BREAKING: Military will open all combat jobs to women, Defense secretary announces
WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Thursday said... All U.S. military combat jobs, including infantry units, will be open to women beginning next year, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Thursday.

“Carter said the decision was part of his commitment to build a force of the future. The ban will be lifted in 30 days, he said, and the services have until April 1 to accommodate women in all roles.

The armed services had been given a Dec. 31 deadline to allow women into all of its units, including elite special operations ground combat position, or to request a waiver. Those exceptions had to be backed by data showing why women would not be able to accomplish the necessary tasks.

Carter acknowledged that the Marines asked for some exceptions, Carter said, “but we are a joint force.”

“​There will be no exceptions,” Carter said.

Carter’s decision comes almost three years after his predecessor Leon Panettaannounced that he had lifted the two-decade ban that prevented women from most combat jobs.

Read the full piece and watch the video here

Rand Paul Introduces Amendment to End Draft

Rand Paul’s amendment would completely end the compulsory draft.

Written by Jacqueline Klimas for the Washington Examiner:

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has introduced an amendment to the Senate’s fiscal 2017 defense policy bill that would do away with the draft entirely.

The draft has played a major role in debate of this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, the first considered by Congress since the ban on women serving in combat was lifted late last year.

The House Armed Services Committee voted to add all women ages 18-26 to the Selective Service, but the provision was later stripped out in the full House. The House version of the bill still includes a requirement from Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, that would require the Defense Department to look at whether a draft is even still needed. …

Here are some other amendments the Senate could consider: …

Paul introduced an amendment that would allow troops to carry either open or concealed firearms on military bases if the laws in the state where the base is located allow it.

Paul introduced another amendment to declassify the 28 pages of the 9/11 report that some suspect implicates Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 attack.

Read the entire article here.
Islamophobes Should See These Photos of Muslim American Service Members
A photo gallery of Muslims in the military
By Kyle Jaeger

In his Oval Office address on Sunday, President Barack Obama made several meaningful points about the dangers of Islamophobia in the U.S., emphasizing that Islamic extremists do not represent the Muslim population as a whole. He said that “Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes—and yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country.”

The fact that more than 6,000 Muslim Americans have served in the U.S. military since September 11, risking their lives to combat terrorism overseas, is often overlooked. And while Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said that Muslim servicemen would be exempt from hisproposed ban on Muslim immigration to the U.S., his statement nonetheless reflects a troubling anti-Islamic sentiment throughout the country.

In response to the Islamophobic comments of politicians that emerged after the attack in San Bernardino, California, last week, people have raised attention to Muslim Americans in the military by posting photos of servicemen, as well as the gravestones of those lost in combat, on social media.

Here are the faces of Islam in the U.S. Armed Services.

These photos show Muslim servicemen teaching their “battle buddies” about Ramadan, a holy month of fasting observed by Muslims.

Some Twitter users posted photos of the gravestones of decorated, Muslim servicemen who died during the U.S. military campaign known as “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

Ashley McNelis on Alex Matzke 

Alex Matzke enrolled in an MFA in Photography program soon after the ban on women serving in combat was lifted in January 2013. While women have been on the front lines for centuries, they have only recently been allowed to attach themselves to combat units. Matzke’s thesis project, If She Isn’t Working Miracles, What Is She Doing On The Battlefield?, concentrates on the private lives of servicewomen. Women, a minority in the military, deal with inequality and marginalization throughout their careers. Matzke interviewed and photographed several servicewomen for the project; the strongest correlation between the narratives was the experience of inequity.  

Women have always been distinctly disadvantaged in the military. Despite the rescinded combat ban, they are still on uneven ground. Even if a woman and a man started their basic training on the same day, for example, it is likely that the latter would be more advanced in their career later. Without a history of combat service, women are not eligible for the same pay, promotions, or PTSD treatments. If a woman joined the military before the combat ban was lifted 2013, their previous combat experience will not be counted.

These bureaucratic barriers are compounded by daily distractions and hindrances: the uniforms and gear, for example, are not outfitted for female bodies. This makes it uncomfortable and even dangerous to serve, as is evident in Matzke’s photograph, Gender Panic after Action Pants (2016). Sexual harassment, one of the most rampant issues facing women in the military, has been exposed on an international level. Despite this, sexual harassment remains highly problematic. As the frequent target of unsolicited attention from their peers and even their superiors, servicewomen are forced to vigilantly navigate the military status quo.

When Matzke first spoke with a young servicewoman named Erin about her life in the military, discussion quickly turned to sexual harassment. Almost immediately, Erin offered to share the archive of unwanted graphic images and messages she had received from male colleagues. In the featured photograph, Where is your wife mr (2013), Erin displays a text conversation on her phone in which her sergeant sent her a dick pic, to which she responds with the phrase that became the photograph’s title.

In her thesis essay, Matzke relates that she chose this particular exchange because of Erin’s ambivalence toward the incident. Matzke marveled at the line Erin has been “forced to walk … between taking a stand—breaking with protocol and going above her higher ranking officer, the man who sent the text—or being complicit to the abuse and say[ing] nothing.”[1] If the alarming amount of unsolicited material Erin—and undoubtedly, other servicewomen—has received from her colleagues and superiors is any indication, women cannot separate the personal from the professional in the military.

Read more in Mossless 4: Public/Private/Portrait, for which Ashley McNelis also wrote about Jason Hanasik’s I Slowly Watched Him Disappear.

