Defense Bill May Not Include Provision on Drafting Women

drafting women

By Debbie Gregory.

House and Senate negotiators plan to shelve the provision requiring women to register for the draft in favor of ordering up a study of the issue.

Last year at this time, Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the combat exclusionary rule for women and opened up all military jobs to women in the military who qualify. The Senate Armed Services Committee then said that Carter’s action had removed any justification for limiting draft registration to men.

A few months later, Rep. Duncan Hunter and Rep. Ryan Zinke, opposed to Carter’s action, introduced a bill titled the “Draft America’s Daughters Act of 2016” that would require women to register with the Selective Service System.

Both Hunter and Zinke said they were opposed to their own bill, but argued that a debate in Congress was necessary on lifting the combat exclusion rule for women.

Carter, the service secretaries, and the service chiefs have made clear that requiring women to register for the draft was up to Congress, and they have yet to voice any opposition to such a move.

President Obama supports requiring women to register for Selective Service when they turn 18. He is the first president to endorse universal draft registration since Jimmy Carter.

Obama believes adding women to the draft would serve two purposes: showing a commitment to gender equality throughout the armed services, and fostering a sense of public service that comes from requiring draft registration as a ritual of adulthood.

“As old barriers for military service are being removed, the administration supports — as a logical next step — women registering for the Selective Service,” said Ned Price, a spokesman for Obama’s National Security Council.

But the timing of Obama’s support makes it mostly symbolic, coming in the final weeks of his presidency.

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Army to Reconsider Discharge of Paralyzed Green Beret


By Debbie Gregory.

The Army is reconsidering the case of Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Brumit, a Green Beret who was paralyzed from the chest down last year when he dove headfirst into shallow water to save a drowning girl.

Brumit now faces an “other-than-honorable” discharge from the service that could threaten his medical care.

In July, 2015, a sudden storm at Crab Island churned up winds and crashing waves. Hearing screams that a child was drowning, Brumit rushed to help. Without a second thought, he dove off a pontoon boat near his post at Eglin Air Force Base, after spotting the 13 year old girl struggling in the surf.

“When I dove in, the water seemed to slip away and the sand bar was right there, and there was no turning back, and I hit my head,” Brumit said. “I tried to shake it off … and realized I’d heard something break. I thought, oh my God, I’ve broken my neck.”

After his head hit the sand, a fellow soldier pulled Brumit’s body onto a surfboard to wait for help. Other boaters saved the girl.

The Army deemed his actions were reckless and negligent because of alcohol and drug use.

Authorities determined Brumit had a 0.1 percent blood alcohol content when he decided to jump into the water and found traces of cocaine in his system.  Army officials obtained Brumit’s toxicology report without his permission as they visited him in the hospital, leading to the veteran’s year-long battle against a potential discharge.

Media attention on the case led Lt. Gen. Kenneth E. Tovo to urge U.S. Army Human Resources Command to “reconsider” the determination.

In a letter to Army Secretary Eric Fanning, California Rep. Duncan Hunter is pushing for an honorable discharge for Brumit.

Brumit suffered from PTSD and TBI, and had self-enrolled in a drug and alcohol program. But the Army refused to acknowledge that he had any issues, and ordered him to return to duty.

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The Lowdown on Navy SEAL Leadership


By Debbie Gregory.

Rear Adm. Tim Szymanski, named to assume command of the Naval Special Warfare headquarters in Coronado this summer, was confirmed for promotion to a second star by the U.S. Senate.

But questions have been raised by Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Marine Corps veteran who asked for an investigation of contracts that Szymanski played a role in earlier in his career.

The congressman, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, asked Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to investigate Navy SEAL training contracts for evidence of insider dealings by Szymanski. Hunter said he would stick to his demand for investigative scrutiny and continue to speak out against Szymanski’s rise to the top SEAL job in Coronado until he was satisfied.

A retired SEAL, Eric Deming of Virginia, wrote to Hunter saying that a 2008 formal complaint Deming filed alleging nepotism and misconduct led to reprisals that destroyed his career.

Bill Wilson, who retired as a Navy SEAL captain in 2014 and who served with Szymanski said, “Right when we need a good Naval Special Warfare leader, for Duncan Hunter to do this is baffling. I know all of these guys, and Tim is the best leader of all of his peer group.”

Wilson noted that Szymanski was co-author of the SEAL “Ethos,” a set of personal and professional codes that Naval Special Warfare adopted in 2005.

Meanwhile, Rear Adm. Brian Losey, the SEAL commander slated for retirement this summer after political pressure sunk his promotion to a second star, has broken his silence about what his camp calls a deeply flawed process for investigating military wrongdoing.

“I remain fully accountable for my actions in command. The highest priority of any line commander is in ensuring that our service members have the resources, guidance and empowerment to succeed,” Losey said.

