The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 24, 2013

Local veteran welcomes Pentagon decision

By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
news@joplinglobe.com

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Adina Sanchez, who was commissioned by the ROTC at Pittsburg State University in 1992 as a military police officer, said Thursday that the decision to lift a ban on women serving in combat is “good news.”

“We knew it eventually would come, but I was surprised it came so early in the second (Obama) administration,” she said.

Sanchez served with the 414th Military Police Company in Joplin, Mo., for several years and then became a nurse in her civilian career. She now works in Springfield, Mo., at the 325th Combat Support Hospital. It’s the modern equivalent of a mobile army surgical hospital.

Her deployments as an MP officer included Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Camp Buehring, a staging post for U.S. troops in the northwestern region of Kuwait near the Iraqi border.

She noted that she has not served in Iraq or Afghanistan, but in her experience she came to realize there are no “battle fronts and rears” any longer, as one might think of from wars earlier in America’s history.

“Having been with the MP units, there are no front lines anymore,” she said. “Now we’re trying to win hearts and minds, and go into villages and help them establish their governments. We’re trying to fight insurgents, but in a different way than we used to. The line against the line isn’t a realistic picture of war nowadays. We’re dealing with the terrorist world. It’s door to door, house to house, often in urban settings.”

Today’s military cannot be compared with yesterday’s, she said, because it has “so much more technical ability, unmanned aerial vehicles, gliders that do surveillance. There’s not as much going through the field, walking points, so to speak.

“And our weapon systems are lighter, faster, more accurate. The aircraft are faster, more agile, more modern. For those women who want that opportunity, I really don’t see a reason to continue to deny it.”

While Sanchez personally does not want to go into combat, she said she believes women in the MP Corps already have been broaching that experience because of the corps’ firepower, which often is equivalent to or surpasses that of the infantry.

“And actually, female MPs are every bit on what you might call the front lines when they’re doing convoys,” she said. “We have grenade launchers.

“It’s something in this day and age, women are more educated, there are more graduates, and the military is struggling to find qualified personnel that want to do the job. So why not open it up to both?”