The Changing Role of Women in America's Military

One of the concrete and positive results of the new war in which we are fighting is a long-overdue correction in the Pentagon's policies toward women in combat. The future role of women in today's military is going to be redefined, refined, and implemented with a dash of common sense. As one Pentagon official, speaking anonymously, put it: Fontline units won't involve women in Afghanistan or anywhere else. Under the leadership of the Bush Administration, and the less than touchy-feely convictions of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, the role of women in the military is going to change for the betterment of our combat capability. Prepare to ignore the emotional ranting of the special-interest group liberals who know nothing about. Clinton-era proposals and fashionable policies that have shoehorned female soldiers into just about every career field except the infantry and armor are going to get a healthy re-evaluation. If we are lucky, military service will revert back into the detested your father's Army mode. Many of us in uniform look forward to the change with the administration's goal to repair and reconstitute a demoralized and emasculated military. The need for reform and common sense in the military burst into the foreground with the unfolding events in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. While the Army and Air Force activated reserve organizations, the issue of pregnant servicewomen surfaced again. Military planners who were holdovers from the Clinton administration recommended calling up both male and female soldiers. I have learned that Secretary Rumsfeld's team was astounded and stunned when they learned that part of the Reserve call-up included pregnant soldiers. Wisely, the Pentagon leadership decided to activate no pregnant reservists for the ongoing war against terrorism. The decision to exclude female soldiers from warfighter units serves as a victory for many military leaders. To be sure, the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in The Services, commonly known as DACOWITS, will be heard from on this issue. It was largely their politically motivated recommendations that force-fed female soldiers into units that put them in harms way. I have a difficult time understanding that equality can be achieved by dying for one's country. Nor do I think that the military should even be experimenting with this concept. The Bush administration intends to slowly minimize and marginalize DACOWITS. In effect it will sideline the organization, which is largely made up of women with no history of military experience. While there is no question that women have a valid role in military service to the country, there is valid debate as to whether they should be in combat. Those of us who have experienced the demands of war are rather unanimous on this issue. There are no alibis in combat and no special dispensation can be allowed or given. The recent accusation of sexual harassment by a female officer at U.S. Southern Command headquarters is a good example. The officer apparently could not hack the early morning three-mile runs, so she organized a gender-related revolt and insisted that the run was demeaning to women. As idiotic as her complaint was, in reality, the crux of the issue is that many senior officials in the Defense Department pay attention to such drivel. As a result of the officer's flippant allegations, the morning run was stopped until it could be determined that women were not being oppressed or harassed. Disclosure of the Bush administration's new stance toward women in combat is a timely and positive signal to all American military personnel that the time for liberal social experimentation in the military is finally going to be replaced by the ultimate requirement that combat readiness comes first. And not a day too soon!

By J. David Galland

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