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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  July 24, 2011 12:00pm-1:00pm EDT

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party base. you have heard in politics get out the base and get out the base. .. ♪ >> coming up next, booktv presents "after words," an hourlong program where we invite guest hosts to interview authors. this week marine veteran jane blair and her first book, "hesitation kills."
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in it the marine major details the chaos of war and highlights the combat performance of her squadron in iraq. she talks with representative loretta sanchez, founder and chair of the congressional caucus on women in the military. >> host: so major jane blair, you are the first woman to write a book about your experience with respect to iraq. why? why would, why would you want to write a book? >> guest: ma'am, thanks for the question. you know, i had a lot of reluctance, actually, about writing the book. you know, being a marine, i think there's a natural tendency to not want to highlight my be experiences, to just be a marine and not kind of get involved with writing and all that. but i had kept a journal during my time in iraq, and after i had gone through the notes i realized, wow, i had some incredible stories about marines
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in if here that no one knows about. so i felt it was almost an obligation to me to paint this portrait of my time in the iraq, but also highlight the stories of other marines that i served with that i felt had done such incredible things, and no one was talking about it. and i thought, you know, i've got to commit this to paper because all these stories are never going to get told if i don't write it. >> host: that's very interesting because our men and be women who go to war, they rarely discuss what they've seen. so it's really interesting to have read "hesitation kills," and to really see the perspective of a woman and how she deals with being in the military and how she deals with the whole aspect of war in, hey, i'm targeting someone here, and they're going to be killed. so i'm sure there was some hesitation when others heard you were writing a book, like your colleagues and stuff, the other marines, because, you know, my brother was a marine, and they're pretty tight-lipped, and
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they're pretty entrenched, and they're pretty together, and there's this wall of silence in a sense of what happens among the marines. how'd they treat you when you said, oh, i'm writing a book? [laughter] >> guest: 2w5eu8, everybody was encouraging. i had taken on the unofficial role of being the squadron historian, so everyone knew i was documenting what happened as the war unfolded. and because my unit was one of the new unmanned aerial unit squadrons, it was a really unique type of thing that we were doing at the time. it was the first time that we had employed uavs or drones in this capability. and so i think people were very excited to get our story out, and i received a lot of positive praise from my colleagues, surprisingly. i thought they would be very critical of it, but i think they're happy their story's being told because it's highlighting a piece of history really that a lot of people don't know exists.
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>> host: so take us through this, because, um, let's first discuss, you know, women have been in and have been participants really in all of our major wars all the way from betsy ross making the american flag, if you will, to you, people know jessica lynch is the first p.o.w. woman taken in iraq, for example. let's go back to this whole issue because as you know one of the things i've been working on as the ranking woman on all the military issues in the house of representatives and 15 years now, my spire service in be congress, being on the armed services committee i've been really watching and seeing how the role of the woman is within the military ranks. so let's go back to something that's very important because you did something that i believe was very unique. you pushed the envelope in women being involved in combat in iraq. so let's talk a little bit about, um, first of all, what
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combat means. because, you know, some people think women shouldn't be involved in combat. talk to me a little bit about that. >> you know, combat is an interesting thing because, you know, a lot of marines think that to be in combat means you earn the combat action ribbon, or you've reached a certain level, or you have to be infantry in order to be in combat. but stepping back from that, if you look at just the definition of combat, it's any offensive action against enemy or foreign be forces that results in some kind of conflict. you know, with that definition in mind, i think that we have no front line really right now in our current conflicts in iraq and afghanistan. and people who traditionally wouldn't be in these kind of combat roles are finding themselves very much on the front line. and that means support units that have females in them and/or untraditional roles that, you know, people didn't sign up to be in the infantry are finding themselves on this front line.
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>> host: right. because traditionally we felt that combat were the infantry units. >> guest: exactly. >> host: so now we find jessica lynch who was a supply person on a convoy, and she finds herself in a fire fight, and she finds herself as the first p.o.w., which i want to go back to that in a little while because, of course, you were involved with some of that. you see someone like ruby who was up in in mow sulk on the day the bomber got through the front line and went into the cafeteria, into the mess hall and blew up the place. and she was one of the people blown up. the reality is i would say that's the front line. >> guest: absolutely. >> host: almost any place is the front line now if you're in iraq and afghanistan. >> guest: yeah. and surprisingly women are often unacknowledged for serving those roles because there's no combat roles for women. and be whether that's because of current policy or just because women are suddenly finding that because of the way that the wars
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are they're putting, they're being put in that place, but i think there's a role for women in this capacity that they're finding, you know, that really policymakers and the military are finding this very useful such as being interrogator/translators or serving civil affairs or being in the female engagement teams which aids in helping the indigenous, you know, women and children in order to communicate with them. >> host: in other words, when we go into afghanistan, we go into the villages, and we're trying to win the hearts and minds of the afghan people, we find that women sometimes are more effective in going in and talking to the women. of course, the guys can't go and talk to them, but they're more effective in going into the villages and talking to them and getting good information about where the taliban is or who's aiding the enemy, and more importantly, what the town really needs in order for it to be more cohesive and stand on its own so that we can get out of afghanistan, if you will.
