As noted widely throughout the press, Army 1st Lieutenant Ashley White died on 22 October 2011 in Kandahar when the joint special operations task force to which she was attached triggered an IED. In a press release, U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) stated that White "played a crucial role as a member of a special operations strike force. Her efforts highlight both the importance and necessity of women on the battlefield today."
Despite the public praise and emphasis on the value of women on the battlefield, the fact remains that Ashley White should not have been in the company of that particular assault force on that day in Kandahar. In fact, unless U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) had granted an exception specifically for White to be assigned to that particular ground unit, she should not have been there at all. At least, not according to the DoD Combat Exclusion Policy and Army Regulation 600-13.
Combat Exclusion Policies
The Combat Exclusion Policy is based on a 1988 DoD restriction on women’s service that created the “Risk Rule” for assignment of women in the military. The rule excluded women from non-combat units or missions if the risks of exposure to direct combat, hostile fire, or capture were equal to or greater than the risk in the combat units they supported.
Based on the experiences of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, DoD concluded that everyone in theater was at risk and thus a risk-based policy was no longer appropriate. As a result, the “Risk Rule” was rescinded on 13 January 1994 by then Secretary of Defense Les Aspin and was replaced by the “direct ground combat assignment rule.”  The policy also permits the Services to impose further restrictions on the assignment of women when where the Service Secretary attests that the costs of appropriate berthing and privacy arrangements are prohibitive; where units and positions are doctrinally required to physically collocate and remain with direct ground combat units that are closed to women; where units are engaged in long range reconnaissance operations and Special Operations Forces missions; and where job related physical requirements would necessarily exclude the vast majority of women Service members.
The rationale for these restrictions at the time was that there was no military need for women in ground combat positions because an adequate number of men were available. Additionally, transcripts of a 1994 press briefing indicate that DoD officials believed that the assignment of women to direct ground combat units “would not contribute to the readiness and effectiveness of those units” because of physical strength, stamina, and privacy issues.”
Of course, the logic of combat exclusion policies, as currently written, turns on the conceptualization of the battlefield as a linear environment. Because the modern battlefield in increasingly non-linear and fluid, these policies are nearly impossible to apply, particularly in COIN environments that lack a well-defined forward area, such as Afghanistan. This fact was most recently noted by the March 2011 report by the Military Leadership Diversity Commission. At this time, its recommendation that DoD eliminate “combat exclusion policies” that prevent women from being assigned to ground combat units below the brigade level has not been acted upon. 
Female Soldiers in Combined Joint Operations Area-Afghanistan (CJOA-A)
Female Engagement Teams (FET) are currently being employed in theater by U.S. and coalition forces to support their battle space owners’ COIN objectives by conducting key female engagements with the local population to build individual, group and community relationships, conduct information gathering, female searches and limited tactical operations. Similarly, Cultural Support Teams (CST), such as the one 1st LT White was a part of, provide direct support to Special Forces. The contributions currently being made by FETs and CSTs are receiving attention in CJOA-A and in the United States. From an information operations perspective, their value lies as much in their ability to engage with women and children (approximately 51% of the Afghan population is women) as to glean valuable population-centric information that men might not be able to get. Therefore, it is not surprising that women are viewed as valuable “battlefield enablers.”
Commander, U.S. Army Special Operations Command (COMUSASOC) recently stated that “they [women] are in Afghanistan right now and the reviews are off the charts. They’re doing great.” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict & Interdependent Capabilities (SOLIC) Michael Lumpkin said that commanders agree that the program has been a success. Current plans are consistent with these statements - the third group of CST women is about to begin training, and the tentative plan is to have 25 permanent Army CST teams by 2016. Lumpkin noted that "We're coming late to the table, but we've recognized the value (of the program), and I think this will transcend beyond Afghanistan. ... I don't see them going away any time soon."
Our conventional force leadership clearly agrees. U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) recently published the Army’s Female Engagement Team Handbook (version 3) in September 2011 and there is a March 2011 Forces Command directive that requires each deploying brigade combat team to have nine FETs per brigade; providing three FETs for each of their maneuver battalions and two FETs for each Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT). In August 2011, International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) echoed the same requirements and units in theater are currently forming those teams.
