Defense Secretary Leon Panetta formally repealed the ban on women serving in the military this afternoon, subject to any objections the services may have. Some expect the special forces to object based on many of the same views that people used to justify the ban, mainly that women aren’t physically capable of doing what men can do. Repealing the ban meant rejecting that view overall, so I don’t see why it could be true in a subset of service but not true overall, given the unpredictable nature of combat. Especially when the Joint Chiefs supported lifting the ban unanimously, and surely they all would have considered this very issue.
On a related note, Allen West, one of the most repugnant 2010 freshmen in the House of Representatives, has come out strongly against lifting the ban. West was so unpopular that he lost his seat representing Florida’s 18th district after serving just two years, and he sued repeatedly to overturn unfavorable election results based on what turned out to be completely unsubstantiated and imaginary accusations of vote fraud. All of those lawsuits failed.
What makes West’s objection so amazing is that he himself was forced to retire from the Army in 2004 after an investigation into an incident in Taji, Iraq, where West was serving as an intelligence officer. West was tipped that insurgents were planning to ambush his unit, and rather than reporting this to his superiors and waiting for orders, he went out and detained a civilian Iraqi police officer who was then beaten by his men. West himself fired his pistol right next to the man’s head in order to extract information from him.
No evidence of any plot was ever found. While it’s possible that the Iraqi officer lied to keep the plot secret, it’s equally as possible that he was innocent of anything and was tortured for nothing.
West was charged with assault and if tried, would have faced up to 11 years in prison. But that never happened. The incident was swept under the rug with a $5,000 fine, reassignment, and West was allowed to retire with his rank and benefits intact with less severe punishment than if he had spit in his commander’s face. And this is the person who thinks allowing women to serve in combat will destroy the military.