Women in Combat

I saw this on Hotair and thought, "hmm, current topic that I can comment on!"

The topic of course, being apparently that some congressional panel decided it's time to send women into combat. For whatever reason. My thoughts on this?

Largely mixed. I do believe if a woman is capable of doing something that she sets her mind on, she should go for it. But in regards to combat arms, capability is key.  She needs to be able to do the job to a high standard.

Look, I'm talking as someone who was stationed at Fort Knox Kentucky for 18 months (non concurrent) and the units I was in were all male, and then there was me. I might have had an XO or a supply sergeant that was also representing our gender, but you guessed it, female here, in a company of up to 258 people which most were representing the opposite sex.

The thing was, a lot of these guys eventually went on to work in non combat arms fields and chances are they were going to be working in a co-ed environment. Now don't get me wrong, I pulled my weight and held my own, but I had to push myself that much harder to do a task that was very easy for my male counterparts. And sometimes I fell short, which was a gross disappointment to myself.

Look, let's just get to the grit here. This isn't about Women in Combat, because women are in combat all the time. This is about women in Combat Arms. Tankers, Cav Scouts, Engineers, Artillery and Infantry. They are broken into smaller units and have a very precise and often demanding job to do. Because every soldier is an infantryman first (even women, that's what Basic Combat Training is all about) I know most about the infantry set up. You know what the infantry does? They ruck, go out on patrols with all their gear, and kill things. Sounds good, sign me up! You know what, when I was twenty, I would have been all over that. I'm thirty now, and trying to pull my weight with my infantry counterparts (and great guys they are too) and damn, my 5'3" frame is not always up to snuff on those long road marches up Misery, Agony and Heart break. You know what, a lot of those young privates aren't up to snuff either. A lot of them fall back, some fall out. Infantry is no joke, it is very demanding.

You know what I didn't see a lot of in Fort Knox? Stress Fractures in the hips. You know what I see a lot of at Co-ed basics like Fort Leonard Wood and Fort Jackson? Stress Fractures in the hips. Because in Basic Training you are learning basic Infantry techniques. These are the basics. You want to learn more, go to Fort Benning and they'll grill you for an additional month.

The thing about Combat Arms is everything about Combat Arms is very physically demanding. Which gets me back to my original point.

If a woman wants to be an infantryman, if that is her one heart's desire is to endure Sand Hill at Fort Benning Georgia so she can wear that Blue Chord and Disc, she better be able to perform up to a certain standard before she even makes it to the reception station. She should pass the PT test at the female standard at the minimum and pass it at the male standard before she graduates. See, the military understands the differences of physiology between men and women, some think it's a bunch of bull but sorry, and sure there are exceptions (I've seen many weak ass boys in my time) but by and large they are there. That's why there is a different scale for men and women in the army. I only have to do 17 push ups to pass a PT test whereas a guy my age has to do 39. I only have to run an abysmal 20:30 two mile to pass, and the same age for a guy has to break under 17. If a woman can prove she's the exception, let her have it. But she needs to meet the exact same standard the men have. And you know what? it's hard! Is it possible? Yes, I've know some tough as nails chicks in my military career, but they have to work their asses off to maintain that physical condition.

Me? I'll let the young bucks do the hard work, and I'm at a stage in my life where I'm done with that phase of wanting to kill myself. Would still love a shot at doing Airborne, but if it never happens, I guess it just wasn't meant to be.

Of course, there is that other dynamic of working in a largely male unit as a female. let's get real, hormones exist, they flare, and in the sweaty stinky environment that is the army, especially in the close quarters that is combat arms (and hell, Basic Training), you think that testosterone isn't running rampant? We breed for testosterone, Hooah! Now, lift don't ask, don't tell policy and let Lesbians serve in combat arms, you probably won't have to much fraternization between the sexes in those cases, but every other case? You know how often men and women sleep together in NON combat arms units? What happens on TDY stays on TDY is an military way of living for a reason. Hormones FLARE! I don't know what went wrong with me, guess I was just a fluke (and let me tell you, my battles knew I was an exception to the rule) but half of Co-ed Basic is baby sitting the boys and the girls and making sure they don't shack up with one another. What a pain in the ass. Ever have that workplace relationship that went sour and you still have to work with those people? Imagine that happening on deployment, ten thousand miles from home, and you find yourself feeling a little something with your saw gunner. Things get intense, you rendezvous in the foxhole a couple of times despite your Squad Leader saying otherwise (because it doesn't matter what the squad leader/drill sergeant/company commander/general order number one says, when two privates want to do something in the horizontal, they are going to find a way to do it) and suddenly things get sour. Awkwardness ensues on patrol. You think office romance is weird? Try infantry romance. I bet it is equally awkward with two men who happen to fall under the don't ask, don't tell policy (and why perhaps don't ask don't tell should stay in affect for combat arms for this very reason).

What I'm saying is, it happens. Hormones are a very human thing, and I don't care what kind of super soldier you think you are, people are driven to procreate. Combat arms is a very different environment then the rest of the military. And it would be even a little bit more awkward when one of your riflemen ends up pregnant, despite the use of birth control, because I doubt the logistics will always be fail safe in the middle of Afghanistan and the condom in the heat of the desert may just lose some of its effectiveness. Oh, and the whole monthly constitutional that women go through.

So, in finality, can women serve in combat arms? Yes, but mostly on a case to case basis. Discrimination is absolutely vital in these regards, and the military completely should have the right to discriminate. Dude, it's not always a bad thing. I know some people always flout the evils of discrimination but sometimes it exists for a reason, and the military has a very good reason. I don't think they should open the flood gates to let any woman who wants to swear in to the US Army to take a position in a combat arms unit. The selection process for her should be very difficult. And if she stirs up trouble once she gets into her unit, well guess what? Maybe she shouldn't have been there in the first place.

The military is about team work, not about the individual needs of a person's desire to be a grenadier (ooh, pick me, pick me!). And if a girl shows that she has what it takes to earn that infantry title, she further needs to prove that she has the fortitude to be a soldier first and not be a distraction to her comrades. You know what? That's easier said then done. The needs of the army should always be first, and if they need more bodies for cannon fodder on the front lines and they need to open up combat arms to women to get those numbers, well, they might discover they've opened up a can of worms.

But I guess if Israel can do it, why can't we, eh? Do it all over again, maybe I should have gone infantry?

Hmm, nope. I think I'll stay where I'm at.


Sigivald said...

You know what I didn't see a lot of in Fort Knox? Stress Fractures in the hips. You know what I see a lot of at Co-ed basics like Fort Leonard Wood and Fort Jackson? Stress Fractures in the hips. Because in Basic Training you are learning basic Infantry techniques. These are the basics. You want to learn more, go to Fort Benning and they'll grill you for an additional month.

My impression from coming across that issue before is that that's caused by the requirement to march in time with taller or longer-legged people, not so much by the actual core requirements of the Infantry.

(IIRC from previous reports on that, it happens to small men, too, and doesn't happen to taller women, because the former do and the latter don't have to strain to keep time with the average marching step.

Given the complete inapplicability of lockstep marching to any combat mode in use in the past hundred years (since the Boer war, I think), one might hope that they could move on from that as a requirement, or at least segregate by pace length to keep from needlessly injuring motivated volunteers...

Yeah, marching in time is also about teamwork and discipline, but I'm sure SOMETHING could be figured out to replace it for those purposes...

Anonymous said...

I have a serious problem with women in combat. Aside from the obvious physical deficiencies that may or may not exist there exists in the opposing force (vermin if you will) that they will do all kinds of unspeakable acts to women knowing that men will do all they can (including some half-witted attempt at rescue) to prevent said acts. The mere fact that vermin such as Al Queda and other assorted supposed muslim faith groups would do this is already fact. To think otherwise is not only naive, but idiotic.


In conclusion, God did not make men and women the same for damn good reason. We each have a role in life - one to make and nurture life and the other to protect and cherish life.