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Navy Secretary wants Marine Corps open to women

SUMMARY: Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has publicly stated that women who meet the physical standards should be allowed to serve in front-line combat roles in the Marine Corps infantry and special operations. While Marine officials are yet to submit their recommendations to Mabus, who will have until October 1st to submit exemption requests (if any) to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. Mabus has publicly stated, “I do not see a reason for an exemption.” The one thing that Mabus is adamant about is keeping physical standards unchanged. General Joseph Dunford, the current Marine Corps Commandant will be making the recommendation shortly, and will then assume his new position as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Retiring Admiral Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, has also stated that the women who meet the training to become SEALs should be allowed to serve.

SOURCE: Meghann Myers, September 1 2015, ‘Navy Secretary wants Marine Corps Infantry open to women,’ NavyTimes, http://www.navytimes.com/story/military/pentagon/2015/09/01/secnav-no-reason-not-open-marine-infantry-women/71529246/

Study Finds that Masculine Military Culture Contributes to Culture of Assault

SUMMARY: Research from the Department of Veterans Affairs surveyed more than 20,000 men and women who served during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and found that 41% of women and 4% of men experienced sexual harassment during their time in the military. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 5 US women and 1 in 71 men (entire population) report being raped at some point in their lifetime. The Veterans Affairs research data was collated from a health survey of recent veterans during 2009 and 2011, however the follow-up clinical screenings conducted to assess the extent of possible sexual trauma was not used in the eventual publication. Dr Daniel Grossman, a separate researcher at IBIS Reproductive Health and the University of California stated, “we heard that certain aspects of military culture, including widespread sexism and the fact that men often outrank women, contributed to an environment that was conducive to sexual trauma.”

SOURCE: Lisa Rapaport, August 27 2015, ‘Two in Five military women endure sexual trauma during service,’Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/08/27/us-health-rape-military-idUSKCN0QW24P20150827

Were Women Asked to Lower their Standards in the Marines?

SUMMARY: Kyleanne Hunter is a former US Marine Officer and current Ph.D. candidate at the University of Denver, who writes about standards in the Marine Corps. Lieutenant Colonel Kate Germano the recently dismissed commander of the Fourth Battalion has commented on the highly political issue of physical standards in the US Forces. Germano claimed that lowering standards for women “led to an underlying sexism in the ranks, one that systematically kept women from reaching their full potential.” Her continued efforts for female candidates to meet “higher” standards caused great controversy, and she has now been removed as commander of the training battalion. The hyper-masculine Marine Corps culture is a palpable and significant hindrance for “integrated forces.” Hunter discusses her own experience in the Marine Corps, especially while training, where she held herself to the male physical standard in order to “prove that [she] belonged.” However, Hunter’s accomplishments were also marred by constant comments about her gender and the “institution that has conditioned Marines to expect less from its members who are born female.” Hunter goes on to claim, “combat does not care about your gender,” and notes the slow institutional shift in the US military that is challenging the present masculine culture.

SOURCE: Kyleanne Hunter, August 25 2015, ‘The cost of lower standards for Women in Marine Recruitment,’ The New York Times – At War Blog, http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/25/the-cost-of-lower-standards-for-women-in-marine-recruitment/  

Catherine Fox says the US Should Look to Australia When it Comes to Integrating Women Into Combat

SUMMARY: Catherine Fox, member of the Australian Defence Force’s General Equality Advisory Board, writes that the US military should use the lessons learnt from opening combat positions to women in the Australian Defence Force. In Australia the combat exclusion policy for women was removed in 2011 after Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick’s review. Merely opening the door for women is not enough, with other reforms focusing on “changing the culture through a range of measures.” Former Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith who spoke at my book launch, ‘Beyond the Band of Brothers: The US military and the myth that women can’t fight,’ stated that the Australian experience regarding culture change is gaining traction internationally. The continued momentum for the ADF needs to continue in order to debunk the myth of the band of brothers.

SOURCE: Catherine Fox, August 24 2015, ‘Women in Combat: The US can learn from the ADF,’ The Drum Australian Broadcasting Corporation, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-24/fox-women-in-combat/6720156

Lt. Col Kate Germano Speaks Out About Her Dismissal

SUMMARY: Lieutenant Colonel Kate Germano, former commanding officer of the Fourth Recruit Training Battalion in the Marine Corps at Parris Island, speaks out about her recent dismissal. Germano radically improved the physical test rates and tactical training of her recruits, especially female candidates. When asked about her time as a leader she says, “I believe that there was a specific group of Marines who were not receptive to change and who did not like my leadership style.” When her superiors recorded Germano’s “aggressive,” “blunt” and “direct” recruitment style as unsuitable, Germano responded, “in my career of 19 years, what I found was that my counterparts would not be told those things.” Chief of Staff on Parris Island, Colonel Jeffrey Fultz insists that “the investigation substantiated Lt Col Germano abused her authority and lacked the ability to maintain the working relationships required to effectively lead.”

SOURCE: Oliver Lazarus, ‘Former female Marine commander says she was fired for pushing women to the same standards as men,’ PRI.org, http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-08-22/former-female-marine-commander-says-she-was-fired-pushing-women-same-standards

New Army Chief of Staff Seems Lukewarm on Women in Combat

SUMMARY: New Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley is taking a very calculated approach to deciding whether to recommend any all-male combat roles remain closed to women. Milley is remaining quiet on his personal views, claiming to be “right on the line,” regarding this important decision. This will be one of the earliest decisions Milley makes in his capacity as Chief of staff, and may set an important trend for the rest of his term.

