Women in Combat

I think most people that know me would admit that I like women. I admire them, respect them, and have cheerfully worked for them several times. I admire and respect most of the women I’ve met in the Army and the other services. But I see storm clouds on the horizon. I hope my readers of the gentler persuasion will not be offended when I say that women have absolutely no place in combat arms units.

Sadly, there is a slice of the Diversity Industry that doesn’t want little things like reality to intrude on their happy little illusion that the sexes are equal:

The Defense Department should eliminate restrictions on women serving in combat units and end all “gender restrictive policies,” according to a blue-ribbon panel created by Congress.

The move would end the military’s long tradition of all-male combat units and open up career fields like infantry and armor to “qualified women.”

The recommendation by the Military Leadership Diversity Commission will be included in a formal report to Congress and the White House in March.

The commission met and discussed the combat exclusion policy for females at a meeting Dec. 3, said Erica Lewis, a commission spokeswoman.

Many of the longstanding reasons for keeping women out of combat units do not hold up under scrutiny, the commission’s research found.

A five-page analysis prepared for the commission concluded that women do not lack the physical ability to perform combat roles; gender integration will not negatively affect unit cohesion; and women are not more likely than men to develop mental health problems.

I guess it is easy for the commission to reach these conclusions, since the outcome was essentially predetermined. No diversity commission has ever released a report that said things were hunky dory and no further changes were needed.

  1. Women do not lack the physical ability to perform combat roles– Yeah, as a matter of fact, they do. Oh, I suppose you could find about 1-2% of the female population that has the upper body strength and endurance to serve. But the fact of the matter is that very few women have that kind of constitution, and are never likely to gain it without an investment in conditioning that far outstrips the ability of the Army to provide it. The demands of the infantry in Afghanistan are so great that steroid use among men in combat units is becoming an issue.  And if women are so physically capable of performing to the same standards as men, why do they have a different set of standards on the Army Physical Fitness Test?
  2. Gender integration will not negatively affect unit cohesion– Bullshit. Take a look at what has happened with the Navy. While many women serve honorably on board ship, there are innumerable stories of women becoming pregnant and unavailable to deploy with their ship. That means either some sailor has to have his shore duty cut short to fill that gap, or the ship goes to sea shorthanded. The same problem will arise in the combat arms of the Army and Marines. And mid-level officers will tell you that no matter how many problems they have with sexual relationships in the ranks, the word has come down from on high that integration is a success, their protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, and it they would like to avoid early career termination, they best sing along with the choir.  The great passions and tempers in a combat arms unit are hard enough to keep under discipline without adding the drama of sex to the mix. If you can remember all the bitterness and recriminations of failed relationships in high school, imagine that in a situation where the male to female ratio will be at best 8 to 1, and when you break up, you can’t even get away from them. And don’t give me that pap about prohibiting relationships in a unit. It’s an order that won’t be obeyed. You can’t put a bunch of healthy 18-25 year olds together and not expect sex to be high on the “to do” list.  Every commander in a combat units knows that maintaining moral and esprit de corps is a great challenge, but it absolutely must be met for a company or battalion to have any hope of success in its mission and keeping casualties to a minimum. Why add to the commander’s burden?
  3. Women are not more likely than men to develop mental health problems– Maybe, maybe not. I can’t say I’ve ever heard this advanced as a reason to keep women out of combat units. And frankly, how do they know? They don’t have a control group of women with prolonged exposure to combat to base their judgment on.

The article above goes on to discuss the concept of non-linear battlefields:

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown current policies and their references to “forward” units to be outdated. In some situations, women in non-combat jobs have faced more danger than male infantrymen.

“The enemy is no longer clearly and consistently identifiable, and all units are essentially exposed to hostile fire,” the commission’s research paper concluded.

“Additionally, the spatial concepts of forward and well-forward are inappropriate and lacking to convey the complexity of operations such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

That’s a nice bit of legerdemain. While it is true that in some isolated incidences combat support and combat service support units (where women serve alongside men) have been exposed to combat, the fact remains that the combat arms, and the infantry in particular, are far more exposed to enemy action than other units. The statistics of the casualties sustained bear this out. And there’s a huge difference between being subjected to the occasional rocket or mortar attack, vehicle ambush or IED attack, and the infantry’s job of going into the enemy’s  lair and kicking in his doors.

A final thought: the premise of the commission is fatally flawed. The stated goal of the commission is to increase the diversity of the services. That’s the wrong goal. The goal should have been, what can we do to increase the combat capability and readiness of the services. But that would have yielded a far different report.

