Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Is It Time to Salute a Few Good Women?

As Jack Nicholson playing Colonel Jessep in A Few Good Men said, there is nothing on this earth sexier than a woman you have to salute in the morning. And, I would add, there would be nothing more humiliating for our enemies than getting their asses kicked by a one of our girls.

A new study released today recommends allowing women to serve in combat units in the U.S. military. It also calls for greater racial, ethnic, and gender diversity at the top of the officer corps. The ranks are quite diverse. The U.S. military is one of the greatest meritocracies in the world, up to a point. If you don't think diversity makes a difference in the defense of our nation, read the book "Lasting Valor" by Vernon Baker.

But the issue of women serving in combat is really separate from the issue of promotion opportunities for African-American and Hispanic officers. And it's not one size fits all for every service - the issue of women serving as combat fighter or bomber pilots is different from women serving in combat infantry platoons.

Take the two most famous or infamous women soldiers of the last decade. Jessica Lynch served in a supply clerk with a maintenance company. Lynndie England served in the military police. Both had close contact with the enemy, without being in "combat" units.

I happen to know one woman who is now a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force with a thirty year career (she was a year ahead of me in high school in Iowa). I think the closest she's been allowed to combat was serving in a refueling squadron during the Gulf War. She has trained a lot of pilots. She can lead. She does have a Combat Readiness Medal. But will she make General?

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