Wanted: Your Opinion on Inclusion of Women in Combat Arms Units.

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Wanted: Your Opinion on Inclusion of Women in Combat Arms Units.

 This post is an effort to solicit the opinions of Legionnaires and veterans:   Should the combat arms branches be opened to women if they can pass the same physical, mental and aptitude tests required of their male counterparts?

 We would also like your comments on the subject.  That being said, sending me an email or leaving a comment that says something like “Women need to be taken out of the military entirely” isn’t likely to aid the cause any; that ship has sailed.  Likewise, comments like: “Women are just as good as men” doesn’t add to our knowledge.  What we are looking for are well-reasoned comments on the efficacy of allowing women to serve in the combat arms branches that they have traditionally been barred from serving in.  We want everyone’s opinion, but are particularly looking for the opinion of those who have served at “the tip of the spear.”

For purposes of this discussion, let us assume that there is a standard, and any female inclusion in Combat Arms units would be based on that standard, without alteration, now or in the future (unless to make it tougher).  So, comments like “A woman couldn’t drag a man from a firefight” aren’t particularly useful.  I’m guessing there are some jacked up females out there that are way stronger than some of the guys I had, while there are some guys out there that would seriously struggle dragging me to safety.  If the standard is the same for all genders, that should answer that concern.

Anyway, you can take the poll, but what I would really like is some cogent arguments in the comments section.  If you feel uncomfortable leaving a comment there, please feel free to send me your comments via email at mothax@legion.org

The survey has been closed. Thank you to those who participated.

Posted in the burner | 371 comments
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They are in combat now. They should have the proper training and recognition. Hiding the fact that they man a MaDuce in an ambush from the public has got to stop. The argument that they don't have the strength to drag their buddy out of a burning hummer has not stopped DoD's policy of putting them in that hummer on a daily basis anyway while calling them company clerks. I am adamantly opposed to a dual standards for the sake of political expediency. If it takes x skill, strength, or aptitude to do a job, it must be required of everybody, male, female, young, or old. If you can do the job, you should be able to do it. If not, get another line of work.

I agree that if there are specific requiremetns then they should apply to all but, in a true long term ground operation bonds do form and alliances are made that could in fact put individuals and teams in danger. Also, during their time of month it would be obvious that a female was present and this fact could be used to the enemies advantage. Unless that protective wiring has been undone, a man will do what he has to to protect any female he knows.

"During their time of the month?" Really? What are you afraid of, Ron Burgundy, Bears???

I must say not all women have monthly times, especially fit women. Also, there are many contraceptives that stop that time for 3 months, 6 months, and even a year. Get educated.

In most of the discussions on burnpit and Florists I noticed that they are diverted from the main topic that they started to discuss. But in this post this idiotic task is absent and for that I am too pleased to you. This article is unique because of its contents, style and presentation with available information and I think it is the most appreciated article I have ever read that contains all the information which has a great value in our life and really necessary to know about that. Thanks a lot for sharing this information with us and I hope I will get more posts from you like this.

There is medication and procedures that can eliminate menstrual cycles if that's sucha big concern to you.

really time of the month? i have been in for 6months now and haven't gotten my period once.. our boddies adapt and over come.. our boddies basically tells us we are not able to bare a child so we stop our cyle until we stop such intense training.. if there are standards to be a grunt and a female can pass them, what the hell is stoppig them? Some females can do just a good of job, if not better then any male.

I agree with you to some extent, moreover it's not really about men or women, hire the person who deserves to be there be it male or female.

Sarkari Naukri

Every soldier has the potential to be in arms way whether they choose to or not.

BigJohn USArmy Retired
In VN the only woman we had around where the nurses the sewed us up. In all the combat zones I have been in between Nam and Deseret Storm I have seen times that woman had to be in a hot zone. Frankly when there comes a time that you’re taking fire do you truly mind who’s in the trenches with you. They can be male female gay straight I think as long as they get the job done and can save your butt who cares. I work daily with our brother and sister veterans I know they all share to same problems. Woman today are in a combat zone every day. Do I like it no because who truly likes anyone in a combat zone? If they need to be there let them get the training to help them save their lives and those of our brothers and sisters. 25 years as sniper no I’m glad I did not have a woman spotter I cannot see a woman sitting in one place for sometime days at a time waiting for a shot. But in combat let them train for the job. Because when a convoy gets shot up they need to be ready to light up their attackers. The Army I was in trained everyone as a grunt tankers run out of gas trucks get shot up. Every person in any military at one time or another might end up a ground pounder.
God Bless Our Veterans!!

