A few thoughts on women in combat from a dinosaur

posted at 8:31 am on January 26, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

All this week I’ve been witnessing some of the end zone dancing taking place among various groups regarding the recent decision to allow women to fully serve in combat roles alongside the men. There are many variations on the theme, of course, but the editorial board at the Gray Lady probably summed the general sentiment up fairly well.

The Pentagon’s decision to end its ban on women in combat is a triumph for equality and common sense. By opening infantry, artillery and other battlefield jobs to all qualified service members regardless of sex, the military is showing that categorical discrimination has no place in a society that honors fairness and equal opportunity.

Equality is great, isn’t it? Respect and unbiased treatment of everyone regardless of gender or any other metric you’d care to name is a principle which I believe most of us can agree upon. And I still maintain that both men and women should be given a fair and equal shot at any job which they can adequately perform. And yet, when it comes to the idea of American women serving in combat roles on the front lines during war, I am a hypocrite. A throwback. A dinosaur.

There are several jobs where women are absent or underrepresented, almost exclusively in professions where the demands are extremely physical in nature. And while I don’t agree with the delivery of the message, Allen West points out a few items of note.

“I have to tell you, if this is the case, then why do we have separate hockey leagues? Women should be out there playing ice hockey with the guys in the NHL. We should not have a WNBA. I can’t shoot a three-pointer, but there are ladies who could certainly take me to the hoop. Maybe they should be competing with Kobe Bryant.”

This is the interesting part, and it should be noted that the new Defense policy comes to bear on this. In the professions listed by West, I will agree that perhaps women should be offered the same chance to play. (Are they?) But even in sports such as golf, the best female athletes thus far have failed to defeat top tier male players. I can’t really explain why. But if they wish to compete they need to demonstrate that they can perform at the same level, and if they can, then they should.

It has already been noted that this policy may not result of a flood of women into combat positions because of the simple reality that so many of them will not be able to manage all of the requirements to make it through infantry training. But when it comes to the military, even if they can manage the tasks demanded, should they be allowed? For me, there is simply something different. Yes, it’s true that that the average woman will have trouble lifting a 220 pound male soldier in full battle gear and carry him to safety, as some have noted. But it’s probably also true that we could find some who can. So if they can manage all of the physical requirements, why should they not be given this opportunity?

Because. And I’m well aware that this is the worst possible answer. But there is just something about sending women into combat on the front lines which I’m simply not ready, willing or able to accept. Even if we have women who are physically prepared for every contingency on the battlefield, I don’t want them in those roles. There is something primal about war which I believe inhabits the souls of men across America. When we go to war, one of the driving reasons behind it is that we shall “defend our women.” The thought of putting them directly in harm’s way runs contrary to every instinct, and the perils which would surely await our women as POWs is too great to bear.

So I’m a dinosaur. I do not apologize. It’s just how I was built, and I’m saying this not only as a veteran myself, but a man coming from a family of men who served in uniform almost to the last one. I just don’t want women in the infantry or other direct combat roles. I’m not saying they aren’t capable in some cases. I’m just saying I don’t want them to do it.


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weathermen on January 26, 2013 at 6:47 PM

Won’t be at your hands, Nancy.

M240H on January 26, 2013 at 7:55 PM

I believe he was being sarcastic.

Solaratov on January 26, 2013 at 11:48 PM

Equality is great, isn’t it? Respect and unbiased treatment of everyone regardless of gender or any other metric you’d care to name is a principle which I believe most of us can agree upon. And I still maintain that both men and women should be given a fair and equal shot at any job which they can adequately perform.

If we are gonna have true equality, make women sign up for the draft. While we are at it, why not require women who are on welfare to apply for jobs in male dominated fields like coal mining and logging? We could then go on to eliminate all battered women’s shelters and just replace them with homeless shelters. If women want to be treated like men, lets give them the full experience.

NeverLiberal on January 27, 2013 at 1:44 AM

Last straw. I officially do not care about the U.S. military any longer. I do not support or care about the troops beyond the human compassion for people being kille dor injured. I dont care if they win or not anymore. If I was in the military, I would leave. If anyone asks me if they should join, I will say no. Pretty much the same thing goes for the country. I feel no allegiance, no affection and no obligation for loyalty as long as these people occupy its government.

