Barack Obama’s historic transformation of the American military

January 30, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Intersectionality, LGBTQ

From The Grio:

This past week, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that the Pentagon will drop its ban on women serving in combat. With this historic announcement, coming just a year and a half after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the Obama administration has once again sent a clear message that the United States is committed to fielding a military that reflects the fundamental American values of fairness and equal opportunity.

And just days into his second term, President Obama has reinforced his legacy; he will be remembered for transforming our armed forces more profoundly than any president since Harry Truman, who desegregated the U.S. military and provided a permanent place in the military for women.

By repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and opening all combat positions to women, the Obama administration has eliminated two of the most egregious examples of modern government-sanctioned discrimination. But these decisions were not based in political correctness or moral probity—dropping these unnecessary and discriminatory restrictions is in our national interest. With the overturning of these bans, the American military will no longer lose talented service members due to their gender or sexual orientation, and our armed forces will be stronger due to their diversity.

Yet these reforms did not come easily, nor are they without political risk, as President Clinton discovered when he tried to end the ban on gays in the military. The U.S. military is highly resistant to change, and to achieve these reforms, the Obama administration had to expend considerable political capital and assemble a wide alliance of committed experts and advocates to overcome significant resistance from some active and retired military officers as well as social conservatives in the Congress. Still, these changes will stand the test of history, and by more fully opening the force to minority groups, President Obama has put a commitment to equality, inclusive government, and military readiness at the heart of his legacy.

See also: Defense must be part of debate to reduce spending

Secretary Of Defense Lifts Ban On Women In Combat

January 24, 2013 By: seeta Category: Civil Rights, Imperialism, Intersectionality, Poverty

From ThinkProgress:

In a surprise move, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta removed the military ban on women in combat on Wednesday. Lifting the ban will open service on the front lines to thousands of women.

According to the Associated Press, the move was recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and overturns a 1994 rule banning women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units. Smaller exemptions to the rule were passed in 2012, but the new decision opens up 238,000 positions where women were formerly banned.

Women have been traditionally barred from serving in ground combat units, such as infantry, artillery, armor or as special operations commandos. However, women have been serving in combat roles for years as well, as recent conflicts have blurred the lines of combat and non-combat duties. While the ACLU last year sued the Pentagon for the right for women to take up positions on the front line, and the Marines recently began allowing women to serve as officers, the timing of Panetta’s announcement comes as a surprise.

Some Republicans have opposed putting women in combat because of alleged physical inferiority to men. However, a survey of several NATO allies with women in front line roles in Afghanistan indicated that, far from causing problems, female officers actually performed better in intelligence-gathering roles than their male counterparts.