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>> guest: absolutely. i mean, i think that women are bringing a new dynamic to the front line. and combat is always changing. the way that we conduct warfare is constantly evolving. we're no longer doing these first generation force on force type of manures that require that we have -- maneuvers that require that we have total upper body strength, that we're hiking for miles, that we're doing hand-to-hand combat, and sure, those skills are important. but right now on the battlefield forces are finding themselves confronted not only as infantrymen, but in that role of both diplomat and peacemaker where there's the necessity of having the role of discussing and finding out ways to have conflict resolution with whatever culture we're dealing with. >> host: and even on the athletic field we've found when we do the -- [inaudible] the guys have the upper body strength and mano a mano combat,
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i would say, but we're having women have better endurance. women, on average, can run, can endure more of the long, of the long trail, if you will. so those are very, you know, women just bring a different set of skills to that, and i think it requires both sets of skills to be the most effective military that we have. so i don't, how do the marine guys feel about having women in the role? because you talk, you had some very interesting snippets here about, for example, one of the lieutenants who when you were a second lieutenant he was a lieutenant who really didn't appreciate you being around. >> guest: there's two points on that. the first is i think there's growing pains in becoming a marine. @not just boot -- it's not just boot camp and suddenly you're a marine. i think that it takes a while to really understand what it is to
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be a marine. i mean, it could take years. i think sometimes you see in the sergeant major or the colonel the exemplar of what it is to be a marine, but sometimes it takes a long time. some people get it when they're a lance corporal, but others it takes years and years to reach that what it means to be a true marine. i think for me there was a lot of growing pains at the beginning. i grew up in a very nontraditional military environment, no one in my family had served, so there were a lot of growing pains for me to figure out not just the jargon, the lingo, but how to act like a marine, how to say yes, ma'am, yes, sir, and how to deal with that. in my unit i think there's rites of passage where you're the youngest, most junior member of your unit, and can you've not to prove yourself before you're accepted as a member of the fold. so there was a lot of that going
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on -- >> host: but that happens in be almost any job. come into office, whatever it is, and you've sort of got to feel your way around about who really works, who's the really get-to person, who's always angry about anything, you've got to kind of know what's going on in the unit. and it's even more important, i would assume, if you're going to go off to war and depend on these people to keep you alive. >> guest: absolutely. something different that i found in a civilian job was the idea of surrendering my sense of persona or identity in terms of surrendering those things that were not marine-like. whether that meant being femme anyone or whether that -- feminine or whether that meant, you know, things that were not considered in reg, for example, nail polish or makeup, you have to surrender those things because if you really want to get integrated into the marine corps, you just have to learn to
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be a marine. and that means not making excuses, not having any kind of behavior that's different from what's expected. and i found by surrendering that and letting go of things that i think after a while became kind of trivial to me, people accepted me as a marine, and they would look to me as a marine first before looking as a woman or a man or looking at me as that thing before a marine. >> host: really? because in the book you talk about when, for example, you were over in kuwait and iraq, and you were surprised at one point that men kind of were ogling some of the women. [laughter] so how can you say i was accepted as a marine when even one of your superiors said these are guys, hello, you're a woman. they haven't seen something like this in a long time because they've been stuck out here. [laughter] >> guest: there's always that. you can't become your cookie cutter marine just like that. the fact is i'm a female, so they're always going to see me as a female too. >> host: and did that hinder you
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in trying to get your job done? do you really think they said this is a marine, or do you think at least initially, oh, my god, this is a woman? the. [laughter] and it wasn't until they gained your trust, i mean, i would assume, maybe it's a wrong assumption, that guy to guy marine probably assume they're going to watch my back from the very beginning. but, oh, my god, now here's my partner, and she is a woman. >> guest: yeah. i think there's definitely a testing phase when another marine gets to know you. and so i think, you know, initially people are always like, okay, i don't know what to expect. is she going to ask for special favors? is she going to, you know, expect me to help her or what not? but, you know, i think once you prove that you are going to do the job, people accept you as that, and it takes maybe a little bit for them to start thinking of you not just as a, you know, female, but think of you as, okay, this is a marine and accept you as that. i remember some very candid
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discussions with some fellow lieutenants of mine who said, you know, i forget that you're a female sometimes when they're discussing, you know, taboo topics usually and then they'll pop back in like, oh, my god, i shouldn't be saying that in front of you. i'm like, no, i'm just one of the marines here. >> host: okay. so that's the woman thing. there's other, as with any good writing and, again, i've got to tell you this is really some superb writing. i really enjoyed reading this. so there's several stories going through there. you're talking about being an unmanned air vehicle you're in charge of, basically, what most people -- they may know but it's not traditional, it's new at the time in particular at the beginning of the iraq war. it's where we fly these unmanned vehicle over the area of the battlefield either to get reconnaissance or to figure out what's going on ahead or
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actually overhead as we see an engagement of troops and then getting that, seeing that and getting that information back to the person on the ground so that he knows the enemy's, you know, just over the ridge and be ready to shoot, or he knows there's a convoy coming or, hey, there are too many enemy troops in front of us, we've got to go and hide someplace for a while. not that marines would hide, but you know what i'm talking about. [laughter] way overwhelmed. so that is combat, wouldn't you say? you are, basically, you are seeping the big picture -- seeing the big picture of what's going on. that's unusual. you said we'll use it more in the future, but you were on the cutting edge of doing that. and you were also, you department know, did you, you didn't know whether you were actually going to get to see, going to participate. you had trained for this, you're there, you're move ago group that does this, but there's this whole thing about what do we do, we have women in our unit?
