What could go wrong?
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. military's ban on women serving on submarines passed quietly into history Thursday.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates notified lawmakers in mid-February that the Navy would be lifting the ban, unless Congress took some action against it. And Navy spokesman Lt. Justin Cole said Thursday that the deadline for Congress to act passed at midnight.
The Navy plans a press conference later Thursday to talk about the new policy.
"There are extremely capable women in the Navy who have the talent and desire to succeed in the submarine force," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said hours after the congressional deadline passed. "Enabling them to serve in the submarine community is best for the submarine force and our Navy.
I don't doubt their capabilities. But there are other factors to be considered. Like a few women among 130 or so men, confined in a very small space, for months at a time:
In general, the idea of converting submarines to accommodate coed crews has raised two primary concerns. Chief among them is privacy. Submarine crews of 130 to 140 men share the space equivalent to that of a medium-sized home, with few bathrooms and showers and little or no privacy. To sleep, men slip into racks that are stacked three or four high. They change clothes next to their beds, and they sometimes "hotbunk" or share their racks with others on alternating shifts.
Call me old-fashioned but this strikes me as a recipe for trouble. Debbie Schlussel agrees:
Women on subs will be a huge headache. It’s only just starting. Periods and pregnancies do not belong on Navy submarines. How many women on subs will get pregnant? And who will end up paying the tab for sending them home? You will. Social experiments in the military are always a disaster. And the U.S. taxpayer is always the loser.
Sadly, in this case, so is national security. You can’t run an effective Navy operation with women having to be flown home. That’s gonna happen. Good luck with it.
And since women will be vastly outnumbered, conflicts may arise among the men in competition for their attentions. Bad for morale.
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