Battleland

Women in Combat? Not So Fast, This Female Officer Says

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Women are slowly creeping into combat positions across the U.S. military. Bars on their service in fighter jets fell 20 years ago, and they’re now heading out to sea, under the sea, aboard submarines. The Army and Marines are both grappling with opening up even more opportunities in the classic front-line combat roles: infantry, artillery and armor.

Generally, support for wider combat roles for women comes from officers, not the enlisted ranks. So when a female Marine officer and combat veteran steps forward to say she and her sisters cannot take the physical punishment commonly found on the infantry’s front lines, she’s out of line with much of her cohort.

In painstaking detail, Marine Captain Katie Petronio — an Iraq and Afghanistan vet — spells out why sending women forward, at least in the corps, may not be a good idea. She makes her case in the latest issue of Marine Corps Gazette, an independent journal that covers the corps like a tarp.

Highlights:

As a combat-experienced Marine officer, and a female, I am here to tell you that we are not all created equal, and attempting to place females in the infantry will not improve the Marine Corps as the Nation’s force-in-readiness or improve our national security…

I can say from firsthand experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not just emotion, that we haven’t even begun to analyze and comprehend the gender-specific medical issues and overall physical toll continuous combat operations will have on females…

I am confident that should the Marine Corps attempt to fully integrate women into the infantry, we as an institution are going to experience a colossal increase in crippling and career-ending medical conditions for females…

…this potential change will rock the foundation of our Corps for the worse and will weaken what has been since 1775 the world’s most lethal fighting force.

Full rucksack here.

37 comments
Medic5392
Medic5392

Women do not belong in ground combat. Here is a link to The Washington Times article that deal with the new push for Infantry and SOF roles for females in the US. It has links and paragraphs from Medical Studies done in both the US and the UK, the UK decided not to put women into combat roles due to the long term study that is liked in the article. Below the link are past studies done by the military, shows continually that females have not been made to meet the same standard but that does not matter since they are in the military due to a stated "goal" of 15% set by the individual services. 

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jul/30/army-may-train-women-for-rigor-of-front-lines/?page=all

This is from when they first started sending women to the Academies:

From the report of the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces (report date November 15, 1992, published in book form by Brassey's in 1993): "The average female Army recruit is 4.8 inches shorter, 31.7 pounds lighter, has 37.4 fewer pounds of muscle, and 5.7 more pounds of fat than the average male recruit. She has only 55 percent of the upper-body strength and 72 percent of the lower-body strength… An Army study of 124 men and 186 women done in 1988 found that women are more than twice as likely to suffer leg injuries and nearly five times as likely to suffer [stress] fractures as men."

Further: "The Commission heard an abundance of expert testimony about the physical differences between men and women that can be summarized as follows:"Women's aerobic capacity is significantly lower, meaning they cannot carry as much as far as fast as men, and they are more susceptible to fatigue."In terms of physical capability, the upper five percent of women are at the level of the male median. The average 20-to-30 year-old woman has the same aerobic capacity as a 50 year-old man."

From the same report: "Lt Col. William Gregor, United States Army, testified before the Commission regarding a survey he conducted at an Army ROTC Advanced Summer Camp on 623 women and 3540 men. …Evidence Gregor presented to the Commission includes:"(a) Using the standard Army Physical Fitness Test, he found that the upper quintile of women at West point achieved scores on the test equivalent to the bottom quintile of men."(c) Only 21 women out of the initial 623 (3.4%) achieved a score equal to the male mean score of 260."(d) On the push-up test, only seven percent of women can meet a score of 60, while 78 percent of men exceed it."(e) Adopting a male standard of fitness at West Point would mean 70 percent of the women he studied would be separated as failures at the end of their junior year, only three percent would be eligible for the Recondo badge, and not one would receive the Army Physical Fitness badge…."

From Canada's recent "stroll" with gender integration into the combat arms:

"After extensive research, Canada has found little evidence to support the integration of women into ground units. Of 103 Canadian women who volunteered to joint infantry units, only one graduated the initial training course. The Canadian experience corroborates the testimony of LTC Gregor, who said the odds of selecting a woman matching the physical size and strength of the average male are more than 130-to-1."

There is loads of other stuff out there too, sad that none of the mainstream journalists who push this idea that women should be in combat ever seem to use them in their articles. Weird huh? 