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Green Beret’s Career Saved


By Debbie Gregory.

Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland’s Army career changed course during his second deployment to Afghanistan in 2011.

The Green Beret was facing discharge for striking an Afghan local police officer, one who had allegedly confessed to raping a boy and then beating the child’s mother for telling authorities.

Called bacha bazi, or “boy play,” the custom is practiced in Afghanistan and Iraq. Academics say the abuse of these “tea boys” is a product of sexual repression in traditional cultures and also poverty, as it is poor children who are usually preyed upon.

Martland has served in the Special Forces for 11 years. Many of his teammates say that he is the finest soldier they have ever served alongside.

Martland had fallen under the Army’s Qualitative Management Program, a process that can be triggered by derogatory information on their record. Though technically not a draw-down tool, it is aiding in force reduction efforts by weeding out less desirable soldiers; a black mark on their record, such as a relief for cause, can trigger a formal QMP review and result in involuntary separation.

After a fight to save his career, the Army has reversed from an earlier decision that raised ire in some corners, including U.S Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, who introduced legislation on the soldier’s behalf.

Hunter, who led the fight to save Martland’s career, praised the Army’s move.

“They did the right thing. We finally kind of broke through the bureaucratic bulls–t barrier that they’ve created,” Hunter said. “This lets me know that there are people in the Army and the Defense Department and (acting Army Secretary) Patrick Murphy … they understand warfare. It’s not a game.”

U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, wrote to the Army on Martland’s behalf. The Veterans of Foreign Wars organization also advocated for the soldier.

Justice has prevailed for an outstanding soldier who did the right thing for the right reasons.

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Will Women Soon Be Subject to the Draft?

draft women

By Debbie Gregory.

Rep. Duncan Hunter’s attempt to take a stand against women in combat backfired.

Hunter (R-CA), who is against integrating combat forces, proposed opening up the Selective Service to include women. “This is about a big war, meaning when you have tens of thousands of people dying — tens of thousands — that is when you have a draft,” he said. But he also vowed to vote against his own proposal.

Last December, the Defense Department decided to open all remaining gender-segregated combat jobs — about 225,000 — to female troops.

Selective Service law as it is currently written now refers specifically to “male persons” in stating who must register and who would be drafted. For women to be required to register with Selective Service, Congress would have to amend the law.

The proposal garnered enough support for female integration that members of the House Armed Services Committee voted in favor of opening the Selective Service and the draft.

The Selective Service measure is now part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act. If passed by Congress, for the first time in our nation’s history, women aged 18-26 would be required to register for the draft,  and could be forced into combat.

The U.S. came close to drafting women during World War II, when there was a shortage of military nurses. However, there was a surge of volunteerism and a draft of women nurses was not needed.

“I actually support your amendment and will be delighted to vote for it,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA). “If we want equality in this country, we want women to be treated precisely like men are treated and that they should not be discriminated against, we should be willing to support a universal conscription,” she added.

Retired Navy SEAL Rep. Ryan Zinke, (R-MT) and Hunter have been trying to build opposition to female integration since they introduced the Draft America’s Daughters Act, a bill that is the same as the amendment.

But political momentum appears to be building behind integration and changes to the draft system.

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Lawmaker Calls for Mabus’ Resignation : Military Connection


By Debbie Gregory.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and Marine Corps veteran, is demanding the resignation of the Navy’s secretary for his plans to open Marine Corps infantry positions to women.

A lengthy Marine Corps experiment involving about 300 men and 100 women who volunteered as research subjects found that all-male units performed significantly better than mixed-gender ones on 69 percent of tactical tests. The task force on gender integration also found that women were injured more than twice as often as men, according to a brief summary of results released by the Corps.

Regardless, Secretary Ray Mabus announced he intends to open Marine infantry, Navy SEALs, and all other combat jobs in the Navy to the new gender-neutral employment policy in the Defense Department.

The Marine Corps is expected to ask that women not be allowed to compete for several front-line combat jobs, military officials said.

The report acknowledged that “female Marines have performed superbly in the combat environments of Iraq and Afghanistan and are fully part of the fabric of a combat-hardened Marine Corps after the longest period of continuous combat operations in the Corps’ history.”

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Marine commandant, is weighing the task-force findings as well as related research on entry-level training courses, the opening of 12 occupations to women and the addition of female support staff to some ground-combat units.

Military women who support the end of all gender restrictions for employment praised Mabus for what they described as his leadership and acumen at gauging weaknesses in the Marine Corps research.

The services have been slowly integrating women into previously male-only roles, including as Army artillery officers and sailors on Navy submarines. Adding to the debate was the groundbreaking graduation last month of Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, the first two women to female soldiers to complete their courses at the Army’s exhausting Ranger School.

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