Just Say No to Draft Registration for Women — and Men

Congressman Alexander Pirnie (R-NY) drawing th...
Congressman Alexander Pirnie (R-NY) drawing the first capsule for the Selective Service draft, Dec 1, 1969 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Testifying before the US Senate’s Armed Services Committee in early February, Generals Mark A. Milley (the US Army’s chief of staff) and Robert B. Neller (commandant of the US Marine Corps) endorsed extending mandatory Selective Service registration to women. Because, you know, equality.

I have a better idea. It’s time to end draft registration for everyone. Because, you know, freedom.

The US hasn’t involuntarily inducted men into military service since 1973, but reinstated mandatory registration in 1980. Ever since, the shadow of legal slavery has loomed over the lives of American males aged 18 through 26.

Yes, slavery. There’s no other way to describe requiring someone to work for you whether he (or she) wants to or not. Conscription is an indefensible moral abomination, and would be even if it didn’t come with the risk of violent death attached.

The draft, and mandatory registration for it, are also just flat stupid.

Who am I to say this? I’m a former Marine infantry NCO (1984-1995, honorable discharge) who served in Desert Storm. I’m also a former Selective Service System board member (appointed by president George W. Bush in 2004 to a 20-year term; I resigned after eight years when I moved out of my local board’s area).

Since the 1970s, US military doctrine has successfully transitioned. Instead of losing wars by throwing large numbers of minimally trained warm bodies into ground combat (e.g. Korea and Vietnam), today’s military wins wars with superior technology (yes, it loses post-war occupation/insurgency scenarios, but the draft wouldn’t fix that). Returning to the draft would be like trading in a Tesla for a Model T.

Furthermore, wars that don’t enjoy broad support from the people who have to fight them — support involving walks down to the recruitment office to enlist — are wars that shouldn’t be fought and are already lost.

The Selective Service System isn’t really a budget buster. It runs on $25 million a year or so, chump change by comparison to most government programs, with a few hundred paid employees and a few thousand volunteer board appointees.

But once again, the draft is stupid and evil, as is maintaining mandatory registration. Why spend $25 million a year on something that’s stupid and evil? And why double the idiocy and the immorality by expanding its reach to women?

Let’s end this draft nonsense, immediately and permanently.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


Also published on Medium.