ONTD Political

Military Women Sue Over "Combat Exclusion" Rule

5:58 pm - 11/29/2012


Their careers and opportunities have been limited by a policy, the suit states, which does not grant them the same recognition for their service as their male counterparts.



A group of female pilots, Marines and soldiers, gathered in San Francisco on Tuesday to announce the filing of a lawsuit challenging the military's policy of excluding women from many combat positions.

The four women plaintiffs, along with the Service Women's Action Network headquartered in New York, are suing the Department of Defense, and the suit names Defense Secretary Leon Panetta specifically. A representative at the DOD in Washington, D.C., was not immediately available for comment, but he did say it is common policy not to comment on ongoing litigation.

The American Civil Liberties Union is representing Marine 1st Lt. Colleen Farrell, Marine Reserves Capt. Zoe Bedell, Army Staff Sgt. Jennifer Hunt and Air Guard Major Mary Jennings Hegar in the suit, which was filed Tuesday afternoon in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco. The four women have all served in Afghanistan or Iraq, and two are Purple Heart recipients.

Their careers and opportunities have been limited by a policy, the suit states, which does not grant them the same recognition for their service as their male counterparts. The combat exclusion policy also makes it harder for them to do their jobs, the suit alleges.

Though the Pentagon is reforming the policies directed at servicewomen, the rules still bar women in the U.S. military from specific combat positions -- positions that are available to men.

"To this day, that same part of me doesn’t understand why someone’s gender would have any bearing at all on what job they ended up in," wrote Major Mary Jennings Hegar, who is based at Moffett Field and is a member of the U.S. Air National Guard. "I always thought that your skills, strengths, and interests would be better qualifiers. I remember watching the news when I was in high school and hearing that they were opening combat aircraft up to women for the first time. My first thought was, “Cool! What do I need to do to get one!” followed closely by my second thought, “What changed? Why weren’t we allowed to fly in combat before?”

Hegar has served three tours over two deployments to Afghanistan, and trained as a search and rescue pilot after serving five years in the Air Force. She was also awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross with a Valor Device for heroism while participating in an aerial mission near Kandahar Airfield in 2009.

According to the suit, women make up more than 14 percent of the 1.4 million active military personnel, yet the rule categorically excludes them from more than 200,000 positions, as well as from entire career fields. Consequently, the suit states, commanders are stymied in their ability to mobilize their troops effectively. In addition, servicewomen are:

- Denied training and recognition for their service
- Put at a disadvantage for promotions
- Prevented from competing for positions for which they have demonstrated their suitability and from advancing in rank.

"That’s the problem with the military’s combat exclusion policy," Hegar wrote." It makes it that much harder for people to see someone’s abilities, and instead reinforces stereotypes about gender. The policy creates the pervasive way of thinking in military and civilian populations that women can’t serve in combat roles, even in the face of the reality that servicewomen in all branches of the military are already fighting for their country alongside their male counterparts. They shoot, they return fire, they drag wounded comrades to safety and they engage with the enemy, and they have been doing this for years. They risk their lives for their country, and the combat exclusion policy does them a great disservice."

NBC Chicago
kristendotcom 30th-Nov-2012 06:21 am (UTC)
I made the mistake of reading the comments on an article about something similar to this a couple of weeks ago and almost every comment was how women were not physically capable of carrying a 200 pound man plus gear out of harms way so they shouldn't be allowed. One guy said women aren't capable of shooting someone else in their defense-something about being mothers or something, I don't remember, but all the arguments were dumb.
wikilobbying 30th-Nov-2012 07:31 am (UTC)
One guy said women aren't capable of shooting someone else in their defense-something about being mothers or something

lol k so i guess any woman or mother who's shot someone to defend themselves or someone else would blow their mind.
pleasure_past 30th-Nov-2012 09:26 am (UTC)
how women were not physically capable of carrying a 200 pound man plus gear out of harms way

Uuuuuuuuuugh. This got brought up in one of my classes the other day and NO. SHUT THE FUCK UP. I've known 5'1 fifteen-year-old girls who could carry a 200 pound man + gear out of harms way. I saw her do it. (Well, not away from any actual harm, thankfully, but I saw her carry men and gear that was far heavier than these sexist assholes think she should be able to lift.) She was in Marine Corps Jr.ROTC and, go figure, the United States military actually fucking trains its soldiers, including female ones. Hell, including short fifteen-year-old girls who aren't even officially enlisted but are just thinking about enlisting someday. And there is really no reason why a woman with the proper physical conditioning shouldn't be able to carry 200-pound men + gear.