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talk a little bit about that because it's sort of a theme going through the book. >> guest: yeah, you know, okay. well, first of all, i joined the marine corpses during peacetime, so there was certainly understanding that i would never really go to combat according to what i had heard from the recruiters and other people that, oh, yeah, you're going to say the oath, but, you know, in all honesty you're going to be in some support unit. but when i said the oath, i really took that seriously, and i thought, well, you know, if i have to go to combat, i said the oath, and i'm going to do my duty and do that. so come when was it, november of 2002 my unit starts spinning up with this idea of, oh, we're going to go to iraq. and my commanding officer that i mention in the book this story, but he pulls the two female officers, myself and the other female aside, and be he says look, by order of congress you guys are not allowed to go with us, you know, to combat to iraq because we're going to be pushing ahead of the infantry, and we're doing some very
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untraditional operations which are going to put us ahead of the ground forces. he said, look, i'm going to fight for you guys, i'm going to see what i can do, but identify told higher -- i've told higher headquarters that of the 13 females that would go, the unit was not going to be effective without the females. one of these females was a pilot for the drones, we had other females who were in very important support functions. and so they formed the backbone of the unit in every section, you know, of communications. so without them we were really going to be sort of a skeleton crew. so my co who was great said, look, i'm going to push for it as best as i can. i'm going to get you guys to kuwait, and we'll see what happens. if i have to lee you in -- leave you in kuwait, so be it, but we're all going to kuwait. get to kuwait, and they sort of
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forget about us. [laughter] >> host: what do you mean? >> guest: well, the war's about to kick off, and they don't have people to replace us. i guess they realized they sort of had to leave us in place. we were not going to be effective without us being in that unit. so as a result of that when we got the order for the war to kick off, we were ready to go. and then it dawns on me, wow, okay, i guess i'm going to combat. i guess i'm going to iraq. and i was actually happy for it because i wanted to be with the unit, of course, and do the mission. and i think all of the females were expected and excited about that idea of going with the unit and glad that we had sort of been forgotten about. [laughter] >> host: it was a crazy time. i remember because we had a vote in the congress about whether we would go to iraq or not, and that happened in october right before the november election. so you find yourself up there in november, and we're sort of like
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sitting around, sitting around, sitting around trying to figure out what we're going to do and, of course, we launch in march. um, so you find yourself in iraq. give us a little bit of what that felt like. did you wake up every morning with adrenaline going? did you have your gun with you all the time? um, oh, and by the way, the second story going on through that is that your husband, peter, is also a marine. [laughter] and he's gone already into iraq. so you're in kuwait, he's in iraq. you're in iraq, you don't know where he is. you talk to us about the day that you actually did get to see him and what happened. >> guest: allall right. well, so i think for my book there's kind of two stories. it's kind of a love story, too, because my husband and be i got married right before we went to iraq. >> host: you wanted a big wedding and everything, and then you realize, oh, holy gosh. >> guest: yeah. we had planned it for may of
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2003 which, needless to say, was not a good date after all. so we ended up postponing everything, and his unit launched ahead of mine, and they deployed sometime in very early job. so we had gotten married two weeks before, and we didn't know how we were going to communicate because i had his address, but he didn't, he wasn't going to have my address, so there thereo way for him to get letters to me. so we spent the first couple months we were both deployed really having no way of communicating, so there was the expectation of, gee, i hope maybe i'll see him out there in kuwait or iraq somehow. but i had some good units in some higher headquarters who sort of kept me informally -- >> host: where he was moving around. >> guest: exactly. they let me know, well, his unit is over here. and, you know, i just prayed i didn't hear any news of anything bad about that unit because there was just no way to really know what was going on with his unit or him at all. so it was weird because at the same time i was a spouse and
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trying to grapple with the feelings of, oh, i'm a newlywed, and i really miss my husband, but i have a mission to do, so i can't think about him right now. i have to focus on what i'm doing here. and, so it was hard at that point, especially being newly married, i think. it was, i felt, wow, you know, what happens if we're killed, and i never even really get to know my husband at all? >> host: that happens to a lot of people anymore. >> guest: it does, yes, it does. so imagine in world war ii, for example, all those couples who got married right before our men went off -- most of them men -- went off to d-day, we just passed d-day just about ten days ago, for example, the anniversary of. >> guest: yeah. >> host: and be so there was a lot of that going on. at least today we have something other than just snail mail coming across on ships and everything. we have e-mail, we have phone, we have, you know, we have
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better chance to communicate. but, so what happened on the day that you saw your husband actually in kuwait -- in iraq? >> guest: the day i saw him was before we kicked off going into iraq. >> host: okay. so you were in kuwait. and he was also. >> guest: yes. because, you know, i had the privilege through my job of actually going to some meetings near where his unit was located. but after going to some of those meetings, his unit was always off doing some sort of exercise, and we had failed to meet several times, and i had left a note for him. so he kind of knew he was looking for me, and i was able to pass my mailing address to him. so we'd write these ridiculous letters on the envelope, unit-to-unit mail in huge letters so they wouldn't route it back to the united states and then back again. they were sending it to the united states and come back so it would take a month instead of two weeks. >> host: it's like when you lose your baggage on an airline.
