Yesterday I wrote about the RAAF’s decision to implement 62 of 65 recommendations from the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, to lower standards in order to graduate female fighter pilots.
This story is not new.
It has happened before.
In fact, the US Navy did just this in the early 1990s so that it could boast about ‘gender equality’. The first female pilot to graduate, Lt. Kara Hultgreen, later died after failing to land safely on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln in October 1994.
In the fall out from the accident, a report from the independent Centre for Military Readiness revealed that Hultgreen had been allowed to graduate despite numerous failures that would normally have seen trainee pilots failed.
The report stated:
Late in December, 1994, the Center for Military Readiness (CMR) received credible information from a known source, relating to an extraordinary and unusual pattern in the training of two female pilots for combat aviation assignments. One of these, Lt. Kara Hultgreen, was killed while attempting to land an F-14 on the carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln on October 25, 1994. The second female pilot, identified as “Pilot B” to protect her privacy, is still on flight status.
Because the assertions were very sensitive as well as serious, CMR sought the assistance of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) in obtaining verification from Navy officials. In a January 16, 1995 letter to Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC), Chairman of the SASC, Elaine Donnelly, President of the Center for Military Readiness, presented nine detailed pages chronicling rocky training records for the two women. CMR also quoted a signed letter from a concerned individual who wrote that all of Lt. Hultgreen’s colleagues had great respect for her courage, but as dedicated professionals they could not allow a pervasive climate of political correctness to deter them from initiating a frank discussion of factors which may have contributed to the tragedy:
“In their haste to get women into combat billets as soon as possible, Navy leaders have denied unit commanders the tools they need to make integration workable. Lt. Kara Hultgreen was an F-14 pilot with limited abilities who, had she been a male, would arguably never have graduated to the fleet. (Her colleague, Pilot B, J was a substandard aviation candidate who unquestionably should not have graduated to the fleet, but did so only because of gender.
“…Unfortunately, Navy policy on integration isn’t one of ‘stretching the truth a little.’ With the first two female F-14 pilots, standards weren’t just broken, they were shattered.”
From January of 1995 through March 24, Mrs. Donnelly met once at the Pentagon with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jeremy Boorda, and three times with then-Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Stanley Arthur. At the March 24 meeting with Adm. Arthur, which was also attended by Chief of Naval Information Rear Adm. Kendell Pease and an aide for Senator Spencer Abraham (R-MI), Mrs. Donnelly was shown a non-published Navy document that confirmed, with only a few minor points of disagreement, that the facts and chronologies presented in the January 16 letter were largely accurate.
CMR’s purpose in releasing this information, presented here in condensed form, is to clarify the issues since the tragic death of Lt. Hultgreen, and to challenge the Navy to be fully candid about current and future training practices that treat women differently. If the Navy intends to defend the practice of extending extraordinary concessions to female aviation trainees-and it appears that they are prepared to do just that-the families involved and the entire nation have a right to know and debate the wisdom of that policy.
The question at issue here is not whether women should serve in combat squadrons, but whether women—and all trainees—should be held to the same high standards that have worked in recent years to reduce accident rates in aviation, the most dangerous occupation in the Navy.
Vehement protestations that both women were technically “qualified” are meaningless as well as misleading, because the definition of that word has been radically changed by practices that forgive low scores and major errors in training so that certain people will not fail. Extraordinary concessions and dual-track standards that treat men and women differently heighten risks because the aircraft itself does not forgive. Even proponents of women in combat should agree that these practices are simply indefensible.
Above all, CMR hopes that disclosure of this information will enable Navy personnel, family members, members of Congress, and the American people to engage in a responsible discussion that leads to constructive reforms, before heightened risks result in the needless loss of more young lives.
Importantly, ‘Pilot B’ challenged this report in court, complaining of defamation. The case was thrown out. And ‘Pilot B’ was also removed from service on aircraft carriers due to performance failures.
All Australians should be greatly concerned about this. We are failing to learn the mistakes of the past. And if the RAAF proceeds with these insane AHRC recommendations we may well see pilots killed because they have been graduated for political reasons rather than performance.
And I’ll just make this point too: it is not just females who are risk from this madness. These recommendations will also see males graduate who cannot pass current requirements…