One guy said women aren't capable of shooting someone else in their defense-

Lol wut. Someone needs to read the news more or at the very least watch more Deadly Women. Plenty of mothers have no qualms about killing their own children, let alone someone else's, and some of the murders are quite a bit more gruesome than just shooting them.
lafinjack 30th-Nov-2012 04:54 pm (UTC)
...the United States military actually fucking trains its soldiers, including female ones.

GET.

OUT.
kristendotcom 30th-Nov-2012 10:05 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I wish I could remember the exact wording the douche bag used-it was something related to women being too soft hearted-blah blah bah.

Yeah not to mention I'm sure there are some males who aren't physically capable of dragging 200 pounds around either, but those guys would still have to go through training if they wanted to join the military or would just not make it through, exactly like everyone else so its just such a stupid argument.
belleweather 1st-Dec-2012 01:37 am (UTC)
Yeah, this. I was at a seminar with a bunch of Military guys right before the DADT repeal went down. My impression, honestly, is that as much as these guys are badasses, they're whiny fucking badasses. Like, they were going to do what they were told, no question. But man where they ever going to bitch about it while they got there. I see all the dumb arguments they're now making about women in combat as a similar deal -- hostile to change.
johnjie 30th-Nov-2012 10:24 am (UTC)
Combat exclusion makes no sense. If you have chosen to join the army and are capable of performing the tasks set out in training, then you should be allowed to see combat, no matter what your gender and/or sex.
tiddlywinks103 30th-Nov-2012 10:29 am (UTC)
I want to hear the official rebuttal from the Department of Defense. I want to see how they will try to make this about anything other stupid, traditionalist sexism.
bettalaylow I can't believe it's 2012 and we're still30th-Nov-2012 01:33 pm (UTC)
having this discussion. The US military would rather allow criminals and skinheads in combat than allow women.

http://www.alternet.org/books/dark-secret-us-military-neo-nazis-and-criminals-are-filling-its-ranks
mary_pickforded Re: I can't believe it's 2012 and we're still30th-Nov-2012 07:48 pm (UTC)
though I know my reasoning isn't the reasoning the military is using, I'd rather have criminals and skinheads dying in combat than the women they don't want to include.
kaelstra 30th-Nov-2012 03:20 pm (UTC)
Combat exclusion almost always boils down to men being uncomfortable with women doing something (combat, killing people, doing something outside of their gender "normative", not women being uncomfortable doing something.

It's a bullshit policy. If a woman wants to serve in combat, the she damn well should be allowed to serve her country how she sees fit. Not how a bunch of men who think she'll mess up because she's a girl, and girls are better mothers than fighters, or whatever other bullshit stereotype excuse they can think of.
recorded 30th-Nov-2012 07:21 pm (UTC)
Combat exclusion almost always boils down to men being uncomfortable with women doing something (combat, killing people, doing something outside of their gender "normative", not women being uncomfortable doing something.

THIS.
vulturoso 30th-Nov-2012 09:41 pm (UTC)
TW, I guess, but...

I had always heard that women weren't allowed in combat because of the risk of becoming a POW and, um, the rape that would happen. :(

Was anyone else told the same thing? Seems a silly reason now, since all torture is pretty universally terrible for everyone.
miss_makiba 30th-Nov-2012 10:02 pm (UTC)
I've never heard that, and it is a bullshit excuse anyway. Rape isn't something that only happens to women--if that's the line they're using, they should be excluding men, because women are used to dealing with the possibility of rape in day to day life and would be more prepared.

