Rangel wants women to be drafted

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Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) on Friday said he plans to introduce legislation that would bring back the military draft and extend it to women for the first time.

Rangel, who has pushed for years to bring back the draft, said the Pentagon’s decision to allow women to serve in combat means that they too should register for the Selective Service.

"Now that women can serve in combat they should register for the Selective Service alongside their male counterparts," Rangel said in a statement. "Reinstating the draft and requiring women to register for the Selective Service would compel the American public to have a stake in the wars we fight as a nation. We must question why and how we go to war, and who decides to send our men and women into harm's way."

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed an order rescinding the ban on women serving in combat units last month, potentially opening up as many as 237,000 positions to female service members.

The move raised a number of policy issues, including whether women will now be required to register with the Selective Service. The Pentagon is required to report on how changing the ban effects the constitutionality of the registration being males only.

In an interview on MSNBC, Rangel said the draft should be reinstated because the majority of Americans make "no real sacrifice" when the country goes to war.

"The Congress never gets a chance to vote up and down on these war questions. Every president just puts our kids in harm’s way and we just foot the bill, but there's no real sacrifice in what's going on. Less than 1 percent of American families are involved in the military and they really pay the price for it," he said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

He argued that a draft would make the executive branch think long and hard before sending troops overseas.

"Take my word for it, if every time a president was about to put our kids in harm's way, we we're thinking about our kids and grandkids, it just wouldn't happen," he said.

Rangel’s legislation would require those between the ages of 18 and 25 to perform two years of national service in either the armed services or in civilian life, while the All American Selective Service Act would force women to enroll in the Selective Service System.

"If this country has its security threatened, I would like to believe that all of us, no matter how old we are, would want to do something.”

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Richard Haass, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, said on “Morning Joe” that the military leaders he speaks with prefer the all-volunteer service, given the history of the draft and the capacity and needs of the armed forces.

Pressed on whether a draft system was the most effective way to recruit for the military, Rangel said, "the military takes what it can get."

"And when a country is prepared to put up its young people to defend this nation ... It's not a handful of general's decision as of who's going to make that sacrifice," he said.