“Women in combat”: myths and realities

01Apr13

French female soldier, Kapisa province, 2009

When my current police department hired me I had pretty good qualifications: ten years military service, two years college, three years prior law enforcement. I breezed through the academy. Despite competing with cadets who had bachelors’ or masters degrees, I graduated number one academically and number three overall. During field training I passed my evaluations on the first try.

Later, while I was on my probationary period, I was on patrol with another officer. We met a friend of his for lunch. I had never met the guy before. He was a cowboy type, blond and muscular.

I introduced myself. The friend shook my hand and asked me, “What’s your last name again?”

“Hernandez.”

“Oh,” he said, with a disgusted sneer. “I know how you got your job.”

I was taken aback. I stared at him, not quite believing I heard what I knew I heard. I tensely answered, “No, I got my job because I’ve got military service, college and prior law enforcement. It wasn’t because of my last name. And I graduated near the top of my class.”

“Sorry. Just kidding.”

I was pissed. But I had to admit something: I understood the comment. For decades, stories have circulated about officers being recruited for their ethnic background rather than their capabilities. Some of the stories have been true. I had earned my place in the academy and earned my place on the street, but that officer had looked on me as another “affirmative action cop”.

As angry as I was, I knew he had reason to be angry and cynical as well. Because of lowered hiring standards, he didn’t know who to trust. He wasn’t sure who was qualified and who had been hired to keep up appearances. And he knew unqualified officers might fail him someday, when his life depended on them.

Why do I tell this story now? Because a lot of other people are about to experience the same thing. I’m not talking about minority cops. I’m talking about women who volunteer for combat arms in the military and earn their way through training. When they get lumped in with females who shouldn’t have passed but were pushed through anyway, they’re going to feel a lot like I did that night.

Lately the debate over women in combat has been aggravating the crap out of me. I’ve read several articles and comments about women in combat, and bitten my tongue at the myriad stupid claims: male and female physical fitness standards in the Army and Marines are already the same (they’re not), a soldier working on a huge base is in the same danger as a soldier outside the wire (he’s not), or “The military has finally recognized that there are no line drawn battlefields anymore where they could put the ‘girls’ in the rear. If you carry a weapon, you are in the thick of it” (ridiculous horsecrap). I’ve tried responding on sites like the Huffington Post, but gave up. Many of the people driving this debate don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. And they’re not interested in learning.

So let’s make something clear, which is a point some people don’t get: there is no ban on women in combat. There’s a ban on women in combat arms. That’s a big difference.

For more than ten years, women have been regularly going outside the wire, getting into firefights, and suffering casualties. They’ve served as vehicle drivers, vehicle gunners, engineers, medics, civil affairs specialists, communication specialists and pilots, among other jobs. Those are all crucial combat support roles, and those who fill them, male and female, deserve respect. But women aren’t serving in combat arms, in jobs whose sole purpose is to engage the enemy. They’re not infantry, tankers, scouts or artillery soldiers.

Apparently, much of the public decided they wouldn’t stand for this horrible military inequity, and did something about it. Loud screams about military gender equality came mostly from people who I suspect aren’t veterans, don’t know anyone in the military, and generally view the armed forces with disdain.

Their voices were heard. Voices from people like Marine Captain Katie Petronio, who actually was in firefights and concluded women are not suited for sustained combat, were ignored. As Captain Petronio wrote in an essay, “I am not personally hearing female Marines, enlisted or officer, pounding on the doors of Congress claiming that their inability to serve in the infantry violates their right to equality.” During twenty-four years of service in both the Marines and Army, I haven’t heard it either. But that doesn’t matter. Despite the lack of military voices demanding change, we’ve received the warning order and are preparing to accept women into combat arms. The march toward equality has begun. Yay.

Although my tone might suggest otherwise, I’m not against women in combat arms. In addition to knowing some awesome, physically fit women who could do it, I’ve seen a couple of them do it. Most stories about vicious infantrywomen in foreign armies are as mythical as the plucky, just-as-tough-as-the-guys female character in movies like Battle Los Angeles. But some of the stories are true.

In Afghanistan, the French allowed certain women to serve with the infantry. One I met was assigned to a mortar team. She was in fantastic shape, and according to my French friends was competent, brave and never complained. Another was on a search team. She went on infantry missions, carried her ruck without problems, and once helped carry a wounded civilian to safety while under fire. So nobody can convince me it’s impossible for a woman to be a good combat arms soldier.

In this respect I actually disagree with many of my infantry friends, who see nothing good about female infantry. I was a tanker and scout, but never infantry. I seriously consider what experienced infantrymen have to say. Many of them point out problems we already have with gender integration, and the issues with pregnancies, love triangles and sexual harassment that are guaranteed to result when you add females to combat arms. Nobody should be shocked that young, physically fit men and women, brimming with life and facing death, find escape and comfort in each others’ arms (and beds).

Accepting women into combat arms will require a major behavioral adjustment for both male and female soldiers. Plenty of people with valid experience don’t think the benefit females bring is worth the upheaval. But I believe adherence to the American ideal is worth the trouble. This is the land of opportunity and equality of opportunity. I have a hard time telling someone, “You’re qualified, capable and willing to do the most dangerous jobs for your country. No thanks. You don’t have a penis, so take a hike.”

So my issue isn’t with women in combat arms. My issue is with the stupid, utopian, willfully blind belief that men and women are the same across the board and can do the same things, that one gender is no more physically capable of combat than the other. That’s just not true. This isn’t about racism/sexism/any other -ism, no matter how hard some proponents of gender integration try to smear opponents with those terms. This is about two realities: battlefield and physiological.

This point has been made by several other writers, but it’s worth repeating. Males and females are separated in professional sports. The fittest female in the world isn’t a match for the fittest male. People whose entire lives are committed to producing peak human performance realized this long ago. Female basketball players are in fantastic shape, but they’re not on the same plane as male players. Plenty of female boxers could beat me senseless, but they wouldn’t have a chance against Mike Tyson. Even in noncontact sports like sprinting, males and females are separated.

Is this because the sports world is full of sexists? Or is it because experts in human physical capability know men and women aren’t equal? But maybe we should ignore gender segregation in sports, and advocate total gender integration in combat arms. After all, if integration fails in the military, it’s only lives that will be lost. Not something important, like the Super Bowl.

Some say women have proven physical differences don’t matter. Women in Iraq and Afghanistan have already shown they can handle combat. Yes they have been in combat, but that doesn’t tell the whole truth. The roles filled by women in the War on Terror have been, generally speaking, much less physical than combat arms jobs.

In Iraq I was on a convoy escort team, and spent almost all my time outside the wire sitting in a humvee. When I had to get out it was just to check the area around my vehicle. Plenty of female Soldiers and Marines, and even a handful of female sailors and Air Force women, had the same job.

Yes, some of us were in combat. We were shot at, had IED strikes or near misses. But we weren’t running around under fire in 130 degree heat with eighty pounds of gear. We weren’t maneuvering heavy artillery into position, frantically trying to get rounds downrange and keep a friendly unit from being overrun. We weren’t pulling fifty-five pound HEAT rounds from an Abrams tank ammo rack, flipping them and throwing them into a breech every ten seconds.

Our war was slow-paced and physically undemanding. We left one safe spot, drove hours through danger areas, and finished at another safe spot where ice cream and Green Bean coffee waited. We did not face physical stresses and dangers equal to infantrymen patrolling Sadr City, Fallujah, or Diyala. Many of us, male and female, were physically incapable of doing what the infantry did. If anyone looks at a the typical woman’s combat experience and thinks it’s the same as being in combat arms, they’re either unforgivably ignorant or biased to the point of blindness.

And if someone buys the “modern war is so high-tech that physical strength doesn’t matter” myth, I invite them to join an infantry patrol in Kapisa province. Carrying eighty pounds of gear for three hours up a mountain is nothing like operating a drone. There’s nothing high-tech about an exhausted soldier straining to run under crushing weight while people are shooting at him.

So how do we make military gender integration work? My idea, which the military will likely not listen to, is this: allow women into combat arms, but only after they’ve passed a selection process. Let women who prove themselves capable enter those fields. While they’re in the training courses, maintain the exact same training and performance standard for females as for males. Train females with the understanding that their gender won’t make their load lighter, their performance expectations lower, or their chances of survival higher. Combat arms females will face equal risks in combat, so they should face equal challenges in training.

That way only the best-qualified women would even try it, and the graduation rate for those women would likely be close to the male graduation rate. Female graduates would be viewed as “real” infantrywomen, scouts, tankers or artillerywomen. They wouldn’t have an experience similar to mine. Male soldiers wouldn’t automatically doubt their ability.

But what’s the military probably going to do instead? It’s going to listen to hysterical voices speaking from horribly invalid experience as “equality for everyone” protestors. It’s going to go along with the ridiculous untruth about males and females being exactly the same in all aspects. It’s going to open combat arms to females the same way it’s open to males. And when a class of 100 males and 100 females has twenty male and eighty female failures, the military is going to quietly tell the instructors, “Go easy on the females. Their failure rate makes it look like we’re discriminating against women. We can’t have that.” And the next class’s female failure rate will magically be the same as the male failure rate.

If we choose the appearance of equality over actual quality, we know what it will produce. In future battles, good people will die because “soldiers” in their units will fail. And when, not if, that happens, people who ranted and screamed about equality will suffer none of the consequences. They won’t be overrun because artillery soldiers couldn’t set their guns up quickly enough. They won’t burn because a loader couldn’t feed a tank main gun fast enough. They won’t be pinned down, flanked and massacred because soldiers in a quick reaction force couldn’t carry their loads far enough.

Those who protest loudest about equality while having nothing invested in the outcome won’t be bothered. They don’t serve, their children don’t serve, their friends don’t serve. The casualties won’t be theirs to mourn. And some of those casualties will be qualified, capable women, who earned their way into combat arms and into combat.

Those women deserve better than to be failed by soldiers who should never have been at their side. They deserve better than the “equality” of being just as dead as the soldiers around them. They deserve a fair shot at being combat troops, they deserve the right to earn their way into combat units. And they should serve only with other soldiers who have truly earned that same right.



90 Responses to ““Women in combat”: myths and realities”

  1. Chris – outstanding article! You’ve “been there, done that” and have one of the most valid viewpoints on this topic I’ve seen yet. Well done!

