Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Women Soldiers

I was at the VA here in San Antonio the other day and got into a heated discussion about all things political with several veterans. It made for interesting discourse. One thing that stuck out in the conversation for me was a Vietnam era vet who said the biggest mistake the military has made is to let "women serve in combat." I pointed out to him that women are specifically banned from serving in combat and the women in combat zones are there because they are assigned, just like the men, to do their jobs in this, a war unlike previous wars for America. We are in a war/occupation in an urban area; a city of 13 million people in the midst of a civil war. He nodded and shut up.

Amy Goodman in honor of International Women's Day, has a great piece up about women soldiers in the war zone. Women soldiers are like men soldiers in many ways; they take many of the same risks as their male counterparts but have the added danger of rape and abuse at their duty stations. This is a little discussed casualty of war. Please take special note of the soldier Sgt. Eli Painted Crow, 22 year veteran USA,(ret.) Sgt. Painted Crow is Native American and spoke with Amy in this interview.
Amy Goodman: You said that the military referred to Iraq as "Indian Country".
Sgt. Painted Crow: What they said in the briefing, they called 'enemy territory' Indian Country.
Give Democracy Now! A listen and weigh in about what you think.


op99 said...

Wow, what an interview.

HELEN BENEDICT: ... Originally, I met her and another young soldier, and the first thing they said to me was, there are only three things the men let you be in the military: a bitch, a ho or a dyke.

This persists because it's tolerated from the top down. I imagine the top commanders were coming up in the ranks during the period when there was fierce resentment of women in the ranks, period.

Nothing will be done now, because they are in too much of a precarious position trying to keep bodies available to throw into Iraq, and can't afford to court martial rapists and harassers.

It's disgusting.

N. said...

Hi Hope. I am confused:

So the women are banned from being in combat, YET, in Iraq war they are assigned to compat jobs? Or is the whole Iraq an unofficial combat zone?

Another question, have any female US soldiers been violated in Iraq or it's one of those matters that's kept hush hush?

And the last one, what will happen if a soldier refuses to go to war?

HopeSpringsATurtle said...

N. All women servicepersons are banned from "combat", for example, a woman is not allowed to have the job of infantryman, but if you are part of a convoy and your job is supply, you have to go through "combat zones" and of course you carry a gun. This urban war is unlike prior wars where there was a "front" and men in uniforms faced off. This is a war of civilians and children and women because this was an invasion and is now an occupation. Women soldiers (and sailors and marines and airmen) are never assigned to "combat" jobs, it just turns out that like you say, virtually every place in Iraq is a combat zone, so women are at risk.

The number of women in Iraq and service-wide that are abused, harassed and raped--nobody knows. And I guarantee, nobody will find out the real numbers. This is a crime that oftentimes when reported in the military is covered-up. Just another shocking truth that if not in denial, you know it's been going on and will continue until our mores change.

If a soldier refuse to go to war, he/she will be arrested by the military police and have to go through a court-martial. The initial charge when you disobey a direct order, is just that "disobeying a direct order", then they just pile on. There are many different things someone could be charged with under the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice); It is the law of the military and everyone military is subject to it.
If you want to know more check the website Thank You Lt.. it is Ehren Watada's site. He is the highest ranking officer to refuse to go to Iraq, which calls "An illegal war".

My last word is that this war IS illegal and has been prosecuted by buffoons. Some of them in the military, ass-kissers who want promotions, but most of the mistakes have been made in the White House. I think George W. Bush is a war criminal and should be prosecuted as such. Along with virtually everone else in this administration. They have brought great shame and wreaked havoc on the entire world and its security.

HopeSpringsATurtle said...

Disgusting doesn't begin to cover it Op. The military is simply a microcosm of the larger sphere of patriarchy, hierarchy and the general domination paradigm. Per capita it isn't any worse for women in the military than it is for woman on a city street, the difference is the insular quality of life in the military. Things tend to be easier to cover up.

I went into the military for a number of reasons, and plan to write a post about it soon, but the main reason was I felt it represented ideals I could believe in. The main being, protection of something I love and cherish, the American ideals of liberty and justice. To explain I'll borrow a line from the movie, "A Few Good Men." While explaining her belief in the military, a character from the film, Lt.Cmdr Galloway explains to Lt. Weinberg, her defense of a young marine:
Lt. Weinberg: Why do you like them so much?
Galloway: Because they stand on a wall and say, "Nothing's going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch."

That's basically why I joined the military and it is an ethic I still hold dear today--protection of those I love and what I believe in.

N. said...

Thanks hope for teh information.

I made a post today, that is sure going to steal my sleep AGAIN. It somehow delineates teh WHYs of America's wars.

I honor your objectives of joining the military. And as usual, I resent that you or your fellow soldiers will have to get killed not to protect America's civil liberties, but liberty of shopping and spending money!

The only LEGAL war, in my opinion is that waged in defense of oneself. And that could not be pre-emptive, as Bush's or Clinton's or Nixon's wars have been!

HopeSpringsATurtle said...

I agree Naj and pray for the end of ALL war.

HopeSpringsATurtle said...

Donna from The Silence of Our Friends left this comment for me over at her place:"I just finished reading that article. So many parts just flabbergasting! It's unimaginable that in this day and age women soldiers have more to fear from their fellow soldiers than from Iraqi insurgents. Dying from dehydration because you are too afraid to drink because you might be raped going to the bathroom??? It's amazing that Iraq is "Indian territory" or at least amazing that they would be honest enough to admit it. Native people will always be the enemy at least as long as we fight back and continue to survive."

