Archive for May, 2012
Reading through my first two posts and the comments, I realized that I made things tougher and more confusing for everyone. Many ideas and thoughts came flooding out in no particular order in those first two blog entries, resulting in some 3000+ words for readers to work through and think about.
As a result, the comments and my responses were all over the page. Many readers brought up legitimate points that deserve attention. It’s a disservice to brush over these, and I have barely even started scratching the surface. So I’m going to simplify things. This will (hopefully) be a long-running blog, so I’ll try to stick to addressing one issue per post, posting only every week or so, as time allows.
First issue: is this just about my choices, or is it bigger than that?
For the first few years after my oldest was born, I was on AD, and the scarcity of other female pilots (and absolute lack of pilots who were also single mothers) meant all of my decisions were made in a vacuum with little outside guidance/support. When faced with the reality of what I was trying and failing to do, I looked at my options and chose the only one that made sense given what was available. I got out. Switched over to the Reserves.
I assumed I was alone or one of only a handful in my situation. Accepted in, didn’t like it, but figured that was it and I would find other ways to contribute. But as a Reservist, I kept running into other Reservists, male and female (all male at first because of my MOS), with similar stories. So about two years ago, I started looking into what the policies were across the services, and what many seniors and peers—again, of both genders—had decided and done. Kept coming back to the same stories, the same decision points.
So I thought, maybe we should start talking about it. Many of y’all have asked if this is a selfish thing on my part, and perhaps I should just accept the options available and get over it, or if it’s really for the good of the services. It’s a valid question, for sure.
My experience has shown me that it’s not just me, not by far. As more women enter the service, dual military marriages increase, and men take on greater responsibilities at home because of shifting gender roles, increasing loss of mid-grade enlisted and officer members absolutely will affect readiness and numbers. Many of the responses back this up.
The Reserves are one choice, made by many. But the inefficiencies of the Reserves bother me, the severe limitations of the Reserve contributions. Within my own job I’ve tried to manage that and somewhat improve it, but why stop there? Innovation is not the enemy. There are certainly holes in some of the ideas I will propose in future blogs. But that’s where informed, open-minded readers come in.
There are shortages in the force, even with manpower drawdowns. There are members—of both genders, again—that want to stay but cannot with existing policies. Is it possible to be on the tip of a spear, or to make flag rank, pursuing alternate career paths like those I’ve suggested and will suggest? Likely not. But most of us would happy to retire at 20 or 30 at any rank as long as we feel we were able to make a difference and continue to serve.
And again, these are ideas that do—and should—affect both genders.
So I’m trying to think outside of the proverbial box. Which is not a bad thing. Looking forward to future input…just don’t expect my posts to be as frequent or as long. Thanks for reading.
I wanted to write this blog because I feel that there is a major perspective missing from most professional discussions on military matters. While I do not like becoming anyone’s punching bag, I’m offering my experience, my opinion, and my story out here with my full name (Jeannette Gaudry Haynie) and rank (Major USMCR) because I believe in the truth and importance of what I write. You may not agree with what I have to say or with the conclusions I draw, but these are my experiences, and I stand by my posts.
Counting the four years at USNA, I’ve been in the Navy/Marine Corps for about 18 years now. Most of my fleet experiences were as the lone female pilot in a squadron, and eventually one of two. While I haven’t been in the military since the Stone Age, I’m no spring chicken, either. My professional record can speak for itself.
Many of these arguments and questions posted in earlier comments and mentioned when topics like these are broached are practical, common sense questions with valid points to them, ones worth debating. And others are not. I hope to address the former and briefly touch on the latter.
I’m basing this blog on what I learned early on in the fleet when I ran into friction from others because of my gender. People say and think some dumb stuff based on biases, preconceived ideas, and rumors, and I saw a fair amount of this over the years. The best way to answer that was to just do my job as best I could and eventually everyone forgot about the whole “girl” thing and I was just another pilot plugging away. This only failed me once, which means only one dude out of about, I don’t know, 5,000, couldn’t get past my gender.