38 thoughts on “Women in Combat”

  1. We lose incredible treasures, essence and quality of each and every human individual when we have an emotional need to lump everyone together and declare that all are worthy of any particular role or job. This Women In Combat push is simply insane.

    Anyone who has around me for 5 minutes figures out I’ve got one spunky, tenacious, fighting spirit. But deep in my bones I know that I was not (nor any other woman for that matter) formed by God to be in a combat unit. These folks responsible for this report are some very dangerous morons.

  2. I agree with Cathy. I know I can’t carry a 80-lb. load, and if you start putting women into those units, what’s going to happen? She carries 50 or 60 lbs. and some poor schmuck carries the rest for her?

    1. Yep.

      It happens already. There are women mechanics who never change a tire because they’re too heavy. They end up needing help from a guy who could change it all by himself. So why even bother having the woman there?

    2. Most men I know have a natural, decent, quality that wants to offer muscle-help to women. I love that about men and graciously accept when a man offers his hunky-stuff to rescue me when I’m burdened down. But in combat, that’s just plain unsafe for everyone.

      * Hi Roamy. Hugs! Pretty Lady!*

  3. This is a nightmare. As stated in the article, the integration of woman on Navy ships has, and continues to, tripled the problems of adequate manning, discipline and division of labor.

    Young women get pregnant. Young woman, and young men, like to screw and women simply DO NOT have the physical strength to perform 1/3 of the tasks required to run a ship, load or launch aircraft. Yet, every “study” by DACOWITS and other diversity nazis wax rhapsodic about the successful integration of women.

    None of what I have written was done to disparage women in general. Additionally, I’ve worked with some fine female Sailors but overall, the policy is a soup sandwich. The addition of women to submarines and combat arms does nothing to enhance readiness or combat effectiveness. IMO, it detracts.

  4. The fact is that this push is a small portion of a much larger overall strategy in selling a lie that everyone is exactly the same…more of the “Equality in result” meme rather than the equality of opportunity that was pushed aside by those seeking the power that such a goal provides.

    The fact that it assaults traditional values and gets to use its rhetorical conflation to paint a more traditional understanding rooted in time-tested wisdom as somehow discriminatory is gravy to them. The fact that it robs the indvidual of their dignity by shoving them into the lie of equal ability doesn’t even occur to them.

    Col. Jessup is sitting in that witness box in my head snarling “You think you did something important here? You just made a country weaker, son!”

  5. I’m glad you brought up the changing tire scenario, Xbrad. Although that is not necessarily a combat situation, the negatives are so obvious to me, but the lefties seem to leave it unspoken… on purpose… they have an agenda and will push it at the expense of lives, safety, team identity, and success of the mission at hand.

    If the changing of a tire is truly the woman’s defined job but she is unable to fulfill that job, then what happens when the men who are doing double work resent it? Duh. Resentment gets stored in their ‘bank’ and they share their gossip and stories with others who are experiencing this same real stupidity. Talk about being bad for morale? All women’s roles become a risky place because of developed bad perceptions. Military women in general, even if they are in non-combat roles for which they are well qualified and physically suited, could become the target of unsubstantiated emotional resentment.

    Like I said earlier, these folks who are responsible for this report are simply insane and dangerous.

  6. Just happened on an article misleadingly entitled “All female USMC Battalion” which discusses the valuable role provided by the “Female Engagement Team” of 48 marines. I am for the use of female soldiers in organizations such as that, but the caption to one picture explains an issue not associated with the usual upper-body and sex arguments:

    “Hospital Corpsman Shannon Crowley, 22, US Marine with the FET (Female Engagement Team) 1st Battalion 8th Marines, Regimental Combat team II walks out of the shower tent on November 17, 2010 in Musa Qala, Afghanistan. With 269 male marines and 3 females living at a small outpost the females have only one hour a day ( 30 minutes in the morning and 30 in the afternoon) to shower.” So, approximately .5% of the marines consume 1/12th of the resource (and probably at the prime time)? What happens if/when DADT is repealed? Do they get an hour, or do they squeeze in with a current group?
    No, Brad, I am not going to provide a link…

    1. I saw the story.

      And like you, I think there IS a place for stuff like that. And for the most part, the troops make it happen. But until someone can provide a convincing argument that the combat capability and readiness of an infantry company is enhanced by placing the average female soldier in a line platoon, it’s a bad idea.

