With Trump Gone, Women Are Now Free to Prove They, Too, Can Lead the U.S. War Machine

Illustration for article titled With Trump Gone, Women Are Now Free to Prove They, Too, Can Lead the U.S. War Machine
Image: Charles Dharapak (AP)

Now that Donald Trump is out of the White House, two top military officials, whose promotions were held back because Pentagon leaders were worried Trump would be mad simply because they are women, are free to ascend to prominent command posts. Congratulations to the Biden administration and to Air Force General Jacqueline Van Ovost and Army Lieutenant General Laura Richardson, on providing us with the latest example of how women, if given the opportunity, can do whatever men do, including overseeing key aspects of our country’s war machinery.

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According to reporting from the New York Times, Van Ovost’s and Richardson’s promotions were put on hold by then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper and General Mark Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, because the two “feared that any candidates other than white men for jobs mostly held by white men might run into turmoil once their nominations got to the White House.”

I mean, Esper and Milley were probably right! More, via the Times:

Mr. Esper and General Milley worried that if they even raised their names — Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost of the Air Force and Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson of the Army — the Trump White House would replace them with their own candidates before leaving office.

So the Pentagon officials agreed on an unusual strategy: They held back their recommendations until after the November elections, betting that if Joseph R. Biden Jr. won, he and his aides would be more supportive of the Pentagon picks than Mr. Trump, who had feuded with Mr. Esper and has a history of disparaging women. They stuck to the plan even after Mr. Trump fired Mr. Esper six days after the election.

Esper and Milley wanted Van Ovost to lead the Pentagon’s Transportation Command, which as the Times put it, “oversees the military’s sprawling global transportation network.” Richardson was tapped to lead the Southern Command, which, again in the words of the Times, “oversees military activities in Latin America.”

According to the Times, Biden’s Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Milley will be sending their recommendations for Van Ovost’s and Richardson’s promotions to the White House in the coming weeks, and “officials are expected to endorse the nominations and formally submit them to the Senate for approval.”

Senior reporter, Jezebel

DISCUSSION

This was such a crazy story that I am still struggling with it. Not surprising, just never even thought about it before reading it at which point it was of course obvious that this would be an issue with the Trump administration.

Although it is again one of those fun examples that for an administration that the touted itself to be for everyone, it sure as hell seems that the actual officials dealing with them didn’t get that perception. Funny that.