Same for this blog. If I write about my experiences, which are like those many men and women face midway through their careers, maybe we can explore some other options. And maybe when my kids grow up they won’t have to choose either-or for family and ambition. Because I’m a woman, and because of my particular experiences, this means we’ll go through the women-in-the-military questions as well. Which is fine.
Please read the entire post before haranguing me for a sentence or paragraph here or there. And it may take a few minutes, because—as I’ve said before—I am prolific.
So here goes.
A couple basic points:
–I mentioned sabbaticals and greater-than-reserve contributions as some options in my last comment. But I do not want to limit this discussion to those alone. Let’s assume that there is nothing in existing policy that prohibits or discourages dual active-duty families. If this is the case, I contend that we are not doing a good enough job holistically looking at all avenues to facilitate the success of these servicemembers. This is not specifically about my responsibilities, it’s about the responsibilities of a family and a service. If my husband and I have a child while both are on active duty, we are both impacted. Active duty families are more commonplace, and will continue to be so.
–I do not feel that the military “owes” anything. I do, however, believe that the military will face a growing problem with retention of educated, loyal members OF BOTH GENDERS if it does not seek out some alternatives to the all-or-nothing ones currently in place (see above paragraph). This is the backbone of my argument.
–While women tend to bear the brunt of the family work (we can have a deeper discussion about this later), both men and women are affected when starting a family. Everything I am suggesting should be applicable to both genders. Both civilian and military members have increasingly begun to ask why things aren’t different, and why we haven’t worked out some more options. This will not abate anytime soon. And I think that is a good thing.
–Women, unlike men, can’t have children later in life. So is it right that my choice, since I was born female, should be to have or forgo children right at the time in my military career that it matters most? It’s not like I can put it off till I’m 42, despite what women in Hollywood do. Women, too, have ambitions and want to serve their country in unique and challenging ways. Yes, some families make it work, with the help of other family members or special circumstances. The majority do not, despite plenty of trying.
–As a few readers pointed out, the civilian workforce is trending toward more family-friendly policies and options. Telework, flex days, sabbaticals, while not possible in all jobs, are more commonplace now than 10 years ago. The military is not a normal civilian entity (let me say that before someone else does), but that doesn’t mean it can’t take lessons from the civilian workforce.
–Concern over the impact sabbaticals or part-time work would have on the force: I can’t remember off the top of my head which posters asked about this, but the gist of the comments were that we can’t waste billets/boat spaces on part-time people and have an effective force. One word for you here, though: RESERVES. We already do it. People drill 2 days a month and 2 weeks in the summer, and then they go deploy and are actually effective. But as a current, drilling Reservist, I can attest to the inefficiency of some of the ways Reservists are used. We can and should use taxpayer dollars and Reservists’ experience more efficiently. If someone can drill 38 days a year and then go competently into a deployment, why would it be worse if they drilled 76 days a year? Or 114? The point is, we already exercise a similar type of program, and have for years. But that program fails to take advantage of some of the best qualities of its members, and does not attract enough outgoing active duty folks. We can improve on it.
–I’m not advocating a constant sabbatical, nor am I asserting that I can stay in part-time and still be on the cutting edge or tip of the spear constantly. But all-or-nothing is no solution, either. The military loses a wealth of experience in the loss of mid-grade enlisted and officer members (again: of both genders), and will continue to do so, at an increasing rate. Do we “have” to do any of the things I suggest, or think about them at all? Of course not, but we’d be shooting ourselves in the foot. We have an opportunity to make it better, why not use it?
I’m going to use a few quotes from the comments section on my first post and directly respond here.
“I don’t want to get into the discussion on here, but do you really want your kids in child care long enough for you to be a full-time Marine and a mom?” Of course not, but neither do any parents, mothers OR fathers. The idea that my priorities should be different because of my gender is not valid. My whole point is that it makes sense to have better options available to servicemembers both with—and without—families. Those without often realize 5-10 years in that a family might be a good idea, but for females in this position, waiting until retirement is not an option. Neither is it for many men.
