military

Marine 1st Lt. Ernesto Rodriguez is a father of two. When he deployed to Iraq in 2005, he had only recently become a dad. When he got back, he struggled to hold his life together.

But he'd never spoken about those times with his son, Sebastian, until they sat down for a StoryCorps interview.

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a defense authorization bill that would require young women to register for the draft — the latest development in a long-running debate over whether women should sign up for the Selective Service. The provision would apply to women turning 18 in 2018 or later and would impose the same requirements and rules that currently apply to men.

Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson will be nominated as the next head of U.S. Northern Command, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Friday. If approved, she would be the first female head of a combatant command.

The U.S. military divides the world into geographic regions that are each overseen by a four-star general or admiral directing military operations across the branches of service. None of those combatant commanders has ever been a woman.

Fact-Check: Are Women Facing The Draft?

Feb 28, 2016

The Pentagon has opened all jobs across the military to women, including once-closed posts in the infantry and special operations forces. The announcement in December came after a nearly three-year process, and with the acknowledgement that women had fought and died in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Issue

That historic change has raised another historic question: Are women now facing the draft?

"Raise your hand if you have ever determined your location on the planet using the stars," Lt. Daniel Stayton tells his class at the U.S. Naval Academy.

A young officer halfheartedly puts up her hand. Another wavers. The rest of the class of 20 midshipmen sits stone-faced.

For the first time, top Army and Marine Corps leaders have testified that they think women should register for the draft.

"I think that all eligible and qualified men and women should register for the draft," Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Both Milley and Marine Gen. Robert Neller said women, like men, should be required to register for the Selective Service at age 18.

During World War II, thousands of Americans lied about their age to enlist in the military. During the Iraq war, Daniel Torres lied about something else.

"I didn't want to be just another Mexican living in the U.S. I wanted to say I'd done something for the country," said Torres.

The U.S. has around 800 military bases outside of the nation's borders. They're home to hundreds of thousands of troops and family members, and, in many cases, they're a cause of controversy.

David Vine, an associate professor of anthropology at American University, argues that we've become too dependent on such overseas bases — and that many of them cause serious opposition abroad. He lays out his thinking in his new book, Base Nation: How the U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World.

The horror of Agent Orange and its effects on Vietnam war veterans and Vietnamese citizens is well-documented.

But many U.S. veterans who never fought in that war say they, too, handled toxic chemicals at military bases around the world, suffering the same health consequences. Retired Lt. Col. Kris Roberts is among them.

Next year, the military will officially lift restrictions on women in combat, the end of a process that, according to the Government Accountability Office, may open up as many as 245,000 jobs that have been off-limits to women. But those who deploy overseas may continue to face obstacles in another area that can have a critical impact on their military experience: contraception.

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