Rationale for Lifting Combat Exclusion Policies
White’s death should serve as a catalyst for serious debate about the role of women in the military more generally. Most people are familiar with the equity-based arguments against combat exclusion policies. According to the Principal Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Special Operations, female U.S. Soldiers have served and are currently serving in dangerous roles. Some have been killed and maimed. "Any day that they're walking into a village and engaging with the population they are at the same risk as those Special Operation Forces, battlefield they're detailed to... These women are on the front lines in very austere locations."
And yet their inability to formally hold a “combat position” affects their career trajectories. For example, the exclusion of women from specific requirements, such as combat service experience, translates into an inability to reflect their contributions on their officer evaluation report (OER), non-commissioned officer evaluation reports (NCOER) and both officer and enlisted officer’s record briefs (ORB/ERB). The merit of this service would provide women with a greater opportunity for promotion into the senior ranks, specifically general officer levels. While such equity-based lines of argument obviously have merit, they are usually consumed by the politics of gender and are dismissed before serious debate has time to emerge.
We argue, however, that the need to revisit DoD’s combat exclusion policies sooner rather than later is not primarily derived from any aspect of gender politics. Instead, we assert that DoD’s current policies regarding the role of women in combat is serving to tie the hands of commanders and place additional strain on our already overburdened forces.
Numerous defense officials have cited the tremendous stress placed upon our all-volunteer force by the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Gates said during a speech at Duke University’s Page Auditorium on 29 September 2010, “The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have placed tremendous strain on U.S. forces and their families. The all-volunteer force conceived in the 1970s was designed to train, prepare, and deploy for a major and quick conventional conflict…” During a 2009 Senate hearing, Army Vice Chief of Staff General Peter W. Chiarelli called the Army a “stressed and tired force” and noted that that 12- to 15-month deployments and the stress of repeated deployments play a role in the increase in Army suicides. The Army already faces perpetual shortages of junior officers (2nd Lieutenant through Captain) qualified to deploy. Without change, recruitment of soldiers capable to fill combat positions will become increasingly difficult and male soldiers currently facing multiple combat tours will see almost no change in their op-tempo.
In addition, on 6 January 2011, under the direction from the White House, Defense Secretary Gates announced that the Pentagon would cut projected spending by $78 billion over the next five years and shrink the size of the Army and Marine Corps. With the Force Cap Reduction occurring in theater, we need to be more flexible in order to meet current operational needs. DoD’s current policy cripples the battle space owner’s ability to fully utilize female soldiers. By allowing women to serve in all roles, changes in combat exclusion policies would provide commanders at all levels the much needed flexibility to employ all of his or her resources to achieve operational objectives and reduce stress on the force.
Experimentation for our Future Forces
The current COIN environment in CJOA-A provides an excellent opportunity to experiment and rapidly garner valuable lessons about the utility of FETs and CSTs and the challenges of integrating women into combat arms positions more generally. The results of such a trial effort could then be taken into account as we try to find intelligent ways to cut our current force structure and build our future forces.
Some of the important questions to be examined include:
- Are FETs and CSTs having a direct or indirect operational impact? Under what conditions and for what missions are they more (or less) useful?
- Is the type of information that FETs and CSTs gathering primarily useful at a tactical level or can it be aggregated for analysis/inclusion in command-level products?
- What are the primary variables that shape the effectiveness of FET and CST across the Regional Commands (RCs)?
- What does this tell us about how to structure and use this resource in the future? (e.g., mix of male to female, differences in mission, etc.)
- Do commanders believe that they would have more operational flexibility if they were able to place FET and CST members into combat positions?
- In consideration of the coming drawdown, is there a benefit to making further amendments to combat exclusion policies?
