Frog Headlines: Is this what America Wants?

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This is Lieutenant Dawn Halfaker. Is this what America wants?

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Lt. Dawn Halfaker

Today’s USA Today carries Dawn’s story — she lost her right arm in combat in Iraq. And here’s what USA TODAY quotes her as saying, right next to this picture of her holding her prosthetic device:

‘Women in combat is not really an issue,’ she says. ‘It is happening.’

This is a perfect example of “the boiled frog strategy”: the Army wants the American public to gradually “get used to” seeing women in combat. They know if they put it to a vote in Congress — which they are legally required to do — they would lose. So the strategy is to just gradually change the regulations, so that more and more women are put in harms way; then, when women like Dawn get hurt, no one can say anything.

But we should.

Just because women can go into combat, doesn’t mean they should.

I have a lot more to say about this. But, for now, let me highlight this quote from another female soldier who is currently recuperating from combat wounds at Walter Reed:

[Juanita] Wilson, 31, [Army staff sergeant who lost her hand in Iraq] says she has observed one major difference among amputees at Walter Reed. The men, she says, care much less about their appearance and will often move about without their artificial limbs. She won’t. “I just don’t think America is ready to see a woman without an arm,” Wilson says.

Men and women are different.

I am headed to the Pentagon this morning to talk with the brass about their boiled frog strategy with my friend Elaine Donnelly from the Center for Military Readiness. USA Today quotes Elaine, who explains that this is not about the women themselves — gosh, we support them — this about public policy:

‘I have nothing but admiration for those women who’ve been injured,’ Donnelly says. ‘But I am critical of the Pentagon policymakers.’

Donnelly says the Army, wanting to create more opportunities for women and make them more promotable, is bending rules to push those in support units close to front-line combat in Iraq.

Check back later. I’ll report on our meeting at the Pentagon.

Most importantly: God bless Dawn Halfaker and all the other amputees in Walter Reed.

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