Women in combat: just because we don’t like the issues people have with it doesn’t mean they’re not real

I grew up: fully convinced that I was inferior to no one; assuming that anything I wanted to achieve was possible; and blissfully unaware that the world outside did not always reflect these beliefs, that inequality lingered everywhere, and that many people had ideas about superiority and inferiority, and what other people could and couldn’t do. Before Operation Desert Storm, it never crossed my mind that women were not allowed to serve in combat, and when I found out, I thought it was incredibly stupid. If women wanted to serve their country, to risk their lives in tribute to that service, why on earth would they not be allowed to? Why should men have to bear that alone? It was hard for me to wrap my mind around it.

More than two decades after I first considered it, the issue of ‘women in combat’ still stirs up a lot of emotions in people, specifically the emotions that make people defensive. I could say this about many, many issues, but getting defensive is not productive here. Nor is name-calling or jumping to extreme conclusions. I think that those who oppose allowing women the same opportunities as men are wrong, but we need to be able to realistically face and discuss the legitimate questions and concerns around it. I think it is possible to acknowledge that these issues are real without allowing them to dictate our decisions.

The latest round of discussion was kicked off this week when the Pentagon, having wrapped up a nearly yearlong review of the issue ordered by Congress, announced the easing of some of the restrictions on women serving in combat roles. To a large degree, this change simply formalizes what has been a reality for some time. Women can now be formally assigned to battalions in certain roles where previously they would have been in those same roles but ‘attached’ temporarily. Women are still not permitted to hold certain MOS’s, including infantry (or: what most people think of when they think of troops in combat). Many see this as one small step toward the inevitable result of women being permitted to serve in any role in the military.

Here’s the part where I defend Andrew Exum (probably not surprising since I like and respect Ex) and…(probably not someone I’m likely to find myself defending very often) Rick Santorum? Yes, Rick Santorum, too.*

Santorum was asked for his thoughts on the loosened restrictions. Here’s what he said:

In the immediate aftermath of these comments, there was a general uproar as people understood Santorum to be arguing that women are too emotional to handle combat. There were some good reasons for thinking this: 1) We have all heard that tired old sexist excuse before, on this very issue, among others; and 2) Santorum did not do a very good job of saying what he was trying to say. See, that’s not actually what he meant. [I'm making no judgment here on whether or not Santorum is generally sexist, just addressing this particular statement].

Santorum made two points and, like it or not, they are both legitimate concerns. First, what he meant when he spoke of the emotional challenges of having women in combat was something like men’s protectiveness toward women. Second, in the follow-up interview, he also mentioned the average difference in physical abilities that exists between men and women. I’m stating this up front: I don’t think either of those is actually a reason to deny women the opportunity to pursue, e.g., a career in the infantry, or in a tank crew. I do think both points are worth unpacking a little.

Some men would have a harder time seeing women hurt or threatened in combat than other men. This is hard to refute. It’s ‘women and children first,’ or chivalry, or manners; or on the flip side, it’s condescension, or infantilization, or minimization. Whether it comes from a place of honor or a place of diminution, and whatever you want to call it, there’s no denying this could be an issue for some men. That being said, so what? It is incumbent on those men to be grown-ups, to be professionals, and to get over it and do their jobs. People adapt. Men will see women in different roles more often, they will become accustomed to it, the culture will change. The more common it is, the more normal it will become and the less of a potential issue it will be. In the meantime, we can rely on training and professionalism to carry people through.

As to the second point, the plain truth is that on average, men are bigger, faster, and stronger than women. It’s biology. This is not to say that all men are bigger and stronger and faster than all women – that is clearly not the case – but the average woman when compared to the average man will have more limited physical abilities. Plenty of people have expressed concern about women’s ability to meet the physical standards required to serve in a MOS like infantry. This issue, too, is quite simple to address: if they don’t meet the standards, they don’t get in. This shouldn’t be about getting a 50/50 breakdown of men and women in your infantry platoon; it should just be about women having the same opportunity to be a part of that platoon as a man. This might well mean that only a minuscule number of women will make it to the front lines in these roles. So be it. The standards should be maintained at a level that prioritizes the maximum safety and effectiveness of the unit. Maybe there aren’t many women who would have both the desire and the ability to serve in this capacity, but those who have the desire should certainly have the opportunity to demonstrate whether or not they have the ability.

There are any number of other details and questions around this issue that are worth discussing (the career advancement issue that partly informs this debate, for one), and perhaps I will come back to some of them in a later post, but in the interest of keeping to the discussion of the day, I will leave off here. Granting women the opportunity to take on any and all ‘combat roles’ will require something of a culture shift, but it is really just part of a larger cultural shift that has been ongoing in society for decades. I think it likely that it will happen, and I don’t doubt that it will continue to be contentious until it does, but in the meantime, it doesn’t make for useful discourse when supporters of equality pretend that all of the questions, customs, and attitudes of opponents don’t exist, or dismiss them outright, any more than it helps when opponents resort to rank sexism or condescension to try and make their case. Here’s hoping that public debate of this issue will continue, and that it will be more civil than not.

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*It should be noted that Santorum made these points as part of an argument against women in combat, while Ex has repeatedly stated that he favors equal opportunity.

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64 Responses to Women in combat: just because we don’t like the issues people have with it doesn’t mean they’re not real

  1. Nathaniel Pullmann says:

    Thank you for your honest assessment of an opinion you disagree with. It’s a rare thing to find and it is refreshing. I was curious as to what you thought about the fact that women and men have different physical standards for getting into the military. It seems to me that if you want to have women participating equally with men the first necessary step is to make the entrance requirements equal. Without changing these, you not only have women being weaker and slower on average, you practically guarantee that the women in the military will be weaker and slower than the men in the military.

    • caidid says:

      It’s a sticky question, the issue of standards. My basic reply is that I think the standards for any given MOS should be set to ensure the maximum possible safety and effectiveness. My emphasis is on equality of opportunity, not quotas or something like that. I imagine this would mean that even if access were to change we would see extremely few women if any, e.g. in SF or on SEAL teams, and probably not very many even in regular infantry units. If anyone, man or woman, can’t meet the standards for any given MOS, then there should be no obligation to let them have it. The point is that if there were a woman who had the desire to pursue it and proved capable of meeting the standards, then she shouldn’t be prevented.

  2. javapoppa says:

    All of this lengthy analysis obscures the main point: Why do we need to put women into combat situations in the first place? War is a brutal and bloody business but there is no shortage of males willing to partake in them. Exposing women to these horrors just so some over-ambitious females can be promoted to a higher military rank is a sad commentary on out times.

