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BS: Top Gun

John Gray 17 Jan 02 - 10:25 AM
katlaughing 17 Jan 02 - 12:22 PM
Amos 17 Jan 02 - 01:37 PM
swirlygirl 17 Jan 02 - 02:08 PM
Gary T 17 Jan 02 - 02:46 PM
Liz the Squeak 17 Jan 02 - 03:19 PM
John Gray 17 Jan 02 - 04:38 PM
gnu 17 Jan 02 - 05:24 PM
Sorcha 17 Jan 02 - 08:21 PM
John Gray 17 Jan 02 - 08:40 PM
Sorcha 17 Jan 02 - 08:53 PM
SeanM 17 Jan 02 - 10:14 PM
John Gray 17 Jan 02 - 10:38 PM
SeanM 17 Jan 02 - 10:47 PM
John Gray 18 Jan 02 - 01:22 AM
Ebbie 18 Jan 02 - 02:19 AM
SeanM 18 Jan 02 - 02:32 AM
Wolfgang 18 Jan 02 - 06:07 AM
Grab 18 Jan 02 - 09:03 AM
John Gray 18 Jan 02 - 10:06 AM
Steve in Idaho 18 Jan 02 - 10:54 AM
Mary in Kentucky 18 Jan 02 - 11:26 AM
Ebbie 18 Jan 02 - 01:09 PM
Mary in Kentucky 18 Jan 02 - 01:16 PM
SeanM 18 Jan 02 - 05:32 PM
Ebbie 18 Jan 02 - 05:56 PM
John Gray 18 Jan 02 - 06:28 PM
SeanM 18 Jan 02 - 08:27 PM

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Subject: Top Gun
From: John Gray
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 10:25 AM

A sizeable article in the print media here in Oz is about the US Airforce fighter pilot Lieut. Colonel Martha McSally. She is in hot water with the US gov't and Airforce for refusing to wear the head covering abaya ( similar to the burka )when off-base whilst stationed in Saudi Arabia.
I can well understand this highly intelligent and professional woman jacking up on this, especially when she is a christian. Apparently the directive came from the Pentagon. Aren't they being a little to precious in not wanting to offend a country that they are helping to defend.
Maybe Saudi men, when visiting the US, should be made to wear sneakers, overly large shorts, a fluoro tee-shirt with a picture of OJ on it, and a baseball cap facing backwards.
Jokes aside it highlights a problem with orthodox muslim countries in that they only utilise 50% of their brain pool. How on earth are they ever going to achieve a rate of progress and developement to match that of countries that have both men & women in the brain pool.

JG/FME


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: katlaughing
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 12:22 PM

We are there to protect, not change the culture, although as a woman I would prefer the latter. At the moment, I think it would be a sign of respect, on her part, to wear it, but I understand her refusal.

I remember when I was little, women who attended the Roman Catholic and Episcopal Churches had to wear a hat or some sort of headcovering. I thought it was pretty neat, until I got older and realised it was a symbol of submission, repression, etc.

This is a tough one, imo, because of it being the custom of the country.

kat


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: Amos
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 01:37 PM

We just have tpo require them to wear cell phones.....


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: swirlygirl
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 02:08 PM

Well people from that neck of the woods and/or of the same religion who emigrate don't seem to mind walking round, say, the US or Britain and seeing scantily clad women so why should it be any different in S.A.???

We respect their culture, they respect ours...reciprocal agreement; they can come to western countries wearing their traditional dress, so we should be allowed to go to theirs wearing our "traditional" dress. (I'd have to wear a kilt in that respect!)

:)

xxx


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: Gary T
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 02:46 PM

Yes, it's their culture and their religion and it's hard to argue against practices based on those. Nevertheless, the sum total of such restrictions (including, e.g., women not being allowed to drive automobiles) has more to do with a refusal to abandon a Middle Ages mentality than anything.


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 03:19 PM

If it's the difference between being treated civily or being spat at in the streets, verbally assaulted and having things thrown at you, I'd take the veil every time.

When in Rome.....

LTS


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: John Gray
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 04:38 PM

L.T.S.
Why on earth assist with the defense of a country where your citizens get spat on?
And does the "when in Rome" argument mean that I can spit on Saudi visitors to Oz?
We have a large muslim community here and we are very tolerent of their culture and religious practices. But surely tolerance has to work both ways.

