Friday, 25 Jan 2013
Military-readiness advocate Elaine Donnelly warns that the Obama administration’s decision to put women in ground-combat roles amounts to “social engineering to achieve a political end in the name of diversity.”
She adds that the policy shift means “lives could be lost unnecessarily, not just women, but men.”
Donnelly’s organization, the Center for Military Readiness, released a 42-page report earlier this week exploring the unintended consequences of putting women on the front lines.
“It will do great harm to women in the military, especially those who will find themselves in the infantry -- something there’s no indication they wanted,” Donnelly said Wednesday in an exclusive Newsmax interview. “It will harm men and the mission of the infantry as a whole.”
Donnelly objected that the U.S. Marine Corps has been conducting a detailed study of the affect of blending women into front-line infantry units. But that research has never been released, she said.
“Why is the Secretary of Defense just ramming this on through?” Donnelly asked. “Well, we know why, because the administration has a pattern of irresponsible actions like this using the military to advance a social agenda.”
Donnelly said there was no justification to rush the decision prior to congressional hearings. She noted the Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is announcing the move even as he prepares to leave his post at the Pentagon. “Congress is being shut out of any deliberative process here. It is most irresponsible,” she said.
“This kind of a social experiment is a dangerous one,” she added. “The Secretary of Defense had his mind made up, certainly indicated in February of last year this was their intent.”
In February, Obama administration endorsed the 2011 Military Leadership Diversity Commission, which called for the Pentagon to use gender-based “diversity metrics.” Donnelly sees such metrics as “another word for quotas.”
“It is social engineering to achieve a political end in the name of diversity,” she said, predicting women who don’t want to serve in an infantry-attack role will eventually be required to do so.
About 200,000 of the nation’s 1.4 million active-duty personnel are women. In November, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of four female soldiers who are seeking to serve in combat. Now, it appears women could be cleared to participate in ground combat operations as early as May.
The current policy forbids women from serving in forward positions on the battlefield. But that distinction was not of much use in Iraq and Afghanistan, which involved counter-insurgencies. That fact hit home early on when Army private Jessica Lynch, a truck driver, was taken hostage.
The Military Times reports that about 2 percent of the U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq were women.
Democrats see women in combat as an opportunity issue, and say it will open up hundreds of thousands of jobs. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., hailed the decision Wednesday as a “historic step for equality.”
But Donnelly disagrees.
“The problem is to treat women equally, when they are not equipped the same as men to deal with what it means to be part of an infantry battalion -- to treat unequals equally -- is basically unfair,” she tells Newsmax.
“It’s unfair to the women, it’s unfair to the men, it’s problematic for the readiness and efficiency and effectiveness of infantry battalions. It’s the policy makers who are to blame – not the women or the men. It’s the policy makers, people like Secretary Panetta. He makes a change like this and goes out to the West Coast. He doesn’t have to deal with the consequences.”
Friday, 25 Jan 2013 02:57 AM
Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in the Washington Times on Monday, before Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced his decision to lift the ban on women in combat.
Almost a year ago, Pentagon officials announced their incremental intent to order (not allow) military women into infantry and Special Operations Forces battalions. In April, Marine Gen. James Amos announced a multiphased research effort to test the consequences of such a policy. What will President Obama do with the commandant’s recommendations?
Conditions in the Middle East have changed, but missions of “tip of the spear” units, which attack the enemy with deliberate offensive action under fire, remain the same. If results of the Marines’ research do not support unrealistic theories of feminists who consider land combat to be just another career opportunity, administration officials might press their egalitarian agenda anyway.
The Pentagon-endorsed Military Leadership Diversity Commission (MLDC) has called for an end to women’s land combat exemptions, based on a new definition of “diversity.” As stated in the 2011 MLDC report, unlike the “EO [equal opportunity] mandate to be both color and gender blind,” the new concept would replace non-discrimination with gender-conscious “diversity metrics,” another name for quotas that violate individual rights.
Professional football entertains fans with non-lethal combat on the gridiron, but the National Football League does not “diversify” its teams with female players. Military teams that engage in lethal combat, however, are supposed to deploy significant numbers of women, willing or not, to achieve gender-based “diversity metrics” on the battlefield.
