Women in the Workplace

Now, I use the term workplace losly here, because in this instance I would like the workplace to represent a military combat role. Recently congress voted to allow women in combat roles in the military, a huge step towards equality and women’s rights in general. This I fear is not as good of an idea as I wish it was. Let me preface my opinion with some facts, first and most importantly; I have never been in combat so all opinions are going to be based on my own speculations as well as opinions of others who have been in the war in Iraq. Their opinions come from different time periods, different branches of the armed forces, and different positions therein.

My father was a Navy Podiatrist aboard the USS Guam in the first Persian Gulf war, which is about as exciting as it sounds. He sat on a boat in the middle of the water, occasionally going ashore to support Marine activity, but never once performing any kind of medical action, aside from treating the occasional blister. My story doesn’t come from him in that he was not personally involved, but rather something that happened while he was there. Kara Hultgreen, a young Lieutenant was  selected as one of the first female pilots to go through the Navy’s F-14 Tomcat Combat Training in the early 90’s. She had been fast tracked through the school, riding the momentum of the bill just passed. She was qualified for carrier operations, but hardly. And on October 25th, a short 18 months after graduating combat school, she was killed on approach for a carrier landing. Accidents happen, its an inevitability, but this was not an accident, rather a mistake. On approach one of the two engines aboard the Tomcat Fighter Jet “Flamed Out.” Instead of selecting a mild increase in power and opposite rudder she panicked, slamming the throttle into afterburner and turning into the flame out. At such a low altitude the aircraft was underwater before she could have ejected. These are the kinds of mistakes that flight schools drill into their students not to make. The kind of procedure that is gone over many many times, but were not gone over with her. Not to say her instructors showed preferential or prejudicial treatment, but rather her chain of command fast tracking her, so as to have the first female certified combat pilot, and it cost her her life. This of course sent shockwaves through the Navy (where my father fits in) and left everyone with a bad taste in their mouths.

I’m not afraid of women dying in combat, its a reality of it, people die. I do fear for a woman captured, for she faces a far greater threat than any man taken prisoner.

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One Response to Women in the Workplace

  1. I can’t tell from this post if you think that women should be barred from combat roles or not. But it is reasonable to fear that women may face a more terrible experience as a prisoner of war than a man might.

    It’s important to note however that a woman does not need to be in a combat role to become a POW. I seem to recall from the second Iraq war there was a celebrated rescue of a woman who was taken prisoner and her job was moving gear and supplies. Despite the fact that she carried gun, got shot at, returned fire, and survived being taken prisoner for the purposes how her military career this does not “count” as combat.

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