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How Female Officers Forced The Navy To Back Down On Uniform Changes
Congress has ordered the Navy to halt unpopular, costly and pointless changes to women’s uniforms, thanks to the overwhelming effort of large group of female officers. When the Navy didn’t listen, women affected by the uniform change ensured that Congress did. Women officers spoke up and Congress heard them.
In 2015, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, one of the most progressive service secretaries ever, decided that “gender equality” meant “looking the same.” He ordered the development of unisex uniform items. In the process, he disregarded numerous studies, including one of female personnel asking for better-fitting versions of existing items. PErhaps the least popular change, aesthetically speaking, was replacement of the “bucket” with the dixie cup for enlisted sailors, and a unisex “alternate combination cover” for officers. (For more of the details, see this earlier story.)
At best, the reasoning behind the changes appeared to be a misguided attempt to strive for gender equality by making everyone look the same. At worst, some perceived the changes as a ploy to line the pockets of uniform manufacturers at service members’ expense. Female Navy officers now had to foot the bill to buy a uniform item they loathed to replace a uniform item they loved. Women in the Navy were generally happy with progressive changes that Mabus pushed for, including integrating women on submarines, advocating for women in combat arms, and tripling the length of maternity leave. This particular change left many women feeling powerless, ignored, and frustrated.
Financial inequality was at the heart of most women officers’ anger over the issue. Critics told women officers to stop “whining” about the matter, citing that uniform changes happen all the time. Female enlisted personnel also had to wear new covers, and received a stipend to purchase them. When most uniform changes occur — such as the upcoming phase-out of blue camouflage — all enlisted personnel get a stipend, and all officers pay out of pocket. In this case, only the approximately 10,000 female Navy officers were stuck with the bill. It was unprecedented and discriminatory.
When normal avenues of dissent were exhausted, including asking questions at all hands calls and writing criticisms routed via the chain of command, female Navy officers took matters into their own hands. Still writing under the pseudonym of Anna Granville, I compiled opinions expressed on social media, in conversations with fellow officers, and incorporated my own thoughts into a Task & Purpose article. Female Navy officers serving on Capitol Hill incorporated the article into a template distributed via social media that was used to write members of Congress. The same officers who worked on the Hill also worked to make sure the letters were properly responded to, the right questions asked of the right people.
While the Navy required the cover change on Oct. 31, 2016, many women refused to buy it, instead waiting for passing of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act . Their advocacy and hard work paid off. When President Barack Obama signed the NDAA in December 2016, it superseded the requirement to go out and purchased the “unisex” cover. The law changed the mandatory wear date of the unisex cover to October 2018. It also required the Secretary of the Navy to be transparent about the composition of wear test groups and their results, stipulated that wear test groups be representative of female personnel, and identify costs as a fraction of service members’ pay. The law furthermore required “an identification of the operational need” of the cover, forcing the Secretary of the Navy to explain why the changes are being put forth at all.
Despite the change in the law, Navy has still not released a new message announcing the delay. Perhaps Navy leadership hopes that women won’t know better and will go out and buy the mannish unisex cover that cost millions to develop. Nonetheless, female Navy officers now get to keep their covers, and by law have a say in a decision that affects them.
This victory is proof that service members can have a say in legislation that affects them. Female Navy officers come from different intersectional identities, ethnicities, backgrounds, and political beliefs, and banded together on this issue. They took their grievances from internet forums and wardroom conversations to Capitol Hill, and won.
The Marine lieutenant colonel who was removed from command of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May is accused of lying to investigators looking into allegations of misconduct, according to a copy of his charge sheet provided to Task & Purpose on Monday.
President Donald Trump just can't stop telling stories about former Defense Secretary James Mattis. This time, the president claims Mattis said U.S. troops were so perilously low on ammunition that it would be better to hold off launching a military operation.
"You know, when I came here, three years ago almost, Gen. Mattis told me, 'Sir, we're very low on ammunition,'" Trump recalled on Monday at the White House. "I said, 'That's a horrible thing to say.' I'm not blaming him. I'm not blaming anybody. But that's what he told me because we were in a position with a certain country, I won't say which one; we may have had conflict. And he said to me: 'Sir, if you could, delay it because we're very low on ammunition.'
"And I said: You know what, general, I never want to hear that again from another general," Trump continued. "No president should ever, ever hear that statement: 'We're low on ammunition.'"
This 400-pound feral hog is one of more than 1,200 that have invaded a Texas Air Force base since 2016
At least one Air Force base is waging a slow battle against feral hogs — and way, way more than 30-50 of them.
A Texas trapper announced on Monday that his company had removed roughly 1,200 feral hogs from Joint Base San Antonio property at the behest of the service since 2016.
In a move that could see President Donald Trump set foot on North Korean soil again, Kim Jong Un has invited the U.S. leader to Pyongyang, a South Korean newspaper reported Monday, as the North's Foreign Ministry said it expected stalled nuclear talks to resume "in a few weeks."
A letter from Kim, the second Trump received from the North Korean leader last month, was passed to the U.S. president during the third week of August and came ahead of the North's launch of short-range projectiles on Sept. 10, the South's Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.
In the letter, Kim expressed his willingness to meet the U.S. leader for another summit — a stance that echoed Trump's own remarks just days earlier.
Constant deployments broke the Air Force's B-1 fleet. Now the service is facing a major bomber shortfall
On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.
In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.
A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.
The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.