Women in Combat – Part II

Since my last post about women in combat sparked such a great discussion, I thought I would share this article that I saw online recently.

It’s a counter argument to my point of view that women should be allowed in combat roles in the military.

I think it’s a very well written article with a lot of great points, even if I don’t agree with the overall opinion of the author.

One might wonder why I am posting an article whose opinion I don’t agree with, but as I said before I enjoy a good debate. For most issues I think that both side of the argument have very good points, and I can understand both sides of the issue. If the both sides didn’t have a valid case for their opinion then there probably wouldn’t be much of a debate to begin with! We would just have a clear winner.

I’m a female veteran. I deployed to Anbar Province, Iraq. When I was active duty, I was 5’6, 130 pounds, and scored nearly perfect on my PFTs. I naturally have a lot more upper body strength than the average woman: not only can I do pull-ups, I can meet the male standard. I would love to have been in the infantry. And I still think it will be an unmitigated disaster to incorporate women into combat roles. I am not interested in risking men’s lives so I can live my selfish dream.

 

We’re not just talking about watering down the standards to include the politically correct number of women into the unit. This isn’t an issue of “if a woman can meet the male standard, she should be able to go into combat.” The number of women that can meet the male standard will be miniscule–I’d have a decent shot according to my PFTs, but dragging a 190-pound man in full gear for 100 yards would DESTROY me–and that miniscule number that can physically make the grade AND has the desire to go into combat will be facing an impossible situation that will ruin the combat effectiveness of the unit. First, the close quarters of combat units make for a complete lack of privacy and EVERYTHING is exposed, to include intimate details of bodily functions. Second, until we succeed in completely reprogramming every man in the military to treat women just like men, those men are going to protect a woman at the expense of the mission. Third, women have physical limitations that no amount of training or conditioning can overcome. Fourth, until the media in this country is ready to treat a captured/raped/tortured/mutilated female soldier just like a man, women will be targeted by the enemy without fail and without mercy.

 

I saw the male combat units when I was in Iraq. They go outside the wire for days at a time. They eat, sleep, urinate and defecate in front of each other and often while on the move. There’s no potty break on the side of the road outside the wire. They urinate into bottles and defecate into MRE bags. I would like to hear a suggestion as to how a woman is going to urinate successfully into a bottle while cramped into a humvee wearing full body armor. And she gets to accomplish this feat with the male members of her combat unit twenty inches away. Volunteers to do that job? Do the men really want to see it? Should they be forced to?

 

Everyone wants to point to the IDF as a model for gender integration in the military. No, the IDF does not put women on the front lines. They ran into the same wall the US is about to smack into: very few women can meet the standards required to serve there. The few integrated units in the IDF suffered three times the casualties of the all-male units because the Israeli men, just like almost every other group of men on the planet, try to protect the women even at the expense of the mission. Political correctness doesn’t trump thousands of years of evolution and societal norms. Do we really WANT to deprogram that instinct from men?

 

Regarding physical limitations, not only will a tiny fraction of women be able to meet the male standard, the simple fact is that women tend to be shorter than men. I ran into situations when I was deployed where I simply could not reach something. I wasn’t tall enough. I had to ask a man to get it for me. I can’t train myself to be taller. Yes, there are small men…but not so nearly so many as small women. More, a military PFT doesn’t measure the ability to jump. Men, with more muscular legs and bones that carry more muscle mass than any woman can condition herself to carry, can jump higher and farther than women. That’s why we have a men’s standing jump and long jump event in the Olympics separate from women. When you’re going over a wall in Baghdad that’s ten feet high, you have to be able to be able to reach the top of it in full gear and haul yourself over. That’s not strength per se, that’s just height and the muscular explosive power to jump and reach the top. Having to get a boost from one of the men so you can get up and over could get that man killed.

 

Without pharmaceutical help, women just do not carry the muscle mass men do. That muscle mass is also a shock absorber. Whether it’s the concussion of a grenade going off, an IED, or just a punch in the face, a woman is more likely to go down because she can’t absorb the concussion as well as a man can. And I don’t care how the PC forces try to slice it, in hand-to-hand combat the average man is going to destroy the average woman because the average woman is smaller, period. Muscle equals force in any kind of strike you care to perform. That’s why we don’t let female boxers face male boxers.