SOURCE: Robert Burns, August 22 2015, ‘New Army Chief ponders momentous decision on women in combat,’ Stars and Stripes, http://www.stripes.com/news/us/new-army-chief-ponders-momentous-decision-on-women-in-combat-1.364133  

Stop Saying Women Are More Prone to PTSD- it isn’t true

SUMMARY: A recent publication in the Journal of Psychiatric Research offers insight into the long-term mental health effects of military service for women and men. With over 2.7 million American veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars affected by PTSD, examining the disorder is essential for re-integration and support mechanisms for veterans. A study examines 2300 pairs of men and women deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan over seen years and found that 6.7% of women and 6.1% of men developed PTSD. This difference is apparently not “statistically significant.” This study debunks previous studies that allege that military women face a greater risk of PTSD, which generally has sampled data from the entire military population and not just combatants. This study also only focused on men and women with “no previous indications of PTSD,” hence the lower rate. The study author, Shira Maguen says “(Our study) bodes very well for women not only in leadership but also women in lower ranks… women have been doing this for many years now. What we should be focusing on is abilities and readiness.”

SOURCE: Robert Gebelhoff, August 21 2015, ‘Military women are at the same risk of PTSFD as men, study finds,’ The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/08/21/military-women-are-at-the-same-risk-of-ptsd-as-men-study-finds/

These Women Hope the Debate about Women in Combat is Over

SUMMARY: Former Lieutenant General David Barno and Dr Nora Bensahel, an academic at the School of International Service at American University, write about the recent Ranger graduation and the continuing debate about women in combat. Their main submission is that the “monumental milestone” should “end the debate about whether women are capable of serving in all combat positions.” With only 3% of all US military members earning the Ranger tab, the achievements of First Lieutenant Kristen Griest and First Lieutenant Shaye Haver truly shatter the “brass ceiling” and prove that women can meet the toughest standards.

SOURCE: David Barno and Nora Bensahel, August 20 2015, ‘Female Rangers Should End the Debate About Women in Combat,’ Time, http://time.com/4004571/female-rangers-should-end-the-debate-about-women-in-combat/

Does Attention to Female Rangers’ Graduation Rewrite Past Women out of Combat?

SUMMARY: While the achievements of First Lieutenant Kristen Griest and First Lieutenant Shaye Haver passing Ranger School demonstrate to the skeptics that women have the “military mettle” to serve in combat positions, women have been serving in combat (without the training) for years now. It is convenient political ammunition to use the graduation of the two female Ranger graduates to justify women’s participation in combat roles. However as Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak writes, it is a “little like making Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg go back and get their college degrees to prove they can make it in the marketplace.” The erasure of women’s combat narratives is commonplace, with Colonel Ellen Haring, one of two Army Reserve Officer’s who first sued the Defense Department and Army for barring women from combat units, claiming that “over 1000 women have been killed or injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

SOURCE: Petula Dvorak, August 20 2015, ‘Ranger School reality check: Women have been fighting – and dying- alongside combat units for years,’ The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/ranger-school-reality-check-women-have-been-fighting-and-dying-alongside-ranger-units-for-years/2015/08/20/1faf0a6c-4741-11e5-8ab4-c73967a143d3_story.html

After Two Women Graduate from Ranger School- what’s left to debate about women in combat?

SUMMARY: Anu Bhagwati, a former Marine Corps captain and founder of Service Women’s Action Network, writes, “women are ready for combat.” As women have already been serving in combat effectively for the last 13 years during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, women have the capabilities to fight. Since 2013 when the Pentagon announced the rescission of the combat exclusion policy, more than 100 women have passed the Marine Corps’ infantry school and two female officers have now passed Ranger school. Bhagwati creates a succinct analogy that encapsulates the current position of women in the US forces, “not allowing female Rangers to serve in Ranger regiments is like surviving the trial of medical school and being told that you can’t be a doctor.” The most important strategies that Bhagwati calls for are; gender-neutral physical fitness standards, all occupations opened without exceptions, and a fully integrated training program in the Marine Corps.

Jude Eden who joined the Marines in 2004 and is a female combat veteran of the Iraq war, provides a counter-view for the retention of combat exclusion for women. Eden cites higher injury rates, attrition rates and non-deployability as “risks compromising missions.” The focus on mission accomplishment seems to be from Eden’s personal experience on entry checkpoint duty in Fallujah in 2005, when insurgents targeted a convoy “almost certainly because they were transporting females.” This highly speculative assertion seems to be the basis of Eden’s protectionist stance on women in combat.

SOURCE: Anu Bhagwati, August 20 2015, ‘Retire the myths; Women are ready for combat,’ The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/08/20/should-women-serve-in-combat-roles/retire-the-myths-women-are-ready-for-combat
Jude Eden, August 20 2015, ‘Maintain the Combat Exclusion for Women in the Military,’ The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/08/20/should-women-serve-in-combat-roles/maintain-the-combat-exclusion-for-women-in-the-military

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