Politics
Politics

Rick Santorum Says He Would Repeal Women's Right To Serve In All U.S. Military Combat Roles

| by Robert Fowler

Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania does not believe that women should be able to serve in all U.S. military combat roles. During the GOP undercard debate, the presidential candidate expressed his concern for how safety would be impacted by this “social promotion.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced on Dec. 3 that women were now eligible to serve in all combat positions, NPR reported at the time. As long as each candidate meets qualifications, they can serve on the front lines and in elite units such as the Navy SEALS.that “there will be no exceptions.”

During the Dec. 15 presidential undercard debate held in Las Vegas, the moderators asked the second-tier GOP candidates where they stood on this new U.S. military policy, Huffington Post reports.

Santorum said that the Pentagon used unreliable studies to push a progressive reform that he believes will not work. He added that if he is elected president, he will repeal the legislation.

“They pushed a political agenda above what is in the best interest of the safety, security and effectiveness of our fighting units,” Santorum added. “So I would go back to using what we should be doing — which is putting forth people on those front line positions, who are best prepared to do the job, survive the job and come back home safely.”

When pressed about what he specifically meant, the former senator said that people put in combat positions must be capable of securing and aiding their comrades in battle.

“And if they don’t have the ability to do that job — and we’re doing a social promotion — as opposed to what’s best for the efficacy of our fighting force and the survival of our men and women, I’ll change that policy," he said.

Former Gov. George Pataki of New York challenged Santorum on this issue, countering that “if a woman is capable of doing a man’s job, there is no reason why we should deny a patriot who wants to serve and help defend our country that right.”

Santorum has previously expressed disapproval of allowing women to serve in key combat positions. While campaigning during the 2012 presidential election, Santorum told CNN that women serving in the front-line could lead to compromised safety “because of other types of emotions that are involved," Huffington Post reported in a separate article at that time.

The former senator clarified that he was referring to how men react to women.

“When you have men and women together in combat… men have emotions when you see a woman in harm’s way,” Santorum said. “I think it’s something that’s natural, that’s very much in our culture to be protective, and that was my concern.”

He was also against the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

During a GOP debate in the 2012 primary, an openly gay U.S. soldier asked the candidates if they would reinstate the law that would require homosexuals to remain closeted while serving, The Hill reports.

Santorum responded that the repeal was a “tragic... social experimentation.”

Sources: The Hill, Huffington Post (2), NPR / Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr, John Pemble/Flickr