Ernst Questions Defense Nominee on Administration’s Recommendation on Selective Service for Women

“…the administration needs to own up to their decision … they need to make their recommendation to Congress on whether we have women sign up for selective service or not.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) pressed Brad R. Carson, the nominee for Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, on the need for a recommendation from the Obama administration on requiring women to register for selective service.

Senator Ernst stressed that while she supports opening up all military occupational specialties to women, “the determination to open up combat roles to women was made by the administration, and I think it was done in a manner that was very fast. It is not being implemented maybe as methodically, as deliberative, as many of us that have served in the military and of course our service chiefs would like to see. So, that decision was made by the administration. I think when we look at selective service, the administration needs to own up to their decision, and then because we do have an existing policy with selective service, they need to make their recommendation to Congress on whether we have women sign up for selective service or not.”

The Iowa Senator supports opening all military occupational specialties, including combat roles, to women as long as standards are not lowered and combat effectiveness is maintained. Furthermore, Senator Ernst has consistently called for an implementation strategy that is thoroughly and fully developed.

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2/25/16 SASC hearing

TRANSCRIPT:

ERNST: Considering the fact that all military occupational specialties are now open to women, to provide greater opportunities to women in the military, which I do support as well. Would you consider that it would be also progressive to require women to register for the selective service like their male counterparts?

CARSON: I think the issue from a policy perspective is this, we should divorce the question of registration from that of the draft. We’ve had service chiefs talk about the need for a draft, the secretary no doubt testifying right now before the House appropriations committee on defense, is speaking to his strong conviction that we don’t need a draft. The Center for Naval Analysis just this week came out and said that only 13% of youth are even eligible to serve in the military. What everyone might think about contingency, which a draft might be needed, the more interesting public policy question is whether the registration requirement is necessary for it. The GAO has said differently to that…

ERNST: The stance of the administration, your stance, is that there should be no selective service.

CARSON: No, that is my personal view about it. If you ask me the policy questions that this committee and the rest of the nation must address, is whether the registration requirement is still a viable, is still a necessary one for us. It is one we have to debate among ourselves. The Selective Service Act does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense. It would be inappropriate for me to opine about their continued existence.

ERNST: I think that you are correct, that it is established by Congress, however the determination to open up combat roles to women was made by the administration, and I think it was done in a manner that was very fast. It is not being implemented maybe as methodically, as deliberative, as many of us that have served in the military and of course our service chiefs would like to see. So, that decision was made by the administration. I think when we look at selective service, the administration needs to own up to their decision, and then because we do have an existing policy with selective service, they need to make their recommendation to Congress on whether we have women sign up for selective service or not. Thank you for your answer.

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