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Chick Fighter Pilot's Association

| 16 Comments

Chick Fighter Pilots Cartoon

Capt. Allison "Angel of Death" Black. Maj. Melissa "SHOCK" May. Not to mention STAC, Schwing, CUDA, Lex, G-spot, Fifi, Hak, Torch, Snake, Shaq, Blaze, Tuzzi, and many others. If it flies, they fly it. Stealth fighters, F-16s, bombers, special forces gunships, you name it. Gannett's Air Force Times has a few stories for you. (Hat Tip: Spoook86)

Master Sgt. Kimberly Sulipeck, with 450 hours on AC-130H gunships in Afghanistan, nails it:

"If you’re new to the system, you prove yourself whether you’re male or female... You do your job, do it right, and that’s the way it goes."

Or, there's the motto of the CFPA itself:

"We are a small group, but the point of the CFPA is not to set ourselves apart. We are, first and foremost, Fighter Pilots. That's our priority."

Yup. I don't see women in navy shipboard service as a good idea for number of reasons. On the other hand, I watch the combat line blurring in the Army without much worry. But I'm positively enthusiastic about the idea of women in the Air Force. It's an excellent place on many levels, including physiology that can be an advantage. And every day, women in America fly combat missions that prove the soundness of the concept

Visit fighterchicks.com to meet more... and let's not forget my favorite A-10 pilot, Capt. Kim "Killer Chick" Campbell.

16 Comments

Joe, just curious what you think might be wrong with women in shipboard service. I spent three years as a division officer on an aircraft carrier, in the most gender-mixed department on the ship. At one point, my immediate superior and my immediate subordinate were both female, as were four of my fellow division officers. The people in my division were nearly 40% female.

It never occurred to me to walk across the brow on Day One looking for all the problems that come from having women aboard, or to eye all those females around me with suspicion. Maybe in your eyes I should have?

Sailors, for the most part, are professionals. And I spent a vastly greater portion of my time dealing with problems among the male sailors than I did worrying about the women. And when it was just us guys around, I never heard anyone complain about the women's presence on the ship.

So, from my three years' experience as part of a crew of thousands, it sure looks like it's working.

Did I miss something? Have you gleaned some greater truth from your vantage point on shore that I missed during three years of sea duty?

BD, your argument from personal experience is powerful and very relevant. It is not wholly shared by everyone in your profession, however, or by naval tradition. Some of the objections advanced strike me as good and valid ones, based on an inherently different environment than that faced by AF and Army colleagues. It can be done, certes - but can it be done reliably enough in the Navy?

Jim Rockford's recent comment here - and in a much more amusing line, avedis' - briefly illustrate a couple of the issues.

Perhaps there are completely different issues between officers and able bodied seamen. The percentage of pregnant sailors in the Gulf War was staggering.

As far as female combat pilots are concerned, the cartoon caption says it all. I love it.

As a Navy veteran from a time when women were not allowed to serve shipboard (in most instances, and certainly not on a carrier) I'd like to make this statement.

Either women should be allowed to do just about every type of duty men do in the Navy, or we shouldn't allow women in the Navy.

Talk about a morale killer. Your transitioning from shore duty to sea duty and calling your detailer weekly trying to maybe get assigned to preferred ship or squadron. And then your female shipmate complains that she'll have to do her "sea tour" in Puerto Rico.

The same goes transitioning from sea duty to shore duty. Women filling so many of the shore duty billets make your choices very limited.

But then this is from a practicality view, and the Navy has never been very practical on this subject.

Joe,

Re: avedis' comment... You think that doesn't happen in any deployment environment? In the Green Zone, or BIAP? At every US base in Kuwait, where troops of all branches are penned in together and generally can't leave? We had many more male-female problems (of the consensual but prohibited variety, fortunately) when I was over there than we ever did during my carrier tour.

Jim Rockford raised the pregnancy angle. Army, Air Force, Marine, and Coast Guard women are immune to that before they deploy to the sandbox? Again, using my own personal experience, we had one pregnant woman out of a department of 300+ people before cruise. And zero among a similar-sized group before my trip to the desert.

