U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Jude Eden joins the podcast to discuss women and the draft. With a U.S. Senate committee approving legislation in July that would, if enacted, require women to be part of the draft, this topic is more important than ever.

Jude Eden is an outspoken advocate of women’s combat exemption. Jude Eden is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and worked entry checkpoints frisking women for explosives on the outskirts of Fallujah. In 2019 Jude testified before the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service which was established to examine the draft and other military issues. She has written on politics and culture with a focus on women in combat and the military draft and has appeared on TV and radio shows across the nation.

TRANSCRIPT

Beverly Hallberg:

Welcome to She Thinks, a podcast where you’re allowed to think for yourself. I’m your host, Beverly Hallberg. On today’s episode, it’s an honor to have on U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Jude Eden, to discuss women and the draft. With the U.S. Senate Committee approving legislation in July that would, if enacted, require women to be part of the draft, this topic is more important than ever.

But before we bring her on, a little bit more about Jude. Jude Eden is an outspoken advocate of women’s combat exemption. Jude Eden is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and worked entry checkpoints, frisking women for explosives on the outskirts of Fallujah. In 2019 Jude testified before the National Commission on Military National and Public Service, which was established to examine the draft and other military issues. She has written on politics and culture with a focus on women in combat and the military draft, and has appeared on TV and radio shows across the nation. It is our honor to have her on She Thinks today. Jude, thank you for your service and thank you for joining us.

Jude Eden:

Thank you so much for having me.

Beverly Hallberg:

Before we get into this discussion about women and the draft, I thought I would just start by asking you about your story. What made you decide to join the Marine Corps?

Jude Eden:

I was looking to serve my country. I was interested in fighting in the Iraq War. I joined in 2003, so the Iraq War was already underway, so I’m one of those people that joined after 2001. I had been living in New York City when the Towers were attacked, so I sort of felt a very strong impulse to do more than just think and speak about acting for the country, I guess. I thought it was important for both us as a nation and for those that were living under the kind of rule like the Taliban in those countries where we were starting to fight at that time.

Beverly Hallberg:

We’re so thankful for your service. I think what is interesting about having you on for this conversation, and we will get to the draft, but I just want to start the conversation on women in combat, because you’ve been writing about that for a while. You were someone who was part of the Marine Corps, served this country bravely, and you have a perspective that women should not be fighting in combat roles. So first of all, explain to us just broadly your perspective. Is this based on the fact that the definition of combat role is very specific and the work that you were doing was not technically in combat?

Jude Eden:

That is part of it. Direct ground combat, when we talk about combat roles, that is those who go to close with and destroy the enemy, usually on the ground. Or not usually, that’s very specifically it. So that’s not combat pilots, that’s not the Navy, that is the Army and the Marines. So those roles are very specific, and there’s a lot of problems with putting women in those combat units. Injuries is the first and foremost. Women in the military already, just for doing the same training as men, suffer a lot more injuries and their attrition rate is a lot higher than men. That’s just because we’re physiologically different, and that doesn’t mean that women shouldn’t serve in the military. We absolutely are an asset in many fields, but when your job is the most physical one where you have to be the strongest and the fastest and have the most endurance, that is not women’s strength in the military and it is men’s.

Beverly Hallberg:

Do you find that many of your fellow female Marine Corps individuals, those who are vets and those who are currently serving, do they find too that they agree with you, that they very clearly saw that there is a difference between the direct combat role and the various roles that they provided and the work that they did?

Jude Eden:

Absolutely. Those of us who have served, especially in the Marine Corps where, sort of by default, our very basic training is to support the infantry and stuff like that. So we do a lot more hiking with heavy packs and that kind of thing than some of the other services for their basic training and their basic requirements. So when you do a lot of hiking with a heavy pack and you know that you have to cover long distances and then say, do a firefight…. For example, the standard infantry test is a 12-mile hike with a pack and then doing direct assault-type training. It puts a heavier load on women than men.

That’s the primary reason is that we’re not similarly situated too physiologically for those things. That’s why I’m always repeating that it’s not an equal opportunity. Many people want to talk about, “Hey, you want to be equal then, now you’ve got it. You should be drafted too.” But just because we’re equal under the law, we’re treated as equals, we’re equal in the workforce, that doesn’t mean that we all have to do the same things, that men and women have to do the same things in service to the country. When you’re talking about combat, that makes all the difference for winning and losing.