    • Thanks Sarge. And I appreciate you sharing it on your blog. I’ve been out all day and haven’t had a chance to check out your post on the topic, but I promise to as soon as I have a chance.

  2. 3 JimP

    Aside from the “can they physically do the job?” aspect, the fact that living in field conditions for exended periods of time is difficult enough without adding sexual tension and love triangles into the mix ….. Can Sgt. Steve Studly treat Pvt. Sally Awsomescurves and Pvt. Sam Snuffy impartially if they are all living in a hole in the ground and washing in the same bucket*. Even if by some miracle Sgt. Studly is able to be impartial, there WILL be some resentment, by either one of the Pvt’s ….. because nothing is ever equal, and they will percieve that they have not been treated equally, because “I’m a girl/She’s hot/You are just trying to avoid looking like you are favoring her/me/whatever. It’s jsut more BS to deal with when troopies have more important matters hat should be concerning them.

    * My first live combat fire mission was called while I was in the back of my ammo carrier, standing in a plastic tub wearing my birthday suit and some suds ….. the rest of the section had rolled out the fartsacks in the tents …. I stepped out of the tub, into my boots, read back and recorded the firing data, and fuzed and set times on the rounds, ……. After the second round went out and the third and final round went onto the gun, I managed to find my pants …. I can’t see how that would not be more awkward if there were females in the mix.

    • Jim,

      Actually, in Iraq there were mixed units that had common sleeping quarters and shower facilities. In Afghanistan there still are, or at least there were in 09. I doubt anything has changed. Combat support units have been dealing with the exact tension you described for years. Support units have managed to keep it in check so far, without loss of effectiveness. Line infantry units will be different, but I don’t think the difference will be so great as to be insurmountable. I think we should at least try; if women pass a selection process and make it through infantry training, they’ve earned a spot in an infantry unit. If their presence causes so many problems (that aren’t simply behavior issues with them or the males around them), then we’ve tried and determined it doesn’t work. Until we find out female infantry is just an impossible concept, I’d say females deserve a shot at it.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, and for the story. Firing mortar rounds naked probably isn’t something a lot of people have done.

      • 5 JimP

        Oh, they were not mortar rounds ……. they were 203mm HE rounds for our M110a2 SP gun …… they weighed just shy of 200 lbs……. I remember being terribly worried that with my soapy hands and the wet deck of the 548, I’d slip and drop one and lose some toes …..

      • “Combat support units have been dealing with the exact tension you described for years.”

        What does that prove? Nothing. I could state women have been handicapping combat readiness in support units for years which is more accurate. I have heard the “women have been exposed to combat in Iraq for years now” argument which on it’s own proves nothing.

        I led women in integrated units for over twenty years. These were tactical communications units. Have you led women? If you have, then I do not understand how you can say with a straight face that women should be allowed in combat units.

        1. A significant portion of my time was spent dealing with sexual harassment claims, fraternization, and outright sexual assault.

        2. At any given time, I lose female soldiers due to pregnancy. They are not replaced and we deploy without them, understrength.

        3. over 90% of female soldiers assigned to tactical communications meet the “official” standards for physical qualification, but cannot perform in sustained tactical environments due to the physical demand. Example: System grounding using 6 ft ground rods pounded with a twelve pound sledge, 80 pound cable reels loaded, unloaded, and deployed. Antenna systems installed with all associated anchors. This all done within 45 minutes with a 3 “person” team.

        4. All NCO’s must discriminate based on gender and balance the teams by equally handicapping them with females.

        5. There is no question that women in communications are just as smart as males. The difference comes when we perform ARTEPs and review the results. The facts are clear. Teams with two women and a single man perform significantly worse than teams with two men and a single woman. All male teams so significantly better than integrated teams. This is a fact.

        6. Selective Service participation would have to include women, otherwise the whole equality argument goes out the window. If women in the military are supposedly equal in combat support units, why is there a separate physical fitness standard? Guess we are not equal after all. Who would have thought….

        So how in the world does equality trump combat readiness? Here is some homework for you: How many women became pregnant during deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan? To think that this is not a significant combat distraction is to have your head in the sand.

        Results matter. Have you noticed that the order to integrate women into combat units by 2016 coincides with an election year?

        I highly suggest you view the video below of Gen Barrow’s testimony before congress.

        You should then read the following article.

        http://www.tfp.org/tfp-home/fighting-for-our-culture/testimony-of-col-john-w-ripley-to-the-presidential-commission-on-the-assignment-of-women-in-the-armed-forces.html

        I am passionate about this subject and am absolutely amazed at the lack of qualified perspective given by many in the military as they blindly drink the koolaide of women in combat.

        There is overwhelming evidence that women will detrimentally impact combat unit readiness and unit moral.

        I am getting sick of politicians pissing on me, telling me it’s raining.

        I am a retired combat leader and have deployed with 7th ID (L) 107th MI LRSD in Central America for extended surveillance missions. Typical load was NOT and 80 lb ruck, but more like 120 lbs. These rucks were so loaded down they were ripping off the frames after a few days of march. I was the RTO for the team.

        Although you state correctly that women in Iraq were exposed to combat, they did not seek to perform a combat mission nor should they.

        • It seems to me that you read my essay with a preconceived notion of what point I’m making.

          “If women in the military are supposedly equal in combat support units, why is there a separate physical fitness standard? Guess we are not equal after all. Who would have thought….”

          In my article I specifically state we should not have different standards for males and females. The standard is the standard, period.

          “So how in the world does equality trump combat readiness?”

          Please point out where I stated equality should trump combat readiness.

          “How many women became pregnant during deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan? To think that this is not a significant combat distraction is to have your head in the sand.”

          Have I stated pregnancies aren’t a combat distraction? I’ve deployed twice, once with an all male tank unit and once in a mixed unit. The mixed unit had several pregnancies. You don’t have to lecture to me about the realities of females in combat units. This comment almost makes me think you didn’t read the article at all.

          “Results matter. Have you noticed that the order to integrate women into combat units by 2016 coincides with an election year?”

          Yes I have. Did I advocate integrating women into combat units by 2016?

          “I am passionate about this subject and am absolutely amazed at the lack of qualified perspective given by many in the military as they blindly drink the koolaide of women in combat.”

          Blindly drink the koolaide. “Lack of qualified perspective”. Really. I suppose your opinion is the only qualified one, based on your service in Central America and in the peacetime military.

          Now I’m convinced you didn’t read the essay. Do you remember any of these lines I wrote:

          1) “My issue is with the stupid, utopian, willfully blind belief that men and women are the same across the board and can do the same things, that one gender is no more physically capable of combat than the other. That’s just not true. This isn’t about racism/sexism/any other -ism, no matter how hard some proponents of gender integration try to smear opponents with those terms. This is about two realities: battlefield and physiological.”

          2) “Males and females are separated in professional sports. The fittest female in the world isn’t a match for the fittest male.”

          3) “Is this because the sports world is full of sexists? Or is it because experts in human physical capability know men and women aren’t equal?”

          4) “And if someone buys the ‘modern war is so high-tech that physical strength doesn’t matter’ myth, I invite them to join an infantry patrol in Kapisa province. Carrying eighty pounds of gear for three hours up a mountain is nothing like operating a drone.”

          5) “My idea, which the military will likely not listen to, is this: allow women into combat arms, but only after they’ve passed a selection process. Let women who prove themselves capable enter those fields. While they’re in the training courses, maintain the exact same training and performance standard for females as for males. Train females with the understanding that their gender won’t make their load lighter, their performance expectations lower, or their chances of survival higher. Combat arms females will face equal risks in combat, so they should face equal challenges in training.”

          6) “But what’s the military probably going to do instead [of only allowing women into combat arms units after a selection process]? It’s going to listen to hysterical voices speaking from horribly invalid experience as ‘equality for everyone’ protestors. It’s going to go along with the ridiculous untruth about males and females being exactly the same in all aspects.”

          I understand and respect your experience. My experience in Afghanistan leads me to a different conclusion. I saw, with my own eyes, specific women who could and did successfully serve in the infantry. A French Foreign Legionnaire recently sent me a picture of a French female sniper who, in his words, happily carried her FAMAS and .50 caliber rifle on missions.

          I recently participated in a training exercise with Canadian Army attachments. Two were former infantrymen who served with female infantry soldiers. They had served multiple deployments to Afghanistan. Both of them said women integrated into infantry units without any serious issues, and that they both knew good female infantry soldiers.

          So, to sum it up:

          I’ve seen female soldiers successfully serve in the infantry role.

          A Legionnaire has told me about a female sniper who carried a 40 lb .50 caliber sniper rifle on missions.

          Canadian infantrymen have told me women have successfully integrated into Canadian infantry units.

          However, you insist that women can’t do it. Okay. I disagree with you on some of your points.

          I agree that the average woman can’t do it. I agree that pushing this issue for “equality” is nonsense. I know that having women in a unit can cause problems (and by the way, yes I have led women). I support the right of those women who prove themselves capable to serve in combat units.

          “I am getting sick of politicians pissing on me, telling me it’s raining.”

          That’s nice. Go find a politician and drop all these comments on him then. But if you’re going to argue with me, I’d suggest you try to actually read what I write.

        • 9 Joseph Esposito

          God bless! You are the only one with a modicum of truth! The absurdity, that a STUPID fe=MALE is even as smart as a MAN is wrong! Guess again? wo=MEN, have smaller brain size, and a quite simply not as intelligent! They think slower than MEN, never mind they’re weaker! This stupid fe=MALE who wrote this article foolishly says that a trained wo=MAN boxer is no match for Mike Tyson. How absurd! A wo=MAN boxer is NO MATCH for even a small untrained MAN! And by the way, wo=MEN are not made to register for the draft like a MAN, not made to wear crew cuts, like a MAN, not made to wear the same uniform as a MAN, CAN’T pass the same strength standards, and this BULLSHIT that wo=MEN are in combat, NOT TRUE!!!!!! They ARE barred from combat, they are only in support roles, NOT direct combat! Never mind that 60% of wo=MEN have LIED about rape, wo=MEN, such as the HERMAPHRODITE who this article have no problem being immodest, and taking more credit than they deserve!

  3. 10 SPEMack

    You know, at the Boy Scout camp I work at, we had the same, well not the same, but similar debate in regards to hiring female staffers. I always thought it was funny how people pushing for us to hire girls didn’t have a dog in the fight as it were, and yet still insisted that he must hire femals and treat them the same. It turned out, just like the military, some could hack it, some couldn’t. We had some issues in regards to intra-staff relationships, and even more problems in regards to fairness from those in command. Men and women are wired different. They are built different. Not sexist to admit that.

