Military leaders to Tester: ‘Women play a valuable role in combat’

Senator questions Defense Secretary, Chairman of Joint Chiefs about Pentagon combat study

(U.S. Senate) – At a hearing with the Defense Secretary and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Senator Jon Tester seized upon the opportunity to question the nation’s top military leaders about the role of women in combat.

Tester today asked Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey to update him on the Pentagon’s study of expanding the role of women in the military, including a greater presence in combat operations.

“We are opening up to women just as many positions as we possibly can in the military,” Carter said. “From my point of view, we want to do as much as we can.”

Tester then asked the General to share his view, given Dempsey’s 40-year decorated military career.

“To make this crystal clear: in carrying out this nation’s combat missions, is there a valuable role and has there been a valuable role for women in uniform?” Tester asked, to which General Dempsey replied “yes.”

General Dempsey confirmed that the final report, which will make determinations about which combat positions can be opened to women, will be available in September.

Following the hearing, Tester said he believes that military women should be afforded the same opportunities as men.

“For years, women have played a critical role in our combat missions and have sacrificed a great deal on our behalf,” Tester said. “We should honor their service and bravery. I will never tell them that they can’t get the job done.”

The House Armed Services Committee recently added an amendment to the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act that modifies the 30-day waiting period required before the Defense Department can open up additional combat jobs to women.

At today’s hearing, Tester also raised concerns about other nations not doing their part to address global threats and relying far too much on the United States’ military and taxpayer dollars to get the job done.