On the Blogs: Puerto Rico Electricity Crisis Heightens Debate Over Privatization vs. Public Control

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Slate.com:A 2016 report on PREPA commissioned by the Puerto Rican government is scathing. In the latter months of that year, for example, Puerto Ricans experienced four to five times the number of service outages as U.S. customers on average, though they pay the second-highest rates in the U.S. after Hawaii. Instead of investing in preventive maintenance, PREPA operates in a permanent state of triage. Its budget is “opaque and discretionary.” Record keeping is “subpar.” A third of the capital budget is spend on discretionary administrative expenses, hinting at a slush fund. Thirty percent of PREPA’s employees have retired or migrated to the mainland since 2012, the Washington Post reports—especially its skilled workers. Money is short, the report concludes, but so is human and intellectual capital.The agency has $9 billion in debt and said it needs $4 billion to upgrade its infrastructure, including plants whose reliance on oil is passed onto Puerto Ricans in the form of high rates and dirty air. It filed for bankruptcy in July.And that was before a Category 5 hurricane pounded the island this week.The island has spent more than a decade in recession. Unemployment is more than 10 percent, and the population declined by more than 10 percent between 2004 and 2016. In 2015 alone, the net outward migration was more than 64,000, according to Pew. Six in 10 children live in poverty.In May, Puerto Rico filed for bankruptcy under the provisions set forth in PROMESA (Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act), a law signed by President Obama in the summer of 2016. The act established a financial control board for the island, similar to the emergency managers that have governed Detroit and other American cities in the wake of bankruptcies.So far, that board has made some unpopular decisions, cutting spending on public health by 30 percent, closing schools, and lowering the minimum wage for young people to a little over $4 an hour. In the near term, austerity will worsen conditions on the island, where analysts expect the recession to continue until 2020. Many Puerto Ricans see the board as a tool of colonial oversight; at the time PROMESA passed, Bernie Sanders said it was a “junta” that would rule the island like “a colonial master.”But this summer, the financial control board did something surprisingly wise, much to the disappointment of the congressional Republicans who created it: It voted 4–3 to reject a restructuring agreement for the power authority’s $9 billion in debt, infuriating the hedge funds that had negotiated a repayment deal to recoup 85 percent of what they were owed.Luis Santini Gaudier, a consumer representative on the PREPA board, had criticized the deal as “lucrative business” for creditors who had bought PREPA debt on the cheap. The deal was a rip-off, wrote Tom Sanzillo, the director of finance for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, in the Hill: “Puerto Rico’s economic growth for an entire generation will go largely to off-island financiers rather than into the Puerto Rican economy.” (And that was before accounting for the rest of Puerto Rico’s $60 billion in debt.)The board’s idea is to privatize PREPA. “Lowering the price of electricity and spurring economic growth depended on reforming Prepa’s operations, not merely restructuring its credit,” the four members who had rejected the debt deal wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Privatization would allow PREPA to “modernize its power supply, depoliticize its management, reform pensions, and renegotiate labor and other contracts to operate more efficiently.” Most importantly, they wrote, no new investment will come into PREPA’s plants, transformers, and lines if Puerto Rico ratepayers are spending the next three decades paying off debt to vulture funds in New York.This plan has made unlikely allies of New York bankers and Puerto Rican labor unions. Union officials are convinced PREPA chiefs are deliberately letting the system fall apart to strengthen the case for privatization, which the island’s governor declared was inevitable before the hurricanes hit. Unions believe their contracts and pensions are safer with elected politicians than with independent business leaders.The banks, which sued the fiscal control board and lost, should be worried that PREPA’s assets could be sold off for a song in order to get a private operator invested in the island’s power system. They’ll wind up getting paid less, and later, than will newer investors eager to rebuild the island’s infrastructure. Their goal—getting paid for years to come by Puerto Ricans on their electricity bills—is at odds with the fiscal control board’s goal of making the island’s electricity cheaper.More: Puerto Rico’s Best Hope for Keeping the Lights On On the Blogs: Puerto Rico Electricity Crisis Heightens Debate Over Privatization vs. Public Controllast_img read more

Read More »

