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National Commission Explores Selective Service Policy Options at Four Hearings

Posted: April 25, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C.— The National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service held four hearings across two days in April on the topic of selective service.

On day one, the first hearing addressed the potential needs for a voluntary or compulsory mobilization. The second hearing explored who will be needed to respond to national security emergencies and how we would find and integrate them into military organizations and structures.

During the second day of hearings, the Commission explored arguments for and against expansion of selective service registration to all Americans. The first hearing of the day addressed the case for continuing to restrict registration to men only and the challenges in achieving compliance with the current system. The second hearing discussed the potential need to extend a future compulsory mobilization to include all Americans.

“Although there is currently no draft, selective service registration still very much exists and is active – the two should not be confused,” said Vice Chair for Military Service Debra Wada. “Most young men today register for selective service as a secondary process, when they apply for a driver’s license or federal student aid. In fact, approximately 75 percent of young men register as a byproduct of another state or federal requirement.” 

“In 2016, the Commission was created amid a debate over whether the selective service registration requirement should be extended to include women,” said Chairman Joe Heck. “The four hearings provided an opportunity to discuss whether the U.S. still needs a Selective Service System, and whether or not registration should be expanded to include all Americans.”

These hearings were timely as earlier this year a district court case decision in Texas stated that an all-male military draft is no longer valid. Recently, a federal district court in New Jersey, handling the second case involving women and the Selective Service System, issued an opinion denying the core parts of the government’s motion to dismiss. 


Panelists for the hearing, Future Mobilization Needs of the Nation: 

  • The Honorable James Stewart, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Department of Defense
  • Rear Admiral John Polowczyk, Vice Director for Logistics, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Ms. Loren DeJonge Schulman, Deputy Director of Studies and the Leon E. Panetta Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security
  • Major General Peter Byrne, Mobilization Assistant to the Commander, U.S. Northern Command
  • Ms. Elsa Kania, Adjunct Senior Fellow with the Technology and National Security Program, Center for a New American Security

Panelists for the hearing, How to Meet Potential National Mobilization Needs: 

  • The Honorable Donald Benton, Director of Selective Service, U.S. Selective Service System
  • Major General John Evans, Representative of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command
  • Major General Linda Singh, Adjutant General of Maryland, Maryland National Guard
  • Dr. Jacquelyn Schneider, Assistant Professor, U.S. Naval War College
  • Dr. Bernie Rostker, Former Senior Fellow, RAND Corporation

Panelists for the hearing, Should Registration be Expanded to All Americans? – Arguments against expansion:

  • Dr. Mark Coppenger, Professor of Christian Philosophy and Ethics, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Ms. Jude Eden, US Marine Corps Iraq veteran and freelance writer
  • Mr. Edward Hasbrouck, Editor and publisher,
  • Ms. Ashley McGuire, Author of Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female
  • Ms. Diane Randall, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation

Panelists for the hearing, Should Registration be Expanded to All Americans? – Arguments for expansion:

  • Lieutenant General Flora Darpino, U.S. Army, Retired, former Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army
  • Dr. Jason Dempsey, Senior Advisor at the Columbia University School of Professional Studies and Adjunct Senior Fellow of the Military, Veterans, and Society Program, Center for a New American Security
  • Professor Jill Hasday, Distinguished McKnight University Professor & Centennial Professor in Law, University of Minnesota
  • Major General Bengt Svensson, Defense Attaché, Embassy of Sweden
  • Ms. Katey van Dam, U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran currently working in venture capital 


 The Commission will hold 14 hearings through June 2019. Each hearing will provide an opportunity for the Commission to receive testimony on key topics within the Commission’s mandate. Members of the public have an opportunity to provide comments at each hearing following the conclusion of testimony.


The National Commission on Military, National and Public Service is an 11-member bipartisan commission tasked for the first time in American history, with comprehensively and holistically reviewing the Selective Service System, along with military, national, and public service. The Commission hopes to ignite a national conversation about ideas of service as it develops recommendations for the Congress, the President, and the American public by March 2020. The Commission invites the public to share comments on its website and join the digital conversation on service on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram