President Barack Obama believes that women should be able to register for the Selective Service when they turn 18, a White House official said on Dec. 2.
"As old barriers for military service are being removed, the [Obama] Administration supports -- as a logical next step -- women registering for the Selective Service," National Security Council spokesman Ned Price told CNN in a statement.
The announcement marks a departure from Obama's previously neutral stance on the matter after his administration opened all military positions, both combat and noncombat, to women in December 2015.
"The President highly values the service of men and women who comprise our All-Volunteer force and have proven their mettle in our missions worldwide, including operations in Afghanistan and Iraq," Price added.
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The Supreme Court ruled in 1981 that women should not be required to register for the Selective Service because they were barred from combat positions at the time and, as such, would not be useful for conscription. But since they became eligible, the Senate passed a provision in June requiring women to register just as men do. The House of Representatives did not approve it.
"[Defense Secretary Ash Carter's] decision last year to open all combat positions to qualified women only strengthens our All-Volunteer force by giving us access to 100 percent of America's population so we can recruit and retain the most qualified individuals who can meet our standards and remain the finest fighting force the world has ever known," Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told CNN in a Dec. 2 statement.
Those potentially eligible for mandatory military service -- all 18- to 25-year-old male U.S. citizens and immigrants -- are required by law to register with the Selective Service and provide their contact information, even though Obama and Carter both say there is no imminent need to reinstate the draft any time soon.
The U.S. military has not used the draft to conscript military personnel since 1973, notes USA Today.