Ellen Haring is a senior fellow with Women in International Security where she directs the Combat Integration Initiative project. Her research and work focuses on women and gender in the military. Haring is a West Point graduate and a retired Army colonel. Presently, she is completing a Ph.D. at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution.
On Dec. 4, 2015, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter made the historic announcement that he is opening all military occupations and units to women; “no exceptions.” He directed the services to provide new integration plans that would open positions no later than April 1, 2016.
At a recent Republican debate, Ted Cruz said that it would be “immoral” to draft our daughters. He went on to make it very personal saying, “I’m the father of two little girls, and I love those girls with all of my heart.” When I heard his comments my immediate response was, “Well I have two sons whom I love with all my heart.”
A couple of months ago, I read a prepublication copy of “Ashley’s War,” by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon; the story of a team of female soldiers who were embedded with Army Rangers in 2011. The book, which was released last month, is named in honor of Lt. Ashley White, who was killed in action with two Rangers during a night raid in Afghanistan on Oct. 22, 2011. I wrote the author and asked her if it was possible to replace the word “girl” with “women” throughout the book before it was published. I told her that many of us in the military have worked hard to get men and women to stop calling us girls.
Recently, Task & Purpose published a piece that highlighted the actions of some purported Army Rangers who called out a man for claiming that he was a Navy SEAL. He clearly wasn’t, but the Rangers filmed the incident, during which they slapped the man in the face, twice, and then posted the video on the Internet. It went viral.
Three years ago this month, 1st Lt. Ashley White Stumpf was killed in action in Afghanistan. At the time of her death, she was attached to the 75th Ranger Regiment. Stumpf and two Army Rangers were mortally wounded when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device. At Stumpf’s funeral, Col. Mark O’Donnell, deputy commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment, praised her for her “great courage,” emphasizing that she “was not just accepted by the Rangers she worked with, but loved, admired and respected.”
About 18 months ago, I submitted an article to the Marine Corps Gazette about integrating women into the combat arms. I received an unexpected response from the editor stating that the Gazette was not interested in articles that were “thinly veiled ad hominem attacks on the Commandant.” The Armed Forces Journal took a different view and published my article. In the intervening year, I have watched the Gazette publish multiple articles that patently support an anti-women Marines stance. But the most egregious example is the article that the Gazette published this month with the tagline that it had received first place in the Maj. General Harold W. Chase essay contest. This article, “Why Women Don’t Belong in the Infantry,” garnered a number of heated responses from both men and women. Two noteworthy challenges came from Marine men. The Gazette published one piece that challenged why this was an award-worthy article, saying that it is “neither bold nor daring” to advocate for the status quo. The other called the article “sororicide” because it was written by a woman who said that women who want to serve this country in the infantry are selfish.