    • caidid says:

      It’s not a matter of need; it’s a matter of equality. In the interest of equality, women should have the opportunity to compete for any job they want. I am not talking about any kind of handout, or quota, just equality of opportunity. I also have a problem with your use of the word ‘over-ambitious.’ Why is it over-ambitious for a woman to want to advance to the higher levels of responsibility and respect in the organization where she works, and not for a man? Is it over-ambitious for women in the private sector to want to be CEOs or company Presidents or department Directors? Is it over-ambitious for women to want to be paid the same amount a man would be paid for doing the same job? Saying that it is over-ambitious for women to want the opportunity to rise to higher ranks in the military implies that there is something appropriate about men being in the positions of power, and women always being beneath them with no opportunity to compete for leadership, and this is an idea I reject utterly, in any field.

      • Mike Stearman says:

        “…men being in the positions of power, and women always being beneath them with no opportunity to compete for leadership, and this is an idea I reject utterly…”

        Indeed, who would not?

        But in fairness, javapoppa speaks only of the business of war, as distinct from other businesses, and about “over-ambition” only in regard to some women in that one particular profession. I proffer this in the spirit of your sensibly asking us not to jump to conclusions in order to foster sensible and intelligent dialogue that may lead to conclusions neither side foresees…

        In particular, the assertion is intriguing that allowing women into combat roles could be the result of lobbying pressure from small minority of military (female) careerists rather than the result of an inherent fitness for purpose. But one would need to see evidence supporting that that is what is happening.

        I do applaud your open-mindedness in starting this dialogue.

        • Jack Myswag says:

          I will assume good faith, and assume that you really mean what you say when you say:
          “But in fairness, javapoppa speaks only of the business of war, as distinct from other businesses, and about “over-ambition” only in regard to some women in that one particular profession.”
          To me, as a male this is weird. This EXACTLY like saying: That and that group should of course have equal rights, except for THAT right”. And you continue his discrimination by labeling some women as “over-ambitious”. I’m guessing that for you it’s so clear that women shouldn’t be serving in the hardest military professions, that it’s self-evident that a woman who strives to become part of Seal team Six is unjustiably “over-ambitious”. You can only label someone “over-ambitious” if you really feel (emotionally, that is) they aren’t up to the task at hand. In this sense, “over-ambitious” is really used by you and javapop as a derogatory term here. I can’t really tell if you do that wilfully, or that it comes from some well-meant, but utterly misplaced feeling of superiority.

          “I proffer this in the spirit of your sensibly asking us not to jump to conclusions”
          And if the conclusions you might jump to are that women who wanna try out for for Seal Team Six are vain and arrogant and are endangering (male) lives, then yes, I would stop assuming good faith on your part.

          In particular, the assertion is intriguing that NOT allowing women into combat roles could be the result of heavy lobbying pressure from a small minority of military fanboys who have no real combat experience themselves, rather than the result of reasonable debate and argument.

          “But one would need to see evidence supporting that that is what is happening.”
          It seems that YOU DO assume bad faith on the part of the supporters of equal right for women, even in combat.

          Also consider this:
          If your main concern is that women in combat will get men needlessly killed, so we shouldn’t accept this as a society, well, there are other areas of life we accept the needless deaths of thousands each year as the cost of doing business. Like traffic (necessary, but could be A LOT safer) pollution, gun abuse, toxic dumping. We’ve totally accepted that profits are necessary, and that the cost of doing business is people dying because of faulty products or toxic waste.
          Nobody hates profits, only when they are made by skipping EPA standards. When you can’t turn a profit without dumping toxic waste into drinking water, you shouldn’t be in business. But that has happened.

      • David says:

        Oh yeah? Well how about making women HAVE to register for draft just like men do? how about giving them the same basic training the exact same instead of making the standards for women lower. like the mile run, make the women have to pass it in the same allowed time men have to. They want equality dont they? the WTF

  3. Airborne 11B Advocate says:

    There are certain conditions and situations that I have personally experienced in combat that were difficult for my fellow Bravos to endure. These experiences make me very skeptical about women’s role in direct combat. I have an admittedly limited experience with women serving while deployed, but I find it difficult to believe that females have the required mental software and physical hardware to spontaneously commit violence and then deal with the aftermath. I am not talking about getting hit on the road by an IED or manning a CP that gets hit. Late night TST raids or Air Assault missions into hot LZ’s are mentally and emotionally taxing especially when casualties (even enemy casualties) begin to stack up. To ruck up and keep shooting and moving is just something that I can’t imagine ANY woman (I have met) to get to the task without a tear or two. That mental weakness I think makes a huge difference.

    • caidid says:

      This idea of women’s “mental weakness” is a chauvinist myth. Not all women are cut out for front-line combat, but neither are all men. There is no inherent inferiority in women mentally or emotionally. (Never mind that I’m quite sure that plenty of men have shed “a tear or two” when faced with the danger, destruction, and loss of life in combat, as is part of a range of perfectly normal human reactions to such a situation for men or women). I’ve no doubt that the kind of situation you’re describing is incredibly taxing for anyone who goes through it, but any woman who can endure the same training, and meet the same standards and qualifications, of the men in those positions is just as likely to be able to acquit herself professionally and effectively as any man. It’s time to judge women on their individual merits and abilities as we do men, and not by old-fashioned notions of gender roles and capabilities.

      • Airborne 11B Advocate says:

        Just because ALL men are not cut out for “line-duty” doesn’t therefore qualify women based upon their shared theoretical inadequacy. This mental weakness “myth” has not been dispelled, especially in my own life experience. Women, POG’s, & civilians wrongly assume that the horrors of war are the only difficult action for combat troops. While that is admittedly tough , but I am speaking more to the need to well up and maintain aggression towards people that may or may not deserve it. Certainly there are women that could theoretically pack the gear and shoot the Haj, but they are such a minority that all of the red tape and alterations to current traditions, history, billets, & espirit de corp seem low on return of investment. As far as tears shed, (BTW I watered my share of campaign battlespace) I was using that as a metaphor for a much deeper and long-lasting malaise that occurs past mid-deployment when you no longer see the point of the violence and don’t want to participate in it anymore. I had to counsel many soldiers back into that mindset and chauvinistic appeals were the most effective. How would I do that with a female?
        Training standards and qualifications are not going to prepare you either because they are just metrics for officers and admin. Whether a woman can complete these rudimentary tasks will have no impact upon her success on the battlefield because the enemy cares little for how many push-ups you can do or whether you qualified expert on your weapon. Male or female. To charge that room after hearing shots fired is just something I can’t imagine seeing a woman do, or do well. I’m not sexist, I just have never met this hard charging woman. To me these “old-fashioned notions” are a byproduct of millions of years of evolution and thousands of years of recorded culture, not some chauvinistic conspiracy to keep women in the kitchen.
        Men have their shortcomings biologically as well. I have a 2 month old son here at the house right now, and I can tell you that it is not a lack of motivation, training, or physical ability that prevents me from nurturing him as well as his mother. It’s biology.