“You are basically saying that since they opened the door to you and allowed this disruption to occur, we should make more allowances and disruptions in service to further make life easier for women to be in the military and have families.” I’m going to address the first half of this statement further below, so moving on to the second half: anyone who has been in the fleet knows that men cause their share of problems. I served with both male and female enlisted Marines, and proportionally the men caused more problems than women did. Are DUIs not disruptive, especially when they come on the eve of a deployment? What about domestic abuse, alcoholism, and the 22-year-old who got arrested making donuts on somebody’s front lawn in Oceanside while drinking beer? The month before a deployment?
Pregnancy, which, by the way, is an amazing thing, not something to be cursed at or wished away, is way down there on the list of things that can disrupt a unit about to deploy. What about the SSgt who pops positive two months before a deployment? Or the Marine who steals a car in Okinawa and gets arrested by the Japanese police? The senior officer and department head who gets a DUI? The Marine whose mother gets terminally ill? The conscientious objector that appears right before a deployment? Of all of the incidents and disruptions a unit faces prior to and during a deployment, pregnancy can certainly be considered one, but it’s by no means even among the worst or hardest to get past.
So let’s get past pregnancy as an awful thing that should somehow ban women from the armed forces, or as something that women should avoid at all costs or be ashamed of, heaven forbid.
Yes, there will always be those who abuse the system, just as with any system. But we don’t ban single 21-year-old men from the military, even though they tend to get in trouble easily. The abusers, while legendary in many people’s minds, are actually fewer and further between than one might expect from the discussion.
“So, now the military has already given up spots to women to be trained in most aspects of military life.” This line of thinking has been around for awhile. Given up spots to women? I was ranked first in my winging class, which was how I earned my chance to fly Cobras in the Marine Corps. And I am not unique. Just like men do, women work incredibly hard to get where they want to go. My spot belonged to me because I busted my butt for it.
I jumped around a bit in this post, but the gist of it is that women are not going away, and the changes I’m proposing and problems I mention are not really unique to women, either. Since I’m on page 3 here, I’m going to quit for now. Here’s this last bit in closing:
The vast majority of the comments have been professional, and that is appreciated…and also expected. In reading the comments, I ran across a link to a blog written by Sol, one of the commenters. If you want to read it yourself, click on his name on the comments section and it’ll take you right there. You’ll read some pretty derogatory comments, a personal attack on my sex life and choices. You may need to skip to page 3 or 4 by now, because he made these comments back on the day I made my first post. Here’s one of his thoughts:
“She was pregnant at the time. PATHETIC! Personal opinion but few things disgust me more than to see women walking around pregnant in Cammies.”
This is not conducive to any kind of educated, informed discussion. Rather, it’s a hostile personal attack. But why? Hostility usually hides ignorance, fear, and/or general intimidation. If the above statement reflects the average opinion of single, 21-year-old male Marines (pretty sure it doesn’t), give me one married Marine (of either gender) over 10 of ones who think like that. Maturity, responsibility, and patience tend to increase with parenthood. Let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot. It’s not political correctness, it’s common sense.
No guests on this week’s show – just open phone and open topic. Join Sal from the blog “CDR Salamander” and EagleOne from “Eagle Speak” for the full hour as they discuss the full range of maritime and national security issues. Shipbuilding, procurement programs, maritime strategy, piracy, and larger national security trends – we’ll cover it all. This is also the listener’s chance to ask Sal and EagleOne about the topics and issues they would like addressed, or to amplify topics from other shows. Here’s your chance …..
Go here to join in (or to download the show later) or, if you can’t play today, listen to the show at iTunes and find out who asked what . . .
Maybe it won’t be a great day for you–be careful what you wish for… In recognition of the success that Kony2012 had in rasing money for a niche geopolitical cause, students at MIT created a faux webpage “Kick Starter” pretending to raise money for things on the opposite side of use of force continuum – a mobile black site for intensive interrogations, among other things.
