Saturday, June 25, 2005

Marines Killed and Injured in Fallujah from Suicide Car Bomb

I heard the pundits talking today so I decided I should get out in front of it ASAP.

They are all repeating the same thing: the death and injury of so many female soldiers, who are not supposed to be on the front line, will further damage the US citizens' support for Iraq.

I wonder if that will be the case? As I heard and read the news, I did not feel anymore or less about Iraq or these casualties than at any other time nor if they had been men. That is to say that every casualty hurts. They hurt no more or less because of their gender.

As a person that advocates women in the military and seriously disagrees with any idea that women as a whole cannot perform at the same level as men and believes that their are important roles that women can fill, I cannot feel otherwise when they are injured or killed in the line of duty.

They can and have proven capable of fighting alongside their male counterparts. They have also on many other occassions been wounded and killed along with their male counterparts. Mostly, not in combat but by mortars falling into their bases and from IEDs or VBIEDs while traveling in convoys. Sometimes simply moving from base to base.

As the women in this unit were injured by a car bomb while in a convoy, they unfortunately fall in with the other hundreds of soldiers killed and wounded in the same manner.

The question posed is whether or not this changes our view of the war or any concept of women in the military. The only thing it reminds me is that IEDs and VBIEDs are the number one killers of soldiers in Iraq and I hope soon that we have developed better equipment and better strategies for thwarting these deadly attacks.

Part of me recognizes that there is something in our society that demands women should be protected and, if harmed, should be avenged. I think that you will see this come forward just as much as any anger about being there and needing to leave.

Unfortunately, I believe that you will see both sides of the "women in the military" use this as an item to beat each other with. I hear already the media using it as a tool to beat the entire Iraq campaign with.

I am thinking that it is likely these women were largely volunteers for their mission. From several women military bloggers, I get the impression that they have to ask to go out with convoys and missions. They may get assigned if it is a matter of searching women, but I know several women also noted that they were happy to go do this so that they could play a greater role in securing Iraq. Not for some sort of "I am woman, hear me roar", but because they have the same ethos as their male counterparts: it is duty, it is honor, it is feeling that the direct mission or the over all mission is important.

That is what I want to focus on. Not whether it is right or wrong, but because these women serve, with little complaint and with just as much hardship as their male counterparts. When it comes down to the mission and their service, the women I have had the pleasure to talk to or hear or read, they don't want special recognition for doing the same thing the men do. They just want to do it because it's right.

Is it so hard for people to understand that women can have the same drive as men in regards to honor, duty and country?

Who among us can say that their's is more or less, is more or less valuable, is more or less necessary than any others?

Further, it is an interesting situation when attempting to remove women from the theater would result in a serious man power issue, already a problem in the military today with multiple rotations. Further, there are no battle lines. The only way women could be removed from the situation is to remove them from Iraq completely. If you don't understand this already, it is impossible to do so with out directly affecting our forces, unit coherency and loss of technical expertise. Whether they are clerks, MPs, analysts, pilots, they are there and they exist in a zone of danger no less or more than their male counterparts.

They ask for nothing beyond allowing them to serve as they can and as they wish.

On this post, I do not give you only the name of the woman that is reported killed, but the man who died beside her:

Lance Cpl Holly A Charette, Marine
Cpl Chad Powell, Marine

As the dead and wounded are identified, there will be other names to add to the list, but I believe that these two known and those that will be named deserve but one epitaph:

They served.
The few.
The proud.
The Marines.

On a separate note, with so many dead and injured, I hope our men and women go out there, find the guys responsible and kick their butts back to what ever third world country they came from or, preferably, all the way to Allah. Please give them their wish with a special note of "up yours" from me.

PS..can't resist. Found via Capt. Barb

Did you know that it was a woman that captured number 55 on the Iraq most wanted list? I mean literally ran him down and smacked him with the butt of her rifle. All he kept saying was, "You're a woman." Heh. Nothing gets past these guys.


Indigo Red said...

"Soldier played her cards right

Nabs Iraqi official


The Examiner

One of Iraq's most wanted generals was run down over the weekend by a young soldier who just a few years ago was running down opponents on the Fort Osage High School track team.

U.S. Army Specialist Heather Baldus, 21, of Independence, was standing guard duty west of Bagdad along the road to Syria. In a call to her mother Saturday, Baldus related the story of how she chased down General Husam (Hossam) Mohammed Amin.

"She was standing post with this other soldier when she saw some movement in a bush by the road," explained Baldus' mother, Kim James, of Sibley. "She told the guy to cover her while she checked it out."

As Baldus approached, she came under fire from unseen gunmen in surrounding buildings. A man bolted from the bush ahead and she pursued, knocking him to the ground with a blow to the head from the butt of her weapon..."

What a gal! What a soldier!

an american said...

Don’t know what the pundits are saying, nor do I care. I already know what I believe.

I am a bit sexist. I often open doors for those carrying the XX chromosome, I pull back a chair at a restaurant dining table. I call it manners, I don’t care what the pundits call it.

However, when it comes to a woman deciding to be a combat fighter pilot or frontline grunt, I say welcome and thank you. If she can meet the qualifications of the job and knows what it entails in all aspects, I’d give her the courtesy of treating her as an intelligent adult and let her do her chosen job. And if others in her unit or the country have a problem with her doing that, I’d say they should follow her example of being an intelligent adult and not try to diminish her service with their punditry.

However, the sexist part of me returns. If it were found or believed that these women were specifically targeted because of their chromosomes, if these women’s units were a little more “focused” the next time they encountered the bad guys, I got no problem with that.

Indigo Red said...

I do the same for the double X'ers, especilly those carrying an M-16.

Barb said...

Great post, Kat -- way to go!

The Seattle Times headline was "Iraq suicide bomber strikes female Marines", which is just plain silly. They were Marines - Period.

They were doing their job, and once again we get no credit for doing it with concern for the local population. Grrrr....