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[laughter] >> guest: exactly. but we saw each other, and it was really great. it's hard to describe it as romantic -- >> host: the tell us about, that was funny. i started laughing when you discussed it this there. [laughter] >> guest: but, um, you know, my husband, he took one of the humvees, and we drove over to the area that was the front lines of where we were, and we just sort of looked out into the desert and both realized kind of the absurdity of sitting there looking over into iraq and just what was going to be in front of us, both knowing that we were soon going to cross that threshold into iraq was really interesting, and be, um, like something out of a movie. >> host: surreal. >> guest: yeah, it was very surreal. >> host: now, before -- when your husband left first, i have to admit that you were at 29 palms, and you don't give it a very good rating, by the way. i'm a californian and, you know,
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i'm out there in orange county, 29 palms is just about an hour and a half to the east of us, and, of course, we have camp pendleton to the south of us. [laughter] you weren't very nice to california talking about how it was a big desert, but we can put everybody out there, and they can train in more like circumstances of what they're going to see in the an iraq or an afghanistan. so you're living out there, you just got married, you bought a house, you're hanging out, your husband leaves, he leaves you a letter. he leaves you a letter and say if i die, open this up. i'm not going to tell people what that said, i think they should get the book and read it, but did you ever open that letter? >> guest: well, not until iraq. but i definitely felt like opening it many times. but, you know, i kept it because i wanted something to look forward to when i needed to read it. so i kind of left it as a last resort type of thing, you know,
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open when needed. it was sort of a bedrock of holding me while i was in iraq. so it was kind of a nice gesture on his part to just leave me with something i felt knowing i would be following him soon after into kuwait and iraq. >> host: great. so it is a long story, you're still with your husband, everything's good, everything's worked out. um, being in iraq. and ordering what you knew looking and seeing and ordering, telling people, okay, you've got to go and, basically, drop bombs on these guys or do something to the enemy. you're one of the first to do that as a woman. how did that feel? >> guest: yeah. you know, well, first of all, you know, killing in itself is something that is a moral decision that i think every, every combatant has to grapple with, you know, the idea of am i ready to kill, and what are the
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moral results of that and how it's going to effect you afterwards. and be there's some great books out there, like, on killing by grossman that talks about the effects of killing on, you know, on a person and what that means and the results afterwards of grappling with that. so, you know, part of that is through the lens of the unmanned aerial vehicle when we were calling for fire on iraqis there's a certain level of distance that you feel that, you know, okay, there are live down there, but i'm not looking at them in the eye staring at them face to face. and so at the same time you feel like because you can see the big picture, okay, i know that that unit is about to call for fire with their artillery on friendly forces on the marines that are coming down the road. so it's my job the protect them. and so i felt very much throughout the war and in iraq that my job was sort of as the
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protecteress of the forces. >> host: getting back to the title of the book, "hesitation kills." if you see something and you know they're either going to order the kill or you're going to order the kill. >> guest: exactly. right, you only have a moment to decide this, and be you have to think beforehand what am i going to do in this situation? you don't have time on the battlefield to discuss those issues or think about them or grapple with them, you need to think about them before and execute because you only have moments sometimes, and it could be at the risk of someone else's life or greater casualtieses. or, you know, risk putting your own unit at risk as well. >> host: talk about the day you were going to go up to an area where there was a lot of activity, and that might have put you a lot more in a mano a mano situation. and you didn't go up, and you heard the next day that -- or the fuel truck didn't come. so you didn't go up.
