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Posted on Oct 30, 2002 Print this Article


Observers nationwide applauded when the Bush Administration allowed the Charter of the 51 year-old Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) to expire on February 28. The 33-member tax-funded advisory committee, primarily composed of civilian women, had come under fire from the Center for Military Readiness and many other organizations because of its relentless promotion of feminist causes in the military. Dr. David Chu, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, dismissed Clinton-era members, and pledged that a new committee with a more constructive agenda would eventually be established. All seemed promising until October 18, when Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz announced the appointment of a new DACOWITS chairman, retired Marine Lt. Gen. Carol Mutter. Gen. Mutter deserves respect for serving her country with distinction. Prior to her retirement in 1999, she became the highest-ranking female officer in the military, with leadership experience in logistics, data processing, financial management, research, development and acquisition. As Marine Corps Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, she had frequent dealings with the old DACOWITS. The problem is that Dr. Wolfowitz and Dr. Chu seem to have forgotten something fundamental: Not all Marines think alike, any more than women do. Before selecting Gen. Mutter as the new DACOWITS Chairman, these officials should have considered the implications of her close association with the feminist Alliance for National Defense, an organization led by some of the most doctrinaire advocates of Clinton-era social engineering in the military. Gen. Mutter’s membership on the organization’s Council of Advisors raises questions about the direction the new Committee will take under her leadership. Will the DACOWITS faithfully follow its new Charter, or will it pursue the same agenda, favored by Alliance leaders, that the old DACOWITS promoted for years? CAREERISM AS THE PRIMARY GOAL It would have been better for the Pentagon to retire the name of the controversial DACOWITS, a high-budget committee of civilian amateurs that had long outlived its usefulness. Most of the constructive things DACOWITS set out to do for military women were accomplished decades ago. With so many accomplished women serving in positions of high authority, the amateur DACOWITS became a troublesome anachronism and an embarrassment to uniformed women who want to serve as part of a unified, cohesive team. The committee’s reputation suffered even more during the eight years of President Bill Clinton, when its recommendations became increasingly extreme and oblivious to the harsh realities of close combat. In the fashion of Thelma and Louise, the DACOWITS committee had nowhere to go but off the edge. Despite strong objections from combat experts, the clueless civilian women of DACOWITS repeatedly passed unanimous recommendations demanding the assignment of women to submarines, Special Operations Forces helicopters, and multiple launch rocket (field artillery) systems (MLRS). Never mind that the majority of military women, most of whom are enlisted, wanted nothing to do with involuntary assignments to combat units. It is important to understand, despite protestations to the contrary, that the ultimate goal of DACOWITS activism has always been career advancement for women in the military, primarily for female officers. As they see it, women’s combat exemptions are a "barrier" to women’s advancement, so they must be eliminated no matter what the consequences or cost. Whether intended or not, Dr. Wolfowitz’s speech announcing the appointment of Gen. Mutter encouraged the politically correct pursuit four-star female promotions as a primary objective. ( Feminists also favor elimination of young women’s exemption from Selective Service registration--a logical consequence if women serve in land combat units in a future war. In their mind, these goals must be achieved so that a woman will be promoted someday to four-star rank. How else to achieve the dream appointment of a woman to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? Even if that were true, it still would not be a good enough reason to force women into Selective Service and combat obligations on the same basis as men. AN OPPORTUNITY MISSED Discontinuance of the DACOWITS on February 28 indicated that the Bush Administration was prepared to take a more serious approach to the needs and requirements of national defense. The new Charter adopted in March directed the advisory committee to concentrate on military family readiness issues that were all but ignored by the previous committee. The Center for Military Readiness offered to