Ward: There is no front lineWritten by Lisa Renee Ward | | email@example.com
IEDs don’t care what sex you are. Neither do insurgents.
There was no magic protection afforded to Army Sgt. Zainah C. Creamer when she died Jan. 12 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked her unit with an improvised explosive device (IED).
Creamer met the same fate several male soldiers have in the Kandahar province, dying for her country.
District 28 Ohio House Rep. Connie Pillich said via telephone on March 2, “They are pulling women out of the motor pools; only the women soldiers can interact with the female population in Afghanistan. They are critical to the mission, but they are not getting the recognition.
“Many women are continuing to report their training is substandard. Their equipment is faulty or out-of-date, it’s ill-fitting or it arrives late.”
On March 1, Pillich, with State Representatives Teresa Fedor of District 47 and Sandra Williams of District 11, introduced a resolution calling for the end of rules that prohibit women from serving in U.S. military combat operations.
All three have military experience. Fedor served in the United States Air Force and Ohio Air National Guard for six and a half years. Pillich achieved the rank of Captain serving eight years in the United States Air Force. Williams served eight years in the United States Army Reserve.
Their resolution urges President Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Congress to end the ban on women serving in combat and to provide adequate, sufficient and practical training and equipment before deployment.
“There’s no front line,” Pillich said. “Our women are carrying guns, they are being shot, they are killing and being killed.”
In a March 1 news release, Fedor said, “Women should receive equal training, equipment and status as men in uniform. Women should also receive equal services stemming from their time in the military including treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Pentagon rules state that women may not be assigned to ground combat units. In 1994, Les Aspin, as secretary of defense, wrote as part of what is called the Aspin memo that: “Women shall be excluded from assignment to units below the brigade level whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground.”
More than 200,000 women have served in the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan with 132 female service members killed and 721 wounded as of January.
The Pentagon’s Military Leadership Diversity Commission released a draft report in January that recommended the gradual elimination of the ban, creating a level playing field for all qualified service members.
Groups like the Center for Military Readiness (CMR) oppose ending the ban, calling the commission’s report “the least credible, most divorced-from-reality document produced since the report of the Defense Department’s Comprehensive Review Working Group on gays in the military.”
CMR believes direct ground combat battalions should remain all-male, and has accused the Army of improper assignments of women in or near units required to be all-male, claiming that this places men in danger.
That ending the ban on women in combat changing the Selective Service System to one where women would also be required to register has been stated as an additional concern of CMR.
As the mother of four daughters and one son, I don’t see Selective Service registration as a huge issue. Some women would not qualify physically, should there ever be a draft, just as some men do not.
I do not believe a physically capable female should be prevented from joining a unit that could perform combat duties. Our current soldiers, male and female alike, should receive the same high-quality equipment, training and choices.
For decades, the arguments have been out there; females are the weaker sex, they can’t take pain, they’ll endanger the lives of the male soldiers, etc.
We have this mental image in our mind of our male soldiers being Ramboesque, ignoring the reality that there are male soldiers that would have just as much difficulty carrying a wounded comrade on their backs.
The pain argument is hard for me to take seriously after lung surgeries, C-sections and a recent hysterectomy. Yes, perhaps some of my sisters are frailer than I am, which is easily remedied through a volunteer military system.
Women are serving, putting their lives on the line for our country. “It’s so important for us as a state to stand up and admit our American women are in harm’s way and they deserve the same training and support,” Pillich said.
I agree and I salute them.
Lisa Renee Ward is Toledo Free Press Web editor. She operates the political blog GlassCityJungle.com.