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The U.S. Navy recently introduced a number of new policies that significantly change women’s uniforms to make them more closely resemble men’s uniforms. The changes have not been without controversy and I’ve read with keen interest the ever-growing barrage of commentaries and complaints. Welcomed or not, the human reaction to change is almost always angst, and the Navy’s recent uniform changes do not deviate from the norm. Many decry the loss of a traditional female uniform design that was largely unchanged since women first entered naval service, saying that such change to enforce more gender neutrality flies in the face of diversity, which appreciates differences rather than tries to diminish them. On top of this is the argument that it’s yet another superfluous change and waste of money. To my sisters in arms, I ask that we focus on what is really important in our lives and careers, because this just doesn’t matter.
As members of the military, our uniforms are only one of many ways in which we honor our heritage and those who have walked before us. I absolutely respect and appreciate the commitment, sacrifices, and accomplishments of the women who paved the way for my career, but I don’t need to look like them to honor them. I need to uphold the highest standards of performance and professionalism; the uniform in which I do that is irrelevant.
We take pride in donning a uniform or any item that identifies us as a member of an elite cadre because we are proud to be a part of that group. Space suits do not have much going for them in terms of form or fashion, but what kid doesn’t want to try one on if given the opportunity, if nothing else, to feel for a moment what it might be like to be one of the people who dances among the stars. Our children love to put on parts of uniforms, although they may know little about their history and tradition. What they do know is that someone they love and respect wears that uniform every day, and when they wear our cover, they feel just a little more like the future self they may become. Old cover, new cover, it just doesn’t matter.
Diversity is more than clothing deep. My value as a member of the team has no correlation to what I’m wearing. You earn your reputation through your day-to-day conduct and performance. Wearing a different uniform will not make people appreciate your contribution more, nor will it diminish the value of your work. Initial impressions are just that, initial. Show me your work and I’ll show you your reputation. I sincerely hope that my fellow female service members are proud to be women in uniform and in the service of our country. Just like they are proud of their other, but not necessarily visible, diversifying characteristics such as ethnicity, religion, culture, and life experience. The adornment of that individuality just doesn’t matter.
It remains to be seen how much of an impact these uniform changes will have on unit cohesion and desegregating the female minority within the fleet as Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has argued. My guess is that most sailors will barely notice the change after the initial commotion. We already spend most of our time in the same uniform as our male peers, so extending that uniformity to dress events and formations is not likely to elicit much more than a momentary recognition that something is different. Or maybe we won’t, because we’ll all look the same, and once the novelty wears off, we just won’t think about it anymore.
Female officers are unfortunately the one segment of the Navy population that is personally bearing the financial cost of these changes. Sure, it sucks. But so does paying a premium for all our uniform items of mediocre quality. I do not relish the thought of shelling out $97 for a new combination cover when I just bought one last year for $145 when I was promoted. But when I think of things I want to see change during my career and lifetime, this doesn’t even register.
I hope that one day women will join the Navy knowing that a successful career is compatible with a family, and see women in leadership positions as the norm, not the exception. I yearn for the day when we don’t have sexual assault prevention training because sexual assault is a thing of the past. I look forward to people asking about my experience as a military member, and not how I handle it as a military mom. So I’ll grumble a bit when ordering my new cover, and when it arrives, I’ll put it away with the plethora of other uniform items and get back to work. I’ll probably give my almost brand-new cover to my daughter, who asked if she could have it when I didn’t need it any more. And pretty soon she’ll probably ask for my new combination cover too, because what the cover looks like just doesn’t matter.
An Austrian soldier was apparently killed by two military working dogs that he was charged with feeding, the Austrian Ministry of Defense announced on Thursday.
She's photographed every major war of the last 20 years. Marine Corps boot camp was something else entirely
Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario has seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya, and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.
Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.
The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.
Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.
Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead
"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.
They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.
As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.
But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.
Federal court judge Reggie Walton in Washington D.C. has ruled Hoda Muthana, a young woman who left her family in Hoover, Alabama, to join ISIS, is not a U.S. citizen, her attorneys told AL.com Thursday.
The ruling means the government does not recognize her a citizen of the United States, even though she was born in the U.S.
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- The Marine Corps could train as many as eight co-ed companies at boot camp each year, and the general overseeing the effort is hitting back against those complaining that the move is lowering training standards.
"Get over it," Maj. Gen. William Mullen, the head of Training and Education Command told Military.com on Thursday. "We're still making Marines like we used to. That has not changed."
Mullen, a career infantry officer who has led troops in combat — including in Fallujah, Iraq — said Marines have likely been complaining about falling standards since 1775.
"I'm assuming that the second Marine walking into Tun Tavern was like 'You know ... our standards have gone down. They're just not the same as it they used to be,'" Mullen said, referring to the service's famous birthplace. "That has always been going on in the history of the Marine Corps."