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Royal Military College facing another sexual assault allegation

SUMMARY: The military police are investigating an incident of sexual assault that occurred on May 13th after a third party complainant brought it to their attention. Two other cadets face court martial on other sexual assault claims. In once case, Officer Cadet J.C. Scott cadet was found guilty of the lesser offence of assault against two female cadets. The timing of these cases is difficult for the college following shocking results of an external review of sexual misconduct in the military. The Deschamps Report claimed that the misogynistic and sexualised culture in the Canadian Forces allows harassment and abuse to be overlooked, underreported and poorly understood.

SOURCE: James Cudmore, May 27 2015, ‘Royal Military College facing new cadet assault allegation,’ CBC News, http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/royal-military-college-facing-new-cadet-assault-allegation-1.3089634        

Navy Claims it Wants Gender Neutral Standards…but what does that mean?

SUMMARY: Ray Mabus, Navy Secretary, stated in an address in 2013 that ‘I personally believe we ought to have one standard for both sexes.’ A major concern about integrating women into the Navy is whether qualification standards will need to be amended for women. The navy is studying current standards to determine their relevance to occupational specifications. Mabus recently stated, ‘First we’re going to make sure there are standards, second that they’re gender neutral and third that they have something to do with the job.’

SOURCE: Meghann Myers, May 27 2015, ‘ SECNAV: SEALs should open to women under fair standards,’ Navy Times, http://www.navytimes.com/story/military/careers/navy/2015/05/27/navy-secretary-ray-mabus-women-female-seal-navy-combat-exclusion/27653965/      

PART 3/3 Experts Begin to Weigh in On Physical Standards in the Marine’s Gender Study

SUMMARY: This is the third part of Hodge-Seck’s coverage on the Marine’s gender study. The infantry experiment was designed to produce gender-neutral standards prior to integrating women into ground combat roles. Lead researcher Paul Johnson will compile data painstakingly derived from the assessments and trials conducted on 300 trial volunteers. One of the key findings so far is that input from professional civilian athletic trainers reduce injury-recovery times and helps the Corps improve training for combat missions. Athletic trainers have updated knowledge on exercise science that can potentially alter standards testing. For example, the sit-up tests do not have any application to skills that Marines use in combat. Andy Calise, a former infantryman who is now a full-time athletic trainer suggests that tailoring a training program to the specific military occupational specialities and physical requirements for the Marines should focus on a foundation of strength training and deadlifts, to increase core strength and balance. The Corps’ infantry experience has the potential to reconceptualise standards testing to create an overall stronger force. 

SOURCE: Hope Hodge-Seck, May 26 2015, ‘Corps’ Infantry Experiment could create a stronger force,’ Marine Corps Times, http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/longform/military/2015/05/27/marines-infantry-experiment-creates-stornger-total-force/27643193/    

Are Women’s Combat Roles in IDF Exaggerated?

SUMMARY: Military traditionalists suggest that women’s combat roles in the IDF are exaggerated and are far more restrictive that the roles envisioned by advocates in the US who propose removing the combat exclusion for women, with no exceptions. Israeli women are not in direct combat special operations such as the Green Berets, nor are they in front-line combat brigades and in a recent decision, they are excluded from main bank tanks. In the infantry, the majority of Israel’s female combat soldiers are combined to the Caracal and Lions of Jordan battalions, which are assigned to guard the borders with Egypt and Jordan; a few Female soldiers are also assigned to special forces K-9 unit if a specific mission requires them. Despite these restrictions, ‘nearly 50% of Israel’s lieutenants and captains are women’ according to the IDF. While traditionalists are jumping on these ‘limitations’ to argue against women in combat in the US, there are many lessons to take from the IDF when it comes to integration and generating cohesion. 

SOURCE: Rowan Scarborough, May 25 2015, ‘Israeli women’ combat roles exaggerated, military traditionalists say,’ Washington Times, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/may/25/womens-combat-roles-in-israel-defense-forces-exagg/?page=all      

Plaintiff in lawsuit against combat exclusion for women speaks out

SUMMARY: Major Mary Jennings Hegar was wounded in combat action while in Afghanistan during 2009, and was awarded with a Purple Heart. Hegar is one of four plaintiffs, all of whom served in Iraq or Afghanistan, that challenged the constitutionality of the US military’s policy that banned women from combat back in 2012 (prior to the DoD repealing the policy). The lawsuit originally noted, ‘Major Hegar is barred categorically by the (DoD’s) current combat exclusion policy and practice from competing for certain combat positions solely because of her gender. If she were not barred from those positions, Major Hegar would seek to cross-train for a ground combat position, which would be advantageous for her career.’ After DoD repealed this combat exclusion policy, the lawsuit claimed that the restricted opportunities afforded to women inhibit career advancements and denies women the ‘component of full citizenship: serving on equal footing in the military defense of our nation.’ Hegar is now a publicly vocal advocate for the repeal of this policy with no exceptions, stating ‘Gender is not predictive of a warrior spirit.’

