Tags: Group | Wants | Military | Straightened | Out

Group Wants Military Straightened Out

Wednesday, 13 October 2004 12:00 AM

At the 9th Annual CMR Celebration held at the National Guard Association of the United States building last week, Donnelly warned that much of what she had to say was for “background” only, a consideration owed to her sensitive sources.

Without divulging the anecdotal portions of Donnelly’s lively keynote address, her rhetorical questions alone are disturbing.

For instance, Donnelly wonders how much of the U.S.’s now infamous foot-dragging in the Tora Bora campaign to snatch Osama bin Laden from his headquarters 'hole in the mountain' terrain of Afghanistan was owing to concerns about training deficits among the female troops who would be in close support of combat operations and in harm’s way.

In today’s lean, mean Army, combat brigades are the ticket. Supporting these tips of the spear are forward support companies or FSGs, which are gender-integrated units. But such units are typically “co-located with land combat” enterprises that put female support troops like Pvt. Jessica Lynch at “risk of capture” or worse.

According to Donnelly, the solution being bandied about to solve this dilemma is to provide more “warrior training for everybody.” But problems emerge with such a program, says the CMR president, who notes that it might take three to four more weeks of expensive training to get everybody up to snuff.

Furthermore, the female soldiers may find the more rigorous warrior training “hazardous to their health.” Female troops are more prone to stress fracture injuries, she adds.

Donnelly, who says her credo is to “confront anyone who wants to make the military more difficult or dangerous,” described how Freedom of Information requests were her tool of choice in getting to the nitty-gritty.

She wants to know, for instance, what was the gender of those 10,000 reservists evacuated from Iraq last year? So far, officials are not saying, but Donnelly suspects there are plenty of women in the statistics.

“They’re calling up pregnant reservists!” she laments.

The Navy, says Donnelly, is the one service that is being the most candid about its gender issues. There have been 1,450 female sailors reassigned because of pregnancy. This figure, she notes is a 40 percent increase in the number of shipboard pregnancy evacuations over the last Gulf War.

Donnelly fumes when, despite all the issues, the services continue to march with policies that suggest that the solution rests with the government’s expenditure for yet more child care.

“The National Guard is not in the business of providing child care,” Donnelly argues.

The status quo, she notes, has resulted in some real messes – not the least of which was the case of the single mother of two who was recruited, and then married and picked up another two children from her husband’s first marriage.

The plot thickened when the husband (also in the military) got packed off to Iraq. In the end, there was a civilian court ordering the mom to stay with her kids and the Army demanding that she deploy overseas.

Not only is the policy of a firm quota for women anathema to an efficient military, Donnelly argues, it may not make very good sense from a social policy point of view. “We know less about the long-term effects of children being torn from their deployed parents than we know about the effects of Navy submarine sonar on the whales in the oceans.”

The Center for Military Readiness, an independent, non-partisan 501(c)(3) educational organization is an alliance of civilian, active duty and retired military people in all 50 states, and is the only organization that concentrates on military personnel issues full-time.

CMR has sponsored a nationwide “Americans for the Military” petition campaign, asking President George W. Bush to direct Defense Department officials to objectively review and revise problematic Clinton-era social policies in the military.

These include rules assigning women in or near land combat units, admittedly inefficient co-ed basic training, parent/child separation and family readiness issues, and gender-based recruiting quotas. “Since these policies were implemented administratively, they can be undone in the same way, without legislation,” Donnelly suggests.

Donnelly, a former member (1984-86) of the Pentagon’s Defense advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DaCOWITS), and the 1992 Presidential Commission on the assignment of Women in the armed Services, wonders at the source of pressures to get women more involved in combat roles.

“Feminist activists and their friends in the media keep insisting that military women strongly desire the ‘opportunity’ to serve in land combat units. But is that true? Opinion surveys done by the Army indicate that the majority of military women are strongly opposed to combat assignments - especially if it means being forced into combat on an ‘equal’ basis with men.”

Donnelly also notes that according to the General Accounting Office (GAO), quoting a study done by the Rand Corporation in 1998, only 10 percent of female privates and corporals agreed that “women should be treated exactly like men and serve in the combat arms just like men.”

The Army Research Institute (ARI), in a series of surveys since 1993, also found that most military women want nothing to do with combat assignments.

The CMR president is also up in arms about co-ed training:

“The administration disregarded the fact that a previous five-year test of co-ed basic training, ordered during the Jimmy Carter Administration, had to be ended early in the Reagan Administration because women were experiencing disproportionate injuries and male trainees were not being challenged enough.

“In 1997 an independent Defense Department commission headed by former Kansas Senator Nancy Kassebaum Baker, recommended unanimously that co-ed basic training be ended because it was ‘resulting in less discipline, less unit cohesion, and more distraction from training programs.’”

“The September 11 attack on America forced other priorities to the forefront. Still, it is disappointing that after more than a decade, nothing has been done to restore single-gender training to the Army.

“The Bush Administration has expressed its intent to transform the military into a faster, stronger, and more flexible force. It would make sense, therefore, to restore a training format that is known to be both efficient and effective in terms of military requirements.”

Gays in the Military is another issue that Donnelly finds has been mismanaged because of political correctness concerns:

“Congress rejected the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, but nonetheless it was adopted into Army regulations,” Donnelly told her audience.

“The activist groups are staying quiet these days,” she added.

Donnelly notes that both parties have voted down a return to the draft. Her simple solution: “The President needs to ask for more soldiers.”

Of course, she’s talking about young men ready to fill out those 20 combat brigades in Iraq. “If the President called, they would come,” Donnelly concluded.


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At the 9th Annual CMR Celebration held at the National Guard Association of the United States building last week, Donnelly warned that much of what she had to say was for "background" only, a consideration owed to her sensitive sources. Without divulging the anecdotal...
Wednesday, 13 October 2004 12:00 AM
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