Army report finds male special operators prefer not to have women in their ranks

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brianna Striplin, left, 4th Special Operations Squadron special missions operator, and U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chelsea Kessner, 19th Special Operations Squadron special missions aviator instructor, conduct a pre-flight inspection on an AC-130J Ghostrider gunship at Hurlburt Field, Florida, May 26, 2021. The special missions aviators were part of an all-female aircrew operating the Ghostrider, the first mission of its kind in the history of the airframe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Victor J. Caputo)

Theresa Braine
New York Daily News

Women have been able to serve in the U.S. Army’s Special Operations units for eight years, but they’re still subject to outright sexism, discrimination and other obstacles, according to a new study.

The Army’s report showed that while women have made significant gains during in the military, deep biases have not been removed and can impede that progress.

Major findings centered around sexism, isolation, ill-fitting gear, inadequate equipment, lack of child care and health care that didn’t meet women’s needs, especially when it came to pregnancy. Numerous women said they suspected they had been passed over for jobs either because they’re deemed less competent or qualified than men or because their superiors are trying to “protect” them from dangerous tasks.

“Females have no place on a team,” one male soldier told researchers. “It’s an unnecessary wrench in a perfectly functional system in the name of ‘political correctness.’ This trend is another factor that has systematically blunted the tip of the spear.”

Said another, “The idea that women are equally as physically, mentally and emotionally capable to perform the majority of jobs is quite frankly ridiculous.”

Most of the sexist attitudes “unfortunately did come from senior noncommissioned officers,” Command Sgt. Maj. JoAnn Naumann said Monday. “So it does seem to indicate that it is generational.”

More than 5,000 people assigned to Army special operations forces units were surveyed for the report. They included 837 female troops, 3,238 male troops, and defense civilians.

The study noted that different opinions were also prevalent, with one male soldier saying, “In my opinion, women belong in ARSOF and they play a vital role.”

But even that officer said females would be “best used in non-direct action roles.”

In total, about 2,200 female soldiers serve in the Army Special Operations units, which is 8% of the 29,000 active-duty soldiers, and 427 female civilians work in other roles.

When it came to sexual harassment, women faced reporting barriers similar to those in the civilian sector: 90% said they feared reprisal, 72% did not trust the system to rectify the situation, 70% feared retaliation, 67% had concerns about confidentiality and 64% lacked trust in the command, the report found.

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