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Tammy Duckworth on 'mommy platoon leader'

By Ed O'Keefe

In our latest installment of the "On Leadership" video interview series, Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth explains why women are "already leading" in combat:

I think the biggest lesson I learned as a leader in the military was to just get over myself. I was a platoon leader flying Hueys, this was back quite a few years ago. I was cold, and it was Chicago in the middle of winter, and I decided I would have hot chocolate out for the pilots and the men in my unit. And at the time I was the only woman in my unit, while the other platoon leaders made fun of me and called me the mommy platoon leader for having hot cocoa out. And I accepted that criticism, that remark, in the way that it was intended, as something negative, that I was being a mommy and that I wasn't being tough and hardcore.
You know what, the ability of my men to get my mission's off on time dropped because they were cold. I had actually gotten an improvement because they were drinking warm hot chocolate, and they had coffee, and they were actually operating better. And when I took away that hot chocolate, we were slower to get started and it actually affected my mission readiness and that's when I realized -- I need to get over my own hang-up about being the mommy platoon leader and just have the darn hot chocolate out there because my men were able to get off on missions faster with it than without it.

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(Video by K. Crnko, E. Tenety, A. Useem/Washington Post)

By Ed O'Keefe  | April 14, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Administration, Video Report  
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