Army Poll: Few Female Soldiers Want Combat Jobs

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 25 2014 5:17 PM

Slatest PM: The Army's Female-Soldier Focus Group

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Two US Army female soldiers man a foxhole during a dawn defensive alert in March 2003 at the forward base of the 3rd Infantry Division south of Baghdad

File photo by Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

The Focus Group: Associated Press: "Only a small fraction of Army women say they'd like to move into one of the newly opening combat jobs, but those few who do say they want a job that takes them right into the heart of battle, according to preliminary results from a survey of the service's nearly 170,000 women. That survey and others across the Army, publicly disclosed for the first time to The Associated Press, also revealed that soldiers of both genders are nervous about women entering combat jobs but say they are determined to do it fairly. Men are worried about losing their jobs to women; women are worried they will be seen as getting jobs because of their gender and not their qualifications. Both are emphatic that the Army must not lower standards to accommodate women."

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The Numbers: Associated Press (again): "Less than 8 percent of Army women who responded to the survey said they wanted a combat job. Of those, an overwhelming number said they'd like to be a Night Stalker — a member of the elite special operations helicopter crews who perhaps are best known for flying the Navy SEALS into Osama bin Laden's compound in 2011. .... Throughout last year, the Army emailed questionnaires to active duty, reserves and Army National Guard members to gauge soldiers' views on the move to bring women into combat jobs. The results from the survey sent to women showed that just 2,238 — or 7.5 percent — of the 30,000 who responded said they would want one of the infantry, armor, artillery and combat engineer jobs." Full report here.

It's Tuesday, February 25th, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees, and the whole team at @Slatest.

A Nice Surprise: New York Times: "Federal health authorities on Tuesday reported a stunning 43 percent drop in the obesity rate among 2- to 5-year-old children over the past decade, the first broad decline in an epidemic that often leads to lifelong struggles with weight and higher risks for cancer, heart disease and stroke. The drop emerged from a major federal health survey that experts say is the gold standard for evidence on what Americans weigh. The trend came as a welcome surprise to researchers. ... [T]he figures on Tuesday showed a sharp fall in obesity rates among all 2- to 5-year-olds, offering the first clear evidence that America’s youngest children have turned a corner in the obesity epidemic. About 8 percent of 2- to 5-year-olds were obese in 2012, down from 14 percent in 2004. ... Cynthia Ogden, a researcher for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the author of the report... cautioned that these very young children make up a tiny fraction of the American population and that the figures for the broader society had remained flat, and that for women over 60, the obesity rate had even increased. Still, the lower obesity rates in the very young bode well for the future, she said."

Obama's Prepares For Afghan Pull-Out: NBC News: "President Barack Obama has ordered the Pentagon to plan for an 'orderly withdrawal' of American troops from Afghanistan by year’s end as chances for a security agreement between the countries fade. Obama spoke with Afghan President Hamid Karzai by phone in the morning, and the White House signaled that Karzai was still unlikely to sign a bilateral security deal before he leaves office. The deal would give the U.S. a legal basis for keeping troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014, although fewer than the 33,600 currently stationed there. As many as 100,000 troops were in the country as recently as 2010. With Karzai soon out of power, the decision would be punted to whoever wins this April’s presidential election."

The Toast of Kiev: Reuters: "When the history of the bloody turbulence in Ukraine is written, a 26-year-old who learned combat skills in the army cadets may be recorded as the man who made up Viktor Yanukovich's mind to cut and run. ... [A]fter opposition leaders had signed an EU-brokered deal with President Yanukovich to end the conflict, it was [Volodymyr] Parasiuk who commandeered the microphone on Friday night to turn the crowd against it. With former boxing champion and opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko looking on stony-faced, Parasiuk, from the western city of Lviv, made an electrifying impromptu speech denouncing the opposition for 'shaking hands with this killer.' No-one was going to wait for an election later in the year, he said. Yanukovich had to get out of town by the following morning or face the consequences. To the dismay of opposition leaders, Parasiuk's emotional address—he broke down on several occasions as he remembered dead comrades—touched a chord deep within the thousands on Independence Square who roared their approval. The opposition had failed to sell their achievements to the 'Maidan', the name for both the square and the protest movement. An agreement, painstakingly negotiated with EU foreign ministers over a sleepless night, was effectively dead."

There'll Be No Atheist Booth at CPAC: Politico: "The Conservative Political Action Conference has rescinded its permission for American Atheists, a nonprofit that protects the civil rights of atheists, to sponsor an information booth at the conservative gathering next month. 'American Atheists misrepresented itself about their willingness to engage in positive dialogue and work together to promote limited government,' said CPAC spokesperson Meghan Snyder in an email. ...  But revoking American Atheists’ booth wasn’t enough to appease some conservative groups angered by the invitation itself. Media Research Center President Brent Bozell said that revoking the booth 'makes no difference' and is urging all conservative groups to withdraw entirely from CPAC."

That's all for today. See you back here tomorrow. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.