      In re: the FET, what do you think the chances are that every time the three females are sent to do engagement, they have an entire rifle platoon along as security?

  7. The solution to this whole issue is the one we used during WWII: women’s auxiliaries: the WAVES, the WACs, the WASPs, the WAFS, the Army and Navy Nurse Corps, the SPARs, etc. The women had their own services, with their own uniforms, ranks, standards, and missions, and they contributed greatly to the war effort. But they left the men’s services alone.

    1. If I had any say in the matter, those auxiliaries would return and all women would be assigned to them. Immediately.

      I’ve said it many times over at Lex’s place, “any country that places women in combat is a barbaric country that is unworthy of defense.”

      I stand by that statement.

  8. When the military gets rid of separate PRT standards then I’ll accept women in all areas. You can’t say out of one side of your mouth men and women are no different and then say out of the other that women are required 50% fewer pushups and situps and an extra two minutes on the run.

    If a soldier or sailor passes the PT standard then so be it. But it has to be one standard.

  9. What is the real goal of shitbirds like this commission? It’s not ‘diversity’, that is a ruse. And it is not to strengthen the military.

  10. If I was facing integrated US units I would have my snipers target the women. Not to kill them. Just maim them. I don’t think the units would be very effective after a few of the females were taken down.

    Do these people think that the enemy does not understand how to exploit weaknesses?

    1. The Israelis found that to be the case back during their war for independence. They got the women out of the combat arms with a quickness after that.

  11. well, as long as they will only be in the Infantry, Armor and Artillery, what’s the problem?

    after all, everyone knows that the Cavalry is the only branch that matters in the end.

    /white smoke

  12. Heh, if anyone thinks physical fitness standards are going to be equalized among the sexes, don’t hold your breath. I’m not sure how scores are computed for promotion in the other services, but in the Marines if they require women to perform the same as men, their junior enlisted promotions are going to get waaaaaay out of whack.

    At best the average woman is going to run a 2nd class PFT which is going to kill their composite score. No way will this be sustainable. If they lower the male standards to the female standards, then they’re going to sacrifice combat efficiency and performance.

    Full stop. You don’t even have to get into the other areas. That’s it, period. End of story. How any “Blue Ribbon” panel can continue with a study after this freakin’ glaringly obvious fact is just mind-blowing.

    Hell, mixed gender units in non combat arms roles are a freakin’ nightmare already. Anyone who says differently is just trying not to piss their career away.

    These panels are a result of the “business” approach many of the General Officer corps and civilian leaders have taken with all of the services the past 15 or so years. Glad I retired a couple of years ago, but a less effective military still affects me as it does all of us.

  13. We took the “Women’s Engagement Team” out with our Civil Affairs guys in ’07. No big security commitment. They were female Marines, and did a pretty good job; we got some decent intel out of them, anyway.
    WRT CAV and failed tankers… I have cut it as an infantryman, tanker and cavalryman. CAV is a state of mind. Scouts out.

  14. None of my comments condone gender integration of combat arms. I don’t care if some percent can pass male PT standards. It is not worth it to gear up training facilities or to induce any other aforementioned issues. I am not against female truck gunners, etc. I don’t want one in my tank, my Brad, my stack on the door, etc.

  15. Late to this discussion, but I think I may still have some relevant input. Being in aviation, I have served with plenty of women over the years. They range from one of the most effective attack helicopter pilots I have flown with to quivering masses of ineptitude that needed to be removed from the service as fast as humanly possible.

    Have gone down range to Iraq 3 times, I have seen the pregnancies and disruption caused by the activity that is only to be expected given the demographic and the morals of today’s society. I have seen commanders that instituted patrols to attempt to control sexual activity in the FOB (they were unsuccessful, judging by pregnancy rates)…we didn’t really have the spare manpower or time on our hands to do such thing but the chain of command was forced to do it to try and control human nature. Now if you transfer that over to all units…think about that impact on the mission. But has been stated before this isn’t about the mission, this is about some nebulous equality goal that has no basis in reality.

  16. And if women are so physically capable of performing to the same standards as men, why do they have a different set of standards on the Army Physical Fitness Test?


    As an infantryman, the only experience I had working with women was the two assigned to my squad in PLDC. Both of them about 98 lbs. soaking wet, with bricks in their pockets. Wet bricks.

    And one of them with major penis envy. I had to endure 4 weeks of this “I can do anything you infantry guys can do” shit and couldn’t wait for the practical exercises.

