The US Navy has faced a problem with female servicemen, leaving combat duty due to their pregnancy.
According to information, obtained by the Daily News Caller Foundation (DCNF) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 16 of every 100 servicemen of the US Navy were decommissioned from ships to shore due to pregnancy, the Stream information website reported.
This figure grew by 2 percent, compared to 2015, which amounts to hundreds of women, who had to interrupt their combat duty, placing additional burdens on their military units, the military budget and combat readiness. In addition, as the website noted, “such increases cast a shadow over the lofty gender integration goals set by former President Barack Obama.”
According to documents received from the US Navy, women unexpectedly leave their posts on ships of the US Navy to return to shore service 50 percent more often than men. The statistics, which covers the period from January 2015 to September 2016, were collected by the US Navy Personnel Command at a request of the DCNF.
Evacuation of pregnant women is costly for the US Navy. According to Jude Eden, who served in marines, deployed in Iraq in 2004, one such transfer can cost up to $30,000 for each woman, trained in a specific profession and then evacuated from a ship and decommissioned to shore during combat service. As the website noted, “that figure translates into $115 million in expenses for 2016 alone.”
“This is an avoidable cost and expense, leaving a gap for other people to pick up the work slack,” Eden said.
In January 2015, 3,335 pregnant women were aboard warships, representing about 14 percent of the 23,735 women in their crews. In August 2016, this figure reached almost 16 percent, a record high level. The US Navy reported that 3,840 of 24,259 female mariners, who were on board of vessels of the US Navy, were pregnant.
As the website noted, the Obama’s administration “understated the pregnancy problem throughout its eight years and even suppressed some data about the impact of its “gender-neutral” policies on the Navy,” publishing only a brief extract of two or three pages from 100-page report, entitled ‘Navy Pregnancy and Parenthood Survey’.
In addition, there are statements that some women become pregnant only to avoid dispatching to combat duty. According to the website, after the introduction of fully contracted recruitment for the military, the US Navy was forced to introduce many beneficial incentives for men and women, including free housing, medical care, recreation and educational opportunities. Women also got some additional benefits, such as free antenatal care, kindergartens, psychological counseling, special education for young children, kids with disabilities and other ‘special needs’.
“Since benefits offered to recruits who are women are so very generous, it almost becomes an incentive,” said Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, a nonpartisan public policy organization. “One feminist advocate many years ago referred to the military as a ‘Mecca for single moms’.”
During eight years of his presidency, Barack Obama had been trying to significantly increase the number of women on warships. In May 2015, Admiral Michelle Howard announced a quota of 25 percent for women in the crews of all warships. In September 2015, former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said that the Navy SEALs and all other military specialties in the fleet should be open to women.
Eden believes that the policy of increasing the number of women on warships has ended in failure: “It’s bad policy when you think of ships that have to be battle-ready and then have to transfer women off for pregnancy — something that has to do with controlled behavior or voluntary behavior.”
The attitude of Jim Mattis, the new US Defense Minister, appointed by US President Donald Trump, toward women in the country’s armed forces is still unclear. He was skeptical of them, but during hearings in the US Congress on his approval to the post, Mattis said he is going to support an access to military specialties for women.