US Army Ranger School seeks female candidates.
A ranger instructor explains to company of rangers the technical instructions of rappelling from the 50 ft rock to his left in Dahlonega, Georgia. There are three phases in ranger training which include the Benning Phase in Fort Benning Georgia, Mountain Phase in Dahlonega, Georgia, and the Florida Phase at Camp James E. Rudder. (Photo by Master Sergeant Cecilio Ricardo, 12 APR 2009.)
(Article by Adam Ashton, 15 SEP 2014, via Yakima Herald.)
TACOMA, Wash. — After 32 rejections, Lt. Della Smith-Del Rosario might finally get permission to attend the Army’s grueling Ranger School.
She’s been trying to get into the school — one of the military’s most intense proving grounds — for years, but she’s been blocked by a policy barring women from attending the two-month Ranger training course at Georgia’s Fort Benning.
Friday, the Army announced that it’s seeking female candidates for the spring 2015 Ranger School course. By January, the Army will announce whether it will admit female soldiers to the program.
It’s a milestone in the Army’s integration of women into more front-line combat positions that some hope will lead to female soldiers gaining more opportunities to serve in elite Special Operations units, such as the Army Rangers.
“I want the opportunity to bring what I have to offer to the Rangers,” said Smith-Del Rosario, a military intelligence officer on assignment in Kuwait.
Friday’s announcement follows a January 2013 decision to open traditionally all-male military positions to women unless officials present a compelling reason to prohibit female troops from a particular assignment.
Since then, the Army has opened six career specialties and 55,000 positions to women, according to an Army “stand to” message to troops about the pending Ranger School decision. Infantry and front-line positions in Special Operations remain all male, for the time being.
The Army is gauging interest in combat postings among its female solders through a survey carried out last year by its Training and Doctrine Command.
About 20 percent of female respondents indicated moderate or high interest in serving in combat assignments, such as infantry or special operations. About 8 percent reported having a high interest in those fields.
“The Army’s goal is to better (manage) the talent, competence and performance of all soldiers, ensuring they have the opportunities to maximize their potential, capabilities and contributions,” the “stand to” message said.
But the possibility of assigning women to Special Operations teams has been one of the most hotly debated aspects of the Pentagon’s gender-integration plan even as female soldiers have been taking on new responsibilities in combat units.
Most often, critics voice concerns that female troops will not be able to meet the physical demands of prolonged combat with Special Forces teams. The most physically demanding military training course open to women is the Marine Infantry Officer Candidate School. As of March, 14 women had attempted the course since the fall of 2012, but none had passed, according to The Washington Post.
“In my opinion, it is a waste of time and my money to send women to Ranger School,” said LeRoy Graw, a retired lieutenant colonel who served during the Gulf War. Graw of Lakewood completed Ranger School in 1964 after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy. He does not believe women belong in the infantry, especially not as officers, and so he thinks Ranger School would be a waste of the Army’s resources.
Others cite fears that gender integration could disrupt the unity of small 12-soldier teams in dangerous places if restrictions are lifted on women serving in Special Operations teams.
Supporters counter that a woman soldier one day will break the mold, and she should not be held back.
“As of today, no one has been able to produce convincing, or even thought-provoking hard evidence that would ban soldiers and Marines with two X chromosomes from the infantry,” wrote Shelly Goode-Burgoyne, a former Army officer, in a Sept. 10 blog post. She’s eager to see a woman succeed at Ranger School.
Ranger School is a mandatory precursor to postings in the Army’s prestigious 75th Ranger Regiment. It’s also springboard to promotions in other units. It peaks with an extended mission in Florida swampland in which candidates work together in small combat operations while veteran Rangers stress them.
Soldiers who pass the demanding program are considered “Ranger qualified.” They wear a Ranger tab on their uniforms, which stands out as a symbol of having accomplished one of the Army most severe training courses.
If a woman soldier is selected, she’ll have to take a pregnancy test, according to the Army order inviting female candidates to apply for the school. She’ll also have to demonstrate that she can do 49 pushups, 59 sit-ups, six chin-ups and complete a five-mile run in 40 minutes. She’ll also have to finish a 12-mile march in less than three hours.
“If a female thinks she’s physically strong enough to get through the school to get the tab, she should be able to go,” said Staff Sgt. Marscha Boydston, a supply specialist in Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s I Corps.
Boydston, 39, is married to a Special Operations soldier. She said she wouldn’t pursue a Ranger tab, but she’d think highly of woman who was willing to attempt the course.
In recent years, women have been gaining new footholds in the military’s Special Operations community. Thousands of women serve in units that support and supply Special Operations teams.
Many more have served alongside Special Operations teams in Afghanistan on so-called female engagement teams. They accompany all-male teams of special operators and work to gather intelligence that men could not by obtain by speaking with women in a traditional Muslim society.
“I jumped on the opportunity because empowerment for women is a big deal for every woman,” said Smith-Del Rosario, who served on a female engagement team in Afghanistan four years ago. “There’s a special place in hell for women that don’t help other women.”
Several female soldiers have been killed in action while serving on those dangerous missions with special operators.
One was Lt. Ashley White, who was killed with two Rangers from JBLM, on a mission in Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province on Oct. 22, 2011. Another was Capt. Jennifer Moreno, a nurse from Madigan Army Medical Center, who died with three solders on another Ranger-led mission in Kandahar on Oct. 5, 2013.
Smith-Del Rosario, who joined the Army in 1999 as an enlisted soldier from Overland Park, Kan., said she submits an application to Ranger School every month. She gets letters of support from her commanders, including a colonel who led a brigade.
Inevitably, her requests come back denied.
“They were like, ‘Oh, you’re a female.’”
She’s in Kuwait on a joint-forces team monitoring events in Iraq. She’s on track to attend an Army leadership course and then move on to a posting in South Korea.
She’d gladly take a detour to prove herself at Ranger School.
“In any team, everyone must earn their way; I will earn my tab if given the opportunity,” she said.
High-res