    For many non-combat arms MOS, this is their first experience with the true business of the combat arms: OPORDERs, rock drills, leader’s recons, and lane training.

    Oh yeah, and humping a weapon for more than 5 minutes. Okay, Ms. This Shit Ain’t So Hard, here’s your place in the squad – you get to hump the pig. Wasn’t even 100m before she’s got one hand on the barrel and dragging the buttstock through the dirt. She wasn’t even carrying the tripod and T&E.

    I feel for those soldiers that have had to serve in units with women. In the Army’s PC culture, I would have been voted off the island within 1 year of having to endure pulling other soldiers’ slack because they were physically incapable of doing the job, and then sitting through the discrimination/harassment charges when I dared open my mouth about it.

  17. Furthermore, I’ve known male medics that couldn’t sling me over their shoulder in a fireman’s carry, but all of them were at least able to skull-drag me far enough to evacuate me if necessary.

    How many females are going to be able to physically drag a 205 lb. man, plus another 35lbs of body armor, LBV, Kevlar, ammo, etc?

  18. So long as we have civilians overseeing the military and senior officers who w ould rather conform than resign we will have these problems. Women in submarines is a wet dream of a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs who never served in a small (less than cruiser) command. Since it is politically “necessary” he will get it done and the hell with the operators. The same seems to apply to the proposal here, it will happen because politicians say it must, not because it makes sense. What will end it is when there are a large number of body bags returned to parents who will then give the politicians a reality lesson.

  19. Excellent write up xbrad. Do you know of any previous fighting forces that have been integrated for combat? I can’t…

    1. I can think of limited instances of women serving in combat, but I cannot think of any significant force that had fully integrated combat arms.

  20. I’ve served with women who’ve carried SAW’s and who could change a tire. And with women (and men) who are…weak at best. Israel opened up infantry and combat arms to women. Tankers maybe. But take a guess as to how many woman rushed to be infantry?

    As for pregnancy, in Air Defense, I’ve seen 1 or two who rushed out to get pregnant. The problem I’ve seen is that Senior NCO’s baby the females. Yes, they just check the box on 4856’s and NCOER’s. The result is that some women are s#&tbags and are coddled until they do something the unit can’t avoid. One SPC slept with half her platoon, the battery tired to avoid the issue but eventully BDE heard about it. She was sent elsewhere and her NCO paramour got busted to E-4 on another charge. They couldn’t “prove it” because she’d been that much of a slutpuppy. The other females in the unit? They hated her and were glad she left. Some had done lesser offenses and gotten UCMJ while this SPC was being a human mattress.

    I’m all for women in the military, if they can do the job. Otherwise keep the system the way it is. Even if 11,12, 13 series were open to women, so few would make it that the numbers would virtually look the same as before.

    Diversity uber allies is gonna break the service just like a draft would.

  21. There is possibly one woman with whom I served that is cut out for arduous sea duty. But only one.
    I will not give her name. She is now an O-4. She worked for me about twenty years ago as an E-5. But just the one.
    But that is me. Sorry? Nope. Not a bit.
    Generational thing, ya know.
    Even my die hard liberal mother said the line has to be drawn somewhere. Not on a man of war, tactical and strategic combat squadrons, any submarines and definitely not infantry and armor of the line. That was from my Dad. Korea, The Pescadores and in Vietnam before we were “in Vietnam”

  22. Since women have been assigned to routine sea duty we’ve seen a return of the normal injuries we saw among the women when the USS Sanctuary experiment was tried. Pressure fractures, for example, were quite common, and this on a ship with good machinery. Pregnancy, OTOH, is not an injury.

    Women at sea, or in combat units is insanity at its finest. You have to ignore the facts to press for it.

  23. BTW, women on combatant ships account for about 20% of the crew, and about 80% of the visits to sick call. Not sick, just hypochondriacs.

  24. I’d call it malingering. I thought it funny that was a UCMJ offense. When I was a dependent I noticed about a fourth of the guys at sick call had little wrong with them. There’s a reason we called ’em the sick, lame a lazy.

    Women, however, just use medical care more often. My wife goes to the doctor far more than I do ad for good reasons.

  25. Most infantry units, especially those that are in the middle of nowhere have a brotherhood with each other that involves them fist fighting each other (for fun), wrestling, swearing, being naked next to each other (not in a gay way, but in “I need to dry off” way), and they depend on each other to be willing to kill and protect each other.

  26. Also in that closeness the soldiers have with each other they may make fun of each other maliciously (in a joking manner), where as women usually can’t take that.

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