As the war in Iraq continues, abatement of the violence does not seem on the horizon. Oddly enough, while the US struggles to enlist soldiers to replenish the ranks, Capitol Hill Republicans are yet again making moves to reverse the direction of women’s rights as they reopen the debate of women in combat. In the recent defense authorization bill the house slid an amendment in that would ban women from both combat and combat support units.
While the left has outspokenly opposed many of the decisions that led up to and accumulated with regards to our actions in the middle east, especially Iraq, this new angle by conservatives to diminish the roles women have in in the military is an attack that can’t be overlooked.
Some interesting quotes have surfaced with regards to this issue from the would-be saviors of the delicate female soldiers. Representative Duncan Hunter of California (R), tells us that “It’s time for Congress to step in, provide some stability to the situation and draw a line of demarcation and ensure that women do not go into direct ground combat.”
Interestingly enough, this attempt is being met with a rather cold reception from the upper officials in the military itself, according to the Washington Post:
Army leaders strongly criticized the legislation in letters to Congress yesterday, saying women are performing “magnificently” in a wide range of units, working where battlefields have no clear front lines.
“The proposed amendment will cause confusion in the ranks, and will send the wrong signal to the brave young men and women fighting the Global War on Terrorism,” Gen. Richard A. Cody, the Army’s vice chief of staff, wrote in a letter delivered to the House yesterday. “This is not the time to create such confusion.”
He said that the Army is in “strict and full compliance with Department of Defense policies regarding women in combat,” but that it continues to “study” the role of women in light of an ongoing reorganization of Army units and the complex, changing nature of warfare. Cody wrote that Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, concurred with the letter, an identical version of which was sent to the House by Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey.
While the attempt in and of itself is an affront to the courageous women whom have served through out the Iraq War, all hope may not be lost according to MSNBC:
There are about 9,000 U.S. Army women in Iraq. Banning them from combat support units could further stress the Army, already stretched thin in Iraq.
“27 percent of the Army’s people are women right now, and it would devastate the Army,” says Capt. Lori Manning, retired from the Navy and now director of the Women in the Military Project.
Despite the debate, Pentagon officials are confident Congress will leave the current policy as is … and U.S. military women on the front lines.
More on the subject:
BBC: US Mulls Ban on Women In Combat