        • caidid says:

          I certainly agree that there is a role played by biology in all this, but it makes for physical differences. (As I would argue biology prevents you from nursing your infant; it does not prevent you from nurturing him). Men are, on average, bigger, faster, and stronger than women. I would anticipate very few women being able to meet the physical standards of the more intense combat MOS’s. As to the disposition you are talking about, the aggression required for these situations, I don’t agree that this is something only men possess. I can understand arguing that testosterone and other hormones contribute to making it more common in men than women, but there are biological differences between different women or different men as well as between men and women – i.e. some women have more than average testosterone; and I think the people who take on these roles are a self-selecting group anyway. Women who don’t have the motivation to perform in these roles won’t apply for them. Beyond that, there are other factors that can motivate people. A man might respond to some kind of chauvinistic encouragement, but just because you don’t know what might motivate a woman to hold herself together under the stresses of combat doesn’t mean there isn’t something. I would argue that it is an important element of leadership to understand the people you lead, what will motivate them, what their abilities are, how to get the best out of them, and that is the responsibility of someone leading people of their own or different genders, just as with people of their own or different religions, cultures, ethnicities, or socioeconomic backgrounds. Lastly, while biological differences are real, the difference you’re talking about here I suspect is more the product of the traditional gender roles perpetuated in our culture than of human evolution.

          • Airborne 11B Advocate says:

            No doubt that biology prevents me from nursing my infant, but I am speaking on my ability to nurture. Sure I can get a bottle, sing in a high voice, and maybe be a little sweeter (impossible lol) in order to provide the equivalent amount of nurturing found in most females. That doesn’t mean I’m for male motherhood. Plenty of mammals have separate roles for their opposite genders. This didn’t create inequality, only differences. Our particular species has (for millenia) recorded the history of its warfare against one another, and women seldom get a page. This can hardly be due only to testosterone levels. These gender roles have been perpetuated for all of recorded history and I doubt that it can be overturned because of a social fad or an appeal to fairness. Your brain is a product of evolution and the mind with it. No amount of wishing can bring about reversal of Nature. Aggressive tendencies are common almost solely to the less fair sex. To provide a window for women to join such professions as the Infantry in order to gain a few outlier female grunts seems like a wasted effort in light of all the challenges our military faces.

        • TheSteelGeneral says:

          “Just because ALL men are not cut out for “line-duty” doesn’t therefore qualify women based upon their shared theoretical inadequacy. ”
          Doesn’t DISqualify them either. Your reasoning is severely fallacious. Moreover, your personal experience is anecdotal, therefor by definition not valid for all situations and unfit to draw a general conclusion from.
          And your chauvinist comment is highly insulting and discriminatory. It’s as if you said:
          “I’ve found that counseling WASP-soldiers was the most effective when I appealed to their anti-semitism, how would I do that with Jews?” (and yes, that’s the same thing, because you appeal to his group-feel as in “you’re a big boy, don’t cry, cos boys don’t cry, so man up”)
          Also, just because YOU are incompetent in coaching people except when you can appeal to their illegal, hateful sentiments, doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to do it. Based on what you wrote, you’re unfit to be a counselor. You might use hate, but why should be hate towards women?

          Women in combat … we won’t know until we’ve tried, but you just advocate NOT trying, based on YOUR personal prejudice (and you get no credits for wanting to be ‘protective’ either). Throughout history women have done EVERY thing men have done, every menial task, hard labor, with the possible exception of walking the moon, because them Russkis aren’t talking.

          • Total says:

            Our particular species has (for millenia) recorded the history of its warfare against one another, and women seldom get a page. This can hardly be due only to testosterone levels. These gender roles have been perpetuated for all of recorded history and I doubt that it can be overturned because of a social fad or an appeal to fairness

            The existence of slavery has been recorded for most of human history, so I’m sure that you’re in favor of having slavery, as well, right?

  4. Samson J. says:

    Santorum made two points and, like it or not, they are both legitimate concerns. First, what he meant when he spoke of the emotional challenges of having women in combat was something like men’s protectiveness toward women. Second, in the follow-up interview, he also mentioned the average difference in physical abilities that exists between men and women.

    These are good points, but neither of them are the big reason to exclude women from combat. The big reason is that a woman’s presence destroys unit cohesion. At its best, the military promotes male camaraderie; the stronger men guide and lead the weaker, and the weak look up to the stronger, in a mutually beneficial brotherhood. Introduce a woman into that environment and cohesion falls apart as the guys stop caring about each other in favour of stabbing each other in the back over female attention. The strong guys stop being role models for their juniors and resentment abounds among the weaker guys.

    This *is* the modern military environment, in every MOS, although many women who’ve served don’t really realize it because none of the men will tell them.

    • caidid says:

      I think your argument does a disservice to men as well as women. To say that women shouldn’t serve in combat roles because men aren’t grown-up or professional enough to keep from being distracted, etc. is not legitimate. I reject the idea of denying equal opportunity to anyone because it would discomfit someone else. Racial integration was a challenge for some. The end of DADT is a challenge for others. It is up to those people who are uncomfortable with those changes to be adults, and work through it, or to rely on their professionalism to help them overcome their issues. If we made decisions like this based on avoiding discomfort, we’d still have segregation. Sometimes the status quo needs to be challenged. I’m not unsympathetic. I recognize that this would require a major culture change, but we can’t allow inequality just because equality is hard. Unit cohesion will have a different dynamic if men and women are serving together, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

      And as to your point about this being the modern military environment in every MOS, I don’t doubt there’s some truth to that, but that doesn’t make it OK; it just means that a culture change is needed throughout our whole military. I can’t support denying a whole sphere of life to women on the basis that they are women, with no regard to abilities, so I can’t support just accepting that the military is a man’s world where women have no place. I am also cognizant that this goes beyond the military in many ways. There are still common perceptions about what roles and behaviors are and aren’t acceptable for men vs. women, and the standards are different, but I like to think that society is changing, however slowly, and all our institutions need to change with it.

      And for what it’s worth, I think this requires a change to the Selective Service system, too, that either everyone should have to register, or no one. Equal opportunity, equal responsibility.

      • Airborne 11B Advocate says:

        Oh hell. We go from just letting women join combat arms to overturning all military culture and male hierarchy establishment. Why does the entire combat arms profession need to change so that a woman can realize her dreams of taking cool guy pictures and getting a CIB?This man is telling you an unfortunate truth about the culture you wish to overturn, love it or hate it, and a magic wand will not make this issue go away, (maybe because it’s inherent between women and men?)

        • Total says:

          @Airborne 11B Advocate: That’s just a plain embarrassing response. You denigrate both men and women by painting them as so weak-willed as to be unable to handle a shift in the military structure.

          There’s no requirement that unit cohesion be based on shared gender, just as there was no requirement that it be based on shared race.

          Your comment about “mental hardware” above is plainly sexism, and has no place in this discussion.