    I know several women who have been uniform or are currently serving, and some were outstanding, some average, and some mediocre, just like men in the military, none fit into one role or stereotype.

    It boggles me how people can’t equate females who are MPs or the like, going outside the wire as not being in combat. They get the same campaign medals, the same badges, and the same awards for valor that the men.

    Chris, I agree with your view that the ban on women in combat is really just a ban on women in combat arms.

    If the IDF couldn’t make women in the combat arms field work well, I doubt we can. That’s not to say we shouldn’t atleast try, but I doubt it will work.

    OldNFO raised a very valid point that if we allow women to enlist in the combat arms branches, then we should require girls to register with Selective Service, too. Wonder how well that would fly.

    Thanks for the insightful read, Chris.

    • Thanks Mack. Anytime you mix men and women, in any field, the usual tensions, desires and issues result. When it’s a male-dominated, high stress environment, those problems get worse. I’ve seen it in LE and EMS work as well as the military. Those issues may mean it’s just not workable, but I don’t think we can reach that conclusion until we give women a fair shot.

      • 12 thefoolserrand

        “but I don’t think we can reach that conclusion until we give women a fair shot.” The reality is that once implemented, there is no turning back. I predict integrating women in combat units will be declared a success when in reality it will be a dismal failure. I define failure as having a detrimental impact on readiness that can be measured.

        How much would you wager that the DoD will ensure that there are no results to correlate and measure because they won’t allow the data to be collected at a granular level?

        As a Master Fitness trainer in the army, I collected APFT results of units and can tell you that when I had my PT evaluators conduct the APFT as opposed to unit assigned graders, just over 60% of females failed the standard for females and 18% of males failed for the male standard. What I determined was that units were more interested in maintaining readiness stats than actually enforcing standards of APFT scoring. The average passing rate for females was over 96 percent when unit assigned graders did the scoring. For males the figure was around the same 96 percent.

        The APFT is currently undergoing gender normalization in preparation for integrating women into combat units. I can tell you that as a team member supporting LRSD, our APFT scores had to be 280 or higher or you were released from the team.

        The army’s answer to ensuring success is to lower the standard for males for the APFT and remove any combat obstacle course events that can’t be successfully negotiated by females. They have done this for a few years now at West Point.

        Bottom line: They will normalize the standard until they get the result they are looking for=detrimental impact to combat effectiveness.

        • That’s my fear also. That’s why I mentioned this: “But what’s the military probably going to do instead? It’s going to listen to hysterical voices speaking from horribly invalid experience as ‘equality for everyone’ protestors. It’s going to go along with the ridiculous untruth about males and females being exactly the same in all aspects. It’s going to open combat arms to females the same way it’s open to males. And when a class of 100 males and 100 females has twenty male and eighty female failures, the military is going to quietly tell the instructors, ‘Go easy on the females. Their failure rate makes it look like we’re discriminating against women. We can’t have that.’ And the next class’s female failure rate will magically be the same as the male failure rate.”

          I don’t, in any way, advocate changing the standard in order to allow more women into combat arms. If they can’t do it, they can’t do it. If they can, they can.

  4. I love hearing the opinions of people that actually know what they’re talking about. Nice change of pace.

  5. Except every woman currently serving or ever serving since 1865 is already an Affirmative Action soldierette, because not one woman in living history has performed the job in any service to the male standard since women snuck into ranks during the Civil War. And if they had to perfom to the male physical standard tomorrow, you could hold a meeting of all women in the service one day later in Hillary Clinton’s bathroom, if not her broom closet.

    Call me when one women gets through basic training performing a PFT/PRT and O-course to the male standard. Something about flying pigs comes to mind, but I’m open to the possibility it may happen someday.

    So far, the USMC has had 4 women volunteer for the Infantry Officers’ Course. The male graduation rate is 75%. The female rate, with those picked volunteers, is not only 0%, they have yet to see one candidate even make it to the third week (out of…what? Ten weeks? Twelve weeks?). That’s not affirmative action, it’s hiring the handicapped.

    THAT is how much women belong in combat arms.

    I’ve blogged on this twice already, besides commentary numerous places, after reading the same books and studies, and putting in the same time, and I’ve seen zero justifiable rationale for any of this nonsense other than touchy-feely PC bullshit. Which, if listened to, is going to do a great job some day — of filling body bags with not only the second-rate officers, but a platoon’s worth of troops or more whom they failed, and never should have been leading in the first place.

    Study after study documents that the absolute tip-top best women perform physically to the standard of the bottom 20% of men, and by application of a bell curve, over 50% of them far worse than even that miserable showing.

    I remember what my DIs said about the bottom 10%.
    “Leaders of men” doesn’t seem to match any of my recollections.

    Enlisted women in their teens walk in the door performing at the standard the military expects of near 50-year old men. I’m waiting for the companion push to bring in more 50 year old men to combat arms. So far, no sign of that argument, but I’m sure AARP is warming up in the wings.

    Maybe next we can recruit deaf radio operators and blind forward observers too. It makes as much sense. For crying out loud, there are guys who have had both legs blown off, gotten prosthetics, demonstrated they could still run, march, and ruck to standard, and STILL outperform every women every recruited, officer or enlisted, since 1900, even those with two factory-original legs. And they are average-perfoming men, not triathletes on steroids (although they must have the heart of a lion, and ‘nads that crush rocks).

    And despite the push to get women into combat support, when those women have to drag a buddy who weighs double what they do, before gear, that’s a troop that’s going to die. Possibly even two. Or more, to drag Pvt. (or Lt.) Wannabee’s butt out of the line of fire too, and then doubling the exposure to get the guy she couldn’t manage. What could possibly go wrong with that?

    I flung around 95# shells all day in field arty, raised and lowered huge camo nets, and shifted howitzer trails with every move, in between hauling another pallet of powder and shells to the gun from the ammo DZ. Grunts are humping ludicrous amounts of gear, ammo, and other crap. Women who have to carry just their basic load are where a man is when he’s carrying twice as much. Add extra MG ammunition, mortar rounds, a rocket, a claymore, spare radio batteries, and whatever else has to be toted around, and they’ll break like eggs. Thus adding their redistributed load, plus a litter, to the load of their now understrength platoons.

    And as a tanker, you know they’ll have to upload a gutbusting load of 45# tank shells and ammo cans, and have to bust 100# track links, which is about what some women weigh, if we put some loose change in their cammie pockets.

    And the overwhelming majority of women can’t hurl a hand grenade far enough away to escape the blast from their own frag on open ground. Maybe women grunts can carry pepper spray and a rape whistle instead…?

    This is madness. The standard needs to be simple: pass, or fail. I don’t give a damn what the sex ratio is, and neither should the military. The reporting statistic should be 100% of graduates performed to the standard, with no attempt to break it down by males/females.

    And if so much as one woman ever makes it over that standard, THEN we can start looking at what they provide that any one of 50,000 readily available males don’t already equal or vastly exceed, and whether it’s worth the colossal upheaval of units to accomodate someone who’s managed to perform at a standard of the lowest graduating male, and all the psychosocial issues of putting men and women in the same foxhole, bunker, or track is going to cause. And you already know, a firetruck for a run, or a patrol car for a shift, aren’t jack compared to inside a tank for a 6-week field exercise, let alone a 12 month rotation in combat.

    Frankly, on the whole, it would be simpler to just cut one arm and either foot off all male combat arms troops, and mandate that they travel 24/7 with a 50-pound porcelain toilet chained to their remaining foot, in order to achieve exactly the same results as putting women in combat arms. And we’d save 50% of the cost of buying boots.

    Leaving us only to answer the question of why we’d want to do that in the first place.

    • Aesop,

      I’m usually in general agreement with your comments, but this one is different. I think you’re painting with a broad brush. You’re correct that very few women could handle the physical challenges of infantry life (maybe…MAYBE…armor and artillery would be easier for women to handle). I think the woman who can pass the training and perform her job to standard in the infantry may be literally one in a million. The number of physically fit women trying out for and failing infantry training, like the four Marines you mentioned, may lead us to the conclusion that even the best ones can’t do it. I have a hard time believing that crossfit fanatics, triathletes and the like don’t have a single woman among them able to attain and maintain the standard, but if that’s what the results are, then that’s what we should roll with. If you took my post to mean that we must have female infantry platoon leaders, or we must have women in line units, you misunderstood.

      Here’s a summary of my point:

      ANY American who meets the qualifications and volunteers for combat arms should have an opportunity to try and make it. If they can’t, they can’t. If they make it through everything and their service in a line unit still causes such havoc as to decrease effectiveness, then there should be a ban on women in combat arms. My problem isn’t with reality, it’s with barring a willing, capable volunteer from service based on what problems MIGHT arise. This isn’t the same thing as recruiting 50 year olds or people with one leg; a physically fit 25 year old woman who passes a selection process, attains and maintains the EXACT SAME standard as the males in MOS school and performs to standard in unit training isn’t the automatic handicap an old man or amputee is.

      I agree with this quote: “The standard needs to be simple: pass, or fail. I don’t give a damn what the sex ratio is, and neither should the military. The reporting statistic should be 100% of graduates performed to the standard, with no attempt to break it down by males/females.” I don’t believe anything I wrote in my essay suggests I support giving any preferential treatment to females.

      • I think we only differ on two things:
        1) I think the likelihood of successful graduates, absent shenanigans, is a number approaching zero, with an upper limt that I could count on my fingers. Nonetheless, I’m in agreement that anyone who wants a crack at hurdling the bar should have the opportunity, at least until it becomes clear it’s not going to happen, and we’re just wasting slots on sure-thing fails.
        2) I think that even if you got 20 women nationwide who could pass the selection, perform to standard, and wanted to, such a program would never, in 20 lifetimes, provide anything at the end that would justify the monumental necessary upheavals contrary to history, biology, sociology, and probably common sense, that their inclusion would necessitate. We’ve had a taste of that already just with the non-combat arms slots. The evidence argues that any data showing the previous change was a mistake will continue to be buried, suppressed, and officially denied, due to unrelenting command pressure from echelons above sanity, ad infintium.

