Suzanne Fields

Jessica Lynch turned out to be a soldier worthy of the uniform, but not, as we were told she was, the poster child for women in the military. Hers was a great story when it broke. She was Sgt. York and Audie Murphy in skirts (although she mostly wore combat fatigues), spraying fire at the enemy with the ferocity of a warrior on fire.

Only later we learned that actually she hadn't fired a shot when her Humvee crashed and, severely wounded, she was quickly surrounded by the enemy. Wonder Woman morphed into Cinderella when American soldiers, all men, rescued her as she lay captive in a hospital held by hostile Iraqi troops.

Pfc. Lynch testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform the other day, displaying none of the bravado of certain senior female officers campaigning for women in combat. She had been there, done that and recognized her limitations. Jessica Lynch deserves the honor we pay to all young Americans, male and female, who wear the uniform. But Pfc. Lynch, never responsible for inventing or perpetuating the myth, scoffs at the Pentagon spinners who tried to turn her into "a little Rambo." Reporters and editors back home were eager to buy the Pentagon fairy tale of how she fought off her attackers, and they had a lot of company. Many people wanted her story to be true, to shut up once and for all the skeptics of women on the battlefield.

The generals depend on young women to make the all-volunteer Army work. Women rode to the rescue when both quantity and quality of the armed forces fell after the end of the draft. The generals have been willing to put up with surprise pregnancies, constant arguments over sexual harassment and even the inherent physical limitations of women because the alternative is resumption of the draft. In the present climate, they know that's not going to happen. Women have inevitably moved closer to combat, partly because of the nature of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and partly through the deceit of politicians, both Republican and Democrat. To get women to the battlefield they just redefine "battlefield."

As the decade of the '70s wore on, writes RAND senior fellow Bernard Rostker in his book "I Want You! The Evolution of the All-Volunteer Force," the Army found that "women, with their generally higher educational attainment, superior performance on intelligence tests, and lower incidence of disciplinary problems could substitute for some of the high quality men who weren't signing on."

Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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