- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has chosen the highest-ranking female Marine general in the history of the corps to head a revamped civilian advisory committee on military women for the Pentagon.

The appointments of retired Marine Lt. Gen. Carol A. Mutter and 12 other new board members are the last major piece of a Bush administration move to reform and downscale the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS).

Senior defense officials praised Gen. Mutter's selection as chairman.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said Gen. Mutter "brings extraordinary credentials, integrity and forthrightness which we will truly value to this job." DACOWITS typically has been led by civilian women with no military experience.

Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness, criticized the appointment. She said the former three-star officer is aligned with a group that promotes women in ground combat.

In March, the Pentagon abolished the committee's charter and dismissed the remaining Clinton-administration-appointed members on the 33-member board. Mr. Rumsfeld's staff then created a committee one-third its size and wrote a more restrictive charter to focus on readiness and quality-of-life issues.

The revamping came after pro-military groups, led by Mrs. Donnelly, complained that DACOWITS pushed a "feminist agenda." Mrs. Donnelly criticized the old panel's persistent recommendations to move women into more combat roles, such as Navy submarines and Army artillery.

Based on changes enacted by Congress in the early 1990s, women may serve in combat aircraft and on most Navy ships, but are banned from land combat jobs. Neither the top brass nor Congress has made any effort to open more combat jobs.

The Clinton administration also refused to move the line. It said opinion polls showed that most military women did not want to be in ground combat.

Mrs. Donnelly yesterday expressed disappointment in the chairman's appointment because Gen. Mutter serves on the national advisory council of a private education group called Alliance for National Defense. Mrs. Donnelly said the council includes "pro-feminist agenda" activists, including Sara Lister, a former Army assistant secretary who once called the Marines "extremist."

The alliance's president is retired Army Brig. Gen. Pat Foote, who advocates more combat jobs for women.

"I was very surprised to see the people she was associated with on this group," Mrs. Donnelly said. "The agenda of this group is the same as the old DACOWITS, which raises the question: Which agenda is going to be followed?"

Gen. Mutter, who is president of the private Women Marines Association, defended her membership.

"I think [Mrs. Donnellys] premise is erroneous," she said in an interview. She said council members had a wide range of opinions on defense issues and that she had provided a list of her memberships to the Pentagon, which found no conflicts of interest.

On the ground-combat issue, Gen. Mutter said, the policy "is about where it should be, but I do believe it will continue to evolve."

In Gen. Mutter, the Pentagon is gaining a 31-year veteran who has achieved the highest rank of any female Marine. She retired in January 1999, after serving at Marine headquarters as deputy chief of staff for manpower and reserve affairs.

She was one of 27 senior retired officers in 2000 to endorse the campaign of George W. Bush, saying she was disturbed by President Clinton's misconduct in office.

"I was most concerned about the moral leadership or lack thereof that has been demonstrated," she said in an interview in October 2000.

The new DACOWITS is comprised of 11 women and two men. In addition to Gen. Mutter, the new members are Catherine Aspy of Keizer, Ore.; Lynda Davis of Great Falls; J.P. Duniphan of Rapid City, S.D.; Bonnie Fuller Ford of Albuquerque, N.M.; Julie Hamre of Bethesda; Constance Horner of Washington, D.C.; Susan Patane of Loma Linda, Calif.; retired Army Reserve Col. Darryl Ladd Pattillo of Austin, Texas; Margaret Robson of Washington D.C.; Virginia Rowell of Vienna, Va.; retired Air Force Reserve Col. Vance Shaw of McLean; and Rosalie Silberman of Washington D.C.


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