        The current directive is to ignore both those realities, and proceed full speed ahead, in the manner of the “Ready! Fire! Aim! Load!” method of marksmanship strategy, which is inexcusable on three grounds:

        1)There’s no – none, zip, nada, bupkus – urgent need nor pressing tsunami of applicants or wannabe amazons in the recruit pool that justify force-feeding this policy down the Pentagon’s throat with a jackhammer; we evaluate a new pair of pliers for a Pentagon project with more scrutiny and forethought than the way this pile of elephant turds has been fast-tracked into reality, without excuse or any justification.

        2)Jamming second-rate officers and recruits, which will be the inevitable result when standards are thrown out, into jobs they can’t handle is going to get people, men and women, killed needlessly, horribly, and tragically; not to mention what lesser costs it will trigger, from recruits that won’t join, NCOs who won’t re-up, and qualified officers who’ll opt out, or be forced out to retain lesser-qualified but politically protected affirmative action candidates and selectees, from Capt. to General. Maybe that’s okay for the Post Office, but for the 82d Airborne or a carrier air group, not so much.

        3)The military is what defends the republic, and given the realities of the first two grounds, pushing this nonsense forward ultimately jeopardizes the functioning and performance of the one part of the government that absolutely comes ahead of politics and social experimentation. To risk not just lives, blood, and treasure, but the security of the nation itself, on such a foolish errand, simply because some perfumed dipstick issues an order “Fiat Amazons”, is ultimately treasonous negligence with the trust of the nation and its defense.

        The military’s looking for cuts, including in manpower (God forbid we should cut the pensions of postal workers or clerks at the Department of Education first). We could solve the budget problems and the gender problems in an hour, simply by eliminating separate PFT/PRT standards, and requiring all hands to meet the current male standard. An hour later, we’d be processing 11% of the military for physical disqualification after failure to meet that uniform standard. Thanks, and b’bye.
        NOW would have kittens, which I couldn’t care less about, but we’d never have another pregnancy interrupt the deployment of another troop or unit for the next 1000 years, never have another socially promoted aviator fly an aircraft into the back of a carrier, never hear about another Tailhook scandal, and never wonder whether another B-52 pilot had to be taken off the nuclear alert list because she was doinking another pilot in her squadron against repeated direct orders. And no grunt would ever have to wonder if he was going to have to carry Lt. Suzy’s pack up the hill because it was too heavy for her, and she was having cramps today.

        From where I’m sitting, that looks to me like a win.

        • We are in agreement, on point number one. We both think capable females deserve a shot.

          As far as how many could do it, I think it would be more than you do. There are, what, roughly 160 million women in America? If we got the literal one in a million, that’s 160 women. Whether those 160 women justify an upheaval of military culture remains to be seen. The answer may be no. But I have a problem turning willing volunteers away based on problems that might happen later.

          • 19 thefoolserrand

            You do know that if women are integrated into combat units that the primary reason for excluding them from the draft goes away. The ambitions of a few women will impact them all and not in a way that will be appreciated.

          • I agree with that. That’s an unintended consequence of the whole equality movement. Again, read my essay. I don’t advocate gender equality in the military. I believe that specific individual women who prove themselves capable should be allowed into combat arms units if they attain and maintain the exact same standard as males.

          • 21 thefoolserrand

            “I believe that specific individual women who prove themselves capable should be allowed into combat arms units if they attain and maintain the exact same standard as males.”

            Why in the world should women get the luxury of picking and choosing when men do not? Should the draft be activated, I say again, they will be required to include women. If they do not, this will eventually get litigated in front of the SCOTUS and the end result would be either close down the integration into combat units or include women in the draft. There is no other legal option. Discrimination is officially endorsed in the DoD by having different APFT standards and no assignment to combat units. Once this is gone, there is no legal barrier to including women in the draft.

            Bottom line: This policy is being promoted as an equal rights issue. Not including women in the draft and having separate APFT standards is not equal and undermines their premise, exposing it as the political policy it actually is.

          • You have an excellent point. Yes this is being pushed as an equal rights issue, but the proponents haven’t thought through the draft question. I oppose a draft in general, so I didn’t address it. I’m arguing a principle: someone who is qualified, willing and capable of serving in a combat unit should be allowed to.

          • 23 thefoolserrand

            How do you support that if their are more qualified male candidates? There will always be more qualified male candidates when it comes to the physical standard. Meeting the minimum published standard for Ranger school is not my idea of success when you are required to maintain a 240 minimum in a Ranger battalion, and 280 in SOF.

            My point is that to get the first female successfully integrated, a more qualified male will lose out. This will become the affirmative action plan for the military.

            You may oppose the draft, but logically and reasonably it cannot be separated from the issue.

            The BS coming from all of the armchair warriors and “experts” all cite the glowing success of women in combat in other countries. This is so much BS and the worst kind of propaganda. I have had to write up many subordinate NCO’s because they took their “we gotta accommodate the ladies” attitude at the expense of their male soldiers when it came to assigning tasks the “ladies” did not like. You would find most female soldiers, especially the attractive soldiers, assigned to be the commander, 1sgt, Platoon Leader, and Psgt’s drivers. As a senior NCO, I did not play that game. and if my subordinates did, I ensured it reflected in their NCOER if they did not take immediate action. As a married NCO, I have been approached by flirting female soldiers throughout my leadership career. I have seen excellent NCO’s destroyed because they gave in to the flirtation and ended up in relationships with subordinates. This happens all of the time and the statistics support me here. I am sure the attitude and mindset of women attempting to qualify for Ranger school have no intention of flirting with superiors. What I will state is that men are men and women are women. Relationships will develop and will drive a wedge in the team dynamic.

            I find it absolutely shocking that this issue has developed to the point of becoming reality. I want a logical counter argument that supports women being given the chance to enter combat units and out weighs the numerous evidence against it:

            1. Impact on draft
            2. Combat team distraction
            3. Study by Army surgeons indicating women at over 67% greater risk to significant musculoskelital injury resulting in permanent disability as opposed to males.
            4. Physical demand at the Ranger unit always and consistently exceeds the demand of Ranger school.
            5. The doubt in every male team member’s mind that they will not state regarding if they trust the female team member to pull their load. Even if she can, this will still be a distraction. Male team members that are a distraction are released. How do you release a female team member without repercussion?
            6. Fraternization. Why even introduce the possibility?
            7. The program will dilute combat effectiveness. This must be measured as follows to prove: Female combat unit, male combat unit and an integrated combat unit are evaluated by ARTEP and APFT standard. All evaluations will be documented on video to assess evaluator bias questions that may arise.

            The army made a HUGE mistake back in the mid eighties when the formed the 7th ID (Light) in Ft Ord. The 127th signal battalion had three companies with Bravo company being all male to support infantry brigades. Alpha and Charlie received the women that would have gone to Bravo company. They had over 40% females in those two companies.

            The scandal developed during the first ARTEP. Bravo company not only met the standard, they far exceeded it regarding time to install and turn up active internodal links. Charlie and Alpha company both failed their ARTEP and the second chance evaluation after that due to the sheer dilution of physical capacity from the high ratio of females on the teams. Reality sure will kick you in the ass when your head is in the sand. The results of this evaluation were an embarrassment to the command and wouldn’t you know, they magically changed on paper as evaluators were pressured to re-weight their scoring to change the outcome of the re-evaluation.

            I would not let this bird off the ground given the history of the army and how it has always caved to politics.

            Evaluate as I outlined in 7 above. Until this is done, they can shove this idea up their collective political asses.

          • “How do you support that if their are more qualified male candidates? There will always be more qualified male candidates when it comes to the physical standard. Meeting the minimum published standard for Ranger school is not my idea of success when you are required to maintain a 240 minimum in a Ranger battalion, and 280 in SOF.”

            Who says I support lesser qualified females over better qualified males? I’m not talking about women in SOF or Ranger batts? I’m talking about a woman earning her way to being an infantry private.

            “My point is that to get the first female successfully integrated, a more qualified male will lose out. This will become the affirmative action plan for the military.”

            That’s already happening. Guys who would be good grunts wind up in admin and guys who can’t carry a pack wind up in line units. You don’t think every infantry spot goes to the best qualified male, do you? If the choice is ever between “this capable male and this barely capable female”, then of course the male should get it. But that’s not how recruiting works, and you know that.

            “You may oppose the draft, but logically and reasonably it cannot be separated from the issue.”

            If it’s an equality issue, it’s already unequal. Men can be drafted and women can’t. So if women go into combat arms but still can’t be drafted, how does that make the situation more unequal? I get that it bothers you. It wouldn’t bother me.

            “The BS coming from all of the armchair warriors and “experts” all cite the glowing success of women in combat in other countries. This is so much BS and the worst kind of propaganda.”

            So if someone with extensive combat experience in the War on Terror has a different point of view than you do, they’re spouting propaganda? The Canadians I talked to weren’t spokesmen for their government. They weren’t trying to sell me on anything. We had an NCO to NCO, combat vet to combat vet talk, with no women around, while we were in a van going to a training area. They didn’t say all female troops are great (“Just like with males, some are shitbags and some are studs”). Sorry, but your experience doesn’t negate theirs.

            Besides, you keep citing figures about the performance of military women en masse. I’m not saying all women belong in combat arms. I’m saying individual women who prove they can do it should be allowed to do it. Again, that might be one in a million.

          • 25 thefoolserrand

            It is understood and currently official policy to discriminate based on gender regarding combat arms. My point again, is that this program that is being trumpeted as ending the discrimination will impact the draft. They CANNOT leave the current selective service policy in place as that would open them up to legal challenges that would result. End game would be women will be eligible for the draft. How could they role this out WITHOUT making women eligible for the draft and still be constitutionally legal?

            ” I get that it bothers you. It wouldn’t bother me.” How would you feel if your daughter was drafted? Even though you don’t agree with it would not change the law that MUST include women.

            You agree that this is being promoted as an equal opportunity program. Do you actually believe this is the true intent?

            Infantry units are the main ground combat warriors. You have no problem restructuring at great expense and likely detrimental combat effectiveness impact? Do you believe that if this program proves to be a failure that they will actually reset and pull women out of combat units? If so, there is historical support that they will not. We will have to live with diluted combat effectiveness no matter if the female is fully qualified as this will have an impact on the entire effectiveness of the combat team as I have illustrated above.

