To Wreck a Military

In 1968, the U.S. Armed Forces numbered 3,500,000 troops. Of those, just over one percent were female. Back in 1948 Congress, by passing Public Law No. 625, had capped the number of military women at two percent of that total. Those who did wear uniforms were limited to a very small number of Military Occupation Specialties. No military woman could be deployed abroad against her will. The highest rank any woman could attain was that of colonel. However, change was in the air. As the War in Vietnam peaked, the Johnson administration feared, with very good reason, that trying to call up more men might meet with massive resistance. It might even lead to civil war. Casting about for a solution to the problem, one measure the military took was to try and attract more women. That was how the latter got their feet in the door.

The decision to admit more women proved to be the opening shot in the gender wars in the military. Supported by the courts, which consistently insisted on “equal rights,” throughout the 1970s and 1980s female service personnel demanded, and were granted, greater and greater rights. The more time passed, the less inclined the forces to resist their triumphant march and the more they tended to roll over at the first sign of a feminist demand. To note a few landmark decisions only, in 1976 the Service Academies were opened to women. In the same year, women retained the right to remain in the services even when they were pregnant and, as a consequence, unable to perform some of the jobs to which they were assigned. The 1991 Tailhook debacle represented the worst defeat of the U.S. Navy since Pearl Harbor. In the next year, President Bush's Commission for Women in Combat solemnly recommended that they not be allowed to participate in it. However, no sooner did President Clinton assume office than the decision was reversed. Women were allowed to fly combat aircraft, crew warships, and participate in ground operations down to the brigade level.

Even as the forces were feminized, they also became progressively smaller. By the time the Cold War ended, the number or troops was down to 2,050,000. Of those, about 8.5 percent were female. Later, the number of troops was cut even further, to 1,400,000. As part of the process, the share of women rose to between 16 and 17 percent. It was with this force that the U.S. went to war first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq. Now that incoming Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel wants to carry out further drastic cuts, the last barriers to women’s participation in every kind of unit and activity are about to be demolished. Meanwhile, though the ratio of population to uniformed soldiers has gone down from 55:1 to 227:1, so unattractive has military service become that the forces have been reduced to recruiting tens of thousands of non-citizens. In many cases so low is their quality that, once they have been recruited, the first thing they must learn is how to read.

Looking back, clearly what we see is two long-term processes running in parallel. The first is the decline of U.S. armed forces (as well as all other Western ones, but that is not our topic here). The second is their growing feminization. Critics will object that, even as they were being downsized, the forces went through one qualitative improvement after another. In particular, the so-called “Revolution in Military Affairs” is supposed to have increased their fighting power many times over. That, however, is an illusion. To realize this, all one has to do is look at Afghanistan. Over there, “illiterate” tribesmen—not, take note, tribeswomen—are right now about to force the U.S. to withdraw its troops after a decade of effort in which they achieved hardly anything.

Are the two processes linked? You bet they are. Consider a work by two female professors, Barbara F. Reskin and Patricia A. Roos, with the title Job Queues, Gender Queues. First published in 1990, it has since been quoted no fewer than 1,274 times. As they and countless other researchers, both male and female, have shown, over time the more women that join any organization, and the more important the role they play in that organization, the more its prestige declines in the eyes of both men and women. Loss of prestige leads to diminishing economic rewards; diminishing economic rewards lead to loss of prestige. As any number of historical examples has shown, the outcome is a vicious cycle. Can anybody put forward a reason why the U.S. military should be an exception to the rule?

Are the processes welcome? That depends on your point of view. If the reason for having armed forces is to guarantee national security, then the answer is clearly no. By one count, almost one third of enlisted military women are single mothers. As a result, whatever the regulations may say, they are only deployable within limits. Adding to the problems, at any one time, one tenth of all servicewomen are certain to be pregnant. That again means that there are limits on what they can do on the job. Women are unable to compete with men when it comes to the kind of work that requires physical fitness. Those who try to do so nevertheless are almost certain to suffer a wholly disproportionate number of injuries. As a result, the part of their training troops of both sexes spend together often borders in the ridiculous and represents a gross waste of resources. Furthermore, women’s retention rate is lower than that of men on the average. As a result, bringing them to the point where they are qualified to do their jobs also represents a gross waste of resources.

Last not least, as figures from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan show, relative to their number military women are 90 percent less likely to be killed than military men. In other militaries around the world, incidentally, women’s share among the casualties is much lower still. Uniformed women, in other words, are not pulling their weight. Whether this is because public opinion will not stand for large numbers of dead servicewomen or because the women themselves have found a thousand ways to avoid going where the bullets are is immaterial. Probably both factors play a role. Instead of fighting, women get all the cushy jobs. For anyone who serves in the military, or whose livelihood depends on public approval, the prevailing climate of political correctness makes it impossible to mention the problem even in a whisper. Obviously, though, it is bound to have some effects on the morale of male personnel.

One may also look at the problem in a different way. Over the last few decades people have become accustomed to think of the feminization of the military as if it were some great and mighty step towards women’s liberation. In fact, it is nothing of the kind. For thousands, probably tens of thousands of years, we men have laid down our lives so that the women we love might live. To quote the Trojan hero Hector on this, he preferred going to hell a thousand times to seeing his wife, Andromache, weeping as she was led into captivity by one of the “copper-wearing Greeks.” Wouldn’t it be truly wonderful if the tables were turned and women started laying down their lives for us? After all, people of both sexes live in a democracy where women form a majority of the population. Why, then, shouldn’t they die in proportion to their numbers?

In fact, as the number of troops of both sexes who are killed shows only too clearly, women’s presence in the military is little but an expensive charade. True equality—equality of the kind that will make service personnel of both sexes take the same risks and suffer the same casualties—is as far away as it has ever been. Everything considered, perhaps it is better that way. 

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Comments

This is not the best article on the subject, but not the worst either. I wish a balance could be found as far as women serving in our military, but it will never happen. I don't want to say they don't belong, but at they same time they most definitely do not belong in combat roles for many reasons.

I used to send care packages, lots and lots of care packages, almost all based on the personal needs and requests of the individual Soldier, Marine, or their platoon, Chaplain etc. I worked hard to raise money for the postage and product for these boxes. My intention and goal was to support those in the worst of zones that had the least or didn't have family to send them mail. It didn't take long for me to avoid supporting female service members. I found that they continually asked for the most ridiculous things. While I wanted to send things from home to raise morale I didn't work my butt off here at home to purchase nail polish for toes. I had no problem sending quality personal hygiene products, but being asked to send the things "to make me feel pretty" annoyed me when I knew there were others sleeping in the mud and out of humvees getting shot at constantly. While I was sympathetic to some of these requests and would mail out what they wanted, some where just off the chart. My final straw w/females came when a female Army Captain requested Victoria Secret underwear. I wanted to remind her she was in a war zone, but I politely told her that I did not have the resources to buy her Victoria Secret. You would think being a Captain she would have known better than to try to take advantage of those at home working to support them w/the basics. After my encounter w/her I supported guys only. I found them so much easier to support and they were far more grateful and less demanding w/what they wanted and needed. They were happy w/powdered creamer, they didn't demand half&half in liquid cups.

I was also told personally by a few females that they deliberately got pregnant so they could come home. I felt sorry for their unborn babies. In conversation I had discussions w/officers that would complain about having to referee He said/She said sexual encounters, all the while they were trying to plan missions and keep everyone safe. They were frustrated and angry, as one said "I am fighting a war and hormones". I won't get started on what I referred to as the sex kittens. They were the worst.

I did support a few women that were what I considered true Soldiers and Marines, they were a joy to support and were wearing the uniform for the right reasons. I admired and respected them. They asked for reasonable things and tended to look out for those having a particularly hard time. They were true professionals. I found the females working in the medical MOS's were very different than the other females doing the FOB jobs. Many had joined the National Guard for a part time job and to get their education paid for, they really are not military material to start with. It's one thing to be called up during a snow storm or hurricane to deliver water and MRE's to the public, and a completely different thing to expect these teenagers and 20 something's to go fight in an all out war. Some women had the ability to make the best out of a bad situation and others could not. So many stories I could tell, all I know is that from my experiences in being involved in our wars on a teeny tiny scale I came to the conclusion women do not belong in combat zones. It is unhealthy and destructive in many ways.

MTNGirl:

Very pleased am I that you commented. It's from a new viewpoint, one I don't remember hearing from before. Keep up the good work (here and with the packages) and come back again.