          As to physical requirements, women withstand g forces better than men do, so I assume you would argue that fighter pilots should be women-only, correct?

          • TheSteelGeneral says:

            @total
            I really so agree! Can’t add to it.

            @caidid
            “we can’t allow inequality just because equality is hard.” caidid, that was beautifully succint. I’m afraid that debating these guys is useless, they are basically convinced that women are inferior to men. One wonders what would’ve happened if Clinton had become president and Commander in Chief.

  5. Samson J. says:

    The other part is that men don’t take a mission as seriously when women are in the group, because psychologically it’s hard for them to get into the myth (which all militaries rely on) that they’re doing something “special and tough” if a woman is doing it too. No doubt this will be an unpopular statement, but it’s how men are, and it ain’t changing, not with any amount of “training” or “professionalism”.

    • caidid says:

      If this is the case, I would say, to put it simply, that those men need to suck it up and do their jobs. Denying equality to half the population because some guys need to feel ‘special and tough’ is not legitimate.

      • Airborne 11B Advocate says:

        You missed his point again. It is not the feeling that is important. Its what the feeling brings about. Question:Would you trade a unit’s fighting ability to gain equality?

        • caidid says:

          If the fighting ability of our combat units is so fragile that it would fall apart in the presence of a woman, then we have bigger issues.

          • Airborne 11B Advocate says:

            Indeed ma’am we do. I can tell you grave issues provided me reason to attend college instead of leading these kids into neighborhoods away from the VDO point.

    • Total says:

      Wow, so perhaps we should get rid of the men, then? I mean, if they’re so distracted by having women along, then they’re going to be distracted by a lot of things.

      Maybe it’s time for a women-only military.

      • TheSteelGeneral says:

        Then again, some of the bigger men make excellent bullet catchers …. ;) nothing a small, fast woman can’t profit from.

  6. Anon. says:

    I want to thank Caidid for making this particular contribution to the discussion and I believe that she is correct in her considerations. Is it possible that the majority of male commenters who are making assertions of female mental weakness and inability to manage physically and emotionally taxing duties are doing so because they have spent a majority of time sharing these experiences around men and cannot fathom the females they encounter and experience in their own lives (perhaps their wives or girlfriends) performing these tasks? If so, then it is because of their experiences or perceptions that this debate may be prolonged. For those who fall into this category, I can provide these examples of women serving at the “tip of the spear” (http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123195827 & http://www.army.mil/article/59144/) to bear witness to the mental toughness of being able to perform duty under pressure, endure harsh conditions, and get the mission done.
    I would also like to challenge the assertion that females “destroy unit cohesion” simply because it has been my experience that the gender roles come secondary to the rank in the military. When I served I was not addressed a Ms. _______ but as SSgt _______ . Title, not gender, confers respect. Oh, and I can attest that my gender did not destroy my flight’s ability to perform (see also the aforementioned links for further evidence). Not only was my flight regularly recognized for excellence in our squadron, but many among us – male and female, officer and enlisted, alike – were singled out for excellence from all other squadrons on base. The mission comes first. Anyone who does not follow this maxim does themselves and the military a disservice.
    At the end of these discussions and debates I feel that the viewpoints that are held say more about ourselves than they do about the ability of the military to adapt to women having an expanded role because, to a large degree, women have already proven themselves more than capable and many men have already demonstrated their support. Are we able to let the military adapt and overcome as they are inclined to do? Or will the minority’s challenge to change hold try to hold the military back?

    • Airborne 11B Advocate says:

      The role women currently play in theater is sufficient and most times appropriate. The articles you posted were such roles, and while maybe they were closer to the tip of the spear from your end of it, they are far from anywhere near the pointy end. EOD or these HUMINT teams (I provided security for a team with one with a female for 6mo in the ‘Stan) are not engaged in combat operations. People wrongly assume that because an operation occurs outside the wire and holds the possibility of attack, that it therefore qualifies a combat role. Since I brought up my time with this female, I should go ahead and describe my experience. She was the ONLY female in a small FOB of <200 soldiers, all nearly Infantry. She consistently malingered and complained about the weight of armor, the weather conditions, and the treatment of the locals. We had issues with her using her female charms to try to garner favor with command (it was successful.) She was pretty well described as a morale anchor for the members of her team and their security staff. I could go on and on, but I know that someone will say that she was just a poor example. So here is my bottom line: Our combat arms branches are being filled currently with males that fail to achieve minimum standards. Without an current, appropriate model for vetting (male) recruits, how will we ensure that the females that we select will overcome already noted cultural and biological challenges?

      • TheSteelGeneral says:

        Airborne, sorry dude, you are severely challenged. Just because you had an experience with ONE (count ‘em: 1!!!) female who complained , you in all your non-existent wisdom decide that all women are inferior? I really wonder how you got a job in the army/air force (if that’s even the case). I shudder to think about the consequences if you jump to conclusions like that about the enemy.

        And … male soldier never complain? They don’t use whatever advantage they have to get whatever privilige they desire? You’ve never seen men, because they’re both southerners/evangelicals getting each others back? Oh wow, she used her female whiles! That’s just tough buddy, man up. Maybe you should be happy about gays in the army, so you can use your male charms … unless you’re b—– ugly, of course.

        Don’t jump to conclusions. Ever. We can tell your earnest in all your bigotry and prejudices. you really believe women are inferior and women should stay home. Well … that’s just tough, times, they are a-changing, and you’d better adapt or get out of the way.

        • Airborne 11B Advocate says:

          Great arguments. I can tell already that you are well versed in the realities of the discussion at hand as well as combat, and not just the Clinton endorsement (LOL.) Keep reading blogs for your reality, I can provide a DD214 to any address you wish if you doubt my credentials (what are yours?) . One female was my “war-time” experiances, I saw many in garrison. Even dated some. Never impressed.
          As far as my looks go, I could trade a pic for a pic. Bet I win that pepsi challenge too. Oh, and I don’t jump to conclusions, I jump out of high-performance aircraft.

        • BK says:

          Your opinion tends to lose authority when you cannot properly identify the difference between an Army MOS (which an 11B is) and an Air Force AFSC. You, of course, have a right to your opinion as any citizen does, but your argument is weakened with regards to military matters if you can’t demonstrate at least a basic understanding of that which you are discussing.

          Just something to keep in mind. Particularly, if you are going to question the credentials of another (“if that’s even the case”).

  7. BK says:

    The problem here is not of “equality” but of the other two e-words: “effectiveness” and “efficiency.” I don’t particularly care if it is “fair” that a woman can serve in a combat unit. But I care very much that the combat unit is effective in combat. You argue that there may be a limited number of women who can meet the demanding standards of combat. You argue that the mental/emotional limitations ascribed to women are myths. Of these two points, I have no doubt that you are correct. I have met women who were as easily prone/capable to violence as any man and I’ve met many women who could smoke most guys in PT. Of this selection, how many of them are likely to serve in combat units? Again, you offer the answer, probably a “miniscule” number of women with these attributes would actually aspire to combat roles.

