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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Affirmative action (and feminism) kill

Safety Last? - Chicago Tribune
December 01, 1995|By Elaine Donnelly, President, Center for Military Readiness.

LIVONIA, Mich. — In a Nov. 14 article on female pilots training to fly combat aircraft (Main news), Michael Kilian suggested that questions about double standards in combat aviation training are primarily political and without foundation.

Unfortunately, Mr. Kilian had not yet received a copy of my organization's "Special Report: Double Standards in Naval Aviation," which documents an extraordinary and unusual pattern in the training of two female pilots. One such pilot, Lt. Kara Hultgreen, was killed last year while attempting to land an F-14 on the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.

Detailed training records obtained by the Center for Military Readiness, a public policy educational organization specializing in military personnel issues, suggest Lt. Hultgreen may have been the victim of a flawed policy.

Lt. Hultgreen was an impressive and courageous woman, but the instructors gave her low scores and four signal-of-difficulty or unsatisfactory performance "downs"--one or two of which are frequently sufficient to end an aviation career. Two of Lt. Hultgreen's downs highlighted mistakes similar to errors made during her fatal approach to the carrier.

Navy instructors also awarded an astonishing seven downs to another female pilot, one of which was not recorded so that she could graduate as a "fully qualified" aviator.

After a series of meetings at the Pentagon, high-ranking Navy officials conceded, with much reluctance and only a few minor points of disagreement, that the material obtained from sources known to the Center was largely accurate. We then released the comprehensive Special Report.

Even proponents of women in combat should agree that safety should not be compromised and young lives put at greater risk because of "flexible" standards that treat men and women differently.

AIM Report - September B, 1997

"Men with equal or better records had waited a year or more for carrier training. The discrimination had a cost. The IG wrote: "The decision to move females ahead of males in the training pipeline, necessary to get them to the targeted carrier/air wing before deployment, contributed to the perception that women would receive preferential treatment to satisfy political objectives, a message that hurt morale and teamwork."

Lohrenz, Lt. Kara S. Hultgreen and two other women were among the 10 pilots assigned to Fighter Squadron VF-124. The training was supposed to be "gender neutral," but according to three flight instructors interviewed by the IG, reality was another matter. By their accounts, Cmdr. Tom Sobiek, the commanding officer, convened instructors who had expressed concerns about the women's flying. Sobiek allegedly said that "the women are going to graduate regardless of how they performed." One officer summarized Sobiek as saying, "you guys don't understand, this is bigger than all of us, these women are going to graduate no matter what."

Sobiek denied making any such statement. "That is a flat **** lie," he said. "And whoever told you that, if they were under oath, should be taken to task." The IG concluded "it is more likely than not" that Sobiek said something to indicate that the women "are going to make it to the fleet."

The IG said the Navy wanted to use the women carrier pilots as symbols to counter Tailhook and that overly zealous press agents helped create a climate that led to Lohrenz's failure. They used women fliers to prove that sexual integration of the military was working. One commander told investigators that the Navy was in a race with the Air Force to get the first female fighter pilot. The IG suggested that publicists wanted fliers to earn their wings regardless of their performance: "The failure of any single female aviator would have implications (at least in the media) far greater than the concerned individual. Failure would be portrayed as a failure of the female gender"...

Lt. Patrick J. Burns, "Jerry" to his shipmates, came into the Navy as an enlisted man and rose to officer rank as a carrier pilot. He was still in his early 30s in 1994, when he became one of the instructors for the pioneer women fliers. Persons who know Burns say that he says little about integration of women into the combat military; but he is a zealot on safety. He and other instructors raised questions about Hultgreen and Lohrenz early in their cycle. Respectful of protocol, he worked through the chain of command, to the squadron's operations officer, training officer, executive officer, and finally to the CO, Sobiek, who allegedly pronounced that the women were going to graduate regardless of their records.

Burns was worried. As he would later tell the IG, "the majority of the officers felt that safety was being compromised...[they] almost universally felt that...Hultgreen was a marginal pilot at best, [who] required very close scrutiny if she was to graduate to the fleet, and that Lt. Lohrenz was a substandard pilot [who] should not graduate..." The Navy chose to push the women through to graduation anyway. As Burns testified, "I...specifically told individuals that I expected a catastrophic mishap to take place concerning one of these individuals sometime during their fleet tour." In three months, Hultgreen was dead, victim of her own error and the Navy's lowered standards for women pilots...

At this point, Burns made a calculated decision that put his career at risk. He passed copies of training records to Elaine Donnelly, who runs a watchdog group, the Center for Military Readiness. A former army officer, Donnelly served on the Defense Department task force which studied whether women should be put into combat situations, something she opposed. Her center monitors the sexual integration of the military. Burns realized he was violating the Federal Privacy Act, but he had been ignored by superiors. He explained, "If I was walking down the street and I saw somebody's house on fire and I knew there were people inside and I knew I could get them out, I wouldn't be concerned about dragging them out in their underwear because of their privacy concerns"...

Concurrently, someone leaked the technical report on Hultgreen's accident, putting the lie to the claim that mechanical failure caused her death."
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