Absolutely correct! I was enlisted in the70's army. Women had recently left the WACs and joined the regular force. However, their training was substandard. This was stupid when considering the job of the other guys special forces was to mess up our rear. They weren't going to fight the forward forces. No, they were after the support units. To me this meant that all those typists and finance clerks needed much more traing than simply familiarizing with a 45. Later in my career, the Army decided that they wanted me in a support unit. I saw what shape these people were in (Some were barely soldiers.) and decided to teach them as much as I could. I truly believe in the adage: More sweat, less blood where individual and small unit soldier skills are concerned. Besides, someone's got be available to watch you back! My experience taught me that women soldiers need to have and practice good soldier skills. However, the average female soldier just is not prepared for Combat Arms. To meet a reality based physical capability, the average woman requires a significant amount of extra work to match the physical level attained by the average male in a Pt norm.

I fervantly believe that it is a mistake to place women in ground combat units. There are exceptions to every rule, however generally speaking they do not have the physical strength to maintain. I was a captain in a reconnaisance unit in the 82nd Airborne Division when I left active duty and have close to 14 years combined active and National Guard experience. The ROTC Advanced Camp that I attended was Co-Ed. The last two weeks was small unit infantry tactics in the field. There were continual problems with promiscuity, which is the men's fault just as much as the women's. That was common in other units I observed that were mixed gender also. That is not something that should be an issue in a combat unit. The men were in most cases required to help the women in excessive ways, because the women generally lacked the physical strength to handle the loads. I am not talking about physical fitness in this case, just pure strength and endurance. Lets not forget that the women in the military have a much lower physical standard required to receive the same score as the men in the same unit they serve in. There were multiple emotional breakdowns. Yes, that can happen with men also, but not a the rate that I personally observed with they women I served with. And finally there is the personal hygene issue. It is not uncommon in an infantry unit to spend many weeks to a month in the feild without access to a shower, while living on the ground. I don't think I need to go into the details on that issue. That being said, there are many outstanding ways that women can serve and in a lot of instances generally do a better job than men because they had natural remedies for anxiety We need to stop fooling ourselves into thinking that men and women are exactly the same and accept the reality that we are different, every day they did abdominal workout and with strengths and weaknesses that are real. Women do not belong in ground combat units alongside men. This does not mean that what they do is not just as important. Please, enough with the politically correct BS.

I agree with these sentiments. Most importantly, make all standards the same across the board regardless of sex. If a person has the ability to perform the job, they have the ability to perform the job. Period.

I agree as well, At West Point was a mixed training program. Our PT, Their tp - Was it the same? No, Would I want her to pull me out of harms way, No because she couldn't. I stand 6'7 and weigh 250lbs of hard body. It don't work out, I can easily put her from a situation, As for me, There is no hope. I do however give them credit when you see all our male Americans staying out of the military. They are stricken with that decease called, Coward. So the Women are showing up the men.

Great objectivity on the topic. I am a female serving in the Army. Although I personally do not choose to be "front line" or otherwise engaged in face to face combat, I know females capable of perfoming these duties. If they choose to do so and they can "cut it", so be it. I choose not to. I know some females who are actually stronger and more capable than the MEN in the Unit at these tasks. I, however, am not one of them. I do not object to this as long as it is a CHOICE vs. a requirement.

Whether you realize it or not, you hit the nail on the head. Females can choose to go to combat, a male soldier is ordered to go. He doesn't have a choice. If you want equality, she shouldn't have a choice either period.

Fact, 1993 deployment of Forrestal battlegroup. before leaving CONUS 10 women offloaded due to testing positive for pregnancy. Prior to reaching Rota 13 more were flown off. The support ship that they were was staffed to 100%! Who do you think the replacements were? Any questions why women should not be in combat? Try researching how many came up pregnant prior to deployments... can't find it? Wonder why? It's being suppressed by some congressmen. Questions?

