Ten years ago this summer, Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester became the first female soldier since World War II to be awarded the Silver Star for exceptional valor in combat.
While serving in Iraq on a mission to search convoy routes for improvised explosive devices, Hester’s squad was ambushed. She led her team in a 25-minute firefight, using hand grenades and an M203 grenade launcher to defend her fellow soldiers while leading her team to cut off the enemy. During the fight, Hester killed three insurgents. "It really doesn't have anything to do with being a female. It's about the duties I performed that day as a soldier,” Hester once told the American Forces Press Service.
Despite the combat inclusion ban restricting women from certain jobs in the military during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, over 280,000 women have served. In these wars combat comes from all sides from an insurgent-style enemy. This means everyone serving in the military faces the same kind of risk. Even when not technically in traditional “combat” roles, women are engaging the enemy and returning fire.
Capt. Zoe Bedell, like many of these women, fought bravely and with heroism. In 2011, Bedell led 46 women in combat missions in Afghanistan with all-male combat units as part of a female engagement team. Bedell said in a 2012 news conference, “My Marines supported infantry units. They patrolled every day. They wore the same gear. They carried the same rifles. And when my Marines were attacked, they fought back."
Ultimately, Bedell left active duty because of the ban on women in combat dramatically limited her opportunities for promotion.
As a former special operations soldier, I believe when it comes to our national security we need the best soldier for the job, regardless of gender. That’s why I added my name to this petition. The combat exclusion ban restricts commanders’ ability to best use the talent they have and put the right person in the right job. Service members like Hester and Bedell exemplify the potential that women in every job can have, and the talent available to every leader if full integration becomes a reality. Our national security demands it.
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces control the monitor of their drone at their advanced position, during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in Nazlat Shahada, a district of Raqqa. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."