have to authorize such a step. Dan Amon, a spokesman
for the Selective Service System, based in Arlington,
Va., said that the Pentagon has taken no action
on the proposal to expand draft registration.
"These ideas were only being floated for Department
of Defense consideration," Amon said. He described
the proposal as "food for thought" for contingency
planning. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jane Campbell, a spokeswoman
for the Defense Department, said the Pentagon "has
not agreed to, nor even suggested, a change to Selective
Service's current missions."
Nonetheless, Flahavan said the agency has begun designing
procedures for a targeted registration and draft of
people with computer and language skills, in case military
officials and Congress authorize it.
Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld and Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, say they oppose a revival
of the military draft, last used in 1973 as the American
commitment in Vietnam waned, beginning the era of the
all-volunteer force. Mandatory registration for the
draft was suspended in 1975 but was resumed in 1980
by President Carter after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.
About 13.5 million
men, ages 18 to 25, currently are registered with
the Selective Service. "I don't
know anyone in the executive branch of the government
who believes that it would be appropriate or necessary
to reinstitute the draft," Rumsfeld said last
At present, the Selective Service is authorized to
register only young men and they are not required to
inform the government about any professional skills.
Separately, the agency has in place a special registration
system to draft health care personnel in more than
60 specialties into the military if necessary in a
Some of the skill
areas where the armed forces are facing "critical shortages" include
linguists and computer specialists, the agency said.
Americans would then be required to regularly update
the agency on their skills until they reach age 35.
Individuals proficient in more than one critical skill
would list the skill in which they have the greatest
degree of competency.