JG/FME


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: gnu
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 05:24 PM

Liz asked... Why on earth assist with the defense of a country where your citizens get spat on ?

To attempt to bring them along to tolerance. It is beyond tough for these oppressed people, especially women. We have committed in the battle to overcome these injustices... and it's about time, no matter the justification is eradication of terrorism against our own. The present fight will widen to such places as the Sudan, where slavery is still practiced. Many will ask your question again, "Should we ?" Yes, until all are free.


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: Sorcha
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 08:21 PM

There are several issues here:
Courtesy.........she ought to dress to have respect for the mores of the country. I would be willing to do this on my own, for safety reasons, if not for courtesy.

The Other Side of Courtesy........the Saudis should be courteous enough to allow us our OWN dress codes in their country, just as they are here regardless of where in the US they are being seen.

Freedom..........as a US citizen, she ought to have the freedom to dress as she pleases within bounds of reasonable coverage. (You can get away with nudity on the Cote d'Azure, but not in downtown NYC>)

Orders.......she is a member of the US Armed Forces, so is legally bound to obey orders. All of them, unless they are illegal in the US.

US Military always has dress codes........but this does seem a bit over the top. If I were ordered, I think I would get a bit hissy too. Are the Saudi women who are coming onto US bases required to wear US style clothing???? Now there is a response.........All Saudi females on US bases in Saudi will wear hot pants and halter tops.....nothing else......whoooeeee!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: John Gray
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 08:40 PM

Surely it would be an illegal order by the US Airforce to direct a christian to wear muslim apparel.

JG/FME


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: Sorcha
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 08:53 PM

I don't think so John. Stupid, maybe, but not against the written LAW of the US. The Law doesn't usually concern itsself with that sort of thing. Neither does the Uniform Code of the Armed Services. As far as I know, the Code simply says to be respectful.


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: SeanM
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 10:14 PM

I was in the US Navy shortly after the Persian Gulf war. There ARE dress standards which MUST be met by servicemembers in foreign ports.

For men (this is pre-gender integration on combat vessels, and at the time the battle group my ship was in was all male. We did not hear the directives for women) the standards were long pants, button down shirts, and an overall conservative look. Outlandish patterns could get you restricted to ship until you changed.

My opinion on it? It's a combination of common sense, courtesy and PR.

Common sense because you're in a port where these matters are of extreme sensitivity to the locals, and you do NOT want your sailors pissing off the locals. After all, you're planning on coming back now, aren't you?

Courtesy, because I'd no more intentionally dress in a manner offensive to the culture of the locals than I would show up at a prospective fiancee's family Christmas dinner in swim trunks and a mohawk. It's common courtesy to show up dressed as the situation demands.

PR because... well, to be honest, because Americans oversea need a bit of good PR, and military moreso. On the whole (this is an overgeneralization. Forgive me.), military enlisted personnel are a bit coarse. Actually, extremely coarse. Moderately dim. Not generally worldly nor concerned with societal mores outside the WWF latest scandal. So having your personnel dressed conservatively gives you SOME degree of an edge in blunting the 'less than stellar' of your crew's damage that they'll likely inflict.

I say this last having been the radio operator who sent out the message on the damage totals caused by a brawl between Navy and Marines at a bar in Singapore. ANYTHING that the US can do to enhance the image that their overseas servicemembers have is a good thing.

So on the whole?

No sympathy for the woman. I wasn't allowed to have long hair, wear my Misfits punk band T-shirt, have piercings nor dyed hair, and a host of other restrictions on my appearance while in the service. To misquote a great hero of American culture, "She knew the job was dangerous when she took it.". It's a bit late to complain about the dress codes now.

M


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: John Gray
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 10:38 PM

SeanM.
Yeah, I was in the Australian navy so I understand and agree with almost all you say. My son is currently in the navy so keeps me up to date.
Aaarrrgghh, those fights in Saigon/Singapore/HongKong/Manilla - memories.
Yes, well-presented neat consertative dress is one thing but expecting service personnel to wear another country's religious garb is another. I don't think its wrong to complain about dress codes. I very much doubt that the personnel, upon entering the service, would be advised that "besides turning you into a red-hot fighter pilot we also want you to dress like an Arab".

