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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Female Military Pioneer in Arizona

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness." — George Washington

The other morning I was watching Fox and Friends on the Fox News Network. One of the guests being interviewed by Gretchen Carlson and Steve Doocy was Colonel Martha McSally, a Republican candidate running for Gabby Giffords' former congressional seat in Arizona’s 8th District.

McSally has an interesting and highly decorated past. In January 1995, she became the first woman in U.S. history to fly a combat aircraft into enemy territory when she flew her initial mission into Iraq to help enforce the United Nations' "no-fly zone." She was part of the team that helped plan and execute the U.S. air operations over Afghanistan shortly after 9/11.

In July 2004, McSally took command of the 354th Fighter Squadron, becoming the first woman in U.S. history to command a combat aviation unit. WhileMcsally_1_250 defending her country she has received numerous honors, including being recognized by the University of Arizona and "Women Who Lead," in addition to receiving the Tucson YWCA Women on the Move Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Center on Women in Policing. American Thinker interviewed her about her fascinating career and why she decided to run for the seat previously held by Congresswoman Giffords.

Her no-nonsense attitude came across loud and clear while she described her uphill battle with the Pentagon. In 1995, McSally became aware of the U.S. military policy requiring U.S. servicewomen stationed in Saudi Arabia to wear the Muslim garment called an abaya, a black head-to-toe robe that signifies women's subordination to men. They had to wear it over their uniform while on duty as well as off duty. In 2000, it became personal when McSally was deployed to Saudi Arabia and was told that either she must submit to it or be charged with insubordination.

In 2001-2002, a lawsuit was filed and a bill was brought before Congress so women would not have to wear the Muslim clothing. Ten days after the bill was drafted, it passed unanimously in the House and Senate. McSally made sure that as part of the law, all U.S. servicewomen deployed in Saudi Arabia were given a copy of the legislation. A lesson learned that she hopes to carry to Congress: it is important to fight for American values since this was "constitutionally wrong. People that were not of the Muslim faith were forced to wear Muslim garb, the American taxpayer was financing this, and it affected our military order, discipline, and effectiveness."

McSally graduated from St. Mary Academy — Bay View and then the United States Air Force Academy in 1988. She earned a Master's degree from McSally_A-10Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. She earned her wings at Laughlin AFB, Texas and was initially assigned as a First Assignment Instructor Pilot (FAIP) in the T-37. She was selected for Lead-in Fighter Training (LIFT) in 1993, completed the Replacement Training Unit for the A-10 Thunderbolt II, was assigned to an operational A-10 squadron and was deployed to Kuwait in January 1995. During that deployment, she flew combat patrol over Iraq under Operation Southern Watch, enforcing the no-fly zone. In 2000, she reported to Joint Task Force Southwest Asia (JTF-SWA) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for a temporary assignment in support of Operation Southern Watch. In July 2004, she took command of the A-10 equipped 354th Fighter Squadron, and was subsequently deployed to Afghanistan under Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, where she employed weapons in combat for the first time. In 2005, McSally and her squadron were awarded the David C. Shilling Award, given by the Air Force Association for the best aerospace contribution to national defense.

During a Fox TV interview last week, McSally was asked about Senator Rick Santorum's comment that the easing of rules allowing women into combat positions could compromise the interests of the mission because of "other types of emotions that are involved." Her no-nonsense response: "I wanted to kick him in the jimmy."

When asked about it, she told American Thinker:

"This policy change only lines up on paper what is actually happening in reality. Women are already alongside men on the front lines. It appears Senator Santorum is uninformed. It's amazing to me that we are having these discussions twenty-five years after I flew in a fighter squadron. It's an insult to those serving our country — not just the women, but also to the men to say they would become distracted and not able to focus on the mission. That is the least thing on your mind when you are under fire with your life at stake. You become a team focusing on the mission. I hope to sit down and speak with the senator when he comes here since I experienced, wrote about, and studied this issue."

That is exactly what is needed in Congress: someone who will shake up the current attitude. McSally sympathizes with those of us out there that are frustrated with Washington, D.C.

“We feel that Washington doesn't represent them. I am hoping to empower them to get involved again. I am not the type of person who will go along to get along. We may not agree on all the issues, but I hope that I will be trusted to make measured and thoughtful responses."

Her general stand on a few of the issues comes across the same way she conducted herself in battle: pragmatic and objective.

The debt, according to McSally, "has to be reined in. We can't keep spending more than we have. I am a fiscal conservative. I support a balanced budget amendment. This is not politics; it is math. There must be a measured look at what we spend our money on. We can't run the well dry."

To secure the border, "we will need to apply tactical, operational, and strategic methods. There are criminal organizations that are coming here threatening the security of our citizens. They traffic people, money, weapons, and drugs. We need an intelligence-driven operation since it is a national security issue. Look at how much we spent on this issue compared to the war in Afghanistan; it is literally a rounding error. They are both national security threats, but this one is in our neighborhood. If we can track a terrorist through the mountains of Pakistan, we can certainly track a 'drug mule' on our border."

The Second Amendment: "I am a very strong supporter of the right to bear and keep arms. It is a constitutional right. I do own my own weapon.”

States' rights or federal rights: McSally favors states' rights since "[t]he federal government has failed to do its job. It has not secured the border and has overreached with many issues. SB 1070 came about because the federal government did not secure our border. Perhaps it should be changed so that every citizen stopped by law enforcement needs to prove their citizenship. There was a definite overreach with ObamaCare. I would vote to repeal it. However, we still need to focus on bringing down the cost of health care."

National security is "still a very important issue. This is a strength of mine. As much as we need to focus on the home front and the economy, we cannot disengage from the world because it will come back to haunt us. In the Middle East there is a shift happening that affects the balance of power: a potential nuclear Iran, which we cannot tolerate, and the powers arising from the Arab Spring. These threaten our staunchest democratic ally, Israel. We must maintain our commitment and partnership with allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia."

Colonel McSally has served in the military for 26 years. She has fought for her country, fought for her constitutional rights against the Pentagon, and now wants to go to Congress to fight for the serious issues facing America and Tucson today. Although Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will be sorely missed by many of her constituents, if they elect Martha McSally, there will still be a representative for Arizona with the same personality traits: genuine, honest, and hardworking.

I was quick to pick Susana Martinez as a rising star in the Republican Party and I think Martha McSally could be another addition to the strong female conservative bench in the GOP. She would go well with Palin, Bachmann, and Martinez.

Martha McSally's campaign website can be found here if you wish to contribute a few bucks to a American patriot running for Congress.

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