The ISAF Joint Command (IJC) FET Program Manager (PM) is currently working to examine some of these issues. Specifically, she is in the process of visiting FETs which are operating in six Regional Commands (RCs) in order to gather information through meetings, interviews and distribution of an IJC FET questionnaire. It is anticipated that a FET Comprehensive Assessment Report will be completed and sent to NATO, TRADOC, the IJC Commander and the RC Commanders by the end of December. She also plans to provide legal guidance on how to integrate FETs to a combat arms position in support of the conventional army and special operations and define the FETs relationship with NATO FETs and Gender Advisors.
Additional studies that focus on the operational imperatives for the integration of women into combat arms positions and the impact this would have on our force structure would be very useful.
In 1979, the repeal of a Dutch law led to the integration of the Dutch military, with no formal restrictions on women serving combat duty. On 27 September 2011, Australia’s government announced that female soldiers will soon be able to serve in front-line roles, removing the barriers of entry to women into seven percent of military specialties. In October, the Mexican Congress voted to allow women to serve in the highest positions in the military. Other countries where women are able to serve in more active combat roles include Canada, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland.
In light of these events, rescinding or changing our combat exclusion policies makes sense because it will help all key players: ISAF, the U.S. Armed Forces writ large, battle space owners, and female soldiers. The Armed Forces will be able to use their current resources (women) to fill the gaps in areas affected by force reduction; women earn equal recognition, combat credit and greater opportunity to obtain senior level promotions; and commanders are no longer limited on how they have greater flexibility to employ their internal resources. The existing combat exclusion policies are outdated and limit not only women, but also the ability to maintain an agile and responsive force; it’s time for change.
 USASOC, “Press Release: U.S. Army Special Operations Soldiers Killed in Combat,” 23 October 2011.
 U.S. General Accounting Office, “Information on DoD’s Assignment Policy and Direct Ground Combat Definition,” October 1998; MILDEC, “Women in Combat” p.2.
 Secretary of Defense Les Aspin, “Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule.” The memorandum defined the term “direct ground combat” as: [E]ngaging an enemy on the ground with individual or crew served weapons, while being exposed to hostile fire and to a high probability of direct physical contact with the hostile force’s personnel. Direct ground combat takes place well forward on the battlefield while locating and closing with the enemy to defeat them by fire, maneuver, or shock effect.”
 AR 600-13 is particularly restrictive. The Army’s definition of direct combat is broader than DoD’s in that it includes both the risk of capture and the repulsion of an enemy assault. In addition, the Army policy prohibits the assignment of women to units whose routine mission is to engage in direct ground combat, while DoD’s policy prohibits the assignment of women to units whose primary mission is to engage in direct ground combat.
U.S. General Accounting Office, October 1998, p. 4.
 Military Leadership Diversity Commission, “From Representation to Inclusion: Diversity Leadership for the 21st Century Military,” 15 March 2011. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (Section 596) established the Military Leadership Diversity Commission (MLDC).
 Major General Bennet Sacolick, Commander, Army Special Warfare Center and School, Cultural Support Program Briefing, 15 September 2011. OPR: AQOJK-DRSE.
 Associated Press, “Death Highlights Women’s Role in Special Ops Teams,” 26 October 2011.
 US Medicine – The Voice of Federal Medicine, “Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Suicide Rate in the Military.” November 7, 2011, April 2009 < http://www.usmedicine.com/articles/senate-committee-holds-hearing-on-suicide-rate-in-the-military-.html
 In the Army, twenty percent of these ranks are filled by female Soldiers who could be drawn upon as a resource. Fifteen percent of West Point undergraduates are women, yet these potential leaders are precluded from career advancement due to their lack of combat experience is a discriminator. Associated Press, “Death highlights women’s role in Special Ops teams.” October 2011, 3 Nov. 2011 <http://news.yahoo.com/death-highlights-womens-role-special-ops-teams-195034667.html
 Washington Post, “Pentagon to cut spending by $78 billion, reduce troop strength.” January 7, 2011, November 7, 2011 <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/06/AR2011010603628.html
 Exceptions to the DoD Combat Exclusion Policy may be granted on an individual mission basis after review by U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A). This is a step in the right direction
The New York Times, “Australia Says It Will Open Combat Roles to Women.” September 27, 2011. November 7, 2011 <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/world/asia/australia-will-allow-women-to-serve-in-frontline-combat.html
About the Author(s)
We have been in Iraq and Afghanistan going on 10 ten years. Why do we feel the need to bring this subject up now? FET is a Civil Affairs mission. CA Soldiers (female) have been conducting these types of missions in both Theatres as well as in other countries. FET is a line of effort. Unfortunately, we have Soldiers and civilians in Afghanistan trying to separate FET out because it's viewed as the new "cool" thing, separate bullet or paragraph on their evaluation form or adding another article to discuss in an academic setting.