JG/FME


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: SeanM
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 10:47 PM

I don't know that I'd consider the abaya religious however. I DO know that it's not an absolutely widespread practice to wear them though. One thing that often gets lost in the shuffle of 'aren't those Ayrabs so wacky?' news reports is that much like the US, the level of religious zealotry varies.

In Abu Dhabi (where I spent a couple weeks), I was struck by how Westernized the city itself was. The traditional dress for either sex was a rare sight indeed, and most of the much vaunted 'prohibitions' were thrown to the wind. Bars operated openly, down to there being a sidewalk cafe where they happily served cocktails. Women walked around in moderately conservative dress, but from personal experience that style of dress actually is cooler than shorts and a T-shirt (seriously - why do you think that the traditional flowing garments lasted that long? They work!). Heck, I even scored a few durham off of the local kids in an arcade teaching them how to play Moon Patrol. Now THAT is cultural exchange in action!

But, by contrast, in Dubai the dress codes were much more severe and controlled. Women were rare on the streets, and when seen it was very briefly - we were told that most women in town would hide very quickly in the presence of westerners and not to draw attention to ourselves or them.

Oddly enough, Dubai was the oil town. Abu Dhabi seemed to have a much broader base for it's economy. It (in my mind) drew a direct comparison to the rural south communities that are still extremely religious - it seems around the world that it's mainly the exremely rich or extremely poor who are extremely religious. Quite often it appears the middle class would much rather that both of them would find something else to do and leave us alone...

M


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: John Gray
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 01:22 AM

SeanM.
I thoroughly concur with your last sentence above.

JG/FME


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: Ebbie
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 02:19 AM

I don't understand. Women cannot help being women; there is no choice. Taking it further, black people cannot help being black; there is no choice. If the US were at war somewhere that black people were considered inferior (or SUPERIOR, for that matter!) would we forbid black soldiers? Not allow them to enter certain restaurants? Disallow fraternization that is allowed to white soldiers?

I think the answer is NO. What is the reasoning here?


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: SeanM
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 02:32 AM

Ebbie;

The reasoning is that international politics is almost never a matter of "If this is taken to it's extreme, it's wrong, so any degree of it is wrong." That thinking leads to cultural purges, pogroms, and 101 different Bad Ideas In Dictatorship.

The question is not if she's allowed to go out PERIOD. It's her wish not to have to wear required clothing.

Taking your racial clue, let's work that in the other direction: Should people working in reactors be required to wear protective clothing? Should black tie and jacket restaurants be shut down for not allowing nudists? Should that kid behind the counter in McDonalds be allowed to wear a "Fuck you" t-shirt with nude women on the front?

More to the point - one unfortunate detail of Armed Service enlistment (whether enlisted or officer) is that you agree to follow WHATEVER IS HANDED DOWN from superiors barring something illegal. Even THAT point is debatable. She was ordered to wear that. Had she been ordered to dress up like Bozo the Clown and hand out live chickens in Detroit, it still doesn't matter. One thing repeatedly hammered in to us during boot was that by joining the military, you hand over some of YOUR civil rights in order that the greater population of the US can retain theirs.

I'm not going to debate our presence there. For the record, I've been against pretty much every war that's been fought in my lifetime - I'm very suspicious of their motives, even more suspicious of their government. Had I not been given a choice between homelessness and starvation or the military, I never would have joined. But one thing which was ALWAYS in my mind (and I'm a fairly devout individualist - part of the reason I found my way into an early out) was that in joining I was submitting myself to potential total control by people other than myself.

Again - she knew when signing the papers that she might be required to do anything from scrubbing toilets to killing another human with her own hands. Requiring her to honor the culture and tradition of the port or town she has found herself in is (due to her superiors' decision) part of that. Until they rescind their decision to require female service members to wear said clothing, not doing so is a criminal act by ANY standard of Military law. Period.

Now, in a perfect world? Yes, she should have the right to dress however she wishes. In THIS world however, her refusal to dress appropriately could have serious effects on the missions that the US has chosen to run in that area. We're not well loved to begin with.

M


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: Wolfgang
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 06:07 AM

And let's not forget that US women soldiers in Saudi Arabia have to ride in the back seat when off base. They can only leave base if accompanied by a man.

