End Selective Service: The military draft is a relic of past wars

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Women have won the right to serve alongside men on the front lines of America's wars. That has caused some people to ask: Shouldn't women have to register for the draft, just like the men they serve next to? A better question: Isn't it time to end the Selective Service altogether?

The United States once considered it the duty of every male citizen to serve in a national emergency. Young men were conscripted into the military during the Civil War, World War I, World War II and the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam.

The draft ended in 1973, and draft registration stopped in 1975. The Selective Service, but not the draft, was reinstated in 1980 to show American "resolve" after the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Today, every man between the ages of 18 and 25 must register with the Selective Service. Young men who don't register are denied federal loans and are barred in most states from entering state universities. Failure to register for the nonexistent draft is a felony that can destroy careers.

For what? To perpetuate an unnecessary federal agency, protect 130 jobs and shield lawmakers from appearing to be weak on national security.

Times have changed. There is no shortage of recruits for America's volunteer military, despite protracted U.S. engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Registration and the draft are archaic remnants of a time when huge armies fought wars along delineated battle fronts. Today's military more often consists of small, specialized strike forces, air strikes and, increasingly, targeted attacks by unmanned drones.

Maintaining the Selective Service system costs taxpayers $24 million a year. That's a tiny amount in the federal budget, but still a potential savings.

America's all-volunteer military has been a resounding success. Ending the Selective Service system would merely recognize that reality.

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