assist in that effort by publishing a comprehensive list of issues that require a new and objective review. (See CMR Notes, Apr. 2002) CMR also reminded Pentagon officials that it was critical to select a new chairman with a completely different vision--one that would take the committee in a new, more positive direction. Instead, Dr.Wolfowitz and Dr. Chu have announced the appointment of a new DACOWITS Chair who is closely allied with the Alliance for National Defense, an organization whose leaders have displayed near-fanatic devotion to the same radical agenda as the old DACOWITS. THE ALLIANCE FOR NATIONAL DEFENSE The list of officers, board members and advisors of the feminist Alliance for National Defense, displayed on the organization’s website, is a veritable "Who’s Who" of Pentagon feminists and allies who led the charge for social engineering during the Clinton era. The entire roster, headed by President Brig. Gen. Evelyn "Pat" Foote, USA (Ret), should have given the Pentagon pause. Gen. Foote co-chaired the controversial 1997 Senior Review Panel, established in the aftermath of sensational sex scandals that occurred at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and Army gender-integrated basic training bases nationwide. The resulting three-volume report blamed everyone but the officials who were responsible for Army co-ed basic training and other personnel policies that were conducive to widespread indiscipline. In 1998, General Foote made front-page news by sending a vituperative four-page letter to House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Personnel Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Steve Buyer, accusing Chairman Buyer of conducting a committee hearing on the issue of co-ed basic training that she called a "kangaroo court" and a "travesty." Gen. Foote's letter, which also criticized Marine Corps personnel policies, was sparked because Chairman Buyer and other HASC members were trying to get a fair and balanced overview of gender-integrated basic training from a number of people expressing different views. (See CMR Notes, Apr. 1998) Witnesses at the hearing included former Senator Nancy Kassebaum Baker and other members of a Defense Department commission she headed, which voted unanimously for an end to Army co-ed basic training. Also testifying were several uniformed officials from the various services, Gen. Foote herself, retired Army Col. Michael Duggan of the American Legion, and Elaine Donnelly of CMR. Gen. Foote’s demand for censorship of the latter two witnesses says a great deal about the organization she heads, the Alliance for National Defense. MORE ODD ALLIANCES It is even more surprising to see the name of Marine Lt. Gen. Mutter in the company of civilian attorney Sara Lister, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Personnel. Sara Lister was primarily responsible for the re-introduction of Army co-ed basic training in 1994, despite the risk of higher injuries among women, less challenge for the men, and sexual misconduct that scandalized the nation. In 1997, Lister was forced to resign after she publicly characterized the Marines as "extremists." Capt. Georgia Sadler, USN (Ret.), a member of the organization’s Board of Directors, is a staunch advocate of the problematic pregnancy policies of former Navy Secretary John Dalton, which subsidize single parenthood and create non-deployability problems. Additional Board members who have been associated with the DACOWITS include Capt Barbara Brehm, USN (Ret), Col. Barbara Lee, USA, and Lt. Col. Margaret Flott, USA. As previously reported in CMR Notes (Nov. 2001), Lt. Col. Flott was involved in the plan to train women soldiers in the Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Training Acquisition (RSTA) squadrons, a sub-unit of the Army’s new, yet-to-be-deployed Interim/Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCT)s. In the summer of 2001, 27 members of the House Armed Services Committee joined Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) in addressing a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, inquiring about the co-ed training of women in the land combat RSTA squadrons. CMR confirmed that the program had been instigated surreptitiously, despite Pentagon rules exempting women from land combat and laws requiring congressional notification. Army officials rightly ended the practice in May, with no career penalty to the women involved. Also involved in the Alliance Council of Advisors are liberal ideologues such as sociologist Dr. Mady Segal, Lawrence Korb, a leading advocate of homosexuals in the military, and retired Marine Col. Paul E. Roush. Col. Roush promoted his liberal views by writing a cover story for the Naval Institute’s Proceedings magazine, attacking former Secretary of