National Security

SecDef Reaffirms Commitment To Women In Combat As Trump Admin Looms

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas.

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Amid speculation that a Trump administration might reverse the decision to allow women into all combat roles, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter reiterated that opening combat positions for women “makes sense.”

“Females are half of our population,” Carter said, according to “We’re an all-volunteer force. So we recruit from the population it makes sense for us to recruit people, from as wide a population as possible.

“Now they have to be qualified, but it’s a benefit to our military to be able to draw from what is a competitive [market] … to have the ability to have access to the best people we can.”

Following GOP President-elect Donald Trump’s win last Tuesday, military experts have come out of the woodwork to recommend a dramatic switch to Carter’s decision in December 2015 to open all combat roles to women, despite a request from the Marine Corps to designate a few roles as male-only.

GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter, a key member of the House Committee on Armed Services, has long objected to the idea of women in combat. He again repeated his argument that opening all combat roles to women doesn’t build up the war fighting machine.

“It doesn’t do anything to further our capacity as war fighters,” Hunter said. “It doesn’t do anything to make us more effective or efficient at getting the job done and killing our enemies and protecting our allies. It’s just a distraction. It’s not like there are thousands of women getting into the infantry now. It will never be that way.”

As an early supporter of Trump, Hunter is being considered for positions like secretary of defense or secretary of the Navy, though nothing can be said for certain. The transition team working on staffing the Trump administration is in constant flux.

Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, argued that the policies of allowing women in combat roles “have to be rolled back. Right now the policy is that women can and will be assigned to ground combat units. That pronouncement can indeed be changed by a future secretary of defense.”

Whether Trump will move forward with recommendations to reverse the women in combat policy remains to be seen.

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