Military Advantage

Op Ed: Women are Remaking the Face of our National Security

k-granger-70x88By Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) The United States faces a diverse array of threats to its national security in these increasingly dangerous times. I am proud that women are playing a vital role in working to make our country safe, strong and confident on the world’s stage. Combat roles are starting to be made open to women, and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter recently announced that Air Force General Lori Robinson has been nominated to head the U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM). General Robinson will be the first woman to ever head a combatant command. She has been serving under Air Force Secretary Deborah James, who is only the second woman to serve as a military service chief. While these women are changing perceptions in military roles, women have been leading the way for some time in our nation’s defense industries. Women hold just four percent of the CEO positions on Fortune 500 companies, but in the defense industry a large number of the top jobs are held by women. As the Vice Chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, a Subcommittee I have served on for 10 years, and the Chairman of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, which I have been at the helm of for the last eight years, I have witnessed firsthand the challenges women face as leaders in the defense community, and their successes in meeting those challenges. Marillyn Hewson, the chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin, has overseen development of some of the world’s most sophisticated weapons systems during her three-year tenure. She is known for her self-reliance, a trait which she learned from her mother who raised five children on her own. Prior to becoming CEO, Hewson served in 18 < different leadership positions over more than 30 years at Lockheed. Every step of the way, she showed her talent and ability to make the most of any opportunity she was given. One of the top challenges Hewson has faced is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, which is a critical program to ensure that the U.S. maintains air superiority and dominance in the 21st century. When the future was uncertain for the F-35 program, Hewson had the vision to appoint Lorraine Martin as the program’s general manager in 2013. As a result of the work by these leaders, criticism of the program has been reduced and we are moving forward with confidence to bring the F-35 into our fighting force. Since 2013, Phebe Novakovic has served as CEO of General Dynamics. Not long after she took over the top job, General Dynamics faced a $2 billion loss and the company’s stock was sinking in value. Novakovic spoke candidly about the company’s problems and the measures that would be taken to fix them. Thanks to her honesty and authenticity, General Dynamics’ stock rallied and wound up 50 cents higher than the previous day. I am fortunate to have a constituent, Della Williams, who was one of the few women in the defense industry when she founded Williams Pyro in my hometown of Fort Worth in 1963. Now named Williams R.D.M., it employs more than 100 people. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, Williams found that she often was not < listened to. She made up her mind to work harder than her male counterparts in order to build her reputation, even returning to work four days after giving birth to her third child when the company was doing support work on the development of the F-16 fighter. The latest woman to join the ranks of top leaders in defense is Leanne Caret, who was named CEO of Defense, Space and Security at Boeing Company this month. Caret is another woman with a reputation for success at tough jobs. She took over leadership of the company’s work on the V-22 Osprey program when the unique tiltrotor aircraft was known for chronic problems. Working with co-producer Bell Helicopter in my District, Caret’s team has transformed the V-22 into the safest rotorcraft in the Marine Corps inventory. The company is beginning to make overseas sales, and the program is considered a Bell and Boeing success. These women leaders took on some of the toughest challenges in the defense industry and have brought practical, successful solutions to make their companies, and our nation, stronger. We are counting on these women to provide the tools for our national security, and I applaud them for their achievements and inspiration. They are proving that gender is not an issue in our modern world; what matters is what you do < with < the opportunities given to you.

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k-grangerCongresswoman Kay Granger is proud to represent Texas’ 12th congressional district, serving a community she has been an integral part of her entire life. Elected to her 10th term in 2014 by an overwhelming margin, Kay has earned her reputation in Congress as a hard-working, tough and < principled leader on the issues that matter most to the people she serves. Her legislative prowess and ability to get things done, < widely respected by both policy makers and influencers in Washington alike, led to her recognition by CQ’s Roll < Call as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Congress as based on her power and influence in the Republican party. Kay- a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution- returns home to the district nearly every weekend to meet with constituents in person and talk with them about what is going on in Washington. Kay attends the First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth and is the mother of three children and grandmother of five. She is an avid and accomplished painter, and enjoys being with her family during spare time. Show Full Article

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