Registering Women for the Draft: A Charade, Not a Necessity

by Dr. Earl Tilford

Caught in the Draft
Registering Women for the Draft: A Charade, Not a Necessity
The Center For Vision & Values
The Center For Vision & Values

Grove City, PA – -( The Armed Services Committee (ASC) recently approved a measure requiring American women aged 18 to 26 to register for the draft and sent it to the full House for consideration. If this measure becomes law it will do nothing to enhance gender equality in the Department of Defense that recently lifted a ban on women serving in combat.

The ASC’s action typifies the inanity extant in the legislative branch. Although the measure passed by a vote of 32 to 30, Representative Duncan Hunter, the Republican head of the committee who submitted the measure, voted against it. If it becomes a bill and makes it to the White House, President Obama will sign it. Why is it inane?

First, it has been 43 years since anyone has been drafted. Over those years the Army shrank from over 1,000,000 active duty soldiers to half that number and is on track to dip to 420,000 by 2017. Additionally, the Department of Defense claims the all-volunteer force works well. Indeed it does.

Second, modern conscription of citizen soldiers began with the French Revolution’s Levee en Masse in 1793 to raise a citizen’s army to oppose European monarchial armies marching to crush revolutionary France. Conscription also was used during the American Civil War—though unpopular on both sides. North and South allowed bounties for substitutes and many Confederate states refused to support the draft.

Washington and Richmond turned to conscription because Civil War battles were deadly confrontations between armed masses where the latest technological advances like rifled musketry and rifled artillery fostered previously unimagined slaughter.

Nuclear Bomb Blast
The proliferation of nuclear weapons made that kind of warfare almost impossible for the handful of powers able to raise and sustain such armies.

Third, by 1914 the Industrial Age factories and transportation systems made it possible for major powers to raise, train, equip, feed and then transport immense armies. Further advances in military technology to include machine guns, rapid-fire rifles, chemical weapons and combat aircraft escalated the carnage. Conscription heightened by nationalism and driven by competing ethnic and ideological dispositions drove armies into battles that consumed humans at a rate that made the first half of the 20th century the world’s bloodiest. In 1945, at end of World War II, the atomic bomb and later the proliferation of nuclear weapons made that kind of warfare almost impossible for the handful of powers able to raise and sustain such armies because using them was no longer necessary or desirable given that the ultimate ridiculous conclusion would be mutual nuclear annihilation.

Fourth, while North Korea, China, and to some extent Russia still field modified examples of large Industrial Age armed forces, the United States does not. North Korea chooses to have an army of 1,000,000 (twice the size of the U.S. Army) because its sole reason for being is to overwhelm South Korea. The armed forces of China and Russia are much more sophisticated but also large because these countries are major land powers sharing the same Eurasian continent.

The armed forces of the United States are transitioning to Information Age and Cyber Age warfare. The United States can use smaller forces to dominate battlespaces extending from space to the ocean’s depths. These forces rely on speed, stealth, information dominance, and precision munitions to find, fix, and annihilate opposing forces.

Even if needed, the United States could not generate a million-person Industrial Age armed force because America lacks the heavy industrial capacity and the wealth to do so. Given the cost of modern weapons, purchasing enough to support a force a quarter the size of our Industrial Age armies would be prohibitive.

Beyond that, being nearly $20 trillion in debt means that the United States cannot afford a massive military buildup. In any case, Beijing is unlikely to lend Washington the money to fight it.

Conscription makes about as much sense as poodle skirts in the age of pant suits and eight-barrel carburetors in the era of fuel-injected engines. As for gender equality, current policies allow women who want to serve to do so in any military capacity for which they physically and mentally qualify. Furthermore, given the size of the modern battlespace, female service members have been in combat since Desert Storm, when two were captured, neither of them at the time involved in what would be considered a “combat” operation. Today’s battlefield is multi-dimensional, not linear with the “front” and “rear” areas that previously existed.