As the last blog I posted demonstrates, the ability for motivated individuals to become active in a conflict exists and is very real. What amounts to DIY intervention can have an impact upon the course of World events (similar to the warning given to us service members from the SECDEF). To me, what this says is that citizens no longer only vote for a foreign policy with their ballots, but they can also–directly–do so with their wallets, time and skill-sets.
The conditions are right, and the historical precedent is now set for the ‘memetic stew’ to bring forth a Non-Governmental Organization as a third option that takes elements from Kony2012, private security firms, and Kiva for those who wish to see some sort of change in the World.
What strikes me as ironic, is that the words typically espoused towards supporting World peace, are now the intellectual foundation under which we may see a new method for hard power applied in the World. This is not to say that the end goals of those who see the utility of hard power is all that different from those who see greater utility in soft power.
Rather, in the long term, I am interested to see if the potential I’ve outlined here coalesces to incorporate both hard and soft power elements. Such a coalescing would amount to a private sector analog to a nation’s foreign policy. Which would, arguably, be the tipping point for the replacement of the Westphalian era, where an organizational paradigm like a government is no longer required to bring together the ends, ways and means to execute foreign policy.
Nick Velez is a former Marine. He is opening a sports pub in the LA suburb of Downey, CA. It seems some don’t like the name he chose, nor do they understand why he chose it. The Marine Corps Times has a great article.
Seems Nick was a member of Second Battalion, Fourth Marines. Every Devil Dog knows their nickname. “The Magnificent Bastards”. A nickname bestowed upon them by their Battalion Commander during the fierce fighting around Leatherneck Square in Vietnam in 1966.
At least one City Councilman gets it:
He will be opening it,” said City Councilman Mario Guerra, who supports Bastards.
Guerra, the father of a former Marine, heard that some locals plan to picket Bastards. One woman asked what she should tell her young son the name “Bastards” means.
Guerra said to tell her son the story of 2/4 and the Bastard Marines who have fought, died and served in combat for their country.
Semper Fi, Nick. And best of luck with the new venture. I served alongside 2/4 in those hard, bloody days in Ramadi in 2004, when that Battalion paid a heavy price, but put an ass-whipping on the enemy. Below are the words of then-LtCol Paul Kennedy, CO of 2/4 during those months of sharp combat:
Early in the morning we exchanged gunfire with a group of insurgents without significant loss. As morning progressed, the enemy fed more men into the fight and we responded with stronger force. Unfortunately, this led to injuries as our Marines and sailors started clearing the city block by block. The enemy did not run; they fought us like soldiers. And we destroyed the enemy like only Marines can. By the end of the evening the local hospital was so full of their dead and wounded that they ran out of space to put them. Your husbands were awesome all night they stayed at the job of securing the streets and nobody challenged them as the hours wore on. They did not surrender an inch nor did flinch from the next potential threat. Previous to yesterday the terrorist thought that we were soft enough to challenge. As of tonight the message is loud and clear that the Marines will not be beaten.
Magnificent Bastards, all. The name on the sign of Nick Velez’s establishment is fine tribute to them. If you are in Downey, stop in for a frosty mug and some wings.
h/t Al “Hard Justice”
This is my first post, so I want to start off with a decent hook. Something interesting. How about this:
All three of my kids have flight time in Marine Corps aircraft. My oldest daughter, almost 7 years old, has 110.9 total hours, all in a Cobra. 36.4 of those are from night vision goggle flights (22.6 of them under low light conditions, thank you very much), and she was along for the ride on my Night Systems Instructor (NSI) check flight, since I was 4 months pregnant when I completed the qualification. She used to kick like crazy in there when we’d shoot the 20mm. Liked the sound the 2.75-inch rockets made coming off, too.