Beverly Hallberg:

We have had women serve in combat roles in direct combat. What does the data tell us so far, as far as how effective women in those roles were and what it meant for them physically?

Jude Eden:

Women tend to get injured a lot more for the same training. While there are some women who have served, usually attached to combat units, not as infantry, we hardly have any data on that actually since the combat units were opened to women. Before 2016 when that was actually implemented, women were sort of in combat actions, but not as part of the combat units, so there’s a distinction to be made there. There are women who have served with honor and distinction with those units, but that doesn’t mean that that should be the rule. The military’s responsibility, their mission, is to be able to recruit and train a dependably reliable force to fight the nation’s enemies. While you may have a few women who are excellent physical performers, that’s usually the exception to the rule, where it’s not with men.

Beverly Hallberg:

What do you say to critics of yours who have spoken out and say that you’re anti-woman because you do not think that women should be in direct combat? What do you say? Obviously you have a great platform because you’re somebody who served in the Marine Corps. You have seen this firsthand. You are somebody who believes that women should be part of the military. So what have you said to your naysayers?

Jude Eden:

Well, I just think that kind of line just shows that they’ve lost the argument. That’s not an argument on the merits of the argument. That’s just basically an ad hominem. It already means that they’ve lost and they don’t have anything to back up their own argument.

Beverly Hallberg:

Well, this has moved into a new direction, as we had stated up front. There is now this push to allow women to be part of the draft or forcing women to be part of a draft. So there was a U.S. Senate Committee in July that approved legislation that, if it was enacted, it would require women to register for selective service alongside men. If there was a draft, this means women would be drafted with men. Now, we haven’t had a draft since Vietnam, but if this did take place, this would be the first time women were drafted in the nation’s history. First of all, what do you make of all of this, and how did this come about? Why is this Senate Committee making this move?

Jude Eden:

It’s something that they’ve tried before. John McCain did it a few years ago right after they repealed women’s combat exemption. That had been part of the constitutional argument that since women weren’t allowed to serve in the combat unit, they couldn’t be drafted, and this is another try at that. They did not succeed at that time, and then they sort of deferred it by creating that Military Commission on Women in the Draft and National Service that was started in 2016, $45 million commission. They gave their report in last spring of 2020.

I mean, they’ve actually been trying to do this since the ’70s. It’s not about military readiness. It’s not about a stronger fighting force. A lot of them will, those proposing it, will say it’s about equality, which of course it’s not because we’re not equally situated to succeed in warfare. The purpose of the draft, in part keeping the draft, is to send a signal to our peer adversaries, to our enemies, that we have a program in place that if we need to quickly mobilize a huge force, we will do it. We have an infrastructure to do that and that is the registration. Then if they’re to reinstate the draft during a national, it’s always during a national emergency and it’s always to replace combat troops. It’s not for anything else. It’s for when you’re in a massive national emergency where tens of thousands of men are dying at the front lines, and you need to replace them quickly.

So I notice that they never debate this openly. Even the commission was not a debate. I did testify along with several others to that commission, but that was just a—I mean, if you weren’t paying attention to anything like that and watching C-SPAN at that particular time, you weren’t going to be following that. It’s very telling that they don’t want to debate this publicly and have Congress vote on it. They try to put it in the NDAA every so often, but they never have a public debate about it. I think that’s because they know that, first of all, even without bringing up many of the points that I’m bringing up today, people just viscerally are opposed to having their daughters, their sisters, their mothers potentially, drafted in when we have a national crisis. If we had something on the level of World War II or Vietnam, people are viscerally opposed to that.

Congressional representatives would be directly responsible to their constituents if they were to have that public debate and vote on it. Instead, what they try to do is do it behind closed doors in the Senate Armed Services Committee and stick it into the National Defense Authorization Act. But when you show just the basic data, which is consistent with what everybody knows, if you are in a group of people and you drop a flag and say, “Okay, whoever gets the flag wins,” and it’s a pummel, then you’re going to quickly see things divided by the sexes amongst just, say, the first 50 people in the telephone book. The men are going to beat the women when it comes to a physical confrontation.

