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Elaine Donnelly Interviewed on CNN Newsroom, January 8, 2013, on Women in Combat

January 9, 2013
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This interview with CNN Newsroom host Carol Costello was scheduled to discuss an AP story on women in land combat that was more accurate and fair than most:

CMR appreciates CNN's invitation to appear on the morning news program, and their recognition that there is more than one side to the issue of women in land combat. 

Additional comments:  Both Elaine Donnelly and interviewer Carol Costello agreed that women have served with distinction in our military.  However, the issue at hand now is whether or women should be assigned to direct ground combat--Army and Marine infantry and Special Operations Forces battalions that are trained to fight the enemy with deliberate offensive action under fire. 

Thirty years of studies and reports that have provided abundant evidence that "tip of the spear" infantry battalions should remain all male.  In that environment, women do not have an equal opportunity to survive, or to help fellow soldiers survive.  Detailed information has been compiled and posted here:

Physical Suitability of Women for Assignment to Combat and Heavy Work Military Occupational Specialties

During the course of the interview, Ms. Costello seemed surprised by certain facts.   For example:

1.  Are Women Being Discriminated Against in Promotions?

Ms. Costello seemed unaware that for many decades, military women have been promoted at rates equal to or faster than men.  A number of official reports and data released by Pentagon officials and the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS), on which Donnelly served, discredit the claim that women have limitations on their career prospects.  The following statement by a high-level Defense Department official below is one of the more recent acknowledgements of what the Pentagon has known for some time:

Pentagon Briefing, February 9, 2012, Vee Penrod, Assistan Secretary of Defense for Military Personnel Policy - Transcript  Excerpt:

"Q: A few months ago the -- I think it's the Military Leadership Diversity Commission [MLDC] came out with this report that said that -- recommended eliminating all the bans and saying that some of these restrictions were limiting women's ability to rise to senior levels in the department.  And I'm wondering if -- after the department's internal review, did you find that that was the case, that some of these restrictions are in fact limiting women's ability to be promoted into the senior levels of the department? Or do you, after reviewing, just disagree with that analysis?

MS. PENROD: What we did is we asked RAND to help us review the data, and we found that if you look at promotions in fields where women currently serve or are partially open, that there was no disadvantage in the promotion rate of women.  You look at the requirement for general officers in the Army, yes, most come from the combat arms; however, the career fields that women currently serve in, they do very well."

"Diversity metrics" are the proposed solution for demographic realities that are not the result of discrimination against women.

2.  Women's Career Goals

Ms. Costello seemed to be hearing for the first time that the career plans of military women result in fewer female three- or four-star generals and admirals.  Contrary to feminist theories of gender "equality," when women in the military stand at crossroads in their lives and careers − usually when eligible to promotion to O-6 (colonel or captain) rank after 21-23 years in uniform − family priorities often determine their willingness to make the additional sacrifices needed to achieve three- or four-star rank.  As reported in the New York Times, there are exceptions, but data and trends are determined by many individual choices, not just a few: 

 Excerpt:

"Of all the subjects that preoccupy women rising through the ranks, few are more pressing than how to balance motherhood with the all-consuming commitment required to become a general or an admiral. If the corporate world has a glass ceiling, women in the military say the Pentagon has a brass ceiling.

''The one thing in my whole career that has caused me the greatest stress and over which I have had the least control is the care of my children,'' Colonel Hoehne said.

"...Almost a quarter-century after the military academies first admitted women, the angst and frustration over how to raise children is proving to be a major obstacle for women on the road to military success.

"When the Army recently asked soldiers why they were leaving the service, women, regardless of their rank, put time away from their family as their overriding concern.  Men, on the other hand, were evenly divided between complaints about their pay, job security, possibilities of advancement and enjoyment of their work. Separation from their children was not foremost in their minds.

''It's the unnoticed secret of the military,'' said Charles Moskos, a military sociologist at Northwestern University. ''Senior women officers who are mothers are strained beyond the limits. Whether it is genetic or cultural, women are more bonded to their children than men.  They are caught in a double bind that men in the military don't recognize, much less understand.''

In recent years the services promoted two female officers to four-star rank, Gen. Ann Dunwoody, USA (Ret.); and Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger, USAF.

The argument that women cannot achieve the highest officer grade is unsupported, but if Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey really do want to pursue what former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen called "diversity as a strategic imperative," one or both of the Army's top generals should voluntarily surrender their seats to female officers who want their jobs.

3.  Who Speaks for Enlisted Women?

Even if there were evidence of barriers against high-level military women, this still would not be a good reason to repeal women's exemptions from direct ground combat (infantry) battalions.  The armed forces are not just another equal opportunity employer; they exist to defend the country.  Anyone who joins must follow orders, and although careers are important, the needs of the military must come first.

The great majority of women in the military, outnumbering female officers five to one, serve in the enlisted ranks.  They should not be ordered into infantry battalions just to achieve gender-based "diversity metrics" established by civilians in the Pentagon. 

Consider the enlisted woman next door − perhaps a single mom with two young children whose decision to join or stay in the military has been influenced by her need for medical benefits.  Why should she and thousands like her be forced into direct ground combat units where they do not have an equal opportunity to survive--just to contribute to gender-based "diversity metrics" that advance the careers of a few female officers?

Most of these women, who only want to serve their country to the best of their abilities without being treated like men, are not represented by civilian feminists in Congress and members of the Military Diversity Leadership Commission.  Pentagon officials who spoke at the briefing excerpted above cited the 2011 MLDC Report, which recommends that women's exemptions from direct ground combat be repealed in order to meet gender-based "diversity metrics" goals.  Implementation of this misguided recommendation would be harmful to military women, men, and the institution as a whole.

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