the Navy James Webb. Letters of protest roiled the "Letters" pages of Proceedings for a record number of months. The Alliance Advisory Council list includes Nancy Duff Campbell, Co-President of the reliably militant National Women's Law Center, and Maj. General Jeanne Holm, USAF (Ret.), a staunch feminist and one of four former DACOWITS members. In addition, Alliance advisors include four former DACOWITS Chairs of the Clinton era (Dr. Judith Youngman, Mary Wamsley, Ellen Murdoch and Holly Hemphill), and former Navy official Barbara S. Pope, who instigated untold turmoil in the aftermath of the Tailhook scandal that demoralized naval aviation for almost a decade. CONSTRUCTIVE CHANGE--OR CENSORSHIP OF DIFFERING VIEWS? Twelve additional DACOWITS members were announced on October 22 (See list below), but Chairman Mutter will be largely responsible for hiring the staff, setting the tone, and shaping the culture of what was supposed to be a new and useful institution operating under the Charter announced in March. Given the intolerant attitudes expressed by persons associated with the Alliance for National Defense, it will be interesting to see whether Chairman Mutter will be more receptive to views that differ from those of the old DACOWITS. An October 2000 letter that Gen. Mutter wrote to the Editors of American Legion Magazine, severely criticizing the Legion for publishing an otherwise well-received article by Elaine Donnelly, does not inspire confidence. General Mutter had every right to take issue with Donnelly’s article, though her letter disputed very little in it. Instead, the primary point of the letter was to question the Legion’s support for women veterans, just because the magazine had published "Women in Combat--Time for a Review." To its credit, the Legion published an "Editors’ Note" summarizing the organization’s exemplary record in that regard, and reiterating the organization’s opposition to women serving in combat units. CMR stands ready to assist the new committee with a wealth of information on issues that are very much in need of a fresh look. It remains to be seen, however, whether the new committee will welcome the views of people nationwide who, like the American Legion, support women in the military but do not support women serving in combat units such as submarines, Special Operations helicopters, and units that engage in land combat. All of these communities offer excellent "career opportunities," but their training, culture, and standards should not be altered and gender-normed just to ensure four stars for a future female officer. SOMETHING NEW, OR MORE OF THE SAME? DACOWITS has always been unusual and troublesome because of the institution’s willfully single-minded agenda and procedures. Regardless of which political party occupied the White House or ran the Pentagon, the old committee continued to push for the elimination of women’s combat exemptions in incremental steps, without any objective review of the consequences of past recommendations. It remains to be seen whether the new institution will depart from that agenda, and begin an objective analysis of long-overdue problems associated with Clinton-era policies such as co-ed basic training, gender-based quotas, gender-normed scores, and overly generous pregnancy policies that subsidize and encourage single parenthood and non-deployability/readiness problems. Contrary to statements made by Dr. Chu in March, the Pentagon’s news release raised expectations that the new committee will conduct feminist business as usual. Instead of emphasizing the expected "fresh look" at family and readiness issues that are important to the Department of Defense, it suggested that the committee will continue installation visits and focus groups that are not even mentioned in the new Charter. If the new committee picks up where the old DACOWITS left off, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should not hesitate to abolish it for good. With the War on Terrorism entering a new phase, the Secretary of Defense must concentrate on leading the armed forces and defending America, instead of being distracted by doctrinaire feminists with a different agenda in mind. 103002 NOTE: Additional members of the new DACOWITS announced on October 22 are as follows: Catherine Aspy, Keizer, OR; Lynda Davis, Great Falls, VA; J.P. Duniphan, Rapid City, SD; Bonnie Fuller Ford, Albuquerque, NM; Julie Hamre, Bethesda, MD; Constance Horner, Washington D.C.; Susan Patane, Loma Linda, CA; Col. Darryl Ladd Pattillo, USA Reserve (Ret.), Austin, TX; Margaret Robson, Washington D.C.; Virginia Rowell, Vienna, VA; Col. Vance Shaw, USAFR (Ret.); and Rosalie Silberman, Washington D.C. (Members Hamre and Patane were year 2000 appointees to the previous DACOWITS.)
Posted on Oct 30, 2002 Print this Article