    So I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and say that with the appropriately screened and trained women, our combat units could still be effective. I will not go into Airborne 11Bs argument about espirit de corps. We’ll just assume that everyone can adapt and serve together as a unit. (That is a clearly defined assumption for those of you with a military planning background, and one that would have to be evaluated continuously in the future to prove or disprove.)

    But let’s talk about efficiencies… Is it efficient to have to to secure separate facilities (birthing, showering, etc.) for a handful of women in an environment that is completely dominated by males? This is the reverse of racially integrating the services. At that time, we had twice as many barracks and latrines as we needed because they had to be divided by race. By integrating the services we reduced the physical footprint of the military. It made sense. Effectiveness was difficult at first (there were race riots and lynching) but eventually the culture adapted and from a physical/mental stand point there was no discernible difference. Efficiency was IMPROVED by integrating the services and therefore, it was a win-win situation for the military.

    Such is not the case for introducing women into combat units. Again, I think the culture will likely adapt, as it did after integration, but it will be painful in the short term and in today’s media environment considerably more well known than the problems of racial integration. (Consider the gender equivalent of racially motivated lynching…and no, I don’t have enough faith in the young Soldier fresh off the street and fueled by alcohol to expect that he will behave appropriately.) But eventually, this will all die down. (Just as rascism and racially based attacks still occur in the US military, such things would still occur to women in the future, just not at the scale of the initial levels.) But…and here’s the kicker, I now need to expand my infantry basing requirements to include separate facilities for women, and that makes the force less efficient.

    Aha! You say. Well, let’s just go the way of “Starship Troopers” and make everything unisex! Women and men can shower together. They can bunk together (in the same open bay, not in the same bed…at least, not officially). Problem solved. But, you gotta convince the wives and girlfiends this is a good idea (we eventually got their consent for missile silos and subs) and you have accept the abuses that are going to occur. It ain’t civics class and we don’t necessarily want our “hardened killers” to be polite. (And I think you seriously over-estimate the types of young men and women who join the military.)

    In the end, though, I still fall back on…”will this make our military more effective and efficient?” If the answer to either of those elements is “no” then there is no reason to do it. “Equality” is a quaint notion that has no place in decisions related to national defense.

    • caidid says:

      I appreciate the input and while I disagree with some of what you’re saying, I think you get at some really constructive points. I started to draft a response, but I think some of what comes up might warrant a whole new post. I want to give it my full attention, so I hope to be able to respond, either in the comments here or in a new post, sometime this evening.

    • TheSteelGeneral says:

      ““Equality” is a quaint notion that has no place in decisions related to national defense.” which is seriously flawed notion in and of itself.

      And I think you seriously over-estimate the types national defense situations which would be negatively influenced by having separate facilities. Seriously what are you thinking off?
      Submarines that would sinks because they have two toilets? Or that wouldn’t fire their guns because all the men on board suddenly had to pee, but the toilets were all in use?

      Is it money? How elaborate do you imagine these separate facilities then? Do you really think that if we have 10% females, ANYONE would come up with the lame idea to convert 50 percent of facilities into facilities for females? No, it would be 10 percent. Problem solved.

      As for bunking, it would be like having an extra officers whatever. It’s really not that hard, except in y’alls mind.

      It’s just baffling what you could be thinking of.

      • BK says:

        Very well, I’m curious to understand why focusing on “equality” vs. “efficiency and effectiveness” is a “seriously flawed notion.” I have not seen an argument on this topic so far that explains why adding women to combat arms would improve combat effectiveness. The arguments, to date, have been about equality. That should not be a consideration when allocating resources, which is what personnel in the military are, resources.

        I appreciate your opinion on national defense matters that would or would not be impacted by having to arrange for mixed gender facilities but I know you are incorrect. It is true that my personal experiences do not constitute facts but they are relevant to this argument. I have the opportunity to deal with deployment of personnel and too often I have been asked to substitute male servicemembers for female servicemembers not because of capability or unit cohesion or physical/mental weaknesses. I have been asked to send a guy instead of a woman because there litterally were no more berths for women. The facilities had been designed for males and so there were plenty of male bunks but the women were being birthed in the limited number of female officer berths. This is entirely about the realities of physical requirements for female servicemembers.

        In all of these situations, the request was made purely out of an honest requirement. They needed a capability, when we offered a resource that did not meet their physical restraints, they requested and applicable replacement. Because the services are filled by more males, it was easy to find a replacement. Again, I have seen this multiple times and while the plural of “anecdote” is not “data” it addresses your question, “Seriously, what are you thinking of?” That is what I am thinking of…

        So please explain to me, why I should have told this unit to “suck it up” and take this woman out of “equality” vice simply meeting the requirement? Effectiveness and efficiency. That is all that matters. Could we have played tetris with the billets and replaced some of the other males on the team in order to free up enough berthing so we could send this woman forward? Possibly, but that wouldn’t have been efficient. We had already filled those billets. We needed to fill another billet and the capability we needed was available. So we chose efficiency over equality. Why is that wrong?

        • Total says:

          That should not be a consideration when allocating resources, which is what personnel in the military are, resources

          Actually, it absolutely should. The US military represents the nation is fights for, and should represent it as closely as possible.

          • Airborne 11B Advocate says:

            The replies here prove my point. This has little to with national defense and more to do with the political aspirations of a small class of people very far removed from the reality of warfare or front line military service. I have nothing against women, I actually support your arguments for equality. I just don’t think the time is right. Won’t post anything else hereafter, so I hope you ladies get what you want. When given the opportunity to lead troops into combat I hope you can do better at leading and counseling your soldiers than at developing anything but ad hominem and feminist talking points. Get your place on the the line, go volunteer and kick ass. Out.

          • BK says:

            Sorry Total, but that is not true. The US military does not exist to represent the nation it is fighting for. It exists to defend the Constitution of the United States, nothing more, nothing less. Just the simple fact that we do not allow those with physical or mental (no Army or Marine jokes, please) disabilities to serve should clearly demonstrate that. Likewise, as the US gains a reputation for being obese, the military (again no Air Force or Navy jokes, please) fails to properly reflect this attribute of the USA. There are height and weight standards that are not “fair” to the general public. There are physical fitness requirements that are not representative of the US. And in the end, the US military is expected to accomplish its assigned missions. That means it has to be effective and efficient, not equal. Equal only comes into play when an unfair bias unneccessarily impacts our effectiveness and efficiency (such as DADT which cost us money to eliminate otherwise qualified personnel or segregation which cost us money to keep Soldier separated for no good reason.)

            I’m not against women in the military. I’m not against women in certian combat roles (such as flying combat aircraft). But I can realistically except the fact that there are certain situations in which mixed genders is not effective and/or efficient.

