From: Mordor Illlinois
OK. The question about Kara Hultgreen was right...and wrong. I was a Naval Aircrewman from 1977 till 2001. The period of Hultgreen's accident was one of tremendous competition between the services (especially Navy and Air Force) as to who could field female combat aircrew the fastest. The president , and especially the 1st lady , had made advancing the cause of women in the military to the forefront of his administration. And the services were busting themselves to comply. No real surprise. BUT....., do you recall my previous post about "gun decking?". It was present here too. There was a whole sale rush to beat the "other services" by getting "the 1st female" in each category. ANY female. Women already in the pipeline were "fast tracked" and their training time "compressed" where ever possible. Anything to bet the "other service". A great many instructors and senior mid level officers were afraid that these women were being set up to fail. A great many people feel that "Revlon" Kara Hultgren was one of them. From all accounts a incredibly gifted pilot , who was rushed. And some skills take time to develop, no matter how gifted the student.
Most of the women were already in the pipeline , or had graduated to non-combat aircraft. All they needed was a "transition period" at the RAG (replacement air group) to learn their aircraft , then a year or so as a "nugget" (junior flyer that needed seasoning... and a year or so in the squadron and a cruise would generally do it). I served with many such women NFO's , pilots and aircrew who did great (and I cheerfully would have and still would fly into combat with them). Usually older , experienced women , like their male counterparts would do just fine.
One notable exception were junior enlisted female air crew candidates. A 17 year is never as mature as a 24 year old college graduate. But SAR swimming is a young , strong persons job. And a great many young women were pushed at that job without really considering physical strength , endurance or determination. Admission standards were not enforced and strongly as they should have been. And a great many women were set up to fail.
Later , when slightly older , more seasoned candidates were selected , and given time to build up and prepare for the challenge , they did just fine.
The point is , that was an ugly , unfair period in which scoring in the "battle for the 1st" by people in leadership positions made this period a very , very disgraceful transition. The services SHOULD have done better. And those women who picked up the gauntlet and tried to meet the challenge should be admired. They should have been given a better chance and opportunity. Instead the services "threw them against the wall" and figured if they threw enough some would stick. You don't do that to human beings. Period.
This I think is what some of the postings meant by "affirmative action" run amuck. What they should have said , was "badly, badly administrated.
Sorry if I ruffled feathers. But I honestly felt it need to be said.
No, your post makes sense and was informative.
And no, I don't think that's what they meant by "affirmative action" (and what they meant is not even what affirmative action is, anyway). If they meant what you said, they'd have said what you said.
Like any lawyer would say it depends by who you mean by "they". If you are talking about those who've corresponded with this threat , then the answer is easy...let's ask them. OK you folks out there , what did you mean.
If by "they" you mean the people who saw service during this period and actually lived it and experienced it , I'm afraid but I must strongly disagree with your findings. Slightly short of "you're talking through your hat", but not that short. Because the people of that period didn't suffer through the concept and ideal of "affirmative action" in the military in that era , but a incredibly botched execution. From 1972 till the present , military leaders , like Pavlov's dogs foam and drool at the mouth when they hear "affirmative action". Because they generally don't hear "let's help those who've been disadvantaged in the past advance themselves" , but something that weirdly transforms into "hey , here something that I can use to advance my own career!". (Mel Brooks said it best in "Blazin' Saddles". "Gentlemen , it's time to protect our phoney balony jobs!".
Those who experienced the 1970-1990's in the military , became very jaundiced at the ridiculous programs put forth as "equal opportunity". One of my favorite was introducing "ethnic food". The idea was for every body to "experience other culture"s foods". (In the Navy we already had that , it was called travel and port calls). So some genius introduced "soul food, Asian food , Latin American foods," etc. It was disastrous! People of those cultures were offended , as it bore no resemblance to the "food" they were familiar with. Others were offended as they were being forced to eat things not of their choice. (Someone once told me...a Navy cook, was what we have here is the equivalent of feeding a child peas...and he doesn't like peas...it's no better when he's 18!). It did unify most of the cultures against the government program. And taught us that the US Government was as capable of ruining ethnic food and any other.
Then there were all the mandatory lectures on other cultures. Done by a college or and educator they might have been interesting or well received. After all, part of joining the military is to meet new people, things and ideas. But the government instead said "we've got this" and decided to educate people about people just like they did venereal disease or dental hygiene. With military , mono-tone training films. Another military success! (For those mid level officers who could claim this on their fitness reports!). Once again , revulsion was pretty much universal.
Every day was some new "program" to advance some "social cause". And it went on year after year , with no more success than the previous program . While in reality , the issues were generally being solved by the troops themselves. I recall a Army NCO (a former drill instructor) who told me, "we don't need that crap! When you get in my unit , were are all the same color...GREEN!".
But once again , by forcing people to endure endless "social training", (generally called "Affirmative action") instead of doing mission critical training or work , the programs backfired , as "gundecking" reared it's ugly head. As long as you signed the attendance sheet ( in the Navy it was called the 1600) you fulfilled your responsibility. You then slept, worked on other paper work or if really daring , slipped out the back door when the lights went out. (Savy instructors held the 1600 till AFTER the film or lecture.) Then of course every person was rated on their evaluations or fitness reports under affirmative action. Anything less than perfect was the end of your career. (4.0 , later 5.0). Captains mast (article 15) you could survive. Screw up on behavior , appearance , military knowledge , all were inferior to EOR (equal opportunity remarks) in value. More than once during a 6 year period when I was permanently medically grounded and worked as a Yeoman (clerk) heard the CO or other senior officers contemplating mast or courts martial ask, "yea but how's his EOR scores?". It was that important.
So the point of this rabbling tirade is to make a simple point. Words mean different things to different people. And no where is that truer that between people who've served and those who haven't. Almost as great is between people who've had radically different experiences. EVEN people who have served during DIFFERENT periods. I('ve tried on many occasions to explain to WW2 vets , the point of view of Vietnam vets , and even more 1970's-90 vets to people currently serving or with service in different nation's military. They might as well speak different languages. And as a matter of fact they do.
Many of the 1970-90's vets hear the words "affirmative action" with a gut rolling , nausea surging "oh God no, here it comes again!" In the civilian world of that era , Affirmative action meant changes in the way we hire , educate and basically give a step up to people who have in the past been denied it. In the military it's "you are going to be made to feel guilty for and pay penance for something you never did!" Which creates resentment. Fear. And loathing.
We haven't had race riots in the barracks , cross burning on the carriers or the absolute nastiness of race relations in the military that we had in the 1960's for a long , long time. But it's not because of the "Good idea fairy" programs , it's because we eliminated the draft , required high school education , eliminated choices between prison and military service , and in general significantly improved the quality of those people who are PERMITTED to serve. And there is the difference. But never forget...words have POWER. Respect that power and you'll understand the difference. Any body who says "they should say what they mean" should seriously ask him or herself , "are we speaking the same language?".
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