HASC Members Question Army Plans for Women in Land Combat
January 1, 2002
Twenty-eight members of the House Armed Services Committee, including five sub-committee chairmen and three Democrats, have signed a formal letter addressed to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, asking about the status of various issues involving women in the military. In particular, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett and 27 other HASC members asked whether the Army is training female soldiers for certain Surveillance Troop positions in the newly-forming Interim Brigade Combat Teams. The lighter, faster IBCTs, which are key element in Army “Transformation” but will not be ready for deployment for several years, are designed to engage in Direct Ground Combat (DGC). An 85-member sub-unit of the Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA) Squadron, called the Surveillance Troop, is of particular concern. CMR has since learned that only 12 of the 85 positions in the Surveillance Troop are coded "P1" for "all-male," even though the RSTA Squadron is designed to fight for information, if necessary, as part of the IBCT "full spectrum early entry combat force." According to the former Commander of the U.S. Army Armor Command at Fort Knox, KY, the mission of the RSTA Squadron "directly meets the Department of Defense definition of ‘direct ground combat,’" and should therefore be coded "P1" for all-male. An Army spokesman denied any change in DoD regulations, published in 1994, which specify that units that engage in ground combat, or co-locate with units that do, should remain all-male. Documents circulated at the April 2001 meeting of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS), however, plus additional documents acquired by CMR, indicate that Pentagon feminists have been quietly working to change the definition of land combat in order to advance their radical agenda on an incremental basis. Despite strong objections from combat experts, the DACOWITS has pushed hard for the inclusion of female soldiers in land combat units that directly engage the enemy or co-locate with those that do, such as multiple launch rocket systems (field) artillery and Special Operations Forces (SOF) helicopters. The congressmen’s letter also raised questions about a pilot program to include women in 7 of 17 weeks of basic training for officers at Fort Benning, AL, known as the Home of the Infantry. The Defense Department and the various services are conducting a thorough review of all issues raised by members of Congress in their June 28, 2001, letter. For more information, see the July 2001, and November 2001 editions of CMR Notes.