As the death toll of American soldiers continues to rise in Iraq, one civilian
woman on the sidelines here at home continues her battle to strengthen the
military by taking her case to the commander in chief, and she’s launched a petition drive to catch his attention.
Question: Why was a 7-pound baby boy born aboard a warship in the Gulf war
zone near Kuwait in May?
Question: Why was his mother, a 33-year-old Marine, deployed while pregnant or how did she get pregnant after deployment?
Question: What happened to POW Pfc. Jessica Lynch after she was captured by Iraqi fighters?
Question: What happened to Pfc. Lori Piestewa, a single mother of two pre-schoolers, during the ambush of the Army’s 507th Maintenance Company and how did she die?
Question: How did 26-year-old Sgt. Melissa Valles and 27-year-old Spc. Alyssa
Peterson – the second and third female soldiers killed in Iraq – come to
sustain non-combat shots to the head and abdomen, respectively?
Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, an independent public-policy organization that specializes in military personnel issues, and a member of WND’s Speakers
Bureau, told WorldNetDaily she has submitted these and a host of
other questions to the Pentagon, but has not received any answers.
“There’s something very odd about it,” said Donnelly. “Here we have a
new paradigm of women in the military and there’s no information available
about how it’s going.”
The paradigm Donnelly speaks of is females serving in combat roles,
gender quotas, co-ed basic training, the deployment of single mothers and pregnant servicewomen and “overly generous pregnancy policies that subsidize and therefore increase single
Donnelly calls it the result of “social engineering” policies instituted in
the military over the last decade by “Pentagon feminists” seeking to
advance the careers of servicewomen at the cost, she says, of military morale, efficiency and readiness.
“The three women [in the 507th Maintenance Company] were ambushed
because of policies put in place in 1994 to improve ‘career opportunities’ for
women,” said Donnelly. “They wouldn’t have been there otherwise.”
Donnelly is referring to the elimination in 1994 of the Department of
Defense “Risk Rule,” which held that women could not be placed in combat-support units that had “significant risk of capture.”
The theory of the interchangeability of men and women is central to the
ideology of feminism, says Donnelly, and the ultimate test of this theory is in the military. That’s where the demand to have women in combat comes from, she adds.
“These women are being used in a great social experiment. What about the women themselves? Don’t their opinions count?” Donnelly asked, noting that numerous studies show only 10 percent of women in the military want to serve in combat roles, even as policymakers have increasingly opened the doors to them.
“There is no demographic or military need to have women in these positions in such numbers. The Pentagon needs to find a way for women to serve without risking being captured,” Donnelly continued.
A longtime military advocate, Donnelly served on the Defense Advisory
Committee on Women in the Services, or DACOWITS, in the 1980s and was appointed in 1992 by former President George H. W. Bush to the presidential commission that studied the likely ramifications of women in combat. After 10 months of exhaustive interviews with hundreds of soldiers, the commission voted against women in combat aviation, land combat with the Special Forces and on combat ships such as submarines and amphibious vessels.
But then-President Clinton dismissed the recommendation when he took office shortly afterward.
366th Fighter Wing, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho wait out a ground attack scenario during an Operational Readiness Exercise on Aug. 27.
The Iraq conflict, with its still-undefined female POW experience and three fallen female soldiers, provides additional data for Donnelly’s cause.
On May 23, an unnamed Marine staff sergeant assigned to a ground unit gave birth aboard the USS Boxer, an amphibious vessel deployed in a war zone near Kuwait. A Pentagon official told the Washington Times the Marine did not tell anyone she was pregnant because she did not know that she was.
Donnelly thinks the incident demands review of liberal pregnancy policies imposed on the Navy and Marine Corps in 1995 by then- Secretary of the Navy John Dalton. Under the Dalton policy:
- Pregnancy tests are not required prior to deployment;
- Deployments on Navy ships are permitted up to 20 weeks of pregnancy, provided
that medical care is no more than 6 hours away;
- Regulations require that a
pregnant sailor notify her commanding officer within two weeks of diagnosis;
- Servicewomen may not be assigned overseas after the 28th
week of pregnancy.
The Dalton policy also forbids “downgrading marks or
adverse comments related to medical limitations, assignment restrictions,
and/or periods of absence due to pregnancy.”
The non-combat fatal shootings of Valles and Peterson also raise
questions. The Arizona Republic reported Peterson, of Flagstaff, Ariz., was shot in the head due to the non-combat discharge of a gun Sept. 15. The
circumstances surrounding the incident have not been disclosed. The San
Antonio Express-News reported Valles, of Eagle Pass, Texas, similarly died due to a non-combat gunshot wound to the abdomen in July.
Donnelly questions why the only news, however limited, of these
deaths comes from the women’s hometown papers, and why her questions about the deaths filed with the Pentagon go unanswered: Did the soldiers shoot themselves or was it someone else’s gun? Was the soldiers’ training deficient or was someone else’s training deficient?
“The whole issue seems to be politicized,” she told WND. “When these
tragedies occur it seems everyone closes ranks and smothers the news.”
Donnelly thinks the commander in chief needs to step in before the next
“The president needs to provide direction to the Pentagon and make it
clear that efficiency and strength in the military is the primary objective, and
not social engineering,” she said.
Donnelly’s CMR has launched a petition drive to gather
electronic signatures of like-minded supporters. More than 10,000 people
have signed so far. Donnelly hopes to present the petition in a personal
meeting with President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. No meeting is yet scheduled.
“The nation is proud of the men and women who are serving their country well in the war on terrorism, and the commander in chief who leads them,” reads the petition. “[But] some activists are trying to use the capture, serious injury, and/or death of female enlisted soldiers in a support unit ambushed in Iraq as an excuse to promote radical feminist objectives, such as the inclusion of uniformed women in Special Forces helicopters, submarines, and many land combat units.”
The “Americans for the Military” petition asks Bush to direct Pentagon officials to “objectively review
and revise social policies that undermine readiness, discipline and morale.”
The policies cited include:
- Assignments of female soldiers in or near land combat units with a
high risk of capture;
- Admittedly inefficient co-ed basic training;
- Prolonged family separations and pregnancy policies that detract
- Gender-based recruiting “goals” and quotas that hurt morale and
Several influential organizations, such as Eagle Forum, Concerned
Women for America, the American Conservative Union, Accuracy in Media,
the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, are on board with the campaign and are working to promote the petition.
A call for comment from the Department of Defense was not returned.
Col. Denise Dailey, the military director of DACOWITS, the civilian committee appointed by Rumsfeld to provide advice and recommendations on policies pertaining to female servicewomen, told WND she would not comment on the petition until she had seen it and declined to address general comments about the policies CMR criticizes.
“There are advocates and people against just about every policy instituted in the military,” said Dailey.
WND provided a copy of the petition to Dailey. A follow-up call and e-mail seeking comments were not returned.
The April issue of WND’s popular Whistleblower magazine explores the controversial topic of women in combat and delves deeper into whistleblower Donnelly’s efforts to add common sense back into military policy for the sake of national security.