This is not the best article on the subject, but not the worst either. I wish a balance could be found as far as women serving in our military, but it will never happen. I don't want to say they don't belong, but at they same time they most definitely do not belong in combat roles for many reasons.

I used to send care packages, lots and lots of care packages, almost all based on the personal needs and requests of the individual Soldier, Marine, or their platoon, Chaplain etc. I worked hard to raise money for the postage and product for these boxes. My intention and goal was to support those in the worst of zones that had the least or didn't have family to send them mail. It didn't take long for me to avoid supporting female service members. I found that they continually asked for the most ridiculous things. While I wanted to send things from home to raise morale I didn't work my butt off here at home to purchase nail polish for toes. I had no problem sending quality personal hygiene products, but being asked to send the things "to make me feel pretty" annoyed me when I knew there were others sleeping in the mud and out of humvees getting shot at constantly. While I was sympathetic to some of these requests and would mail out what they wanted, some where just off the chart. My final straw w/females came when a female Army Captain requested Victoria Secret underwear. I wanted to remind her she was in a war zone, but I politely told her that I did not have the resources to buy her Victoria Secret. You would think being a Captain she would have known better than to try to take advantage of those at home working to support them w/the basics. After my encounter w/her I supported guys only. I found them so much easier to support and they were far more grateful and less demanding w/what they wanted and needed. They were happy w/powdered creamer, they didn't demand half&half in liquid cups.

I was also told personally by a few females that they deliberately got pregnant so they could come home. I felt sorry for their unborn babies. In conversation I had discussions w/officers that would complain about having to referee He said/She said sexual encounters, all the while they were trying to plan missions and keep everyone safe. They were frustrated and angry, as one said "I am fighting a war and hormones". I won't get started on what I referred to as the sex kittens. They were the worst.

I did support a few women that were what I considered true Soldiers and Marines, they were a joy to support and were wearing the uniform for the right reasons. I admired and respected them. They asked for reasonable things and tended to look out for those having a particularly hard time. They were true professionals. I found the females working in the medical MOS's were very different than the other females doing the FOB jobs. Many had joined the National Guard for a part time job and to get their education paid for, they really are not military material to start with. It's one thing to be called up during a snow storm or hurricane to deliver water and MRE's to the public, and a completely different thing to expect these teenagers and 20 something's to go fight in an all out war. Some women had the ability to make the best out of a bad situation and others could not. So many stories I could tell, all I know is that from my experiences in being involved in our wars on a teeny tiny scale I came to the conclusion women do not belong in combat zones. It is unhealthy and destructive in many ways.

There are good reasons why there are no women playing in the NFL, the NBA or MLB. They simply cannot physically compete with males. Though professional sports teams are increasingly saddled with politically correct goofiness, they have not yet been forced to lower standards to fill gender quotas at linebacker. The same should certainly hold true for the combat arms of the military.

In recent years we have seen physical standards lowered in the military to permit women to enter fields from which they had been previously excluded. The PC hand-wringers argued that the standards were set too high in the first place. Really? Why would any organization set standards that were beyond what was necessary? It simply makes no sense.

The wussification of our military continues, designed and implemented mostly by those who have never served and who have no concept of actual military life. I fear for our nation's security because of it.

I know there's the MOS bias to consider on 90% less likelihood of women being killed than men as well as the amount of women not deploying because of pregnancy, but are there any additional numbers on the amount of women coming back early due to pregnancy (from downrange)?

Points some have not learned, conveniently forgot etc. and should consider:

*Infantry: For the purposes of this means Infantry (all types), Scouts, Recon and other MOS's that are similar or in direct support as well as SOF forces with dismounted, direct action roles across all the services.

1. Combat is like playing poker. In the long run you win more by play based on percentages than a few lucky hands. What does this mean? Yes there are woman that can handle the job. But they are few and far between.

2. Politicians like Leon Panetta can make a decision or policy and implement it and then quit the next day. He made this one and didn't stick around too long after he made it. A Solder is not afforded this luxury.

3. Men & Woman are different. Their bodies handle things differently than mens. More injuries.

4. There is NOTHING wrong with woman.

5. Mentally, spiritually etc. Woman and Men are equal. It is the physical area that needs to be addressed. Strength, speed and stamina are at the heart of this issue. If the average woman could compete with the average man in this area then it should be considered. But they can't.

6. You cannot cite a few woman who beat some men in these areas and say all are equal. Equal is 50/50. And yes we have men we should be able to get rid as well. This does NOT mean the woman or these men are bad Soldier's or Americans. It means they are not suited to the Infantry. I am not suited to be in the ballet or the NFL or a host of other things... To require that I be hired to fill a quota, for EO purposes etc would detract from those specialty's. But in the Infantry I am a stud... And that's what we need. We need the best people for the job, not PC hires etc.

7. Currently a man can be kicked out of the military for doing the same number of pushups, situps, and run time as a similarly aged female... So the myth that men are favored is incorrect.

8. The average man weights probably thirty to forty pounds more than the average woman. This matters in Hand to Hand Combat and when carrying heavy loads over long distances.

9. Current combat style: A short range/length dismounted patrol or ridding in a vehicle and then back to the FOB/COB/PB is what currently happens. But who is to say we will be able to drive in the next location we fight in? In Vietnam, infantry units would spend 25-28 days in the field... Smaller bones, less strength and less stamina will very much come into play the longer you stay out.

10. Scientific fact matters. Feel good politics, policies and rules etc don't

11. Selecting wishful thinking over proven fact will lose wars

12. The military is for WINNING wars. All else is supplemental.

13. Tax payers expect us to win. We serve the Nation, not ourselves, our dreams political agendas or special interests.

14. If it was a good idea it would have already been done by all militaries. The few that have done it, have either: Done it under emergency conditions/last resort/last stand situations and once the threat passed, changed back to all male or are too small to be worth of serious consideration and are anecdotal at best.

15. As we serve the Nation and do so in the best way possible, not ourselves etc. currently woman serve the Nation best by NOT being in the Infantry.

16. Woman are smart/capable etc. They have good ones and bad ones, just like the men.

17. Woman get promoted just as fast as men. Possibly in some cases faster. They are not affected.

18. The Infantry is NOT SWAT. Though a number of skill sets are the same/overlap the mission is different. No 30 mile RD Marches, 10 mile runs or living in the weeds for months at a time. SWAT may well be an excellent place for some woman. But other than a SWAT course I once attended, I am not SWAT and cannot speak with authority. But I have definitely seen enough reporting to say that IMHO policing is another area that does not benefit from politically hires. Officers have died because of it. The similarity are enough that I think it needs to be considered.

19. This entire thing is about EO and fairness... But are those two generally worthy goals, always the best thing for us to do? In most cases yes, in this one not a chance. Even if it is the right thing, politically or even morally to do, should we enlist/commission those who are para/quadriplegics? Mentally challenged? People with a artificial heart?100lbs over weight? It really would only be the equitable and fair thing to do... But we don't do that now because we know it won't work. Even if it was, this is not in the Infantry's or the Nation's best interest, will not help win wars... And we all serve in our nation's best interest correct?

20. This thing is being talked about at the wrong level. Check out the Article on CEP on SW's to see the other concerns I have. And I have then because I will have to deal with the issue directly.

21. Is this really about EO, fairness and doing what is right no matter how hard it is?

OR

Is it really about no woman as Infantry DIV Commanders, SF Group Commanders? USMC MEU Commanders?

Because it reeks of special interest's, AND THIS IN NO WAY HELP'S THE US WIN WARS AND IN DOING SO SERVE OUR NATION IN IT'S BEST INTEREST.

Looking back, clearly what we see is two long-term processes running in parallel. The first is the decline of U.S. armed forces (as well as all other Western ones, but that is not our topic here). The second is their growing feminization.

- from "To Wreck A Military"

“This aircraft reinforces the way Americans go to war. . . .We don’t want to win 51-49. We want to win 99 to nothing,” said Lt. Gen. Frank Gornec, the assistant vice chief of staff of the Air Force. He said he is convinced the F-35 “will become a superstar in the arsenal of the United States.”

- Washington Post story

http://tinyurl.com/agf83zy

Could "culturally masculine" traits or types of traditional military thinking contribute in any way to any problems?

Aw, come on, it's just a joke.

And all joking aside (it's not really funny at all), I share some of the concerns laid out in the article and in the comments section. If you propose an action, then I think you are duty bound to consider all possible consequences, good and bad. We have paid a high price lately for our tendency to replace hard thinking with wishful thinking.