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and someone else did ahead of you. >> guest: yes. >> host: and, um, how did you feel about that? because they really did what you might have been doing. >> guest: yeah. you know, that moment was probably, i think, what my unit talks about the most as being the hardest moment. um, i've talked to my co, commanding officer, since then, and we've kept in touch and be also my sergeant major, and we talk about this particular moment a lot because, you know, had we gone through the area that was right when pfc lynch was going through that critical area when there was unexpected amounts of forces fighting against our unit and, basically, our units became entrenched in that area, and be it turns out there was a lot more combat than they had expected. so we were initially supposed to push through that area and go up north and launch our uav from that area so we could look as the ground forces came forward
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so we would be in advance of them and be able to, you know, see what the threats were. but we were hearing, strangely enough, on the bbc radio that that area was just being lit up. >> host: lit up, what does that mean? >> guest: oh, sorry. [laughter] >> host: i know what it means, but what does that mean for our viewers? >> guest: they were just being attacked by the iraqi forces. they were being met with armored units and very strong resistance and unexpected amounts of, um, of really iraqi armored unit forces that were entrenched. >> host: so you could have been there. and be instead what happened? >> guest: well, we were waiting, our uav required a certain kind of fuel, so before we were able to go forward we had to tibet this fuel -- get this fuel which was aviation gas. so in order for us to fly the uavs we had to get it. so before we could get the
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truck, we kept waiting, and the fuel truck never came. so we had an order to go forward, but we couldn't go anywhere without this fuel truck. >> host: so jessica lynch and others went that day. >> guest: exactly. >> host: and, of course, we know what happened with her. and the end of the story with jessica lynch, did you have any involvement with that? >> guest: we flew the uavs for that mission, flying over the hospital when they were doing the pfc lynch rescue. so we got to watch the whole thing from the lens of the -- at least from the rooftop. and we also did the scout out beforehand. so we were flying over looking for critical nodes or indications where lynch -- >> host: signs that she might be there -- >> guest: exactly. >> host: to collaborate information we had heard from others. >> guest: exactly. >> host: because that's what we try to do, for example, when we went after ow sam ma bin laden -- osama bin laden in
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pakistan, we actually had heard he was there maybe a couple years before, but you really have to fine tune and continue to look for information that corroborates the story that people are telling you so you have a high chance that, in fact, that does happen there, right? so if you send troops in, you're really going after an osama bin laden, or you're really going in to get jessica lynch. >> guest: exactly. part of the information pulled from our flyovers of the city indicated that she was in the city, so we were part of the collaborative effort that resulted in her rescue. you know, and, actually, i think that is, i think, one of the shining moments of our squadron did, but a lot of -- my marines were spectacular. they were able to look at this imagery, analyze it and see things that i couldn't understand in that. but they just did a phenomenal job. and, you know, thanks to them they really saved so many lives on both sides, really. the their great effort that led
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to, you know, just huge success for the marines. >> host: you and i have some other things in common. your mother is puerto rican -- >> guest: yes. >> host: so you are part latina, if you will. do you know spanish? >> guest: unfortunately not. to the great embarrassment of my mother. [laughter] >> host: do you understand it at all. >> guest: a little bit. >> host: and you know arabic because you spent some time in egypt, and i did also when i was younger, and i studied arabic when i was in school. did the knowledge of other languages help you in iraq or kuwait? >> guest: absolutely. after high school i traveled for about a year and a half, and it was during the gulf war i started off in greece, and then to my parents' unhappiness, i went over to the middle east and lived in egypt and israel and jordan, um, specifically during that time period.
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so in terms of just the cultural knowledge that i accumlated but also just some language skills too, i fell in love with the middle east from a very early age. probably due to just studying history as looking through and looking at all the art from the egyptians and history. but, um, so my love of the middle east then led me to study further, and before my unit went to iraq, i became the sort of cultural expert and taught some chats to the marines -- classes to the marines on appropriate behavior around muslims and just about, you know, the culture as a whole. and part of that was also some arabic, the language of some familiarization classes for them. and so a group of us, we started studying more of the language, and, um, i became the unit interrogator/translator, basically, just the person who
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would manage whenever an iraqi would talk to them. on several occasions we were able to deescalate violence that could have resulted if no one was able to talk to them and find out why and what they were doing. >> host: how much time did you spend in iraq? >> guest: um, i spent a deployment, early on i don't know how many months it turned out, but certainly the amount of time that people are deploying today. you know, people are going for a year and a half now. >> host: well, marines originally, as i recall, we would put them in for six to nine months fending on what mos or depending on what they were actually doing for us there. and, of course, army boots on the ground actually in iraq originally we had them in there for about 15 months or so. we've with now cut them back to a year, but it's still a long time. it's a long time to be in war. talk to me a little bit about,
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because you discuss it a little bit in the book, about being at war all the time, every day, and then coming back to the united states and how you go from that situation to deescalating in a sense your body and your mental state and everything to be able to flush back in to regular life? >> guest: yeah. t certainly an adjustment, and i really feel for the soldiers, marines, you know, service members who have a hard time adjusting back because it is an adjustment. and when you're in that alpha mode kind of i have to be alert to everything around me all the time, you develop a sort of mindset, it's a very aggressive mindset of looking for threats constantly around you. and so when you come back to america, you're still sort of in that mindset, and it's very hard to, you know, just relax and, you know, for me crowds were
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really hard. i couldn't get near a crowd. i still have some phobias about crowds and what not. but -- >> host: because in iraq if there was a crowd, there was a likelier problem of maybe somebody doing something to you, hiding within that crowd. >> guest: absolutely. you have no control in a crowd. you don't know what's going to happen, you know, if it's going to escalate into a mob type scene. your mind triggers back to, okay, can i control the situation i'm in? do i know where all the threats are around me? and so, you know, even coming back i think there's the possibility of, okay, what's the situation around me, where's -- are there any threats? and i still think that way a little bit, so you're never completely out of that -- >> host: and as a marine i know this is a hard question to ask, i'm not going to ask about you specifically, but as a marine when they come back, i mean, you're supposed to be macho, you're supposed to be able to
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reintegrate, and what we're finding more and more because we work with our healthy soldiers in the programs at camp pendleton, i mean, sometimes you really need to go over and talk to somebody or get a plan of how you deescalate. do you see more marines doing that now, or do you think there's still the i'm strong, nothing's wrong, i'm going to be able to do this on my own? is. >> guest: yeah. i think people are starting to ask for help, and there's not as much of a, um, sort of -- people aren't looked at badly anymore for asking for help because it's something that effects everyone differently. i've seen people try and get over posttraumatic stress disorder or even just the trauma of being a combat situation in very different ways. everyone has different coping mechanisms. writing the book was actually very cathartic for me. you know, i got it all out, i said it, i felt like it really helped me quite a bit.