We have BCTs pulling internal females to perform FET operations without nesting any assets into CA/PRT/ADT operations. We have just added yet another enabler to the battlefield without proper training. The Afghan battlespace is littered with enablers stepping all over each other and we are still not accomplishing anything except wasting money.
To become a CA Soldier (NCO), your GT score must be at a certain level and the training is normally three months, For Officers, training is also three months. FETs/CSTs etc are normally not CA and do not receive as much training as a regular CA Soldier (Reserve/Active Duty). These Soldiers also do not get the opportunity to perform FET/CST but for one tour. A CA Soldier deploys multiple times and can draw, grow and train from past experiences.
We have Soldiers, both male and female moving throughout the battlefield. All jobs in a combat setting are dangerous whether we leave the FOB or remain on base to conduct business.
Bottom line - leave FET and other Civil Affairs business to those who are trained - a CA Soldier. When Iraq and Afghanistan are no longer the "cool" or "hottest" topics to write an OP ED, article or book, We (Civil Affairs Soldiers) as always will be deploying and working with 100% of the population.
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Thank you for helping us with a recommendation on how to approach this integration. It makes technical sense. Hopefully, we can apply it into the real world; if our decision makers allow the test.
May 2011, FORSCOM directed all deploying units to select and train their full-time FETs prior to deployment. Perhaps, we could add the trained FETs to be inserted into a test INF BN/IBCT/HBCT at that time.
We will let you know what our leadership thinks of this idea.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
From a purely technical point of view, I certainly do think that such an experiment would help. I would say that it would have to be an experiment to test gross effects rather than simply to prove a point. By that I mean including a female or two in a platoon will allow for their impacts to be masked by the male majority, reducing the whole thing to anecdote.
A brief thought on it makes me think that an ideal experiment would be an INF/CAB Battalion in an IBCT or HBCT with an artificial 50/50 gender ratio at the enlisted levels with females retrained into an 11 & 19 series MOS'. After training, those who come from MP/FA/ENG MOS's who are NCO's could be placed into several section, squad leader and Platoon Sgt positions. 50/50 adjustment of staff positions also. (line 11/19 series officers would be more difficult to retrain, so should be omitted in the experiment, but I don't think it is all that relevant. If it works at enlisted level, it will work at officer level.)
So, step 1, MOSQ enough females to meet the manning requirement (with a little overhead), adjust a test BN that is 1.5 yrs out on its ARFORGEN for deployment. Have them train together at home station and NTC/JRTC (where they MUST face frequent conventional/HIC scenarios, not just patrol the natives) and then deploy them deliberatelly to a high intensity battlefield. Key to it all...DO NOT ADJUST any training/physical standards. Then sit back and watch. Learn. And be prepared for the experiment outcomes.
Naturally, a real experiment would have more to consider and control, but those are the basics I would like to see to prove the concept before force-wide changes. And as I mentioned, this is just a technical approach. Overcomming the cultural question of "why even have female inf?" is an issue apart from just experimenting with. Additionally, the political bs that will flow from any such attempt with questions of funding, accountability, and career risk to the officers in such a BN is an issue onto itself. More power to anyone who can make it happen.
It is very difficult to have this discussion without falling into demogoguery...but here goes an attempt. (For reference, my position on this is conservative.)
There are three lines of argument in this paper that are in my opinion the "crux of the matter". 1. FET/CST/GWOT experience of women in combat zones 2. Career progression fairness 3. Foreign army experience. Eventhough there is brief mention of the male/female physical capability and unit cohesion arguments in the article, I would leave those for last. Also, they are partially addressed by the other three.