That doesn't mean I don't support the changes, it's just that it is theoretically possible that it could make functionality worse. Intellectually honest proponents should at least consider the point. How to mitigate potentially negative effects should be at the forefront of those proposing changes, IMO. Then again, it's only my opinion and may be way off. It's hard as a civilian to get a handle on these issues. Argue away if you think I'm wrong. Always happy to hear contradictory thoughts.

As a field grade officer in the U.S. Army and a mother of two children, I would like to put in my two cents on the article and a few of the comments. I will not attempt to dazzle you with my intellect by citing historical examples and using "big" words. I speak from my own experience in the military and in that sense I am injecting my own biases. I watched "The Invisible War" yesterday. The documentary, about sexual assault in the military, is up for an academy award tonight. I felt saddened by the stories in that film. As a woman in the military, you face innumerable challenges. Every woman who wears the uniform will face some level of discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. There are similar stories of women who face these travesties in the civilian world as well. My point is, no woman enters the military without understanding the challenges facing her.
The issue of pregnancy intrigues me. The fact that pregnancy is considered a handicap is laughable. I managed to have two children in the midst of back to back deployments. I deployed late as a result of giving birth to my first child but I can honestly say that the unit did not suffer during my absence. I challenge any man to understand what it is like to give birth, deploy four months later, and deal with massive hormonal changes at the same time. Leaving two infants at four months old, on two separate occasions, takes incredible strength. It was my duty to serve and to support my unit. Yes, I was a little late during one deployment, but it did not impact my unit's ability to perform the mission. Soldiers are a combat multiplier. The loss of one soldier to an IED, training accident, or illness will have some impact on a small team. I don't think that pregnant females, in comparison to the non-deployable male population, makes a solid argument for degradation of unit mission or cohesion. There are women that will get pregnant to avoid deployments. I am not in any way excusing that action. I do feel that it really is no different then the male soldier I knew that "accidentally" shot himself in the foot just two months prior to deployment. Hey, an accident is an accident right?
Now on to the argument of physical strength. Women do not have the same frame as men. Women do not have the same requirements for physical fitness standards as men in the military. However, the average male soldier is not what I would consider the pillar of physical fitness. It is humorous to think that every male soldier is capable of being a Ranger and/or pursuing selection. I have lapped males on the 2 mile run and have watched them puke during a work out. Individual training is key here. If a woman wants to excel, she can. The training may be different for her but it is possible to meet the same standards. But, I ask you what is that standard? If a male can run 2 miles in 10 min. and perform 80 push ups does that mean he is in better physical shape than a woman who can run 2 miles in 14 min. and perform 60 push ups? I honestly don't think fitness or strength can be judged in that way. Perhaps a woman can run a consistent 8 min mile pace for 5 miles. Hmmm...isn't that the Ranger Physical Fitness Test standard? Oh and it is possible for a woman to do pull ups. It is once again tied into individual training. I know a lot of men who can't do more than two pull ups.
The problem here is that there are a lot of men, including the author, that have opinions about something they will never really understand. Men do not have the luxury of being objective on this topic. The argument that chest-thumping men have laid down their lives for us women folk (who obviously needs protection) is the most ridiculous thing I have ever read. What ever happened to laying down your life for your country? The author needs to spend one week with me and a few of my fellow female soldiers in a combat environment. Perhaps then he can tell me that I am not pulling my weight.
As a woman in the military I have seen these arguments time and time again. I know that it is not a topic that will ever go away and many people are emotionally invested in the subject. I have endured and overcome many challenges as a woman in the military. As the only woman in my class in Command & General Staff Officer Course (CGSOC) I face those challenges. The constant joking and the automatic refute of my opinions as bitter or angry are all linked to my gender. I know without a doubt that if I was a male making the same comments, I would be taken more seriously. Without a doubt the most profound statement I have ever heard was made by the only African American classmate I have in CGSOC. He looked at me after class one day and simply stated, "You and I are the only people in this class that knows what it is like to be a minority in the Army."
The opinions above are my own and do not reflect those of the United States Army.

"The constant joking and the automatic refute of my opinions as bitter or angry are all linked to my gender" I don't doubt it. Sadly it is a locker room out there. Our male officers really do need to learn to be (or pretend to be) gentlemen.

But I also wonder: were any of your opinions linked to your gender? I did not encounter many women on active duty, but of the ones I did, I didn't find they thought about warfare in the same way that their male counterparts did, if they thought about it at all. They were competent "technicians" in their MOS, but that was usually about it. The responsibility is not the woman's alone, but the woman's point of view can shape perceptions. I knew a woman officer who confided that she hated maps - all those "squiggly lines". I'm sure she wasn't representative of all women in service...or am I?

Regarding pregnancy, back in the early '90s, the comm section in the 12th Marine Regt was for practical purposes non-deployable. The high percentage of women in the section and the high percentage of those who were pregnant made it so. I'm sure the stats are different for women officers, but let's face it, officers don't do the heavy lifting. So to avoid the pregnancy threat (not to mention subsequent child care concerns), as a force you would have to restrict the number of women in any one unit, thus avoiding a readiness achilles heal from forming. In other words, you would still have to retain discrimination in your force planning. My section chief was a woman sergeant, and frankly she was outstanding! She would pull the women together and educate them on birth control, pleaded with them to use it, offered to drive them herself to the hospital for appointments to get more, time and time again. And guess what? They still went off and got pregnant! There was only ONE planned pregnancy while I was in that unit and she was also a pretty good NCO.

So it's not simply (simply?) an issue of misogyny and sexism, though that is a tragic reality that needs to be addressed. The presence of women brings issues and costs beyond their male peers.

"I speak from my own experience in the military and in that sense I am injecting my own biases"

Glad you put that up front to save me the time of reading your entire comment as I have no interest in an argument that is not intellectually curious beyond your own experiences that may make a nice story, but prove nothing.

I did jump to the end though. You did a good job articulating that you were a victim of gender bias, although you failed to communicate how you overcame these challenges successfully. Is one to assume you are still a victim?

Integal:

A few comments on your comments.

First, you are right, I, primitive male that I am, will never really 'know' what it is like to be pregnant and deliver a child. And you did well not to have troublesome pregnancies. But, from what I have observed, there are women who do have trouble during pregnancy. Some of those troubles go far beyond morning sickness to the point of being bedridden for months. With that in mind for you to say that pregnancy is not a handicap is ill advised at best. It is not wise to think your experience is typical and figure it applies to everybody else.

As far a your point about there being not a difference between avoiding combat by getting pregnant and avoiding combat by shooting oneself in foot, you are wrong. There is a very profound difference. On the one hand you have a perfectly normal action upon which the continuation of the human race depends, getting pregnant. On the other hand you have a person intentionally maiming themselves. We are going to create a circumstance whereby the one thing can be sort of be equated to the other. That is a perverse arrangement.

Your points about physical strength are a bit strange. You say women do not have the same standards as men. Then you say women can meet the same standards as men. Then you ask if a women who can't do the physical things a man can do is really in worse shape (whatever that means). All of that is underlain by a suggestion that many men are in lousy condition and weak anyway so what does it matter. That is not a strong argument. The point is can the average woman lift and carry the weight and average man can as long and far as a man can? That is what counts and the average woman cannot. Outliers don't matter, the average matters.

As far as your "incredible strength" and your having overcome many challenges as a women in the military, as a citizen, I couldn't care less. It isn't about you or any individual, it is about the nation as a whole and our ability to win battles. That may seem like a personal shot but it isn't. So many of the arguments in favor of lifting the restrictions concentrate on things like making it easier for women to overcome the challenges of being a woman in the military and your arguments seem to me to highlight the same. That is unimportant. What is important is enhancing the ability of the Americans to win wars. Women in combat units doesn't do that.

Intelgal, I think what you have shown is how little you understand the infantry/SF community. In Infantry isn't about filling forms. What training you miss does a few things. Either it leaves you untrained and unprepared to lead your unit, and or it leaves you unknowing of your units capabilities, strengths and weakness, making leaders afraid to employ them within capabilities and averse to risk. We are not making cornflakes. We do not sit at desks. You are not going to train/certify anyone to knock out bunkers on a chalkboard. I did not argue wheither females get pregnant to get out of depolyments. I simpliy stated what would happen if one did and missed training. Rank does not imply ability. All one need do is look at what happened during Operation Anaconda with untrained and the wrong leadership in place. I would make no more than a general comments about another MOS based on how it affects me and/or my unit. As we get back to full spectrum operations we are not going to be in FOBs with tents, CHUs, shower trailers etc. BLUF: You have a limited/no understanding of the subject, the consiquenses etc.