My second daughter, now 3 years old, has fewer hours. She only has 25.4 hours in the Cobra, 4.5 of them on NVGs (but all 4.5 under low light conditions), since by then we knew that Cobra pilots definitely were not allowed to fly pregnant (OPNAV was not clear, and as there had never been a pregnant Cobra pilot before, we made our best guess the first time). I waited until the end of my first trimester to ground myself, since that’s the traditionally “safer” time to tell people that you are pregnant.
My son, now 18 months, didn’t get to fly in a Cobra (poor dude), but he does have 30.7 hours in a King Air (UC-12B). None on goggles, since they don’t do that stuff. And he never seemed particularly impressed by the aircraft, since he didn’t do extra kicking or shifting to let me know.
But I digress. This is my first post as a USNI blogger-person, so maybe I should back up a bit. Chronologically speaking. While looking through some of the USNI blog entries a few months ago, I noticed something interesting. Or rather, I noticed—in an interested way—that something was lacking. There’s an amazing breadth of experience and knowledge available there, and the subjects addressed are broad and relevant. But I didn’t see anything out there remotely reminiscent of my experiences in the Marine Corps or at USNA. And considering it’s been 14 years since I graduated and got commissioned this month (plus the 4 years by the bay), that is…interesting. I know, in some eyes having only 14 years in makes me a baby. Which is wonderful, because these days I’m feeling pretty old. But at the same time, young women and men are signing up for the Navy or Marine Corps today, and they could have similar decisions to make. My choices and my story could help them. And with greater numbers of women joining the military, experiences like mine will become more common. Which makes this stuff…relevant.
In case the bio didn’t show up, here’s my story:
I’m a USNA grad, class of 1998. Graduated, got a commission in the Marine Corps, and set off for TBS and flight school. Winged in February 2001, selecting West Coast Cobras, since East Coast (New River) skid squadrons weren’t accepting women yet (I was quite happy to go to Camp Pendleton anyway, but found the restriction interesting. As in, “Really? You’re going to force me to go to Southern California, and keep me out of Jacksonville, NC? OK, twist my arm…”). Went through SERE school and the Cobra FRS, and—after my checkride from the FRS got delayed, since it was originally scheduled for September 11, 2001—checked into HMLA-369.
I was the third female Marine to fly the Cobra (I think) and the first in my squadron (the only one for most of my time there). This led to some great stories—mostly funny ones, a few disgusting ones, and one or two downright wrong ones. It was a familiar role after USNA and TBS. And to be honest, men are just as catty as women, only they are less honest about their cattiness. I went to an all-girls Catholic high school for all four years, and the only real difference between my four years there and my four years at USNA was the smell in the hallways.
At 369, I deployed three times (SE Asia/31st MEU, then Iraq, and another Thirty-worst MEU again), went on a bunch of dets, made some lifelong, amazing friends, served under two fascinating and inspiring commanding officers, and worked in Operations for the majority of my time there. Loved it, loved it, loved it. I miss it terribly (especially these days as I fly a desk in the Pentagon part-time and run around with three little kids the rest of the time).
Pre-flight school, back in 1999, I married my husband, a USMC infantry officer. We did NOT want kids. Of the first 9 years of our marriage, we lived in the same state for about 3 of them. In my mind, kids = wasted career. We were happy being childless and laughed at the idea of having kids, and how it would “ruin” things. Why would we ever want to have kids, right? Anyone with kids is laughing at us and the stupidity of that comment.
But…as it turned out, we had three kids, who are now aged almost 7, 3, and 18 months. And instead of still flying, still deploying, and staying on active duty for 20 or more years, I find myself a Reservist with three little kids, not flying at all, and driving myself crazy. This was NOT the original plan. It took me three years to accept the fact that life had changed (in what was a wonderful way, of course, but I didn’t see it like that at first). And I don’t know that I’ve really accepted it yet.