        • TheSteelGeneral says:

          “I have not seen an argument on this topic so far that explains why adding women to combat arms would improve combat effectiveness.”
          Women can withstand G-Force better than men. Fact.
          I have not seen an argument in all you describe that relate to the soldiers being WOMEN, all you describe is organizational inefficiencies of an organization that is resisting change. As you are. In your mind.

          Also, keep in mind that women (since you obviously have sex with women) are not aliens. So, be creative in all your logistic challenges. If you’re not protesting wasteful spending when Halliburton charges 15-40 bucks for Coke in Iraq, or quarter million SUV’s for non-combatant personnel which never left the compound, (and really, I haven’t heard a peep out of … whoever about that) you shouldn’t be protesting extra washrooms or berths. Make do. Don’t whine, sorry to be blunt.

          This is completely like Teabaggers whining that Obama “spends” “our” taxes on “the undeserving poor” (we all know EXACTLY which kind of poor is meant by that), but simply not caring about wasteful spending on the Iraq war. The first one is investing in the health of Americans, the second one is doing PR for Al Queda.

          Basically, if a woman wants to serve, she has to have the opportunity to prove herself. If she makes the cut, she should be able to serve. Even if she is the only female amongst 200 male submarine sailors. Don’t you think that she has to make sacrifices? And these are more severe than a time table/schedule for using the washrooms.

          • Airborne 11B Advocate says:

            Awesome. Secret to warfare success. G-force endurance.

            Your liberal tripe puts everything into context. Thanks for the lulz.

          • BK says:

            Again, you are not addressing the issue of whether allowing women to serve in combat roles improves our EFFECTIVENESS. Your argument is solely about “fairness.”

            I’m not clear on your point regarding women being able to sustain higher G-forces…women are allowed, without exception, to be fighter pilots. The problem is, we don’t have sufficient women to fly all the fighters we require. So for the sake of effectiveness (having enough aircraft to meet requirements) and the sake of efficiency (we have volunteers already, we don’t need to “draft” more women into the services), we also allow men to fly fighters even if they are not able to maintain the same level of sustained G-forces. So again, what does this have to do with the argument at hand?

            WRT whining, this is not a matter of not wanting to change or can’t wrap my head around having females in the military. Despite your username, I’m finding it hard to believe you have actually served in the military, and certainly not at the level to require an understanding of logistics. As the man said, “amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics.” The logisitics issue is a REAL issue. It is something that has to be dealt with to make this issue go away. Saying, “well, just get over it and figure out something”…please tell me the solution. Because this is a recurring problem we have to deal with and if your “open mindedness” couldn’t provide us with an enduring solution, we would be greatly appreciative.

            Lastly, you are inventing straw man arguments. I have never execused poor logistics in the form of contractors or social welfare. They simply have no bearing on this present issue, namely the logistics of allowing women to serve in the military. Please remain on topic and help identify solutions to the problem other than name calling.
            And the issue isn’t as simple as “building” extra washrooms and berths. There are physical space limitations in some circumstances in which you have a zero sum gain. There is no additional room. You have the bunks available that you have and no more. Now you have to figure out the most efficient use of that space. And mixing the genders in many cases is not the most efficient use until you can transition to a unisex organzation in which men and women share shower facilities and bunk areas.

          • TheSteelGeneral says:

            @BK
            Hmm. My arguments are not about fairness, but about the absense of UNfairness. Just like Caidid says, if women want to serve in whatever position they should get a fair shake to get that position.
            You’re cleverer (and perhaps more reasonable) than airborne AA, but it comes down to the same thing: at some level you think women are inferior, by definition. Which is odd. A high percentage of British soldiers froze to death in the Falklands, because of low body fat. that wouldn’t have happened to women who have more natural fat. Women are biologically better suited to withstand cold water.
            Also, Florence Griffith-Joyner out runs 99 percent of the US military.

            And it’s almost as if you’re suggesting that women should be BETTER than men, if they are to be allowed EVERYWHERE in the military by you. That is wrong. A woman who makes the cut should be able to serve, if she wants to.
            Or do I misinterpret you?

          • Jethro says:

            “Women can withstand G-Force better than men. Fact.”

            Show me a study. Spoilers: There aren’t any.

            This isn’t a fact at all, it’s a supposition based on the finding that for the high-g maneuvers of the type encountered by fighter pilots, short people endure better than tall people, combined with the fact that women tend to be shorter than men.

            When this subject is actually measured, men and women perform in a comparable manner in these high-gee maneuvers.

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12433235
            http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2006/01/70006

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  11. Ron says:

    I grew up in the combat arms, so I had very little exposure to women in the military in my early years. My first exposure however was not a positive one. It was during the March Up to Baghdad in 03, I was firing battery commander and we were conducting resupply operations. The Combat Logistics Battalion had sent forward 7 ton trucks with ammo to restock what the battery had shot. For whatever reason the crews of those trucks were women, it would not have been a big deal except the 5K forklifts that are organic to the firing battery had been abandon at the side of the road days prior because they could not keep up with the rate of march. So the end result was each 155 round had to moved by hand. The 100lbs projectiles had to be lifted by their eye bolt lifting plug and moved to the side of the trucks and lowered to the shoulder of a waiting Marine and moved to ammo pit or alternately, picked up and passed from one truck to the other by hand. Needless to say the women couldn’t really lend a hand at moving ammunition because they physically couldn’t pick up or move a 100bs projectile.

    The problem is physics is just something we cannot get around, 100lbs of light weight gear still weighs 100 lbs. The drudgeries and life a modern Solider or Marine on battlefield really is not all that far removed from his predecessor 100, if not 1000 years ago. Ground combat is still a job requiring a reserve of strength and endurance that most women just don’t possess.

    • Airborne 11B Advocate says:

      (can’t help but say something)

      Ron: Please stop it with your real world experience. Don’t you see that the women of the future will be exempt from the laws of physics by the same method that will prevent them from falling victim to any of their other biological adaptations. Magic. Nature is not a force equal with wishful thinking in the blogosphere, So let these girls have their OPORD.

      I am going to wait for them to enter combat arms, then rejoin. Can’t wait to give a girl a 240B, 800 rds of link 7.62, spare mortar rounds (hardly ever used,) and three days worth of life on her back. Then make her fight grown men with it on. Ha!

    • TheSteelGeneral says:

      Let’s say we landed on Mars, found an ancient civilization, that had sadly declined because of, let’s say global climate destabilization, but had left us 200 lbs bombs which would be still useable to us. Would we then say: “oh, a man can’t lift 200 lbs. so we’ll leave them there? NO. We would adapt the bombs to fit our needs.

      In short, make lighter bombs. Saves fuel too.

      • Airborne 11B Advocate says:

        This woman’s capabilities are wasted dreaming up this stuff on G&L. Can someone get her a consulting job?

      • BK says:

        You do realize that we currently drop two THOUSAND pound bombs off of our aircraft, correct? And we have females who belong to weapons load teams. We simply employ equipment to allow us to move those weapons because it is the most effective and efficient means of loading aircraft in a specific situation (on an airbase or on an aircraft carrier). Unfortunately, such equipment does not currently exist “in the field” although DARPA is working on cybernetics/robotics that may one day allow for something like that.

        Once more, your argument could be strengthed by improving your fundamental knoweldge about that which you are discussing. Generally, I try not to intervene in the jobs of others for which I have no knowledge. You are welcome to your opinion but the more you expose such ignorances on military matters, the less sway you are going to have on folks who have “been there and done that.” So be careful where you tread when you criticize someone’s experiences in reality based soley on your theoretical opinions.

  12. Total says:

    The US military does not exist to represent the nation it is fighting for. It exists to defend the Constitution of the United States, nothing more, nothing less

    Oh piffle. The military defends the Constitution, but it represents the nation. That’s why, with some major physical limitations (for the disabled and elderly), the military has been opened to just about every American, regardless of social status, race, class, and starting recently gender.

    • Airborne 11B Advocate says:

      Oh yeah. Slavery. I argue for that and the Holocaust.
      Good one.
      Give me a break.
      The guys out there right now that defend your freedom, Constitution, and right to use too much bold html hardly represent the true demographics of the Nation. Sure the option is open to them, but I hate to tell you this, not everyone takes the offer. The armed forces as a whole might (I doubt it does) have a fairly congruent representation, but the Army Infantry, Ranger battalion, and Special Forces seemed dominated by white and Hispanic males. There were African-Americans and Asians and other minorities out there, but nowhere near the national level. I’m not racist for reporting this to you, I’m just being honest. We all worked well together, and I promise the guys that do this work always demonstrate much thicker skin then just the women here have so far. We want motivated, tough soldiers manning the guns to protect our families. If you girls can pack the gear then start proving it so we can just end the talking. Stop using quotas, ad hominem, and fairness arguments. Prove it already.

      • Total says:

        If you don’t like the implications of your logic pointed out, don’t use that logic. You may not enjoy the fact that your logic is faulty, but we are not required to indulge you in your biases. If you’re arguing that something has happened throughout history and thus we should continue it, you open yourself up to me pointing out that that applies to slavery as well. I’m sad that you’re not better at this, but not surprised.

        There were African-Americans and Asians and other minorities out there, but nowhere near the national level. I’m not racist for reporting this to you, I’m just being honest

        No one ever acknowledges that they’re being racist; they just say that they’re being honest.

        and right to use too much bold html

        Cute. Shall we examine your grammatical mistakes?

    • BK says:

      Piffle?!? Interesting word. Especially given your argument that the US military should allow women into combat arms because it would be more representative of the nation. That’s your argument. That the military should be organized based on equality over its ability to execute its mission.

      I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of a foolish idea.

      We are not going to reorganize the military simply to allow for a better representation of the country. That’s not why the military exists. It exists to fight and win wars. To provide for the common defense. To respond to emergencies. To execute any mission given to it by the Command-in-Chief. To that end, the military is equipped and appointed to successfully fulfill those missions. Not to match the appropriate percentages of the US population.

      If you want to argue that women can be useful in furthering the mission because of their specific attributes, good on you. That’s why we have women in civil affairs, and they fly fighter jets, and they work as medics. They improve our missions in those areas because they allow us to operate in areas where otherwise we could not or because their physiology makes them better suited for certain situations. But that argument can’t be made for front-line infantry units. Adding women to those units will not improve their effectiveness. And if it doesn’t improve their effectiveness, why do it? Just to make sure the infantry has enough diversification for the recruiting posters?

      Your argument does not make sense. That is the imperfection of your logic, it contains no logic. There should be a clear train of thought between the desired endstate and your proposal. But the deisred endstate is an effective military and your proposal is women in infantry units. There is no clear line between those two concepts.

      Unless, of course, you are suggesting that the desired end state is NOT an effective military. In which case, you need to explain what your desired end state is and why. As other commentors have pointed out, there is no true limit to the career opportunities to women in the military. They cna make 4-star just like the men. They are not shorted benefits, they get the exact same health care coverage as the rest of the military. So what then is the concern about putting women into a handful of MOSs for which only a very select few would be qualified for?

      The military is designed to accomplish missions. It is no designed to be a demographically accurate representation of the US population. And if you believe that to be the case, please, cite your source. Anything at all that would even remotely suggest that the military is intended to do that. Otherwise, that is your personal opinion which bares no weight on this discussion…the applicability of placing women in front line combat units.

  13. Airborne 11B Advocate says:

    My girlfriend just totally fixed the problem for us. She said “Just drop the ban, let these girls get out there and see it for themselves. They’ll shut up about it.” I have been officially swayed. Good luck ladies.

  14. Total says:

    Especially given your argument that the US military should allow women into combat arms because it would be more representative of the nation. That’s your argument. That the military should be organized based on equality over its ability to execute its mission.

    Actually, my argument (which you might have asked about) is that, within limits, the United States military should strive to be as representative of the nation it fights for as it can. It represents that nation in wars, and so should try to ensure that both the sacrifice and the effort is shared. What limits? Well, there are physical limits and cognitive limits, such that someone disabled or in a coma should not be in the military. But outside that, it should require enormously strong reasons to eliminate certain categories of Americans from the right and responsibility to serve in the military or any part of the military. I don’t think those reasons in the case of women are strong enough, with the limited exception of certain specialties (like special forces).

    Reasons like “the male soldiers will have conniptions” are NOT enough to deny women the last full measure of their right and responsibility as American citizens. Reasons like “we have to build extra bathrooms” are NOT enough to deny women that last full measure. Reasons like “the military might not be as perfectly efficient as if we only took white males between 18-25″ are not enough to deny women that last full measure.

    (and before you get all snooty, the military already recognizes this: if perfect efficiency was what the military was aiming for in front line units, it wouldn’t let in soldiers with less than perfect eyesight [you can be a front line soldier with eyesight that (corrected) is 20/40 in one eye and 20/70 in the other. You can be a front line soldier with missing teeth and missing parts of various fingers] Don’t talk to me about “efficiency.”)

    So, yes, piffle.

    • BK says:

      I don’t think you understand the definition of the word “efficient.” At least, not based on your examples of missing teeth and less than perfect eye sight. Those are, in fact, examples of how the military IS efficient. You see, if the military excluded personnel based on factors that did not adversely affect their “effectiveness”, then it would be *less* efficient. So if you can correct their vision to 20/70 and therefore allow them to be effective, you INCREASE the available manpower to execute your mission. Therefore you increase your pool of potential recruits and are more efficient in the use of your available resources. Absence of teeth has absolutely no impact on effectiveness or efficiency.

