Thursday, April 29, 2010

Female Squids

The last part of the US Navy (other than SEALs?) is going to be gender-integrated soon.  The Navy is going to announce how and when women will be allowed to serve aboard its submarines.  The key issue, the piece addresses, is about accommodations: where will they sleep?  What is not being discussed at all are the capabilities of women.  And this is progress. 
Last September, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead described himself as "very comfortable addressing integrating women into the submarine force."
"Accommodations are a factor, but not insurmountable," he said.
It was not long ago that people raised questions about whether women can fight or she be allowed to fight for the US armed forces.  Now, most of the armed services are integrated by gender, with the notable exceptions of the Army's infantry, artillery, and armor branches.  Other countries, including Canada, has women serving in such roles. 

I was always struck during my year in the Pentagon: that the Army Military Police guarding the building after 9/11 would rotate units, so we would occasionally have an airborne unit providing the MPs.  And there would be a number of women serving as MPs wearing the airborne beret (purple).  So, women could jump out of planes and then do what MPs do.  But could not be in a foxhole, inside a tank or running a cannon.  My guess is that these barriers will drop in time as well.

The times, they are a-changing.

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