Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter has announced that all combat roles in our military will be open to women. This is a critical move for women as the progression up the line of command to the higher ranks often goes through the assignments that are currently denied to women. It also means there will be many First Women earning positions in the military over the next few years.
It strikes me that this situation is emblematic of many situations involving First Women. It takes a woman of grit to move into male territory, and sometimes it also takes a man. Men, after all, were, and to some extent still are, in power and it is sometimes their decisions that make firsts possible.
This action by Carter took some courage on his part. He had the support of the Army, Navy, and Air Force but not the Marines. This might not have mattered but the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph E. Dunford, Jr., was former commandant of the Marine Corps, opposed to this decision, and did not stand beside Carter when it was announced.
In spite of that, Carter emphasized. “There will be no exceptions.”
His guts are matched with the achievements of United States Army’s First Lt. Shaye Haver and Capt. Kristen Griest, who completed Ranger School and proved women were capable, in spite of not knowing at the time whether they would be allowed to join a Ranger unit. Since their achievement, Maj. Lisa Jaster has also completed Ranger training. Carter said their success was part of the research that led to his decision. A confluence of women’s fortitude and a man’s daring made this possible.
I would not want my daughter to be in the military, in spite of the fact that I come from a military family. My mother, father, brother, sister, and first husband all served. Consequently, I have great respect for those who serve, but also have strong feelings about war as the solution to our problems and would prefer not to have a daughter of mine involved. However, if I had a daughter, and she was so inclined, I would not want her denied any position she is capable of earning. Secretary Carter, Lt. Haver, Capt. Griest, and Maj. Jaster led the way, and made that possible.