October 27, 2021

Sharper: Women Who Serve

Analysis from CNAS experts on the most critical challenges for U.S. foreign policy.

By Nathalie Grogan and Anna Pederson

With the proposed 2022 National Defense Authorization Act set to include an amendment requiring women to register for Selective Service, the role of women in the military is of prime importance. Women comprise approximately 18 percent of the armed forces and make up the fastest-growing segment of the veteran population with no signs of slowing down. Given the unique experiences of women in military service, such as integration into combat roles and gender-based violence, CNAS experts are sharpening the conversation around women in the military. Continue reading this edition of Sharper to explore their ideas and recommendations.

Features

Implementing Women, Peace, and Security Guidance to Systematically Combat Gender-Based Violence in the Military

The Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017 is a seminal piece of legislation for recognizing the role women play in their communities and their underrepresentation in conflict management, prevention, and post-conflict reconstruction. Although primarily focused on international partners, the act also requires the Department of Defense to meaningfully employ women throughout the force and at every level of leadership. A CNAS policy brief by Dr. Kyleanne Hunter and Emma Moore explains the implications this legislation has on gender integration and why the recognition of gender-based violence against female service members deeply matter in the context of national security.

New York State Minority Veteran Needs Assessment

Researchers from the CNAS Military, Veterans, and Society Program examine the challenges facing veterans who are women, members of the LGBT community, or racial and ethnic minorities in New York State and nationwide. The assessment draws on analysis of publicly available data, focus groups with veterans in New York City and Buffalo, and interviews with key stakeholders and advocates for minority veterans. The report identifies multiple disparities in veteran outcomes across these life domains and makes recommendations for how researchers, veteran service organizations, and the Department of Veterans Affairs can best support the needs of an increasingly diverse veteran population.

Women in Combat: Five-Year Status Update

The military personnel model has traditionally been premised around a young male force supported by stay-at-home spouses. Such a model is built into how the military conceives of its personnel, from the language embedded in parental leave policies that assumes a woman is the primary caregiver to the names of base support and spouse groups. Since the ban on women in combat was lifted in 2015 and women began integrating previously closed combat arms billets, Emma Moore argues that becoming more agile is not just critical for supporting talent management across the force, but is also essential for creating inroads and support for women in combat..

Military, Veterans & Society

Implementing Women, Peace, and Security Guidance to Systematically Combat Gender-Based Violence in the Military

By institutionalizing a culture that respects the perspectives of everyone who serves, the military advances preventative measures to address sexual harassment and assault....

Military, Veterans & Society

New York State Minority Veteran Needs Assessment

It is imperative to develop a deeper understanding of whether there are specific veteran subpopulations that are faring differently from their peers...

Military, Veterans & Society

Women in Combat: Five-Year Status Update

It has been five years since the ban on women in combat was lifted in 2015 and women began integrating previously closed combat arms billets in January 2016. Five years is the...

Special Events

Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military

On August 4, 2021 CNAS hosted a virtual panel discussing the Department of Defense Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military and their report released in July of 2021. Key themes of the report recognized both strengths and areas for improvement; recognizing dedicated leaders and a desire to engage; and emphasizing the need to promote climates of dignity and respect, investing in knowledgeable sexual assault responders and the strong need for proper resources and training. Panelists discussed the process, findings, and recommendations of the report with moderator Katherine Kuzminski, senior fellow and director of the Military, Veterans, and Society Program at CNAS.

A Conversation with Women Veteran Authors

CNAS hosted a panel discussion featuring four women veteran authors on their writing, experiences, and perspectives on March 17, 2021. The panel discussion was moderated by Adjunct Senior Fellow Jeannette Gaudry Haynie and hosted by Research Assistant Nathalie Grogan. Guest writers included, Pamela Brodman, Diane Carlson Evans, Kelly Kennedy, and Maggs Vibo.

Commentaries

All Americans: Extending Draft Registration Makes Us Stronger

After months of research and engagement with the American public, the Commission—where one of us served on staff—came to a clear decision: If the United States finds itself in a crisis necessitating a mobilization of the American people, it must be able to call on the talents of the entire population, men and women alike, argue Andrew Swick and Emma Moore in Just Security. More than just a question of equal citizenship, we believe this recommendation to be a national security imperative. As the current public health crisis presages, emergencies of the 21st century will require a diverse set of expertise and capabilities, demanding participation and buy-in from all Americans.

