Two officials from the Obama administration are on the hot seat today on Capitol Hill: John Brennan, who is the president'a chief counterterrorism advisor and who has been nominated to lead the CIA, and Leon Panetta, the retiring defense secretary. For Brennan, the issue is whether he should be confirmed to be the next CIA director; while Panetta will be on Capitol Hill to answer questions about the September 11 terror attack in Benghazi that led to the death of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
The U.S. military announced today that instead of keeping mulitple aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, only one would be kept there. The reason offered? Uncertainty surrounding budget cuts.
"The secretary of defense has delayed the deployment of the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) and the USS Gettysburg (CG-64), which were scheduled to depart Norfolk, Va., later this week for the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility," says the Pentagon in a press release announcing the big move.
For over two decades, I have been arguing against the idea of placing American women in combat or in support positions associated with direct ground combat. I base my position on three factors. First, there are substantial physical differences between men and women that place the latter at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to ground combat. Second, men treat women differently than they treat other men.
President Obama has released a statement supporting Secretary of Defense Panetta's decision on women in combat units! "Today, by moving to open more military positions—including ground combat units—to women, our armed forces have taken another historic step toward harnessing the talents and skills of all our citizens." Indeed, the president is confident this decision "will strengthen our military, enhance our readiness, and be another step toward fulfilling our nation’s founding ideals of fairness and equality."
On Thursday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the U.S. military would lift its long-standing ban on women in combat. The national media, as can be expected, is popping the champagne corks in celebration.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Ryan Smith, a retired Marine infantryman who fought in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, urges caution about the Pentagon's new directive to allow woment to fight as combat infantry. Smith describes his experience in 2003:
Just a couple minutes ago, presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett, who is personally close to President Barack Obama, tweeted, that "If there's one thing we should all agree on, it's protecting women from violence."
If there's one thing we should all agree on, it's protecting women from violence. Congress needs to pass the Violence Against Women Act.
The presidential candidates should listen to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta when he reminds us that there is still a war being fought in Afghanistan. And we should remember what Panetta’s predecessor, Robert Gates, had to say about Afghanistan in 2010, too.