Entries in Combat (4)


Obama Talks Football, Gender Issues, Taxes Before Super Bowl

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As the nation geared up for the Super Bowl XLVII matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, President Obama said he stood by his recent comments that as a parent he’d hesitate allowing his children to play football and that he viewed the contact sport differently in light of recent heightened national awareness of its health dangers.

In a pre-Super Bowl interview with CBS’ Scott Pelley, the president reiterated what he’d told the New Republic.

“It is a great sport, I am huge fan, but there is no doubt some of the concerns that we have learned about when it comes to concussions have to give parents pause,” he said.  “And as I said before.  I feel differently about the NFL, these are  grown men, they are well compensated, they know the risks that are involved.  But as we start thinking about the pipeline, Pop Warner, high school, college, I want to make sure we are doing everything we can to make the sport safer.”

The president admitted it may mean less drama for those “those of us who like to see a big hit,” but also acknowledged NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s recent commitment of $30 million to the National Institutes of Health to accelerate research into the bodily effects of the contact sport.

Capitalizing on the massive audience for the Super Bowl -- more than 111.3 million tuned in to watch last year and the game receives the highest viewer ratings of any broadcast -- each year, Obama has granted a game-day interview to whichever network airs the National Football League championship.

In a news cycle dominated by national debate on immigration reform and gun violence, Pelley on Sunday asked Obama about some topics that have received less attention, including military women in combat roles and whether the Boy Scouts should allow gay members into their organization.

In January, the Pentagon announced it would lift a long-standing ban on women serving in combat.  Pelley asked Obama if he had any hesitation as commander in chief in ordering female service members into harm’s way.

“I don’t,” Obama replied.

“Women as a practical matter are now in combat, they may not be treated as such, but when they are in theater in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, they are vulnerable, they are wounded and they have been killed, and they have carried out their jobs with extraordinary patriotism, and distinction,” he said.

The president said he’d met women soldiers who could do “anything that a man can” and that they should not be prevented from “advancing in an institution we all revere.”

Meanwhile, later this week, the Boy Scouts of America will convene to decide whether to allow members of the LGBT community out of their ranks.  Continuing his long-held stance, the president reiterated they should be allowed entry.

“My attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunities, the same way as everyone else does, in every institution and walk of life,” Obama continued.  “And you know the Scouts are a great institution, that are promoting young people and exposing them to opportunities and leadership that will serve people for the rest of their lives.  And I think nobody should be barred from that.”

The interview also touched on the fallout of the negotiations from the debt ceiling, in which the president signed legislation through Congress that raised taxes on annual household income over $450,000.  Pelley asked Obama whether he could promise not to raise rates again in his next term.

“There is no doubt we need additional revenue coupled with smart spending reductions,” Obama replied, reiterating his past stance on reduction of healthcare costs and closing tax loopholes.  He said the tax system needed to be “fair and transparent,” noting the average American couldn’t take advantage of loopholes or offshore accounts.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Gingrich, Santorum on Women in Combat: Infections, Emotions

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Wednesday’s announcement that women will be allowed to serve in combat was hardly the first time the subject has come up.

When it cropped up during the Clinton administration, it drew opposition from the likes of then House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who offered a now-infamous medical assessment of why it was a bad idea to let them fight.

“Females have biological problems staying in a ditch for 30 days because they get infections, and they don’t have upper body strength,” The New York Times quoted Gingrich as saying in early 1995.  Men, on the other hand, ”are basically little piglets; you drop them in the ditch, they roll around in it.”

More recently, Rick Santorum caused a minor controversy by bringing “emotions” into it.

“I do have concerns about women in front line combat.  I think that could be a very compromising situation where, where people naturally, you know, may do things that may not be in the interests of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved,” he told CNN in February 2012, in the heat of the GOP presidential primary.

He later clarified.

“I was talking about men’s emotional issues; not women,” Santorum told ABC soon after.  “I mean, there’s a lot of issues.  That’s just one of them.”

Opponents of women serving unrestricted have always risked offending their political adversaries, regardless of whether their words blow up into controversy.

“What I think was most troubling to us was less the comments of pundits and more the policy in place,” said one attorney who has pressed the Pentagon on female service, saying the combat-service ban sent a “message that … women were somehow less than” male soldiers.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Santorum ‘Completely Misunderstands’ Modern Warfare, Gingrich Says

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(TULARE, Calif.) -- Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said Tuesday that Rick Santorum has a “complete misunderstanding” of modern warfare.

Gingrich was responding to comments Santorum made Thursday on CNN when Santorum was asked about the Pentagon’s plan to allow more women to fill combat roles in the military.

While Santorum said he did want women to be able to serve, he said he did “have concerns about women in front-line combat.

“I think that could be a very compromising situation, where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interest of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved. I think that probably -- it already happens, of course, with the camaraderie of men in combat, but I think it would be even more unique if women were in combat. And I think that’s not in the best interests of men, women or the mission,” Santorum said.

Santorum later told ABC News he was talking about the emotions of men, but also added women had “physical limitations.”

Gingrich said Tuesday that people in uniform in Iraq or Afghanistan were in combat, no matter the official assignment.

