'It Doesn't Matter How You Go to the Bathroom'

J$P Instant Transcript! Elaine Donnelly and Col David Hunt square off about women, combat, and Tora Bora.

From At Large with Geraldo Rivera, April 24 2005:

MEGYN KENDALL [FOX NEWS]: My next guest believes we may have been able to catch Usama Bin Laden had it not been for women on the battlefield. She says that at a critical early phase of the war only months after 9/11, there was hesitation in tracking the terrorist leader because there were women supporting the units assigned to the front lines. Elaine Donnelly, with the Center for Military Readiness, joins me now. Elaine, welcome; let's have it. Explain this theory.

ELAINE DONNELLY: Well actually, the women were not to blame for anything. There were policy-makers, though, that began training women in units for which they were not eligible. That caused a problem. Right after 9/11 there was a plan to try sending to Afghanistan some of the newer intelligence units. They were not quite ready to be deployed yet, but they were thinking about doing it on a trail basis--to go into the mountains and the caves of Afghanistan. But when someone told Pentagon planners that there were women being trained in those units, they said uh-oh, how did that happen? That's against the rules, we can't do that. And so the deployment was delayed for more than a year. I don't know whether that unit would have helped to catch Usama Bin Laden at that time, but we do know that the delay in that deployment certainly did not help.

KENDALL: Let's get some reaction to that now from Fox News Military Analyst Col David Hunt. He's also the author of They Just Don't Get It: How Washington Is Compromising Your Safety and What You Can Do About It. Col Hunt, thanks for joining us. Tell us, what's your reaction to what Elaine just said?

HUNT: I'm not buying it. I'm sorry, I thought in the year 2005 we've come to grips with this. We've had over 40 women killed in Iraq. There are women all over the battlefield. They're driving trucks; they're flying helicopters. I think it's an urban legend to suggest--there was a ground surveillance radar unit I think Elaine's talking about it. It was thought of, but it was not a good idea to put it in a year, where they wanted to, it had nothing to do with women. We've got women all over the battlefield. It doesn't matter how you go to the bathroom. It has to do with competency. And if anybody makes a decision not to send a unit because there are women in it, we need to fire that General, because it's a stupid decision. We've got to get off this subject. We need women in all aspects of this fight on terrorism, not being blamed for missing Bin Laden.

KENDALL: Elaine--go ahead--

DONNELLY: Col, you were not there when this happened. Very few people were aware of what happened.

HUNT: An urban legend, Elaine. It's an urban legend.

DONNELLY: I did not go public with what I knew because there was a war going on. Now if you want to talk about the issue of women being in land combat, that is a big issue that we need to debate as a nation.

HUNT: No, but you're dancing around it, you're dancing--

KENDALL: Let's stick with this for a minute. Let's stick with this before we get around to the general point of women in the military or in combat. Let's stick with this Usama Bin Laden theory, Elaine. What evidence do you have that the failure to send this unit over to Tora Bora at that time somehow led to us losing Usama Bin Laden?

DONNELLY: A source very close to the Secretary of the Army at the time, in December 2001, told me this. I brought it to the attention of the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Dr Paul Wolfowitz, personally. Two days later I was told my information was correct, and within two weeks the situation was corrected.

KENDALL: And when you say your information, just so the viewers understand, the problem according to you was that women were in this supporting unit, this unit that supported the reconnaissance team that was going to go over to Tora Bora--

DONNELLY: It isn't a problem--

KENDALL: --and because women were supporting that unit, they didn't send that frontlines unit. Do I have it right?

DONNELLY: It isn't a problem just for me. We have regulations. Regulations were not being followed. If we're going to have women in land combat, or in units that co-locate with land combat units--

HUNT: They're in land combat.

DONNELLY: --it should be done according to regulation. Congress has to be notified in advance. The problem is, at that time, in 2001, it was a violation of regulation. Congress had not been informed. And the same thing is happening again now. Units that are going to co-locate--

HUNT: Look, this is a myth.

KENDALL: Col Hunt, what about--let me just interrupt for a second. Col Hunt, let me get you to respond to that, because what about the fact that, according to Elaine, the military did change its policy or did withdraw these women from that unit shortly after she complained?

HUNT: Look, the problem with Tora Bora and Bin Laden had nothing to do with women. It had to do with the fact that we didn't put Special Forces and infantry units in the passes. That was a decision that Franks has stood up to. He said he didn't want to put people at risk. It wasn't women. Look, we've got 40 women killed in Iraq. We've got them driving trucks 300 miles up from Kuwait into Baghdad; they're flying helicopters. They're military police. It's an asymmetric battlefield, means you can get killed anywhere on the battlefield. This is no longer an issue; women are in combat. But to suggest that Bin Laden got away because of some regulation is just specious. It didn't happen that way.

DONNELLY: Megyn--Megyn--

HUNT: The problem is that Franks made a decision not to put infantry guys in the passes. It had nothing to do with women in some kind of support unit.

KENDALL: Elaine, go ahead.

DONNELLY: Col Hunt, excuse me, you're putting words in my mouth.

HUNT: You're dancing, Elaine. You can't dance about this.

DONNELLY: Twice now I've said the women are not to blame. And we're talking here about [unintelligible] combat units--

HUNT: Then what are you doing on the show? You're on the show about women.

DONNELLY: Really, Col please. Give me a chance, I listened to you. I don't think you know what you're talking about, with your background in Special Forces.

HUNT: You're right, yeah, you're right.

DONNELLY: You don't know about the status of regulations involving women in the Armed Forces.

HUNT: Elaine, I commanded women and I've been in combat. I'm sorry.

DONNELLY: We're talking about infantry and army. We're not talking about just being in danger; everybody's in danger on the battlefield. And we honor and respect the women in the military; that is not in dispute.

HUNT: No, no, no, no. You've got an issue, Elaine. You don't want women in the military.

DONNELLY: But there is no demographic or military need to violate the rules that are in existence right now. And for the army to come up with a brand new rule, a colocation rule, that would only apply when a combat unit is actually conducting a combat mission. Let me explain to you what that means.

HUNT: Elaine, you're reinventing history. You're saying that Bin Laden got away because of women. It didn't happen. It didn't happen.

DONNELLY: Excuse me, you don't know what, you don't know this.

HUNT: It's an urban legend. Talk to the guys--

KENDALL: All right guys, well we're going to have to save the resolution of this battle for another day. But thank you Elaine Donnelly and Col David Hunt for being with us here tonight. We appreciate it.

posted: Sun - April 24, 2005 at 11:38 PM       j$p  send