 

Lastly, this country and our military are NOT prepared to see what the enemy will do to female POWs. The Taliban, AQ, insurgents, jihadis, whatever you want to call them, they don’t abide by the Geneva Conventions and treat women worse than livestock. Google Thomas Tucker and Kristian Menchaca if you want to see what they do to our men (and don’t google it unless you have a strong stomach) and then imagine a woman in their hands. How is our 24/7 news cycle going to cover a captured, raped, mutilated woman? After the first one, how are the men in the military going to treat their female comrades? ONE Thomasina Tucker is going to mean the men in the military will move heaven and earth to protect women, never mind what it does to the mission. I present you with Exhibit A: Jessica Lynch. Male lives will be lost trying to protect their female comrades. And the people of the US are NOT, based on the Jessica Lynch episode, prepared to treat a female POW the same way they do a man.

 

I say again, I would have loved to be in the infantry. I think I could have done it physically, I could’ve met almost all the male standards (jumping aside), and I think I’m mentally tough enough to handle whatever came. But I would never do that to the men. I would never sacrifice the mission for my own desires. And I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if someone died because of me.

 

– Sentry

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Women in Combat

It was recently announced that women are now to be allowed to serve in combat roles in the U.S. military.

I am a supporter of this change, but my husband is not.

Normally I would defer to my husband on most military topics, seeing as he is the one who is actually in the military and has the experience. But since he doesn’t serve on the front lines in a combat role (he is a helicopter mechanic), I am hesitant to put much stock in his reasoning.

The reasons again women in combat that he brings up are common ones that I’ve seen so far in public debates and news articles.

  1. Women aren’t physically as strong: This is true. Most women are not physically as strong as most men. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some women out there who can’t pass the same physical tests that are required for a combat role.  They should at least be given the chance to apply for the position and be evaluated on the same scales as the men. A 100 lb. man (there are many very skinny Marines!) is still given the opportunity to apply for the position, but a female athlete in amazing physical shape is not. It’s about equal opportunity, not equal representation of men and women in combat roles.
  2. If a man and a woman are on the front lines and a woman gets hurt then the men will be distracted by trying to help her; aka, men’s chivalrous instincts will kick in and they will disregard their training to ‘rescue’ a woman or protect her: I found a quote from a news article I read about this to be appropriate and funny. They were interviewing an officer about this issue and he said something along the lines of “most men don’t even open doors for women anymore, I don’t think it’s an issue”. While I do see the point of this argument, I feel that with the amount of training these units go through, they can work through this ‘rescue instinct’ and incorporate it into their training to follow orders and treat all their team members are equal.
  3. Women don’t have the mental strength for combat: (This argument comes from another military spouse I know, not my husband. I don’t think he would ever say this to my face lol). This I just find patronizing, especially coming from another woman. I am by no means a feminist; I like having doors opened for me and having men clean up their foul language around me. But knowing that there are people out there who think that women are still the “weaker sex” mentally is frustrating to me. But aside from my personal opinion, this is where the screening process and training again comes in to play to determine if a woman can handle the mental strain that comes with being on the front lines. And just as a side note, I’ve met quite a few infantry Marines, they don’t exactly scream “mental stability” to me….
  4. Along the lines of the “rescue instinct”, men will be distracted by having a woman in their unit (sexual attraction and all that): My goodness, with all this irresistible sexual attraction of women it’s amazing any businesses get work done. How are the doctors preforming life saving surgeries working side by side with a female nurses? How are firefighters rescuing people with female firefighters by their side? I think my sarcasm gets the point across, we can all keep it in our pants when were on the job being professionals.

I’m always open for a good (polite) debate if anybody disagrees with me. I don’t think it’s a cut and dry issue, and it will probably take a while before all the potential issues get sorted out.

But as I said before, for me equality is about equal opportunity. Should every woman be allowed to have a combat role? Not at all, but women should still have the equal opportunity to apply for the position and be evaluated based on the requirements for the job just as any man would be.