Just imagine for a moment that the US army would require black soldiers only to sit in the back seats not to offend the locals...

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: Grab
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 09:03 AM

A friend of oursis in the RAF doing logistics (basically he's an Air Force trucker). He was over in Saudi during Desert Storm.

I don't know how true this is, but he told us about an American logistics woman who got stopped by the religious police. They flagged her down, shouted and swore at her, and then threatened to kill her. At the last, she drew her own gun on them in self-defence. Our friend claims she was on the next plane home, just for defending herself.

The thing is, we're all dependent on the Arab countries for oil, and the US is more dependent than anyone else due to the greater usage of energy and oil in particular. So if the Arabs say "jump", the US government can only say "how high" - if not, you guys will _really_ find out what the natural price of a tankful of fuel is!

Graham.


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: John Gray
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 10:06 AM

Gee Wolfgang, that would certainly make the US gov't take a few deep breaths.
And Grab, the price of something is not always set by the seller. Sometimes it is determined by what the buyer is prepared to pay. Saudi A. is in the unfortunate position of being a two commodity economy, oil & sand - and most of us have plenty of sand.
I'm sure the US could buy most of its oil requirements elsewhere, there's plenty of it around.
I consider it demeaning to the US, who profess democratic standards - liberty, equality etc, to eat crow in propping up a non-elected dictatorship that has no equal rights for women. Yeah, I hear the cultural argument, but don't forget, that not too long ago, women didn't have equal rights in our societies either, but we got smart and changed.

JG/FME


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: Steve in Idaho
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 10:54 AM

I am former military - Marines and Army. The legitimacy of an order to be lawful or not is hinged upon the use of deadly force. If I was ordered to kill noncombatants I would consider that an illegal order and let a General Courts Martial decide if I was correct or not. In matters of dress, conduct, and attitude there are not, really, any illegal orders as they are based on social norms for the place and space. The bulk is based on local custom and convention.

We are trying to make friends in these countries. And the military's job is to minimize threat and encourage an appreciation of the United States efforts when in someone else's country. In other words half the job is spreading goodwill by accomodating local custom. One of the hard learned lessons from Viet Nam was that when invited to another country to assist in their efforts we should have acted like invited guests and not as swaggering bullies. Small cultural errors can lead to large problems when dealing with the indigenous population.

I can appreciate the woman's efforts to further the cause of gender equality. I can even applaud her courage to risk so much to make her point. But she had her orders. And their are some corrolaries to emancipation in the military with regard to Blacks, Hispanics, and other groups. But history has also shown that those who first do the standing up pay dearly for it. Really clarifies for me what a martyr is. Someone who willingly and knowingly puts their life up for grabs to point out that change needs to be made.

Part of our problem with the Muslim world is our refusal to acknowledge their customs and conventions. Yes we acknowledge a higher power - but in two radically different ways. And we are invited guests. So IMHO we need to act like guests and give in to the host countries reasonable, at least I consider it so, request. Now if she had been asked to wear the Bhurka? But that is hypothetical.

Just my $00.02 worth.

Steve


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 11:26 AM

If I lived there I would probably do as my friend did, wear a burka when in public. What I don't understand is the hypocrisy of men who spy on foreign women (playing softball behind a fence) but then insisting "their" women stay covered. Or the women who will show their faces to American men but not local men.

I've been in situations where my dress presented more concerns for me than for the men I was working with. (heels in a laboratory with rubber mats on the floor, clunky safety shoes in a formal board meeting, long skirt inspecting a water tower...) In most cases the situation allows the male coworkers to show support for their female coworkers and to later compensate for any "slights." We only see the military women riding in the back seat, but hopefully, things even out in other circumstances. (I was always happy to ride in the small "jump seat" in a pick-up truck because I was one of the smaller, agile ones who could fit into it!...I also enjoyed not having to lift or move heavy objects without help...consequently I was often the only person without a back back or bum knees.) This really is a complex issue...one of the reasons we have laws...to protect us when common sense and curtesy fail. When working as a team, a certain comaraderie develops where there is respect for each person's contribution. Yes, there are issues of discrimination that should be addressed, but working in a foreign environment is not the place for it...at least not publicly.