1. FET/CST/GWOT experience: The first thing that always gets ignored in advancing FET/CST experience is that these roles are by definition not combat, they just happen to be dangerous. As a scout PL in SW Baghdad I had plenty of occasion to take out females with me on patrol to a KLE, or while conducting a Check point, or raid. Never did I concider them an organic combat asset. I planned with them as an environemntal element in my battle space, as mission enablers, but not as maneuver assets. Even a combat camera female out on a raid was not there to help me succeed in my mission tactically. She had a task and purpose apart from the tactical mission. Their arms were for their self protection and only incidentally to boost my firepower in case of ambush. In either case, while I at no point doubted their ability to return accurate fire, I did not have the same confidence in expecting them to join a building-clearing team or to go charging across fields and canals pursuing bad guys. I expected that of my 19D and 11B soldiers and more.
In general, aside from impressive anecdotes of females in firefights, we have not had much by way of example of females on the front lines (read combat role) in the invasion of Iraq, take-down of Falluja, Sadr City and Tal Afar, patroling Korengal, etc. While females were present in all of these instances in some capacity, none of these examples and others have demonstrated a reliable pattern of tactical performance from females. Perhaps a case can be made for a test Inf BN to get posted to a Korengal-type environment for a tour. I, for one, would love to see that experiment. But to base an entire argument for integration on anecdote and non-tactical mission sets is a problematic to say the least.
2. Career progression fairness: This is a valid concern. The Army/Marine Corps are ground combat organizations. That is their raison d'etre. Having logisticians and intelligence officers beat the Infantry and Armor guys to manuever BN/BCT/Division command is an absurd expectation. So naturally, if we are to have females ordering tactical operations then they MUST be Infantry, Armor, Artillery officers (read: Manuever). The force is not served by having GO's and senior field grades coming in greater numbers from CS and CSS backgrounds because they have had the occasion to encounter IED's and firefights in their careers. A hundred IED's suffered on a Logpac does not make for a better or even a practiced tactician. Planning and conducting raids, LP/OP's, movement to contact patrols, taking bridges (e.g. Obj PEACH OIF 2003), even being on a platoon QRF shift, etc are the maneuver missions that breed practiced and competent tacticians and therefore BN/BCT/Division commanders. Making the argument about careers is a dangerous and, frankly, unprofessional argument. Make the case that women will make no difference, or at best improve the maneuver force by being included in manuever assignments.
Lastly, I will say that involving female MI/Signal/Log soldiers in battalion staffs is far less contraversial than having females as Inf, Armor, Sapper, SF, line artillery soldiers. Separating the two might well help advance women into career-boosting staff roles without getting as much resistance as trying to get female hooah-rangers on the ground.
3. Foreign Armies: This is perhaps the easiest to contest. It is an argument made often. The Canadians et al have been part of NATO missions in OEF for years. Yet we have not really seen reviews of their operational experiences with women in integrated squads/platoons/companies. I would note that most of these Armies are not experienced in any diagnostically useful way. They are peacekeeper Armies with very limited HIC experience, if any, with a very small professional force. Pointing to experiments in other armies that are still in test phase without researching and referencing their effects does not make for a strong argument. Lack of data on combat experience and the vastly different nature of size and operational strain that separate these armies from ours are obstacles to be overcome before one can take this line of reasoning seriously.
Sheila - regarding your query on my comment about the operational experience of the countries you list as having integrated females into direct combat roles...
My interpretation of your use of other countries employing women in direct combat roles was that you sought to undergird your argument by demonstrating successful integration elsewhere as a model for the United States.
My issue with this argument was that the operational experience of the countries you list has having no limitation on females serving in combat roles is entirely germane to the question at hand - comparing the employment of the armed forces of Sweden with the armed forces of the United States is similar to comparing the operational experience of a local township volunteer fire department with that of New York City. The uniforms and equipment are similar, the basics of fighting a fire are the same, the demands on the force and the individuals employed are entirely different. The vagaries of law enforcement personnel is far worse as every police department has its own set of standards and expectations, which truly makes "comparison" between law enforcement organizations a most difficult exercise.