Richard_Pietrasz
Richard_Pietrasz

The US military drafts women into combat all the time.  It doesn't pay them, but does kill them along with their husbands, parents, children, and so on. 

Saje Williams
Saje Williams

Maybe we should be asking the question of any other countries who have allowed their women into combat situations.  How well did this work?  Are women more suited to elite, rapid-deployment teams where physical strength isn't necessarily an advantage?  Is there a way--or more than one way--to negate any disadvantage lower upper body strength might impose?  Can we alter tactical considerations to decrease this disadvantage even more?

As with all things, the best way to arrive at an answer is to approach it from multiple angles and poke and prod it until you have enough to arrive at a complete conclusion.  It's far too early to talk about throwing women into front-lines combat without fully understanding the ramifications.

Diana Smith Nichols Rosaglio
Diana Smith Nichols Rosaglio

As war gets more technical, and hands on becomes less of a norm, I see no reason a woman can't operate a drone, giving orders from a command post, or being behind the lines of support as a healer, comforter and supporter.  That's what we are good at.

Sidney Baxter
Sidney Baxter

like Leonard responded I am shocked that a stay at home mom can earn $4499 in one month on the computer. did you see this web page N u t t y R i c h dot cöm

Guest
Guest

the military has done a piss poor job intergrating women into the services. if women want to enter the services, then they should be allowed too. combat? well, if they want to die for our country, then they should have right to do that too, just like the men.

Circumventing
Circumventing

Get all the women in the Marines together, then say:  "OK, you're all front line soldiers."  

If the women marines show any reticence, behead their leaders in front of them and appoint new persons responsible.  Then, say again to the same women marines:  "You're all front line soldiers."   

Suddenly, your women marines start to compete to see who has the largest enemy test--le collection.

Duncan Tweedy
Duncan Tweedy

Someone read James Clavell's translations of Sun Tzu's Art of War.  That is from the story of how Sun Tzu, on a dare from a king, turned the king's concubines into an army.  It's a great story.  It has nothing to do with our nations women Marines.

This Marine officer is to be commended for stating the obvious.  Women are not as physically strong as men.  Therefore, front line combat duty, which pushes soldiers to and over the extremes of human endurance in the most critical moments of our nation's defense, should be reserved for men only. 

Women should otherwise be allowed in any combat role where physical strength is not the premium requisite, such as pilot, etc.

Reythia
Reythia

Correction:  In general, MOST women are not as strong as MOST men.  If a woman can demonstrate equal physical competency as the men can, then your argument no longer holds.  After all, who would you rather have in the marines: a scrawny guy, or a brawny gal?  Anyone who passes the necessary endurance/strength tests should be allowed.  It's going to be mainly men, but if you do it by outright testing, that will be due to nature, not discrimination.

Sheepleherder
Sheepleherder

It's not really true that zero women would be capable of playing the running back position. There is no way to prove that since they have never been allowed to train for the position, much less try out for it. Even the men who play the position were not born able to do it, they needed to be trained for it. However, it should not surprise anyone to learn that there are a lot of women more than capable of withstanding the rigors of warfare, from the physical aspect of carrying their equipment load to the more esoteric aspect of killing people in hand to hand combat. That is PROVEN.

Reythia
Reythia

Exactly.  Scrawny guys don't apply for jobs like front-line infantry or running back.  And if they did apply, they'd be justly turned down.  There's obviously a test, be it official or otherwise, in both such professions, to determine who can hack it and who can't.  I've got no trouble admitting that 99.999% of women couldn't hack it.  But I think the right way of going about telling them such is to simply make the test official.  Let there be a simple, straight-forward way of telling both scrawny guys and most (maybe even all) women that they can't hack the job -- and WHY.

Duncan Tweedy
Duncan Tweedy

How many scrawny guys do you find in front line infantry units?  Your line of reasoning is analogous to saying that if any women are able to play running back in the NFL, they should be allowed.  Ok, hard to disagree with that, except to point out that there are ZERO women in the world capable of playing the position of running back, or for that matter any other position besides kicker, in the NFL.  The only one being discriminatory here is Mother Nature.  Pointing this out doesn't make me a misogynist.  NOT conceding this obvious point would, however, make me a blind fool.