            At the very least, they need to evaluate as I stated in point 7. There will be a significant difference in performance. When this is proven out, the question then remains: Do we accept second best in order to accommodate the ambitions of a small minority of women? Since the actual women that may make it through training will be small, they could perform this evaluation at the team level.

            “That’s already happening” is not a solid argument to move forward with this.

            Regarding your belief that the APFT standards should be equal, I agree. The problem is the way they are CURRENTLY addressing this through gender normalization of APFT standards that will lower the standard for males. What are your thoughts on this? IMO, they are well on the road to a failed program that will impact the overall physical readiness of the military. This is a fact.

          • Women are already serving (and occasionally dying) in combat, without being eligible for the draft. There are no legal challenges. But if women are allowed to voluntarily enter combat arms, it’s a guaranteed legal problem? What do you base this on? Is there an organization that has vowed to sue over selective service if women enter combat arms? Considering that some women are already in artillery units, and there haven’t been legal challenges, I don’t see how you can guarantee there will be a problem. Does this guaranteed problem only result if women enter the infantry?

            ”’I get that it bothers you. It wouldn’t bother me.’ How would you feel if your daughter was drafted? Even though you don’t agree with it would not change the law that MUST include women.”

            I don’t want my daughter or my sons being drafted. My personal feeling about my own children and the military has no bearing on this discussion. I oppose the draft, unless our nation is in danger of invasion.

            Your argument that allowing women into combat arms MUST create a legal problem is weak. Especially considering that women are already in artillery units (see the propaganda-sounding article we discussed earlier).

            “You agree that this is being promoted as an equal opportunity program. Do you actually believe this is the true intent?”

            The true intent of the overall program is to make liberals happy and get Hillary into office. I’m not a liberal and I hate Hillary’s f’king guts. My argument has nothing to do with that. I’m arguing at the micro level; if we have someone who is qualified, capable and willing to fight for their country, we should let them. Male or female, gay or straight. The key word in my belief statement is “capable”. If they’re not capable of attaining and maintaining THE standard, then they don’t get to be infantry.

            “Infantry units are the main ground combat warriors. You have no problem restructuring at great expense and likely detrimental combat effectiveness impact? Do you believe that if this program proves to be a failure that they will actually reset and pull women out of combat units? If so, there is historical support that they will not. We will have to live with diluted combat effectiveness no matter if the female is fully qualified as this will have an impact on the entire effectiveness of the combat team as I have illustrated above.”

            I don’t think a huge restructure is required. In Iraq and Afghanistan males and females shared living areas in some units. On FOBs and firebases they have separate showers and sometimes separate latrine facilities. I don’t see that as major restructuring.

            To your second point, that’s the real worry. If women can’t do it, it would take someone with serious gonads to stand up to the entire Democratic party and say, “This ain’t working. Pull them out and try again.” I support the ideal of allowing qualified women into combat arms; however, I do not, under any circumstance, believe the standards should be lowered or that unqualified people should be allowed to stay in combat arms units just to prove a point. Evaluate them at the team level. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.

            “’That’s already happening’ is not a solid argument to move forward with this.”

            I was pointing out that it’s not only the best qualified males that wind up in the infantry. My son in law is 6’5″, in great shape and can ruck, run and shoot with no problem. He’s not in the infantry, because he chose something else. But there are plenty of guys in the infantry who are overweight, have PT problems, can barely shoot, etc. But they chose their MOS, or the Marine Corps chose it for them. You know that in recruiting they don’t pluck the best guys out and force them to be grunts. You framed this as “Less-qualified females will get spots in infantry units over better-qualified males”, which is a gross oversimplification. Just among males, lesser-qualified guys go into infantry instead of better-qualified ones. If you think our recruiting system is perfect and only feeds the best grunts into line units, then your head is in the sand.

            And on your last point, gender normalization is bullshit. The standard is the standard is the standard.

          • 27 thefoolserrand

            I see that we agree on the majority of the issues. Regarding the impact on selective service, one of two things will ultimately happen in order to satisfy the legal problem that will exist for selective service.

            Congress has acknowledged that in order to open combat units up to females, the entire intent is to support equal opportunity and they have acknowledged that the selective service act will need to be amended to include women, or they will do away with selective service altogether in order to maintain consistency of policy and ensure the policy is trully equal.

            I’m afraid that the current combat ops mission tempo will preclude abandoning selective service and that at the end of the day, they will act to include women.

            Here is a commisioned study regarding this issue for your reference:

            http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R42075.pdf

            Since not a single shred of objective data has been collected to support moving forward, would you agree that there should first be studies done as I mentioned in point 7 in my previous comment? It seems to me that critical decisions cannot be made without this data. To just barrel forward with a program based on feelings and speculation is wrong-headed.

            We can never know the impact on the subjective issues of team dynamics unless controlled studies are performed to assess the objective and subjective observations that are both targeted specifically and those that develop during the study as a result of unexpected situations that could not be anticipated. What is happening as you have correctly pointed out, is that this is a purely political election year agenda that is being rammed down the throats of the DoD with the help of JCS Gen Dempsey as a willing lap dog to carry out the orders of his master.

          • I agree that the issue needs to be studied, correctly, not with a predetermined outcome.

            I still have trouble seeing why this turns into an automatic legal issue with the Selective Service, since women are already in arty units and that hasn’t caused any uproar.

        • 29 thefoolserrand

          “But there are plenty of guys in the infantry who are overweight, have PT problems, can barely shoot, etc. But they chose their MOS, or the Marine Corps chose it for them.”

          You bring up an excellent point that exposes the cancer that is growing within our leadership: The failure to take corrective action. I observed this trend among weak leaders that failed to document performance or commanders that were soft. Slugs camping in combat arms breathing way too much air than they deserve are not the problem: The leadership that allows them to occupy a valuable team slot is the problem. I have sons and a son-in-law that are in the military with one of them being a former infantry marine that is now in the army. They are echoing the same thing. Nothing has changed in that regard and it must be command driven from the top.

          One of the first actions I take after settling in to a new leadership position is evaluate my platoon at all levels to identify training weaknesses that can be overcome with training and those that can’t. In order to take necessary corrective action, I first must present my findings and plan to our command and get their assurance that they will support the actions I will take. My philosophy echoes that of FM22-100 which is to identify training weaknesses, determine appropriate corrective action, provide feedback and measurable goals, and a timeline. I push my intent and expectations down to my subordinate leaders to execute. My accountability is to apply this to them, and they to their subordinates. Many NCO’s fail to utilize all of the tools at their disposal. Being deployed to a combat zone is no excuse for becoming overweight.

          I hold my leaders responsible, and in rare cases, their assigned soldiers. If I have to consistently correct their soldiers, then they will soon be looking for another job which will not include leading.

      • There are only 40M women between 15-34 in the U.S. We’ve only got 200K or so into the military, or 1/2 of 1%. Of those 200K, less than 3%, or 600, can reasonably be expected to be able to meet some male physical performance standards (running and sit-ups) based on the data for military officers/officer candidates. When upper body strength, and stamina while carrying heavy loads are added to the expectations, that 600 is going to look like what happens the first two weeks of BUD/S, Ranger School, or SFAS . My hunch (and that’s all it is) is that you might manage to find single-digit numbers out of that 600 who could meet – not exceed, but merely meet – the lowest acceptable standards of male combat arms MOS performance. Based on the Marines’ limited experience to date, the digit you’ll get will be a zero.

        Let’s say I’m totally full of it, and all 600 crank through, because God loves Susan B. Anthony, or whatever. Going by service averages, 60-150 will be pregnant or in recovery from same at any given time. About 50 will decide after becoming pregnant to exit the service permanently, after all the effort to recruit, train, and find them. And less than 10% of what’s left want anything to do with combat arms, killing people, and blowing shit up, in any way shape, or form. The mere prospect will lead tens of thousands of their combat MOS-unqualified sisterhood to get out, or never get in the .mil in the first place. So we’re still back to between a squad and a reinforced fire team.

        And for that, we’re going to turn the military inside out, and expend enough resources to find a cure for cancer, develop a cloaking device for aircraft and ships, or deploy individual jetpacks for the entire force.

        Based on the current numbers for both reported and un-/under-reported sexual assaults of women in the military by men in the military, I don’t think the subsequent problems will be theoretical. It’s an epidemic now, with supposedly between 1/4 and 1/3 of all serving women, officer and enlisted, experienceing sexual assault during their term of service. And command rsponse has been to sweep it under the rug, in numbers servicewide that would give a Fortune 500 risk management lawyer heart failure.

        OTOH, the same article pointed out that each occurence of male personnel verbally pointing out the unfairness of the physical double standard constituted one reportable sexual harassment incident. (Not assault as noted above, but actual harassment.)
        So just to jack the 2013 stats for the 200,000+ women currently serving, allow me to harass you all:
        “The double standard sucks, and your service is predicated on bigger, stronger, and better-qualified men pulling your share of the weight. You should measure up, or muster out.”

        Every one of them has now been harassed.
        So Chris, if the EEOC contacts you, feel free to forward my info.

        And yes, the study tracks incidents by non-service personnel towards serving members, so that statement does, indeed, count towards the “hostile work environment” women in the military face.

        Sweet suffering Shiva.

    • Excuse me, 6000, not 600. Calculator dropped a zero, and I didn’t catch it. My mistake.

      So now we’d be up to a company.
      Divided by 4 or 5 services?
      Back to a couple of squads again.

      I’m going with the answer I gave WeaponMan elsewhere:
      Just eliminate this whole trip, make PIO an additional MOS open only to women, make it a 2,3, or 4 star billet for each branch, and select otherwise qualified female 0-6s (colonel/navy captain) to the job, one per service, to testify before Congress and go on CNN and ABC so everyone sees a Diversity rainbow.

      Selection by merit, with swimsuit and talent competition optional, but recommended.

    • 32 Joseph Esposito

      God bless! You are the only one on this blog that makes sense! However wo=MEN have smaller brain size, not just weaker strength! They are quite simply not even as intelligent as a MAN!

  6. Well put. It’s easy to fall for this sort of “everyone deserves a chance in combat” thinking if; 1)neither you nor someone you care about will be affected and 2)you think of combat as some sort of neat, clean and orderly event in which everything and everyone you need for support and backup is immediately available.

    • Roger. I think qualified people deserve a shot at the job, not a shot at combat. If they can’t do the job, they can’t go to combat.

      I also don’t think many women really want to be in combat. If combat arms open up to women, I think the number of women who are qualified, willing and capable will be extremely low.