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but, you know, i saw marines who were dramatically affected from within my own unit, and it was really sad. some people became very withdrawn, others turned to drugs, some had violent acts, and, you know, it's just unfortunate because i think if people just reached out for help, no up with's going to really look at them -- no one's going to look at them as being weak. people need to take care of themselves, and there are great programs for people who take care of themselves now. and, you know, i wish that marines and, you know, any service member would take advantage of those opportunities because, um, life shouldn't be a burden. you shouldn't have to live with those memories all the time and think that there's a constant threat towards you all the time. it's just not -- [laughter] >> host: okay. now to something funny. [laughter] so in the book you have several instances where enlisted don't
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know that you're they're superior. tell me about one of those instances, and how do you overcome that? how do you overcome the fact, you know, i think early on in the book you said something to the effect that one of the marines said to you, i never salute women. [laughter] >> guest: yeah. um, well, i look very young, and especially then i looked really young, so i -- >> host: you look very young, by the way. [laughter] >> guest: well, back then even more so. so it was always kind of strange. like, i remember when i was in the kuwaiti airport, there was a master sergeant, a very senior enlisted marine with his friends on the side, and he came over to me, and he's like, ma'am, how old are you? i mean, he saw my rank, so he knew i had to at least be 22, and i think i was 29 at the time. and, you know, i said, you know, i'm 29. and be he said, you know, you look like you're 16. but, i mean, he didn't say it in a wad way, he -- bad way, he
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just was so surprised that i looked so young in uniform. >> host: so, but any instances where, you were, they were just downright not very nice? tell us, what's been an instance where somebody's mistreated you or when you've outranked them, and, of course, you know, that's taboo in the military. i mean, you're always looking out of the corner of your eye checking out the insignia and trying to figure out what your pecking order is. >> guest: yeah. i think sometimes, maybe not so much anymore, but people will try to gaffe off an officer and walk by them and see if they can get away without saluting. >> host: what do you do in that case? >> guest: you go up to them and say, you know, i'm an officer, and some kind of respect would be nice. and let them know, hey, i rate a salute just like any other officer. and so, i mean, there's this culture still existing like that, but it's a small minority, and be, um, you know, those aren't your good marines really,
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they're just marines who don't -- >> host: who haven't reached that and getting out for the education benefits. >> guest: exactly. >> host: don't really understand the importance of being in the corps. >> guest: right. and it's not even a female/male thing or an officer acting superior, it's a custom and courtesy of the military. and so, you know, part of that is rendering a salute to officers. and so i never let anyone get away with anything. [laughter] >> guest: and do they -- >> host: to they, do they bristle at the fact that you go over to them and say, hey, i'm an officer, and you dissed me right now? >> guest: no, you know, thankfully throughout my time in the corpses i had some great leaders, one of the people i respect most was colonel lawless. he was one of my fest -- first commanding officers. and i remember particularly when e was a young -- i was a young
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private first class straight out of boot camp, enlisted, he came up to me, shook my hand and treated me like i was some important officer. and i always remember throughout my time knowing him and looking at his leadership that he treated everyone with such respect no matter what rank you were. and i always try to follow his example all the time of being respectful. and if there was a, something that i saw wrong in another marine, i would correct them, but in a respectful way, not in a way that would put them down. hey, everyone has faults and sometimes it's just a matter of correcting it, and try and correct it in a constructive way. because i know that correcting it in a nonconstructive way doesn't help anyone. and people would respond to that and, generally, you know, i would get a sorry or, you know, apologize for something. >> host: what about there was another woman officer in your unit, and she just couldn't wait to get out. [laughter] explain that. i mean, yeah, here you come, and you're a new-minted second
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lieutenant, and you're coming over, and you're excited, and be you're patriotic, and you're starting to get that there's this real thing about being a marine, and you're excited to do your job and everything, and the first day you run into her, and she's like, can't wait to get the heck out of here. [laughter] so what happens to her in that situation, and why? why such the, you know -- >> guest: yeah. >> host: what was the difference in the way you found the corps and the way she found being a marine. >> guest: you know, i think the separating factor and why sometimes people decide to get out is because you have to decide whether you're going to integrate and sort of accept that marine-like spirit in you. and is if you hold on to facets of your life that are not marine-like, i mean, for example, she's a lovely person, but she just didn't want the gung ho type of lifestyle. she at no time want to be the, you know -- didn't want to be the ubertough female.
