Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), the first female veteran to be elected to the U.S. Senate, agreed to an exclusive interview with SOFREP following her speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 3, 2016. Senator Ernst served in the U.S. Army for 23 years, retiring as a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard in 2015, and is a member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee. She’s been a powerful advocate for veterans on the national stage.

SOFREP: Senator, as I’m sure you know, the ​Defense Department recently lifted g​ender-­based restrictions on all MOS’s. Do you think physiological accommodations should be made for women entering training for these MOS’s, or should the standards be kept the same for both sexes?

Senator Ernst: I just want to declare that I’m in absolute support of these young ladies and their various opportunities to serve—as long as they’re not lowering the standards and we’re not forsaking our combat efficacy. I don’t think the current administration has wanted to move this forward in a thoughtful manner. We need a different plan, something fully developed. We don’t want to rush women into these positions without making sure they have the skills necessary to integrate seamlessly.

Do you feel that women should have to r​egister for selective service?