The RNC called me today and I hung up on them. The RNC chair should be out there everyday calling for special prosecutors, impeachment and more. I always donate money and campaign each election. But if the wont even effing Ty, the why sould I? Romney didn’t even want to run for cryin out loud. Boehner and his bitches in the House won’t even try. Eff them all.

Yes, my morale is broken. Right now I just don’t give a f***. Our side won’t fight, the people are too stupid and don’t care, and now we have turned our military into swingers club with guns. Screw it.

Only the states can save us. Soldiers should resign and start formin up state militias.

Malachi45 on January 27, 2013 at 2:01 AM

It has already been noted that this policy may not result of a flood of women into combat positions because of the simple reality that so many of them will not be able to manage all of the requirements to make it through infantry training.

You’re missing the real reason that there won’t be “a flood of women into combat positions.” Most female soldiers DON’T WANT to fill combat roles. For instance, when I enlisted at age 17 I specifically wanted a support role in which I could keep my long hair, pretty nails, and wouldn’t have to bulk up on muscles; it wasn’t my fault that I ended up in a tactical airborne unit.

TXJenny on January 27, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Chivalry is dead. Let the feminists have what they want…and equal opportunity should mean equal standards. One of the things that kills me is that people say “if women can pass the training…” Basic Trainin is pretty damn easy. It’s a lot easier than a 12 – 15 month deployment being in 70+ lbs of battle-rattle every single day.

Look at the last few months worth of Army Times. Before Panetta dropped this bomb, the Army had been trying to figure out a new PT test that actually indicated whether a person was capable of doing the job. One of the ideas being floated was a generic test and an MOS related test (like having an artillery guy pick up a 100lb shell and have to carry it a certain distance). All of this is potentially out the window now.

Oh, and as an aside – womens physical capabilities have been a liability already for decades in support units. You can’t send a squad of females out to load the company gear into the 5-ton trucks getting ready to go to the field…they can’t lift the heavy stuff, you’ve always got to send the guys out to do the hard stuff.

John_G on January 27, 2013 at 10:48 AM

If I was in the military, I would leave.

Malachi45 on January 27, 2013 at 2:01 AM

If you were in the US Military right now you would have to request a separation, and it would most likely be denied.

SWalker on January 27, 2013 at 11:27 AM

If I was in the military, I would leave.

Malachi45 on January 27, 2013 at 2:01 AM

If you were in the US Military right now you would have to request a separation, and it would most likely be denied.

SWalker on January 27, 2013 at 11:27 AM

Truth is I would probably have already left as soon as I could after Obama started purposely throwing the war in Afghanistan or after he forced me to serve with openly homosexual fellow soldiers.

I’m not criticizing anyone for staying. I never joined the armed forces myself. That’s up to each person. But I would not fight for this government.

Malachi45 on January 27, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Oh, forgot my point: I would leave at the first opportunity.

Malachi45 on January 27, 2013 at 11:51 AM

A gender neutral military? I think that it is possible, however I do not think that the necessary steps will be taken to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

We have women in police and firefighting both very physical jobs with hazards of conflict within hostile environments and/or hostile actors.

A few years back some women in Los Angeles lost their gender discrimination lawsuit against the fire department when a video tape of their training clearly showed their physical inability to carry a 30 foot hose section up the ladder in the prescribed time, or to safely carry a 180 lb dummy casualty out of harms way safely.

If the Army can establish similar gender neutral standards of performance for being a soldier this could work. For example a forced ruck march with a 55lb pack plus water, food, and ammo over a 12 mile course in 4 hours or less, or lifting as many artillery rounds from case to breach as possible in a prescribed time with a standard minimum number that must be met. I don’t care whether you are a man, woman, black, white , or purple with pink polka dots, if you can perform the job to standards without endangering the mission, your team-mates or yourself, you are welcome in the unit. Problem is, I don’t think there will be budget or the will to enact and enforce the standards to create that environment and here is why.

The Army has had a cost cutting physical fitness test in place for decades. The push-up, sit-up, 2 mile run was put in place to save money (the only required equipment is a stop watch) and the test measures only a level of fitness not a capability to perform job related tasks.

If you change the test to one that requires equipment it will cost more money. Budgets are tight and getting tighter so this may be a not starter. But say we get lucky and are able to establish new tests and standards of physical capability for being a soldier. Will we have the will to discharge all those in the military unable to pass such a test? Both men and women would be subject to discharge I am sure. But just, imagine the lawsuits; good enough to be a soldier yesterday, but not today. Add to that a what if, as I suspect would happen, the numbers of women are much higher for discharge in the implementation of the new standards? Feminist groups will accuse the Army of purging women to avoid equality.

