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Posts Tagged ‘Col. McSally’

women fighter pilotsTwenty years ago on April 28, then Defense Secretary Les Aspin first authorized female pilots.  Women aviators have claimed a series of “firsts.”

Now, female pilots like retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally are offering advice to women’s advocates and the Pentagon on how best to integrate women into the all-male world of ground combat.

Col. McSally has a distinguished career.  Of course she was challenged.  Women don’t easily enter the “man’s world.”  But, said Col. McSally, “I have three older brothers.  I’m Irish.  I’m fiesty.  This wasn’t my first rodeo with these kinds of dynamics.”  Hurdles included the ready room where men were not used to women and proving that she could meet the same standards as men.  She sued the Defense Department to contest a policy that required women personnel to wear the Muslim head scarf while off-base in Saudi Arabia.  Col. McSally was awarded the Air Force’s Distinguished Flying Cross for her heroics in Iraq and Afghanistan.  (The Washington Times National Weekly, 4-1-2013)

I have never doubted that women are equal to men, but we are different.  I admire so many qualities about men but that doesn’t mean I covet their vocation or role.  I often prefer activities and conversations with men more than women just because I find our different abilities and perspectives so fascinating.  At the same time, I mourn what happens when men don’t have the help of a woman.

I believe in serving my country, but I know a woman does this in a myriad of ways.  And, the best way might not be to become one of the “brothers.”

As we prepare to integrate women into the all-male world of ground combat — infantry, armor and special forces operations, I am compelled to ask: Who is asking for this change in policy?  Is it the young women who may have to face the enemy?  Is it the men who have been taught to be chivalrous and respectful of sisters, mothers, girlfriends, and wives?  Is this departure from time-honored tradition for the good of the nation… or on behalf of “women’s rights?”  Is distraction on the gridiron or the battlefield a good thing?  As enemies grow all-male armies a million strong, will we regret tampering with our defense during a time of relative peace?

“The ancient tradition against the use of women in combat,” writes George Gilder, “embodies the deepest wisdom of the human race.  It expresses the most basic imperatives of group survival: a nation or tribe that allows the loss of large numbers of its young women runs the risk of becoming permanently depopulated.  The youthful years of women, far more than of men, are precious and irreplaceable.”

He continues, “Beyond this general imperative is the related need of every society to insure that male physical strength and aggressiveness are not directed against women . . . All civilized societies train their men to protect and defend women.  When these restraints break down . . . the group tends to disintegrate completely and even to become extinct . . . military services, however, are unanimous in asserting that successful use of women in battlefield units depends on men overcoming their natural impulses to treat women differently and more considerately.”  (Men and Marriage)

In all of my years, I have found great joy in working beside men and dialoguing with them.  I could linger for hours in a room of gentlemen.  But, there comes a time when I am wise to give them some space.  To let them breathe.  Work.  Communicate in their own way.  Do what they do the way they do it best.

I am usually happier for it.

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