There are rules and requirements for persons going into combat. For the sake of all who are sent into the fray, all must pass the test - whatever it is. There might be even different requirements for different areas of combat. However,
I should think that after more than 60 years of women in the service, the question has been well studied and there is no need for further discssion on the issue. And, as a member of te American Legion for many years, I am disappointed the question arises in this company.

I voted status quo.

First, Mothax and I served together in a combat arms unit on deployment where one of the other units (close to CA, but not quite) we served with had females in the unit.

We saw a breakdown in that unit's cohesion as, for example, a Female Spec 4s hooked up with their married Squad Leader. Her single Team Leader took exception to this, because he had a crush on the Spec 4. The other members of the squad also took exception to the relationship as she was scheduled to work with the SL and avoided what others thought was her fair share of details.

This was repeated in the other squads of the platoon with various members hooking up.

Then the single Team Leader mentioned previously went home on leave, went to a Family Support Group meeting and then gave details of the platoon's various affairs. I believe the quote was (while pointing to various family members "your husband, your husband, your wife... they are all cheating"

The combat arms don't need that.

Additionally, I believe there is an attitude that can't be overcome between women and men. Call it machismo, chivalry, chauvenism, paternalism or whatever. I don't think they will change and I think despite our best intentions and training to the contrary, that attitude will affect actions on the battlefield.

Unfortunately you fail to see the common ground on "Platoon's various affairs" Male soldiers are just as responsible as a female soldier when it comes to fratinization. I would highly recommend that you re-think your position and purpose in the military if all you can see is the few stragglers that make us all look bad!

You're quite apprehensive to an individual simply stating a true and relative experience. I was a field medic (91W20), and served in a combat zone within my 10 years of service in the US Army, active duty. As a medic, I was assigned to Infantry (1Inf. Div. "Big Red One"), Artillery (2 Inf. Div. "Second To None"), and MEDDAC. Now, I'm a disabled veteran. Throughout my enlistment as a medic, I saw first hand medical reports, as well as a witness to... I'll just say it this way... while overseas, "all bets are off" when it came to relationships/marriages. I myself married, sustained, and remained completely faithful to my wife. Not to mention my other married comrades (15 of us), which we were a pack. Female soldiers tend to concern themselves in what people may think of them if they were to cheat. However, in another country? TDY? All bets are off. It's as if they no longer feel accountable. By my mentioning of how a lot of female soldiers act, I'm not saying that male soldiers are innocent. But what I will say is that the other comments regarding "affairs" are right on. As for the medical reports? I'm just going to call it as it is... Female soldiers held 85% of STDs, male soldiers held 15% of STDs (both during deployment or occonus). One out of 5 female soldiers medically discharged due to pregnancy (regardless of marital status). Prior deployment, female soldier pregnancy increased to 1 out of 3. Majority of female soldiers had multiple sex partners (regardless of marital status). Male soldiers having multiple sex partners; minimal. My information is based from the medical reports: 1999 to 2000; Camp Red Cloud, Republic of Korea (Camp: Red Cloud, Stanley, Stacey, Warrior Base).

Fraternization did happen, and it certainly ill affected the platoon and squad elements. Especially when details are assigned, and others fail to pull their fair share. It is NOT the case of just pointing out a few bad apples, or "stragglers" as you eloquently expressed, but it is rather common. Every male soldier looked out for the female soldiers; to include myself. It is engrained in the male psyche to PROTECT women and children.

I, for one, don't agree with females being on the front line. Please keep in mind that GI Jane is just a movie, not real. There is NO place for the ultra feminist agenda anywhere, yes, this includes our awesome US military. I agree to the decent female soldiers who genuinely want to serve their country without trying to prove some political agenda nor have some sort of superiority complex.

Thank you for your time, Megan.

