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January 24, 2013 - 7:50am

Today's Poll: Should women serve in combat roles?

posted by Howard B. Owens in polls.
Dave Olsen
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Noone should serve in combat roles. just sayin'

Howard B. Owens
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Thought about adding that option.

Dave Olsen
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I still maintain the very un-libertarian position of a draft. I think that if Congress and all their friends and contributors and staffs thought that their little privileged darlings would have to go to war in some hell-hole instead of some private college and then get a connected cushy life; there wouldn't be so much thirst for foreign wars. As it is now, the upper classes know there's no chance of little Johnny or Susie having to do that,unless they want to and granted some do. War is mostly for just us serfs. Plus it would be good for a lot of people to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

Howard B. Owens
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Going back to the Civil War, those with connections have always found ways to avoid the draft. See, for example, William Jefferson Clinton and George Walker Bush.

Ken Herrmann
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Prominent Democrats

Rick Noriega, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from Texas -- joined the U.S. Army in 1979; currently Lt. Colonel in Texas Army National Guard, served in Afghanistan. (1)
Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) -- rifle platoon and company commander with the Fifth Marine Regiment in the An Hoa Basin west of Danang; was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals, and two Purple Hearts. (1)
Representative Tim Walz, D-MN - Twenty-four years of service in the Army National Guard, retiring in 2005.
Representative Joe Sestak, D-PA - 31 years of service in the Navy, rising to the rank of Vice Admiral.
Representative Chris Carney, D-PA - Lieutenant Commander in the United States Naval Reserve, Carney served multiple tours overseas and was activated for Operation Enduring Freedom, Noble Eagle, and Southern Watch.
Representative Patrick Murphy, D-PA - extensive career in the U.S. Army from 1993-2004; earned Bronze Star and Presidential Unit Citation.
Representative Phil Hare, D-IL - Served in the United States Army Reserve for six years.

Representative Jack Murtha (D-PA) - distinguished 37-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps, Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, retired from the Marine Corps Reserve as a colonel in 1990. (1)
Former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt - Missouri Air National Guard, 1965-71. (1, 2)
Representative David Bonior - Staff Sgt., United States Air Force 1968-72 (1, 2)
Former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle - 1st Lt., U.S. Air Force SAC 1969-72 (1, 2)
Former Vice President Al Gore - enlisted August 1969; sent to Vietnam January 1971 as an army journalist, assigned to the 20th Engineer Brigade headquartered at Bien Hoa, an airbase twenty miles northeast of Saigon. More facts about Gore's Service
Former Senator Bob Kerrey... Democrat... Lt. j.g., U.S. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam (1, 2)
Senator Daniel Inouye, US Army 1943-'47; Medal of Honor, World War Two (1, 2)
Senator John Kerry, Lt., U.S. Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, and three awards of the Purple Heart for his service in combat (1)
Representative Charles Rangel, Staff Sgt., U.S. Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea (1, 2)
Former Senator Max Cleland, Captain, U.S. Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam (1, 2)
Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) - U.S. Army Reserve, 1968-1975.
Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) - U.S. Army, 1951-1953. (1)
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) - Lt., U.S. Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74. (1, 2)
Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) - U.S. Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91 (1)
Former Senator Fritz Hollings (D-SC) - served as a U.S. Army officer in World War II, receiving the Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons. (1)

Representative Leonard Boswell (D-IA) - Lt. Col., U.S. Army 1956-76; two tours in Vietnam, two Distinguished Flying Crosses as a helicopter pilot, two Bronze Stars, and the Soldier's Medal. (1, 2)
Former Representative "Pete" Peterson, Air Force Captain, POW, Ambassador to Viet Nam, and recipient of the Purple Heart, the Silver Star and the Legion of Merit. (1, 2)
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-CA: Staff sergeant/platoon leader with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, U.S. Army; was wounded and received a Purple Heart. (1, 2)
Bill McBride, Democratic Candidate for Florida Governor - volunteered and served as a U.S. Marine in Vietnam; awarded Bronze Star with a combat "V." (1)
Gray Davis, former California Governor, Army Captain in Vietnam; received Bronze Star. (1)
Pete Stark, D-CA, served in the Air Force 1955-57
Wesley Clark, Democratic Presidential Candidate - 38-year career of public service in the Army, culminating as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.

Prominent Republicans
Representative Patrick McHenry, R-NC - did not serve. Saw fit to endanger American troops' lives after a visit to Iraq by violating operational security and helping militias target their mortar attacks on the Green Zone.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY - did not serve (1)
Senate Assistant Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-MI - avoided the draft, did not serve.
Senate Republican Conference Chairman Jon Kyl, R-AZ - did not serve.
Senate Republican Conference Vice Chair John Cornyn, R-TX - did not serve.
National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair John Ensign, R-NV - did not serve.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-OH - did not serve.
House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, R-MO - did not serve.
House Republican Conerence Chair Adam Putnam, R-FL - did not serve.
House Republican Policy Committee Thaddeus McCotter, R-MI - did not serve.
National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom Cole, R-OK - did not serve.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani - did not serve.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney - did not serve in the military but did serve the Mormon Church on a 30-month mission to France.
Former Senator Fred Thompson - did not serve.
Senator John McCain - McCain's naval honors include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross. Why did the Bush campaign smear him so in 2000? At least Senators Cleland (D-GA), Kerry (D-MA), Kerrey (D-NE), Robb (D-VA) and Hagel (R-NE) defended him.

