As female soldiers are becoming more integrated into combat roles in the Army, Congress will eventually have to decide whether women will have to register for the draft, Army Secretary John McHugh said Monday.
Mr. McHugh argued that if “true and pure equality” is the goal in the U.S. military, then the possibility of women registering for the draft, is likely.
“If your objective is true and pure equality then you have to look at all aspects” of the roles of women in the military, Mr. McHugh said on the first day of the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting in Washington, Military.com reported.
Registration for the draft, “will be one of those things that will have to be considered,” he added.
But the issue of women and draft registration is one that will ultimately have to be dealt with in Congress, Mr. McHugh added, saying he expected a “pretty emotional debate and discussion.”
The subject of women registering for the draft was discussed at an Aspen National Security forum in Colorado this summer.
Retired Navy Adm. Eric Olson, former commander of the SEALs and the Special Operations Command, said women should have to register for the draft if they can also serve in combat.
Air Force Secretary Deborah James added that she would have no problem with women registering for the draft.
The debate comes as the services dive closer toward a Jan. 1 deadline to open some or all combat jobs to women. Each service will submit recommendations to the Defense Department, and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is expected to announce the final decision on which roles will open to women in January.
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