You could at least try to address the points made, rather than blowing off the entirety of a well-considered post with what amounts to "nuh uh!"

When the agenda pushers respond, perhaps I will. Lets face it ther IS an agenda. Does the MAJ or Dr really want out of this? They say promotions are affected, but we know that isn't true as the military promotes by precentages... What I really think they want is to see a woman Infantry div commander, an SF group commander, a Marine MEU commander etc. Those are not promotions they are positions...

ALCON,
Below is my answer to a very similer thread about CEP... I have heard all the "authorities" on this subject, all the theories and the "fainess" peice... Now lets look at it from another veiw, from the level of the team, squad, PSG and LT... Of course there is more but we can start with this.

Ms. Swanson,
(I will take this time to apoligize for spelling/typing errors, also Suzy is not a derogatory term)

You say I am emotional? Maybe I am. You see when if I screw up people die, if I do everything right they still might die. That being said I want every advantage I can get. Is that what work is like for you and the MAJ?

One more thing. You didn't talk about Soldiers getting pregnate. It happens. I am NOT laying blame on anyone for it. But here is the deal: You will not get a replacement. You will not have that Soldier for deployment or she will not be available for train-up for the next deployment. The Light Infantry/SOF isn't an office job even in garrison. If a troop in a Finace unit gets pregnate, she can continue to do her job in garrison. If you have a female troop get pregnate troop you better figure on not having them for 12 MONTHS, and thats if all goes well. Problems:

1. If Suzy is a private, you will not get a replacement. A rifle squad (at this time) is 9 troops. (This is too small in my opinion, but that is another conversation) so the squad deploys shorthanded. This means everyone has to cover down to accomplish the mission. Everyone has to carry a little more, sleep a little less etc. They haven't been in their first contact and they are already short. And we are usually already short, from injuries, lack of replacements etc.

Heres another thing. PVT Suzy shows up to her first unit. A month later she learns she is pregnate. She can't do Infantry stuff for a year, but she is smart so she takes classes etc. With promotion points so low she makes SGT in two years... But she only has half the experiance of the rest because she didn't get time to do all the positions within the platoon.

2. If Suzy is a junior leader, you will not get a replacement. So troops deploy without their leader. So the unit deploys shorthanded. This means everyone has to cover down to accomplish the mission. Everyone has to carry a little more, sleep a little less etc. Lets say Suzy is a fire team leader... Now her team has lost 25% of its manpower. For a fire team this just about makes it combat in-effective... And they haven't been in their first firefight yet... Let us also say it is her and her fire teams first first deployment, but she missed it.

Now lets say the fire team/squad/platoon returns with no KIA's/WIA's. Suzy resumes her role as the element leader. Do you really think those troops are going to listen to much of what she has to say? If it was a man it would be the same way.

At this time if you are a combat arms leader over the rank of SGT and you don't have a combat patch/CIB, no one listens to you. You might be God's gift to the Army but that dosn't matter because you haven't "seen the elephant" and it dosn't matter what rank your are either. This is accross the Army and not just a combat arms thing either. In a time of peace maybe it will be less important, but for now it isn't that way.

Now I have mostly talked about enlisted here but now lets talk about officers. Officers have a certain amount of time to do certain things in their paths. When a LT gets to his first unit he is made a PL for 12 or so months, if very lucky 18 months... Sometimes more, sometimes less. If he is good to go, maybe he gets a second specialty platoon.

What if LT Suzy reports to her unit and a month later finds out she is pregnate? She can't be the PL (though she might be left on the books as one)for the train up. 6 months later the unit deploys. They return 12 months later. Suzy has missed her chance to be a PL... This is an absolutely CRITICAL part of an officer path in combat arms... Not many Battalion Commanders are going to want to make a CPT into a company commander if they haven't been a PL... No good BN CDR is. Yeah there is a little more leeway when it come time to become a Company Commander because officers spend some time as CPT's so a pregnacy could be worked around.
But what if she gets a company only to have to give it up because shes having a kiddo? But miss that PL time and she is screwed unless maybe her daddy is a general...

Here is another thing. The Army isn't going to transfer a female CPT/MAJ/LTC etc into the Infantry/SOF just because it's now open. Well I guess I shouldn't say that, who know what the hell they will do, but they shouldn't. And this isn't because they are woman either. The Infantry is already having to deal with problems with non-Infantry commanders not understanding how to properly use them. SOF might even have it a bit worse.

Now lets talk about some things that don't get talked about at cocktail parties, that you and higher either never thought of or refused to consider...

Most senior Light Infantry leaders will tell you it a good idea for the PL/PSG to share a hootch at base when deployed. Do you think after a 20 hour patrol, I am going to remember to knock to ensure my female PL is clothed? I am no prude... But she might be...

Or lets say its night, pitch black, no moon and I gotta wake up the female PL in her hootch, because the CO wants her... She is a heavy sleeper. You think she will be mad if I poke her with a stick to wake her?

What about hygiene issues? Do you have any idea where Light Infantry/SOF units take a poop when on patrol? It not private. Its in the middle of the patrol base or parameter in full veiw of EVERYONE. Thats the way it is. I am not going to be able to carry a porta-pottie around for a changing room. Ok, from the patrol base, now we got a 12 klick movement over the mountain, to the ORP. To prevent overheating going to have to take off the polypro. Oops we are tactical, hope you don't mind being buck naked infront of everybody. Or what about when we have to wash off in a creek or pool of water? You ever been to Afghanistan Ms. Swanson? I spent a year with now shower... We would take a patrol to a nearby creek during the warm months to wash. No privicy. Had to have 3/4 of the unit on security, while 1/4 washed... again in full veiw.

What about Alaska (or any artic/cold area of the world), Ms. Swanson you ever been stationed there? In Alaska during winter, to prevent constipation and ensure hydration in an Light Infantry unit heres a fun thing you get to do as a leader. You get to take your team/squad out and watch them piss and poop. What fun. You have to do this to ensure they are drinking water, because no one wants to drink cold water when its freezing out. Why watch them poop? To ensure they do. When it's 50 below no one wants to take their pants down to releive themselves. So they get sick or constipated and have to be evacated. Guess who gets to catch hell from higher if this happens? It isn't the General.

You really think woman are not going to look at men and men are not going to look at woman? Are you in a hurry to go on patrol now? How long do you think it will be before a female complains about that? What do you think the Army will do? I will tell you. She will complain. The leaders will get in trouble/fired.

Do you honestly think the idiots, err I mean enlightened, all knowing leaders that approved this, even thought such things? The answer is no. Won't be their problem, they don't spend much time in a patrol base, LOL.

Do you think they are worried about it? The answer is NO. because they won't have to deal with it. What do they care if a female complains and some men get into trouble? Long as it isn't them, they will give less than a crap.

I am willing to bet not alot of Army females have done this. Look what you will get to do in the Light Infantry!!! Especially as we move back to full spec ops.

To my senior leaders, thanks so much for setting me up for success.

Not going to throw too much wood onto this debate, but I heard an interesting point I had not considered from General Dempsey today:

"I think it's fairly common knowledge that our population of military-age young men who qualify for the military is declining. So as a very practical matter, we decided [that] if in 2020 we're going to need these young ladies, and we're going to need to attract as much diversity and as much talent as we can possibly attract, if that's going to be the case, then what are we waiting for?" - General Dempsey on NPR 17FEB

I'm not an expert on American readiness numbers, but he does seem to have a point here.

Don't beleive everything skinny D says. There are plenty of men to draw from. He is just selling that line. He is a sell out

GRDN:

What Gen Sir Dempsey doesn't mention is that we have a very large population base to draw from, approx 308,000,000 in 2010. Last year there were about 1,250,000 men on active duty out of a 2010 male population of 20-34 of about 30,000,000. So that works out to about 4.1% of that age group serving.

In 1945 we had a total population of about 140,000,000. Of that there were about 11,700,000 men serving. During the war years about 34,000,000 men between 18 and 37 were registered for the draft. So that works out to about 1/3 of that age group serving.

So if we moved up to just 5% of the males in the 2010 20-34 age group serving, that would give us 1,500,000 men, 250,000 more than today. If we were to move up to 10% for a big war but not as big as WWII, there would be 3,000,000 men available, not counting the 18 and 19 year olds. If we moved up to WWII type participation rates, we would have numbers of men available on the order of the number that served in WWII.