But I think the question is whether there is an argument that is specific to the shipboard environment, and that doesn't apply to the isolated, confined environments that all the armed forces face today. Is there one?

Granted, my comment relates to post Gulf War, pre-Iraq War deployments. But I think the issue still stands. You can inquire at most Milblogs on the issue, particularly Mudville Gazette or Blackfive, and probably get on average the same issues.

Fraternization IS a major concern, over and above merely becoming pregnant. Fraternization lay at the heart of Abu Graihb, where Grainer engaged in abusive and degrading treatment of prisoners to amuse and impress Lyndie England.

Women in the services also raise the disturbing specter of Affirmative Action. In another respect Affirmative Action was a contributing cause of Abu Graihb. As General Janice Karpinski was grossly incompetent and derelict of duty (not personally inspecting on-the-job operations of her troops but hiding behind her desk). It's unlikely that this was the first incompetent act of Karpinski, but the system determined to put Political Correctness over fighting efficiency kept her in command. A command she was manifestly unfit for.

I am quite certain that the women mentioned are as able as the men to perform their primary duty. But there are other areas where they are frankly a liability:

*Women in combat reduce the ability of political leaders to use the military. For fear of political fallout of attractive young women killed in combat or raped/executed on video as POWs. Leaving us with impotent missile strikes or nuclear weapons as the force continuum.

*Women as helicopter and fixed wing aircraft pilots are less able to practice escape and evasion due to limitations in upper body strength. This is not a trivial matter.

*Women in combat roles (and all military in an operational theater are now combat troops like it or not) have produced some bad results historically -- the Israelis found their troops generally went on killing sprees when their female soldiers were killed or wounded. This happens for obvious reasons and in a modern, media-driven war is a disaster. Essentially a defeat.

*Captured women ala Pvt. Jessica Lynch can produce overwhelming internal and external (political) pressure to launch rescue missions even when chance of success is nil and it's likely to get the rescuers massacred. Which in public media wars can mean instant defeat regardless of anything else.

The Israelis facing continuing severe manpower shortages abandoned women in combat roles. Meanwhile the hollow, paper-forces of NATO have enhanced women's roles in combat positions, while their forces have essentially zero combat effectiveness as shown in Afghanistan.

I certainly don't doubt the fitness of the above women to perform their duties. But there should be a limit to Political Correctness.

Jim,

I'll grant you the fraternization point. The solution to that is leadership. Officers and NCOs should be clear about the rules, clear about the consequences of breaking the rules, and consistent in applying the consequences. Just like any other discipline problem.

As for affirmative action, it's in the eye of the beholder. I could tell you it's not a matter of policy and that the last time I saw any evidence of it was during my midshipman days. But people generally believe what they want to believe when it comes to this issue, so we'll probably have to leave it at that.

Now for your bullet points.

*Women in combat reduce the ability of political leaders to use the military. For fear of political fallout of attractive young women killed in combat or raped/executed on video as POWs. Leaving us with impotent missile strikes or nuclear weapons as the force continuum.

We've had attractive young women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. We've had them killed on the USS Cole and in the Khobar Towers. Has that kept us from sending women out on ships, or posting them overseas? Did the sixteen female casualties and two female POWs from Desert Storm in 1991 keep us from going back into Iraq in 2003? Did we pull our troops out after the Jessica Lynch incident

*Women as helicopter and fixed wing aircraft pilots are less able to practice escape and evasion due to limitations in upper body strength. This is not a trivial matter.

Success in an escape and evasion environment depends primarily on brain power, not muscle power. I suppose upper body strength could possibly come into play while resisting captors, but it's unlikely to be a fair fight even for a man who benches 350. In most situations, a downed aircrew is going to be vastly outnumbered on the ground. Covert movement and concealment are the keys to getting out, not physical combat. If you're in a hand to hand fight with the bad guys, you've already failed no matter what gender you are.

*Captured women ala Pvt. Jessica Lynch can produce overwhelming internal and external (political) pressure to launch rescue missions...

