Women in combat, clean energy regulations in crosshairs of conservative caucus

Women may lose their short-lived role in military combat positions if the Trump administration lends its ear to the conservative Freedom Caucus’s new report.

A Dec. 15 list of regulations the group would like Trump to repeal within his first 100 days include six highly partisan suggestions for the Defense Department.

The report asks Trump to revoke DoD’s policy of opening all combat positions to women, which went into effect last December.

Some Republicans have been critical of women in combat positions since a handful of top generals spoke against it before the policy was enacted.

The 2017 defense authorization bill almost carried a provision that required women to register for the draft.

Prominent military officials, including Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, said women should be drafted now that they are eligible for combat roles.

Since the 2015 policy, two women have completed Army Ranger School, a highly rigorous training program for elite soldiers.

The list also suggests nixing a handful of environmental regulations within the military and DoD. The list wants to do away with the provision requiring DoD to buy some alternative fuel sources, it also wants to get rid of the DoD Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program and limits the Army Corps of Engineer’s Environmental Protection Agency’s jurisdiction over waters.

The DoD Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program authorizes environmental labs to perform testing in support of DoD restoration programs for operations, activities and installations.

As far as alternative fuels go, the Freedom Caucus claims “oil products may be expensive, but they are the least expensive option currently available. Forcing the military to purchase more expensive alternatives would leave fewer resources for training, modernization, and recapitalization, resulting in a less capable military.”

However, the military worked for years and published numerous reports about its need to move away from fossil fuels in order to operate in future wars.

DoD is the nation’s largest energy user. While it is partly taking an environmentally conscientious approach to fuel sources, DoD realizes the cost and supply of fossil fuels will not always be feasible in the future.

In addition, the department has been planning for the effects of global warming, including scarce water resources, increased conflict zones and rising water levels.

The Navy’s Great Green Fleet is one of the military’s more symbolic alternative energy users.

GGF is an initiative to push the Navy toward its energy saving goals. Those goals include using alternative energy sources for 50 percent of the Navy’s energy consumption, reducing non-tactical petroleum use and evaluating energy factors when awarding contracts for systems and buildings.

It includes a carrier strike group, which uses alternative fuels such as nuclear power and a blend of advanced biofuel made from beef fat and gas.

Not everyone is convinced though. Brian Slattery, a policy analyst at Heritage Foundation, said DoD’s strategy should be guided by what is making it the most capable military to defend U.S. interests.

Slattery said he is concerned green policies could cloud DoD’s judgment.

“It’s kind of like putting climate change on top of the things the Department of Defense is already doing. If anything, it will just be further emphasis on considerations that … planners in the military are already taking into consideration,” Slattery said.

The recommendations also want Trump to stop the creation of the Transit Asset Management System, a database “to monitor and manage public transportation capital assets to achieve and maintain a state of good repair, improve safety, and increase reliability and performance,” according to the Federal Register announcement.

New Members

Freedom Caucus members aren’t the only lawmakers making news this week. Notably liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will join the Senate Armed Services Committee next year.

Warren tweeted that cybersecurity will be one of her top issues on the committee. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) promised to hold a series of hearings on cybersecurity in 2017.

Warren is known for her fiery altercations with bankers on the Senate Finance Committee.

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