The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

February 25, 2013

Listen up ladies! Uncle Sam might want you too

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., supports draft registration for women, according to his spokeswoman. Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., who heads the House Armed Services Committee, hasn't made up his mind. McKeon said through a spokesman that he's awaiting a Defense Department report due in the coming weeks that will assess the legal impact of lifting the ban women in combat on draft registration.

But if you're worried a draft notice is going to soon be in your mailbox, take a deep breath. There is no looming national crisis that makes a military draft likely.

A draft would be enormously unpopular; a new poll by Quinnipiac University found that American voters firmly oppose a return to conscription. Also, adding women to the mix just doesn't appear to be a high priority for a battle-weary nation nearing the end of more than a decade of war.

The U.S. military has been an all-volunteer force for the past 40 years and women have become an integral part of it. Nearly 15 percent of the 1.4 million troops on active duty are female. More than 280,000 women have served in Iraq, Afghanistan or other countries in support of the wars. There have been 152 women killed in the fighting.

Americans overwhelmingly support allowing female volunteers to serve in ground combat roles by a 75-25 margin, according to the Quinnipiac poll. But the survey of 1,772 registered voters found them conflicted over mandated military service for women.

On the question of re-establishing a military draft, male and female voters said they were opposed, 65-28, according to the poll. If a draft were called, however, men backed the conscription of women as well as men, by 59-36, the poll said. But 48 percent of the women surveyed said they did not want women to be drafted while 45 percent said they should be.

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