Battleland

Women in Combat: Is It Really That Big of a Deal?

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REUTERS / Lance Cpl. Marionne T. Mangrum / U.S. Marine Corps

Marine Lance Cpl. Stephanie Robertson, in Marjah, Afghanistan,in 2010.

The announcement that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has lifted the ban on women in direct ground combat has brought out the normal pundits who either support it — or who don’t.

What I have found in the more than 10 years I have been studying military sociology — and the 21 years I experienced in the military first-hand — is that the naysayers have probably never worked with dedicated women who only want a chance to serve their country like their male peers.

I am really getting sick and tired of the same old same old arguments, which were the subject of my Master’s thesis in 2003: most of the arguments are speculative and not based on reality.

Further, the con arguments are based on emotion while the pro camp is based on logic… to wit: “Women can’t do combat infantry,” as opposed to “Military jobs should be based on performance, and those who can meet those standards should be able to participate.” This criterion eliminates any gender bias, and is not calling for the lowering of standards, which should be based on realistic performance measures.

I myself was in a military specialty that had previously been all-male until 1974 when a young enlisted woman named Donna Tobias forcefully and successfully graduated from the Second Class Dive School in Little Creek, Va. She then went on to work at the Harbor Clearance Unit as a fleet diver, and then was an instructor at the submarine ascent training tank in Groton, Conn. She later got out of the Navy, received her Master’s degree in special education, and spent the last 25 years of her life mentoring the less than capable beings of our world. They never forgot her.

Five years later, in 1979, the first woman salvage diver, Ensign Susan Trukken, graduated from the Naval School of Diving and Salvage at the Washington Navy Yard. Two women followed in the next class, me and my dive buddy, Martha Herb, who would become the first woman diver to make admiral.

I can tell you from experience that no one gave us any slack. In fact — and Admiral Martha can confirm this, as well as her husband (who was also in our dive class), and my dive buddy, Lieutenant Vern Armstrong, we were given more harassment as students than the men. And we overcame those obstacles.

Women who choose to start infantry training are going to have a hard time. I predict that many will fail, just like in the military diving community. There will never be the percentage of women in the infantry as there are in the total military population, which stands at around 15%. This percentage of women in the military has been pretty stable since 2000.

No one believes all women can do all the jobs that are required in the military combat arms. That is why in the current all-volunteer force, people are given options… and that is why advocates of women’s increased participation in the military always insist that “those who are willing, and capable and can do the job, should be able to compete for those jobs, and they should be based on those criteria, not gender.”

None of us is calling for reduced standards, calling for your little sisters, aunts, and moms, to be drafted into jobs they cannot perform, and for which they do not qualify? We are just asking that women who want to join the military, and serve their country, be allowed, just like men, to serve to the best of their ability and capacity, in the jobs for which they wish to volunteer.

How simple is that? And why is it such a big deal?

32 comments
GeorgeHLoveJr
GeorgeHLoveJr

A Marine in Vietnam We were out for 48 days in the bush and burnt our uniforms when we finally got resupplied. I imagine the average woman would have had two periods ? Is there a doubt that if a woman is captured she will be repeated gang raped ? 3/1 thundering third SLF Bravo 10 combat operation 2 PUC's Etc

DStopper29
DStopper29

It's no sweat. Pass the same tests men do. There will be no degradation of standards and if the left tries to make that so (as they do with education, entitlements and everything else), there will be resistance at all levels of the military. If the left in this country chooses to reduce standards to make them "reasonable" or "fair," everyone loses -- including these modern-day Gloria Steinem followers.

heather.hall
heather.hall

I agree with you. I don't think it's fair because women can do the same things as guys. I also agree that they never give the women any slack. Women that want to do military should be allowed to do that. Maybe that's what they want to do. I think that if a women's dream job was to be in the military they should be able to that. They should not just tell someone no you can't be in the military just because they are a women. I don't think that right at all, they should let women in the combat.

marquise.walker
marquise.walker

I think that women shouldn't be excluded from 25% of the army duties. Some women aren't forced to join the army like some men used to be, but other women think that they should have the right to serve in combat. I agree that they should, women shouldn't have to wait until 2016 to get a duty within the army's available roles. The ban on women in combat is unnecessary everyone should have the right to do as they wish.

marquise.walker
marquise.walker

I think that women should be able to be drafted into the army it's not fair for women to be excluded from 25% of active duty roles. The army will need more troops for the type of battle crisis's that happen in the u.s. Women don't join the army because they have to like some men but some women feel that they should be able to be in combat maybe because its something different. women shouldn't have to wait until 2016 for open jobs.

joetheragman2
joetheragman2

According to the Washington Post--Prepare to DRAFT WOMEN:

"It is only constitutional to register men for a draft, the Supreme Court ruled more than three decades ago, because the reason for registration is to create a pool of potential combat troops should a national emergency demand a rapid increase in the size of the military. Women were excluded from serving in battlefield jobs, so there was no reason to register them for possible conscription into the armed forces, the court held.Now that front-line infantry, armor, artillery and special operations jobs are open to female volunteers who can meet the physical requirements, it will be difficult for anyone to make a persuasive argument that women should continue to be exempt from registration, said Diane Mazur, a law professor at the University of Florida and a former Air Force officer.

“They’re going to have to show that excluding women from the draft actually improves military readiness,” Mazur said. “I just don’t see how you can make that argument.”

