Print this Article

SUMMARY AND OVERVIEW: DISCONTINUE THE DACOWITS

January 28, 2002
Share/Bookmark
The Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services was established in 1951, when there were virtually no women, civilian or military, in leadership positions. Fifty years later, there is no need for a tax-funded civilian advisory committee to tell the Defense Department what to do regarding military women. The appointment of new members, or continuation of the DACOWITS in any form, would be tantamount to endorsement of the most problematic social engineering policies devised by civilians in the Clinton Administration. A decision to drop the DACOWITS would demonstrate that women in uniform have truly "arrived" as valued members of the national defense team. It would also benefit uniformed women, as well as men, who want to serve in a well-trained, effective military. A restoration of sound priorities would also help the President’s defense team to concentrate on the war effort, instead of having to deal with questions about inevitable controversies caused by Clinton-era military personnel policies. BACKGROUND · The DACOWITS is composed of 30-35 members, mostly civilian women. The Secretary of Defense appoints one-third of the members each year for 3-year terms. Members are expected to visit military bases and look for "issues" involving women in uniform, which are subsequently raised with the DoD and the various services with a series of "Requests for Information," "Recommendations," and "Continuing Concerns." The process is frequently repetitive and duplicative of readily available DoD "in-house" information. · DACOWITS was formed to promote the recruitment and retention of women in the military. In recent decades, however, the DACOWITS has become a tax-funded feminist lobby with unmatched access to Pentagon policy-makers. The DACOWITS routinely and consistently assigns highest priority to "equal opportunity" considerations, even at the expense of military readiness and efficiency. There are no comparable groups for racial/ethnic minorities or various communities, i.e. combat soldiers, trainers, etc. · Unlike other high-budget committees that benefit the DoD with useful advice from outside experts in specialized fields, the DACOWITS is composed of amateurs who usually have little or no knowledge of military missions, culture, and principles. Members nonetheless enjoy the protocol status of three-star generals and admirals. · A large entourage of staff and military representatives, many of whom are female officers with self-interested career ambitions, coordinates the committee’s bi-annual meetings, lavish social events, and frequently repetitive official actions. The views of enlisted women, many of whom are opposed to primary DACOWITS goals, are under-represented. The views of men are not represented at all. AGENDA · Committee procedures effectively preclude the presentation of views that do not conform to the DACOWITS agenda. Nor does the Committee structure permit objective reviews of the consequences of previously endorsed programs, such as co-ed basic training. · With monomaniacal intensity, the DACOWITS has repeatedly pressured the services to assign women to combat units that directly engage the enemy. These include submarines, special operations helicopters, multiple-launch rocket (field) artillery, and land combat units in the "transformed" Army of the future. · The committee has repeatedly discredited itself by passing controversial recommendations, usually with unanimous votes, over the strong objections of combat experts. POINTS OF CONTROVERSY · The DACOWITS has shown itself to be insubordinate in its practices as well as radical in its recommendations. Within weeks of the Inauguration, the automatic signature pen of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was improperly used to retain the current Chairman, and to ratify the appointment of members selected by former Defense Secretary William S. Cohen. The Office of the Secretary of Defense was not notified until it was too late. · The DACOWITS is obsolete. At the present time women are fully integrated in all branches of the service. Promotion rates are equal to or better than those of men, and scores of women are now serving in high-ranking leadership positions in the Department of Defense (DoD) and the various services. · The "separate" nature of DACOWITS conflicts with the desire of many women in uniform to serve with men on an equal basis, without special treatment related to gender. NO NEW APPOINTMENTS · Renewal of the commission’s charter by means of new appointments would force the President to either capitulate to counter-productive recommendations, or become the target of tax-funded feminists who will continue to use their elevated status to express unending dissatisfaction, no matter what the President does. This is an avoidable distraction that is inconsistent with the President’s serious approach to the War on Terrorism. · Experience with similar liberal committees indicates that appointments of new members during a Republican administration would not change the fundamental mission and closed-minded procedures of the DACOWITS. New members initially would be out-voted, given only one-sided information, and eventually co-opted by self-interested female officers who staff and direct the committee. · Discontinuing the DACOWITS would send a message of support for military women who don’t need civilian amateurs to speak for them. It would also signal that President George W. Bush is taking a serious approach to all national defense matters, including personnel policies. Servicemen and women alike will benefit from a restoration of sound priorities and a stronger volunteer force. · The War on Terrorism has changed the national mood. Military voters and families who provided a key margin of victory in the presidential election will not accept continuation of problematic Clinton-era military policies. · Liberals and feminists will continue to demand full implementation of feminist goals, including women in land combat assignments and Special Operations helicopters like those portrayed in the film Black Hawk Down. These activists, however, are out of step with the majority of military and civilian women, who will not allow political correctness to interfere with a strong national defense. DA012802
Share/Bookmark
See previous articles on this topic here:
More background information and historic documents on this topic may be available in the 'Essential Resources' section of this website, or in a previous edition of CMR E-Notes, archived here.