msnbc | January 27, 2013
>> two american vets, former marine and msnbc contributor goldie taylor and retired army captain wes moore. goldie , let me start with you and i want your reaction to what you heard hayden say. what's your reaction to that?
>> i think he is right. we have to be ready to move at a moment's notice and i don't believe the standards ought to be relaxed. when i came out of boot camp , just after i came out of boot camp they instituted 54 weeks of -- 54 hours of continuous mental and physical challenge. to survive that you have to be in excellent physical shape. but in order to qualify for front- line infantry roles, that calls for something else. and i just don't believe there ought to be a difference in the standard. if a woman can meet those standards she ought to be able to serve, be recognized and paid for it.
>> simple as that. if she can meet the standards she's good to go.
>> i agree. what the policy is asking for is not set asides or any type of quotas. it is simply saying we should open and allow opportunities for women who choose to go in to this that they can have the opportunities to do so. it goes back to the longest tradition of the united states military . one of the reasons i'm proud of my service and proud of the organization that i served is the military has been ahead of the curve on society on a collection of issues. the military -- we had desegregation in the military in 1948 . the civil rights act was passed in 196. equal pay for men and women in decades. something the society still can't claim to have. this is not about set asides or quotas but saying we will open the field for those who are capable of filling it in. in no way does it endanger national security if you have people who are qualified to serve in those roles.
>> do you think there were opportunities you missed out on because of a policy like this and other women , the opportunities missed out on whether pro-potion motions or advancement? give us an idea how much women have been missing out on.
>> a young woman came through boot camp with me and she signed up literally to fight. she was assigned to be a baker in the mess hall. she cried her eyes out for days because she wasn't going to serve on the front lines . i met every physical, emotional and mental challenge to serve on the front line but i'm 4'11" and i need an ammo box to shoot out of the fox hole . i don't belong on the front line . but the women who do meet those standards, it ought to be open to them. this is about work place equality at the end of the day . just as we have in our civilian life with equal opportunity laws, we're having it now reflect itself in the military. i think it is a good thing.
>> wes , let me read something from a former infantry squad leader. he said it would be distracting and potentially traumatizing to be forced to be maked in front of the opposite sex . he described situations where he and fellow soldiers were in tight quarter and had to urinate in a bottle next to, or in a cramped situation next to some of his comrades. and to have to be put in a position like that with a member of the opposite sex wouldn't be good for the man or woman. he said when you try to violate societial norms you are asking for trouble. in your experience, and i will bring you in this as well, goldie . wes , in your experience, was that -- being thrown in to a situation like that would that cause an issue or is there a way to keep those things from happening? it is a battle sgleeld with all due respect top ryans comments there are a couple of things to remember. people made the same arguments during the desegregation of the armed forces where people said it would be difficult to interact with people that you don't have interaction with and executive leadership said we understand your point of view but this is the way it will be. another thing to remember is we have police departments that go through the same thing where you have men and women who serve as partners in ed pds and special operations units in the civilian force. going back to goldie 's point that is important. when we look at the general corps, the flag officer corps , 4 or 5% of flag officers in the united states army are women . 4% in the marines are women . despite the fact they make up 18% of the forces. this is not simply just about equitable playing field and opening opportunities for everybody but an employment situation. you will hardly ever find a three and four star general in the marines, army or navy unless they are a combat officer. unless they are a combat arms officer. you have a situation where women are essentially held out because of their gender and that's not fair.
>> what mr. smith in his op-ed -- he was trying to bring up the realities of the situation on the ground. he didn't address equal opportunities like wes was talking about as far as advancement but the realities on the ground of war sometimes kg can be ugly.
>> i'm going to tell you and i mean this in the nicest way. if i'm out there serving on missions, i have not a problem in the world dropping trowel and doing what i have to do. it is one of those things, it's a work force and equality issue and ought to be treated as such. women have been serving on the front lines for decades and decades. in our case, a woman joined the marine corps in 1918 and served with honor and distinction. we have to look back and see where women have served. there are women serving in kweisi combat roles today who are not formally recognized for it. there are helicopter pilots shot down in fight and they need to be recognized for it.
>> i'm more concerned she can shoot straight. that's my concern. if they can do that i'm fine.
>> wes , goldie , good to see you both. it is an important topic and like you said it is important to point out the military has been the head of society on a lot of things. maybe this is one more. the military is leading the way. good to see you both.
>> thank you, t.j.