All the above figures are very, very rough but they do illustrate the point that we are a very big country and if we want to we can turn out a military composed just of men, near as large as that we turned out in WWII.

Gen Sir Dempsey is using a talking point that has been used for decades that doesn't have much justification in my view.

Some interesting links to further inform the debate, both pro and con.

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/1991/06/bg836-women-in-combat-w...

Quote "Women cadets take "comparable" or "equivalent" training when they cannot meet standards in some events. In practice this means that West Point males must do pull-ups while females merely do "flex-arm hangs."

The famed and valuable "recondo" endurance week during which cadets used to march with full backpacks and undergo other strenuous activities has been eliminated, as have upper-body strength events in the obstacle course.

Running with heavy weapons has been eliminated because it is "unrealistic and therefore unappropriate" to expect women to do it." End quote

In my opinion these charges need to be answered, if we have and will continue to lower standards to facilitate women entering into combat MOS (different than serving in combat), is that really in the national interest?

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/women-in-uniform-15015967

Quote:
According to the 2010 study, a recent IDF report found that female combatants maintained alertness better, were more knowledgable and professional when using their weapons, and had better shooting abilities than men. But even still, like in many other nations, a good number of combat positions remain closed to them, including much of those on the front lines. And though there was a 400 percent increase in Israeli women military careerists between 1999 and 2009, the brass ceiling in many ways still remains." End Quote

Yet there are obviously many roles in combat that women can excel at, but can our mass production services effectively identify those roles, or will be one size fits all?

http://www.wnd.com/2001/08/10269/

“For example, it is a common misperception that Israel allows women in combat units. In fact, women have been barred from combat in Israel since 1950, when a review of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War showed how harmful their presence could be. The study revealed that men tried to protect and assist women rather than continue their attack. As a result, they not only put their own lives in greater danger, but also jeopardized the survival of the entire unit. The study further revealed that unit morale was damaged when men saw women killed and maimed on the battlefield,” Luddy said." End quote

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2001/08/10269/#8CO3RvfcDPa8qa6Q.99

Is this disinformation or accurate? I don't know, but before we leap it worth looking into.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyudmila_Pavlichenko

My favorite:

Quote: "Pvt. Pavlichenko fought for about two and a half months near Odessa where she recorded 187 kills.[4] When the Romanians gained control of Odessa her unit was pulled to be sent to Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula,[4] where she fought for more than 8 months.[3][5] In May 1942, Lieutenant Pavlichenko was cited by the Southern Army Council for killing 257 German soldiers. Her total confirmed kills during World War II was 309,[2][3] including 36 enemy snipers.

In June 1942, Pavlichenko was wounded by mortar fire. Because of her growing status she was pulled from combat less than a month after recovering from her wound." End Quote.

Bill M.:

The Esquire article you linked to cited a report that the quote you provided came from. That report stated in the very next paragraph that the IDF would fill up units with women and then not deploy them when the units were deployed.

The report was done at the behest of the British Ministry of Defence when the MoD was called upon to decide if women could be in close combat roles. They decided in 2002 that they could not because there was no way of knowing if small mixed sex groups could perform as well as all male groups in ground close combat. No evidence existed and only way to find out was to try it and they didn't want to risk lives trying to find out. That decision was re-iterated in 2010.

Unless somebody has gone into the WWII Soviet archives since they have been partially opened up, we have no way of knowing what the Soviet experience with women in combat roles was, only what their propaganda machine wanted us to think it was. That is not reliable.

1.It is sad to see a possible important topic of a technical nature being transformed into post-ideological, post-modern (as they frame it now) gender warfare skirmishes.

2.Again: military life - professional, voluntary, conscription-based, national, multinational, patriotic or mercenary - is not a "profession" like others, and issues of discrimination-equality do not apply.
In fact, this is the only "profession" where death - own or others - is part of the job description.

3.In this context, what counts, as was stressed by the more reasoned arguments here, is the exact technical needs of the armed force, nor social issues that apply to "normal" economic-based professions.
So if women are excluded from the ranks due to non-technical factors (these being of course physical, psychological, disciplinary, tactical, technological, intellectual, etc.), like gender alone (as a quality not connected to special skill), there is a violation of the "armed forces needs" alone criteria.
If we do not start reasoning like this, we are in gender wars alley, as I mentioned, and there is no way out.

4.As for national examples: if we discount the propaganda cases where women were put into presumed (the "presumed" is essential here) combate roles to show some kind of "example" (USSR, Libya, e.a.), we have female combat experience, at least in training, in many European countries (I can name them all, if needed), these including submarine forces and air fighting forces. You may say that these countries, like Sweden or Switzerland, Denmark or Norway, Italy, Croatia or Serbia, have not been involved in many wars, but their specialized units sometimes fought in difficult scenarios of "small war" size, from the DRC to Iraq and Afghanistan.

5.In Israel, it is unfair to say that the Caracal (Wildcat) mixed battalion (it is not a female unit, although roughly 55% to 70% may be female these days), that is part of the 512th Sagi Brigade, if I am not mistaken, was involved only in one skirmish. The one usually mentioned by the media was blown out of proportions due to the controversy of one enlisted woman claims, after debunked. Caracal was involved in at least five major campaigns, including the last Israel-Hezbollah confrontation and operations in the Gaza borderline. There are also combat women in other Israeli units, including battlefied intelligence teams, pathfinders,combat forward air controllers and, last but not the least, the crucial Oketz SF unit, that is somewhat unique: it trains combat dog handlers into "pack combat", where operator and animal learn fighting techniques together. Oketz highly trained specialists are required by many IDF Sayeret units, and would have been part of the SEAL team deployed to seize Osama Bin Laden.
Regards to all
Nuno Rogeiro,Lisbon
Portugal

While I agree with much of what Nuno Rogiro states here, it is unfortunately the case that the motives for the change in policy ARE ideological and political, and nothing but that. The feminist movement in the United States has been working very hard at eliminating all gender distinctions in our society, with the exception of distinctions considered advantageous to women as well as values and opinions held by the "right kind" of women - what is colloquially called "political correctness". The issue is therefore not one of fact but of value. If we were to design a force based on known facts of gender influence on physiology and psychology, what would we do ? What should we do ? It really is a kind of close-minded fundamentalism whereby no matter what the question is, what the problem might be, the answer always must adhere to the ideological fiction of sameness = equality. Therefore, we must put women into combat. Really ?

The other problem has to do with the nature of our military as a bureaucratic institution in which injustice and inferior performance is preferable to making exceptions to policy. Such a system makes no provision for the truly exceptional individual who defies the norms, who performs beyond the limits of our expectations. We do not do very well managing that type of person in the US Army. Given that most of our soldiers are themselves a bit out of the mainstream of American life, this is a problem indeed.

VeP:Fully agree on almost all aspects of what you stated.The task than is to engage in another 'cultural revolution' that will redress the wrongs, and departs from national defense needs,skills and capabilities, instead of focusing on quotas and other 'ideological' implements.
If I need a sniper team, I will need good marksmen or markswomen, with sufficient proven skills and training. If the candidates that make it to the last phase are all men, or all women, based only on their abilities, so be it.
One contradiction in certain old-style pseudo-feminist arguments is to insist first on total equality -which for me is OK if based on merit, and implying the same duties and rights - and after saying that certain careers should be open to women independently of the same merit or skill. Someone in the forum mentioned the changing of standards (I was going to say 'lowering' but I will say changing)to suit the candidates. It should be the opposite, of course, in a competent army and in a decent society.

But I must say I know women outside of the armed forces that are more skilled at several combat specialities (from using a knife to martial arts, from rapid fire progression to stealthy intrusion) than enlisted men. And the fact that they are out of the service is also unjust. But again, the "army of citizens" I mentioned months ago should not be based on gender.

On Israel, data I indicated is the current one. Episodes of (many) doubts about women in combat existed until 2000, at least, and there was the impact of the famous book of (Captain, I believe) Grossman, who wrote once about the disruptive effect for males in small units to see their women comrades wounded, something that psychologists proved shattered their morale. I don't know if the book was ever mentioned here, but it caused a stir up to the General Staff echelon.

A final note: it looks to me that we reduce "combat" to infantry warfare, in many posts here. There are many combat posts manned (womanned?) by females in several AF, that have proven successful and are non controversial. If you reduced it to Platoon-like stereotypes of Nam, of course reality is different.

