Women as soldiers and seafarers in a combat role have long been debated. But it is an accepted fact that down the ages of recorded history women have not been incorporated as soldiers or seawomen.But the Western powers particularly the United States, is finding it difficult to fill the depleted ranks with manpower as with affluence there is a marked reluctance to don the uniform by the males. Hence the recourse to women as soldiers and sailors. This serves two purposes as, firstly the requirements of man power are fulfilled and secondly the clamor by women for gender equality is also accepted.In this respect the achievement of Rear Admiral Nora Tyson who becomes the first lady to command a Carrier Strike Group . She took over command aboard USS H W Bush, the last of the Nimitz class carriers.
The Admiral was commissioned in 1979 and is a one star officer. Unlike the Indian Navy, the US Navy has two grades of Rear Admiral, that is, lower half (one star) and upper half (two star).
The Admiral graduated from Naval ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Course), the rough naval equivalent of the Indian Territorial Army, and not from a Regular Academy, and later turned from a reservist into a full time naval officer.
Today, there are more than 8,000 female Navy officers, and of the 44,335 women in the Navy which comprise 16 percent of its total personnel. And with that, the 53-year-old Memphis native became the first woman to take command of a carrier strike group. She’ll lead nearly a dozen ships and as many as 9,000 sailors and airmen patrolling some 51 million square miles of ocean.
Tyson’s flagship will be the carrier USS George H.W. Bush, which is 1,094 feet long and the 10th and last in the line of Nimitz-class carriers. It was put to sail last year. The barriers in the US Navy are falling further as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has already notified Congress that submarine forces were also being opened to women.
The elevation of women to command and control is certainly a debating point. As the saying goes the proof of the pudding is in its eating. The worth of these women will emerge only in actual battle conditions. In the mean time we can salute Admiral Nora for a successful rise in the Navy.