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Sen. Graham: Female Rangers have earned the right to fight

By JAMES Q. LYNCH | The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa | Published: August 19, 2015

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (Tribune News Service) — If two women who have successfully completed the Army’s Ranger School are ready to go into combat, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham won’t stop them.

“They did something I couldn’t do. So who am I to tell them ‘no,’” the 2016 GOP presidential hopeful said about two women who are set to become the first female graduates of the training program at Fort Benning, Ga. Unlike their male counterparts, the women are not eligible to join the 75th Ranger Regiment that is considered an elite combat force.

This was the first time the Ranger School course has been open to women, and the Pentagon is reviewing its policies on women filling combat roles. A decision is expected later this year.

However, Graham convinced the women have earned the right to serve in a combat unit if they choose.

“Passing that program, going through the Ranger School and coming out successful is an amazing human feat,” Graham said while campaigning in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday evening. “So if these women want to go into war and protect my nation, as commander in chief, they’re ready to go, I’m ready to send them.”

That’s a turnabout for Graham, a third-term senator who retired earlier this year after 33 years in the Air Force.

“I have changed my mind, quite frankly,” he said. “They have earned the right to defend this country in the most dangerous fashion, which is being a ground soldier in combat.”

Graham acknowledged there have been questions about the effect on morale of women in combat units and that not all Americans may be ready to send women into combat.

“We’re all in this together,” Graham said. “ISIL (Islamic State) would kill everybody in America if they could get ahold of us. The fact that women want to go and fight radical Islam is a testament to American womanhood.”

If the women want to serve in combat, they could very well get the opportunity if Graham is elected president. He’s Graham is convinced the United States needs at least 10,000 ground troops in Iraq and Syria to “destroy the caliphate, pull it up by the roots.”

“If I could protect this nation without sending a soldier back to Iraq, I would, but I don’t know how,” Graham said, adding that airstrikes will not be enough to destroy the terrorists.

“If I’m president we’re going on the offensive,” he said at the monthly meeting of the Linn County Republican Central Committee. He would have the military “hold the ground until it’s safe to come home.”

“If we don’t get it right we’ll have another 9/11,” Graham said.

Addressing the nuclear agreement with Iran, Graham charged President Barack Obama “doesn’t know what he’s doing” and Secretary of State John Kerry “has no idea what he’s talking about.”

He called their agreement the “biggest miscalculation since Hitler,” referring to European nations’ appeasement policy toward the German dictator preceding World War II.

The agreement Kerry negotiated and Obama is asking Congress to approve gives radical jihadists “a pathway to a nuclear bomb,” Graham said.

Graham advised caucusgoers to take their first-in-the-nation role seriously.

“The next president will be chosen by the people of the United States,” he said. “Vote for a commander in chief worthy of the sacrifice of those who have served and will serve.

“Take care of them with your vote, because they are going to take care of you,” he said.

©2015 The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
Visit The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) at thegazette.com
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Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
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