February 02, 2016

Video: In Armed Services Committee Hearing, Kaine Makes Case For Fully Integrating Female Servicemembers Into All Combat Units & Operations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, expressed his support for fully integrating female servicemembers into all combat units and operations today at a hearing examining the implementation process of the new military policy.

“A story that I find relevant: women were not allowed to run the marathon in the Olympics until 1984. There was a belief that physically they would not be able to run it,” Kaine said. “Today, 30 years later, the men’s world record in the marathon is two hours and three minutes and the women’s world record in a marathon is two hours and 15 minutes. There’s an advantage to men, but that women’s world record time would’ve won the gold medal in the men’s marathon during most of the history of the Olympics.”

“Daughters raised today are going to be raised differently than daughters 30 years ago. When there is a social cap, ceiling or limitation, that sort of gets absorbed by people and they don’t focus on what they might be able to do. They get raised in a particular way with the thought that cap is going to be there. When that cap is lifted, all of a sudden there are all kinds of possibilities, and people start to focus on opportunities they might have. … Just like when you lift the ban on running the marathon in the Olympics and allow women to do it, suddenly they’re fantastic marathon runners, ultra-marathon runners, Appalachian Trail hikers,” Kaine continued.

Kaine has been outspoken on the need to make the military more inclusive and integrated while maintaining high standards related to contemporary warfare. In addition to supporting the Department of Defense’s (DoD) decision to open all combat jobs to women, Kaine has urged the DoD to change its policy banning practicing Sikhs from serving in the military. Under current policy, members of the Sikh faith are unable to serve in the military unless they abandon their articles of faith—namely maintaining unshorn hair, beards, and wearing a turban.

Full transcript of Kaine’s remarks are available below:

Thank you Mr. Chair, and to all of our witnesses. This is an important issue and I echo what Senator Heinrich about the degree of consistency among the witnesses and folks here serving.

A story that I find relevant: women were not allowed to run the marathon in the Olympics until 1984. There was a belief that physically they would not be able to run it. The longest race for women in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow was a 1500 meter, and even that was somewhat recent; it had been a 800 meter was the longest race a women could run.

Today, 30 years later, the men’s world record in the marathon is 2 hours and 3 minutes and the women’s world record in a marathon is 2 hours and 15 minutes. There’s an advantage to men, but that women’s world record time would’ve won the gold medal in the men’s marathon during most of the history of the Olympics. And now, this is a joke, “the marathon is for wimps now” because now there are ultra-marathons. One common ultra-marathon event is a two-day run, 48 hour run. Men have the edge on the track; the women’s record is 370 kilometers in two days, and the men’s record is 430 kilometers in two days, so if it’s just a run.

There’s another one that’s interesting to me: how fast can you thru-hike the Appalachian Trail – 2,200 miles? There’s a record for doing it all on your own – not having support, having to carry everything, big backpack – carry it all on your own. The men’s record is 58 days, the women’s record is 54 days. The woman has the record for having to carry it all.

Combat and military service is different, but what this tells me is – and, I think, General Milley, you kind of talked about it – daughters raised today are raised different than daughters 30 years ago. When there’s a social cap or ceiling or limitation, that sort of gets absorbed by people and they don’t even focus on what they might be able to do. They get raised in a particular way with the thought that that cap is going to be there. When that cap is lifted, all of a sudden, there are all kinds of possibilities, and people start to focus on opportunities they might have and training themselves up for that and just like when you lift the ban on running the marathon in the Olympics and allow women to do it, suddenly they’re fantastic marathon runners, ultra-marathon runners, AT hikers with packs.

Parenthetically, the physiological difference in women in carrying weight leads a lot of backpack manufacturers to make different packs for women which can actually erase some of that physiological difference.

I have a high confidence – a high confidence – in the American military and all of the service branches to do this because you always are super can-do and you always figure it out. I have that confidence in you.

One of my kids, as some of you may know, has been through ROTC and OCS and TBS and IOC with women. It’s more of a norm now than an earlier generation of Marines, and he understands how hard it is for everybody, and that this will be a challenge to implement, but this is a can-do operation that’s going to figure it out and I have complete confidence of that.

I’m interested in the topic of standard-setting and General Neller you talked about this, and I tried to write this quickly down. You talked about, in preparing for integration of women and MOSs and studying it, you did a lot of studies of the standards. I think you said, “Because of our standard-setting our overall quality would be higher for men and women.” I like to ask all of you, was the standard-setting that you did and analyzed around the integration question, set aside integration of women into MOSs, did it have strong independent value for your service branches to do that standard-setting and analysis exercise in terms of figuring out what the right requirements for the MOS are given the nature of contemporary warfare? And that’s a question I’d like each and every one of you to address.

###