Archive for women in the military

Four Star Female Admiral Michelle Howard: GO Navy!

Four Star Admiral Michelle Howard. Image, Forbes.

Four Star Admiral Michelle Howard. Image, Forbes.

Admiral Michelle Howard was given the status of First Female Four Star Admiralty member this summer, a national first on two fronts: gender and ethnicity.

Those are some mightily impressive Firsts. The 239-year United States Navy had never before given four stars to a female. She is also the highest-ranking African-American woman in a male-dominated military that did not even allow the promotion of women to general or admiral (of any number of stars) until 1967.

Image, U.N.C. Greensboro Archives

Image, U.N.C. Greensboro Archives

As she told the New York Times, speaking of her early attendance of the newly-Co-Ed Naval Academy,

“There were angry men at Annapolis, but we got through it,” she said. “And there were issues on the first few ships because it was all brand new. Change is hard in society.”


Melissa Harris-Perry was among the first to congratulate the Admiral, on her weekend MSNBC program recently.

The New York Times ran an evocative piece on Admiral Howard's epic move, excerpted below.

WASHINGTON — Adm. Michelle J. Howard was looking for new insignia for her white Navy dress uniform when she ran into an unusual problem.

“I said, ‘I need to order a four-star women’s shoulder board,’ and there’s this silence,” Admiral Howard recalled. “Then the lady goes, ‘Um, I’m not seeing any in the system.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I thought that might be the case.’

“I didn’t know it was possible to grow up to be anything more than a one-star,” Admiral Howard, 54, said in a recent interview, referring to the rank of rear admiral. She said today’s sailors “have never known a life when there hasn’t been a woman admiral, women three-stars, women in command of ships, women in command of destroyers.”


"Doonesbury" confronts rape: "Welcome to the military, ladies."


doonesbury welcome to the military ladies rape cartoon

doonesbury military rape

Garry Trudeau isn't pulling any punches in this week's Sunday offering, and for that we should all thank him. The treatment of women (and men!) in the military who reported having been sexually assaulted is abysmal. So abysmal, in fact, that women all too often will not step forward because they know how it will all turn out.

Hence, this Doonesbury strip. Standing O, Mr. Trudeau.

To refresh your memory, Think Progress reported this back in November:

A new report released on Wednesday calls on Congress to pass new reforms related to sexual assault in the military, a problem that the Defense Department estimates occurred approximately 26,000 times over the course of the last year but may in fact be even higher. [...]

In 2012, of the 26,000 military personnel estimated to have experienced sexual assault, 14,000 were men and 12,000 were women,” the report notes. The opening of new positions to women within the armed services is also dismissed as a reason for an increase in estimated sexual assaults. [...]

Anu Bhagwhati, a former Marine and founder of the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), also spoke to reporters on the call about her experience while serving. “As a former commander, and a Marine who saw my own share of harassment, discrimination and betrayal, I saw swept under the rug often by senior officers often enough to know that sweeping institutional change is needed to give survivors of sexual violence a shot at justice.” SWAN helped draft the Gillibrand’s bill, Bhagwhati explained, arguing that it strengthens justice for both the victims and the accused.


"Republicans tellingly showed zero interest in... the 19,000 sexual assaults of military servicewomen that occur each year."


chart rape military assault women

Today's L.A. Times letter to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Hagel hearing reopens Senate wounds," Feb. 1

By grandstanding their grievances with former Sen. Chuck Hagel for leaving the fold to serve in President Obama's administration as secretary of Defense, the neoconservative Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee rubbed salt in their own self-inflicted wounds. What a shameful spectacle of badgering, interrupting and berating a decorated war veteran with a stellar record of public service.

While wasting the day on cherry-picked policy positions that don't even pertain to what a Defense secretary does, Republicans tellingly showed zero interest in the one that does: the 19,000 sexual assaults of military servicewomen that occur each year. Kudos to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) for questioning Hagel about this "invisible war," to which he promptly and correctly pledged no tolerance.

Wendy Blais

North Hills

rape women military assault


BREAKING: Panetta reportedly removes military ban on women in combat, opening thousands of front line positions


female soldiers

The link only has the one sentence, but Twitter had this via the AP via senior defense officials:

Panetta removes military ban on women in combat, opening thousands of front line positions. U.S. military has until January 2016 to seek special exceptions if they believe certain positions should remain closed to women.

Waiting for more details, so take it for what it's worth.

UPDATE #2... WaPo clarifies. It's not quite what we think.

The reaction on Twitter has gone from incredulous to celebratory to this:

"Not enough. Lift the entire ban, and stop discriminating against women and barring entire career fields on gender alone."

UPDATE: Multiple officials have confirmed this to CNN. CNN (H/t: @rockrichard, more at the link):

... Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will make the announcement tomorrow and notify Congress of the planned change in policy.

We will eliminate the policy of ‘no women in units that are tasked with direct combat,’” a senior defense official says.

But the officials caution that “not every position will open all at once on Thursday.” Once the policy is changed, the Department of Defense will enter what is being called an “assessment phase,” in which each branch of service will examine all of its jobs and units not currently integrated and then produce a timetable in which it can integrate them.

The Army and Marine Corps, especially, will be examining physical standards and gender-neutral accommodations within combat units. Every 90 days, the service chiefs will have to report back on their progress.