I retired form the Army in 2006 after 20 years. I believe the Army as an institution is capable of this sort of change. I am just afraid it will be implemented in a way that will make the force less combat effective in order to appear more socially acceptable, and that is not in our nations best interest.

BFBurke on January 27, 2013 at 11:58 AM

We have women in police and firefighting both very physical jobs with hazards of conflict within hostile environments and/or hostile actors.

This has been a disaster. Standards for law enforcement where I live, and judging by hat ive seen, the rest of the country, have been lowered dramatically.

There is no way for true equality in any society or organization without that society drifting down to the lowest common denominator. Period. That’s because genders, races, cultures, religions, beliefs, and everything under the sun is decidedly unequal.

Discrimination used to be a neutral term. Freedom of association used to be a real concept. Not obsessing about equality over every other concept prevented cops that weighed unde r350 pounds or that stand under 5 feet with the strength of a 12 year old boy.

Malachi45 on January 27, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Still not one good reason to take this decision…………..

Bmore on January 27, 2013 at 12:41 PM

I see no reason why we can’t have all-women combat divisions, or all-gay units. They could be deployed against enemies similarly constituted, like France, for example.

Other than that … this is another liberal double-down-against-reality moment.

virgo on January 27, 2013 at 1:00 PM

On the day that the Olympics has women competing against men in every event, and we’ll say that 100 people will be killed based on the outcome of each competition, then we can put women in combat. Until then, I’ll be betting on the men to win the event–or the war–every time.

Zoomie on January 27, 2013 at 2:22 PM

There is no way for true equality in any society or organization without that society drifting down to the lowest common denominator. Period. That’s because genders, races, cultures, religions, beliefs, and everything under the sun is decidedly unequal.

– Because we’ve baked the term “equality” into something entirely other. It’s inextricably bound up with the idea of sameness, but we used it to argue that people were all created such that one person was not of more inherent value than another. We got a lot from that idea — a chance at a fair shake in court, an end to the incongruous people’s ownership of people, etc.

Now it’s become an argument with physics. Any differences you might notice from time to time between women and men are products of your sexist imagination. It’s become absurd. Saw Naomi Wolf (I think it was Book TV or something) say that science has demonstrated that men and women are actually different: “men are more violent and they die younger.”

Some people prefer their imaginations.

Discrimination used to be a neutral term.

To discriminate meant to tell things apart. Required for consciousness and reason. Required for the existence of life.

Freedom of association used to be a real concept.

No one remembers that one. :) My favorite one, and no one even knows it exists. Sort of a lost elephant of a fundamental right.

Not obsessing about equality over every other concept prevented cops that weighed under 350 pounds or that stand under 5 feet with the strength of a 12 year old boy.

Malachi45 on January 27, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Anyway, Nice post. Dead on.

Axe on January 27, 2013 at 2:51 PM

There is something primal about war which I believe inhabits the souls of men across America. When we go to war, one of the driving reasons behind it is that we shall “defend our women.” The thought of putting them directly in harm’s way runs contrary to every instinct, and the perils which would surely await our women as POWs is too great to bear.

Well said. The costs of men, money and machines to finance sending a woman into combat will be extraorinary. Not to mention probably having to change the ROE’s since they will never pass the same tests men do.
Sounds like a neat little scenario to slowly defeat our abilty to kill the enemy by changing the ROE’s and giving us even more to worry about on the battlefield than we already have.

rodguy911 on January 27, 2013 at 3:27 PM

rodguy911 on January 27, 2013 at 3:27 PM

Who was President when you were born?

Capitalist Hog on January 27, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Who was President when you were born?

Capitalist Hog on January 27, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Truman

rodguy911 on January 27, 2013 at 4:01 PM

The standards will be lowered. It is a simple matter of physiology. The evidence exits everywhere one looks in civilian life pertaining to sports. The Military is not to be confused with a civilian construct. Think for just a moment without your wishes clouding your judgement. Men are Men. Women are not. Men have always served the populace as the primary warrior. Why? Because that is the way it is. To deny this is to deny reality. The type of combat being addressed here is based in reality. Unless the enemy sends out a force equal to yours. Does the enemy care whether your side is built on a false construct of wish casting for some imagined fair equality status you imagine should exist? I think not. No, sadly the goal here is to ultimately damage the worlds greatest fighting force from within. It will work. Men, real Men, some of our best will die due to this decision. I vote not to do damage to our Military structure just so we can false sense of equality. We are not.