Commentary: ‘Bearish Risks Dominate’ Across Global Coal Industry

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Moribund global demand growth and volatile pricing are what coal producers face in the next five years, with not even some bright spots in Asia able to outweigh a bleak outlook for Europe and the United States, and lower consumption in top user China.That’s the central message of the International Energy Agency’s Coal 2017 report, which outlines a future in which coal remains a significant source of global energy, but one that is decreasing in importance.Global coal demand will grow by only a compound 0.5 percent a year over the 2018-22 period to 5,534 million tonnes of coal equivalent (mtce), up just 177 mtce from 2016’s consumption, the IEA said.Top consumer China is expected to drop 0.1 percent a year to 2,787 mtce by 2022, while demand in the United States will fall 0.9 percent per annum over the five-year forecast period, and that in developed countries in Europe by 1.6 percent per annum.India remains the best hope for coal producers, with thermal coal demand expected to climb 3.3 percent a year to 605 mtce by 2022.Positive contributions to growth are also expected from newer consumers such as Pakistan and countries in Southeast Asia.But overall, it’s pretty grim reading for coal miners, traders and their political backers, such as U.S. President Donald Trump and the ruling Liberal Party in top exporter Australia.The IEA report also continues a trend of increasingly bearish forecasts from the agency, as it has steadily reduced its expectations for coal’s share of global energy.The IEA’s 2012 coal report forecast that global coal consumption would rise to 6,169 mtce in 2017, but the reality has turned out somewhat differently.The IEA didn’t provide a forecast for 2017 in its latest report, but said demand in 2016 was 5,357 mtce and estimated 2018 at 5,445 mtce.In other words, the IEA’s forecasts from five years ago were too optimistic for the industry, even if they seemed reasonable and quite cautious at the time they were published.More: Coal’s bleak future is stagnant demand, volatile trading: Russell Commentary: ‘Bearish Risks Dominate’ Across Global Coal Industrylast_img read more

Read More »

Carbon Tracker: Fossil fuel use will peak in 2023

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Guardian:Global demand for fossil fuels will peak in 2023, an influential thinktank has predicted, posing a significant risk to financial markets because trillions of dollars’ worth of oil, coal and gas assets could be left worthless.Explosive growth in wind and solar will combine with action on climate change and slowing growth in energy needs to ensure that fossil fuel demand peaks in the 2020s, Carbon Tracker predicted.The projection is much more bullish than estimates by the global energy watchdog and oil and gas companies, which mostly expect demand to peak in the mid-2030s. Coal reached its peak in 2014.Kingsmill Bond, new energy strategist at Carbon Tracker, said: “Fossil fuel demand has been growing for 200 years, but is about to enter structural decline. Entire sectors will struggle to make this transition.”Carbon Tracker said financial markets faced a “systemic risk” from a reduction in value to the fossil fuel industry’s $25tn (£19tn) worth of assets, due to demand peaking. Countries such as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, which are overwhelmingly reliant on oil revenues, are also at risk from a fall in their tax take, the thinktank added.The Carbon Tracker report warned incumbency and size would be no protection, and compared the fate of fossil fuel firms to the horse and cart at the start of the 20th century. “Demand for incumbents peaks early, and investors in incumbents lose money early,” it said.More: Global demand for fossil fuels will peak in 2023, says thinktank Carbon Tracker: Fossil fuel use will peak in 2023last_img read more

Read More »

Owner considers converting last New York coal plants to renewable-run data centers

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Following New York’s recent adoption of strict emissions aimed at phasing out coal-fired generation, the operator of the state’s two remaining coal-fired power plants has proposed to shutter those facilities and build data centers on their sites.At a recent Lansing board meeting, town officials presented a plan by Beowulf Energy LLC to replace the 310-MW Cayuga ST and approximately 692-MW Somerset ST coal-fired power plants, respectively located in upstate Tompkins County and Niagara County, with data centers that will operate using electricity supplied largely from renewable resources. The plants are majority-owned by Blackstone Group LP’s subsidiary GSO Capital Partners LP, with minority stakes claimed by Bicent Power LLC, and are operated by Beowulf Energy subsidiaries Cayuga Operating Co. LLC and Somerset Operating Co. LLC.According to the plan, converting the Somerset and Cayuga sites “from energy suppliers to energy consumers” is a “natural transition” because the data centers would use existing infrastructure such as electrical interconnections and “otherwise abandoned” large tracts of land.“They want to get out of the power generating business,” Town of Lansing Supervisor Ed LaVigne said of Beowulf’s plan for Cayuga at the May 15 board meeting. “They have no intent, and they’re willing to sign a paper saying so, that they have no desire to re-power the plant with natural gas.”Beowulf Energy executive Michael Enright said in a statement that the company’s transition plan seeks to retire the coal plants before the deadline established by the Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, administration “while creating a viable new business and jobs in their place, using renewable energy.” According to Enright, the transition plan for Cayuga and Somerset has been presented to the state.As outlined in the plan, the Cayuga data center would include a proposed on-site 15-MW solar array, and the company has applied to the New York Power Authority, or NYPA, for an allocation of 125 MW of power from renewable sources for both Cayuga and Somerset’s electricity needs. According to Tompkins County Legislator Mike Sigler, who presented Cayuga’s proposal, that 125 MW of “clean” energy is meant to come from the NYPA’s approximately 2,447-MW Robert Moses Niagara hydroelectricity facility on the Canadian border.More ($): Plan unveiled to repurpose New York’s 2 coal plant sites for data centers Owner considers converting last New York coal plants to renewable-run data centerslast_img read more

