Back in August 1993, when Colin Powell was getting ready to retire as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Lawrence Korb made a bold plea on the op-ed page of The New York Times: "Isn't it time to select a woman as chairwoman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? Or at least to join the other five chiefs as a member of the club?"
Korb had been an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, and he acknowledged that—with a ban on women in ground combat and no four-star women in the U.S. military—his suggestion was a long shot. "Some people told me I was off my rocker," he recalled recently.
But he argued that the job of the chairman, as the principal military adviser to the President, was more about navigating the world of politics than commanding troops on the battlefield. "A woman would bring special experience to the military's top position," Korb argued. "An institution trying to grapple with such issues as sexual harassment and women in combat could profit from a leader who has walked through some of those minefields."