Now that all combat positions are officially opened to women the next sort of “exclusion” that is being fought is females not having to register for Selective Service. I’m going to take a brief moment to share that it really grinds my gears whenever people say “they’re going to make women register for the draft” or really any other statement that someone says “the draft” instead of the correct term “Selective Service”. Let’s take a minute clear something up, THERE IS NO DRAFT. There has not been a draft in America in over 40 years. Since 1973, the military has been compromised of volunteers and only volunteers. Selective Service is an independent agency of the United States government that maintains information on those who potentially could be drafted if the draft was ever reinstated. Getting back on track, I think that women should have to register for Selective Service especially since the restrictions on combat have been lifted. If women are capable of volunteering for military service and serving in the same capacity as men then they should also be included in the Selective Service registry.
“They’re fighting and they’re dying together, and the time has come for our policies to recognize that reality. We are making our military stronger, and we are making America stronger.” –Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
Currently women make up about 15 percent of the armed forces and 60 flag officers, meaning generals and admirals, are women. Every year the number of female applicants to the Service Academies grows and the number of women in each class also increases. The first female infantry and armor officers are now serving in the Army. Women have been fighter pilots in the Air Force since 1993 and about 700 pilots are female, this is still only a small percentage of total pilots in the Air Force.
U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz assumed command of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy as the school’s first female superintendent in 2011 and when she assumed her new role, Stosz became the first woman to lead any U.S. military academy. In 2014, Michelle Janine Howard became the first woman to attain the rank of four-star admiral in the Navy’s 238-year history and the first African-American woman to attain a four-star rank.
Around the world many countries have females serving in the military, but the percentages are less than that of the US. In Russia, women make up about 10 percent of military personnel and in Sweden female personnel currently make up around 13 percent of the Armed Forces. Currently in Great Britain female personnel make up around 9 percent of the British armed forces and in 2016 a ban on women serving in close combat roles in the British military was lifted by Prime Minister David Cameron. The Argentine Army first authorized women in their ranks in 1997, the Air Force in 2001 and the Argentine Navy in 2002. oday women make up around 15% of all service personnel in the combined branches of the French military. They are 11% of the Army forces, 13% for the Navy, 21% of the Air Force and 50% of the Medical Corps. This is the highest proportion of female personnel in Europe.
Fun connection back to my post about World War II, I mentioned the USS Higbee which was a Gearing-Class Destroyer and the first warship named after a woman to actually fight in combat, well the “Leaping Lenah” will have a successor in the USS Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123). she is a planned United States Navy Arleigh Burke-class Flight IIA guided missile destroyer, the 73rd overall for the class. Currently 62 of the ships for the class have been commissioned and the USS Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee is scheduled for commissioning in 2022 (she will also have the longest name of any of the ships in the class).
All in all, I’d say the future looks bright for women serving in the military, they continue to accomplish their goals and show people just how tough they really are along the way. I think there will be continued resistance to the integration of women into these new roles but I think that continued handwork and perseverance will show them.