Beverly Hallberg:

Well, before we continue the conversation, I’d like to take a moment to highlight IWF’s Champion Women profile series, which focuses on women across the country and world that are accomplishing amazing things. The media too often ignores their stories, but we don’t. We celebrate them and bring their stories directly to you. Our current profile is Allison Ball, Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. To check out her story, do go to iwf.org and see why she’s this week’s Champion Woman.

Jude, I’m so glad that you explained how Congress tries to bypass the debate because they know the debate on women and the draft would be unpopular. You talked about the Senate Armed Services Committee putting this into the NDAA. Is that something then that we could see the draft for women happening without Congress actually voting on it? Is that a potential? And if so, how likely is that?

Jude Eden:

It is a potential for certain, and when you have senators like Richard Burr for example—he’s on that committee, I believe, and he’s one of my senators—who bring this forward and are taking the left-wing line on the vote, it would be voted on in the Senate. I think it’s very possible that they would pass this. Whether or not in the future, the draft would actually be reinstated is kind of anybody’s guess.

However, the people who are motivated to draft women are motivated to do, like this military commission was examining, they want national service. I think it’s a way to try to get people…. They would probably use it kind of like they want to for the Green New Deal or how in some schools they’re trying to give credits for political activism for traditionally left-wing groups and organizations that if you’re a part of that, that you can get credit for it. It’s kind of along those same lines, where they want to go toward national service for their left-wing programs. So I don’t see it as particularly about the military, except that, that’s a way in, and that’s a way to control a bunch of people. As the military goes, so goes the nation in a lot of ways.

Beverly Hallberg:

And so final question for you is, for those who are listening to this—and maybe you’re surprised by what they’re hearing—they didn’t realize that a draft could be something potential for their daughters. It’s hard to stay on top of it when it’s secret, when things are seeming to be happening behind closed doors. What do you recommend that people do who have concerns about this? Is it contact their senators or members of Congress, or is there anything else they can do?

Jude Eden:

Well, absolutely, I would contact your senators and congressmen and women and tell them to oppose drafting women. You can certainly educate yourself by looking at—I mean, there’s my blog, which is politicalanimalblog.com. There is the Center for Military Readiness is an excellent organization headed by Elaine Donnelly. They’re at cmrlink.org. There’s tons of information there on everything from the data on this issue on women in combat.

The thing that people really need to remember is that it’s not an equal rights issue. Like I said, it’s not an equal opportunity when we’re not physically equals, and we’re not physically equals. We’re different, men and women and so that means that it’s not an equal rights issue and saying, “Well, you’re an equal citizen so you have to go to direct ground combat,” that just doesn’t actually make logical sense. And when women, even military women, are injured at much higher rates than men, that just means that it’s going to be a kind of catastrophe if it comes to actually instating the draft. Because you’re going to have to sift through millions of women to try and find a few who will be able to make those bare minimums, but they’ll still have six to 10 times the risk of injury compared to men.

So that just doesn’t make sense when you need people to fill in and fight at the front. So injuries is a big one and just not having an equal opportunity to survive in the exact situation that the draft is for, which is hand-to-hand combat with men. Our peer adversaries, they’re not putting women in their combat units, and they’re not drafting women either, so that’s the major thing. If we’re talking about what an engagement we may be likely to be in, whether it would be China, Iran, Russia. None of them are doing this. They don’t care if we’ve achieved diversity metrics. They want to be as lethal as possible, and I think that we should too.

Beverly Hallberg:

I think you said something really key there, and that is women do not have the equal opportunity to survive if they’re in direct combat. To me, that’s the crux of the message. We thank you so much for bravely sharing that message and for also serving our country. Jude Eden, thank you so much for your time today.

Jude Eden:

Oh, thank you. It was a pleasure.

Beverly Hallberg:

And thank you for joining us. Before you go, Independent Women’s Forum does want you to know that we rely on the generosity of supporters like you, and investment in IWF fuels our efforts to enhance freedom, opportunity, and well-being for all Americans. Please consider making a small donation to IWF by visiting iwf.org/donate. That is iwf.org/donate. And last, if you enjoyed this episode of She Thinks, do leave us a rating or a review on iTunes. It does help. Also, we’d love it if you shared this episode and let your friends know where they can find more She Thinks episodes. From all of us here at Independent Women’s Forum, thanks for listening.