  7. The feminists who are pushing for women in combat want ultimately to draft women; if they succeed in convincing people that most women can do just as well as most men in combat, then why shouldn’t women be drafted just like men? The whole point of it all is fairness, right? By that time, the American public may be so brainwashed that they will go along with it-if they aren’t already.

    Put me in the women should not be in combat at all camp. Thank you for speaking honestly on this matter, and thank you for your service.

    • Judithann,

      I understand your point. One of the hangups is the selective service question; if women are really going to be treated equally, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be eligible for a draft. And for all the screaming about equality, I don’t think anyone really wants that.

      Thanks for reading, and for your comments.

  8. 37 Mark

    There is (or should be) only ONE reason for women to be allowed into Combat Arms units…they make the units better. Period.

    Now, first, does anyone in their right mind think that is the reason this issue is being brought up? Really? No….it’s due to some misguided sense of being “fair”. I am 6 foot 1, 45 year old dude suffering all the physical issues of three combat infantry deployments, but I want to be an NBA Basketball star. To be “fair”, I guess I should be given the shot, huh?

    Secondly, as to sexual tension not causing problems in CS units, or any “loss of effectiveness”…..in my experience, this could not be farther from the truth. I have seen it, witnessed it, and had to deal with the fallout from it. As a leader, it is simply another distraction. A squad leader, platoon sergeant, or platoon leader dealing with some unnecessary “Joe and Jane” issue is NOT taking care of other issues, some of which are life and death, especially in a combat environment. As an infantry platoon sergeant, I can tell you the problems my soldiers had with girlfriends and wives back home was distracting enough. (FRG drama, anyone?) I had more than a full plate with the Taliban/HIG/AQI/JAM/staff officers and CSMs on crack, and didn’t need any more issues to deal with.

    Silly idea, for silly reasons.

    The separate APFT standards have been discussed already. Now seriously, does anyone think that women will be “allowed” to fail in this stupid, unnecessary social experiment?

    • Mark,

      Does every male soldier who is allowed into combat arms make the unit better? I spent 13 years in combat arms units (tanks and scouts). Not every soldier who came to the unit was a stud who enhanced the unit’s performance. In those units we accepted the good with the bad. Some soldiers had no business in combat arms, but they were male, so they automatically had an in for combat arms service. And just as not every male soldier is going to enhance a unit, I don’t think every female will automatically detract from a unit.

      I do think willing, otherwise qualified females deserve a shot (otherwise qualified meaning they would qualify if they were male). As far as you deserving a shot at the NBA, let me ask you this: if there’s no automatic DQ for 45 years olds in the NBA, and you were able to attain the performance standard for the NBA, why shouldn’t you be eligible for a tryout?

      Regarding sexual tension/harassment causing problems in a unit, yes it happens. It’s obviously not debilitating, since the majority of units in the Army are mixed and are performing their missions. I’m presently in a mixed unit, and my last deployment was with males and females. There were some problems; they didn’t cripple our ability to do our jobs, or even detract from it, as far as I can tell. I worked alongside other mixed units who performed their missions just fine. I’m not saying we should dismiss the problems, but unless you advocate removing all women from the military, then we have to deal with it. The same way we deal with Joes having wife/girlfriend/baby mama issues, or FRG bullshit, or Salvadorans not liking Mexicans who don’t like Puerto Ricans, or the constant problems binge drinking causes. Do you advocate banning alcohol from the Army, since we lose so many troops to DWI accidents, alcohol-related arrests or alcohol-related suicides? Sexual tension in mixed units is a legitimate problem, but it’s not the only problem.

      If I’m coming across as a smartass, I apologize. That’s not my intent. I have nothing but respect for your service, and speaking honestly, I’m always going to be mad at myself for not being infantry. I’m not dismissing your valid concerns. I just don’t think women will have as negative of an impact on combat arms as you think they will. IF we only take women who can do it, IF we don’t lower the standard to please people who only care about “equality” and could care less about the troops, and IF we evaluate women solely on performance, then I think we’d only get women who would improve a unit.

      If you’re right about the military lowering the standard, then everything I just wrote is null and void. Once the standard gets jacked with, there’s nothing fair or smart about allowing women into combat arms and the whole thing needs to be called off.

      Thanks for your comments, and your service.

      • 39 Joseph Esposito

        FOOL! You are the biggest FOOL on this blog! You must have LOW standards in wo=MEN? Are you that desperate?

  9. 40 Mike

    You know someone’s going to paint me as a racist or sexist for this…

    but if they can’t be held to the same standard as the male members of existing squad… do what was done for African and Japanese-Americans back when the people in power thought they couldn’t be warriors. Start by segregating them and see how it goes. Make an all female combat unit, with standards that the people running it think make sense.

    And then give those brave volunteers the option to prove everyone wrong, that the physical standards and differences don’t actually matter in combat compared to intelligence and bravery or whatever. Or if they do they’re only getting themselves killed. Which is harsh, but they volunteered — they’re adults, they don’t need to be told that they can or can’t risk themselves.

    Many of the concerns about mixed units go away when it’s all female. No relationship issues. No small women trying to haul out a 250 lb man. They’d have to carry lighter gear, but they’re not letting anyone down but themselves for that, and maybe they’ll come up with ingenious ways to show you don’t actually need all that gear.

    But the point is that if you don’t know something, have a trial and give it an honest chance of success. In the first place, if they can’t find enough volunteers to field a useful force, then it’s all an ivory tower tempest anyway.

    • Mike,

      You evil racist/sexist!

      Now that that’s out of the way, this is actually the second time I’ve seen that idea today. I had never considered it, not sure how I feel about it. I do think there would still be relationship issues.

      Interesting idea, worth some thought. Thanks for commenting.

      • 42 Mike

        I do think that it’s not an ideal solution. But non-ideal solutions are what you get when you have a bunch of people who can’t really agree on what the facts are. So run a trial and see.

    • 43 Joseph Esposito

      Good point! wo=MEN need a good slap in the teeth, only a FOOL would not that apart from being weaker, wo=MEN, have smaller brain size as well! This is a fact!

  10. I’ve spent nearly 40 years in Human Resources — from the early days of Affirmative Action — and I’m not sure how I did it. Race or sex should be no more of a determinant of who gets a job, than who doesn’t. Hiring/placement decisions should be based on qualifications which should be based on what is required to accomplish the duties, tasks and responsibilities of the job. The difference between most civilian jobs and military/combat arms assignments is a matter of consequence. Hiring someone less qualified to be an accountant because they’re a woman or hispanic or disabled means the books might not balance — doing the same in a combat situation means somebody is going to wind up dead. While I still don’t believe that most women would want to do the job, it doesn’t matter to me if they do — if they meet the same strength, agility, performance requirements and are held to the same standards on the job.

    Chris, I’m curious. Are the physical/performance requirements the same for police cadets, regardless of sex? How about for amputees who wish to remain in infantry/combat arms?

    • I think that would be a valid point, if women had ever, from 1900 to this minute, been told they were expected to perform to the current male (formerly universal) standards, and held to them.

      But they haven’t, they don’t, and the data and all experience says they can’t. The Pentagon’s been fighting biology for 50 years, and biology is still winning. That’s why they’ve needed a booster step just to get a foot in the door in the first place.

    • Mikey,

      In my department the physical requirements are the same for entry and for graduation. And females get the crap beaten out of them in the tactical training culmination exercise just like the guys do. One of the funniest things I saw was a rather loud female cadet who told me “I’ve been in plenty of fights” get punched square in the forehead by an instructor. The cadet went down hard, and you could almost see the stars and birds circling over her head as she tried to recover. Later she told me she had only been in girl fights with scratching and hair-pulling, but that (female) instructor had punched her like a man.

      • 48 thefoolserrand

        That is civilian law enforcement. Combat is an entirely different animal. Many of the women I would get in my unit are single moms. They have dependent care plans in case we are deployed, but for the most part are in the military for the sole purpose of supporting their children. I can cherry pick examples of some successes like you have, but I must say there are many more examples of failure. Have you ever tried to have a female soldier barred to reenlistment for failure to meet APFT and weight standards? I have. The command eventually lifts the bar even though nothing has changed. This is the rule, not the exception.

        In a cable platoon, the reels are eighty pounds each. I had about 25% females that I assigned to other duties such as puling cable and installing phones but could not assign a single one to hump cable reels as it is not a good use of resources. These eighty pound reels require four persons to lift by regulation. Try getting four people to lift a reel without stepping on each others toes or butting heads. Each male could handle a reel themselves. Women would refuse to lift it without three other persons to help. Welcome to my world.

        • I’m a combat veteran and civilian LE officer. I know the difference. Yes, in general women can’t handle the manual labor a man can. I experienced that this weekend, when some female soldiers asked for volunteers from my unit to help load a generator into an LMTV. Six of us males wound up struggling to lift that heavy-as-crap generator into the truc bed, while not a single female even tried to help, even though it was their piece of equipment. Trust me, I know what the norm is. I’m not arguing for widespread acceptance of all female soldiers into combat arms. I’ve been a tanker and scout, and was on a lot of missions with infantry in Afghanistan. I know most women can’t do it. I’m not supporting them. I’m supporting the very few, maybe one in a million, who can do it and want to.

  11. 50 Fritz

    Aesop, you keep stating that no woman has ever met the (male) standard in the military. Might I inquire as to where you are aquiring this information? I have met some VERY physically fit women in the military that could run circles around many of the men and I cannot believe that at least a few of them would not be able to meet the male standards. Now, if your point is that no woman has been HELD to the male standard, then yes, I could agree with that. But just because a woman’s standard is 2 miles in 3 weeks, does not mean that there aren’t some doing it in 10-12 minutes. Chris mentioned “crossfit, triathlete” types and I think he has a valid point. The male standards for infanty service are not so harsh as to be impossible for ANY woman EVER but more like improbable for most women.

    • You are correct, they’ve never been held to the standards. Do you figure that’s because DoD didn’t want to embarass the men, or was it to keep from losing 99.9% of the women on Day One?
      And correct again, that somewhere, there are probably a bare few who might make the male minimums. My SWAG is that if you could find enough to make a three squad platoon, all in the same year, in any one branch of service, you should probably be picking lottery numbers before your luck runs out. And to get that many, you’d literally have to comb the weeds through thousands who’d try and thousands who’d fail. Which might be cost effective for diamonds, but not infantry privates or lieutenants.

