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 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 8, 2014 -- Updated 1539 GMT (2339 HKT)
Sandra Fluke says for her generation, issues that matter are gender-related violence, education and economic equality.
March 8, 2014 -- Updated 1359 GMT (2159 HKT)
Aaron David Miller says we've heard a good deal of nonsense and hyperbole about the Crimea confrontation.
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 7, 2014 -- Updated 1903 GMT (0303 HKT)
Adam Lewis says jobs numbers conceal reality of the changing work landscape--human jobs are quickly shifting to computers. Schools must refocus priorities to prepare the next generation.
March 8, 2014 -- Updated 1943 GMT (0343 HKT)
Robin Morgan asks: What if human rights group Amnesty International decided to condone pimping? It happened when an AI document called for legalizing prostitution.
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 1509 GMT (2309 HKT)
Peter Bergen and Tim Maurer say reports of cyberattacks in Ukraine fit a pattern of a new and risky form of warfare.
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Kirk Bloodsworth says DNA cleared him after 9 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 7, 2014 -- Updated 1701 GMT (0101 HKT)
Will Cain blasts New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for not allowing a charter school to open in a city building, saying the mayor has condemned the kids to failure.
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 1340 GMT (2140 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says the state's law, as written, lets someone take a picture up your skirt in a public place. But don't blame the court for upholding the law, blame the legislators who enacted it
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 1514 GMT (2314 HKT)
John Sutter says the "gay Jim Crow" bills that are popping in up in several states are a step back for the U.S.
March 8, 2014 -- Updated 0529 GMT (1329 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says a court rightly sided with a driver stopped while consulting a map on his phone.
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 2227 GMT (0627 HKT)
Newt Gingrich says words and sanctions aren't enough; the U.S. has to ramp up energy production and its military resources
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 0015 GMT (0815 HKT)
Timothy Stanley says Putin may be using a similar ethnic justification for his Ukraine incursion, but that's pretty much where Clinton's comparison would have to end
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 1751 GMT (0151 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says that as Russia looks set to slice off a part of Ukraine and keep it for itself, there are important lessons to be drawn; among them, brute force is not thing of the past
March 5, 2014 -- Updated 1743 GMT (0143 HKT)
Eric Liu says a China state media article that used an ethnic slur against U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke revealed stark differences between China and America
March 5, 2014 -- Updated 1351 GMT (2151 HKT)
David Logan says holacracy, an organizational system that gets rid of hierarchy, might work at Zappos.
Today's five most popular stories