In war's wake, no further combat roles seen for women
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    Cool In war's wake, no further combat roles seen for women

    In war's wake, no further combat roles seen for women


    By Rowan Scarborough
    THE WASHINGTON TIMES



    American military women saw their most extensive combat action ever in a major war in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
    But their expanded role has not spurred calls in Congress to open up even more combat roles to women, as happened after Desert Storm 12 years ago. Both the Senate and House armed services committees, which write military laws and policies, passed 2004 defense authorization bills this spring without any amendments debated or passed to expand women's war missions.
    "I think that the stories you've seen and what you hear from commanders is that women did their jobs and did them very well, working side by side with men," said retired Marine Lt. Gen. Carol Mutter, who is chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services. "And my answer is, what else would you expect? This is what they were trained to do."
    The Defense Department has yet to collect statistics on pregnancies and injuries in the field to give some indication of whether more women in combat puts stress on unit readiness. Some legislators also want to look at the effects mothers going to war have on children.
    "We don't know for sure what the results were from this mobilization regarding women because nobody has asked questions, much less gotten the answers," said Elaine Donnelly, who directs the Center for Military Readiness.
    Gen. Mutter said her committee plans to look at all issues of overseas deployments, including the impact on families, as the military fights the war on terrorism.
    In Operation Iraqi Freedom, women's missions did not involve ground combat, from which they are banned. But they flew combat jets and helicopters, and operated warships, for the first time in a major air-ground campaign.
    The Marine Corps saw the first female Cobra helicopter pilot fly combat missions. They also saw one of their enlisted woman give birth in a war zone aboard a combat ship an event Pentagon officials said was a first.
    Hundreds of Navy women manned warships, including five aircraft carriers. Two female officers commanded warships one a Tomahawk-firing destroyer and the other an amphibious assault ship carrying Marine Harrier attack jets.
    Women also flew the Navy's two carrier fighters, the F-18 Hornet and F-14 Tomcat.
    "It's gotten to the point where they are a part of everything," said a senior Navy officer at the Pentagon.
    The Air Force had women flying virtually every combat plane in its arsenal, including the B-2 stealth bomber, the B-52, the A-10 low-flying attack jet, and the service's front-line fighters, the F-15 Eagle and the F-16 Falcon.
    Even female aviators on Air Force refueling jets found themselves closer to combat. Air commanders pushed the fleet to get as close to strike fighters as possible to cut down on travel time to and from targets.
    Capt. Tricia Paulsen-Howe, a navigator on a KC-135, flew for hours over hostile territory, refueling planes and searching for the two crew members of a downed F-15E north of Baghdad.
    "We supported all of the search aircraft," Capt. Paulsen-Howe said in an interview. "On that particular day, we were refueling F-16s and F-15s that were actively searching. We went well out of our air-refueling air space to go north of Baghdad to be right there so the fighters would not have to fly very far to get gas. It was extremely hostile territory."
    Despite more women in combat slots, Operation Iraqi Freedom was a safer place statistically, compared with the last major air-ground war, 1991's Operation Desert Storm. In that war, which lasted longer and involved twice as many U.S. troops, 16 women died.
    In Iraqi Freedom, the lone female fatality was Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa, 23. She was among 11 members of the Army's 507th Maintenance Company ambushed March 23 in the central Iraq town of Nasiriyah.
    In all, 25,455 military women were deployed out of a total reserve and active force of 269,363, according to the Defense Department. It was roughly the same ratio as Desert Storm, where 41,000 women deployed amid a force of 550,000.
    In addition to air and sea combat jobs, woman served in virtually every support role, including patrolling Baghdad's streets as military police officers.
    The expanded combat roles were made possible thanks to changes made by the Clinton administration in 1994. Prompted by the big contribution women made in Desert Storm, the Clinton Pentagon opened two war-fighting jobs previously closed to women: flying combat fighters, bombers and helicopters, and staffing warships, except for the tight confines of submarines.
    "In the Gulf war, women were not allowed to fly combat aircraft, and now they are," Capt. Paulsen-Howe said. "I would say there's hardly a career field in the Air Force women are not involved in. There are a few. But we do just about every single job."
    The ambush of the 507th vehicle convoy of some 30 soldiers is one incident that likely will be cited by pro- and anti-women-in-combat forces.
    As a support unit, its male and female members attended mixed-sex basic training. Some groups such as Mrs. Donnelly's contend the Army has lowered physical training standards to make sure women complete boot camp.
    Advocates will want to know how well the 507th members were trained in basic combat skills and whether they were up to date in weapons training.
    The Army has been conducting an inquiry into the ambush to determine how the company performed. Its report is due out shortly.
    The combat arms section of the Army armor, infantry and artillery are closed to women. Men train in male-only units.
    Mrs. Donnelly said a unit such as the 507th should be all-male because it typically moves close to combat, and, on March 23, drove right into it.
    "What they need to do is restore the single-gender basic training," she said.
    Mrs. Donnelly wants President Bush to rescind the decision to put women in combat.
    "It's not right to subject women to combat violence unnecessarily," she added.
    When asked about the subject last month, the president punted to the Pentagon.
    "The configuration of our force and who ought to be fighting where that's going to be up to the generals," he said. "That's how we run our business here in the White House. We set the strategy and we rely upon our military to make the judgments necessary to achieve the strategy."
    The White House also has no plans to change mixed-sex boot camps, which the Army and Navy initiated in the early 1990s. The Air Force has trained that way since the 1970s. The Marine Corps separates men and women for basic training.

