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Readers Defend Women Bearing Arms

This morning we have something unusual. Most of our Readers Who Comment are in general agreement on a topic. The occasion for this near unity is a wonderful story by Ann Scott Tyson about Pfc. Monica Brown, an Army medic who was awarded a Silver Star for doing her job under intense fire in Afghanistan but who was then pulled from her unit because an Army policy says she shouldn't have been in that situation because she is a woman.

Most of our RWC find rules like this a little silly in the world we live in today. They point out, as does reporter Tyson, that modern warfare does not feature fixed lines of battle or predictable situations where one is more likely to be at risk. The old arguments that the presence of a woman disrupts the clear thinking of men appears in a few comments, but I did not see the term "weaker sex" anywhere, although it will probably appear before the day is over. And, to be sure, there are those who think war is a man's job only.

There are complaints about war in general and a reprise on the question of whether the U.S. should have cut back in Afghanistan to invade Iraq. But by far the majority of the comments simply salute a brave woman who did her job in enormously dangerous circumstances.

We'll start with ALincoln1, who expressed an ancient argument I first heard as an ROTC cadet in 1957, in writing, "...The problem is that women in a group a men destroy the cohesiveness of the unit... men will be competing for attention, and treating the woman differently regardless of how people on the home front feel..."

To which 8-man responded, "This is the sort of antiquated thinking that the war college says no longer applies to the modern battlefield. To suggest that the professional soldier cannot do his job properly in the company of females is absurd. It's the same tired argument that is barring gays from the military."

And fake1 added, "It's long past time due to include women (and gays) in combat units. The 'distraction' of having a woman on the front lines is less detrimental than the distraction of bleeding to death because you don't have a medic."

gce1356 saw more sinister motives in suggesting, "They can't risk getting her killed in Afghanistan. It would be like another Pat Tillman fiasco where the Army would fabricate some bogus story that she died heroically..."

And mcleangirl added, "gce1356, you have it right. if she got hurt, the army would be embarrassed. imagine an afghan woman watching a group of soldiers working side by side, no difference in status, and then she realizes that one of those soldiers is a woman. what great PR for western countries and womens rights."

But Apostrophe said, "I salute Specialist "Doc" Brown and thank her for her selfless and heroic service! Meanwhile, I offer a flying raspberry to those who put her in that position."

youngj1 wrote, "The irony of VP Cheney pinning a medal on SPC Brown is priceless. Thank you SPC Brown."

Scott76 said, "Case-in-point why the policies of the testosterone laden military needs to change. If she can do the job and willing to put herself in danger, then why is she being removed?..."

zerwyn wrote, "Finally a woman out of many who should be recognized. I hope that from now on they mention her instead of Jessica Lynch, the Army's most fraudulent story..."

JohnTovar said, "Excuse me Mr. Gates but haven't women been dying and getting hurt in Iraq. It is past time to get out of Iraq so that we can get it right in Afghanistan."

jellyhouse56 seems to be angry about something in asking, "Why take women out of combat situations?They want the same rights of men in the U.S. dont they?Its time to make them pull their wieight.whats good for the goose is good for the gander."

SarahBB said, "They should make up an award for what she did. No one should be subjected to a needless war. Maybe if we weren't surging in Iraq, she wouldn't have had to dodge bullets in Afghanistan. She did and her bravery should be recognized like any man's would."

Spiralshell wrote, "Courage is not defined by sex. This woman is brave, and she did not deserve to be pulled from her unit. This is bull."

pmorlan1 said, "Well done, soldier. It's wrong for women to be treated as 2nd class citizens in the military... This artificial, absurd barrier is disgraceful and is unfair to both our women and men."

jato1 wrote, "I was at an airport in the Southwest earlier today. A female soldier...shorter than I (and I'm not a tall guy) had the shoulder patch of an Eagle and Airborne.
So accomplished. Made me proud. She's got more strength of pride than a room full of guys like me. It's just that some men can't admit their accomplishments and acknowledge their courage.
and that's too very much sad"

llawrence9 suggested, "Lets do something right, and get PFC. Brown an appointment to one of the service academies. There is no doubt she has the right stuff, and can lead by example."

GHF_LRLTD said, "The war that the rules seem to be based on ended in McLean's parlor... Scrap the rule - it makes no sense in a time when information transfer and manipulation is what kills the other side, and any semblance of linear warfare is totally kaput."

But kirkwood1 wrote, "Don't even need to read the story. She shouldn't have been in a combat zone. Period."

meadmkr said, "Let them serve as they do in other countries. I'm also for equal rights so make women register for Selective Service as well !!!"

Last word goes to eab161, who asked, "Why would you pull a soldier out of combat after they received the Silver Star? Was that an "Ooops" on the part of the Army?... Spc. Brown, you make me proud to be a woman! Semper Fidelis..."

All comments on this article are hereu.

By Doug Feaver  |  May 1, 2008; 9:18 AM ET
Categories:  Afghanistan  
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