"Female soldiers held 85% of STDs, male soldiers held 15% of STDs "
That was full of red herrings. Listen medic, did you mention that women catch STDs from men easier than men catch them from women. I know that, from sexual assault evidence training, you should know that yourself as a medic. It takes one playboy to get a dozen women sick, who is the real slut. I think your more concerned about skewing the facts than presenting an unbiased point. .. here is a fact for you. Most fraternization involves a MALE NCO and a FEMALE SUBORDINATE. The NCO is the leader and he usually uses his rank to coerce her into bed. I understand fraternization is a two way street but Army doctrine blames the higher ranking member. Don't try to blame the women because Sarge couldn't keep it in his pants. Maybe instead of keeping women out of combat arms we need to kick out a bunch of soup sandwich NCOs.

I love it and very well said, don't lose that perspective it makes a difference in these times.

I Feel that he has hit the nail on the head. Its not can they do the job, but at what cost to the unit.

First, working together as professionals would not allow a supervisor to have a relationship with a subordinate. Disciplinary action should have been taken against the boss who crossed the line. Combat is not a time for romance.

Sorry, Leslie, I think you are a bit off the mark. Disciplinary action should have been taken against both involved parties. The rules against fratrinization apply to all equally and unless one of the involved individuals filed a complaint against the other PRIOR to the fratrinization exposure then both are equally guilty. Then again, I might just be erring on the side of equality, as in if both men and women are held to the exact same standards they should be allowed to be all they can be (or court martialed because they equally failed that standard). I don't believe for a moment that all men or all women are capable of preforming all jobs but as one that has worked several traditionally all male jobs with one or more women working those jobs I fully understand that there are women that can fo exactly the same job as a man regardless of the job's pressures or dangers. I've worked with a woman "cat skinner" (bulldozer operator) and two women choker setters (a starter logging job - as dangerous as it gets) that were every bit as good as any guy on the job and didn't sissy-out when the job got dangerous like some of the male chocker-setters.

It always comes down to equality; if both parties were doing the same job, knew the rules and requirements for the job they qualified for and both parties were involved in curcumventing those rules then both parties must be punished.not just the boss.

I agree with this completely. We don't need drama when the shit hits the fan. If you've ever been in the Infantry or Special Ops, you know what I mean. Men don't cause drama if a female isn't around and I'm sorry, that's the way it is. A man will do the job and won't think twice about it......I can't wait to hear the agruements from speaking my mind but that's all I'm doing. Airborne All the Way!!!!!!!!

I agree with you. I am a female that served as a medic on a convoy escort team my second deployment. Females change the dynamic and cohesion, good or bad they definitely change it. Also another thing to think about is during my first deployment we lost 7 female medics to pregnancy before we even left the states, our company was not unusual, other companies in our battalion lost similar numbers. We lost a few more during the deployment because of pregnancy, again our company was probably not unusual. The company that replaced us told us they shipped to Iraq 11 short because of pregnancy. We were lucky to get any replacement for those females 6 months into the deployment. The females and males who did deploy got burned out quickly because they were still expected to do the same mission but with 7 less people. Just within our own non combat company it was hard to keep morale up and for us to trust our fellow females because it seems many were so willing to supplant the needs of the team for their own needs. Although men may want to put their needs before that of their own team, the Army does not give them that option.

Combat units cannot operate effectively if they are not at full strength and if there is not trust that the guy on either side of you will be there everyday. Also many will argue that women who volunteer to be in a combat MOS will want to deploy, I disagree. I have seen it so many times, females who thought they were high speed, hardcore and ready to engage the enemy while in the states, next thing you know they are doing whatever they can to get out of deployment. I have seen many female officers do the same thing, I remember having to convince a female PA that the soldiers needed her in Iraq, she was thinking about just getting pregnant so she did not have to go. Imagine a SPC telling a LT that she needed to do her duty.

Also I have been in many situations where accomodating me was very problematic. I am not taking about special accomodations but just regular things like sleeping and showering.

One time we were on a JSS waiting for a training team we delivered to complete its mission so many of us took the opportunity to nap while in a secure area. I fell asleep next to a building near 2 of my fellow soldiers maybe 10 feet away from our vehicles. Next thing I know my squad leader is yelling me to get up and get in the vehicle. Apparently, there was a crowd of Iraqi Policemen gathering to have a look at the female soldier, something none of us anticipated being an issue. My point here is to show that working women into combat MOS's is not as easy as just having the pentagon give the thumbs up. There are so many anticipated and unanticipated issues that are extremely complicated.

Anyway that is my 2 cents, I know its not worth much

Thats what I love about Texas women..they tell it like it is....job well done serving also...Hooah!

Your 2 cents are worth as much as anyone's. Thank you for your service and for your commitment to your unit especially in trying to positively influence that LT. I believe that all soldiers should have adequate combat training so they can use it whenever needed. I believe strongly that if anyone can do a job and wants to do a good job they should be allowed to do it. I understand your comments about the unanticipated issues that crop up but, just as the services integrated and soldiers became used to the change, male soldiers can bond with female soldiers without having sex with them. There are actually men who can be just friends with women and vice versa. It is all about the command structure and atmosphere. Discipline enforced can make any change workable as long as soldiers are mentally and physically fit. My 2 cents

As a female serving in the Army, I couldn't agree more! Well said Soldier! The Army should seriously re-visit the WAC option and allow females a choice. I personally would choose to be a WAC any day vs. being in an all male Unit. Not that I don't love the men and respect what they do but men have an innate ability to want to protect women at their own peril. This is not good. I believe men spend much time bonding in the all male units and this cohesion should not be interrupted, no matter what. Yes, this sounds old fashioned, I don't care, call it what you will. I call it saving lives.

Back In 1968, when I would fly with our unit, a few of the men let me know-nicely- but strongly, that they didn't like me being there because if the plane was in trouble, they'd automatically feel the need to 'save me'. They would be putting their lives on the line, and they worried about their families and what would become of them.

I am 85 years old, WWII vet. I was raised with the idea expressed by some of the respondents, that a man should protect and defend women. it is the way that I was raised, and not because women are :weaker", but because they are our mothers, nurses, sisters, etc. and should be looked after.

While assigned to take the Vietnamese POW Survival Course at Fairchild AFB, WA. Commanded then by Lt. Col. Lawrence F. Markam, (check and verify his 7 1/2 years + in The Hanoi Hilton). In this course there were two (2) women airmen. They were offered a deal where-by they would make sounds like they were being raped and tortured, while two (2) male SSgt's were being interrogated in the next room. (There were cameras in all rooms by the way.) The male SSgt's were told if they signed "FULL WAR CRIMINAL CONFESSIONS" the torture and rape would be stopped. Both men "PROTECTED" the Ladies, and signed on the so called dotted line. As soon as they laid down the ink pens, two (2) guards came in with M-16's, both were hand-cuffed, then escorted to the base brig. The next day paperwork was started and, then these men were court martialed out of the military dishonorably, with disgrace for the rest of their lives. This was all in training folks. It is serious business we speak of.

Mothers raise their sons to protect the girl. Dad's raise their sons to be gentlemen for the most part. If a woman wants to go to combat, she needs full education as to the possibilities of her situation if captured. More so, the men need to know this, then they should try to ignore their own instincts to protect. Desensetizing tapes come to mind here.

If a man were being tortured, another man WOULD pause briefly to consider his overall actions. Is a possibility of revealing damaging information, or worse yet, worth signing any document in capativity, or give up any information of any kind, where many soldiers most likely would die as the result? NO!

Lt. Col. Markam survived over 7 1/2 years, getting beatings to the head, he still suffers double vision to this day. "HE DID NOT GIVE EVEN THE SMALLEST, REMOTEST BIT, OF ANY KIND OF INFORMATION". Except for "NAME, RANK, & SERIAL NUMBER." Man or woman, they are both listed as personnel, (a number only). Is what could be given up worth one, verses the many? NO again!

Our government will sacrifice the few to save the many. I personally saw a fully loaded 747 launch off Guam, then found out it was flown out over the Marianas Trench and, nosed in, sinking it to the bottom. Because of a disease on board that violently killed three (3) Vietnamese and, one (1) American Stewardess during Operation New Life. The disease clearly game out of Vietnam.

The doctors could not diagnose it. Was it worth the lives of over 440 "persons" to do that. YES! The plane had sat taped and sealed for three (3) days prior to launch. Yes! It was worth it, sadley enough, it was.