Kate Buccella
Kate Buccella

As a female who plans on joining the Marine Corps as an officer, I believe that if I'm willing to put my life on the line and blame nobody but myself if I got injured on the front lines and am just as capable as my male counterparts, why not let me? I'm frustrated that my only possible careers seem to be aircraft or logistics, while my male friends can do the artillery or armor I'm interested in.

O_Pinion
O_Pinion

The trouble is you would put your male colleagues lives on the line with your naieve "I'm willing to put my life on the line" B.S. The truth is apart from a few cross-gender lesbians women just lack the strength for true combat roles. 

Reythia
Reythia

If a woman lacks the strength to do the job, then you're right, she should not be hired.

And if a MAN lacks the strength to do the job, he should ALSO not be hired.

Determine a reasonable test of requirements for these jobs.  The only people of either gender who get the job are those who can pass the test.

Whatnow05
Whatnow05

Spin off to this is rather that the US military has adopted a "heavy" policy.  We trade armor for mobility, and wonder why were so slow or our knees are giving out, and why we're getting back problems. 

To the point of the article. I say let them choose. If a woman wishes to try out for it and can pass it why not have the option? Make it her choice. Though it would be good to inform them of the "side effects may include". 

Duncan Tweedy
Duncan Tweedy

 You actually raise a very valid point about the "heavy" policy.  My brother was special forces and he developed serious back problems from running around with 120 lbs and more.  Also, his backpack was a rigid external frame.  I couldn't believe it.  My first generation decade old internal frame was far superior.  This was some 13 years ago so after two wars I don't know if the military is still using those terrible packs anymore.  But the root cause of the problem is the mentality of the superiors that soldiers should carry each and every single piece of equipment that they could ever need in every possible situation.  Because if ever a soldier is caught without the exact equipment he needs, the blame game will inevitably target said superiors.  What is lost is not only the mobility to quickly cross any terrain, not only the capability to use stealth and silence, but also as you mention the very bodies of our soldiers.  This isn't a small thing.  My brother spent 8 years in SF.  The government probably spent a million dollars on his training.  He might have stayed active longer and given us the taxpayers better ROI if his back hadn't gone haywire.  The problem is systemic.  The military hierarchy punishes risk taking.  As long as CYA is the rule, the loads our soldiers are forced to bear will only get heavier.  And the average career of soldiers will get shorter.  We have to answer a fundamental question, do we need warriors or do we need tool carrying mules?  Lighten the load, and then we can start to consider allowing some women into these units.  As it stands, even the strongest of men are having their bodies torn apart by normal duty--let alone the magnified stress of actual combat.

katya21
katya21

Totally disagreeable. Saying that women were not created equal to men in the sense of combat is very misleading. Male and female were created somewhat equally. I say somewhat because it may come as a surprise to most people that it is the female that is created physiologically stronger than the male. As for physical strength, this has a lot to do with how boys are socialized to be male, and girls are socialized to be female. I personally know some females who are physically stronger than some males. Therefore,  the choice to do combat should be a individual one and not to be decided on a general basis. To read more: http://www.thegreaterbooks.com...

Diana Smith Nichols Rosaglio
Diana Smith Nichols Rosaglio

As a MST victim and a former military police woman, I agree magnanimously with Capt Petronio.   Leave the men to what they do best, and leave the women to what they do best.  The integration of women, and demand for equality, damage the role of women in society as a whole.  And for those of us who are not, and don't want to be, macho women, it can cause those of us who like being feminine, to do what we are not made to do.  When I look at my beautiful 3 year old niece, I do not see a Rambo.  I can look at my nephew, and I can see a Rambo.  If former generations of men had treasured and respected women, the women's movement would not have gone overboard.  And to men, I say in order to have a submissive wife, you need to earn her respect first.  Submissiveness is earned fellas.

Don_Bacon
Don_Bacon

 A big part of this complex situation is that the US is  a Christian country where women are secondary to men. It's in the bible.  The evidence is found in pay rates, in the abortion discussion, in the need for Title IX, etc.

And then in a macho situation as the military is, without the usual controlling strictures of polite civilian society, this difference gets amplified, in my opinion, and assault becomes too common especially when leadership is lacking. But then I'm a dinosaur.

Mary Della Valle
Mary Della Valle

Don, this nation was not founded upon Christianity in any sense - read the works of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine.

The problem with the word equality is that many people still think it is synonymous with "identicality" or "sameness." I have long believed that the two genders are too different; too different to be able to relate to the opposite gender as that gender, not to mention the mind and brain structure of the male and female as being as opposite as day and night.

