The recent announcement by US secretary of Defense Ash Carter to open all military occupations to women signals another step backward for wage disparity and gender equality. This is not the good news for which women have been waiting. Rather, it is deliberate sleight of hand to eviscerate veteran benefits, keep military wages low, and provide budget relief to a cash strapped pentagon.
Like any other snow job, it doesn’t sound that way at first glance – it is the second and third glances that should keep soldiers and potential soldiers of both genders marching the floors at night.
For the past few years the president and congress have been reviewing military pay, veterans benefits, and retiree plans. Each of these reviews have one thing in common – spending less money on military members.
You can dress it all up anyway you choose, but in the end it is about controlling costs while maintaining personnel numbers.
That’s why the Sec. Ash’s announcement is both brilliant and diabolical.
It goes like this.
• The greatest resistance to pay changes comes from the people thinking eviscerating wages and benefits will drive recruiting, retention, and readiness down.
• Women have been lobbying for inclusion in combat skills for decades (probably with good arguments).
• Opening all combat skills to the entire population more than doubles the number of potential recruits for combat skills.
• The readiness argument will be destroyed as there will be no drop in filling combat slots.
• Women will join combat skills at a high rate and thus ameliorate the need for better military compensation.
• Simply there will be an abundance of potential workers in combat skills keeping wages artificially low.
The great irony is of course that introducing women into combat units is supposed to level the playing field in career opportunity. Unfortunately, the only thing it will probably do, is ensure an upside-down pay equity as everyone earns less in direct compensation and benefits.