Monday, December 7, 2015

Science, Not Gender, to Determine Military Jobs for Women

World War II poster for recruiting women to serve in the
U.S. Navy as a "WAVE" (Women Accepted for Volunteer
Emergency Service). At this time women in the Navy were
limited to only certain jobs. Next year, all military jobs
will be available to all women who qualify.
(Image Sources: , ""YOU'LL BE HAPPY TOO, AND FEEL SO PROUD SERVING AS A WAVE IN THE NAVY." - NARA - 516239" by Unknown or not provided - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons -,_AND_FEEL_SO_PROUD_SERVING_AS_A_WAVE_IN_THE_NAVY.%22_-_NARA_-_516239.jpg#/media/File:%22YOU%27LL_BE_HAPPY_TOO,_AND_FEEL_SO_PROUD_SERVING_AS_A_WAVE_IN_THE_NAVY.%22_-_NARA_-_516239.jpg )

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Last Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced that all combat roles in all U.S. military service branches would be open to women within 30 days. Instead of gender, science would be used to determine who would qualify for military jobs.

During the official announcement, Secretary Carter said, women will “be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars, and lead infantry soldiers into combat. They'll be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALS, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers and everything else that was previously open only to men."

Just before leaving his post as Defense Secretary almost three years ago, Leon Panetta had announced the lifting of the ban on women serving in combat roles in the military. The military services were instructed to study the issue and start an implementation plan by January of 2016.

In a television interview with Gwen Ifill, co-anchor of the PBS News Hour, Secretary Carter said, “We have an all-volunteer military, and in order to have as we have in the future what we have today, which is the finest fighting force the world has ever known, I need to be able to reach into the entirety of the American population. So I want to recruit from all pools.

“Now that doesn’t mean that you get to do whatever you want if you’re a female, any more than you get to do what you want if you’re a male. There are standards, physical, mental, emotional, and so forth associated with each of our specialties.”

Secretary Carter further said, “We’re focused here on mission effectiveness, protecting our country and protecting our people. That’s the principal reason to do this, and so we’re going to need to do it according to standards and no quotas.”

According to studies reviewed by the U.S. Department of Defense, three things are important for combat readiness: mental health, physical capability, and proper training. These studies show that men and women can, generally speaking, mentally handle the stress of military service equally.

Physically, on average, men do have the edge due to greater upper body strength. However, this is why women will be allowed to test for all military jobs, to find the select women who can meet the stringent physical requirements. Science and observation will be used to fill military jobs from now on. Proper training will ensure that no physical requirement is lessened for gender equality.

Secretary Carter denied a request from the Marine Corps for an exception to the new policy.

In a joint statement from U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) and U.S. Representative Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairmen of the Armed Services Committees in the Senate and the House of Representatives respectively, they said, "Secretary Carter's decision to open all combat positions to women will have a consequential impact on our service members and our military's warfighting capabilities." Although, Senator McCain had supported Secretary Panetta's lifting of the ban on women filling military jobs in 2013, but at that time he had urged that the military maintain their "rigorous physical standards."
Secretary Carter acknowledged that his Thursday decision could lead to more debate regarding whether women should be required to register for Selective Service, as men must do when they reach the age of 18. The U.S. military has been an all-volunteer force since 1973, however young men have still been required to register, in case the draft is ever reactivated in time of emergency.

The United States is not the only country opening military jobs to women. In October, India announced that women could now pilot fighter planes in the Indian Air Force. Martha McSally, now a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona, was the first female fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force in 1991.

Video: U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter Interviewed on the PBS News Hour:
Link >>>

"Women in Combat: A Perspective from Affective Science," Harvard University:
Link >>>

Related Blog Post ---

"Science & Lifting of Ban on Women in Combat." 2013 Jan. 27.

Link >>>

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

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