US Army Ranger School seeks female candidates.

A ranger instructor explains to company of rangers the technical instructions of rappelling from the 50 ft rock to his left in Dahlonega, Georgia. There are three phases in ranger training which include the Benning Phase in Fort Benning Georgia, Mountain Phase in Dahlonega, Georgia, and the Florida Phase at Camp James E. Rudder. (Photo by Master Sergeant Cecilio Ricardo, 12 APR 2009.)

(Article by Adam Ashton, 15 SEP 2014, via Yakima Herald.)

TACOMA, Wash. — After 32 rejections, Lt. Della Smith-Del Rosario might finally get permission to attend the Army’s grueling Ranger School.

She’s been trying to get into the school — one of the military’s most intense proving grounds — for years, but she’s been blocked by a policy barring women from attending the two-month Ranger training course at Georgia’s Fort Benning.

Friday, the Army announced that it’s seeking female candidates for the spring 2015 Ranger School course. By January, the Army will announce whether it will admit female soldiers to the program.

It’s a milestone in the Army’s integration of women into more front-line combat positions that some hope will lead to female soldiers gaining more opportunities to serve in elite Special Operations units, such as the Army Rangers.

“I want the opportunity to bring what I have to offer to the Rangers,” said Smith-Del Rosario, a military intelligence officer on assignment in Kuwait.

Friday’s announcement follows a January 2013 decision to open traditionally all-male military positions to women unless officials present a compelling reason to prohibit female troops from a particular assignment.

Since then, the Army has opened six career specialties and 55,000 positions to women, according to an Army “stand to” message to troops about the pending Ranger School decision. Infantry and front-line positions in Special Operations remain all male, for the time being.

The Army is gauging interest in combat postings among its female solders through a survey carried out last year by its Training and Doctrine Command.

About 20 percent of female respondents indicated moderate or high interest in serving in combat assignments, such as infantry or special operations. About 8 percent reported having a high interest in those fields.

“The Army’s goal is to better (manage) the talent, competence and performance of all soldiers, ensuring they have the opportunities to maximize their potential, capabilities and contributions,” the “stand to” message said.

But the possibility of assigning women to Special Operations teams has been one of the most hotly debated aspects of the Pentagon’s gender-integration plan even as female soldiers have been taking on new responsibilities in combat units.

Most often, critics voice concerns that female troops will not be able to meet the physical demands of prolonged combat with Special Forces teams. The most physically demanding military training course open to women is the Marine Infantry Officer Candidate School. As of March, 14 women had attempted the course since the fall of 2012, but none had passed, according to The Washington Post.

