Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s announcement just weeks before leaving office that he would bring an end to the policy of excluding women from combat assignments surprised, well, everyone. To call this move historic is to put it mildly. Today’s Huffington Post carried the following article on the last frontier’s of military equality: the ability of transgender service people to serve openly:
“Not long after that, he made history again, bringing a measure of equity to the benefits offered to same-sex military families before leaving D.C. to return to his much-loved walnut farm in California. History will remember Panetta’s tenure at the Defense Department favorably for these decisions to change policies that no longer reflected the reality of our wars or, just as importantly, the values of our nation.
“As a woman veteran, I was elated with these changes. As the wife of a woman veteran (my wife Danyelle was a West Point classmate of mine and served as an Army officer with honor and distinction), I felt encouraged by them.
“But as a transgender veteran, and an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) service members, veterans and their families, the changes that Secretary Panetta brought about in his last days in office have left me emboldened. Here’s why: As the combat exclusion for women comes to an end and open service for gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans edges closer to truly equal service, it becomes more and more obvious that there is no longer any rational basis on which to bar qualified transgender people from serving in our armed forces. Continue reading “On transgender military service”
“Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is lifting the military’s official ban on women in combat, which will open up hundreds of thousands of additional front-line jobs to them, senior defense officials said Wednesday,” reports the New York Times.
“The groundbreaking decision overturns a 1994 Pentagon rule that restricts women from artillery, armor, infantry and other such combat roles, even though in reality women have frequently found themselves in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, where more than 20,000 have served. As of last year, more than 800 women had been wounded in the two wars and more than 130 had died.
“Defense officials offered few details about Mr. Panetta’s decision but described it as the beginning of a process to allow the branches of the military to put the change into effect. Defense officials said Mr. Panetta had made the decision on the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Continue reading “Women to serve in combat”
It had to happen: now you can major in cyberwarfare. As reported in today’s Los Angeles Times, “stalking is part of the curriculum in the Cyber Corps, an unusual two-year program at the University of Tulsa that teaches students how to spy in cyberspace, the latest frontier in espionage.
“Students learn not only how to rifle through trash, sneak a tracking device on cars and plant false information on Facebook. They also are taught to write computer viruses, hack digital networks, crack passwords, plant listening devices and mine data from broken cellphones and flash drives.
“It may sound like a Jason Bourne movie, but the little-known program has funneled most of its graduates to the CIA and the Pentagon’s National Security Agency, which conducts America’s digital spying. Other graduates have taken positions with the FBI, NASA and the Department of Homeland Security.
“The need for stronger cyber-defense — and offense — was highlighted when Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta warned in an Oct. 11 speech that a “a cyber-terrorist attack could paralyze the nation,” and that America needs experts to tackle the growing threat.
“’An aggressor nation or extremist group could gain control of critical switches and derail passenger trains, or trains loaded with lethal chemicals,’’ Panetta said. ‘They could contaminate the water supply in major cities, or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country.’
“Panetta said the Pentagon spends more than $3 billion annually for cyber-security. ‘Our most important investment is in skilled cyber-warriors needed to conduct operations in cyberspace,’ he said.
See full story in the Los Angeles Times, “Cyber Corps program trains spies for the digital age.”