Trump Presidency Potentially Harmful for Women in Military
In recent years, women have been integrated into the military, allowing them to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry soldiers into combat, as well as serving as Army Rangers, Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers and everything else previously only open to men, according to The New York Times. Considering statements made by President-elect Donald Trump and his Vice-President, Mike Pence, consequences to this historic transformation of the American military can be expected.
Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said in December of 2015 that the pentagon would open all combat jobs to women at a time when the military “faced a deadline set by the Obama administration [in 2012] to integrate women into all combat jobs by January 2016 or ask for specific exemptions,” says The New York Times.
In her MSNBC show, host Rachel Maddow played a tape of Trump calling the decision to allow women into the U.S. military “bedlam” in a 2014 interview for “The Truth About Trump” by Michael D’Antonio.
Previously in 2013, Trump responded to the revelation of estimated numbers of unreported sexual assaults in the military with a tweet saying: “What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?”
What Trump seems to overlook, however, is that the Pentagon has said that many assault cases involve men attacking other men, making sexual assault in the military not only a problem for women.
When asked about his tweet during NBC News’ Commander-in-Chief Forum in New York in September 2016, Trump responded by saying: “Well, it is, it is a correct tweet [and] there are many people that think that that’s absolutely correct. And, by the way, since then, it’s gotten worse.”
According to The Washington Post, NBC’s Matt Lauer, who led the forum, asked Trump if he thought that the only way to end sexual assault in the military was to not allow women. Trump’s response was expectedly unspecific.
“No, not take them out,” he said, “but something has to be happening. Right now part of the problem is nobody gets prosecuted [and] when you have somebody that does something so evil, so bad as that, there has to be consequence for that person.”
On her show, Maddow also pointed out that Mike Pence has expressed his views about women in the military over the years. On his radio show, “The Mike Pence Show”, in 1999, Pence said that “women in military, bad idea.” Over the years, Maddow says, he has clearly expressed that he is against women in combat, combat support groups, and even in basic training.
Trump is known to change his mind and issue contradicting statements and tweets on occasion. Therefore it becomes increasingly clear how essential the views and standpoints on issues of his cabinet will be in influencing Trump’s policies during his presidential term. While it is unlikely women will be removed from their current positions in the U.S. military, they may face more criticism and potential restrictions under a Trump presidency.