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she didn't want to emulate around or become that. so for her it seemed like it was always a struggle to get accepted or just be accepted at face value whereas for me i was constantly pushing it like, hey, you know, i demanded that sort of respect because for me it was important to be a marine, and it was important to do my job and sort of be the officer and the leader for the marines doing this mission that i felt was very important. not that she didn't. she was very competent officer and everything. but for her, i mean, she had enough. she just saw that it wasn't for her, she didn't want to aspire to that type of model. >> host: and to another question that i have because, of course, i've been fighting. i want to mba school, and one of the first unspoken lessons you learn is if you're not in charge of the bottom line of a company be, you're not going to be a
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ceo. if you're in charge of human resources, they're not going to consider you. if you're in charge of the manufacturing, of the making the cars, of the bottom line, of the profit and loss of that, you have a shot at being ceo. the marines, their number one duty is combat. so here we are, and by the way, the congress does not -- it's not a congressal law, it's not a law that passed that says that a woman can't be in combat. we actually in 2005 said the department of defense gets to decide that. it's the policy of the department of defense, and that's why when we were talking earlier about this is some l looking at our mos and other things that need to be moved. so the congress in 2005 initially in 1973 the congress said no women in combat in these particular areas. but in 2005 we changed that, and we said, listen, department of defense, you decide, but if you're going to change and
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supposedly maybe congress will stop you, but it really is the dod's policy of -- right now. so they are looking at that. but, you know, how do you -- so if you're a woman and you don't get to go to combat even if you're already there like jessica lynch was, i mean, i would say that's there. like ruby was, like you were. then, you know, one of the generals said one day this is the reason why we're never going to have three and four star women as generals because if you're not in charge of combat or you can't say you've been in combat when you move up the chain and you're competing, because it's a move up or get out kind of thing with the officers. part of what the marines is really about the guy's going to get promoted over you. so how do we change that? what do we do about that? how do you react to that?
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>> guest: yeah. it's, of course, a difficult issue because women are excluded from a lot of jobs in the military. i mean, combat roles, essentially, and that means offensive ground operation units such as infantry, artillery, armored units, things like that. and it creates, of course, a vacuum that women can reach a certain plateau, and it's very hard to get promoted after that because they can't get any of those experiences. >> host: would you say we should let them? should we change it? and what would be saying we're going to put different standard for women who want to move forward on those? how would you -- first of all, would you? the would you allow women to do some of that? would you broaden their ability to have combat experience, and what kind of help or what kind of change would you make so that you could insure that at least some women could be in those
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ranks? >> guest: yeah. well, as you said, dod is looking at those issues right now, and be they're going to be able to assess the best way of really thinking if women can get integrated into those roles. from a personal perspective, i think women are capable of meeting those i missions on many fronts such as the female engagement team or civil awares, that there should be certain allocations for women in these slots. >> host: do you want to see three and four-star general women? >> guest: absolutely. but i don't want to do it at the cost of lowering physical standards. i do think that they should look through the different jobs and determine, hey, what's the physical standard necessary to do this job because it's not just women who might not be able to meet it, but, you know, i've also heard stories about an officer who gets 100-pound guy which his unit and says, oh, he can't lift the 100-pound shell that weighs the same as him so
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now he can't do his job even though he is technically qualified to do his job. so it's not just women. actually, making a physical standard for each job would put the most effective and right people in that job whether women or men. >> host: yeah. i've always said that, um, not every man makes a good soldier. not every woman makes a good soldier. but if a woman can meet the standards and she wants to do it, then why are we holding her back from trying? >> guest: absolutely. >> host: we're putting that artificial piece on it. okay. so my next question is out of all the stories you told in this book, um, there were several in which were real dicey. when you were in iraq or kuwait, what was your most troubling or most difficult situation that you came across? >> guest: well, you know, ooh. there were so many. [laughter]
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>> host: we don't want to give them all away. we want people to why the book. >> guest: actually, the beginning was hardest because i was just beginning to grapple with the idea of when we were still, actually, in kuwait, grabbing with the idea of suddenly i was in combat even in kuwait. so when the scud missiles started tibeting launched, we thought they were coming right towards us because we would get these notices that said, oh, scud inbounds. and we were trying to plot it where it was going to land, and we'd hear the patriot missiles firing back. suddenly i'm, like, in combat and there's gas alerts going off. so that was hard. and be especially because, you know, i had to control the mission at the same time in terms of looking at what the threat was. and there were some very critical things we were doing at that time which was we were looking out at the oil wells and determining if there was any
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deliberate damage on behalf of the iraqi forces. because that was the indication that we were going to launch the ground war. so our unit was tasked with this mission of keeping an eye out of this whole southern rebel. >> host: so you're starting the war, is what you're saying. >> guest: basically, i didn't, my marines did. [laughter] but, you know, i had this really savvy, smart marine, sergeant, and he was just great at looking at the imagery, so calm. and he just said matter-of-factly to me, he said, ma'am, i think there's some damage on one of the oil wells. and i knew that once we said that and put that out there, something was going to happen. so i asked him, are you sure that's what we're seeing? he was very methodical. he said, no, i don't want to say that. so we went back and looked at some other oil well withs out there, and sure enough we saw think about damage where fires
