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Women, equality, physical limits and the draft
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There are only two times I have received correspondence from Uncle Sam that starts out like that.

Once was for a tax audit.

The other time was to inform me to register for the draft.

The U.S. Supreme Court back in the Dark Ages — the year 1981 to be exact — ruled in Rostker v. Goldberg that only men are required to register for the draft.

A lot has happened in society and the world since then.

And while no politician would ever make an issue out of something before they were forced to do so, we as a nation should revisit that decision long before another draft is needed.

Women have proven effective at serving in combat zones. There is no reason why they shouldn’t be subject to being drafted as well.

The fact Captain Kristen Griest and First Lt. Shayve Haver have become the first soldiers to complete the Army’s Ranger school underscores how antiquated the “men’s only” draft has become.

There are legitimate reasons why it would not be wise to have women serve in the infantry that is not the case with combat zones in general.

Infantry service has practical physical limitations. The 2004 U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center study underscores that point.

They found the average fighting load a rifleman in the field in Afghanistan carried was 63 pounds. The typical approach-march load for combat was 96 pounds while the emergency version that encompassed a large rucksack was 127 pounds.

There’s certain things that nature creates limitations on for each respective gender through basic physiology. While certainly all men can’t carry such weights, significantly more men than women when they are conditioned can. It’s just the way things are.

That said, there is no reason why the next draft shouldn’t include women. First, there’s the practical reason. Having women drafted and assigned to combat zones would free up men for infantry service. That could be viewed as a downside for men given the risks. The reality, though, is there is no reason why able bodied women between the ages of 18 and 25 shouldn’t be drafted when needed in times of war.

Young males shouldn’t be the only ones subjected to mandatory military service when the needs arises.

Those who have served under fire bring up other issues including one that gets a lot of traction — opposite genders being thrown into the proverbial foxhole.

The most neutral way to look at that is whether women that nature and not nine justices has for the most part made weaker than men in such situations wouldn’t be putting men in an infantry unit in danger.

I’ll be the first to tell you women in many ways are a lot stronger than men.

But infantry combat is not a place they hold any type of edge as a gender or can hold their own as a group.

If you doubt that, go to a Sierra High Cross-fit style PE class. There are 17- and 18-year-old girls doing quite well but they don’t match or top most of the boys pound for pound. Again, there’s no doubt in my mind those girls can bury me in physical challenges. But except in relatively rare cases the same is not true when it comes to males their age.

There is a limit to knocking down gender barriers. And while I’d argue there are very few that should exist, you can count infantry service among them.

Congress needs to make sure the military has all the resources it needs in times of war.

That isn’t happening if the draft is restricted just to men.

The best time to debate and hopefully put in place the plans on how to go about drafting women for military service where they can serve in non-fighting roles in combat or support roles away from the war zone is now when the draft is not needed.

What the two women soldiers who passed Army Ranger did is impressive.

The fact they are volunteer soldiers is equally impressive.

Their service and performance should inspire Congress to knock down another manmade barrier to equality and make women subject to the draft.

This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209.249.3519.