I don’t regret the choice to leave active duty for the Reserves (when my oldest was 2 ½ years old), but it shouldn’t have been the only viable option. I had nearly ten years in at the time, advanced qualifications in the aircraft, and the desire to keep doing it all. For a long, long time. But single-parenting through most of my oldest daughter’s first two years of life showed that I could not do it all, at least not without something coming off of the track. I went kicking and screaming from active duty, but did not see any other way, since I was failing at parenting and failing at being a Marine Corps officer/pilot. And that is one big reason that the services lose experienced women and men at a certain point in their lives and careers. But is it necessary?
This seems like a good forum to encourage dialogue and a sharing of ideas and experiences. Professionally. In this vein, I want to tell my story, as a pilot, a mother, a veteran, a Reservist, and also a Marine spouse (which is also growing more and more common these days). I want to ask a bunch of questions, maybe get a couple good ideas, and try to focus some attention on what will be a growing issue in the military.
Comments are encouraged. I can only tell my story, and hopefully that will encourage greater dialogue on the topic(s). But with women being allowed into more fields, the ongoing debate about women in combat (which I have some strong feelings and thoughts about), and about a million other things going on that are downright fascinating, these topics are relevant.
Plus, I can tell some good stories.
The five men who were looking to blow up a bridge in Cleveland can be somewhat accurately described as Domestic Enemies. Among other things. They wanted to visit violence on people and places inside the United States as a means of protest of “corporate America and the financial system”. (They were allegedly affiliated with the “Occupy” movement, in this instance.) However, they seem to fall short of earning the title “diabolical criminal geniuses”, and that by a substantial margin. The Smoking Gun summarizes, in part:
As the alleged plotters batted around assorted attack ideas–like bombing a “Nazi/Klan headquarters” or blowing up a Federal Reserve bank–Wright joked that he would wear a suicide vest and blow himself up, “but advised he would have to be very drunk.”
If this next Course of Action were proposed in an OPT in the E-Ring, the author might be praised for “thinking outside the box” and earn him/herself a Legion of Merit. However, “outside the box” is a big place, and this idea is probably there for a reason:
Baxter also “suggested (acquiring thumb) tacks that they could throw out of the back of the car if they get in a chase.” This getaway tactic was last successfully used in a Batman episode from 1967.
There is no independent confirmation that the below image shows Robin calling Triple A from the side of the road because the Batmobile has two flat tires from running over thumbtacks.
Very thankfully, the plot in Cleveland was discovered and a tragedy averted. And that isn’t a joke. But, I am betting the FBI case handler has got some stories he will tell well into retirement.
MIT has become my go-to publication for understanding how new models of conflicts are emerging. I highly recommend their latest article on events last year in Libya.
Motivated individuals were able to lend support and comfort to the rebels in Libya during the conflict. From giving instructions on first aid, to providing bandwidth and archiving services for the rebels messaging and other things, ‘civilians’ from Europe and elsewhere were able to support the rebels.
The phrase I find most interesting in the article is that the conflict was “fought with global brains, NATO brawn, and Libyan blood.” On this side of the pond, a lot of ink has been spilled for how the approach utilized by the Allies is a new model for conflict intervention. While I see that as certainly being a possibility, the conflict model for Libya writ large (encompassing much more than just NATO’s role in Libya) is much more likely to become the archetype for contemporary conflicts.
There are a lot of implications for civilians being able to personally intervene in conflicts:
- Are such motivated (could we term them super-empowered?) individuals still considered non-combatants in a conflict if they give support or aid to a side in a conflict?
- Does a civilian’s actions towards supporting a side in a conflict make them a legitimate military target by the opposing side?
- What is the threshold to where a nation is no longer neutral in a conflict because their citizens are directly supporting a side in a conflict?
Lastly, there is an increasing sense that the Westphalian notion of nation-states is being challenged by the ability for individuals to act globally. Generally, this has been characterized in economic terms. However, it now seems that nations are additionally losing their exclusivity on conflict intervention. New organizational paradigms seem to be emerging, where definition by citizenship is at best the penultimate criteria used by an individual for self identification.