The “trickle-up” goal is to increase numbers of high-ranking female officers, one of whom might become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. None of this is necessary or fair for the majority of women, who are enlisted. Combat experience is not necessary for advancement. Pentagon data consistently show that military women are promoted at rates equal to or faster than men.
Women in the military have been serving overseas with distinction, often in non-traditional roles. Female engagement teams, for example, deserve full recognition for security and intelligence work that men cannot do in Muslim countries. All deployed troops are “in harm’s way,” but direct ground combat goes beyond that experience.
Thirty years of studies and reports in the United States and allied countries have shown that in a direct ground combat environment, women do not have an equal opportunity to survive or to help fellow soldiers survive. The Marines, nevertheless, began new research to evaluate the consequences of “gender diversity” in the infantry.
Pledging compliance with Defense Department regulations governing human experimentation, meaning tests involving “greater than minimal risk,” the Marines have been measuring strength and endurance among hundreds of male and female volunteers performing “common skills.” Plans briefed to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services in September 2011 called for six physical challenges, but in 2012 they were scaled back to three.
The program eliminated tougher simulations of essential ground combat skills, such as constructing a machine gun position, crawling, sprinting and negotiating obstacles with an 83-pound assault load, and the remaining three challenges were made less strenuous. Results are unavailable, but indications are that female volunteers could not match the physical capabilities of men.
Last September, female officers were invited to participate in the grueling 13-week Marine Infantry Officer Course (IOC), at Quantico, Va. Of the two women who volunteered, one left on the first day, and the second dropped out (along with 27 of 109 men) several days later. Both women deserve respect for trying, but the continuing lack of more volunteers (more than 90 are needed) will make it difficult to get sufficient data.
In 1997-98, the British military conducted an 18-month experiment with “gender-free” training. Under standards identical to men’s, women’s injury rates soared. In 2002 and 2010, the British Ministry of Defense decided to keep infantry battalions all-male.
American Marines conducted an online survey asking troops for their opinions on women-in-combat issues. The polling instrument, unfortunately, failed to ask the most important questions: “Would the assignment of women to Marine infantry improve combat readiness?” and “Do you favor or oppose the assignment of women to Marine infantry battalions?”
Instead, the survey incorporated 12 inquiries about “voluntary” service for women in the infantry — a non-existent option that the 1992 Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces already determined to be unworkable. Absent these questions, the administration likely will spin other survey findings toward the desired conclusion. In 2010, highly misleading information about a Defense Department troop survey helped to stampede Congress into voting for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Little has been said about the consequences of imposing on infantry battalions higher non-deployability rates, often due to pregnancy, and steadily worsening complications of sexual misconduct, ranging from assault to fraternization. These burdens will not improve readiness in all-male fighting battalions that deliberately attack the enemy.
Eliminating land combat exemptions ultimately will involve civilian women in Selective Service registration. Congress, which represents the American people, should not be shut out of this decision-making process.
A female Marine gunnery sergeant who spoke to the 1992 Presidential Commission was asked whether women should be in land combat. “Not if it’s not good for the Corps, Ma’am.” The same sound principle should apply today. Congress, which represents the American people, should insist on high standards and sound policies not just for Marines, but for all men and women who volunteer to serve.
Elaine Donnelly is president of the Center for Military Readiness and a former member of the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces.
LIVE INTERVIEW: Elaine Donnelly, President of Center for Military Readiness. Donnelly joins us to discuss the report her organization has released regarding the Obama administration and its disregard for the harmful consequences of allowing women into direct combat (infantry) battalions.
CMR Releases Special Report:
Defense Department "Diversity" Push for Women in Land Combat
The Center for Military Readiness has released a new CMR Special Report, titled Defense Department "Diversity" Push for Women in Land Combat. The 42-page document provides independent analysis of the Marine Corps research program that was initiated in April 2012, in order to gather information on the prospects for women in direct ground combat (infantry) battalions.
Good information. Agree with most, disagree with some. Basically this is not a decision that the President should be making, especially this non-miitary president who has no clue as to what it means to be in the military nor to have served in combat. I am not sure that a lot of Congress is equipped to determine this, either. They need to stop micromanaging and let the authorities on the matter, the men and women in the military and their officers; the Joint Chiefs,; let them make this decision and trust them to do what is right.