The Trans Ban Is Gone but More Needs To Be Done

Despite decades of discrimination, transgender troops have served their country in all branches of the military, writes Nathalie Grogan in Inkstick. While important, meaningful and necessary, however, simply lifting the ban put in place in 2018 isn’t enough to counteract the discrimination transgender service members and veterans continue to face. The next steps for the Department of Defense should be to expand the data available on currently serving transgender personnel, develop a targeted recruitment strategy to reach a more diverse population, and protect LGBT service members from all types of harassment and abuse.

Military, Veterans & Society

All Americans: Extending Draft Registration Makes Us Stronger

As state and local officials across the country scramble to find additional public health workers to staff their over-burdened hospitals, the need for talented public servants...

Military, Veterans & Society

The Trans Ban Is Gone but More Needs To Be Done

Simply lifting the ban isn’t enough to counteract the discrimination transgender service members and veterans continue to face....

Want to Recruit Women? Address Sexual Assault and Harassment

According to Emma Moore in Inkstick, recurring recommendations on how to recruit and retain women in the services evidence a lack of understanding or support for women in favor of euphemistic prioritization of “culture” and “standards.” The military has long hidden behind the banner of readiness to say personnel change – family leave policies or gender integration – cannot be accomplished. Women veterans and advocates have been arguing for change for years, but we are still having these conversations. If the military is serious about recruiting talent, whichmust include recruiting women as the number of eligible men continues to fall, real gains need to be seen. It is past time.

The Way Ahead for the Next Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness

Some of the most powerful national security positions in Washington are ones you’ve never heard of, observe Katherine Kuzminski and Nathalie Grogan in War on the Rocks. The under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness is one of those positions. The appointee in the position sets personnel policy for the Department of Defense, standardizing practices across the military services affecting the recruitment, retention, and management of the nation’s uniformed human capital. The decisions the under secretary makes today will have implications for uniformed military leadership 30 to 40 years in the future.

Military, Veterans & Society

Want to Recruit Women? Address Sexual Assault and Harassment

Civilian leadership and Congress must demand more than regular accounting and comprehensive training....

Military, Veterans & Society

The Way Ahead for the Next Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness

There are few things in the Pentagon more consequential than military personnel policy...

In the News

Featuring commentary and analysis by Katherine Kuzminski, Emma Moore, and Dr. Kyleanne Hunter.

Military, Veterans & Society

American women will soon become eligible (in theory) for the draft

Mass conscription in wartime is a remote prospect in America. But were a draft called, the country’s conscripts might soon look very different. An amendment to the annual defe...

Military, Veterans & Society

Deaths of 2 Marines in Kabul underscore the evolving roles of women in the military

Clad in body armor with her hair pulled back in a tight bun, Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee cradled the barefoot Afghan infant in her arm as softly as she could through thick work glo...

Military, Veterans & Society

Where Fitness Is the Job, Army Struggles to Be a Fair Boss With Female Troops

For 99 percent of Americans, this question will never come up in a job interview: Can you hang from a bar and tuck your legs to your chest? It has, however, become a central i...

  • Commentary
    • November 10, 2021
    Sharper: Global Posture

    The Department of Defense is finalizing the first global posture review of the Biden administration, an assessment of the U.S. military's global footprint. What will the admin...

    By Anna Pederson

  • Reports
    • November 9, 2021
    Transitioning to Tech

    Military experience provides service members with a range of technical and soft skills that can prepare them for meaningful employment in the private sector....

    By Dr. Jason Dempsey, Katherine L. Kuzminski, Nathalie Grogan & Cody Kennedy

  • Video
    • November 3, 2021
    Air Force has range of options to respond to Covid-19 vaccine refusals

    Katherine Kuzminski, senior fellow and director of the Military, Veterans and Society Program at the Center for a New American Security, said the Air Force has a number of pun...

    By Katherine L. Kuzminski

  • Commentary
    • Inkstick
    • October 27, 2021
    The U.S. Military’s HIV Ban is Unjust

    If American society wants to mitigate the negative impacts of HIV, then it needs all stakeholders to participate and facilitate an open dialogue about how to address HIV — and...

    By Cody Kennedy

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