Read More »

Your New Base Camp

first_imgThe Appalachian Teardrop and Sylvan Sport Go bring back the tow-behind.A tent is a perfectly suitable “home away from home,” but if you really want to lay claim to a patch of dirt in the middle of nowhere, plant your flag with a tow-behind trailer. Two Southern companies are making trailers for the adventure-minded traveler. They’re lightweight, small, and packed with amenities that will make your next weekend in the woods more civilized. These aren’t your grandpa’s campers.Sylvan Sport GoConsider the Go a pop-up camper, completely reinvented. This all-aluminum pop-up doubles as a trailer that can carry 800 pounds of bikes, kayaks, surfboards…then transforms into a hard-topped tent that can sleep up to four people in a variety of configurations. You can also convert the beds into tables. The whole package is ridiculously spacious thanks to the bump-out style tents, but you won’t get the built in stove and cooler of the Teardrop. And you’ve got some set up once you get to camp. The roof cranks up, but you’ve still got to erect the tent. But it’s hard to beat the rugged versatility of this pop-up.$8,000; sylvansport.comAppalachian TeardropBuilt in Charlotte, N.C., this is a modern take on the sleek tow-behinds that were so popular in the 50s. The beauty of a teardrop-style trailer is there’s no set up once you find your base camp. Simply park it and enjoy. Much like its predecessors, the Appalachian Teardrop is light enough to be towed by a small vehicle. Check out the Rover model, a 920-pound trailer that sleeps two and features a built-in two-burner stove, cooler, stereo, and storage area. All of that happens outside of the Teardop, as the interior is just big enough for sleeping.$9,995; appalachianteardrop.comlast_img read more

Read More »

Top 20 Adventure Sports Films and Videos

first_imgVideo fills a pivotal role in the world of adventure sports. There are few things that get me as fired up as watching good adventure sport films or video clips before and after shredding with buddies. Here are the top 20 videos that I find myself queuing up time and again.TOP 10 FILMS10. Pretty Faces (Ski)Executed from start to finish by women, this film expresses the joy of being a skier girl and provides inspiration to the aspiring youth.9. Grand Inga Project (Kayak)The best videos provide historical context and heart-pounding action. This expedition to the largest whitewater in the world does both.8. Touching the Void (Drama)This story of devotion, tragedy, inner demons, and perseverance truly defies belief.7. The Art of Flight (Snowboard)This spectacular documentary was one of the first to open up the incredible capabilities of high frame rate cameras.6. Seasons (Mountain Bike)Digging into the personalities of downhill and freeride mountain biking, this video truly shows the soul of the sport.5. The River Wild (Drama)One of my childhood favorites! This high budget Hollywood production shows the allure of “the river” while also providing the audience with an interpersonal thriller.4. Into the Wild (Drama)Christopher McCandless plus John Krakauer plus Eddie Vedder equals a beautiful story. Not everyone fits into the machine.3. Life Cycles (Mountain Bike)The feature brought something fresh and unique to the adventure sports cinematography world—the most notable being the visual effect of changing seasons.2. Riding Giants (Surf)This fascinating history of big wave surfing is unique in its ability to draw any viewer into the stories and the power of the ocean.1. McConkey (Ski / BASE)Shane McConkey must be one of the most influential figures in any outdoor sport, ever. He changed the game in everything from the attitude of pro skiers, to the direction of elite competition, to the possibility of taking to the air via BASE jumping. Shane also paid the ultimate price, passing away in 2009 on a ski BASE with his best friend, JT Holmes. This film tells the story of Shane’s life, and is the single most impressive compilation of stunts that I have ever seen… and they’re all by one person.TOP 10 VIDEOS10. Jet Ski Barrel (Surf)Mother Nature vs. technology…we know which is more powerful.9. McGarry Rampage (Mountain Bike)Kelly McGarry gives a raw look into the pinnacle of mountain biking… the Red Bull Rampage. Everything from the breathing, the knife ridge riding, and the incredible gaps is gripping.8. Church Two (Mountain Bike)Southeast represent! Brandon Blakely and Evan Voss express their unique styles on and off the bike.Church Two from ZfH Productions on Vimeo.7. Kai Lenny 4 in 1 (SUP / Surf / Windsurf / Kiteboard)Kai is the next generation waterman, and he showcases his abilities in this epic multisport session at Jaws.6. Danny Hart Worlds (Mountain Bike)Incredible riding skill… even better announcing!5. Imaginate (Mountain Bike)This Danny MacAskill video wins the creativity award hands down… we’re all kids at heart4. Palouse Falls First D (Kayak)This 189-foot beast is the perfect waterfall, and Tyler Bradt’s audacious first descent and world record has not been exceeded since.3. One of Those Days 2 (Ski)All I can say about this is that it’s mind-blowing and superhuman. I want to be this guy.2. JP Auclair Street (Ski)JP Auclair shows that you can have a blast and shred no matter the setting.1. Dream (Kayak)Ben Marr and Skip Armstrong express their joy for kayaking and the inner insecurities of all of us in this highly entertaining piece.DREAM from NRS Films on Vimeo.last_img read more