“In my opinion, it is a waste of time and my money to send women to Ranger School,” said LeRoy Graw, a retired lieutenant colonel who served during the Gulf War. Graw of Lakewood completed Ranger School in 1964 after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy. He does not believe women belong in the infantry, especially not as officers, and so he thinks Ranger School would be a waste of the Army’s resources.

Others cite fears that gender integration could disrupt the unity of small 12-soldier teams in dangerous places if restrictions are lifted on women serving in Special Operations teams.

Supporters counter that a woman soldier one day will break the mold, and she should not be held back.

“As of today, no one has been able to produce convincing, or even thought-provoking hard evidence that would ban soldiers and Marines with two X chromosomes from the infantry,” wrote Shelly Goode-Burgoyne, a former Army officer, in a Sept. 10 blog post. She’s eager to see a woman succeed at Ranger School.

Ranger School is a mandatory precursor to postings in the Army’s prestigious 75th Ranger Regiment. It’s also springboard to promotions in other units. It peaks with an extended mission in Florida swampland in which candidates work together in small combat operations while veteran Rangers stress them.

Soldiers who pass the demanding program are considered “Ranger qualified.” They wear a Ranger tab on their uniforms, which stands out as a symbol of having accomplished one of the Army most severe training courses.

If a woman soldier is selected, she’ll have to take a pregnancy test, according to the Army order inviting female candidates to apply for the school. She’ll also have to demonstrate that she can do 49 pushups, 59 sit-ups, six chin-ups and complete a five-mile run in 40 minutes. She’ll also have to finish a 12-mile march in less than three hours.

“If a female thinks she’s physically strong enough to get through the school to get the tab, she should be able to go,” said Staff Sgt. Marscha Boydston, a supply specialist in Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s I Corps.

Boydston, 39, is married to a Special Operations soldier. She said she wouldn’t pursue a Ranger tab, but she’d think highly of woman who was willing to attempt the course.

In recent years, women have been gaining new footholds in the military’s Special Operations community. Thousands of women serve in units that support and supply Special Operations teams.

Many more have served alongside Special Operations teams in Afghanistan on so-called female engagement teams. They accompany all-male teams of special operators and work to gather intelligence that men could not by obtain by speaking with women in a traditional Muslim society.

“I jumped on the opportunity because empowerment for women is a big deal for every woman,” said Smith-Del Rosario, who served on a female engagement team in Afghanistan four years ago. “There’s a special place in hell for women that don’t help other women.”

Several female soldiers have been killed in action while serving on those dangerous missions with special operators.

One was Lt. Ashley White, who was killed with two Rangers from JBLM, on a mission in Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province on Oct. 22, 2011. Another was Capt. Jennifer Moreno, a nurse from Madigan Army Medical Center, who died with three solders on another Ranger-led mission in Kandahar on Oct. 5, 2013.

Smith-Del Rosario, who joined the Army in 1999 as an enlisted soldier from Overland Park, Kan., said she submits an application to Ranger School every month. She gets letters of support from her commanders, including a colonel who led a brigade.

Inevitably, her requests come back denied.

“They were like, ‘Oh, you’re a female.’”

She’s in Kuwait on a joint-forces team monitoring events in Iraq. She’s on track to attend an Army leadership course and then move on to a posting in South Korea.

She’d gladly take a detour to prove herself at Ranger School.

“In any team, everyone must earn their way; I will earn my tab if given the opportunity,” she said.

“Be near me when my light is low,
When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick
And tingle; and the heart is sick,
And all the wheels of Being slow.

Be near me when the sensuous frame
Is rack’d with pangs that conquer trust;
And Time, a maniac scattering dust,
And Life, a fury slinging flame.

Be near me when my faith is dry,
And men the flies of latter spring,
That lay their eggs, and sting and sing
And weave their petty cells and die.

Be near me when I fade away,
To point the term of human strife,
And on the low dark verge of life
The twilight of eternal day.” 
― Alfred TennysonIn Memoriam

[1] Aviation Electrician’s Mate Airman Seth Orourke, a plane captain assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81, gives thumbs up to the pilot of an F/A-18E Super Hornet after completing start-up of the aircraft on the flight deck aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. (Photo by Petty Officer Second Class James Evans, 21 DEC 2011).

[2,3] Members of the flight deck crew direct a F/A-18C Hornet from the Mighty Shrikes of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 94 to a catapult on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. (U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class George M. Bell, 10 JUN 2013.)

