MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. -- Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday that he expects Congress to take up the question of whether women should begin registering for the draft.
"I expect them to take this up," Carter said in response to a question from a female Marine.
"It stands to reason it'll be taken up by the Congress because of the decision we've made," he added, referring to his move to open all combat positions in the military to women.
Carter defended that decision, which opens jobs to women in the infantry and special operations forces.
Carter said it was important to be able to choose from the largest pool of people to maintain the best all-volunteer force possible in the future.
"It goes back to the need to think generations ahead," he said. "For us to have the best in the future, [we need to] reach into the largest pool of people.
"I want to be able to reach into all parts of our organization," he added.
He encouraged females to "step forward," into the newly opened positions.
The comments come after the chiefs of the Army and Marine Corps expressed support on Tuesday to Congress for requiring women to register for the draft.