Anyway, regards and thanks for the insight

Nuno

Using the authors logic the Israeli Army should have been defeated many times over by its Arab foes since the IDF has a far higher penetration of women serving as enlisted personnel and as officers..in fact this IDF press release states that at the time 33% on enlisted soldiers were female and 51% of officers. "More female officers in more positions in the IDF" (Press release). IDF spokesperson. 30 November 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2011. In point of fact, Jewish women have served in high numbers and in combat roles since the 1948 War...information that is easily accessible to even a non-academic like me.

As a military historian with experience teaching within Israel its difficult for me to reconcile the author's opinions with reality - since his logic (which as i can best understand it is that women in the service = weakness) would clearly suggest that the all male Arab armies should have destroyed the IDF in one of their many wars with Israel. Since we all know that didn't happen, I would welcome and invite the author of this article to explain why Israel country currently exists.

Oh...and while I do appreciate the classics, I don't know if allowing our concepts of gender roles to be defined by Mycenaean Greeks is really that good an idea.

I wrote a rebuttal to this article as a female combat veteran. If you would like to see my views on this rather uninformed, and misogynistic view of war-fighting, please go read my article.

http://tolerantpeople.com/2013/02/09/to-wreck-a-military-a-rebuttal/

Neither your post or the article you commented on came close to addressing real issues associated with this change in policy. One was basically an outdated argument against change, and your argument was on the merits of progressivism and equal rights. It appears to be a battle of wits between two unarmed opponents, because neither side really wants to surface uncomfortable issues.

The traditionalists who are opposed to this change hopefully recognize that women have served in combat roles for decades. One of the most impressive were Russia's female snipers during WWII. While women serve in the IDF, I have seen little evidence that they have seen much combat. I think women in the U.S. Army have seen more combat in the past 10 years. But it is misleading to confuse today's conflict with understanding the character of war. There are no easy wars, but some wars are more intense than others and the intensity of combat can be a lot higher than we have seen for the past decade. That doesn't mean women can't or shouldn't have a role, just that using today's conflict as the sole metric for evaluating the pro's and con's of the issue is not wise.

The equal rights argument only goes so far because equal rights doesn't equate to equal capabilities. I would love to play professional football, but the fact is I'm not strong enough to play at that level. Are my equal rights denied? I would love to attend MIT and become an Engineer, but I don't have the math background, so again are my equal rights denied? Obviously my rights aren't denied, I didn't make the cut line for that line of work, yet when an argument is made that a woman would find it difficult to carry a 100lbs plus of combat gear in any terrain, much less rough terrain, day after day that argument is portrayed as sexest by the far left.

I saw a case of this when women were integrated into fire departments. I just happened to be training at a facility in the vicinity of San Diego where some future city fire fighters were training at. I watched one event where they had to carry a ladder, put it up against the wall, and carry something up the ladder (I don't know how heavy it was). All of them could do it except the female trainee, she could carry the ladder to the wall, but she couldn't elevate the ladder up on the wall. This appeared to be a relevant test to me. Who cares if you can do 75 pushups, but if your job involves lifting ladders you better be able to lift ladders. If she had to rescue your mom or son and didn't have the physical ability would you reconsider that equal rights doesn't equate to equal capability?

Is it worth the risk of mission failure to blindly push a political agenda? Would it be more appropriate to fairly evaluate without bias what most women can do and can't do and allow them to serve in the jobs they can do without discriminating? Snipers, MPs, security forces in a COIN environment, MPs, pilots, armor (no reason our entire armor corp can't be female), etc. I think women can play a key role in special operations also, but they shouldn't be integrated with ODAs that may have to conduct operations that most women are not capable of doing physically. I'm sure there are many jobs that women can do in the military that are currently denied to them and that should be fixed, but that doesn't mean lowering standards for jobs where those standards are relevant to mission accomplishment and that I fear is the road we may be heading down.

In all fairness to women athletes, in the military gyms I go to there are greater percentage of women that train harder than the men there, and they're fitter in some regards, but unfortunately due to real genetic differences even that lame fat guy or computer geek sitting on the bench for half his work out can lift more weight, a lot more, than the hardest training woman in the gym. Sometimes that matters, we need to identify where it does and does not.

Little evidence of females participating in combat roles in the IDF? Look in the Algemeiner Sept 24 2012 to start. Relevant text below

"Female IDF Hero Who Shot and Killed Terrorist in Friday Attack Revealed"

Last week, when three terrorists launched a deadly attack on Israeli military personnel at the border with Egypt, a female IDF soldier returned fire and killed one of the terrorists. Now, her identity has been revealed following Israeli media interviews including one by Channel 2 News.

“All of a sudden we heard a female soldier shout on the radio ‘We’re under fire.’ I then told the driver to drive to her location,” she said while recalling the moments she was informed of the attack. “We didn’t know what to expect. It was the battalion’s first encounter with terrorists.”

When she arrived with her battalion at the scene of the attack, it was already too late for Netanel Yahalomi.

“I didn’t think twice. I jumped out of the hummer and did what had to be done. I ran under fire until I reached Netanel, but when I saw his condition, I told my commander there was nothing we could do to save him and we must move on,” she said. “After we shot the terrorists I returned to the second wounded person, Mati, and I told him, ‘Stay strong, you’re a hero.’”

Is this a combat action or a police action? The difference is important. I'm not opposed to women serving in combat, but there is a signficant difference in combat between two armies and combat between soldiers and terrorists. Driving up to an engagement in an uncertain environment to engage a few relatively lightly armed terrorists is a lot different than doing a movement to contact in rough terrain against a professional army in defensive positions that are employing supporting fires. My point is I couldn't find any record of Israelis women in arms engaged in that type of combat.

If you have any examples please share them.

Cross boarder attack by terrorists on a boarder check point. Short description of he action is below

A group of terrorists followed 15 people attempting to cross the border into Israel illegally from Egypt. When a number of IDF soldiers left their post to hand out water to the people trying to cross the border, only 4 soldiers were left at the post, which was then fired at by the terrorists.

IDF Spokesperson Brigadier-General Yoav Mordechai said on Friday that the terrorists were carrying rifles, grenades and extra rounds.

“They were on a major killing spree, but were killed within 15 minutes from the moment they fired the first shot,” he said.

This type of action sounds very familiar to actions that routinely occurred during operations in Iraq and in Afghanistan during the occupation phases...classic irregular warfare.

Bill:

I am not sure what we know about women in the Soviet Army in WWII. We know a lot about what the old Soviet propaganda machine wanted us to know, beyond that I suspect we don't know much.

Could an all female M-1 crew, composed of statistically Army average females, do all the maintenance associated with running the tank? I don't know but I ask because I've read that tracks are pretty heavy as are the main gun rounds which are loaded manually.

What concerns me as much or more than disparities in strength between men and women are the disparities in roles and expectations of behavior that are ingrained in the Americans from childhood on, and how these will play out in a mixed sex unit that is intentionally sent into harms way. That unit should be able to expect each one of its members to held to a similar standard of social behavior, but will that be the case in a mixed sex unit?

We are taught from childhood that, simply put, the men protect the women. It is especially shameful for a man to pick on a woman. When bad things happen, like the criminal mass shooting in Aurora, the men use their bodies to cover those of women and they are applauded for that. It is polite to hold the door open for women or offer them a seat.

Also it is not especially frowned upon, or frowned upon at all for a woman to use her status as a woman to get something a man in a similar circumstance could not. If a woman tells a story about how she gets out of a ticket by using her attractiveness or by playing up her helpless little old lady status, that is acceptable. And that comes from society recognizing that women are weaker and allowing for that.

So what happens when people who have internalized that are place into mixed sex units and those units are exposed to heavy combat? I don't know. I don't think it will be good and it won't be good in ways that we can't predict. In any event, "Is it worth the risk of mission failure to blindly push a political agenda?", "blindly pushing" because we don't have any real historical evidence it will work. It ain't been done before. But we are going to find out the next time we face major sea fighting.

Now we could get around my worry if we taught the children that girls and women deserve absolutely no special favors. The problem with that would be that we wouldn't see the result for a very long time and we wouldn't like the result. That special status women have in our society provides a very great measure of protection to women. You take that away and the women are the ones who would pay the price when you couldn't shame a man by saying it ain't right to pick on women.