A fair point. I'd blame media coverage more than anything, though. The media covers stories about women with the wall-to-wall 24/7 blitz of Jessica Lynch. Cover anything that heavily, and people start thinking it's important. Look at O.J. Until the media treats stories about women the same way they treat stories about male troops, this problem won't go away.

The political problems associated with female military being put in harms way... I think the liability is essentially artificial. Not that it's not real but that it's not... organic, it's artificial.

Not doing what works because congresspersons will have kittens... I always think of the single most deadly incident for females in Iraq which was essentially caused by stupid rules (IMHO) about what female soldiers can do and where they can be. It was too dangerous to travel so male soldiers stayed at the check points. But danger was second place when it came to concerns about female soldiers and they were delivered and collected up in a bus every day. That was artificial and it was stupid and the enemy blew up the bus.

Karpinski may have been promoted above her ability because she was female or she may have been promoted above her ability because she crossed her T's, dotted her I's and never faced a crisis.

There was one other thing I was going to say... oh, yeah, babies.

Unfortunately, the years for military service are the years for childbearing. The men are all having babies, too. It just doesn't cause as many problems when they do it. ;-)

Actually I ran into KC atthe Trough at the Weapons School on Friday Night, she's Major Campbell now :)

A woman's life is no more valuable than is a man's. If they're in, they should be required to do every duty a man would be required to do.
Want affirmative action? Make only woman fight the next war.

Yeah, everybody thinks women are OK in some OTHER combat arm.

Seriously, you need to read "Co-ed Combat" by Kingsley Browne. I've got 10 pages to go, and I have to say it is the most scholarly work you will ever read on the subject of women in combat. I plan on doing a full review at Amazon soon.

This week I recommended it to my Daughter-in-Law who's an AF Officer to help her understand what environment she really works in.

I predict the 'Co-ed Combat' will be largely ignored by the hard core feminists, political Generals and academia for a long as possible, because it is far too potent a source of exposure for the PC social activists to even hope to discredit.

Personal experience says I have to agree with BD. 22+ years in the USN, and 17 of them assigned to sea duty. My first sea command had zero females. My last two tours had a very large contingent of females onboard, and with very few exceptions, they had little negative impact on any deployment or mission. Yes, having females onboard was different. If anything, the female way of thinking (and it IS different) caused us to reexamine some of our processes, as well as capabilities.

Relatively few of them ended up pregnant and missing deployment. Just as many males missed deployment for various reasons.

Very few of them were unable to "pull thier weight". Just as many males, or more, slacked off. The challenge here is to expect females to perform the same as the males. I could have cared less what the sex of my Sailor was... I just wanted the task completed correctly. And when it wasn't done correctly, more times than not, it was the male who did it wrong.

The problem, if it can be called that, is the ATTITUDE. Someone on here is discussing the problem with "attractive" young females being killed. This statement alone shows that to some people it is LOOKS that count, as opposed to ABILITY. You simply aren't even giving them the chance to succeed with an arguement like that. The females I worked with, attractive or not, had the ability and desire to succeed. They did. Those that didn't were handled appropriately, which was the exact same way we handled the males.

Now, having said that, I will concur that having females onboard could have caused problems. It didn't, and I credit great leadership for ensuring that sex did not play a part in assignments, etc.

Interesting points...

"*Women in combat reduce the ability of political leaders to use the military. For fear of political fallout of attractive young women killed in combat or raped/executed on video as POWs. Leaving us with impotent missile strikes or nuclear weapons as the force continuum."

I really can't see our politicians recommending a nuclear strike because of a woman being abused as a POW. And as far as "reduced ability of our political leaders and use of the military"...I deploy just as often as my male counterparts...there has never been a discussion about my gender...I have a job and I do it.

"*Women as helicopter and fixed wing aircraft pilots are less able to practice escape and evasion due to limitations in upper body strength. This is not a trivial matter."

