General Barry McCaffrey: Lauds “Marines’ Aversion to BS” On Women in Infantry

Soldiers with the US Army's 6-4 Cavalry walk down a mountain path during a patrol near Combat Outpost Keating in eastern Afghanistan

Time Magazine (of all places) carries General McCaffrey’s missive.  Well worth the read (which contains a link to Marine General Newbold’s superb “Seven Myths about ‘Women in Combat'”).

The argument for women at rifle battalion team level is unsound. Makes as much sense as mandating women on all-male professional contact sports teams.

Life in a rifle company is still incredibly brutal, filthy, requires enormous physical energy and upper body strength, and calls for a spirit of personal violence. There is zero personal privacy. Bodily functions take place in close proximity.

Troops are constantly injured from carrying heavy loads and crashing down hills in the dark. They dig like moles to stay alive.

Infantry units live like wild animals during periods of extended combat. Mostly it is a business of self-selected young men.  Most of these combat soldiers end up in these units because they actually want to fight.

One might think there would be some additional recognition of such opinions expressed by long-time practitioners of the craft of ground combat.   But alas.   Objective analysis gives way to activism and some other “isms” all too often.

As General Newbold rightly asserts:

Pity the truthful leader who attempts to hold to standards based on realistic combat factors, and tells truth to power. Most won’t, and the others won’t survive.

(H/T to Battleland)

11 thoughts on “General Barry McCaffrey: Lauds “Marines’ Aversion to BS” On Women in Infantry”

  1. NaCly Dog, your quote from George Orwell’s most appropriate and has been for many years. As to the subject, the last 40 years cannot be used as a gauge on this subject on “Women in Infantry”. Different nations use different criteria for where women may serve in the military. We must remember something else, their approach is completely different from ours. There are places where women are actually best in certain functions, but infantry and many areas closely related to it, women are not best suited.

  2. Look, the opinion of a subject matter expert isn’t objective evidence. Experts have a long and storied history of being wrong. That’s why appeal to authority is a logical fallacy. Then General is wrong in one important respect: I’d be willing to bet that the majority of the men in combat for this country did NOT want to be there. Regardless of the specific number history has shown that draftees have done this country effective service from the Civil War through the World Wars to Korea and Vietnam.

    If we want objective evidence we need to perform an experiment. Take the women who volunteer for combat roles, train them, and put them in a unit that is “deployed” to NTC for a year or so. Pretend they’re in AF, no leave, random simulated combat, etc. Compare the performance of women to that of men with similar levels of maturity and training. It would be imperfect and expensive, and the results probably wouldn’t make anyone happy, but it is data. Until we have that everyone is just talking out of their stern tubes.

    My biggest objection to this policy is that it makes women into a privileged class. If I were to join the Army and it decided it needed me to hump a rifle through the mountains, my desires are immaterial, I’m going to be an infantryman. A woman will never be forced into such a position. I’m not sure which is more fair, forbidding women from roles or allowing them alone the ability to choose where they serve.

    1. I don’t really need a hell of a lot of data to know an idea that is stupid is, well, stupid.

      When women compete on the academy Div I football teams (and win) then maybe a test program will be useful.

    2. With the smaller size of the force, do we need women in combat arms?

      It’s my manager hat — if we have a problem, and are serious to fix that problem, what are possible solutions? In 2012 the US had one of the finest combat arms forces in the world. The quality per size was the best in the world. I see no problem that adding women to combat arms will fix.

      Being on the third sea-going (i.e. non-tender) ship to get women in the late 80’s gave me a point of comparison from my first ship, which was an all-male crew. Yes – even the OSs.

      From a combat power stance, an all-male ship is easier to run, and can survive damage better. KISS. IMHO.

    3. In a climate of extreme fiscal austerity, tell me again why we should spend tens, or even hundreds of millions of dollars to re-confirm to us things we already know, have known for centuries, and have had reinforced with virtually every source of empirical data?

  3. Empirical data may be irrelevant.

    Anyone with some basic college level calc based stats & prob would know that the probability of a set of ‘A’ (with infinite variation) being equal to set ‘B’ (with infinite variation) is ZERO.

    Whatever metric one is measuring, either ‘A’ is > than ‘B’ or ‘B’ or ‘A’ < 'B'.

    When pundits claim that 'B' is at least equal to 'A' they can only mean 'B' is superior because 'equal' is not an option.

    If proponents believe that 'B' is at least equal to 'A' they would more honestly say that 'B' is superior.

  4. This has nothing to do with enlisteds, and EVERYTHING to do with officers. Double X chromosome ticket punchers and ring knockers were being held back from their rightful promotion because their sisters were being allowed to Captain ships (USS Cowpens) and command combat crews in the Air Force.

    The number of enlisted women that want to be infantry would not even make a squad.

    1. “This has nothing to do with enlisteds, and EVERYTHING to do with officers.”

      Give that man (I assume) a CEE-GAR! It is the means by which women will rise to the highest levels of command in equal numbers, irrespective of the frightful and permanent damage done to make it happen.

      It is indeed positively Orwellian.

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