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Posted: 11/19/2001 6:24:50 AM EDT
[url]http://www.dallasnews.com/attack_on_america/dmn/stories/STORY.ea42ebe212.b0.af.0.a4.bcaa3.html[/url] The Dallas Morning News: Attack on America Women changing the face of military Roles have grown from Gulf War, with 15% of U.S. forces female 11/19/2001 By CAROLYN BARTA / The Dallas Morning News FORT WORTH – First Lt. Kandi Chapman is the first female pilot in the Texas Air Guard, but just one of a growing cadre of female pilots in today's military. She flies C-130 transport planes, and if the 136th Airlift Wing is activated at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, she could ferry personnel, supplies, or humanitarian goods across the Arab world. Despite different attitudes in Muslim cultures, American women in Operation Enduring Freedom are performing military jobs that were not allowed 10 years ago in Desert Storm. They're dropping bombs, flying fighter jets, and serving on combat ships. By the numbers The percentages of women by military branch, as of May: Air Force – 19 percent Army – 15 percent Navy – 14 percent Marine Corps – 6 percent But some analysts fear greater risk to military women in countries where women are afforded inferior status. Others wonder about tensions that their presence could create among allies such as Saudi Arabia. But women have become such an integral part of the military – now making up about 15 percent – that neither leaders nor the women consider their role out of the ordinary. In the Gulf War, women weren't in direct combat jobs but proved in support roles that they could handle combat situations and cultural differences, said veterans such as Lt. Chapman, who was then an AWACS computer operator in the Air Force. She said she is proud to see women flying different aircraft, including fighter jets and strike aircraft. "The training we do provides us with the essential elements to be good pilots, whether we're male or female," she said. Nobody will say how many women have been deployed to Central Asia in the war on terrorism. A Department of Defense spokesman said those numbers aren't tracked because 90 percent of military jobs are now open to women. "Women are such a part of the team now that it's unremarkable that women are flying combat missions over Afghanistan," Lt. James Cassella said. Restrictions lifted Thousands of new jobs opened to American military women after changes in federal law in 1993 and 1994 lifted restrictions in combat aviation and aboard Navy ships and the Pentagon modified its policy on exposure of women to hostile fire. Even so, the Air Force has only 16 female bomber pilots out of 759 and 43 female fighter pilots out of 3,500. The Navy has fewer than 10 female fighter aviators. And there are roles that women aren't permitted to fill in the war on terrorism. Defense policy prohibits women from being assigned to units that engage in direct ground combat, including infantry, field artillery, and armor. They are excluded from special operations units, such as the Rangers, Green Berets, and Delta Force troops.
Link Posted: 11/19/2001 6:27:40 AM EDT
Some say that is appropriate. But others say women should be permitted to serve wherever they meet qualifications. The services continue to grapple with questions about women in combat arms, along with the potential cultural clashes. The Gulf War resulted in major breakthroughs for women, but their presence in desert states "stirred things up," said Dr. John Spero, a former civilian strategic planner in the Pentagon who teaches political science at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass. "One of the reasons Osama bin Laden is so angry is because [U.S.] troops remained deployed in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War. It reinforces in his mind the infringement of the West. To his thinking, women in the military is an affront. It represents the disrespect of the West," he said. Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness, a military personnel issues policy group, fears that any military women in Afghanistan could "work against U.S. objectives." "I'm not excusing the attitude of that part of the world toward women, but changing that is not our mission. Female soldiers may be counterproductive through no fault of their own," she said. Afghan soldiers, she said, "will not respect men who take orders from women." 'More equal now' Some analysts say gender sensitivities were addressed in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War and continue to be. "Our military people on the ground over there are quite attuned to that and very careful," said Dr. Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University. Women credit their performance in the Gulf War with the policy changes that opened up new career fields. "We're treated more equal now because they've seen we can function in a wartime situation," said Staff Sgt. Patricia M. Alberter, 43, who was called up from the Army Reserves to serve in Saudi Arabia. "When we were Scudded, we had to don our mask and MOPP [chemical-protection] gear just like the males did. It wasn't a problem," said Sgt. Alberter, who now serves in the Texas Army National Guard in San Antonio. Maj. Gen. Marianne Mathewson-Chapman of St. Petersburg, Fla., the first female two-star general in the Army National Guard and deputy surgeon general, was sent to the Persian Gulf a decade ago to organize hospitals in five Muslim countries. "We tried to follow the customs the best we could. We tried not to offend anyone," she said. Saudi women are not allowed to drive, or bare their arms or heads in public. But American women in uniform – with sleeves rolled down and hat on – drove military vehicles. Outside military compounds, they also wore uniforms – or, in some places, were expected to wear an abaya , the traditional black robe women wear. Staff Sgt. Martha James, who maintains Army National Guard helicopters at the Dallas Army Aviation Support Facility in Grand Prairie, served five months in Saudi Arabia.
Link Posted: 11/19/2001 6:28:10 AM EDT
The Saudis, she said, "were very courteous as long as I had a weapon on me. They wanted us to go with their rules, and we did. We didn't have to cover ourselves. We weren't allowed in places women weren't allowed in. We never traveled without a male." Gulf War influence About 37,000 women and 500,000 men from the United States served in the Persian Gulf War. According to the Defense Department, 15 women were killed in hostile and nonhostile situations in Desert Storm, the war, and Desert Shield, the buildup. Two became prisoners. "Before the Gulf War, Americans were not ready for women to come home in body bags or to be taken captive. Both happened, and the American people didn't freak. And it didn't lessen the credibility of women with their comrades," said Dr. Linda De Pauw, a historian who founded the Minerva Center, which studies women in war. Others suggest there wasn't an outcry because of the low number of casualties in the war. Since then, military women have released bombs over Iraq and Kosovo and have enforced no-fly zones north and south of Baghdad. "We've shown as women that we can accomplish the same thing as our male counterparts as long as we're given the same training," said Technical Sgt. Michelle Kirkland, who enlisted in the Air Force 19 years ago and now serves in the D.C. Air National Guard. Women today go into their career fields knowing the risks, she said. "A lot of warfare now is technological," she said. "You don't always now have to send in foot soldiers. You used to have to have troops on the ground in places you now can see with infrared light." But Sgt. James said women are not physically suited to some jobs. "I've been in the military long enough to know there are jobs I can't do," she said. Opening more areas The Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services continues to try to open more areas to women, including submarines; Multiple Launch Rocket System crews, which operate at the rear of combat areas; and special-ops helicopter crews. "It is not our goal to push for women to be in the foxholes or the trenches or be allowed to fill every single slot," said Vickie McCall of Ogden, Utah, chairwoman of the committee of civilians that makes recommendations to the Pentagon. Female officers say combat jobs must be available to women so they can move to the highest ranks. Some conservative groups object. "You don't deploy people based on career decisions. The needs of the military come first," said Ms. Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness. She wants the Pentagon to resist "feminist pressures" to allow women in ground combat and has reservations about women in combat aviation – particularly in Afghanistan, where women are treated brutally by the Taliban. Dr. De Pauw, however, said: "They torture the men they capture. They sodomize and kill them. There's nothing they can do to the women that they don't do to men." Ms. McCall of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women acknowledges that physical limitations will keep women from some career fields, and she doesn't expect the American culture to support women in hand-to-hand combat. "We are suggesting that we utilize the talents of everyone where it makes sense," she said. "If it contributes to the mission, why not?" © 2001 DallasNews.com
Link Posted: 11/22/2001 6:45:07 PM EDT
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