Bill,

With all due respect, I was not trying to write some serious answer to the questions posed about women in combat in general. Even as a female combat veteran, I feel that there are plenty of jobs both in the military and in the civilian world that just aren't meant for women. I was not trying to make a grand stance for blanket equal rights - I do not want to be a combat Soldier and that isn't what I signed up for. I signed up to serve in a capacity that I knew I could contribute to (I was a Civil Affairs Specialist and a Human Resource Specialist) however, I had to step away from orphanages and typewriters, grab my weapon and provide security for convoys between Bagram, AB and Kabul. In modern war - we serve in whatever capacity we are asked to serve, I am not an infantryman, nor do I want to be - but I had to serve in that capacity throughout my two deployments to Afghanistan. I am writing from emotion and experience - not theory. I am not an expert - just a Soldier who likes to write and I simply felt that this particular article needed some rebuttal. That being said;

I do not claim to be some sort of academic that everyone should follow or that my opinions are right or wrong. I am just a female combat veteran who wrote my opinion on an article on my website on a subject I feel passionately about. I also felt that emotional or not - an opposing view to this article needed to be written..

Someday, maybe I will take the time to write an article that is more academic in nature and less emotional that points out the pros and cons of women in combat and the effects that has on modern war fighting both positive and negative. As our society changes so must our views. We need to adjust our arguments to reflect truth and not outdated irrelevant information. I also do not feel it is an equal rights issue - if we look at it the way would should it should all be based on capability not gender. If some woman wants to be the only female in a combat unit and has the skills necessary - she should be able to do so. I would never choose that for myself and there are many men who choose non-combat roles for their service too.

I am not as you say 'unarmed in a battle of wits' I just wrote my opinions on one article. If I were writing an article on my own and not in direct response to something else - the feel would have been very different.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article and for your feedback. It helps me become a better writer and more informed citizen, I just ask that next time you see it for what it is, and not that I was engaging in a battle of wits without ammo.

Fair enough, and I hope you do post a more academic article on this topic. I realize taking the emotion out of an emotional issue is next to impossible. Heck most of our discussions on SWJ are emotional, but this is an important issue and to the extent possible rational arguments need to trump the emotions this topic provokes.

Neither the author of the article or you are witless, but the arguments were. I suspect most arguments addressing this topic (from most people) will be highly charged and not directly related to the issue at hand.

On one the hand some will argue the world is ending, America will lose the next war. On the other hand, especially those not in the know like yourself will see no reason women shouldn't serve in front line infantry units as infantry women involved in frequent and close combat.

Bill -

In all honesty I was a little afraid to post a more personal opinion on the matter here since I received so much backlash. However - I did write out my personal views on the issue and my logical (not academic I didn't do any research other than my own experiences) argument related to women in combat. If you would like to see it, it can be found at www.tolerantpeople.com. I think you will be surprised what my personal views are.

My rebuttal to the article was a tit-for-tat, not necessarily my staunch beliefs.

Thank you Sir, for seeing it for what it was and for being kind. It is appreciated.

The issue is not whether military service involves danger to the women who serve. Legally speaking, when one dons the uniform, that places one in a specific category - it is lawful for the enemy to shoot and if possible to kill that person. That said, CRS just put out the KIA and WIA figures for Iraq and Afghanistan. Women account for 2% of all combat deaths. This number alone refutes the "no front lines" argument - even and especially in the context of counterinsurgency. Perhaps something else is going on there. The CRS Report simples puts out the numbers, no explanations provided.

The bottom line here is that the individual's aspirations and needs are secondary to the needs of the service. There is not - and should not be a "right" to serve in combat, or in any capacity. If we need women in the infantry, that is a choice the nation can make. But in fact, we don't need women in the combat arms, now, or even in a future D-Day invasion. The population of the United States is now 1/3 of China. It is not just the technology or the training. Unlike the State of Israel, we have vast untapped manpower reserves, and should find a way to tap those reserves, insofar as our military needs require.

It is interesting that a lot of the negative comments about this article, especially the more recent ones, are simple condemnations. They are also made by people who, to me, are complete strangers here.

Frankly, the article doesn't deserve a lot more than to be dismissed with a simple condemnation.

Okay, both knock it off. Seriously and thanks...

I am a stranger here - and I wrote my opinions on this on my own website. If you do not want opposing opinions in your community - close it to new members.

OpinionatedSoldier:

Cut the "Well I never..." bit. If you would like your opinion to be read here, you should post it, here.

(I guess you're not a stranger now.)

Glad I'm not a stranger anymore then. You made a point about strangers on an open forum, what I said was not a 'bit' or cry for some sort of attention - it was a comment on what you said. Also, I did post my opinion here (but it is rather long since I dissected the article) so I linked to it.

I’m not sure why you find this interesting, or what point you are trying to make, but perhaps I need to restate mine in a little more detail.

Integration within the military is a complex and important issue, which we will see played out over the next 3 years as the military decides which service specialties can be integrated and which, for any number of reasons, cannot. In order to accomplish this there will be a dialogue, behind closed doors within the military, as well as in public forums, as the views of society are taken into account. (Because, lets be honest, the American people are stakeholders and few decisions, even in the military, are made without considering the implications of public opinion.) My issue is that this article is not a good starting point for this dialogue. It is presented in a professional journal, as a piece of academic work would be, but is an intentional manipulation of the data and presents unsubstantiated opinions as if they were foregone conclusions. My fear is that society will read this piece, as well as many like it, without an objective eye and will accept as fact statements of opinion that have not meet the burden of proof. To clarify my point a have commented on a few selections below:

The “decline” of the military
1-“In many cases so low is their quality that, once they have been recruited, the first thing they must learn is how to read.”
Anecdotal. If this is going to be used as definitive evidence of the unattractiveness of military service, then some evidence needs to be provided in the form of statistics to back it up. I’m not denying that recruitment standards have fallen, but dramatic statements such as this lead the reader to believe the problem is far worse than it really is.

2-“In particular, the so-called “Revolution in Military Affairs” is supposed to have increased their fighting power many times over. That, however, is an illusion. To realize this, all one has to do is look at Afghanistan. Over there, “illiterate” tribesmen—not, take note, tribeswomen—are right now about to force the U.S. to withdraw its troops after a decade of effort in which they achieved hardly anything.”-
Our fighting power (or lack of), is not why we are losing Afghanistan, as the author implies. The difficulties in Afghanistan are a complex mix of strategy, politics, an overly restrictive ROE, international relations and the fact that we are trying to win “hearts and minds,” which anyone who has even the most fundamental understanding of asymmetric warfare knows, is not necessarily proportional to fighting power under its’ tradition military definition.

3-“Looking back, clearly what we see is two long-term processes running in parallel. The first is the decline of U.S. armed forces. The second is their growing feminization.”-

I think the author is playing a little fast and loose with the term “clearly” here. Nothing is this article has convinced me that the armed forces are on the “decline.” ‘Decline’ itself is an incredibly subjective term. Is the military less funded? Yes, mostly as a result of a poor economy. Scaling back? Yes, as two wars draw to a close the number of personnel will naturally be reduced. Has the nature of warfare changed? Yes, and the military is struggling to adjust. None of these equate to a ‘decline’ of the armed forces and certainly not one that can be linked to feminization.

4- “First published in 1990, it has since been quoted no fewer than 1,274 times. As they and countless other researchers, both male and female, have shown, over time the more women that join any organization, and the more important the role they play in that organization, the more its prestige declines in the eyes of both men and women.”

-Interesting study, but only one study, and 22 years old. I am certain this topic has been studied NUMEROUS times since 1990, and find it suspect that author has to reach that far back for evidence to support his conclusion. Additionally societal and gender norms are constantly evolving and what was true in 1990, is not necessarily hold true today. Cite a more current and balanced body of research and I’ll consider your point.

5-“By one count, almost one third of enlisted military women are single mothers. As a result, whatever the regulations may say, they are only deployable within limits.” –

When I see ‘by one count’ that tells me questionable statistics are being used. The number of single fathers is not addressed, which although I do not know the number of, do exist in the military. The author is implying that the armed services are ignoring their own regulations and allowing “non-deployable” service members to stay in the force in a time of drawdown. An accusation as large as that deserves some evidence to support it. Singles parents are required to have a family care plan that establishes a guardian to care for their children when they are deployed. If they do not have a family care plan they will be processed out of the service. If the author knows of some great conspiracy that is subverting this policy I would be interested to hear about it.