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Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert - avoided the draft, did not serve.
Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey - avoided the draft, did not serve.
Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay - avoided the draft, did not serve (1). "So many minority youths had volunteered ... that there was literally no room for patriotic folks like himself."
Former House Majority Whip Roy Blunt - did not serve
Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist - did not serve. (An impressive medical resume, but not such a friend to cats in Boston.)
Rick Santorum, R-PA, formerly third ranking Republican in the Senate - did not serve. (1)
George Felix Allen, former Republican Senator from Virginia - a supporter of Nixon and the Vietnam war, did not serve. (1)

Former Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld - served in the U.S. Navy (1954-57) as an aviator and flight instructor. (1) Served as President Reagan's Special Envoy to the Middle East and met with Saddam Hussein twice in 1983 and 1984.
GW Bush - decided that a six-year Nat'l Guard commitment really means four years. Still says that he's "been to war." Huh?
VP Cheney - several deferments (1, 2), the last by marriage (in his own words, "had other priorities than military service") (1)
Former Att'y Gen. John Ashcroft - did not serve (1, 2); received seven deferment to teach business ed at SW Missouri State

Jeb Bush, Florida Governor - did not serve. (1)

Karl Rove - avoided the draft, did not serve (1), too busy being a Republican.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich - avoided the draft, did not serve (1, 2)
Former President Ronald Reagan - due to poor eyesight, served in a noncombat role making movies for the Army in southern California during WWII. He later seems to have confused his role as an actor playing a tail gunner with the real thing.
"B-1" Bob Dornan - avoided Korean War combat duty by enrolling in college acting classes (Orange County Weekly article). Enlisted only after the fighting was over in Korea.
Phil Gramm - avoided the draft, did not serve, four (?) student deferments
Congressman Ron Paul - active duty flight surgeon from 1963-65; Air National Guard from 1965-68. (link)
Former Senator Bob Dole - an honorable man. http://www.bobdole.org/bio/wwII.php
Chuck Hagel - two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, Vietnam. http://www.senate.gov/~hagel/Information/bio.htm
Duke Cunningham - nominated for the Medal of Honor, received the Navy Cross, two Silver Stars, fifteen Air Medals, the Purple Heart, and several other decorations Recently entered plea bargain on felony charges of bribery, etc. etc.
Senator Jeff Sessions U.S. Army Reserves, 1973-1986
Colin Powell. What are we to make of Powell? On the one hand, a long career as a military manager. On the other hand, accused of covering up the My Lai massacre. Back on that first hand, one of the seemingly sane voices in this administration when it comes to Iraq (or at least he used to be). On the other hand, a clear hypocrite ("I am angry that so many of the sons of the powerful and well-placed... managed to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units...")
Representative Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), served in USMC in Vietnam; wounded in action.

Mark Brudz
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Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: Feb 9 2012 - 9:33pm

Opening combat roles to women has absolutely nothing to do with operational readiness, manpower or our ability to wage war. This is all about promotional opportunity for women.

In the career military world, serving in a combat arms Military Occupational Specialty gives you an advantage when competing for higher level promotion and broadens your career path in the armed forces.

Opening combat positions to women has long been an agenda of some

And Howard, George Walker Bush did not evade the draft, He was a LT and a pilot in the Air Force Reserve, he may have avoided Vietnam by joining the reserves but the fact is he was in the military and could have been sent to Vietnam or elsewhere should his unit been deployed. The is absolutely NO similarity between Bill Clinton and George Bush with regard to military service.

Dave, having a draft has never prevented the Political Elite from sending troops to foreign Wars, most who served in Korea and Vietnam were draftees. It simply would not affect that decision as Howard did point out, there have always been ways to avoid the draft.

John Roach
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Last seen: 2 weeks 4 days ago
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Don't forget, President Obama, did not serve
NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo did not serve
Former Governor Mario Cuomo, did not serve
NYS Senator Charles Schumer did not serve
NYS Senator Kristen Gillibrand did not serve
Vice President Biden did not serve (5 deferments before finally getting a 4F)
And of course, Bill Clinton, who flat out dogged the draft

Howard B. Owens
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Last seen: 23 hours 27 min ago
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As far as I'm concerned, Bush avoided the draft at a time when the draft would have certainly meant a combat role. His connections further kept him out of a combat role.

I don't really care. More power to him at the time. I just think we should be factual about it. He took purposeful action to avoid Vietnam. That doesn't make him a bad person. That's just what he did. And there's no real difference with Clinton. Clinton used his connections and rules of his era to further his education. Same thing, just different means. Neither did anything illegal and had every right to pursue their own ambitions at the time.