“Whether you’re a truck driver or you’re working with logistics, or you’re a military person, you’re in combat. And I think that we have to understand that from Day One,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich, who often mentions on the trail that he is an "Army brat," spent his childhood traveling around the country and overseas with his “career infantryman” father. Gingrich did not serve in the military.

“We should be very proud of the men and women who put on the American uniform and risk their lives in order to protect this country. And I just think that Rick completely misunderstands the nature of modern warfare by his comments,” Gingrich said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rick Santorum's Comments on Women in Combat Arouse Public

DoD photo by Staff Sgt. James Lieth, U.S. Air Force(WASHINGTON) -- Rick Santorum’s comments that “the front line of combat” is not the best place for women appear to put the Republican presidential candidate on the other side of public and expert opinion.

Santorum raised some eyebrows by saying women should not be in combat because of the “the types of emotions involved.” Now, Santorum says, he is also concerned about “physical strength and capability” of women in combat situations.

First, on those “emotions,” Santorum says he was not talking about the emotions of women.

“I was talking about men’s emotional issues; not women,” Santorum told ABC News. “I mean, there’s a lot of issues. That’s just one of them.”

What emotional issues? Santorum says he believes that the men serving with women would put the protection of women in their unit above the overall the mission.

“So my concern is being in combat in that situation instead of being focused on the mission, they may be more concerned with protecting someone who may be in a vulnerable position, a woman in a vulnerable position,” Santorum said.

A number of recent studies have concluded that the U.S. military should stop excluding women from ground-combat units, which some believe denies them a chance to climb the ranks as quickly as their male counterparts.

Three-quarters of Americans believe that women should be allowed to engage in direct combat, according to an ABC News-Washington Post poll released in March, a sharp rise from the early 1990s when only 45 percent supported such a move. Politically, Democrats and independents are more in favor of lifting these requirements, but even a majority of Republicans, 62 percent, thought this should be the case and the poll found that in no political group was a majority opposed.

The Pentagon announced on Thursday that it will end a decades-old rule and allow women to serve in battalions closer to the front lines. The changes would open up 14,000 support jobs to women in ground-combat units.

The new rule still bars women from serving directly in combat roles. Still, given the technology and the landscape today, many observers say those lines are blurred. Women already serve in dangerous support roles in war zones such as Afghanistan, as pilots flying combat aircrafts or on combat ships. In recent years, two women have been given the prestigious Silver Star for valor in a combat zone.

A study by the Rand Corporation in 2007 found that support units, where women were serving with direct combat units based on proximity and those returning from the battlefield in Iraq, believed that the military’s current policy, if implemented strictly, was “a backward step in the successful execution of the mission” and that it “could even prevent women from participating in Army operations in Iraq, which would preclude the Army from completing its mission.”

A review by the Military Leadership Diversity Commission last year concluded that restrictions on combat roles “seems obsolete” in today’s age.

“The nature of the current battlefield makes it impossible to apply strictly the existing rules for excluding women from combat without serious reduction in combat capabilities, degrading the professional development and thus status of women, and producing a potentially serious reduction in overall readiness,” another study in 2008 by the Strategic Studies Institute stated.

Adm. Eric T. Olson, the top commander of U.S. special operations and a Navy SEAL himself, told ABC News in July that he’s ready to see female SEALs in combat roles.

Still, some experts say the recent studies focus on diversity, but don’t take into account the realities on the ground.

Elaine Donnelly, who served as a member of the 1992 presidential commission on the assignment of women in the armed forces, says it’s a cultural issue and that Santorum’s concerns are legitimate. The commission voted against sending women in close combat because “that would [be] endorsement of violence against women,” she said.

“It’s not an equal opportunity or diversity issue. It’s a matter of effectiveness,” Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, told ABC News. If a soldier is injured and his support soldier is a woman, “that man dies because she’s not going to be able to meet the physical requirements and it doesn’t matter how brave and courageous she is. ...We respect women in the military, but when you’re talking about direct ground combat, if you start making diversity the most important factor then you put lives at risk.”

Women were barred from partaking even in non-combat positions until 1994, when President Bill Clinton’s defense secretary, Les Aspin, lifted that rule.

The number of women in the military has jumped since the 1970s, when the United States ended the draft. Since 1973, the number of women who have joined the military has risen rapidly. The share of women among the enlisted ranks has increased from two percent to 14 percent, and the share among commissioned officers has jumped four percent to 16 percent, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.

The Pentagon wouldn’t comment directly on Santorum’s comments, but spokesman George Little said there’s “a broad consensus” in the military that they should maintain the goal of opening more positions to women.

“I believe that men and women can serve ably on the battlefield men and women of the U.S. military are focused on the mission and in protecting our nation’s interest. And I think that’s a value that we have regardless of gender,” Little said Friday. “The presumption is that going forward that we’re going to find as many opportunities for women as possible.”

As of Sept. 30, women comprised roughly 15 percent of the U.S. armed forces, with their numbers reaching 205,000. Of the 2.4 million ever deployed in support of Iraq and Afghanistan, 280,000 have been women and 144 of them have been killed in those two countries while 865 have been wounded.

A number of U.S. partners in the battlefield allow women to serve in combat roles, including Canada, Israel, France and Germany.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio