Will adding women to Combat Arms help or hinder this country's ability to fight wars?

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Will adding women to Combat Arms help or hinder this country's ability to fight wars?

Like it or not, and more often than not, it seems like you are forced to make decisions not on what you want, but what you need.

Throw out most of your preconceptions and thoughts about women in combat arms roles.  MOTHAX just threw up a poll, and I think most of us, in our first take on the issue, missed the point.  The issue of what we want to be the policy on women in combat arms is irrelevant.  The real issue is what we need to be doing about this, based on the only thing military decisions should ever be based on – mission.

Military commanders are faced with operational mandates every day.  Sometimes, those mandates dictate difficult choices.  How hard was it to plan the assault on Fortress Europe, knowing what you’d be doing to those young soldiers who’d be hitting those beaches in wave after wave, knowing the meat grinder awaiting those first waves?  How hard is it to decide who the least mission essential member of your platoon is from among your buddies who’ve fought so hard and shared so much time together, so you can make that person remove their gas mask to determine the area is safe – knowing the consequences that may await them? 

 These are decisions that shouldn’t be political, but often are.  These are decisions that shouldn’t be motivated by feelings over cold, hard logic – but they often are.  This is the kind of decision that the military really needs to make here.

Now, that doesn’t mean it’s as simple as we would like to think it is.  There are more facets to this problem than there are on the Hope Diamond.

 Being in the middle of war is a lousy time to start changing policies.  But the policy as it stands now puts women in harm’s way without the necessary training to deal with the combat, or the back end respect of the VA to acknowledge their combat experiences when it comes to receiving benefits.  There are personnel issues attendant with men and women serving in the same unit that represent a distraction to mission accomplishment.  But men and women already serve in the same unit in other locations and they are expected to accomplish the mission.

Maintaining a mission capable fighting force demands troops who are psychologically able to complete the mission, and there is believed to be a devastating psychological effect to seeing women injured or killed.  But is there no devastating psychological effect to seeing the same of men?  Aren’t women even now coming off the C-5’s at Andrews Air Force Base on stretchers with missing limbs?  I know a crusty old Colonel, as hard an Infantryman as they make, who never misses an opportunity to reflect on how many he carried off those planes himself.  To him it’s a very personal crusade to see that if we are sending women into harm’s way we stop pretending and start giving them the training and respect they deserve.

But there’s feelings getting into the mix again.

We’ve seen what people feel – of those who took the time to respond, we are split about 50-50 on what we feel is the right answer.  I don’t have an answer, but maybe I have the question.

Maybe at the end of the day, there is only one question to ask.  Will adding women to Combat Arms help or hinder this country’s ability to fight wars?

Posted in the burner | 23 comments
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Better training produces better soldiers, sailors and marines across the board. All troops regardless of sex that are going to be exposed to hostile action should receive the exact same training and be held to the exact same physical fitness and training standards. Requiring less does a grave disservice to both the military and the individual service member. Thus with the proper training and standards I think the answer is YES it will help the country's ability to fight wars.

I believe that it will be for the most part neutral if policy is written correctly and followed without pushing a PC agenda. Key in my mind are the standards. There can not be two standards. If it takes ability a/b/c to be a grunt then if you meet a/b/c/ you can be a grunt. If you don’t meet the standard then you need to be in another line of work.
There are real requirements both physical and mental for Combat Arms occupations. Those that argue women can not drag their buddy out of a burning hummer are saying the same thing. The false assumption here is that DoD would follow the WWII model and put anybody in 11B and then build an Infantryman. That is not what I am advocating. In order to be placed in a position to drag a wounded buddy out of an ambush, the individual should meet the same physical and mental standards specifically established for the MOS. I am aware that the old PT test is being eliminated and a new more realistic one involving dragging dead weight, running on balance beams with IBA and weapon and other requirements is being developed. If a man or woman can not meet the standards they would not be in that MOS.
I absolutely agree that PC in the military is putting people’s lives at risk. The practice of quotas has to be eliminated. However, if any individual can meet the standards they should have the opportunity …not the guarantee to be successful at any job, but the opportunity to prove themselves.
The nature of war has changed from the Vietnam, WWII, Korea days. The way it was, is not the way it is now. We have to build a force that will serve us into the future. Not one that speaks to the past. The all volunteer military works because of combination of factors, increased and expensive benefits, a poor economy, and the adrenaline rush of the current optempo. When the economy improves, benefits are cut, and the war is over, recruiting will suffer. The little secret in the Pentagon is that manning the force may not be attainable and at the very least it will take all of our available qualified resources. Not just men.
Women are currently defacto serving in combat roles at the squad and platoon level. My famous example is the female 92Yankee (supply) working at Camp Phoenix in Kabul who is, due to the loss of the male 92Yankee at one of the FOB’s sent out of the wire and is attached (not assigned because that is against policy of women in combat)to what is in effect a company size element. Moving to the FOB she happens to be a driver in a hummer in a convoy that runs into a complex ambush.
Her vehicle gets hit, she has to drag the gunner out, she has to engage the enemy until assistance arrives, she is captured, all the same scenarios argued that women can not do. Where is the difference between ground truth and what is being advocated? Women are getting wounded and killed by the enemy, if you doubt me; Google, Dawn Halfaker, Danielle Green, or Melissa Stockwell, to name a few. In the 10 years of continuous combat since 9-11, women caught in a firefight have not run, hid, or become hysterical in any greater degree than their male counterparts. Women who join know what the risks are just as men do. Those who don’t want to take the risk don’t join the team.
Finally, the sex in the foxhole thing. Not to open another wound but, that boat has sailed. That issue is now a moot point as DADT and open sex between consulting same sex partners is ok. Buggery in the midst of a firefight now does not require female participation. However, it is illegal and any inappropriate activity regardless of sex should be punished when the shooting stops.

Rules are supposed to be enforced by leadership. If we don't have the ability to show real leadership and enforce the rules and standards, then we have a far greater problem than women in combat.

@Robert Ireland

I couldn't agree more. Regardless of what powers well above my head decide about Combat MOS and gender, the reality is that we're putting people in harm's way whether we want to admit it or not. The mindset needs to change that sending someone to a combat zone in a non-combat MOS will protect them from battle and we need to ensure they have the training, hardening and preparation to get through it. Across the board the military would do well to examine and change (and I believe they are in the process of doing this) the pre-deployment preparations as well as overall fitness standards to reflect what challenges our service members actually encounter overseas.

Any man who would acquiesce in a policy of committing women to combat is a pathetic individual indeed.

To begin with ... are you really so shallow intellectually that you can't see that this is one more Democratic/communist storming of our cultural gates following immediately as it is on the heels of the blasted DADT repeal?? Did THAT make the military stronger?! Get a life!

Mark my word, this will not be the last step either as your daughters will not far hence be DRAFTED since the need is greater than ever today for "cannon fodder" for Obama, Gates and Mullen and all the other amoral country club cadre now in charge of our armed forces.

Most feminist driving this issue with their metrosexual fellow travelers have never--nor will EVER--see a day of combat!

It is time for the real men to stand up and stop this nefarious plot dead in its tracks--NOW!

Officer Infantry
A former top grad IOBC 10-70
8th SF Group

Putting women in combat arms will prove to be one of the most idiotic moves this country will ever make. Not only will moral suffer, but it will cause harm not only to the mission but to this country. The idea that women can handle combat as well as men is laughable. And one poster was talking about a specific women who was captured and had supposedly dragged the gunner to safety and then battled until she was captured was a total lie put out by the feminists in command. She did none of that as it was proven by her own statements when she was rescued and finally interviewed. She cowered in the cab of her truck unable to even fire her weapon since she panicked and was unable to even take the safety off. That was HER statement.

I have seen too many women who in stressfull situations that you would have thought they could handle simply panic. Watch any video or movie where there has been danger suddenly from a sniper or other such danger. Example, the guy a few years ago outside of the whitehouse who started shooting. There was good video of that. The ONLY ones, the only ones in the video moving TOWARDS the man, were men. Other men were covering and protecting women. The ONLY people moving toward the gunman were men. These were civilians, not the whitehouse guards or police. That is typical of the differences between men and women. Yes, I have seen men panic as well. But not to the degree or numbers that I have seen women do so. And panic in a combat unit is injurous to the unit and can be infectious and spread. It is a highly stressful situation. I simply do not think most women could handle it. And trying to be PC and push women into it is stupid.

What do the men that will be working with the female have to say about it.
It's not only military. Can a small woman carry a heavy body out of a burning building ?
It's not a sexist thing, it's common sense.

Can a small man carry a heavy body out of a burning building??

I was an Military Police man. This lie that women can't perform a fireman carry is bs. I am 6'4 230lbs and I have been carried by female MPs. I have seen female MPs hold the line in Riots, but then again those are female MPs and they act like MPs. I sure as hell would not want some little fufu girly Pad clerk backing me up in some shit, but thats a different mindset and a different MOS. Females will do just fine in combat if we train them hard. I really believe the only people who have a problem with this are sexist frat boy types who can't control themselves.

I don't know if it will help or not. But, my experience is that people who really wanted to could always find a way to pull a comrade out of anything burning. Panicking in a deadly, or dangerous situation is not limited to the fairer sex, believe me. Working through that panick and toughing it out is a pretty much learned experience. If you never experience it, you never learn it. I worked with many women over the years in the Marine Corps and for the most part was impressed not only by their physical abilities, but also by their drive to succeed and stand shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts in all situations encountered. If this thinking seems pathetic to some, then perhaps they should rethink their personal concepts and learn what the real world is truly all
about. I believe women have just as much right to try, and to succeed, as all of us men always had.

Just like MSG Loftis, USMC, my experience working women soldiers is how ready they were to learn and tough it out. Sure they would panicky at time, but so did we, who been through dangerous situations. Women, are not assigned to combat units, but are assigned to combat support units. Some of the women sergeants would take the lead and not panicky. Our officers were impressed, because, they were depending on the older NCOS for leadership. They try harder to succeed. Remember, one summer when a small NCO did 100 situps and 100 pushups and run the 2 miles in less than 2 minutes.

If my mother, who was 77 years of ago and 4' 11" tall could pick me up (6' tall & 203 lbs.) and carrier me on her shoulders to get to a phone. I think any woman would try to lift or pull out of a window, a wounded or injury soldier to safety. I'm impressed by their physical abilities and match with their male counterparts.

It's a shame that where women in uniform serve with men, they get raped or bully by both male officers and enlisted. I know, because my sister try to do her job, and ended her career in the serves with an honorable discharge.

If the so called experts think it is a good idea, they should serve with a deployed Military Police company. This branch has been deployed in almost every mission due to the preception that an infintary unit would be over doing it. From my experience in the MP Corps and USAF Security Police, about 10-20% of the women that I have served with can do just a good of a job as the men. But the rest were just not up to par. Also when you put men and women together nature will take its course (sex) and that creates a whole much bigger problem.

My fear is for any women who are captured. The present enemy has little respect for women and they may be subject to severe abuse.

and sawing a mans head off isn't severe abuse? Any woman who chooses to do a combat arms job knows what she's signing up for. She can be raped anywhere in our own country.

P. DeWitt....I could not agree more with you. We keep making excuses for women to be protected more than males with this violence. As a woman myself, I am embarrassed to say that once upon a time, I too held onto the feeble female attitude. that somehow girls/women should be protected like specimens waiting in agar to be cultured, while boys/men are the "tough guys" the warriors, able to leap over tall buildings in a single bound like Superman. I personally don't see men who take steroids to keep up this false pretense as strong men, or "manly". Nor do 90% of women out there. We now have women making overall more than men (Yes, its true....I myself saw this happen as I earned my MBA and grew corporate ladder finding out I was making more than any male counterparts...and no I did not sleep my way there!) We now have more women going off to college than men, we now have more men getting laid off due to economic downturn for fear of "discriminating against women". I fear this "equality" thing has gone just a tad bit too far....we actually discriminate more against boys/men, and it starts early. "Boys Toys" are made out to be army tanks, battleships, weapons, even though these toys are only a "Boys Toy" more than girls in a social construct. It is 100% conditioned and number one reason men commit suicide more than women. It is horrible how you men allow this discrimination ton keep happening, for fear of looking masculine or "Patriotic". Patriotism has nothing to do with believing in America's wars, and certainly fighting in them and "risking your life" (a marketing spin by Pentagon) is not reflective of a Patriot's Patriot in any fashion. There are far more positive ways to serve our nation. Your lives are more important than all this political corruption. . There is no reason a man should register for Selective Service if a woman does not have to, just to vote, get financial aid or otherwise. A huge injustice to men in our society. I never saw this until I brought a beautiful boy into this world. With all this talk about being a "free nation" with equal rights, one needs to take a good hard look at how boys/men are so discriminated against. Sure, most CEOs and political leaders are men, but when you leave that top 0.1% things look different.

Half of my career I have been assigned with women in my unit. All combat support positions in aviation. Flying aircraft, maintenance, fuel handlers, motor pool, etc. If we have a good unit cohesion, I would take ten men and ten women. The result IS the same esprit de corps, confidence, bravery and trust in all of them because they committed them selves as soldiers. When Pres. Bush locked soldiers in Korea and built up the forces in Saudi Arabis, I actually heard more complaning from my me than women. I had had just as much confidence in the women to perform when needed as the men. So yes, I believe women should be allowed to serve in any position in the military.