Sorry, I have to disagree...I went through the same combat survival training as my male counterparts which, in my group, were in their early 20's and I was in my 30's...a couple of them had a hard time keeping up with me and yes, I ended up caring some extra items in my pack because a few people couldn't carry the weight. I evaded just fine even with the 60lb pack and did not get caught...two of my fellow airmen did. Also, I'm not superwoman...I'm an average size and weight for a woman.

How do you correlate upper body strength with evading? Who in the world would take a 60lb pack with them on an aircraft just in case they have to evade? I carry water, a gun, a jacket and a 10 pound evasion kit.

"*Women in combat roles (and all military in an operational theater are now combat troops like it or not) have produced some bad results historically -- the Israelis found their troops generally went on killing sprees when their female soldiers were killed or wounded. This happens for obvious reasons and in a modern, media-driven war is a disaster. Essentially a defeat."

If one of our own dies at the hands of an enemy...I think we all have our fangs out a bit whether it's a woman or man...it's about one of our own being killed.

"*Captured women ala Pvt. Jessica Lynch can produce overwhelming internal and external (political) pressure to launch rescue missions even when chance of success is nil and it's likely to get the rescuers massacred. Which in public media wars can mean instant defeat regardless of anything else."

"Leave no one behind"...I think that covers men and women. Roberts Ridge: We launched a rescue to retrieve a dead body. Lost 3 SOF doing that, one of which was a past friend of mine. Our media sensationalizes what we do.
Ref:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13233811/

kms

I recently retired from the Navy (MCPO) after 30 yrs. My most enjoyable tour was spent as a division officer in charge of a group of mostly women. They worked hard, they wanted to prove themselves and they wanted to lay to rest the negative stereotypes that persist about women in the military.
They succeeded in all areas and were regarded as the best division on an almost 250 person Flag Staff. Granted, our military specialty placed a premium on cognitive ability and decison making skills, so there were few, if any, requirements to demonstrate physical traits such as strength or endurance. Bottom line: They were at least the equal of any group of men in the same career field.

The only female-centric problem I had was with fraternization. Although some rules were in place to address this issue, they were only enforced in the breach. Someone's career, professional advancement or the reputation of the unit took precedent over maintaining good order and discipline. The ship's messdecks often resembled a high school cafeteria. Chief Petty Officers were forced to become the Love Police. Persuasion, Reason, and ultimately, coercion, could only go so far in keeping the moths from the flame.

It wasn't always so:

When the Navy first integrated men and women on combatant ships beginning in the mid 1990’s, it was necessary, for overtly political reasons, to downplay the possibility of sex becoming a distraction in a shipboard environment. To that end, many Commanding Officers established "no dating" rules. COs wanted and, the situation demanded, that this be a cut and dried issue. That is, no romantic relationships were to be allowed between crewmembers of the same ship.
In order to maintain the credibility of the rule, Commanding Officers had to hold people accountable. Lots of people were held accountable. Commanding Officers ended up spending a lot of/too much time adjudicating these cases and many servicemembers had their careers terminated or placed into jeopardy for having violated this rule.
As the mid ’90s stretched into a late '90s recruiting/manning crisis, we realized that we needed to keep people in, not throw them out. Guess what? The rule got changed. We decided that we couldn’t afford the cost of our own high standards.
Romance and inappropriate relationships onboard ships are now fairly widespread. It truly complicates/compromises professional relationships and is disruptive to the mission accomplishment (anecdotes available upon request). Leaders spend too much time dealing with this issue and it’s ramifications and often find themselves placed in the role of the Love Judge. Way too much “he said-she said” going on. I suspect that the Navy is not alone in having to deal with this.

did you know that in the uk women were used to fly planes from the factory to the air fields in ww2
regards john gibson

After reading the story of capt. Blacke I am deeply shocked.
She used her voice to "taunt the Taliban as they bled" !! "It is the angel of death raining fire upon you".
It is disgusting to see this cruelty toward undefended people. Even women and children are often killed in these strikes.
HOW CAN A MOTHER DO THIS ?
I AM SCARED BY THIS VIOLENCE.
IT IS NOT HUMAN.

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