6- “Furthermore, women’s retention rate is lower than that of men on the average. As a result, bringing them to the point where they are qualified to do their jobs also represents a gross waste of resources.” –

The military is a hierarchy. If everyone stayed in the ‘triangle’ structure of the hierarchy would more resemble a square. The assumption is that a large number of first termers are not going to ‘re-up.’ If they did the military would be severely overmanned at the mid and higher ranks. There is a reason we have high-year tenure gates. The military does not need, nor can it support too much retention.

7- “Women are 90 percent less likely to be killed than military men. In other militaries around the world, incidentally, women’s share among the casualties is much lower still. Uniformed women, in other words, are not pulling their weight. Instead of fighting, women get all the cushy jobs. Obviously, though, it is bound to have some effects on the morale of male personnel”.-
You can’t exclude women from the jobs where they are most likely to be killed and then condemn them for their survival rate. You can’t limit them to the “cushy” jobs and then blame public opinion and point fingers at servicewomen claiming they are ‘avoiding where the bullets are.” This argument also doesn’t consider combat injuries and wounded warriors. When you consider the impact that trauma care availability has on the death rate, you realize that the death statistics don’t tell the whole story. Although I could not find any statistics citing the number of female wounded warriors, I found that 10% of TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) cases were women. Considering that roughly 13% of those serving in Afghanistan are female, equating 10% to almost a ‘fair share.’ That being said, I agree with a previous post that ‘death is not something we should be striving for.’

As a separate note, the vast majority of readers will never join in the conversation in the comments section of this website. It is not because we are any less informed or our opinions any less valuable, but simply because of a lack of time, interest or both. But occasionally an article will appear that is so faulty in its logic that many of us will feel compelled to add to the discussion.

cc:

As far as your concerns about the suitability of Dr. van Creveld's piece in SWJ, those are addressed in the written editorial policy of the Journal. Two of things stated in the policy are:

"We screen submissions so that we are reasonably convinced that the articles we publish are worthwhile additions to the dialog in the community."

and

"Authors who choose to submit their work to us do so courageously, realizing that they are subject to a public wire brushing by our discriminating and vocal readers for any errors. are subject to a public wire brushing by our discriminating and vocal readers for any errors. We trust our audience to appreciate the distinction between inaccuracies that do not foul the rest of the work, and major issues: either deal-breaker errors or deception that we were too dumb and busy to interdict before publishing."

the most important part of the above statement being "We trust our audience..."

As far as your points go:

1= I never heard of that before. Foreigners have always been recruited into the US armed forces but I don't know what the %'s are. I haven't heard of recruiting large numbers of people who can't read and don't know where Dr. van Creveld got that from.

2- The point about the RMA is really, as I read it, a shot at the people who were so enthusiastic about that kind of things. It didn't revolutionize much of anything, especially small wars. Fighting those is about now as it has been, which the Afghanistan example highlighted.

3- In Dr. van Creveld's opinion, the US military has clearly declined. You disagree. That is a weak argument when criticizing the Journal for publishing the piece.

4- In your point 3, you criticize Dr. van Creveld in his usage of the word "clearly", but you are "certain this topic has been studied NUMEROUS times since 1990." without citing anything. More or less opinion vs. opinion, which is fine, but again a weak argument with which to criticize the Journal.

5- As of 2005, 14.7% of Army enlisted women were single mothers as was a surprising 7.3% of women officers (http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifie...). Dr. van Creveld's "almost one third" may have come from a statement by a senior officer in the first Gulf war that 33% of the women in his battalion could not deploy or had to go home early because of pregnancy (http://www.amazon.com/Impact-Pregnancy-U-S-Army-Readiness/dp/1249834392). The larger point is there a lot of pregnant women and they won't deploy; and that single mothers are a problem, because of the way society views the role of mothers.

6- That depends upon the MOS doesn't it? You care more if the newly qualified sonar operator re-ups than you do if the person who checks the IDs at the chow hall entrance does.

7- His reasoning on this point was weak.

The big point, regardless of the strength of the Dr. van Creveld's arguments in this particular article is, will this new policy make us better at winning wars? I figure it won't. It will however make a lot of people in Washington feel better about themselves and it will please some ambitious women officers who did feel a bit frustrated. That it will do. That is what it is meant to do. Win wars? No.

The condescending tone and unprofessional comments (such as referring to the 1996 decision to allow some women in combat as the "worst defeat of the U.S. Navy since Pearl Harbor,") make this article more suited for a low brow blog than a professional journal. I'm all for the discussion of issues in an open forum, but in a mature way, not through the obvious bias this writer has. His transparent agenda makes his argument completely lack credibility. Shame on Small Wars journal for even publishing this.

That’s a lot of logic fallacies.
I offer the following counter argument/rebuttal. Death is not a statistic we should strive toward. We shouldn't encourage misleading metrics. The 90% statistic cites casualties which as we know are often operator error/self inflicted/blue on blue/stupidity.
"Males are more aggressive...But that trait also leads to more accidents and injuries, up to and including eye injuries (men in the military have twice as many as women) and suicide (men account for about 95% of military suicides)... But they [female service members] also crash and kill themselves much less often." –U.S. Time magazine

This is one of the worst things I've ever seen in the SWJ. The author discredits himself at every turn.

Van Creveld's statement,

"equality between men and women in the military is attained when both are exposed to equal risk and suffer equal casualties".

His argument assumes that the following statement is also true, all men serving in the military are exposed to equal risks. This is not the case since risk is more directly related to the roles in which men serve in. Recruits who join the Army are placed or volunteer for different Military Occupation Specialties(MOS). MOSs have specific standards for selection and Soldiers are assigned MOSs based on performance prior to and during basic entry level training. Each of these MOSs, whether they are combat arms or combat support, each have an inherently different risk level on the battlefield. Women have primarily only been allowed to be placed in non-combat roles. With allowing women to serve in additional roles, specifically combat ones, they too will be held to the standard in which is required for that duty. This is nothing different than what has been expected of all Soldiers who serve in the Army.

It has been during the past ten years that inherently non-combat specialties have found themselves in a higher risk threat environment. Both men and women have been exposed to risks that have not been based on traditional MOS position but based on circumstances that the mission dictates. Affording women the opportunity to meet the required standards to serve in additional combat MOSs should only garner scrutiny to ensure standards are met. When it comes to everything else it is up to the leader to deal with institutional change while anticipating the challenges of subjective bias in our culture.

An army of citizens (the “force that protects”, to quote Ernst Jünger) needs to be based on skills (physical, psychological, intellectual, technological, etc.), not gender.
If a male or female citizen is excluded from the ranks due to a failure of skill, is this discrimination, or technical fairness?
That is the question for me.

N. Rogeiro
Lisbon
Portugal

I also found the article at times confusing, but overall I agree with the author. Personally, I don't want females in combat arms, but who cares what I think. I'm cynical so I don't believe women will have to meet the same standards or different standards - just lower standards for everyone. This whole idea is retarded.

As far as integrating women into combat arms units why not establish female only platoons, companies, battalions, etc. (please refrain from trying to compare this to racial integration of the military - apples and oranges).

Van Creveld would have done his argument some service by explaining the underlying causality of Reskin and Roos work, then demonstrating how it has also been occurring in the US Armed Forces. Is it just the percentage of females? In order for his argument to be valid one also has to accept that the US Armed Forces have been in decline since they began "feminizing" under LBJ. This is a stretch to say the least. Van Creveld comes off here as a crotchety old chauvinist. "The damn split-tails are ruining everything," a retired First Sergeant once quipped to me. As impressive as Van Creveld's academic credentials are, he doesn't add much to the First Sergeant's statement.

On the notion of women in the infantry, there are two general issues. First is that physical standards must not shift in order to accommodate female Marines and soldiers. I once read that only 10-20% of the US male population aged 18-25 was eligible for service in the Marine Corps, once all factors (fitness, height/weight, education/intelligence, criminal history, etc.) have been considered. Advocates of "women in combat" have to accept that the eligibility ratio for women in the infantry will likely be <%1. The standards must be maintained in the face of what could be significant political pressure.

All that said, physical standards are actually the lesser issue. The more significant issue is human nature. There will be ugly instances that come out of this. Unintended pregnancies, division amongst the ranks, sexual assaults, false claims of sexual assaults, are to be expected by anyone with a realistic grasp of how young men and women behave. The U.S. military may already have a crisis on its hands with sexual assault and its existing female population. Is including females in the type-A-dominated combat arms fields going to improve this situation?

The first general argument - meeting physical standards, makes inclusion of females in the combat arts impractical. However, the immutable laws of human nature make it unwise and dangerous.