Edward Hasbrouck / Antiwar - On September 1st, 2021, the House Armed Services Committee joined the Senate Armed Services Committee in voting 35-24 to expand registration for a possible military draft to include young women as well as young men.
Following this House committee vote and an earlier Senate committee vote in July (before Congress’s summer vacation), the versions of the annual "must-pass" National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to be considered later this fall in both the House and Senate will include provisions requiring women to register for the draft within 30 days of their 18th birthday and report to the Selective Service System each time they change their address until their 26th birthday, as young men have been required to do since 1980.
An alternative compromise amendment to suspend draft registration unless the President declared a national emergency and put the Selective Service System into standby was submitted before today’s committee session, but ruled out of order on the basis of arcane PAYGO procedural rules. Under the same rules, the amendment to the NDAA to expand draft registration to women was ruled in order, considered, and adopted without any antiwar opposition from members of the committee.
Monica A. F. Lounsbery, Kathryn A. Holt, Shannon A. Monnat, Thomas L. McKenzie, and Brian Funk - Physical inactivity is receiving growing attention given its documented relationship to a variety of chronic health (Strong et al., 2005) and metabolic challenges (Owen, Healy, Matthews, & Dunstan, 2010) and the fact that most adults and children do not meet physical activity guidelines (Troiano et al., 2008; USDHHS, 2008). For over two decades, the importance of schools in providing and promoting physical activity has been consistently emphasized (Institute of Medicine, 2013; Pate et al., 2008), but with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2001, school physical activity programs, including physical education (PE), have instead sustained reduced time and resource allocations (McKenzie & Lounsbery, 2009).
PE is a primary strategy because it (a) is institutionalized as part of the K-12 curriculum and as such, has the potential to reach nearly all students, (b) is the only program where the least active children can experience physical activity at higher intensities, and has the potential to significantly contribute to daily accrual of moderate to vigorous physical activity, increase fitness, develop and improve motor and other generalizable skills. Though PE is a key evidence-based strategy for providing and promoting physical activity (Institute of Medicine, 2013; Ward, 2011) and a goal of Healthy People 2020 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010) there are many practice and policy barriers to its effective delivery; thus, its potential to impact health has not been fully realized (McKenzie & Lounsbery, 2009). Among these policy barriers is the pervasive practice of allowing waivers/exemptions and/or substitutions for physical education. This includes allowing alternative programs such as JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer’s Reserve Corps), interscholastic sports, marching band, cheerleading, and community sports to substitute for PE enrollment (NASPE, 2012), a practice which has been of great concern to the profession (Abernathy, 1960; NASPE, 2006; Sims, 2011) and public health officials (e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011) for many years.
At the end of 2020, the Defense Department’s Diversity and Inclusion Board released a report aimed at identifying ways to improve racial and ethnic diversity in the U.S. military.
Among the report’s findings: The enlisted ranks of the active and reserve military were “slightly more racially and ethnically diverse than its U.S. civilian counterparts.” But not the officer corps. Furthermore, it found that the civilian population eligible to become commissioned officers was “less racially and ethnically diverse than the civilian population eligible for enlisted service.”
The breakdown of all active commissioned officers: 73% white; 8% each Black and Hispanic; 6% Asian; 4% multiracial; and less than 1% Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaska Native. And the diversity gap widened the higher individuals moved up in the ranks.
The report emphasized the increasing importance of the representation of minorities reflecting the nation’s morphing demographics, saying the Defense Department “must ensure that all service members have access to opportunities to succeed and advance into leadership positions.”
Joseph Burridge and Kevin McSorley - The United States military stands ready to protect the American people, but if our nation does not help ensure that future generations grow up to be healthy and fit, that will become increasingly difficult. The health of our children and our national security are at risk. (Mission: Readiness, 2010: 7)
On the 13th of December 2010 US President Barack Obama signed into law a piece of legislation commonly referred to as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The law had passed a vote in the House of Representatives eleven days earlier, with near unanimous bipartisan support, and had been designed to, among other things, move towards provision of more healthy food for school children across the entire United States via establishing higher nutritional standards through a revised National School Food Lunch Program. One prominent organisation that lobbied strongly for this legislation, garnering significant media attention(BBC 2010, Shalikashvili and Shelton 2010), was Mission: Readiness. This campaign group, populated largely by retired senior members of the US military, addresses a range of issues connected with children, but in this case directly addressed itself to their food consumption, its impact upon rates of obesity, and the consequences that they argued this was having upon American military recruitment. Specifically, Mission: Readiness’ contributions to the debate used an anticipatory logic, and were addressed to an alleged need to do something about American children’s bodies because, increasingly, too many such bodies were considered at risk of becoming ‘Too Fat To Fight’ –the title of one of the organisation’s reports (Mission: Readiness 2010) and this chapter.
May 19, 2021 / Edward Hasbrouck / Antiwar.com - A House Armed Service Committee (HASC) hearing on May 19th heard from witnesses on only one side of the debate over whether to end draft registration or extend it to young women as well as young men. But despite the one-sided panel of witnesses, questions and comments from members of Congress highlighted the failure of the ongoing attempt to get men to register for a future military draft, and the lack of any feasible way to enforce a future military draft of men or women.
The Chair of the Armed Service Committee, Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), opened the hearing by noting a written statement submitted by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR). Rep. DeFazio is one of the initial co-sponsors of the bipartisan Selective Service Repeal Act of 2021 (H.R. 2509 and S. 1139), which is pending in the Armed Services Committees in both the House and the Senate.
According to Rep. DeFazio, "President Carter reinstated draft registration in 1980 largely for political reasons. Military draft registration has existed ever since, requiring all men aged 18-26 to register with the Selective Service System (SSS). It should be repealed altogether…. The SSS is an unnecessary, unwanted, archaic, wasteful, and punitive bureaucracy that violates Americans’ civil liberties… It’s beyond time for Congress to repeal the SSS once and for all."