Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Girl talk

Women in combat - the gift that keeps on giving.

Two things came up recently that seem to need comment. First of all, Sen. Obama gave a horrible, partonizing, and insulting speech on Memorial Day. He seems to have overlooked that Memorial Day is the time we honor those who have fallen in service to this nation. Worse than that, he used it as an opportunity to insult not just everyone's intelligence, but also those women who have served. As is the leftist habit, everyone is a victim - but you know who suffers worse.
OBAMA: We're going to have hundreds of thousands of new veterans coming in, many of them who suffer post-traumatic stress disorder. They are not being diagnosed quickly enough, they're not getting the services that they need quickly enough.

And, sadly, the group of veterans that are probably being most neglected in this area are women veterans. We've got to do a better job of creating facilities...


... specifically for women veterans.

And part of what we need is to recognize that oftentimes our women servicemembers are more prone to post-traumatic stress disorder partly because they -- there's a sad, but real, problem of sexual harassment and sexual abuse for women veterans, and that makes them much more prone, then, to have post-traumatic stress disorder.
One silly aspect of this is that his argument actually helps those who oppose women in combat - a position that Obama is in favor of, I assume.

On the other side of the equation is a shockingly balanced bit in the LATimes.
The drive to eliminate gender distinctions in the military appears to be entering a new phase, with debate likely to come to a head within a few years. The next president, whether presumptive GOP nominee McCain or a Democrat, almost certainly will face the question of women in combat.
Soon after the Gulf War in 1991, a group of military women pressed Congress to allow female pilots to fly combat missions. But a Vietnam War hero in the Senate, John McCain, pushed back hard.

"The purpose of the military is first to defend this nation's vital security interests throughout the globe and only second to ensure equality," the Arizona Republican argued on the Senate floor, framing the issue in a way that infuriated feminists.

McCain lost that legislative battle, and women pilots started moving into combat roles in the mid-1990s. In the last five years in Iraq, women have flown hundreds of combat missions. And though they remain barred from ground combat units, women -- who make up about 15% of the military -- are playing a bigger fighting role than ever. About 100 have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Democratic presidential contenders Sens. Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York -- neither of whom has a track record on the issue -- declined to comment on their positions.

McCain's aides said only that he stood by his past positions, suggesting that he would resist pressures for change.
Well, we know where the candidates stand or hide - they also let us know some of the facts that few want to talk about - but is well known.
McCain's views may have been influenced, too, by an acute sense of what a prisoner, man or woman, would face. He spent 5 1/2 years in captivity in a Hanoi prison camp, where he was tortured. He returned home in 1973 having missed the U.S. cultural upheaval of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

In an interview with Navy public relations officials after his release, McCain said women should never be allowed to enter combat. "Some of the people that might capture them can be pretty mean," he said.
The experience of Jessica Lynch, the celebrated Army private who was taken prisoner early in the Iraq war, illustrates the risks. She eventually revealed in her book that she was brutally beaten and raped.
As were the female POWs from the first Gulf War.

Having served with women my whole career, I am of two minds on the subject. In the early part of OEF, my best junior Petty Officer was female, and one of my top 5 junior officers. That being said, there is a difference between floating at sea and kicking in a door. Flying a plane at 30,000 and fast-roping into a LZ.

My most significant issue is that Leadership will not discuss the facts we all know. There is servicemember to servicemember prostitution that no one will deal with. The highest secret on any CVN is the pregnancy rate - and don't even try to get a "married vs. single" breakout. There is rampant bump'n uglies at sea all over the pay scale (related, duh, to the previous point) that creates "leadership challenges." Most all men can carry my weight up a ladder to safety - almost no women can. Almost all men can deal with a flailing injured shipmate, few women can. The balance of men could hold their own in hand-to-hand combat with a terrorist trying to get access to the Quarterdeck - almost no women can. No men require special facilities that use up space we don't have - women do.

These are facts, and many real leaders who just happen to be female agree,
The Air Force's most senior female fighter pilot, Col. Martha McSally, has even called for eliminating dress code and grooming distinctions.

"Women's hair should be at least cut extremely short upon entering basic training in all services," she wrote in a Duke University law journal last year. "Uniforms should be standardized, and skirts, high heels and pantyhose should be removed from the military uniform."
Women everywhere? No. Women where it makes sense in a sane view of how the world is? Yes.

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