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were being lit off, gas explosions, things like that. so when we reported that back to higher headquarters, they immediately came back, and they said within five minutes, ten minutes, okay, we're going to launch the ground war early. [laughter] >> host: so here's a question. you know, when i started on the armed services committee 15 years ago when i first got the congress i don't think woman, one of three on the committee out of 53 members, now, of course, i'm the most senior, third in line for the democrats. when we first started that, we would actually have a vote on an annual basis for the first two or three years to just get rid of women in the mill care. and on that armed services committee some democrats and almost all republican would vote to connect the women out -- kick the women out. it wasn't until we brought it to
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the house floor that we would put women back in the military. so even 15 years ago women are just a problem in the military. so my question to you is do you think, and how do you think the role of women in iraq and afghanistan today, young that's change -- do you think that's changing the mind maybe not of the american public because they tonight see it so much, but the minds of our military leaders as they see women perform? >> guest: absolutely. um, i was surprised to see what women were capable of. i mean, i had stereotypes and expectations before i went into the military of whether i was capable of doing it or not, and be i was surprised at women's capabilities, actually, both in boot camp and officer candidacy school of what i was capable of and what other women were capable of. and just seeing that on many occasions we could compete with
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the men. you know, maybe we had some fess call limitations, but as a whole we were doing the same type of training that they were doing. and that carried forward to our military units, too, that we would be integrated training from after boot camp where we would conduct missions the same way they would and go through the same exercises and training and everything. and i was always surprised at women's capabilities, and not only that, you know, having served later as a marine at tab shay and working with foreign militaries i was surprised, also, how positive i was received. and that it was an unexpected thing for them. when i was in jordan, for example, i was the first woman to serve in that capability, that capacity. and, um, but people were very receptive of it, and initial hi they had some hesitation about
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putting me this that role. but, you know, it had opened doors for what women can do, and i think it's fantastic because women have, bring to the table, um, in terms of diplomacy or civil affairs, you know, that are different than men. and i think it's just like any other field. you can't take women out of the equation. >> host: well, 50% of our population are more than, so, you know, we're fright. if you're just saying no limit at all, then you're taking away the pool from which we can draw our very best. ing? absolutely. and, you know, i was never a huge advocate for women in combat before -- >> host: what about sexual harassment? in the military? did you see it? have you seen it? did you see it in iraq? is it coming down? the is it going up? >> guest: this is an issue i get asked about a lot, and my in my
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own personal experience i haven't seen much of it, although i do know it it happens. when i have seen it i've dealt with it swiftly and effectively where the officers in charge will carry out the equal opportunity policy and insure that it's complies with as soon as possible. so, you know, it happens in civilian life, too, not just in the military. and whenever you put men and women together, i think t bound to happen. but the strange thing is, and i feltless discriminated against in the military than i did the civilian capability. you know, i worked in some companies before i went into the military and also, then, a contracting company after the military. and i was we'll surprised to finish i was really surprised to
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find people treated me more like a woman than this military where people sort of treated me hike a -- like a marine first and a woman second. there is a role for women in the military, a positive role. i have read so many books that portrayed women as always have a negative experience, i and i know there's a positive thing that can come out of there as well. >> host: great. so your research now is one of the toughest things to do because it's all about shoving paper around. if you can tibet past major -- get past major, lieutenant general, you're doing great. "hesitation quills," okay, you've had a good experience, it's also a love story, as you indicated before. i hope people will read it. peter, your husband, um, if you have a girl, let's say you have
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a babe and i by and you have a girl, would you tell her, yeah, t okay to go into the military? it's a good career? if you want to be a marine, be a marine, be all that you can be? is that finish would that -- what would you say to your daughter if she came to you one day and said, mom, i want to be a marine. and we have about a minute left. >> guest: i'd probably train her to shoot. [laughter] but that's just me. >> host: is there enough training? [inaudible] very quick. >> guest: no, it's exactly the same training. >> host: okay. so you felt good going in, and if you had a daughter who wanted to be a marines, you'd have already taught her how to shoot, and away she'd go. [laughter] a proud mom of -- thank you for
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writing "hesitation kills," and i hope viewers will pick up a copy and read it because i really found it incredibly great. >> guest: thank you so much, ma'am. it's been an honor. >> host: thank you. >> that was "after words," booktv's signature program in which authors of the latest nonfiction books are interviewed by journalists, public policymakers, legislators and others familiar with their material. "after words" airs every weekend on booktv at 10 p.m. on saturday, 12 and 9 p.m. on sunday and 12 a.m. on monday. you can also watch "after words" online. go to and click on after words in the book series and topic list on the upper right side of the page. spend next weekend in charleston, south carolina, with booktv and american history tv and get a behind the scenes look at the history and literary life of one of america's oldest


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