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White House Announces Support for Requiring Women to Register for Draft

The Obama administration announced its support for requiring women to register for a military draft on Thursday.
U.S. Army Soldiers conduct combatives training during the Ranger Course on Fort Benning, Ga., April 20, 2015.Spc. Dacotah Lane

The Obama administration announced its support Thursday for requiring women to register for a military draft — a symbolic move in step with the administration’s push to fully open the military to women.

"While Secretary [Ash] Carter strongly supports our all-volunteer approach and does not advocate returning to a draft, as he has said in the past, he thinks it makes sense for women to register for selective service just as men must,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement to NBC News.

“His 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,” Cook said.

A spokesman for Obama's National Security Council Ned Price echoed the sentiment in a statement to USA TODAY on Thursday, saying "As old barriers for military service are being removed, the administration supports — as a logical next step — women registering for the Selective Service."

Related: All Combat Roles Now Open to Women, Pentagon Says

Thursday's statements come weeks before the end of Obama's presidency and just two days after House and Senate negotiators agreed to remove a provision from the annual defense spending bill that would have required young women to register for a possible military draft, according to the Associated Press.

Nearly all male United States citizens and immigrants ages 18 through 25 must currently register with the Selective Service, according to the Selective System website. Under a crisis that would lead to a draft, those registered would be called to serve based on the year of their birth and a random lottery number.

The United States has not actually had a draft since 1973 during the Vietnam War era.

In December 2015, the Obama Administration opened all military occupational specialties, including so-called "combat jobs," to women — marking a historic shift in policy.

In the past year, women have graduated from the Army's elite Ranger school, served on submarines, finish Marine Corps Artillery officer's training, and Gen. Lori Robinson became the first-ever female Combatant Commander.