    http://www.washtimes.com/national/20...2741-5014r.htm



    Sempers,

    Roger



  2. #2
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    Thank you for such an informative article. This particular subject is one I feel very strongly about. And because of that, I'll go ahead & apologize if my opinion affends anyone. But During Operation Iraqi Freedom, there were many proud moments to be had for women in the military, & for women in general. As the article stated, "American military women saw their most extensive combat action ever before seen in any major war or operation." That's so awesome! It's taken a really long time, but the doors are really starting to open for us. There is no reason why women shouldn't be allowed the same chances as men. Quite a few people would disagree with me on this. But not all. My man is a Marine & he just got back from overseas. He is with the First Marine Division & took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom. We have talked about this before & he shares my opinion. Yes, women in the military have come along way in recent years, but we're still not able to participate in ground combat...? Why not? This is our country as well. And we should be able to fight for it, right along side the men.



    Kate ~ SemperFiGirl79


  3. #3
    Cook and Admin Only hehehe i am going to get some heat for this one


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    This is my opinion, not my husband's views.....
    Hell, He has trouble, now controling me....LOL

    I don't speak much because, I feel this is a Marine Site....Your Home.....and I'm here to learn from Your Experiences.........but I need to speak......

    What I have learned by talking to Women Veterans and reading about their experiences.....
    I do believe most Women in the Service are comfortable doing Combat Support Roles and Piloting their Aircraft, but not fighting down in the trenches(foxholes) with the men....
    There is always going to be Women who would and could do the job just like a man.....

    Learning from Veteran Women, some near action some just listening and witnessing from their Brother Veterans, they have stated.......
    They would Not be able to Handle, the Mental, Emotional and Physical Demands expected during a war....and the Effects After of being in one.......

    I can say, I never served in any Armed Forces, but I do believe the Outside World see's things in a different light.......
    I have seen the effects it has done to Our Men and Women Who Served....

    My Dad....Korea, My Uncle.....Korea....sorry guys not Marines...., My Husband....Vietnam......,and the Marines on this Site......
    Now we have a new wave from Iraq........

    Nobody wants war......but I learned a important lesson.
    Could you Survive the Terrors, and the Traumtized Abuse that comes with war.....
    I'm not a coward but I don't believe we (Women) are not equiped to and reconize handling this situation at this time......

    I Do Feel For Our Men.......

    Just a Wife's View
    Ellie


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    It's common knowledge that women are physically weaker than men...everyone knows that. That's irritating enough! And because we're the "weaker sex" there will always be things out of our reach. I'm sorry but that just sucks!