[4] An F/A-18F Super Hornet waits to launch from the waist catapults on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson. (Photo by Petty Officer Second Class James Evans, 17 DEC 2011).

 [5] An F/A-18 Hornet launches from the flight deck during night operations aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. (Photo by Petty Officer Second Class James Evans, 11 JAN 2012.)

Navy suspends search for missing Hornet pilot, presumed dead

(From a U.S. 7th Fleet News Release, 13 SEP 2014. Source.)

WESTERN PACIFIC OCEAN - After an extensive search, the Navy today has ended search-and-rescue efforts for the pilot of one of the F/A-18C Hornet aircraft that crashed Sept. 12 approximately 250 nautical miles off the coast of Wake Island.

The pilot assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 94 has been presumed deceased.

"This is an exceptionally difficult time for the friends and family of the missing pilot and the Navy community," said Navy Rear Adm. Christopher Grady, commander of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group. "We are extremely grateful for the outpouring of support from the community. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this tragedy."

The identity of the pilot will not be released until the family notification process is complete.

Navy units involved in the search-and-rescue efforts included USS Carl Vinson, USS Bunker Hill, USS Gridley, USS Sterett, and USS Dewey, along with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 15 and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73 and P-8s from Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron 5 in Guam.

The two F/A-18C aircraft, one assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 94 and the other assigned to VFA 113, had launched from the flight deck and were in the process of proceeding to their initial stations when they apparently collided approximately seven miles from the ship.

One pilot was recovered by helicopter shortly after the crash and transported to USS Carl Vinson for medical care. The rescued pilot has since been released from medical facilities aboard the ship.

VFA 94 and VFA 113, both based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, are part of Carrier Air Wing 17, assigned to the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation.

Hello, baby, don’t you miss me?

A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II with the 303rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, peels away after being in-air refueled by a KC-135 Stratotanker over Eastern Afghanistan. The A-10’s maneuverability at slow speeds and low altitude has made it one of the most utilized aircraft for close air support throughout Operation Enduring Freedom.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Russ Scalf, 16 AUG 2014. Title from lyrics of "Hello lover" by Empires.)

soldierporn:

Night jump.
U.S. Army paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division conduct parachute assault operations at Holland Drop Zone, Fort Bragg, N.C., during Joint Operations Access Exercise 12-02.
(Photo by Tech Sergeant Edward Gyokeres, 6 JUN 2012.)
High-res

soldierporn:

Night jump.

U.S. Army paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division conduct parachute assault operations at Holland Drop Zone, Fort Bragg, N.C., during Joint Operations Access Exercise 12-02.

(Photo by Tech Sergeant Edward Gyokeres, 6 JUN 2012.)

Two Navy Hornets crash in Pacific Ocean
An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 22 aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. (Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Trevor K. Mendoza, 30 MAY 2011.)
From a U.S. 7th Fleet News Release, 12 SEP 2014:
WESTERN PACIFIC OCEAN - Two F/A-18C Hornet jet aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 17 embarked on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson crashed early this morning local time, while operating at sea in the western Pacific Ocean.
The initial report is that the two aircraft are assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 94 and Strike Fighter Squadron 113.
One pilot was rapidly located and returned to Carl Vinson, and is currently receiving medical attention. Search efforts continue for the second pilot.
The search for the second pilot includes the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill and guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley, along with helicopters assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 15 and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73.
The two F/A-18C Hornets have not been recovered.
All remaining airborne aircraft were safely recovered onboard.
The cause of the incident is under investigation.
Carl Vinson and embarked Carrier Air Wing 17 are currently underway in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. High-res

Two Navy Hornets crash in Pacific Ocean

An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 22 aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. (Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Trevor K. Mendoza, 30 MAY 2011.)

From a U.S. 7th Fleet News Release, 12 SEP 2014:

WESTERN PACIFIC OCEAN - Two F/A-18C Hornet jet aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 17 embarked on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson crashed early this morning local time, while operating at sea in the western Pacific Ocean.

The initial report is that the two aircraft are assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 94 and Strike Fighter Squadron 113.

One pilot was rapidly located and returned to Carl Vinson, and is currently receiving medical attention. Search efforts continue for the second pilot.

The search for the second pilot includes the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill and guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley, along with helicopters assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 15 and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73.

The two F/A-18C Hornets have not been recovered.