SOURCE: Virginia Black, May 25 2015, ‘Wife, mother, Purple Heart recipient tries to break down barriers,’ South Bend Tribune: Local, http://www.southbendtribune.com/news/local/wife-mother-purple-heart-recipient-tries-to-break-down-barriers/article_418d9cf2-14f1-56d7-99fe-b57d8d748a96.html  

Women describe struggles with gender roles in US Military

SUMMARY: It is not a new revelation that female soldiers face particular hardships in the ‘intensely male world of the Unites States military.’ Female soldiers are more likely to report depressive symptoms, 10 times more likely to report serious sexual harassment compared to men. This piece by the New York Times chronicles quotes from various women about their experiences in the US military. Out of all the 150 submissions, Talya Minsber has chosen quotes that reflect the masculine pressures of the military. Sonia Kendrick for example says she ‘eliminated many so-called feminine characteristics so as not to draw attention to myself,’ and Diana Kramer also claims that while her male counterparts were presumed capable, ‘it was often assumed that I was incompetent until I proved I was not.’ Some key quotes are below:

  • “Fighting the notion that women do not belong in the military is stressful. A woman’s individual actions are considered as a reflection of all females. No successful female sailor wants to be ‘that woman.’” – Charlene Basden was deployed on the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
  • At one point, my supervisor was so concerned that he suggested that I wear my belt backward so that a rapist would have more difficulty pulling down my pants. As a female officer, this inability to do the simplest of things for fear of being raped was demeaning and demoralizing.” – Vanessa M. Remus was deployed to Iraq in 2010-11 with the California Army National Guard to provide logistics support for southern Iraq


SOURCE: Talya Minsber, May 24 2015, ‘Women Describe Their Struggles With Gender Roles in Military,’ The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/25/health/women-describe-their-struggles-with-gender-roles-in-military.html?_r=1  

Is the US Military ready to accommodate Breastfeeding Soldiers?

SUMMARY: In the US, the Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide a reasonable break-time for nursing mothers and a private place for mothers to pump, but not in the military workplace. Following a long history of ignoring or being afraid of women’s bodies, the US Army has forced many servicewomen shared stories of pumping in the bathroom or their car, as public breastfeeding was restricted but no other facilities were available. Representative Niki Tsongas (Democrat of Massachusetts) is a member of the Armed Services Committee, recently sponsored a provision in a defense bill that would require the Army to establish a comprehensive policy toward breastfeeding. Her amendment to the bill, H.R. 1735, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, specifies, ‘Restrooms should not be considered an appropriate location.’ The Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy and Coast Guard have different regulations about time of pumping breaks but all require private rooms, it’s time the Army comes on board. Tsongas claims, ‘There are many ways in which the services are not recognising the ever growing diversity of their members.’ There is an insidious and pernicious idea that women in the military who have children are ‘weak,’ which perpetuates the idea that ‘male soldiers are allowed to have families, but female soldiers are not.’

SOURCE: Emily Greenhouse, May 20 2015, ‘Is the U.S. Military ready to Accommodate breastfeeding soldiers?’ Bloomberg Politics, http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-05-20/is-the-u-s-military-ready-to-accommodate-breastfeeding-soldiers-

Center for Military Readiness Ignores Research and Begs Congress to Roll Back Gains on Integrating Women Into Combat Roles

SUMMARY: Defying all logic, former top military leaders are asking Congress to exercise its oversight over the integration of women into combat. The Center for Military Readiness, a conservative think tank that opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and has railed against the integration of women into combat roles for years, wrote  a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees containing concerns from former military officials that women in combat will adversely effect combat readiness and lower standards. The letter also asked the committee members to review all research findings from the Marine Corps and Army Ranger experiments before implementing any policies that permit women in combat. The letter asking lawmakers to look closely at problems with gender integration is signed by nearly 100 supporters, including Gen. Harry Shelton, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff; Gen. Walter Boomer, the former assistant commandant of the Marine Corps; and Adm. Thomas Hayward, the former chief of naval operations.

SOURCE: Jacqueline Klimas, May 21 2015, ‘Former military leaders ask for better Congressional oversight of women in combat,’ Washington Times, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/may/21/ex-military-leaders-better-oversight-women-combat/

Canadian Royal Military College Cadets Disgrace Themselves and the CDF with Outdated (and illegal) Attitudes About Rape

SUMMARY: Julia Lalonde presented a sexual-assault prevention lecture at the Royal Military College, Canada, to a resistant and hostile audience. Lalonde has spear-headed a campaign called, Draw-The-Line.ca, which teaches that consent cannot be given when someone is incapacited, for example when intoxicated. Several cadets during the session suggested that, ‘women who drink too much are enabling their own rape.’ The cadets actively ignored, whistled and laughed at Lalonde, as one cadet said, ‘all respect for the presenter was lost and she struggled to carry on with the presentation.’ Moreover, the institution’s response has demonstrated the pervasive and pernicious culture that ignores responsibility for sexual misconduct. When Lalonde complained about the experience on twitter, there was a massive backlash from cadets that participated in the session. After officially complaining to RMC, the school’s commandant Brigadier-General Al Meinzinger only apologized after five months, further stating that disciplinary action could not be taken on any individual cadets as they could not be identified.

SOURCE: James Cudmore, May 22 2015, ‘Royal Military College cadets struggled with questions of sexual consent: Educator,’ CBC News, http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/royal-military-college-cadets-struggled-with-questions-of-sexual-consent-educator-1.3083831

US Air Force testing gender-neutral standards

SUMMARY: The Air Force began placing women in combat aircraft in 1993. The Air Force currently has more than 99 per cent of positions open to women. Only Special Tactics, Combat Control, Special Operations Weahth, Combat Rescue, Pararescue and Tactical Air Control positions are left to be opened to women. These six positions will open 4,350 jobs across the total force of 600,000 airmen. Dr Neal Baumgartner is heading the three-part study to develop new standards for testing eligibility for these positions. The study examines the current standards at joint base San Antonio-Lackland to determine the gender-neutral standards according to occupational relevance. Once the study is completed, Dr. Baumgartner will submit the results to the Air Force at the end of July.

SOURCE: Bailey McGowan, May 23 2015, ‘Air Force testing gender-neutral standards in San Antonio, Air Force Times, http://www.airforcetimes.com/story/military/2015/05/23/air-force-testing-gender-neutral-standards-in-san-antonio/27848207/