      The military did try to limit its military forces to only white males between 18-40 but discovered that this was inefficient. They didn’t have enough of those people and too many of the people who didn’t fit that category. So in the interest of efficiency (the optimal use of your given resources), they eliminated unnecessary restrictions on personnel serving in the infantry. Unfortunately, the last of these unnecessary restrictions was not removed until DADT was repealed.

      But you see, the requirement for additional bathrooms and bunking (as I’ve noted in previous comments), does represent an inefficiency. The reality, which again as I have previously related, is that having enough bunk space for a segregated group is a problem. I have had personnel turned back for no other reason than because there were no more female room mates available so it was better to send a male forward to share a room/bunk area with another male. In some cases, for example when you are NOT talking about ships, it is possible to send a female forward and just give her a room to herself, but this is an inefficient use of resources. Better to just send a male.

      Now, if you make all billeting and showering facilities unisex, you can mitigate that problem. You have open barracks and you keep both men and women in the saem barracks, problem solved. You make sure all toilets are stalls and so you could have males and females next to each other, no problem. But that’s not how things are currently done. Do that, and I am much less concerned about the efficiencies. Then its just a matter of meeting the standards and I personally don’t doubt that there are women out there who can meet those standards. So, problem solved.

      But the problem is maximizing effectiveness while minimizing inefficiencies. Ideally, you would like to improve capabilities by adding women to combat units but that doesn’t appear to be the case. So the best you can hope for is to not make things less effective or less efficient than they currently are now.

      And that brings us back to your believe that somehow the military “represents” the nation when it goes to war. This isn’t the Olympics. We don’t “represent” our country demographically. Ideally, we represent the “values” of our country as demonstrated through our adherence to social norms but there is no requirement for us to represent the demographics of the country. And once more, I will politely ask you to demonstrate where this “requirement” to do so comes from? I am thoroughly convinced that there is no such standard established anywhere but I’ll admit I am wrong if you can find such proof.

      And finally, in the past we did try to ensure that the sacrifice was shared across the nation. It was called the draft. It was not popular. And you will note that the US military does NOT bring up the idea of the draft, that is a message trumpted by folks who don’t actually serve. See, they think that forcing people to join the military for two years at a time will make it more fair and more representative of the country and will ensure that the country better understands the sacrifices currently shouldered by less than 1% of the US population. But the military realized after the draft was repealed, that a professional fighting force is actually much, much more effective. You have fewer problems, you have better training, and you can rely on your fellow servicemembers more. That’s why you don’t hear the military go, “you know what we really need? More people from across the spectrum to serve.” The draft was the means by which the military could “better represent the country” and it was a bad idea. A professional military is far superior, regardless of the fact that the rest of the 99% doesn’t have to share the burden.

    • BK says:

      Also, just out of curiosity, why do you single out Special Forces as being the exception to your fairness rule?

      If you read my comments (which I know can be quite lengthy), you will find that SF is actually where I recommend we *begin* to integrate females. I am of the opinion that SF is populated by more mature males (both in terms of age and with regards to professionalism), would have a greater requirement for women in certain circumstances, and would best allow women from roles they are currently in (such as MI, MP, and EOD) to transfer to SF. Once women start earning the “long tab” (as the “Special Forces” tab is known), it will clearly counter arguments about a woman’s ability to serve in combat arms.

      So I’m curious to know what you think sets SF so far apart from Infantry that women could do the latter but not the former.

  15. Total says:

    Absence of teeth has absolutely no impact on effectiveness or efficiency.

    Sure it does. It requires different kinds of food than for those with perfect teeth and the more types of food that the logistics system has to deliver to to soldiers, the more effort required. Folks with less than perfect sight require equipment to correct it, doctors to check on the correction, people to supply the equipment, and so on. That’s an inefficiency that could be dealt with by simply keeping both types of soldiers out. That the military has already adjusted to both of those does not mean that they’re not inefficiencies. It just means that they’ve already adjust to it. They could do the same with women, and it would–as your argument goes–increase the pool of available people to do the job. Benefits all around!

    You have a very strange sense of when some inefficiencies are okay–people with less than perfect sight or missing teeth–and when they’re not–women. You should think hard about that.

    Oh, and you should google “last full measure.” See if you understand what I’m implying about why the military *is* representative of the country.

    • BK says:

      Well, that was fun. You obviously do not understand the concepts and are simply trolling at this point. Your efforts at suggesting that people with missing teeth or with less than perfect eye sight require an increase in logistical support is based on no practical experience while you ignore the obvious challenges of mixed genders. Your emphasis of the “last full measure” is overly dramatic and again, contributes nothing to the discussion as to why women should be in the combat arms. Suggesting that they should have the *right* to die for their country is amateurish. Professionals fight for their country and the country relies on a professional military to win, not to make impressive, futile sacrifices (that’s the stuff of Hollywood and defeated cultures).

      You either do not understand the word “efficiency” (particularly as it relates to logistics and resources) or you are intellectually dishonest. You have contributed nothing of value to this discussion.

  16. Total says:

    Your efforts at suggesting that people with missing teeth or with less than perfect eye sight require an increase in logistical support is based on no practical experience while you ignore the obvious challenges of mixed genders.

    No, I’m pointing out that things you accept also require inefficiencies, yet you’re not bothered by those, and yet are bothered by the inefficiencies created by women. Again, why? Why do one set of inefficiencies seem perfectly reasonable to you, and not another? The only difference is gender, which leads me to believe that–despite your protestations–you’re simply throwing up a smoke screen because you don’t want women in combat, regardless of real world concerns.

    Suggesting that they should have the *right* to die for their country is amateurish. Professionals fight for their country and the country relies on a professional military to win, not to make impressive, futile sacrifices

    I suspect that Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart would disagree with you. http://www.history.army.mil/html/moh/somalia.html Actually, I hope that you would disagree with yourself because otherwise you’re impugning the sacrifice that both Gordon and Shughart made.

    You have contributed nothing of value to this discussion

    Stomping your foot petulantly while tears well up in your eyes are pretty good signs of how the argument is going. Entertaining, too.

  17. joljenni says:

    I live in Canada where women are allowed in all combat arms. I am an artillery soldier. I am 5’6″ and have a muscular stocky build. I am single and have no bills or obligations except to my country. I understand people’s points that women are inferior physically. But, that is only average. If one has trust in their system to select those most qualified then that would include both genders. Most women can not cut it. But for those like me, who are strong and able why not? I am not saying every girl will make it. But I am advocating women to have the opportunity to try. Then it is up to your superiors to decide if they make the cut. As a country and military you want the best. But this is jot based on gender, it is based on capability. It takes a strong woman as is to even consider applying to the combat arms. We know how we will be judged and frowned upon. If they’re like me that will just fuel their drive and determination to succeed.

  18. Pingback: For Gunpowder & Lead: Women in combat, Part I

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