All remaining airborne aircraft were safely recovered onboard.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

Carl Vinson and embarked Carrier Air Wing 17 are currently underway in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

“I almost did it, Api. I had the Glock in my mouth and my finger on the trigger.”
The 20th of September is swiftly approaching. This year will be the third anniversary of the repeal of DADT, which made it legal for bisexual and homosexual military personnel to openly serve in the US Armed Forces.To celebrate, I’m sharing my latest work—a military gay romance scheduled for inclusion in an anthology. My short story, titled “Blood & Peyote,” is about two Montana National Guardsmen who’ve recently returned from their third combat deployment, their first OEF tour. One of the main characters is Apisi Howling, a Kainai Native American who has a job as a Game Warden in the eastern regions of Glacier National Park, just west of the Blackfoot Reservation he calls home. His battle buddy is Chartreuse Beaudrou, a redheaded bear and a large animal veterinarian who services the beef ranches in the area and struggles with Survivor’s Syndrome. As the story opens, Apisi receives a call from his platoon sergeant alerting him to a code black situation with his battle buddy. Attempted suicide.
Unconditional Surrender is a limited release compilation of brand new stories from 13 different bestselling authors of gay romance. Release date is 13 October, and availability is scheduled to end in March of 2015. The 600-page ebook is currently available for pre-order for 99 cents through Amazon US, Amazon UK, All Romance, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. And to celebrate the revocation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” we’re hosting a Rafflecopter giveaway, as well. Click here for the list of prizes and to enter the drawing! 
Check out the Surrender Bundle’s Facebook group for excerpts and other teaser content. High-res

“I almost did it, Api. I had the Glock in my mouth and my finger on the trigger.”

The 20th of September is swiftly approaching. This year will be the third anniversary of the repeal of DADT, which made it legal for bisexual and homosexual military personnel to openly serve in the US Armed Forces.
To celebrate, I’m sharing my latest work—a military gay romance scheduled for inclusion in an anthology. My short story, titled “Blood & Peyote,” is about two Montana National Guardsmen who’ve recently returned from their third combat deployment, their first OEF tour. One of the main characters is Apisi Howling, a Kainai Native American who has a job as a Game Warden in the eastern regions of Glacier National Park, just west of the Blackfoot Reservation he calls home. His battle buddy is Chartreuse Beaudrou, a redheaded bear and a large animal veterinarian who services the beef ranches in the area and struggles with Survivor’s Syndrome. As the story opens, Apisi receives a call from his platoon sergeant alerting him to a code black situation with his battle buddy. Attempted suicide.

Unconditional Surrender is a limited release compilation of brand new stories from 13 different bestselling authors of gay romance. Release date is 13 October, and availability is scheduled to end in March of 2015. The 600-page ebook is currently available for pre-order for 99 cents through Amazon US, Amazon UK, All Romance, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo
And to celebrate the revocation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” we’re hosting a Rafflecopter giveaway, as well. Click here for the list of prizes and to enter the drawing! 

Check out the Surrender Bundle’s Facebook group for excerpts and other teaser content.

SOLDIER STORIES: Transgenders in the military exist.
(Article by Brandon Webb, 9 SEP 2014, via SOFREP.)
We are shocked by the barbaric treatment of women and children by ISIS, and in Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and yet we still have traces of barbarism in how we treat fellow human beings in our own society. A short time ago in America, if you were a woman or African-American you didn’t have the same personal liberties as a white male living in America. And as I’m writing this WordPress doesn’t even recognize transgenders as a word in the plural form, it gets highlighted in red confusion.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. -MLK
A great quote by Martin Luther King however, I’d add “by the color of their skin or gender, but by the content of their character.
When I served from 1993-2006 as a Navy SEAL, you couldn’t openly serve in the military if you were gay. It was the period of DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell). Some people may say that DADT worked, but it was an excuse to ignore the obvious. I had several friends in the Navy who were silently gay, it really didn’t bother me.
One thing I’ve always appreciated about the Special Operations community is the forward-thinking and the pure meritocracy of the community. The majority of guys I know really don’t care about someone’s sexual orientation, they don’t have time for it. Can you do your job, and can you do it well? That’s the simplicity of the situation to me when it comes to the subject of Transgenders serving openly in the military.
They’ve been serving with distinction (although in secret) for years, just as Gays did before DADT was repealed in 2010. My friend Brett Jones, a BUD/S classmate of mine, was forced out of the Navy for being gay. Brett is a solid guy who I still keep in touch with on Facebook, and I would have served downrange with him any day, no question about it. His separation was ultimately America’s loss, and now we’re closing out more good people that want to volunteer their service because of the current discrimination against the transgender community. Just look at Beck and the new CNN film Lady Valor.
Why is this?
To be fair, not all I’ve served with in the Special Operations community have been supportive (but most), I’ve even had some former teammates question my open support of gays and transgenders in the military. I really don’t see what the problem is – you’re either on the right side of history and humanity, or you’re not. I make no apologies for supporting this community and doing my small part to make the world a better place for my own children.
Right now, transgenders are serving in secrecy on dangerous military assignments across the globe, whether you want to acknowledge it or not. To “pretend it away” or to use religion as a crutch are not viable solutions. Many countries already allow service including the Australian and British militaries which have allowed transgenders to openly serve for years.
The sooner the US DOD leadership allows the transgender community to serve openly, the better off this country and our all-volunteer US Military will be. At a time when the US Warfighter is stretched razor thin from over a decade of sustained combat operations, the timing couldn’t be better. High-res