(This is not an argument that I believe or is in anyway accurate, but bullshit deserves bullshit.)
kristendotcom 30th-Nov-2012 10:11 pm (UTC)
Someone in my high school mentioned this as the reason why women weren't allowed. I have a very clear memory of him saying "Sorry we don't want you to be raped" when someone had brought the subject up. But considering that there is a statistic that says that women are more likely to be raped by their fellow soldiers than die in combat I think the worry is a little misplaced. Not to mention that women are fully capable of making the decision to put themselves in that situation on their own and don't need men to do it for them.
wikilobbying 1st-Dec-2012 06:48 am (UTC)
that's an interest pile of bullshit of an excuse given how many women in the military have been sexually assaulted by men in the same u.s. military they're serving in.
badgerly 1st-Dec-2012 01:47 pm (UTC)
Both men and women POW can get raped. Only women can get pregnant. I think that's the bigger issue with, for people in the anti-women-in-combat sector, since fetuses are more important than the women who carry them, don't you know. And servicewomen and abortions have a pretty rocky history. I believe it was only this year that a bill passed to remove the military abortion ban.
jazzypom yeah, I've heard that too2nd-Dec-2012 11:44 am (UTC)
As well as what if she got pregnant? How would the child be treated in terms of citizenship (I live in Britain, and I don't think women are allowed to go for certain positions either). It was a doozy, the argument, and I do remember a Tory female politician (this might have been back in 2000) making the case for women not 'go there'.
miss_makiba 30th-Nov-2012 10:05 pm (UTC)
I hope they win. More than anything. I mean, I've heard it all up to this point--that women are more gentle by nature and can't be soldiers, that men would let their protective instincts get the better of them and die protecting female soldiers, that women are physically weaker no matter what, that women can't aim/shoot as well--and every damn excuse boils down to "sexism." There are no grounds for this exclusion anymore than there were grounds for the "no women on submarines" rule that was struck down not too many years ago.

STOP FIGHTING PROGRESS, MILITARY.
yeats 30th-Nov-2012 10:19 pm (UTC)
i have no interest in ever serving, but i hope these women get that they're seeking.
d00ditsemily 30th-Nov-2012 10:38 pm (UTC)
Good for them. When I went to MEPS to try to get into the Navy, I was told I could get basically any job I wanted. I wanted the dental job but they told me they didn't have any slots, except the man next to me with a lower score got the job. I was told it was a 'combat/frontline' job so I couldn't have it because I was a female, so I said no thanks to all of it.

especially since before my recruiter had me not eat anything for 2 days prior and drink things that would 'flush' out my system so I could pass weight.

Edited at 2012-11-30 10:39 pm (UTC)
nekomika 30th-Nov-2012 11:05 pm (UTC)
i have reservations about this.

men on the combat lines already get such piss poor treatment upon their return home. my gut says women on the front lines, especially looking at the way most branches of the mili treat the genders in general, would get even less support than men and that is not something i want to see happening.

i don't think the combat ban is fair, my mother certainly didn't think it was fair when she did her 10 years of service, but if they're not going to support them, when they already don't support them, i'm worried that the mental health issues our female vets face will get worse. much much worse.

that being said, i don't think the solution is to disallow women from fighting on the front lines.

(edit: sorry for the lack of shift, it isn't working on my keyboard tonight)

Edited at 2012-11-30 11:08 pm (UTC)
squeeful 1st-Dec-2012 02:46 am (UTC)
Except the nature of war has changed that is there is, really, no job in an active military zone that does NOT see some sort of combat. Even if they aren't "officially" in a combat position, you can bet your ass a lot of the female soldiers are seeing nearly as much danger and combat situations as the male ones. But, because they are technically banned from combat, they don't receive as much support as the men. Lifting the ban would likely see an INCREASE in support for female soldiers.
badgerly 1st-Dec-2012 01:47 pm (UTC)
IA with this whole comment. With the addition that no one really receives the amount of support for post-deployment mental health issues as they should. Partly because there's a huge stigma regarding actually asking for help. If you look "weak" or unstable, you are potentially non-deployable and non-promotable and that can really affect career advancement. It's a really messed up and unfortunate system all around. Military suicide rates are incredible right now, and yet people are still super hesitant to avail themselves to the (limited) treatment that is available.

Edited at 2012-12-01 01:53 pm (UTC)
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