United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY-D) tried very hard to bait General James Mattis into saying something negative about women in combat roles as well as the repeal of “Don’t ask don’t tell”.
The general handled the questions like a true professional and quickly shut down the senator from New York.
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Mattis has previously made comments after his retirement from the Marines that seem to be somewhat negative on the role of female military members in the role of combat units. However, the general did acknowledge that much has changed since his time in the Corps and he is coming into his new position without an agenda.
According to reports by both the Washington Post’s Dan Lamothe and Stars and Stripes’ Corey Dickstein, it is clear that General Mattis isn’t too concerned with who is serving in what roles as long as they are capable of carrying out their job.
Senator Gillibrand first asked the general if he planned on opposing women in combat roles if confirmed as Secretary of Defense. Mattis responded:
Gillibrand then continued to press Mattis on the issue and he made his stance pretty clear:
Gillibrand then asked Mattis about his stance on the repeal of the controversial “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy which was previously in place for the US military and Mattis gave a pretty firm answer than shut down that line of questioning pretty quickly:
Mattis was later asked if he thought being a woman or LBGT person was a limiting factor in being a member of a lethal combat force. Mattis responded quickly and simply, “No.”
General Mattis did clarify that if combat units were to become mixed gender as more women are accepted into combat roles then military leadership would face additional leadership concerns and additional training and considerations may need to be taken in order effectively integrate women into combat units.