Read More »

Trail Mix | Lowland Hum

first_imgEarly last week I was listening to Thin, the newest release from Charlottesville folk duo Lowland Hum, and thinking about this blog post, when I reached out to a good friend to see if he had heard them before.Turns out he had and, in fact, had crossed paths with Daniel and Lauren Goans, the married couple who make up Lowland Hum, not long ago.“I spent most of the day hanging with them at a festival last year,” he said, “and they were a very interesting couple, in many ways breathtaking. They are dedicated to making music their own way, without worry about levels of success other than where they currently are.”Having never met Daniel and Lauren myself, I did feel a sense of recognition and agreement with those words. The collection of songs that became Thin is, at bare minimum, interesting, if not purely captivating and hypnotic, so it stood to reason that the musicians behind them be interesting people as well.My notions were confirmed as I dug deeper, learning that Daniel and Lauren partner to create a holistic musical experience, from the songs themselves to album artwork, live videos, and even lyric books that are shared with audience members.I recently caught up with Lauren to chat about the new record, working with one’s spouse, and this weekend’s record release show at The Southern.BRO – Are there any distinct challenges being creative partners with your spouse?LG – Certainly! I think we tried really hard to separate our work life from our home life in the beginning of our collaboration together, but it didn’t take long to realize how unrealistic that is. Of course, whatever is going on in our personal live affects our working relationship. It means we spend a lot of time working through things to stay on the same page. If we aren’t in unity about something, our work is neither productive nor enjoyable.BRO – Describe your songwriting process. Do you schedule time together or strike when the iron is hot, so to speak, and work when inspiration stirs?LG – We tend to work in cycles. We go through phases throughout the year when we try to make songwriting a part of our daily practice. We have also taken writing retreats when we can squeeze them into our tour schedule. In the months leading up to recording, we devote a significant portion of our days to editing and fine-tuning songs we have been working on throughout the year. And, of course, sometimes ideas surface unexpectedly, and we try to give them room to grow when that happens.BRO – I have never heard of a band providing lyric books to its audiences. What was the inspiration behind that?LG – I am a visual processor, so I have always found that I connect to lyrics more deeply when I can see and hear them. When we first started playing shows together, we wanted to create hospitable experiences of presence for people. The lyric books came out of those early brainstorms about how to do that for our audiences. In 2012, we made the first few generations of lyric books entirely by hand, using our home printer, stamping simple illustrations on each book and binding them using a special hand-sewn method. It took us weeks. Now we pay a great print shop in North Carolina to print and hand bind them. The books still have that magical, handmade charm.BRO – We are featuring “Thin Places” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?LG – “Thin Places” was written during a writing retreat on the eastern shore of Maryland at a property overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. It is one that Daniel mostly wrote, and the lyrics recall several instances of experiencing wonder in a sudden and surreal way that resulted in gratitude. The song also references Andrew Wyeth, whose work seems to share a color palette with the landscape of the Chesapeake Bay.BRO – You are set to play The Southern this weekend. Excited to share these tunes with the hometown family?LG – We are thrilled to share these songs with the hometown crowd. The album was recorded about a mile and a half from the venue, so it feels all the more celebratory to have the release show at The Southern.Lowland Hum returns home to Charlottesville on Friday to play The Southern Music Hall and we want to give you the chance to catch the show for free! Take a chance on the trivia question down below and shoot your answer to [email protected] A winner from all correct answers received by noon tomorrow (Thursday, Feb. 16) will receive two passes to the show.Question . . . . Prior to being known as The Southern, what name did this venue go by?Good luck!And be sure to take a listen to “Thin Places,” along with tracks from The Sadies, Otis Taylor, Scott Biram, and more on this month’s Trail Mix.last_img read more

