The Navy has told congress that women will begin serving on submarines by the end of the year with Naval Academy graduates leading the way. -Well, it's about time.
Women have been serving in the military for as long as there has been a military and we men have been very slow to give them the recognition they deserve.
Historically, women have been in war since the very begining. The Greeks talked about the Amazons and several city states were quiet proud of their all-female units. The Britons, fighting the Romans have several examples of women leading them in their campaigns. In more modern times there are plenty of examples of women fighting right along side the men. Here are just a couple of quick examples, look at the Soviet Army in World War II. Some of he toughest and most feared units fighting the Germans were female infantry units. One fighter pilot that became the 2nd highest scoring ace in the Russian Air Force was a woman, and one of the deadliest snipers fighting at Stalingrad was a 30 year old former waitress! Women serve shoulder to shoulder with the men in the Israeli Army, and those guys are some seriously professional soldiers.
In our own military women have been relagated to nursing and support positions but have, nevertheless, made important and invaluable contributions. There are a number of examples of them fighting in combat. In one case during the 2nd world war a Japanese Banzai attack had broken through the front lines and sweep into a field hospital - the women nurses took up arms protecting the wounded and successfully beat back the attack.
One of the first arguments was that having women in such close contact with men would "cause distractions", "undermine discipline" and "would be bad for unit cohesion". These are exactly, word for word, the same arguments that were made in the late 1940's to President Truman when the Army lead society by integrating Blacks into the rest of the military. They are the same arguments being given for keeping gays from serving. They were wrong then, they are wrong now. They are based on nothing more than thinly veiled prejudice and ignorance.
Make no mistake, the argument that existing prejudice will cause some problems as units are integrated is probably true. There are some people that will have a hard time adjusting to women serving on ships and in combat. But we can not continue to let the prejudices of a few out weight the interests of the country. Women have an important contribution to make to our national security. They are a pool of talent and ability that is right there, ready, willing and able. We should be grateful for the ability to draw on this resource to enhance our combat readiness.
One major argument has been that women on ships and sharing fox-holes is going to lead to some unwanted fraternization. Well yeah! You bet it will! But so what? When it happens, just deal with it. Look, this is not going to turn into "open house" at the frat house! The incidents will happen, but the women that will be serving are dedicated, hard working women who are interested in their careers and in serving the country. Incidents will happen just the same way they do in civilian life -and they will be handled the same way. Break the rules and pay the price. That's the way it should be.
There is a good example from last month right in the Navy. The Commanding Officer of a destroyer, the USS Truxtun, was relived of his command for having an "inappropriate relationship" with a female officer. The incident came to light, is being investigated and will be dealt with - and that's just the way it should be. The Navy did not fall apart, the ship did not sink and the rest of the crew did not announce they wanted out of the Navy because of it. And, more importantly, women have been serving on ships for several years now and have proven their value -time and time again.
It's about time we stopped under-rating the intelligence of our servicemen and their ability to change, adapt and overcome. It's time we stopped projecting old prejudices on our military professionals and start enjoying the benefits of service by these valuable people.