Other countries in Europe and Israel that have women in close with combat are truly morally and culturally different from America. After all we left Europe because we wanted to be different and that has grow much wider over the centuries. Therefore using those countries as a model is not making a decision base on American values. So that leaves us with American values in the decision making. I see those values giving a NO, NO ,NO answer to "American" women in combat. However I certainly see some of their jobs straying accidentally into combat zones often enough to require they be trained just as hard and carefully as a male going into the combat arms. There is one specialty that would be an excellent career for women in the military wanting the sense, and feel of participating in the actual combat (killing the enemy), and that is armed drone pilots. In fact they wo

uld make better pilots than men.

There is no reason to send women into combat. Their nature, modesty, and calling in life does not fit into the icture of combat. Men can not deal with this who are called upon to defend their homeland.

I or one would not want a woman beside me in a firefignt. Not because of her bravery. Becouse if my life dependeed on her carrying me out if I was wonded I feel that I would die. There may be a few woman that could put me (220 lbs) over there shoulder and carry me out. Its just to risky to even let happen I know your going to say that there are men that couldn't do it eather but I would stand a better chance with a man.

It is all about the casterazation of the Men. By the al mighty great leader who is an absolute idiot.

Some argue that women should be allowed to serve in combat, if they have the desire to do so. I have a real problem with that. If the social engineers in Washington want to make everything absolutely even (which of course they don't), then they should assign individuals to combat units without regard to gender. For that matter, women should be required to register for Selective Service at age 18, just like their male counterparts. If the draft is ever reinstated, then men and women will be treated equally. What could be fairer than that?

Everyone seems to forget one thing..... The female anatomy does not let them perform the same way men do in the field. What happens to a women who sits in a foxhole for 2 weeks? No shower, No hygiene products, etc... Yeast infection, plus other things. Right now, women can NOT be in the field for more than 3 days without having to return to take a shower and clean up. It's Army policy, for hygienic reasons. And just because this particular mission doesn't require women in the field for weeks or days on end, doesn't mean we will never do that kind of mission again. AND BTW, I have personally done missions in Iraq that lasted 2 weeks with ZERO support, such as showers or the ability to clean clothes or anything else like that. Nor any kind of rear support. we were out on our own. Women could not do that, without having to bend over backwards for them and get them back to the rear, or get them their own personal bush showers, and set up an area for them to have privacy, and all kinds of other EXTRA stuff that men do NOT get.

Perhaps the question should not simply be "would adding women to combat help or hinder" but "should the U.S. continue playing Global Cop and engaging in aggressive foreign policy to begin with. Our great country can no affort to conintue down this path of self-destruction. We spen 50-60% of our overall budge on what really cannot conceivably be called "defence" or protection of our nation. Terrorist attacked raley happen (albeit over-hyped fabrication in mainstream media to help fuel the "need" to fight wars). And the attack that happened nearly a decade ago in my country I love so much may have happened (ironically and sadly so) BECAUSE of our continued spending on missiles, shipping them off to hostile nations who turn around and attack other hostile nations. That being said, we have discriminated against boys and men in the USA for too long. Selective Service and the draft b4 it have historically been clear cut abrogations of civil liberties of the people, in particular men. If we are to sustain our increasingly unjust wars and sustain the archaic "Selective Service" requirement that still today discriminates against young men, women should be registering for this now as well. A better solution would be to drop Selectice Service altogether, as it is an example of how we are not on a truely "volunteer" system, and it a direct attack on the freedoms, liberties and justice for all. Our politicians are alwaysing saying that if a draft ever reinstituted, women will be drafted, which would be a step in the right direction of equality. Yet why then are women not "requried" to register for SS now? Why should men not have the right to vote, get financial aid for college, or be fined $250k for this outdated thing if women are not subjected to that? With modern robotics technology, physical power is not an anser, not to mention there are plenty of women physical as strong or stronger than some men. It's more genetic than gender specific. Testestorone is not some can of spinach that instantly makes young men leap over tall buildings and crash through walls. Lets leave Popeye as the made-up character he is. You men should be only fighting against these discriminations against you, not being used as pawns for greed and profit, only put into pockets of politicans making money off special interest groups. War does not protect our nation, and in fact does the exact oppoiste. The USA is slipping in all categories (education, healthcare, pollution control hence cancer prevention) compared to every other developed nation, the number one reason our sustained spending on war/weapons/"defence" even through we really have less to "defend" than we re made to believe. God Bless America

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.