Feature

The military

When the casualties are female

It was shortly before Thanksgiving, said Dave Moniz in USA Today, and Maj. Ladda 'œTammy' Duckworth was on airborne patrol near Balad, Iraq. Suddenly, 'œa rocket-propelled grenade slammed into her Black hawk helicopter.' When the chopper went down in a ball of fire, Duckworth lost both her legs. Today, fitted with prosthetic limbs, she's 'œlearning how to perform life's most basic chores' all over again. So far in the Iraq war, 271 U.S. female service members have been wounded, and 35 have been killed. By contrast, only eight American women, all nurses, died during the decade-long conflict in Vietnam. Technically, women in today's armed forces are barred from positions 'œthat would place them in front-line ground combat.' But in Iraq, the lack of clearly defined battle lines means that they often face the same risks as men.

Those risks are unacceptable, says George Neumayr in The American Spectator. Women can play a role in the military, but they do not belong in the theater of battle. For putting them in harm's way, you can thank Bill Clinton. In 1994, he opened 90 percent of military jobs to women. Only now, though, are we seeing their unsuitability for 'œthe shock of war.' Twice as many returning servicewomen as servicemen, it's estimated, suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome. Some officers are whispering that the physical inability of women to change truck tires, carry an injured comrade, or perform other basic functions is seriously sapping morale. The 'œfeminization' of the Army is also wreaking havoc back home. Since military women 'œare twice as likely as men to be single parents,' sending them abroad is a cruel hardship on their children; if Mommy is killed, her kids are orphaned. When will the Pentagon admit that its dream of a gender-neutral Army 'œis more like a nightmare'?

Jack Kelly

Post-Gazette

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