Read More »

The Goods Home Fitness: Build a Home Gym

first_imgBalance BoardYou can use it for foot-based movements like squats, but you can also do all sorts of pushups and planks, or combine it with the TRX. Or you can just stand on it while you’re on a phone call that has gone on too long. $159; indoboard.com —Collin Izzard, premier coach for Carmichael Training Systems, Brevard, N.C.Kettlebells If you locked me in a room and I needed to get a workout in, I’d choose a heavy kettlebell and a light one. They’re so versatile, and the kettlebell swing is one of the best full body workouts you can get. Get a heavy kettlebell that’s a third of your bodyweight, and work on getting 300 swings in under 5 minutes. Then get a light kettlebell (20 pounds for men, 14 for women) and practice the Turkish getup.—KEN PELUSO, owner of the Endurance Factory in Savage, Maryland EXPERTS WEIGH IN ON THEIR FAVORITE HOME TRAINING EQUIPMENTBest case scenario is you get your workout while you hit the trail, slopes, or rock. But life isn’t always about the best case scenario. Sometimes, you can’t make it to the trail. Sometimes, you can’t even make it to the gym. So, we talked to a handful of athletes and trainers in the Southeast about their favorite pieces of training equipment to use at-home and on the road. Follow their advice here, and you can build a killer home gym.   Zwift Smart Trainer These new smart trainers are absolutely revolutionizing cycling. Basically, you hookup your rear wheel and put it on a direct drive trainer that wirelessly connects to your laptop, and you can ride your bike inside the virtual Zwift world. You can ride up Alp Duez virtually. You can change the load, do training plans, workouts…and there are races every 15 minutes with other cyclists from around the world. The Wahoo Kickr starts at $1,199; Zwift.com—Hunter Allen, cycling coach and founder of Peaks Coaching GroupJump Rope It’s simple, but effective for burning calories without having to run or ride anywhere. All the old equipment is useful again. Rogue SR-1 Speed Rope, $20; roguefitness.com —Donivan Ciolsi Spud Inc. Magic Carpet Sled This small sled is a really good tool. You load it with weight and then pull it to build lower body strength and endurance. It’s relatively cheap, and it actually travels well too. You can use it on carpet, hardwoods, concrete or grass. $109; spud-inc-straps.com —Donivan Ciolsi, owner of Summit Crossfit in AshevilleMetolius Rock RingsThese give you the same kind of workout as a hangboard, but they’re more mobile. You can hang them over a tree limb and get a good upper body workout when you’re on the road. $30; metoliusclimbing.com —Stuart Cowles, climbing guide and owner of Climbmax and Smoky Mountain Adventure Center in AshevilleMetolius Project Hangboard You can mount this in a doorway and use it to work on contact strength and finger exercises, which are key if you’re a climber. You can also grab hold of the jugs and knock out sets of pullups which is an incredible upper body exercise. $55; metoliusclimbing.com —STUART COWLESResistance bands You can use them to build strength, or work on your core, and you can get them for under $30. You can do so much with them.  The Bodylastics Stackable Tubes can be “stacked” to increase weight. From $30; bodylastics.com —KEN PELUSO, owner of the Endurance Factory, Savage, Md.center_img Rogue MK D-Balls These are medicine balls filled with sand that you can pick up and throw into the air, throw against a wall, or slam it into the ground. It’s a great full-body calorie blaster that also builds strength. Combine this with the balance boards and you have a great set of tools. $72; roguefitness.com —Colin IzzarDTRX Home2The TRX is like a gym in a bag. Hang these suspension straps from a door, a tree limb, a playground swing and you can knock out hundreds of different exercises. It’s super flexible and varied on the movements you can do, and it’s portable for when you go on a six-week van life trip. $140; Trxtraining.com —Colin Izzardlast_img read more

Read More »