Groups that backed the end of the ban on women in combat also support including women in draft registration as a matter of basic citizenship. Women should have the same civic obligations as men, said Greg Jacob, a former Marine Corps officer and policy director for the Service Women’s Action Network. “We see registration as another step forward in terms of equality and fairness,” Jacob said.

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., supports draft registration for women, according to his spokeswoman. Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., who heads the House Armed Services Committee, hasn’t made up his mind. McKeon said through a spokesman that he’s awaiting a Defense Department report due in the coming weeks that will assess the legal impact of lifting the ban women in combat on draft registration.

But if you’re worried a draft notice is going to soon be in your mailbox, take a deep breath. There is no looming national crisis that makes a military draft likely.

joetheragman2
joetheragman2

OK, two women in a squad of ten men. Zero privacy. One woman complains that the men see her naked. Are we going to change the laws on Sexual harassment?

justiceday
justiceday

I'm more concerned with the fact that one in three women who serve is sexually assautled or raped by our own troops.

theusmarinesrapecom

Halward_Then
Halward_Then

Medic5392 brings up the important point here. Anytime someone brings up the physiological differences between men and women or points out that the two genders may not be completely the same or equal in all aspects they are labeled a misogynist. It is a simple fact that standards for women are lower than they are for men, men are expected to operate at a higher physical level then women. This makes sense for the sake of political correctness but the military is not about political correctness as much as people want to make it so. The military is about practicality and combat effectiveness, that shouldn't change. Military decisions should be made from a tactical stand point and not a public relations one. I am completely pro women's rights and equality, I believe that they should be afforded the same opportunities as everyone else but the military isn't about what you have the right to do, and it's not about looking for what the government can do for in spite of what many service members may think. It is about doing whats best for you country and whats best for the service members to the left and right of you out there. I just think that women should be honest with themselves about their physical limitations. If you are unable to physically handle situations that are likely to arise in combat then what you need to consider is whether your putting others in danger through your limitations. It's something an infantryman should consider everyday is whether he is up to the task of keeping his brothers alive. 

E_H_Carpenter
E_H_Carpenter

As a Marine officer who is acquainted with the requirements for enlisted infantry training, I believe that women will have no problem graduating from Infantry Training Battalion when they are allowed to attend... The "standards" that so many are talking about lowering aren't much higher, from a physical perspective, than anything that women have already been doing for years in other schools throughout the Corps. Read the full article here: 

http://www.whiteoliphaunt.com/duckofminerva/2013/02/apples-oranges-women-in-the-infantry.html

justiceday
justiceday

The us marines have lowered standards for men, why not women.  They enlist druggies and criminals and give out 14,000 drug waivers a year.  They can't even get enough marines to pass special ops tryouts, they have to train them before they tryout in hopes they can pass.

The biggest problem is that the women are raped and sexually assaulted at a rate of 50 a day, and that's the DoD saying that.

This is a PR move for the DoD to take our mind off of everything else they are doing.

theusmarinesrapecom

Medic5392
Medic5392

The author, like most in her camp, leaves out that in our entire history we have NEVER once held females to the same physical standards as the men. Her thesis politely skips around the many issues that are valid that of course she and Mark Thompson also used to ignore, the very real physical differences between men and women. 

The author, Donna Tobias and every woman who has been in EOD, Navy Diver or at the Academies have never had to meet the same standards as the men did. As much as the author would like to believe she made it on merit, she made it on a combination of politics, her gender, "goals" and lowered standards. 

How about throw up the results of the UK MoD Study from 2002' and the review in 2010', or better yet, let us go back to her era and the Presidential Commission on Women in the Armed Forces? Odd isn't it? I think I am have resigned myself to the fact that anytime I meet a woman in a traditional male job that the same type of women who writes this type of drivel is the same type who never wrote about the lowered standards in the past. Why? Because they benefited her. 

So, tell me Mrs. Iskra, when have we ever had women in the military be held to the same standards? Sure, we have tried that, but when it did not work out they were "changed", "re-evaluated", etc...Show me a consistent holding of the line for standards? It was not in anything you are writing about, anything I have seen or that is in your articles? 

Tell me what you think of LTC Gregor? What about the UK MoD study? The PCOWITAS? The US Navy's early study of Damage Control and females and males going up and down the ladders with a wounded man? 

Don_Bacon
Don_Bacon

Women in Combat: Is It Really That Big of a Deal? How big is big?

Lance Cpl. Stephanie Robertson, shown above in full battle rattle, was in a “female engagement team."

from the NYTimes:
Male commanders in Helmand acknowledge that they sometimes hold the female Marines back to avoid potential problems. Captain Zepeda, for example, said he had deliberately kept the women behind the lead unit for the clearing of Sistani. The next day he said he had made sure that the women were routed around the possible Taliban ambush, in part to avoid a firefight before the meeting with village elders. But he might have sent an all-male infantry unit straight into it to try to inflict casualties on the enemy. . . Captain Naslund did not hesitate. “Just making a small improvement in somebody’s life, that means something,” she said. “And if that means that someday women don’t have to wear a burqa, great. If it means that they’re getting beat up and they’ve got some place to go to tell somebody, great. Or if they have a well in their compound that they didn’t have before, that’s going to make a big difference.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/03/world/asia/03marines.html?pagewanted=all

On the other hand perhaps they enjoy wearing a burqa.

mtngoatjoe
mtngoatjoe

But if a woman can do the same job as a man, then what can we men do to make ourselves feel special? First gays, now women. Who's gonna join the infantry next, quadriplegics?

Don't worry, I'm being facetious. I totally believe that anyone who can meet the requirements should be allowed to serve.

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