To continue, I felt that the argument was unnecessary and possibly counterproductive. It was unnecessary because there is no need to compare the United States with other countries to debate the merit of your case. To do so is to risk a tangetial argument that truly is irrelevant (e.g., the Norwegian Army of WWII was largely unmobilized, scattered, overwhelmed, and confused by the orders of a pro-Nazi government so very little can be said about the abilities of that army at that time?). It is also counterproductive because you risk other arguments about how the success of women in the Swiss Armed Forces, whose only recent employment as a military was to provide a tiny number of unarmed personnel to support medical and logistics services to peacekeeping missions, can possibly inform decisions in the United States. These are arguments that I think would only serve to distract from your main point.
There is a plethora of articles, studies and information papers written about Gender equality in the military and most recently a Military Leadership Commission panel that tailored their argument on that issue as well but it has fallen on deaf ears and little or no progress has been made to provide equal opportunity for service women to serve in all roles. Therefore, we used a factual examples of the CSTs/FETs performing alongside conventional and special forces in support of their efforts.
Also, please elaborate on your position on “Offending the courage and ability of those particular armies.” Are you saying that the nation’s that we listed that have no limitation on females serving in combat roles are irrelevant because they’re not operationally experienced? If that is the case, by what measure of operational experience are you comparing them to so we can review them as well as our US forces in this assessment? I trust that those countries will probably disagree with you; particularly the women in the Norwegian Armed Forces who have served in all arms and services since 1938 and during World War II. However, I could be wrong so please share your thoughts.
Lastly, I do concur with the fire department example and that each person regardless of sex should be required to meet the requirements of any position.
Before writing the article, we did discuss the issue that it was doubtful that females would flood the military seeking combat roles if permitted. And, if they can meet the physical requirements it should not be a problem. So, I agree with the bulk of your comments. In the long term, whether or not there is a "need" is an issue that should be seriously examined. It most likely varies over time and space. We are hoping that someone will be willing to delve into some of these issues so that we can have constructive discussions on the matter.
By the way, your fire department example is very interesting and instructive.
Again, it is very difficult to attempt to create "need" based arguments for any particular demographic and their service in the military - because, fundamentally, there does not exist the need the authors purport to demonstrate.
First, the list of countries that use females in direct combat roles would be better left out of the argument entirely. One does not need risk offending the courage and ability of those particular militaries to note that they are hardly indicative of operationally experienced armies from which serious conclusions can be drawn.
Second, the presence of females in "direct ground combat roles" in order to mitigate perceived optempo issues is a misdirection. The source of high optempo among certain occupational specialties and units has everything to do with manning policies and force-to-tail ratios, and little to do with the nature of the individuals serving as the source of manning. It is worth taking a look at history and reminding ourselves that there was an almost catastrophic shortage of Army infantrymen in the ETO in 1944 while a vast surplus of rear echelon troops flourished. This state of affairs, manpower poverty among plenty, had nothing to do with qualifications and everything to do with decisions the Army made about the support structure required to support its combat arms units.
In the same vein, the force-to-tail ratio has certainly not lessened in the intervening half a century. The optempo issue of combat arms units remains, not as an issue of any particular demographics ability to serve or not serve, but on policies regarding what constitutes necessary support for combat arms units. About four years ago, the Marine Corps recognized that tens of thousands of its Marines had never deployed, while many others had deployed numerous times - this was manpower inefficiency in action, not demographic necessities, or endemic malingering.
An important aside is to note that the success of any particular individual in combat is directly related to the method of employment. In short, it is far easier to employ a heavy machinegun from a turret than it is to dismount it, carry it some substantial distance, elevation, or both, employ it, and repeat on a regular, sustained basis. It is an artificiality to pretend that one method of employment is more likely than the other - both must be done if required. It is this fact that ignited the debate about occupational specialty related physical proficiency standards that raged in the 1980s (for those who remember DARPA).