When Women Lead Soldiers Into Battle

The ban on women in ground combat, which stood in some form ever since women were first permanently integrated into the U.S. military in 1948, has been lifted and all combat roles are now open to women. Since Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the new policy last December, the American military has also seen women ascend to positions in its highest ranks: Air Force General Lori Robinson became the country’s first female combatant commander, and Admiral Michelle Howard became the first female four-star admiral. It’s possible that a woman will soon, and for the first time, become the commander-in-chief of America’s armed forces.

Yet as much attention as some of these “firsts” have won, a quieter—and in some ways even more dramatic—shift is happening further down the ranks, as women stand poised to take command of combat units for the first time. In April, West Point graduate and Army Captain Kris Griest became the first female infantry officer; 22 otheryoung women have been commissioned as infantry and armor officers following their graduation from West Point, officer candidate, and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (R.O.T.C.) programs across the U.S. These are the combat units that until this year remained off-limits to women in the armed forces. These women still have officer-leader courses to complete before they actually take command of any troops.

But if they do pass, they would be in line to become platoon leaders in battalions that have seen a great deal of combat, and casualties, this past decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the U.S. military is currently deployed in far fewer numbers than during the height of the post-9/11 wars in the Middle East and South Asia, the tide of war has not yet receded, as U.S. President Barack Obama said it was doing back in 2011. The next time American conventional forces deploy, young women officers might, for the first time in American history, lead infantry soldiers into battle.

This is the outcome of a gradual process that accelerated over the past 15 years, as the United States looked for the best people it could find fit, able, and willing enough to go into battle on the country’s behalf following the attacks of September 11. Women were among those answering the call: They currently make up roughly 15 percent of America’s active-duty military. As a 2011 report from the Pew Research Center noted, between 1973 and 2010, the number of active-duty enlisted women grew from 42,000 to 167,000. Close to 300,000 women are estimated to have deployed to the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—that is compared to the approximately 41,000 women deployed in the Persian Gulf War. More than 160 women have been killed in action in these last 15 years of war.

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America’s view of its soldiers has been evolving, from World War II through to Korea and Vietnam and the first Gulf War. And today the view of who leads American forces on the ground is on the verge of reflecting today’s battlefield realities when it comes to women: They have been there for years and now their gender will no longer bar them from the opportunity to earn a chance to lead. Yet women at the center of this story, when I’ve spoken to them, have made it clear they have not set out not to prove any point. They don’t want to be “female leaders”—they just want to lead.

And to see everyone. Servicewomen have been recruited to serve on Female Engagement Teams and Cultural Support Teams in Afghanistan and Iraq in order to search and question women in those countries without giving cultural offense. The knowledge they have gained has saved American lives. Recently U.S. special-operations teams that include women have reported back on the situation facing Syrian women living under ISIS, as special-operations sources told me recently. When women are on the battlefield, particularly in countries where tradition and culture make it difficult for male soldiers to speak to local women, access to the entire population—and the knowledge and understanding that population possesses—is suddenly possible. But the female-engagement role is not the job most women in uniform fill. And now there are no roles that remain officially men-only.

In some ways, the rise of female combat officers is even more historic than the graduation last fall of three women from Ranger School, the Army’s premier leadership course that tests the physical mettle and mental strength of those who attempt it. While their achievement showed that some women could meet one of the military’s most rigorous and demanding tests and meet precisely the same standards as male soldiers, their Ranger School graduation actually guaranteed them little from the Army in terms of future assignments. At the time they graduated, prior to Carter’s changing the combat policy, the 75th Ranger Regiment remained closed to women. They wore the Ranger tab, but could not yet attempt Ranger Assessment and Selection Program.

Now the military—influenced, no doubt, by the performance of women on the front lines of war, in roles ranging from pilots to medics to cultural-support team members and engineers since 9/11, and by these first women Ranger graduates—is on the verge of assigning women to lead young men “outside the wire,” beyond the relative safety of their bases. They will take on the same risks and responsibilities as male officers and, consequently, the same opportunities for promotion. In future years some of these women may make it to company commander, leading 200 combat troops at a time, and perhaps some years after that, some will become battalion commanders, responsible for as many as 1,000 combat troops.

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And perhaps they may one day find themselves in line to reach the brass ring as chief of staff of the Army or even chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, roles traditionally filled by those who led combat units—all men, until now.

Now, the image of who leads the United States in war is about to evolve before the eyes of an entire nation.

Yet even when women were still officially banned from ground combat, they were going out alongside infantry soldiers and special-operations forces. Colonel David Fivecoat served three combat tours in Iraq, led a battalion in Afghanistan, and later oversaw the Ranger training program that included the three female graduates. At the National Infantry Museum, he introduced a book I wrote about an all-women special-operations team recruited for Ranger and SEAL missions back in 2011, and he spoke of “the charade many of us played with the direct ground combat rule. As a battalion commander in Afghanistan … I put two women to work side-by-side with each and every Rifle Company. Women … made real contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Now that the charade is over, the image of who leads the United States in war is about to evolve before the eyes of an entire nation. No doubt this shift will shock the system, at least initially, for those who enlist in the Army every year and form the backbone of the military’s largest service, and for the nation in whose name they serve. (The fact that women graduated from Ranger School alone generated a great deal of online heat in and outside of the Ranger community, much of it targeting Fivecoat; Ranger school instructors—some of whom served 13 special-operations deployments—have spoken to me about losing friends who feel certain the women received special treatment.)

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But it will shock even more the American public, which has long experienced a great distance from its post-9/11 wars. Women have often been silent bystanders in America’s stories of battle, even as they have taken on an ever-greater share of the fight. They have received silver stars, bronze stars, and purple hearts for their valor. And soon, the debate over whether women can lead and serve with honor will be forced to catch up with the reality: Women have been doing this for more than a decade.

Read more from The Atlantic:

This article was originally published on The Atlantic.