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Paul Hair is a national security expert and an author. He writes under his own name and as a ghostwriter. Connect with him at http://www.liberateliberty.com/. Contact him at paul@liberateliberty.com.

Monday, October 12, 2015

What’s Really Happening with Ranger School and Women in Combat? Part 2

U.S. Air Force Maj. Sandra O'Hern, North Atlantic Treaty Organization rule of
law field support officer, hands out winter clothes to a child during a visit to
the women and children section of Sarposa Prison Dec. 3, 2011.
The FET gathered items and handed them out the women and children at the
prison during their visit.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Martin. Courtesy DVIDS.)
Read Part 1

Female soldiers graduating from U.S. Army Ranger School is one of the latest pieces of news regarding the push to put women into combat. Advocates also claim that women have overwhelmingly proven they can successfully serve in combat positions by way of their history in the U.S. armed forces, including their service in Afghanistan and Iraq. But is this really true?

Kathleen Wilder and Kara Hultgreen are the focus of two major stories in the history of the DOD and the effort to put women into combat. Michael Fumento wrote about Wilder in 2007 for the Weekly Standard.

This is no theoretical assumption on his part. The only green beret ever awarded to a woman came from a judge. According to retired Special Forces officer Lt. Col. William E. Bailey, Cpt. Kathleen Wilder attended all three phases of Special Forces training in the summer of 1980, but during the final week ‘she and two male students were caught caching their rucksacks. That is, she and her compatriots were not carrying the rucksacks as required by the instructors, but hiding them to pick up at a later time and date in what is referred to as a Mission Support Site. All three were dropped from the course, ostensibly for cheating.’ The men accepted the outcome, Bailey has written, but Wilder got a lawyer who argued she was a victim of sex discrimination. The court agreed, ordering that she receive a course completion certificate. She never spent a day in an actual Special Forces unit, according to Bailey, but she continues to play off her reputation as ‘the nation’s only female Green Beret.’

And Elaine Donnelly wrote about Kara Hultgreen in the Chicago Tribune in 1995.

. . .One such pilot, Lt. Kara Hultgreen, was killed last year while attempting to land an F-14 on the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. . . . 
Lt. Hultgreen was an impressive and courageous woman, but the instructors gave her low scores and four signal-of-difficulty or unsatisfactory performance “downs”—one or two of which are frequently sufficient to end an aviation career. Two of Lt. Hultgreen’s downs highlighted mistakes similar to errors made during her fatal approach to the carrier.

Despite the stories of Wilder and Hultgreen, subsequent years saw advocates continually push to get women into all combat positions.

One of the current favorite justifications advocates use is to say that women have already served in combat in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. Yet anyone who has served in the armed forces knows this is a specious argument.

For instance, not only would other vets laugh at me, and likely deem me guilty of stolen valor, were I to say I have served in combat because I deployed to Iraq (and because I’m technically considered a combat veteran when it comes to being eligible for treatment from the VA) but there are vets who don’t even respect some troops’ Combat Action Badges, which is generally awarded to non-infantry troops who meet the DOD criteria for having served in combat. The reason some vets don’t respect some troops’ CAB is because they don’t like the loose standards the DOD has for awarding the CAB.

So these are important things to keep in mind when people say females have “already served in combat” in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. In fact, the statement is particularly devious when considering that even as it is true that some females have been in actual combat situations where enemies shot at them and they returned fire, combat can involve much more than being shot at and returning fire. Furthermore, when advocates use the already-served-in-combat argument they are being disingenuous in that they are attempting to include a lot more females with that statement than have truly been in a combat situation.

The above holds true even when advocates point to women who served in female engagement teams (FET) or cultural support teams (CST) as being the equivalent of combat troops or even special operations troops. And every now and then a significant military figure (who is almost always safely retired) will acknowledge this, with retired Admiral Eric Olson, former commander of U.S Special Operations Command, being one example.

While applauding the work of the Cultural Support Units, which he promoted as SOCOM commander, Olson urged caution in citing them as an example for the integration of women into combat roles. 
“I will just remind you that their role on target was to be women, not to be combat soldiers, and the first thing they did when they fast roped out of the first helicopter on the target was to take their helmet off, let their hair down and corral the women and children and have a very important mission on the target that only they could do,” Olson said.

So does society really want to accept the argument that, “Women have served, and are continuing to serve, in combat”? Do the facts actually support this?

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