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thedrifter
07-01-05, 09:43 AM
Kathleen Parker:
Our military should not put women in harmís way in Iraq
By KATHLEEN PARKER
The Union Leader

THE DEATHS of three women ó two Marines and one sailor ó and the injury of 11 other female Marines in an attack in Iraq last week not only raises questions about the role of women in combat, but suggests that the U.S. military may be guilty of willful denial, if not strategic negligence.

Put another way, American women in Iraq are dying unnecessarily. And no, Iím not suggesting that men should die necessarily, but that women who are not supposed to be in or near combat are being placed in situations that increase the likelihood of death or injury.

Obviously women soldiers, sailors and Marines are sometimes injured or killed because they are unavoidably ďin harmís way.Ē War is imperfect after all. But other times, harmís way is avoidable, as was surely the case last Thursday when a convoy carrying mostly women was attacked in Fallujah by a suicide car bomber and gunmen.

While the womenís deaths may not be more tragic than othersí deaths ó certainly not to those who have buried their sons ó we are left wondering why the women were in places where they could be so easily killed. The convenient response is that this war has no clear ďfront lines,Ē that military women are bound to get caught in the crossfire. In Thursdayís case, the women were going to a checkpoint where they were to search Iraqi females out of respect for Muslim sensitivities. Every vehicle and person entering Fallujah is searched as the U.S. tries to ensure that insurgents are kept out.

Having women instead of men search women makes perfectly good sense, but why American women? Why not raise our exquisite sensitivity to the next level and employ Iraqi women to search Iraqi women?

Elaine Donnelly of the nonprofit Center for Military Readiness, who has put that question to the Pentagon, says that even though Marine women were authorized to be at the checkpoints, the Pentagon apparently didnít adequately think through the implications of placing women at such vulnerable posts.

Some observers wonder whether the convoy was targeted specifically because it was known to be carrying women. More buck for the bang, if youíre a suicide bomber. If the goal is to undermine U.S. will and commitment to the war, the twisted mind might think, what better way than to kill their women?

Donnelly is more critical of Army procedures that have placed women at high risk in ways that are not officially authorized. She and Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, last month questioned the Army policy of ďcollocatingĒ women with its infantry/armor land combat battalions. Again, translated, this means putting women who perform various auxiliary, non-combat roles near enough to combat as to be in harmís way.

Which is clearly against Pentagon policy. To change the policy ó or to seek an exception ó requires that the secretary of defense notify Congress 30 legislative days (or about three monthís real time) in advance. No such notice has ever been given, says Donnelly. Instead, the Army has been assigning women to forward-support companies that previously were all male while the Pentagon rearranges organizational charts to make the rules seem inapplicable.

Donnelly is blunt in her appraisal that this sleight of hand is not only subterfuge, but unfair to women who enlist in the military in the belief they wonít be near combat. Jessica Lynch, where are you?

To reiterate, the Marines and the Army are not one and the same. The Marines apparently were following rules when the women Marines were attacked by the suicide bomber. The Army, on the other hand, is bending rules to send women where men are supposed to be.

All of which forces the tough question: Do we really want to put our women at this level of risk if itís not necessary? The rules against placing women in combat still stand, but the slope is looking a bit slippery. As the lines between combat and non-combat become blurred, so do the roles of men and women in the military.

The battle for civilization may not be lost in Fallujah or Kabul, after all. When we decide to willingly put our nationís mothers ó whether future or of the moment óin harmís way, we may already have lost the war.

Kathleen Parkerís e-mail address is kparker@kparker.com

Ellie

CHOPPER7199
07-01-05, 09:57 AM
I BELIEVE MS. PARKER, DON,T UNDERSTAND THAT, THE WOMAN ARE MARINES FIRST. ALSO THE FACT IS, IF YOU STOP ONE SERVICE ON THIS ISSUE YOU NEED TO DO THE SAME WITH THE OTHERS. I WOULD NOT THINK THE FEMALE PILOTS OF TO-DAY WOULD LIKE THIS AT ALL. WE PUT THE UNIFORM ON TO DO A JOB NO MATTER WHAT IT IS. THE MISSION, WHAT EVER IT IS, NEEDS TO BE DELT WITH. THE WORD IS SIMPLE, SERVICE. JUST AN OLD GRUNTS OPINION. :marine: