Like every guy else on this site who has served in a uniform, as a DOD or Service civilian, or in the US intelligence community, we’ve all served with women. And not just in support positions regardless of what the official designators were. In the wars we’ve been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan for the past 20 and 18 years respectively, no matter where we put the phase lines on the map, there were no defined lines that indicated where the fighting would and wouldn’t be. Women Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines, despite being designated in combat support roles for almost the entirety of these wars, often saw as much combat as their male counterparts. Every convoy of supplies, every Civil Affairs Team-Alpha mission, every Medical or Veterinary Operation could, at any moment, go from being a support or enabling mission to a combat one.
Similarly, women working within the US intelligence community, as well as in other agencies within the Interagency that deployed forward also often served in harm’s way. And lots of them – those working for the State Department, USAID, USDA, US Department of Energy, etc – went forward despite knowing they, like their male colleagues from these agencies, would NOT be authorized to be armed despite being deployed in a war zone! And yet they went. And the civil service women from the Interagency all went because they volunteered as part of what was referred to as the “civilian surge” to better enable and enhance the US military’s ability to successfully conduct Phase IV Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I fought hard to have two women on my small team of cultural analysts – one a former student I’d recruited and the other a former Army intelligence NCO. I got my former student and was glad to have one woman on the team*. Why? Because we were deployed in a high context communicating, near-far relationship, honor-shame society that was also Muslim. This meant that women, and being able to talk to them, to have them talk to us and tell us what they needed – as women in general and as mothers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc in specific – was largely impossible without a woman on the team!
I once did a ride along on a MedOps with one of our Civil Affairs Teams-Alpha (CAT-A) and my former student did not come along. And we didn’t have a female medic or interpreter with us either. It took over half the day before anyone without a Y chromosome would come talk to us. Eventually someone sent a five year old girl to ask for something figuring that that was somehow not improper. Once we were able to get her what she needed for her mother, that broke the ice and the Civil Affairs medic was suddenly swamped by women. The first thing that was decided at the post mission after action review was that from now on a female CA Soldier, a female medic, and a female interpreter would be on the list of required personnel for these missions.
In Afghanistan they actually built all women teams – known as Lioness Teams – to go do this type of work with Afghan women. There was some discussion of doing this within our brigade, leading to the cringeworthy suggestion that since we were the Iron Brigade they should be called the Iron Maidens, but it was ultimately decided to simply ensure women were on all the essential missions because we didn’t have any female personnel who had gone through the specialty Lioness Team training. Here’s the link to a great, though infuriatingly sad, documentary on the Lioness Teams done by Frontline at PBS.
So I’m very glad to see a number of senior military leaders – officers and senior enlisted – visibly and vocally push back against Carlson’s offensive stupidity. Here’s a sampling I came across without even looking. If the WordPress formatting isn’t showing you the full, embedded tweet with the video, just click on the links to see and hear for yourselves.
Command Sergeant Major Michael Grinston, the 16th Sergeant Major of the Army:
— SMA Michael Grinston (@16thSMA) March 11, 2021
US Training and Doctrine Command Deputy Commanding General LTG Ted Martin:
Contrary to what you may be hearing this 🇺🇸WOMAN & 1000's of 🇺🇸WOMEN like her are NOT "making a mockery of our military". You WISH your daughter was as AWESOME as MINE! so BACK OFF. #ARMY #Navy #USMC #USAF @16thSMA pic.twitter.com/h98tpKXPJn
— LTG Ted Martin (@TradocDCG) March 10, 2021
US Space Command Senior Enlisted Advisor/Command NCO:
— U.S. Space Command, Command Senior Enlisted Leader (@US_SpaceComCSEL) March 11, 2021
GEN Paul Funk, Jr; Commanding General Training and Doctrine Command (who has also been using his social media feed to retweet and amplify other’s similar statements):
Let’s be clear…women make our military stronger. https://t.co/otbDs7cLfQ
— GEN Paul E. Funk II (@PaulFunk2) March 10, 2021
— GEN Paul E. Funk II (@PaulFunk2) March 11, 2021
Major General Pat Donahoe, Commanding General Maneuver Center of Excellent and Ft. Benning:
— Patrick Donahoe (@PatDonahoeArmy) March 11, 2021
MG John R. Evans, Commanding General US Army Cadet Command:
#WomensHistoryMonth reminds us of the incredible achievements of women in our @USArmy. Since 1972 when @ArmyROTC empowered women with full participation in ROTC programs, our female Soldiers have excelled in every component and every branch! #ThisIsMySquad #DiversityandInclusion pic.twitter.com/Rmb0RMfbW3
— MG John R. Evans (@CG_ArmyROTC) March 11, 2021
MG Dennis LeMaster, Commanding General US Army Medical Center of Excellence:
— MG Dennis LeMaster (@DennisLeMaster7) March 11, 2021
Statement made by GEN James McConville, US Army Chief of Staff:
McConville goes on to recall an outpost nearly being overrun in Iraq when he was a brigade commander there, and a team of Apache helicopters led by a woman saving soldiers on the ground.
— Dan Lamothe (@DanLamothe) March 11, 2021
I found these without really looking and I’m sure there are more out there. The US military is not perfect when it comes to dealing with women who are Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, or Marines, but the responses of the senior leadership to Carlson’s stupid agitprop is encouraging and reassuring. I would also suggest that this open support is possible because of who is president. The senior uniformed leadership knows that if they publicly push back on Carlson’s stupidity that they won’t be called out on it by any of the political loyalty officers that Trump had appointed to senior positions in the White House, at the DOD, and at the Services.
* Of the women who served in the US Army Human Terrain System, two lost their lives during their deployments as a result of enemy action. Both of these were peers of mine – they were also the field social scientists, read research and analytical directors and technical leads, for their teams. Nicole Suveges was blown up in Sadr City in Iraq in late June 2008, we had been emailing just the day before about an HR issue of all things. Paula Lloyd, who I did not know, died in early January 2009. She had served through the rank of Staff Sergeant in the US Army before going on to get her advanced degrees. Paula was attacked in early November 2008 by an Afghan local who doused her with gasoline that had been concealed in a container used for cooking oil and lit on fire while accompanying and assisting an Army patrol in Afghanistan. She ultimately died of her burn wounds two months later.
My former student, one of the best ones I ever had, came through her deployment successfully.