Image caption: Pvt. Kayla Padgett, right, tells her platoon to count off.
Congratulations to the 18 revolutionary women who graduated from One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, May 19, 2017. These heroic women have become the first “female infantrymen” in US history. This is the final step in US Army gender integration. It began in 2013, when President Obama ordered the Army to open all military occupational specialties to women. These proud warriors will serve our country and represent the strength of women everywhere. They passed the same tests as the men, including the 35 m grenade launch, dragging a 268 lb dummy 35 m, and running five miles with a 68 lb pack in less than 45 minutes. I, a man, am proud that the US will be represented in combat by women soldiers. These women are already on the front lines of social justice, and they have paved the way for other women moving into male-dominated jobs across America and the world. Enemies of freedom will see that we are a united nation with human rights for all. The female citizens of the United States will not be overlooked for jobs in favor of male citizens. Their determination and grit won them this victory for women’s rights, which are human rights.
Furthermore, these Private 2nd Class soldiers have a more direct line of promotion to military leadership than women in non-combat positions. Soon we may see the correction of the discrepancy between male and female ranking officers. Someday we will even have our first woman Sergeant Major of the Army. Some of the female infantrymen are continuing training to become paratroopers. One of those training in Airborne School, PV2 Kayla Padgett, is a former track star from North Carolina. She came to boot camp in better physical condition than most of the men, able to throw a 20 lb. hammer over 60 m. During boot camp she led her platoon, which was mostly male, and earned their respect. Joseph Sapp, her drill sergeant, served one tour in Iraq and four tours in Afghanistan. He praised Padgett, saying “Forget male-female; she’s one of the best in the company. She’s one you’re happy to have.”
In these confusing times, it is difficult to feel a sense of pride for my country. Abroad, we have been snubbing allies and emboldening human right violators like Turkey, Russia, and Egypt. We continue to be hand in glove with Saudi Arabia, who routinely and legally persecute their female citizens. Our President is a global embarrassment, and he was elected in spite of distain for women’s rights. It felt so good to welcome back a glowing sense of satisfaction in a US executive agency. I feel strongly that these women will send a message to the world that we are not all Donald Trumps, and that we will progress as a free and open society in spite of our wayward President.