A more equal military? Bring back draft
January 26, 2013 -- Updated 1533 GMT (2333 HKT)
New U.S. military recruits take the Oath of Enlistment while their families and friends look on at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn.
- Charles Rangel: Allowing women in combat is a critical advance that bolsters military
- He says for real equality, the U.S. should reinstate the draft for shared sacrifice in U.S. wars
- He says less than 1% are in U.S. service. We choose war without worry over who fights
- Rangel: With draft, America would be forced to think twice about involvement in wars
Editor's note: Rep. Charles B. Rangel is the U.S. representative for New York's 13th Congressional District. He is a decorated Korean War veteran with a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
(CNN) -- On Thursday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the Defense Department would lift the ban on women serving in combat, marking another significant milestone for equality in our nation. Taking this critical step forward to include women in combat strengthens our military by reducing the burden of the disproportionate number of soldiers who are making sacrifices. I sincerely hope that this will spark a national debate about who is fighting our wars and whether all of America can say that we're sharing the sacrifice.
Rep. Charles Rangel
Since January 2003, at the height of the debate on the possible unilateral strike against Iraq, I have advocated for a reinstatement of the military draft to ensure a more equitable representation of people making sacrifices in wars in which the United States is engaged. In the past decade, more than 2 million soldiers have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Iraq war took more than 4,422 lives and wounded some 32,000 in nine years; to date, 2,168 American soldiers have died and 18,215 have been wounded in Afghanistan.
Opinion: Women in combat a dangerous experiment
Currently the burden of defending our nation is carried by less than 1% of the American population. The 2.2 million members of the armed forces in active duty, the National Guard and the Reserve have become a virtual military class that makes the ultimate sacrifice of laying down life and limb for our country. As a result of high combat exposure, combined with multiple deployments, we have seen unprecedented incidences of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and veterans committing suicide.
Arguments for, against women in combat
Debating women in combat roles
Veterans debate women in combat roles
Since we replaced the compulsory military draft with an all-volunteer force in 1973, our nation has been making decisions about wars without worry over who fights them. I sincerely believe that reinstating the draft would compel the American public to have a stake in the wars we fight as a nation. That is why I wrote the Universal National Service Act, known as the "draft" bill, which requires all men and women between ages 18 and 25 to give two years of service in any capacity that promotes our national defense.
Opinion: Will infantry men accept women as peers?
I commend President Barack Obama for allowing women and members of the LGBT community to serve our country. I was pleased to hear in the inaugural speech on Monday of his commitment to ending a decade of war and to using diplomacy as a means to promote peace in the world. Inevitably, however, as in the past, there will be times in the future when America will be faced with the question of whether we need to place thousands of our young men and women in harm's way. When that time comes, I hope all of America will be forced to stop and think twice about it.
Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion
Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rep. Charles B. Rangel
Part of complete coverage on
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1142 GMT (1942 HKT)
Jim Martin says many of Pope Francis' words and deeds that have so surprised the world flow naturally from his Jesuit background
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Jonathan Guryan and Jens Ludwig say the idea that poverty keeps adolescents from thriving academically is upended by a Chicago tutoring program that shows why educators shouldn't give up
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1202 GMT (2002 HKT)
Peter Bergen says the senator's charges against the CIA must be taken seriously
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
Sally Kohn went to the music festival and found out how guitars can save lives
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
Peggy Drexler says Sheryl Sandberg's "Ban Bossy" campaign is better off if it tries to reclaim the positive aspect of the word.
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 1918 GMT (0318 HKT)
David Frum says the warning for conservatives is: Millennial attachment to the Democratic Party is not a phase.
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 1732 GMT (0132 HKT)
Brian Havel says passengers boarding a flight with stolen passports shows the need for global coordination and standardized procedures for travel documentation
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 1211 GMT (2011 HKT)
Former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren says the U.S. risks getting outmaneuvered in the Middle East
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 1222 GMT (2022 HKT)
Laurence Steinberg says efforts like Obama's My Brother's Keeper" are noble, but a key to helping young black men is fixing a justice system that disproportionately puts them in jail
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 1213 GMT (2013 HKT)
Julianne Wurm says people need to take charge of the avalanche of requests they get and set priorities
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 1448 GMT (2248 HKT)
A man was convicted of raping a woman with Down syndrome, and the judge overturned it saying she didn't act like a victim. David Perry says all rape victims can be subject to this kind of dismissal
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 2044 GMT (0444 HKT)
Peter Bergen says wild theories often flourish after a passenger jet disaster; it's best to wait for an investigation
March 10, 2014 -- Updated 1654 GMT (0054 HKT)
Pilot Bill Palmer says the investigation of what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 will be long and complicated
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 1837 GMT (0237 HKT)
Alexander Pourbaix says the Keystone XL pipeline is safe and would provide the U.S. with oil from a reliable nation. He says it's the responsible path forward
March 10, 2014 -- Updated 1709 GMT (0109 HKT)
David Wheeler says embarrassing and out-of-context Web ads are affecting nearly everyone who uses the Internet.
March 10, 2014 -- Updated 1441 GMT (2241 HKT)
Kirk Bloodsworth says DNA cleared him after eight years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. He is living proof, he says, that America's system of capital punishment is broken beyond repair.
March 8, 2014 -- Updated 1406 GMT (2206 HKT)
President Putin's endgame in Crimea is now clear—and the West has only a few days to act, writes Daniel Treisman.
March 8, 2014 -- Updated 1426 GMT (2226 HKT)
Melinda Gates says data is not boring; it is a powerful tool in targeting assistance to women and girls, and making the case to world leaders that empowering women makes a difference.
March 9, 2014 -- Updated 1322 GMT (2122 HKT)
Bob Greene says doctors are distracted by their computer screens when they should be giving patients precious face-to-face time
March 10, 2014 -- Updated 1600 GMT (0000 HKT)
Sandra Fluke says for her generation, issues that matter are gender-related violence, education and economic equality.
Today's five most popular stories