As a former 2nd LT. and platoon leader in Vietnam, I would not have wanted to deal with women in an infantry role on combat missions. They may serve in the Artillery or Armour but an infantry role for women is not good.

I agree with these comments. The friction and tension that occur I think would/is detrimental.

The same argument was used against Blacks in the military...

The comparison concerning Blacks serving is not a valid argument. That involved racial prejudice, not a male instinctfully protecting a woman, or the competition of two (2) or more men for her attention, or favors. Re-think that one please!

What are the specific reasons you would not have wanted to deal with women in combat? Your reply is quite vague. Can you clarify?

I agree with the LT, except I don't think women belong in the artillery either. Hell, men shouldn't have to go to combat, but when they do, they don't need the added distraction that women would create.

I was in RVN 1967-8. infantry. If I had been sent out on a night ambush with four guys from the hood and a female, the low-life's would have raped the woman and shot her in the head, then threatened me with the same fate if I talked. Now, maybe I'm wrong about that, but that's what I'd expect . . . therefore, I'd have to take preemptive action. Do any of you females see where I'm coming from?

You can strut your stuff all you want, but what you accomplish is detrimental to the unit cohesion. Selfish, in my humble opinion.

Thank you for your service, Sir! I admire and respect anyone who served in Vietnam. I have family members who served, and suffered until the end of their lives for doing so. I, a female, agree wholeheartedly with you, Sir. We have a place and jobs to do, but interrupting the cohesion of an all male unit is NOT one of our duties. I have been "flogged" for openly stating my opinon on this subject over the last 18 years but I will not be moved on the subject. I will continue to fight for this cause as you and many before and after you have sacrificed for me to be able to express my opinion. I will not allow your service to go unnoticed. Thank you again, Sir. You surely are a man among men.

Retired Vet here. Relationships between men and women can not be subdued simply by putting on a uniform, through regulations or PT scores. Throw a mixed gender group into an extended dangerous, lonely and stressful situation and watch the sparks fly. There is no place for misplaced focus in combat. Politically correct or not, It is a cultural factor engrained into our psyche that we tend to more closely watch out for the females than our male buddies in critical choice situations.

I think Brown Neck Gator, Andy Tillman, Tex Vet, and Phil have stated the situation very well. I was not in combat arms, but I did support a lot of them. I do think that women should not be in the combat arms units, whether Infantry, Marines, Special Forces or any other. They should be included in support units and trained in combat arms, because you never know when they would come under attack. My son was in Special Forces and he told me that one female refused to go on sentry duty because it rained and she wasn't going to get her boots muddy and wet. She did eventually go or face court marshall. You don't need that in a combat unit.

Amen! Couldn't agree more. This is an accident waiting to happen and I cannot believe the Armed Forces have not yet accepted this fact. If women want to serve on the front lines, fine. Make all female units of tough, strong capable women and send them forward. Leave the males as they are. This is the only option, in my humble opinion, that will work. I am female and I've served over 18 years. I have NO desire to interrupt the cohesion of an all male unit. I have been sent to serve with all male units in peace time missions. As the only female on-site, I kept my distance and was repestfully absent at many times. The men were very respectful of me and my service and that is all I ask. This is too important an issue to sweep under the rug.

Aside from creating sexual tension witk lonely, testosteron laden young men. what to do if a woman is captured and being sexually abused, is there a higher moral imperative to rescue her than a male, thereby risking lives that ordinarily would not be sent to retrieve her?

That's a really good point.

That is not a good argument. You think her fellow Marines would try harder to rescue her than a male Marine because she is being sexually assaulted? Please. They should, and I think would knowing my Marine brethern, that they would want to rescue her simply because she was their fellow Marine.

Men can be sexually assaulted too. In some cultures, it is used to totally humilate and degrade a male.

Really? Name one armed conflict in which sexual assault of men by men was used as a normal form of degrading the enemy. Name ONE.

The crusades were a major conflict in which english men were sexually assaulted by middle eastern men.
Facial sodomy was called egyptian rape because it was common for egyptians to orally sodomize their crusader captives.

Thats a big one..


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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.