Ultimately, the issue of conscripting women is a political charade. Republicans support it to avoid being accused of starting a “war on women.” Democrats do so as a matter of social justice and social engineering and not national security. Either way, drafting women is inane.


–Dr. Earl Tilford is a military historian and fellow for the Middle East & terrorism with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. From 1993 to 2001, he served as Director of Research at the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute.

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I believe that eliminating the draft was one of the greatest downfalls of this country. It required a man to get out from under his moms apron and think for him self. He became more independent and self reliant , in modern times children stay at home and depend on their parents to take care of them well beyond their collage years.

Horn of the Mark

Let’s be honest here. If they call a draft, 90% of the women called will coincidentally turn up pregnant and unable to serve. Then, particularly if it’s a war in the Middle East, it’ll take just one video of rape/torture of a female soldier to sober up the entire country. We’ll all remember that sexual dimorphism specifically crafted women to propagate the tribe and men to defend it.


You’re a Neanderthal, and also correct.


@davew…I have news for you sparky…many of us who were professional combat arms soldiers deployed multiple times to Viet Nam or extended out tours. I believe that too many people get a free ride in this country and never perform any service for this country. Most of them have not one but both of their hands out for everything. I was never drafted or even had a draft card because I went in at the age of 17 and at the height of the war in Nam and got out in ’87. I believe there are plenty of MOS’s that… Read more »

Wild Bill

Glendon, sadly, I must concur with your statement that, ” …but life in the Infantry, Armor, etc. are a whole different story and should remain male jobs.” As evidence, now LISTEN UP MARINES because this was filmed at Pendleton, I offer the following:

Wild Bill

Glendon, sadly, I must concur with your statement that, ” …but life in the Infantry, Armor, etc. are a whole different story and should remain male jobs.” As evidence, now LISTEN UP MARINES because this was filmed at Pendleton, I offer the following:


I believe that EVERY able bodied citizen owes a debt to the nation for the benefits and freedoms they enjoy, and should be required to register to serve in some capacity in a time of need. That does not mean every one has to serve in the armed forces. WW2 proved that women could replace men in the factories to support the war effort. Had they not done so, the industrial might of the USA during that period may not have evolved to the extent it did. A future major war may require the USA to gear up again. The… Read more »


So Abolish the draft,… Until then equal either means equal (rights and responsibilities) or it doesn’t


With so many girly-men desiring to use the ladies rest room we need our manly-girls to step up and fill the void in our military. Requiring the manly-girls to register for the draft is just one step in that process toward true gender equality. As good as it sounds in theory, it still leaves a traditionally very “bad taste”. After all, what are we going to be fighting for “back home”, if, “back home” is in the “foxhole” right next to us????? We are not playing “charades” here, we are playing “the game of life and death” on the front… Read more »


I would argue the point of the USA not being able to man up a force of equal size if the need truly arose. As we have done in the past we can do again in the future. The prices of war items can be reduced during the conflicts this article says we cannot fight on the ground. As we have seen world wide countries can control the prices of whatever is needed for the war effort “Remember fuel and other rationing cards and stamps ?” If the need comes heaven forbid we CAN do it AND the draft is… Read more »


Matt, you are right. “Equal” rights means equal responsibilities. Also, the author may be correct about the military readiness and technology, but he pretends to have a crystal ball. Will the future bring a need for soldiers? China/Russia/North Korea/ISS all think so and can provide soldiers. Our military should be confident it can defend this Nation no matter what the adversary brings to the table. Nukes sound like the end game, but really? I can see a President (like Obama) not using them and we end up speaking Chinese/Russian etc.

Matt in Oklahoma

As a 20yr retired military man I see nothing wrong with it. They want equality in everything and to be special forces then they can do the same work including lifting the loads, live in the same conditions for a change and register for the draft just as I did and my son did.
You don’t like it then do away with the draft registration then it will also be equal.
EQUALITY doesn’t mean partial