Delegations From Eighty Countries Parade In Argentina As Part Of Bicentennial Festivities

first_imgBy Dialogo May 25, 2010 A multitude attended the so-called ‘Parade of Integration’ in Buenos Aires, in which delegations from more than eighty countries participated as part of the festivities for the bicentennial of the revolution that led to Argentine independence. Despite the rain that fell at times, thousands of people enthusiastically observed the passage of the delegations, whose more than four thousand members, dressed in their traditional local costumes, presented the characteristic music and dance of their countries. Eight blocks of Avenida 9 de Julio, in the center of the city, were converted into the so-called ‘Bicentennial Promenade,’ an open-air performance area that is the epicenter of the festivities that began on Friday and will culminate on 25 May, the two-hundredth anniversary of the revolution of independence. Dressed in colorful attire, the representatives of Brazil paraded an inflatable replica of Christ the Redeemer, around twenty meters tall, along Avenida 9 de Julio, while the large Chinese delegation made enormous puppets in the form of serpents, dragons, and mythological animals dance. The original presentations included dances, music, and even the dramatization of medieval battles, as in the case of the delegation from Denmark. Attendance at the Bicentennial festivities surpassed all expectations and has made this celebration the most popular one since the events marking the return to democracy in 1983. Saturday night, a multitude estimated at one million people filled the Bicentennial Promenade to attend a concert celebrating Latin American music, with performances by artists from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, and Paraguay, among others. The street festivities will culminate in an allegorical parade that will be held on Tuesday with two thousand participants and in which two hundred years of Argentine history is to be dramatized. A landmark of the festivities will be the reopening on Monday of the Colón Theater in Buenos Aires, celebrated for its acoustics, which has been closed for renovations since 2006. The Revolution of 25 May 1810 was the first cry of liberty seeking independence from the Spanish crown, opening the way to the liberation of Chile and Peru and ultimately to the declaration of Argentine independence in 1816.last_img read more

Read More »

Panel Says Rescind Policy on Women in Combat

first_img A commission established to study diversity among military leaders is recommending that the Defense Department rescind its policy that prevents women from being assigned to ground combat units below the brigade level. In a report issued today, the Military Leadership Diversity Commission recommends that the department and the services eliminate combat exclusion policies for women, as well as other “barriers and inconsistencies, to create a level playing field for all qualified service members.” Retired Air Force Gen. Lester L. Lyles, who chaired the commission, said the recommendation – one of 20 in the report and the only one specific to women – is one way the congressionally mandated body suggests the military can get more qualified women into its more-senior leadership ranks. “We know that [the exclusion] hinders women from promotion,” Lyles said in an interview with American Forces Press Service. “We want to take away all the hindrances and cultural biases” in promotions. The commission was established as part of the 2009 National Defense Authorization Act to evaluate and assess policies that provide opportunities for promotion and advancement of women and racial and ethnic minorities in the armed forces. The 1994 combat exclusion policy, as written, precludes women from being “assigned” to ground combat units, but women have for years served in ground combat situations by serving in units deemed “attached” to ground units, Lyles said. That distinction keeps them from being recognized for their ground combat experience – recognition that would enhance their chances for promotion, he said. “If you look at today’s battlefield – in Iraq and Afghanistan – it’s not like it was in the Cold War, when we had a defined battlefield,” Lyles said. “Women serve – and they lead – military security, military police units, air defense units, intelligence units – all of which have to be right there with combat veterans in order to do the job appropriately.” Women serving in combat environments are being shot at, killed and maimed, Lyles said. “But they’re not getting the credit for being in combat arms,” he said, “[and] that’s important for their consideration for the most senior flag ranks – three stars and four stars, primarily.” In the commission’s outreach to military leaders, Lyles said, at least a couple of service leaders thought there would be little interest among women to serve in combat. But when the commission brought in a panel of commissioned and enlisted women from different services, “that’s certainly not what we picked up” from talking to them, he said. “I didn’t hear, ‘Rah, rah, we want to be in combat,’” he said, “but I also didn’t hear, ‘We don’t want to be in combat.’ What they want is an equal opportunity to serve where their skills allow them to serve. Removing the barriers for that, and removing the barriers to them getting credit for that, was our No. 1 focus.” Defense Department spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said department officials “will thoroughly evaluate” the panel’s recommendations as part of their ongoing review of diversity policies. Meanwhile, she said, “Women will continue to be assigned to units and positions that may necessitate combat actions within the scope of their restricted positioning – situations for which they are fully trained and equipped to respond.” Women make up about 15 percent of active-duty service members; 18 percent of National Guard and reserves; and ten percent of Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans; and 10 percent of those who have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters, Lainez said. By Dialogo March 10, 2011last_img read more

Read More »