      Ask around, and see how meeting just the bare minimums is viewed at NCO academies, officer training, airborne and Ranger schools, or SF selection. Or pretty much anywhere else in the military.
      The absolute top fittest women place behind all but the worst performing 16% of men, based on actual ROTC physical assessments (and officer candidates are generally fitter and more motivated than average recruits) going back 30 years. You might find a woman who could run like a gazelle, but she likely couldn’t do three pullups, let alone 20, and would crumble under a basic pack on a 25K march. Pretty much exactly as happens, has happened, and will continue to happen. The Marines are cherry picking women already serving as officers for IOC. Right now they’re 0 for 4 trying to find one, JUST ONE, who can get as far as the third week of Infantry Officers’ Course. And it’s a ten week course. They may go 0 for 20, or 200, or 2000. Maybe even get 1 out of 5 next time around. But what they’ll almost certainly never get, with the current standard, even if 1 squeaks through once in a blue moon, or every leap year, or whatever, is one who comes out top-of-the-heap, any more than you’ll see a woman playing MLB for the Chicago Bears, ever. And they wouldn’t dream of sending even 10% of their few women all at once, because then they’d be 0 for Everyone, in less than 2 weeks. And then the secret would be well and truly out, which SexDeaf has decreed is baaaaaad. And you’d start hearing the men asking why the women were ever let in at all if they can’t do something that 75% of male candidates manage year in and year out, back to 1800 and something, if not since 1775. Which can’t be answered with a straight face.

      Not every infantry or combat arms officer is a cross between Rambo and Captain America. By definition, 50% of them are below average. But even the vast majority of below-average male officers outperform the most stellar female officer in such petty tests as aerobic capacity, muscle mass, climbing, and marching long distances with heavy loads such that they can’t even see her in their rear-view mirror.
      Those are all the exact abilities for things like infantry, armor, artillery, and cavalry. Not to mention door kicking and throat slashing. And woe unto the current combat arms officer who is bested at even an annual PFT or road march by any troop other than the company animal. Which, if it happens, will be the fate of every woman foisted upon those troops, year in and year out, by pretty much her entire platoon.

      So those units are either going to be less fit, working to 60% of ability to keep from trampling her (how’s that gonna pay off when they get into combat?), or she’s going to publicly be the last person across the finish line, in front of God and everybody, most specifically the people – the MEN – she’s nominally supposed to lead. The first time you get a female officer who can’t pick up a section of tank track, can’t get up to the turret without a booster step, can’t finish a ruck march carrying a SAW or an M240, or a mortar baseplate, or lift a heavymachinegun or an artillery shell, it’s OVER. She can resign, ask for an admin job, or kill herself, but her respect and command presence is going to be nil, because every time they see her, they’ll be laughing, mostly inside, but eventually all the time, and out loud.

      Like dogs in a sled team, troops in combat arms (and probably everywhere else) pick at each other non-stop, 24/7/365, looking for any weakness. When their “leader’s” weakness slaps them in the face 3 times a week at PT, morale, esprit, motivation, whatever you want to call it, is going to blow. How do you tell guys to put forward more effort when you can’t do it yourself? We let PC nonsense compromise the entry standards 30 years ago, and now we’re going to pay for that foolishness, and the coin of the realm is going to be body bags down the road.

      Somebody suggested an all-female unit. How’s that going to work? We’re going to wait 12 or 14 years to get the requisite female SNCOs up to speed to man (pardon the sexist language) that unit?
      They’re going to have to hold a flank, and be point unit some time. What higher echelon CO is going to lead with his chin, with real bodies at stake, to prove a point? When the Amazon platoon gets crushed, the whole company’s vulnerable. Which means the whole battalion’s at risk. Which can cost the entire regiment, brigade, and division. All for the want of a horseshoe nail. Combat arms isn’t little league; everyone doesn’t get to play. Even men get sent home when they can’t hack it. So why in hell anyone sane would want to send the weakest troops you can find into the mix, the one place where you have the most to lose, is beyond me. It reeks of suicidal levels of insanity, organizationally and nationally, of the kind usually only found among the most psychotically out-of-touch with reality souls there are. The only other explanation that fits is deliberate sabotage.

      • I think we’re making a huge mistake by trying to find female combat arms officers instead of enlisted. People who support gender integration should be looking for women who can be a good infantry private before we even think about finding female platoon leaders.

        Army.com had an article today about female artillery platoon leaders. Apparently they’ve been around for several months in one unit. According to the article nobody has a problem with them and they’re doing great. I hope that’s true, but the tone of the article sounded like typical Army “we’re all happy” propaganda.

        • 53 thefoolserrand

          ” I hope that’s true, but the tone of the article sounded like typical Army “we’re all happy” propaganda.:”

          It is propaganda. I was assigned to 3/35th FA in Germany. This was an 8 inch Howitzer battalion. The environment is very male and they loved it. I just don’t see women in that environment without either the men being required to accommodate female sensibilities regarding course language, and I mean course, or the female would have to adapt to the environment, or both.

      • God help those arty PLs if they ever have to lift anything work-related.

        Stephen Hawking could do the job of sitting in the XO pit and calling coordinates, as long as his batteries held out.

        But when that unit gets turned into a Provisional Rifle Company, exactly like the Marines did in Grenada, Iraq, and A-stan, because the CG is short on grunts, pretty much like it’s been in A-stan since 2002, and she has to gear up and ruck along the Hindu Kush, I’ll bet dollars to donuts she decides it’s time to have babies and start shopping a resume on civvy street. (Which, of all possible outcomes, is actually the best one, because nobody would get killed.)

        I wish they would try to find enlisted first. .Mil troop and recruit surveys going back 20 years document that women don’t want anything to do with combat arms, and that if women were looking at, y’know, actually having to get shot at, in the Army, as their MOS, that approx. 90% would get out, or never have gotten in.

        Maybe the new female recruiting slogan should be
        “Army: …we were just kidding about the Army part. Welcome to Welfare with Uniforms!”

  12. 55 Max Hale

    Let’s all calm down for a moment and understand the true objective of this exercise. As Rush would call them them , the “femmi-nazis” ultimate goal is to have a female Chairman of the JCS. It is a given that one must have combat arms experience if not actual combat experience leading MEN in action before advancing to flag rank, as it should be. There in lies the problem. Without combat experience,women just can’t get there. My solution is simple – just select the cutest female graduates of West Point, Annapolis, and the Air Force Academy and make them Brigader Generals. They can then go to the appropriate schools and learn the trade while being placed where they can do no harm. If nothing else, they will look good while testifying before whatever congressional committee gives a crap about this sort of thing.

    • Max,

      one of the stupidest arguments in support of gender integration is the “women can’t advance without combat experience” argument. Considering that we have female generals, I find that pretty weak. But if it’s true, then we need to change the rules for advancement, not make stupid decisions that put our troops in danger.

  13. I don’t want to go running around in the Infantry. I had the opportunity to join the armed forces like any other kid graduating, and I didn’t. Because I know that I couldn’t hack it…and I’m stupid enough sometimes to let people goad me into situations where I’m going to get hurt.

    In the military, you are part of a team that deals in life and death situations. Do I want to be in a situation where my lack of physical ability is going to get me and other people killed? No.

    I took a few years of martial arts, and I realized very quickly that even the smallest man in the class was stronger, faster, and had more endurance than me. No matter how many push ups, sit ups, weight lifting and cardio I did, almost all of the men could kick my butt simply because they had the automatic advantage of their physiological make up.

    My philosophy for any kind of dangerous confrontation became (and still is ) “Kick em in the knee and run”. I’m not standing around boxing with some asshole out to kill me, okay?

    I’m a girl, and I’m not as strong as the boys are. And I’m okay with that. If a woman can pass the tests and wants to be in the Infantry, more power to her. But if people want to put chicks out there as some sort of idiotic campaign on gender equality…they need a swift kick in the ass. Instead of making such a big deal out of how we’re all the same, how about we learn to celebrate and appreciate our differences? I’m happy to be a woman. I LIKE BEING A GIRL. 🙂

    And I’m glad that men exist….for more than the sweaty fun sexy times.

    I saw a report on one of the big cable news networks once where one of the female anchors went out with a small squad (? is that the right term?) of Marines. They were doing stuff in the snow, on skis. She had a pack and stuff, but not only did they end up taking some of her gear for her cause she was exhausted, when her turn came to pull a sled loaded down with supplies, the leader stopped them to make a point.

    The guy behind her was using his ski pole to help push the sled for her because she couldn’t keep up. If that soldier had been dodging bullets, he’d need both hands for defense, not to be trying to help her with her load and carrying his own gear and getting his ass behind cover.

    Men and women are different, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s awesome. I wish people would stop doing stupid crap to prove how we’re the same and each capable of doing the same stuff.

    I can have babies, you can’t. Are you angry about that? Need a campaign? I didn’t think so.

    I don’t want to go back to the times of “femme covert” and being chained to the house with no job opportunities besides being a secretary. But some of this stuff is too stupid to even warrant conversation.

    • Jennifer,

      Absolutely understand your comments. I doubt many women really want to be infantry, and of those many can’t do it. But I do believe some women are both willing and capable. My essay applies to them.

      As far as men not being able to have a baby, ten bonus points if you identify this quote: “I know men can’t have babies. But they should have the right to.”

      • Hey if they can and they wanna, let em go and do it. It’s fine with me.

        No idea who said the babies thing….I’m not that cool. But believe me, if I could have foisted that off on my hubs, I would have. *grin* There’s some parts that are really cool, but most of it is uncomfortable, smelly, acid-refluxy, and then down right painful and invasive.

        So, hey, any guy wants to get knocked up, get right on that fellas. Cause I’m not doing that stuff again.

      • And another Monty Python fan shows his colors.

  14. 61 delftsman3

    “And now for something completly different: The Larch” grin

  15. 62 Stephan

    If you can buddy-carry my 205lbs+kit while your in full kit then you’re good to go. Don’t know many females who can do that even if they’re PT animals. I went out with a female who could run 5:30 mile but couldn’t close the back door on the JERRV if we were on an incline… she was awesome for getting supply hook-ups from H&S though.lol

    A standard calisthenics PRT cannot be the gauging factor for letting females on combat teams. Sure they can glide like the wind if its only their own weight they’re handling but its a different story when you stack shit on their shoulders.

