Army’s ‘anything goes’ policies are unwise for women and men

September 2, 2009

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IN HER Aug. 26 op-ed “Women soldiers crucial to US mission,’’ Paula Broadwell missed important realities. We are proud of our military women serving in the Middle East, and no one questions their courage. But it is illegal under current regulations to assign female soldiers to direct ground combat units, such as the infantry and Special Forces. The physical demands and missions of Army and Marine infantry battalions, which attack the enemy with deliberate offensive action, have not changed. In this environment, gender-normed standards would needlessly endanger lives.

Women Marines and soldiers respect cultural sensitivities by performing female security checks. Assigning them to small units that train Iraqi and Afghan men in close combat skills would create cultural clashes of a different kind.

If policies regarding women really are working well, Army officials should comply with the law requiring notice to Congress well in advance of proposed regulation changes. Instead, the Army is redefining regulations unilaterally, operating with “anything goes’’ policies that are unwise for women and men alike.

Our brave women are doing everything asked of them, but officials are asking too much. Servicemen and servicewomen have a right to expect full compliance with valid regulations and the congressional notification law.

Elaine Donnelly
Livonia, Mich.
The writer is president of the Center for Military Readiness and a former member of the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces.

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