Which ties into this reality...the authors would have been better served, frankly, by arguing gender equality. The armed forces of democracies are not inherently efficient, they are inherently democratic. Often, this means they possess a certain amount of inefficiency, and quite often the people support the inefficiencies as the cost to be born for living their democratic ideals.
What this means in practical terms is that, if the American people desire that females have the opportunity to serve in direct combat roles, then females should be afforded that opportunity IF they can meet the requirements of the position. It is that "if" around which this argument should really revolve.
I reference, specifically, the experience of females integrating into the country's fire departments as an example of how this would look. Despite attempts to use such tests inappropriately, by and large, fire departments established physical standards that accurately reflected the actual nature of the job. Carrying fire hose up five or so flights of stairs, actually handling the ladders found on the engines, carrying and employing life-saving equipment weighing in excess of 50 pounds, carrying fire victims, etc. Men and women who could meet the standards could become fire fighters, those that could not, did not. While integration is not without its issues, this is a democratic solution to what this democracy demanded of its emergency responders.
Further, what the fire services have witnessed is that there has not been a huge upsurge in the numbers of females in the firehouse. This is partly a reality of the physical requirements of the job, partly an issue of continued discrimination issues in a male-dominated field, but also due to a lack of interest among females. The point is that females who desire to serve as a fire fighter, and can meet the requirements, can serve.
This is the appropriate way ahead for the authors. The "need" for any particular graphic beyond the male population is a dead end argument easily refuted. What is appropriate is that if the American people desire females to have the opportunity to serve in direct combat roles, there is a way to do this which provides the opportunity while not artificially modifying the standards required to perform the job.
For In the Know, can you relay some of the negative stories? Myself, I can't think of too many.
Just like with males, females that don't want to be there will not perform well. Females that do want to be there will be just fine.
Overall I do see males handling the combat load better, due to weight carried v. body weight and muscle mass. However, I've seen enough females that are capable that I think it warrants further examination at the least.
For me personally, the benefit I can gain from females being on the patrol outweigh the negatives.
Your point on "I feel the selective service registration exemption for women should be revoked..." is immaterial since women as well as men have been volunteering to serve regardless of a service registration.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
Make it Matter,
In my opinion no as these issues are not related. To drag the baggage of the draft policy into this debate would needlessly muddy the waters as it is possible to be vehemently opposed to one while supporting the other.
On a personal opinion note, I feel the selective service registration exemption for women should be revoked regardless of whether they are allowed to serve in combat arms positions.
In the Know,
Wow! How can I articulate this without you insinuating that I may be biased or incapable of listening, capturing and equally assessing each person's perspectives whether they agree with us or not? Allow me to reassure you that all positive and negative comments are included in the assessment. Unfortunately, it probably has no merit with you because it is clear your mind set that I, the Program Manager, is naïve and short-sighted, so I’ll just say, “thank you very much for your interesting insight and I will agree to disagree with your opinion of me.” Finally, we will print out the all comments made on this article and address each one during our assessment.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
Make it Matter,
No- as the authors note, this is about career progression- not national security. When gender equality (defined as "individual" and not equal across all individuals) and careerism trump national security then don't expect anything remotely fair to any population groups (reciprocating "equality" towards the burden men take on for this country).
This is done- not even for one gender population- but for a few ideologues who want greater access to higher rank. Sad, too- because if anyone thinks that Program Manager will give an honest appraisal- or that anyone with a negative view of the FETs will ever be heard- I submit they are very naive. This is politically-charged and framed in the same way as the gay debate was framed: you are a bigot if you are against this. (It's too bad our Influence-ops folks can't pull the same savvy marketing ploys from these interest groups and use them to support our national interests overseas...)
Unfortunately the guys in the trenches have to live with this stuff- and the reality makes for a curiously ugly picture- for both sexes. But you don't think that'll ever get reported or admitted- do you??
Will any change to the current combat exclusion policy also include discussions about changing the requirements for draft registration? After all, if women are to be allowed to serve in all MOS', including combat arms positions, then all US women ought to be registered for the draft so that they can be placed (voluntarily or involuntarily) in those positions should it become necessary.