Do y'all remember when Barbara Bush appeared before the troops in SA? She wore fatigues.

Kat, when I was in college and went to mass with my Catholic friends, I made a big deal of covering my head with a lace hanky, (didnt want to stand out). I was surprised to find that I was one of few who did so (therefore, stood out!)


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: Ebbie
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 01:09 PM

Right, Wolfgang. My point exactly.


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 01:16 PM

I agree. Somehow having to always ride in the backseat bothers me more than wearing an abaya or burka. There seems to be a difference when the person is on the street or in their own automobile. Does it have to do with appearances, or one's own turf? And at what point do we compromise our beliefs for the sake of appearances? Boy, I'm glad I live here!


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: SeanM
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 05:32 PM

OK, I give up. We should immediately issue every single man and woman in the US armed forces string bikinis and have them lounge in mosques urinating on the frescoes all day.

YES it is unfortunate that this is required. But as I and a few others have pointed out - when one joins the military, one is required to follow the standards set. In the US, we're slightly more tolerant than the 'arab world' in regards to women, women's clothing, voting issues etc.

But last time I checked, Bahrain wasn't in New Jersey. Oman isn't a suburb of Los Angeles. And for whatever reason, the Powers In Charge have decided that we are sending military aid to these areas.

The only solutions to this as far as I can tell are: Tell the local governments "Fuck you, we'll wear what we want." Likely results: increased tension between hardline militant groups, as well as the host countries and anyone else wishing to use it to embarrass the US. Given that the one point Bin Laden gets the most sympathy on is that the US has bases in Saudi Arabia (location of several holy sites, be they hundreds of miles from any US base), I can just imagine how well THAT would go over.

Or perhaps we can just ban women from the area all together? That way they can abide by whatever conduct THEY feel necessary without creating adverse reactions among the host population.

Face it - short of toppling the governments involved, incarcerating a large percentage of the population and 'reeducating' them and pretty much destroying several sect's faiths, it's not going to change any time in the near future. Societal pressures might do that eventually, and actually probably will. But at the moment, her refusal to don the required garments could VERY reasonably be expected to create an adverse condition.

M


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: Ebbie
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 05:56 PM

SeanM, I don't think we're actually discussing this particular case- at least, I know that I'm not. I am talking about US military policy- and that CAN be changed.

If we (our military) told the host country that in our country women are valued as highly as men for their contribution to the war effort so that we will not compromise our values in the current conflict and therefore would appreciate their educating their own people (including military)I think it is likely that a dialogue would ensue. They could lay it to our peculiarites, just as we accept theirs.


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: John Gray
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 06:28 PM

SeanM.
I can see you are getting a little frustrated by the tone of your first sentence above. No, I don't think any of us in this thread want to be able wear outlandlish clothing when in S.A. Previously I said conservative, neat clothing should be acceptable to both.
I find your comments very informative Sean and I, and I think most of the others, generally concur with your views. But I see a parallel in the Chamberlain/Hitler fiasco. There is nothing to be gained in getting into bed with dictators. All that seems to happen is the dictator has all their demands met and the appeaser's principles are walked over.
I did 2 tours to Vietnam in the late 60's and I agree with the bully-boy comments you make. Australia participated in the Gulf War from day 1 and I totally disagreed with the risking of the lives of our military personnel so that Kuwait could be handed back to dictators. We still maintain a naval presence in the Gulf to monitor the blockade and currently the Australian Navy has operational control of all naval units there. And we have our SAS soldiers in Afghanistan, one poor bugger just had half his foot blown off by a landmine. I just hope we don't hand this country back to a non-elected gov't.

JG/FME


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Subject: RE: BS: Top Gun
From: SeanM
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 08:27 PM

I'm also (as stated above) leery of our involvement in the area. It may also become a moot point - the story was vague, but Yahoo is running a banner about Saudi Arabia mulling kicking US forces out of the country.

Again, my only point as to why I believe that the woman was 'in the wrong' was due to her status, duties and responsibilities as not only a member of the Armed Forces, but as an officer. Why the US is there, what the US is doing there, what SHE was doing there - all are immaterial. In the military, orders are orders. As an active duty member of the service, you are required to follow orders barring orders responsible for immediate and irreversible unlawful harm (or something like that. It's been a decade.)

M


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