- The Washington Times - Friday, February 1, 2002

Conservative groups yesterday urged President Bush not to renew the charter of the Pentagon women's advocacy committee because they say the committee promotes politically correct policies that undermine the war against terrorism.
The Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) supports policies that compromise training standards, weaken morale, worsen deployment problems, hurt recruiting and retention, and force women into land combat, the groups said at a news conference.
"DACOWITS constantly promotes policies that would hurt the war effort by taking political correctness to extremes," said Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness and former DACOWITS member. "America can no longer afford politically correct policies that drive up costs, complicate missions and endanger lives."
DACOWITS' charter is up for renewal next month. By law, the Defense Department requests a renewal of the committee's charter every two years in February.
The groups including Concerned Women for America (CWA) and Eagle Forum also asked the Defense Department to discontinue quotas for women, stop pregnancy policies that subsidize single parenthood and create deployability problems, and do away with incremental steps to force women into land combat.
Among the DACOWITS' "politically correct" demands that the groups criticize is the inclusion of women in land combat units, which are currently all-male.
"Radical feminist groups push for full integration of women into combat roles, for gender integrated basic training, for quotas that establish equal outcomes, not equal opportunity," said Nancy M. Pfotenhauer, president of the Independent Women's Forum, which was co-founded by the late Barbara Olson, who was killed in the September 11 attack on the Pentagon.
"These are just not sensible goals, especially at a time of war with heightened concerns of readiness," Miss Pfotenhauer said.
Also, the groups' leaders said, DACOWITS should stop pushing the notion that there are no differences between men and women. Any claim that women are equal to men in combat settings is "utterly irrational," said Sandy Rios, president of CWA.
Women lack the upper-body strength and physical endurance of men. When placed in life-threatening situations, they cannot fight as hard, run as fast, throw as far, defend as well, or last as long as men, Miss Rios said.
"This is no longer a power game where ambitious women can try to advance their careers," Miss Rios said. "This is a matter of life and death."
DACOWITS was established in 1951 by Secretary of Defense George C. Marshall to advise the department on matters relating to women in the armed forces.
The committee comprises 30 to 40 civilian women and men who are appointed by the defense secretary for a three-year term to provide recommendations that are relevant to the optimum use of women in the nation's armed forces and to give counsel on quality-of-life issues affecting the mission readiness of military women.
A Defense Department official, who did not want to be identified, said yesterday he would not comment on the groups' criticisms. He said DACOWITS is one of several advisory committees for the secretary of defense and is not a policy-making body.
"I would be surprised if the charter is taken away," the official said in a telephone interview. "DACOWITS has been an invaluable source of information for the secretary of defense."
But Mrs. Donnelly argued DACOWITS is no longer needed. Eliminating the committee would show that women have "truly arrived" as valued members of the national defense team and send a message of support for the military women who "understand the realities of war."
"Their interests have not been well served by civilian feminists and their allies whose demands could cost lives in a war that America must win," Mrs. Donnelly said.


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