HopeSpringsATurtle said...

I wanted to respond to Donna but since she is in the midst of a big disscussion thread on People of color, I won't interrupt...

When I read your thread Donna, the "shock" I feel, is accentuated by how blithly, effortlessly, and nostalgically senior soldiers in Iraq use "Indian Country" in briefings to describe the war zone in Iraq. They do it without hesitation or fear of reprisal. Such flip use of the term used in a past genocide perpetrated by American soldiers on Native Americans is certainly enough evidence to conclude there is base sickness in the 'American Identity' and that we are in crisis.

This will certainly be our downfall.

How can we 'fix' a system that arguably never worked? The illness of American consciousness shocks and sickens me to my core. And I didn't even mention the part about women soldiers not going to the toilet for fear of being raped...

Here's to hoping I feel less pessimistic tomorrow. Thanks for your comment.

Donna said...

It tells you how little actual history is taught. People learned about settling of America through John Wayne movies. The truth is just too unpleasant and complicated for our children, and so they grow up to be soldiers talking about "the enemy" in "Indian country". *sigh*

It's hard to get rid of the pessimistic cynical feeling sometimes!

Anonymous said...

When women come back from these clusterf**k wars all f**ucked up we're doomed. Bad enough to see 'em brainwashed and pro-war. Hope they wake up!!

Anonymous said...

Actually, I would like to point out that since 1994 women have been allowed to have combat positions within the US Military. I don't remember what the specific law was, but it was repealed in 1994 by Congress. That said, women still are not allowed to take certain positions within the military, such as Special Operations Forces (Rangers, Seals, etc) or other 'higher risk' MOS.

Anonymous said...

The last entry is correct. Women have been in combat roles for sometime. The Air Force and Navy have allowed them to serve as figher and bomber piolts for sometime, and those are combat positions. Also the Army allows women in quasi combat roles, such as Military Police (they patrol Iraq and guard convoys). I spent a year in Iraq and saw female turret gunners in convoys and female gunners on choppers. One of my female sergeants was a turret gunner and was wounded when her convoy was attacked back in 2004. She recovered, has a Purple Heart and contiues to proudly serve her country.

I have to laugh at all the lefties who left anti-military comments. Sure some women may face harassment in the military, just as they face it anywhere else but lets not take a few isolated incidents and generalize. Also, remember that these women warriors are armed to the teeth (see the Blog photo, one of the woman is sporting an M16 with grenade launcher), so they are more than capable of fending off anyone who tries to get too fresh.

HopeSpringsATurtle said...

Dear Anon:

On October 1, 1994, the Defense Department issued a policy that rescinded the so-called "risk rule" that gauges the specialties to which women can be assigned. The policy was backed strongly by Secretary of Defense Les Aspin and was the extension of the changes made in April 1993 that opened most aviation specialties, including attack helicopters, to women (Army, March 1994). The policy emphasized that no job will be closed to women just because it is dangerous, but fails to open direct offensive ground combat jobs to women (Army, March 1994). Even today, though, the official policy of the Army and Marine Corps excludes women from combat which precludes 12 percent of skilled positions and 39 percent of the total positions (GAO Report, July 1996).

One more casualty of the war in Iraq brought home to Decatur, Illinois, last weekend. In this case, the soldier's vehicle was hit in Baghdad on June 21st by a rocket-propelled grenade. But this death is one of those that makes this war unique, for it was a woman, 22-year-old Army Specialist Karen Clifton.

She is one of the most recent of more than 80 women who have so far been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, a figure nearly double the number of American military women killed in Desert Storm, Vietnam, and Korea, combined. Some 500 have been wounded, many grievously.

American women are serving in the U.S. military today in ways and numbers unthinkable a few decades ago. They are now eligible to fill more than 80 percent of military jobs, 250,000 different assignments, often serving side-by-side with men.

So far, women have served some 167,000 tours of duty in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than four times the number in the first Gulf War. They are not assigned to infantry units, to tanks or submarines, and Pentagon policy officially precludes them from serving in so-called "combat occupations." But in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, where no clear frontlines exist, such distinctions are often hard to make.

Women in both theaters today drive Humvees and trucks, escort military convoys, serve as military police, even pilot helicopters and planes on the battlefield, all of it done under the very real -- and constant -- threat of attack. And like men, many women of the U.S. Armed Services have by now served several tours in the war zones.

Insofar as rape and sexual abuse, one doesn't typically have to sleep with one eye open and armed, on a US military base, in order to not be raped or sexually abused. The incidents of such violence are at an all time high--and most of it is covered up. Your assumption is naive and uninformed.

When was the last time you heard of male soldiers having to wake up another soldier in order to go to the bathroom after dark as to no be raped? Waking another woman as an "escort" is the standing order for women while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, many women choose not to disturb the already less-than-advantageous sleep schedule of others, and "hold it." This has caused a precipitious increase in urinary tract infections among other maladies.

peace64 said...

Hi dear Hope!first sorry for my english...ı saw your blog a minute a go,and ı 'm very sad now for hearing about woman soldiers in US army!....this is immortally,brutality!I feel very asheemed as a male!...what kind of a human doing this to his comrad??these girls fight with them together...these girls,their friends,their buddies! My God! ı can't understand?? Womans are Angels,they are light of our life...womans are our Mothers,sisters,our valentines! ı can't understand? US army "MUST BE" solve this dramatic problem!...
God bless all womens and soldier girls!
Take care,be safe...
Best regards

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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