Feminism has done the female gender a great disservice in some respects. True, feminism has allowed women to vote, get jobs, have a bank account in their own name, as well as their own credit cards. Women cannot think like men, and men cannot think like women, especially on the battlefield.

Women present in combat are a distraction to the male soldiers. Desensitizing women in this manner will be a downfall for the human race, to be sure. 

I do think it is better for women to stay out of combat, and instead devote their energies and time to their combat wounded soldiers with love and compassion. 

Diana Smith Nichols Rosaglio
Diana Smith Nichols Rosaglio

I do know that when a man falls in the battlefield, his thoughts are about his family, be it wife and children or his mother and father.  And his thoughts are for his mother more than any other.  Women used to have more power than they know.  

Guest
Guest

We're tired of double standards when women want them.  "Positive discrimination" is ok through Title IX, but feminists fight tooth and nail to deny custody to divorced fathers and resources to male victims of domestic violence.

Women need to hump mud just like the rest of us.  Start fighting for the right to shovel coal and pick up the trash, and then I'll believe feminism is about equality, which itself is not a smorgasbord where you can pick and choose, leaving the dangerous, dirty jobs for men.

And no man has a submissive wife, when she can have him locked up, kidnap his children and pillage his life savings simply by calling the cops and saying "I'm scared".  

Marriage, like every other institution in the US, is one where women are eternal victims and men de facto prosecutable oppressors, and the power lies in the hands of the one with the least to lose and the most to gain by falsely accusing the other party.

Saje Williams
Saje Williams

While there are certainly some areas worthy of criticism when it comes to custody issues and the courts, the way your comments devolved into a screed attacking women from all directions detracts from whatever value your point may have initially had.  Are you seriously pretending women aren't abused in this country?  Raped?  Exploited?  If so, you have allowed bitterness and anger to blind you.

bojimbo26
bojimbo26

I was under the impression that it is the ARMED services . If a woman thinks she might be raped , then she should be able to injure her attacker . ( Even if it is an officer ) .

Don_Bacon
Don_Bacon

Given the epidemic of sexual attacks in the military, young women should be counseled not to enter the military until the problem (mostly of  poor leadership)  is solved, and their current military roles should not be expanded further. There are too many lives currently being ruined to consider allowing even more.

Ashley Cassidy
Ashley Cassidy

 I disagree.  As a woman I feel we all have the right to serve and protect the same as men do.  We shouldn't be persuaded or counseled to not enter.  However, when we sign up to serve we should be counseled as to the risks that come with signing on that line, and we should be counseled as to how to handle sexual attacks/assaults.

DHMazur
DHMazur

Capt. Petronio writes that "we haven’t even begun to analyze and comprehend the gender-specific medical issues and overall physical toll continuous combat operations will have on females."

Based on the high level of orthopedic/muscular/overuse injuries suffered by service members, I would suggest we haven't begun to comprehend the physical toll that

continuous combat operations will have on anyone, male or female.  It doesn't become a problem only when women experience the consequences. If the integration of women causes the services to think about long-term physical toll and how that might be ameliorated, everyone would benefit.

It's better to gather information in a systematic way, as the Marine Corps intends to do with integration of the Infantry Officer Course, than it is to rely on opinions or predictions on what would happen.  The benefit of this approach will be to discover whether arbitrary limitations on assignments are helpful or unhelpful.

A former Air Force officer and author of "A More Perfect Military: How the Constitution Can Make Our Military Stronger"

http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/...

Diana Smith Nichols Rosaglio
Diana Smith Nichols Rosaglio

And to put it bluntly, when we all got back from field maneuvers and exercises in the field, all of us girls were standing in line for sick call, becasue we had developed yeast, bladder and kidney infections.  I had to hold my water for hours, you can't stay hygienically clean.  We are different than men.  It's just the way it is.

Diver7900
Diver7900

I think conclusions such as Captain Petronio's should be based on more than just one person's experience.  I agree that not all women, nor even most women, can handle the requirements and stresses of the infantry, but let's look at it from a perspective of capabilities, not gender.  Perhaps her stature, at 5'3", was part of her physical limitation, even though she could bench press 200 lbs.  She obviously was a very capable person for her size; this is why specific job standards are necessary, which I believe the Marine Corps and the Army are developing.


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