    Psychologically, females don’t have the same sense of urgency as a male either. Ask victims of Darfur and Vietnam – females commonly expressed how they knew they would just take a raping and not be killed – and that isn’t so bad, compared to what her husband got. Maybe horrible and unpopular to say this, but that rationalization occurs when the shit is hitting the fan. I’ve witnessed it to a lesser degree too.

    So I’ll say it. Unattractive large sized women that aren’t that feminine get a barely pass in my book, but any woman that has feminine qualities, is just a liability down range.

    I won’t even get into day to day routine and QOL….

  16. 63 Stephan

    Also the females that I’ve seen that have gone for the types of roles we’re talking about were all badboy chasers.

  17. I had a post about this very thing the other day at my blog, but from the perspective of the “selective” equality that these people are asking for.

    Presumably, if a man is selected for combat arms, he goes and doesn’t have a choice. Women are allowed to volunteer or opt out. Not equal.

    Men must register for the Selective Service at age 18. Women do not. Not equal.

    Anyway, I pointed out a series of these “inequalities” that women don’t seem to be too worried about, and made the point that if true equality were really their goal, they’d be asking for the bad with the good. But they aren’t, and so what they are asking for is special treatment, which they are calling equality.

    If you’re interested in it, click my name for the link.

    • Goober,

      People generally join for a specific MOS, only the open contract recruits get selected for combat arms against their will. You’re right that IF women were allowed to try out for combat arms, they wouldn’t be placed there against their will. Only women who volunteered and passed a selection process would be able to try it. So in my vision, it still wouldn’t be equal. And the selective service thing isn’t something I have a definite opinion about. I oppose a draft, and don’t want to see anyone be forced into military service in the name of equality.

      I’ll check out your blog, thanks for your input.

      • Oh, don’t get me wrong, Mr. Hernandez. I am against the entire concept of a draft to the very core of my person. If the war that they are trying to fight is so unpopular that they can’t field an army of volunteers large enough to fight it, then it shouldn’t be getting fought.

        The draft is too close to slavery for my taste. Maybe even worse, since a slave isn’t generally fed into a meat grinder, as well as being forced to kill people that he doesn’t want to kill for fear of retribution by the government if he doesn’t. No, a slave only gets the “has to work against his will” part that the draft imposes on a person.

        My point was simply that as long as a draft exists, women don’t get to claim that they are equal while at the same time remaining exempt from it.

        And to the typical detractor that will almost surely chime in here – my revulsion against the draft has nothing to do with cowardice. I’ve been exempt from the draft for most of my life due to physical conditions – two branches of the military wouldn’t accept me as a volunteer as a result of them, so I doubt very much that I would have qualified under a draft either. Besides, I’m too old now to be drafted, anyway. My revulsion to the idea comes from a concept of individual freedom and self-determination that has flown in the face of statist pricks who think that they should be able to tell me what I have to do, which I’vehad since I was a little kid.

        It has made me somewhat distrustful of police officers, too, I must admit. Present company obviously excepted… 🙂

        • Goober,

          Understood, and I personally don’t advocate giving women a shot because I hope to achieve gender equality. I subscribe to Sergeant Major Kilraine from The Killer Angels: “There are no two things in the world equal, not a leaf or a tree.” Michael Jordan was a better basketball player than Gary Coleman, and nothing short of breaking Jordan’s arms and legs could have changed that. Men and women are not equal, period. What I support is the right of qualified people to serve their country in the best way they’re capable.

          I oppose a draft for much the same reason you do. Volunteers like me who choose to risk their lives for their country are citizens; unwilling civilians forced to risk their lives for their country are subjects. I don’t want any American becoming a subject, no matter their political views.

          No worries on distrusting cops, I’ve met a few I didn’t trust much either.

  18. 68 thefoolserrand

    I understand your point on a perfect world scenario of opening combat units only to qualified women.

    These women do exist in very small numbers. The fact remains that the army, as predicted, are reacting by gender normalizing the APFT. This is unacceptable and therefore a non-starter.

    IMO, I am against accommodating the few for the reasons I mentioned in other posts. We can agree to disagree.

    Before ANY policy is enacted, there must be evaluations and studies performed that have not been done as of this posting. How can any leader endorse this without data to support the decision? How can we assess the impact of integrating these fully qualified women without even the slightest bit of data to consider? How can the POTUS endorse this without any studies other than the critically flawed DACOWITS report that has been rightfully panned for it’s complete reliance on subjective opinion and an entire lack of solid data? It amazes me that this policy has made it this far. Even if I were to agree with integrating women into combat units, I could not support it without initiating critical studies.

    The target date is 2016 for implementing the policy. Why 2016? Coincidence? If it looks like a duck….Just a thought.

    • Canadian infantry units in Afghanistan don’t live in a perfect world. Neither do French infantry. Yet they’ve somehow managed to integrate women, in small numbers, into infantry units. And the world hasn’t ended.

  19. 70 Chia O'Bannion

    This has been the most articulated and extensively real blog on women and combat I have seen. Bravo! As a certified personal trainer and firefighter, I can tell you I long gave up my dream of being a part of Special Forces. The emotional landscape of being in a male dominated field is made for the selected few. Can I do as much as a man? No, I cannot given my physical capabilities. Would I provide other means of backup and be there until everyone goes home? Absolutely. I do that in the fire service.

    I have dealt with sexual tension and advances of officers, insults to my intelligence, slander, and outright disrespect even to have my gear tampered with. At no time did I become a man’s funtime girl with men I worked along side. I have dealt with prejudice on all fronts including being a part of the male and female integration aboard ship in the U.S. Navy in 1998. My shipmate’s projection of sexual desire upon was ridiculous as if it was my responsibility for their lack of self-control. I would not subject my daughter to that crap if I had the choice.

    As a mother, I am concerned my daughter will be chosen for the draft. I did not prepare her mentally, physically or emotionally to be in combat. As a culture, we separate boys and girls physically at a young age. Until about the age of 5, girls and boys are physically capable of the same things. As a tom boy, I knew this very well. It wasn’t until the domestication of elementary school, I had difficulties with push-ups and pull-ups. Part of it was I was told I was not capable as a female. If allowed to train equally beginning at a young age especially in crossfit, there would be a significant difference of numbers and stats pertaining to strength, stamina, agility, etc. The University of Michigan did a study in which men have more muscle density, women have higher quality of muscle. The little girl in this family is not suppose to be capable of what she can do, however, given the right training and support of family where strength is not defined by gender, who knows what the possibilities are.

    • Chia,

      Sorry for the delayed response, been a little tied up. Thanks for reading and commenting, and for the video link. I just watched it, and it was pretty interesting. I agree that the right female, with the right physical capabilities and background, could be a good infantry soldier. I don’t think we’d find a female who could be SF, but that’s just my gut reaction; I have no firsthand experience with SF and can’t argue that point.

      As a cop, I’ve known some awesome, tough, smart females who weren’t afraid to jump into any fight, pursuit, etc. I’ve also known others who avoided confrontation, wound up working a desk very early in their career, and/or established reputations as being worthless in any stressful situation. Females who are right for the job are just as good as any male cop; those who shouldn’t be there, shouldn’t be there. When idealistic idiots push unqualified women into critical positions, in the name of equality, they guarantee unnecessary tragedies and actually hurt chances for real equality.

      Thanks Chia, I hope to see you comment on here more often.

      • 72 Chia O'Bannion

        To see the success oft a female SF soldier would require the social acceptance of the males, after she has proven her competence. That is a rarity. It has been documented quite frequently that women who train with men are stronger than those who do not (of course). To imagine the acceptance of equality in worth is not a part of our cultural meme. No different than Roger Bannister’s less than 4 minute mile, it was presumed impossible. The same goes for the idea of an SF female soldier. We have examples throughout history reiterating this, be it a culture of women warriors where their men took care of the offspring, or gladiatrix (few they were as well). A woman who is battle ready is an anomaly. Every prominent cultural belief is challenged, accepted feminine norms are adhered when essential or by choice.

  20. 73 P

    Seems to me women should not be in combat, period.
    Women are physically weaker then men are, and thus should not be eligible for combat arms related duties.

    I suppose one way to solve this silly gender equality issue is to send them into the slaughter. Now THAT will have some negative effect on them at least.

  21. 74 Big Bill

    So tell me, how has that “maintaining standards” thing worked out for police departments, fire departments, and state patrols?

    In most states they now offer an exam that anyone with an IQ of 100 can (and does) pass, and then they pick the right racial/ethnic/gender mix from the applicants to meet federal quotas.

    If your test, whether mental, emotional or physical, results in a more-than-20% difference in pass rates, it causes “disparate impact” and will be challenged in court and rejiggered until the test passes the right percentages.

    Why do you think their plan for the military is any different? It all happens by stages. It takes a little bit, each generation, to get people thinking differently, until each successive change can be turned into law.

  22. Chris,

    I am a 7 tour combat vet with 3 Purple Hearts. I ended my last tour in combat arms in 2004 when I was wounded so severely, they told me I can’t perform my job anymore. Up to that point, I had been in the thick of things in Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo and Iraq. After I was wounded the last time, the doctors looked at me and told me that I could never function in my intended role ever again. I would never roam the streets of Baghdad again, getting in random shootouts with bad guys, participate in raids or search another home again. So, I became a pilot. Let me tell you, it was the best decision I ever made. Somehow, even though I wasn’t qualified to be a 19K40HA8 anymore, I could fly an aircraft. So, I became an Apache pilot instead and did another 3 tours in combat. If you think pilots don’t lay it out on the line, you are naive. I have been in more engagements as a pilot than I ever was as a ground guy. Who do the ground guys call when the shit hits the fan? The cooks? The PAC clerks? No. They call the Apaches, and to lump pilots in with the REMFs is insulting.

    Eric W. Pope

    • Eric,

      I think you badly misunderstood my point. I’ve been on missions where we called in air support, and I’m not criticizing pilots in any way. What I’m saying is that being a pilot (or being a tanker like I was, or a dedicated Humvee-mounted soldier like I was) requires less physical effort. I’ve served in several capacities in the military, and by far the most physically demanding work was when I was attached to infantry units.

      I’m not denigrating your service or dedication as a pilot, nor my own service on a convoy escort team. I’m saying our jobs were physically easier than infantry, and I think you’d agree with that.

      Thanks for your comment, and your service.


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