SOLDIER STORIES: Transgenders in the military exist.

(Article by Brandon Webb, 9 SEP 2014, via SOFREP.)

We are shocked by the barbaric treatment of women and children by ISIS, and in Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and yet we still have traces of barbarism in how we treat fellow human beings in our own society. A short time ago in America, if you were a woman or African-American you didn’t have the same personal liberties as a white male living in America. And as I’m writing this WordPress doesn’t even recognize transgenders as a word in the plural form, it gets highlighted in red confusion.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. -MLK

A great quote by Martin Luther King however, I’d add “by the color of their skin or gender, but by the content of their character.

When I served from 1993-2006 as a Navy SEAL, you couldn’t openly serve in the military if you were gay. It was the period of DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell). Some people may say that DADT worked, but it was an excuse to ignore the obvious. I had several friends in the Navy who were silently gay, it really didn’t bother me.

One thing I’ve always appreciated about the Special Operations community is the forward-thinking and the pure meritocracy of the community. The majority of guys I know really don’t care about someone’s sexual orientation, they don’t have time for it. Can you do your job, and can you do it well? That’s the simplicity of the situation to me when it comes to the subject of Transgenders serving openly in the military.

They’ve been serving with distinction (although in secret) for years, just as Gays did before DADT was repealed in 2010. My friend Brett Jones, a BUD/S classmate of mine, was forced out of the Navy for being gay. Brett is a solid guy who I still keep in touch with on Facebook, and I would have served downrange with him any day, no question about it. His separation was ultimately America’s loss, and now we’re closing out more good people that want to volunteer their service because of the current discrimination against the transgender community. Just look at Beck and the new CNN film Lady Valor.

Why is this?

To be fair, not all I’ve served with in the Special Operations community have been supportive (but most), I’ve even had some former teammates question my open support of gays and transgenders in the military. I really don’t see what the problem is – you’re either on the right side of history and humanity, or you’re not. I make no apologies for supporting this community and doing my small part to make the world a better place for my own children.

Right now, transgenders are serving in secrecy on dangerous military assignments across the globe, whether you want to acknowledge it or not. To “pretend it away” or to use religion as a crutch are not viable solutions. Many countries already allow service including the Australian and British militaries which have allowed transgenders to openly serve for years.

The sooner the US DOD leadership allows the transgender community to serve openly, the better off this country and our all-volunteer US Military will be. At a time when the US Warfighter is stretched razor thin from over a decade of sustained combat operations, the timing couldn’t be better.

Hildisvíni’s aerobatics.
A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II with the 303rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, currently deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, peels away after refueling from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Eastern Afghanistan. The A-10’s maneuverability at slow speeds and low altitude has made it one of the most utilized aircraft for close air support throughout Operation Enduring Freedom.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Russ Scalf, 16 AUG 2014.) High-res

Hildisvíni’s aerobatics.

A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II with the 303rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, currently deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, peels away after refueling from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Eastern Afghanistan. The A-10’s maneuverability at slow speeds and low altitude has made it one of the most utilized aircraft for close air support throughout Operation Enduring Freedom.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Russ Scalf, 16 AUG 2014.)