Still not a single good reason to have taken this decision.

Bmore on January 26, 2013 at 4:38 PM

The problem here is that we live our lives under certain popular delusions. One of these is that, as a more “advanced” society, we are no longer bound by human nature.

But human nature has not changed. Men are still men, and women are still women. We certainly want to allow women to do everything men can do. I certainly want my daughter to be empowered that way.

But believing in “equality” will not make my daughter more like a man physically. The goal of feminism should be to give women more options to do what they can accomplish, not to push them into jobs that are physically beyond their capabilities.

Unfortunately, the goal of this push is to give women officers a bullet point on their OPRs so they can say they were also in combat, and grease their path to promotion.

Honestly, it would be better to simply rule that all women candidates for promotion should be treated as if they had that training and experience.

IOW, when it comes to putting women in combat, “Let’s not, and say we did.”

As bad as that might be, it’s better than putting women in combat.

There Goes The Neighborhood on January 28, 2013 at 1:04 AM

I see no reason why we can’t have all-women combat divisions, or all-gay units. They could be deployed against enemies similarly constituted, like France, for example.

Other than that … this is another liberal double-down-against-reality moment.

virgo on January 27, 2013 at 1:00 PM

Setting aside the sarcasm for a second, to me this is EXACTLY the first step that the military should attempt. IF one believes that women are going to perform equally with men in combat situations then the first step is NOT to integrate them into existing units, but rather to build competing units.

Once ot has been established that womens combat units are comparable with mens units, means of integration, if it is even possible, can be considered.

This is not about fairness or some sort of equal opportunity, it is about maintaining the SUPERIORITY of the US armed forces.

Freddy on January 28, 2013 at 2:45 AM

Sorry, but men and women are NOT equal. For example, men cannot give birth. They don’t have the internal plumbing. So, strike one against equality.

I’ll keep strikes two and three to myself for now, but for what it’s worth, my wife agrees with me on all three points. Women and men are supposed to be different and unique. Sameness is not possible. Liberals can dream all they want, but that won’t make women and men equal any more than believing in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy will make them real.

falcon on January 28, 2013 at 8:55 AM

This isn’t about men and women being equal. We all know that there are women in combat as we speak. That is something we all agree on. The thing is those women that are there have not been given the credit for being in combat because of the ban. Women are already attached to some of the combat units but it is done in such a way where in their record books and in their promotions and in their job reports it is looked at as not being in combat because techinically women aren’t allowed to be in combat. So when it comes time for promotion among the ranks – men can be promoted in combat or because of their experiance but women cannot. Why? Because women aren’t suppose to be in combat even though they already are.

I think this is being blown way out of proportion and honestly you aren’t going to see a whole lot of change EXCEPT in those positions that are not being filled because the lack of combat experiance. Which there are plenty of billets that require combat experiance and even though women have that experiance it isn’t counted and therefore they don’t get promoted.

As a female veteran of the Marine Corps I have been around enough combat units to know WHAT kind of training these guys have to go through. The Marine Corps has adjusted over the past to enhance mission readiness when it comes to females. If there were females that couldn’t reach the standards they were gone. It would be no different in this case. There was a story about two women that were the first two female officers to go to the officer’s infantry school and they washed out. Both of them. I have faith that the Marine Corps the standards would do the same on every level. The Marine Corps counts every Marine as a rifeman. However, to be an actual infantry rifleman is a whole different level of standards – if a female could make it through then she deserves to be on the front line with the rest – but the chances of that are very slim.

TturnP on January 28, 2013 at 11:44 AM

Didn’t we do this with firefighters many years ago, then reduce the criteria drastically to cater to women who couldn’t meet the standards and criteria for male firefighters?

IIRC the “fireman’s carry” was declared inappropriate and dragging was all that was necessary to show you qualified for that job.

Oh, but this time will be different and we won’t have lawsuits and calls to lower the physical portions of the requirements?

Yeah… this time will be different… I hear you saying that.

But I’ve heard that a lot before… and what I’ve learned is this:
This time will be exactly the same.

gekkobear on January 28, 2013 at 4:14 PM

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