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Miss USA, Army officer Deshauna Barber praises women in military

Ms. Barber, who represented the District of Columbia in the Miss USA 2016 pageant, is being praised for her thoughts on women in the military.

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    Miss District of Columbia Deshauna Barber appears during the 2016 Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas.
    Jason Ogulnik/Las Vegas Review-Journal/AP
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Deshauna Barber, an Army officer, IT analyst, and Miss USA contestant who represented the District of Columbia and became the winner, is being praised for her thoughts on women in the military. 

Ms. Barber discussed the issue during the interview portion of the competition. Joe Zee, a judge for the competition, asked her, “The Pentagon recently made the decision to open up all combat jobs to women. Now, some have questioned whether this has put political correctness over our military’s ability to perform at the highest level. What are your thoughts?” 

Barber, who also has multiple family members in the military, responded, “As a woman in the United States Army, I think it was an amazing job by our government to allow women to integrate to every branch of the military. We are just as tough as men. As a commander of my unit, I am powerful. I am dedicated. And it is important that we recognize that gender does not limit us in the United States Army.” 

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Barber is being praised not only for the views she holds about the jobs that should be held by woman but also for the way she expressed these thoughts. 

“[She] gave perhaps the strongest answer of the night,” Associated Press writer Sally Ho wrote, while CNN writer Tim Hume wrote that Barber “mount[ed] a strong defense of women in combat roles in the military.”

Barber’s comments come after the Pentagon announced at the end of 2015 that every combat role would be available for women. As noted by Monitor reporter Anna Mulrine, this means that women can now be Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, or Delta Force Operators. 

Recent studies conducted among special forces operators discovered that many members had various negative opinions about the decision, similar to those heard in the 1970s when the Navy discussed having women on board vessels.

Yet today, "the Navy is one of the most integrated military services," Ms. Mulrine wrote, noting that women were "'able to gradually convince the enlisted men that their roles were to achieve military missions.'"

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