With the news this week that a military commission has recommended that the Department of Defense eliminate policies excluding women from combat, as well as other “barriers and inconsistencies,” we were again reminded of the important role of Meg McLagan and Daria Sommers’ Lioness in raising awareness about the need to provide full recognition for women as combatants. The 2008 doc tells the story of the first group of women to be attached to combat arms units in Iraq as part of the “Lioness program” created by Army commanders serving in the Sunni Triangle in 2003-2004. In defense and veteran policy circles it has repeatedly been used as evidence for the urgent need to repeal the outdated combat exclusion policy.
Its impact has been huge. How many films can claim to have inspired legislation—a law that is even named after the film?
How did they do it? How did McLagan and Sommers coordinate the rollout of the film to get it before veterans, women’s groups, and Congress? The story is here, in a detailed report from the Lioness producers. It explains what they did, how they did it, and how their strategies worked out.