The push for gender equality in all branches of the US military will likely mean that women will have to register for the draft, according to Army Secretary John McHugh. Currently just males 18-25 have to register for the Selective Services System, an independent government agency. Failure to register is a felony and can limit access to things like student loans and government jobs.
"If your objective is true and pure equality", McHugh said, then "registration will be one of those things that will have to be considered." Although the Army Secretary did point out that the final decision will come down not to the individual branches or the Pentagon, but Congress. Secretary McHugh was asked the question about women and the draft at the annual Association of the U.S. Army meeting and exposition at the Walter E. Washington convention center in Washington, DC.
At the Aspen National Security forum earlier this year, both former SEAL commander Navy Adm. Eric Olson (ret) and Air Force Secretary Deborah James said that they have no problem with women being required to register for the draft if they are allowed to serve in combat roles. All decisions about women in these roles, including jobs in infantry, armor, Special Operations, and artillery, are expected to be made before the Jan 1, 2016 deadline.
Currently about 17 million male U.S. citizens and male immigrant non-citizens between 18 and 25 are registered for the draft.