  7. #7
    Life is, darlin'. Life is. We don't have to like it. I don't like the fact that some folks are smarter than I am, or better at some things than I am, but I accept it and I work within' the 'limitations' that I have and I move on. I acknowledge the other person's expertise and I accept the fact that I am better than others at the things that I am good at or skilled in. In the Marine Corps, we work with those individual strengths and weaknesses within our units and we are all stronger for it. It's teamwork, it's family, it's brotherhood, and we all cover each other's six. If you're a supply, intell, MP, admin, a winger MOS, or arty, we all do our jobs and we all cover each other's ass. Everyone's strengths are measured and we go where we're needed most.

    It is a life of service and sacrifice. Even the guy who cleaned the head or burned ****ters all day is one to be honored and respected. He did something needful so that the mission could be accomplished, whatever that mission was or is.


  8. #8

    Cool NOT AT THIS TIME...............

    If we have women in combat, in the same foxhole, trench and etc. the men will be over protective of the women............It is our nature and upbringing............We have been taught from day one to respect and protect our women. It will be the cause of more life uselessly lost in combat........Our way of thinking has to be changed, both by men and women...........We will not see it in our life time, but maybe down the road. Who knows what tomorrow may bring............SemperFiGirl79, "WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE, LEARN TO FACE REALITY."

    Nobody really likes being in combat, only a fool will tell that he does. I have been there, done that and still am paying for it today. Only those who have not been in combat, Glorify it and make a big deal of it.............

    The Drifter


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    Registered User Free Member kubba's Avatar
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    Thumbs up I am with the ladies 100%

    Ok guys this is my opinion and I am sticking to it.
    Yes men would tend to protect the women in there unit and I probably would feel that way no matter what.
    But look into the history books. Roger I am sure your lovely wife can find material on this.
    Women have been fighting along side men for ages. Look at how many may have given thiers live in the underground in the second world war. These women were helping to free thier own countries and help save our GI's who were trying to get back to thier own lines.
    They had no military training, yet managed to kick some serious butt.
    So, Kate if you want support you got it. I feel if the WM's or other women in the military have the training and are capable of doing the job let them. Some women would and some would not want to be in a fox hole. I say if they want give them the chance to prove them selves and I bet we would all be suprised.

    Stan


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    Stan,
    Thanks so much for your support! I appreciate that. I'm not in the military, and probably never will be. But I have many loved ones who are. And I couldn't be prouder of them. I truly believe that fighting for one's country is the most selfless act any man or woman can perform...it's got to be the most under-appreciated job in the world...besides being a parent.

    It's an issue that I feel strongly about...And I'm just grateful that someone else feels the same.

    Thanks again,
    Kate ~ SemperFiGirl79


  11. #11
    Registered User Free Member JChristin's Avatar
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    THANK YOU STAN

    This is an issue close to my heart. I respect everyone opinion on this subject. I support women in combat roles. I do remember meeting many male Marines who, in my opinion at the time, I wouldn't want to see in a foxhole. They didn't seem - in my opinion - capable of emotionally handling combat. In all honestly, I'm sure a few other Marines would admit they too meet one from time to time they kinda questioned in their mind. But I bet a few of them would of surprised me.

    Not all men are the same. Not all women are the same. If placed into a combat situation, I want to be working with only those who want to be there, not those who have to be there. I want those who have trained their cute little b utts off to do the finest jobs they know how. As for laying it back on women that men may feel a bit "protective" over them, that's not the fault of the woman. Don't lay that one on us women. Not a logical reason to hold women back from becoming the most they can.

    When I was a forest fire fighter in Montana, working out of the Southwestern office, a small crew and I were overwhelmed by a fire. We did a fast backfire of a grassy area, wet it down, and climbed into our "hot-potato" bags. I was the only woman, with six men. Not one man lifted a finger to help me. Thank you God. They only demonstrated the same concern for me as they did for each of the other crew members. Most of us were Marines.

    My hope is that only those who choose to be on the front lines will be on the front lines, period. Those who are trained and qualified should be there, period.

    I want to reinterate: I respect everyone's opinion on this issue and I am not "bashing" anyone's opinion. This is mine, and I'm sticking to it.

    semper fi,
    jchristin


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