But it shows that the draft is no guarantee that the privileged will serve in combat.

John Roach
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Side note: You just never know. Two friends of mine in the 1968-1969 era joined the 107th Air National Guard in Niagara Falls, to avoid the draft. Then those nasty North Koreans seized one of our ships. Both ended up in South Korea for a year.

Howard B. Owens
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I covered a Republican running for California Assembly once. His Democratic opponent was a Vietnam Veteran.

At a debate, an audience member asked the Republican, who was the same age as me and tried to paint himself as a super patriot, why he didn't serve.

His short answer. "there wasn't a draft when I was 18."

I wanted to jump out of my seat.

There wasn't a draft when I was 18 either. I volunteered.

Same holds true for Obama (I'm two months older than the president). He could have volunteered and didn't. Not that he was required to, but let no one say he was some how exempt from service because there was no draft.

Kyle Couchman
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Last seen: 2 years 7 months ago
Joined: Dec 25 2009 - 8:54am

Its all about intent....they know what their intent was at the time.

Dave Olsen
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Well whatever. I stand by my first comment in the end. What we need are no more wars

Bob Harker
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Did you serve, Howard?

John Roach
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Read #11. Howard served (Air Force).

Bob Harker
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thx, John.

Jerry Buckman
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A woman should be allowed to serve in combat ONLY IF she meets the same standards as her male counterparts. Is America ready to see more of her daughter's return dead or broken? We're about to see. Perhaps this step is needed to remind 96% of America that ugly wars are still in progress.

Kyle Slocum
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Last seen: 2 weeks 3 days ago
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I served 27 years in the service of my State and Nation in the NY Army National Guard. Most of that time in I served in Infantry units which were all male. I was a platoon leader in and commanded a Signal Company which was integrated. I deployed to Afghanistan and I saw combat. Let me point out that females are, and have been, in harm's way, and they have done a damn fine job.

However, I oppose women being integrated into Infantry and Special Operations forces based upon my experience. Most Combat Arms units can integrate the genders without loss of readiness and capability, but the Infantry and Special Ops cannot. It has less to do with the ability of a given female to perform in the role, than it does with our culture.

The dynamic of an Infantry unit is essentially masculine and the interactions are curt, direct and, often, brutal. In mixed gender units, the feelings and sensibilities of female soldiers can easily become more important than mission accomplishment. This is more a reflection of the greater culture than it is of the military culture.

The great women who have accomplished the most in male dominated fields have one thing in common: They are willing to stand on their own abilities, not expecting or accepting privilege or deference based on gender. In our culture, they are rare and special. They are also not very well received by the bulk of their own gender.

Politically, the need to show how wonderful and effective the integration is will force a reduction in the standards for one gender. A male and female will have to achieve different standards for admission, so that the numbers will reflect the political goals. Effectiveness and readiness will be secondary considerations.

In a perfect world, none of this would matter. But in the real world where real people live, real people will die and real missions will fail if we ignore the reality of the differences and dynamics between the sexes.

Mark Brudz
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In my Marine Corps Career Kelly I have come to a similar conclusion. In a modern battlefield there really isn't a rear area, women have been in harm's way more often then not.

Political Correctness is taking situational realty head on these days. What concerns me is the steady diminishing number of veterans serving in the House and the Senate over the last few decades.


94th (1975-1976) 306 73
95th (1977-1978) 347 65
96th (1979-1980) 242 58
97th (1981-1982) 269 73
98th (1983-1984) 248 56
99th (1985-1986) 181 57
100th (1987-1988) 175 52
101st (1989-1990) 202 49
102nd (1991-1992) 161 51
103rd (1993-1994) 126 44
104th (1995-1996) 154 55
105th (1997-1998) 141 48
106th (1999-2000) 135 44
107th (2001-2002) 130 38
108th (2003-2004) 114 35
109th (2005-2006) 107 29
110th (2007-2008) 97 28
111th (2009-2010) 96 28
112th (2011-2012) 91 25
113th (2013) 85 19

I fear decisions like force structure are not going to be based on National Security requirements rather even more on political expedience.

John Woodworth JR
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I am okay with women in combat roles as long as standards are not reduced for them. Women need to be capable of performing assignments as well as their male counterpart. There are some women out there that are more capable then some men. I have served with some women who I would absolutely trust with my life and some that down right scare the crap out of me. This can be said about some of the men I served with. No matter how you look at it there are pluses and minuses. If, a woman can complete the same standards as men, then they are welcome to serve in combat. However to reduce standards for women is putting the lives of other soldiers and themselve endanger. My opinion are for women who want to serve combat roles with Special Ops Units such as SEALS, DELTA, and other Special Forces. Plain infantry forces are have lower standards. There was a study out there but, can't remember the person's name that, conducted a study and claims that around 50% of infantry soldiers do not fully engage targets. He based it off interviews and some type of ammunition reports conducted by combat units.

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