Some advice on women in combat from a female veteran

posted at 5:01 pm on January 27, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

Yesterday’s column on women in combat elicited a number of passionate responses from both sides. Some of them came from proponents of the move, frequently citing alternate motives on my part. These ranged from “trying to keep women pregnant in the kitchen” and “Republicans want to lock women in the 1950s” to whichever variant of the GOP’s “war on women” you’d care to name. Many others lent a more sympathetic ear. One in particular, though, caught my attention. It was from one of America’s female veterans who served in Iraq, delivered with a first hand, been there, done that background. The Marine in question – who for purposes of publication will go by the pseudonym of “Sentry” – had previously submitted this history and opinion as a comment at National Review, but her story was compelling enough that I checked into her background, contacted her and decided to republish it here in its entirety. I offer the following as a third party testimony to stand your scrutiny on its own merits.

I’m a female veteran. I deployed to Anbar Province, Iraq. When I was active duty, I was 5’6, 130 pounds, and scored nearly perfect on my PFTs. I naturally have a lot more upper body strength than the average woman: not only can I do pull-ups, I can meet the male standard. I would love to have been in the infantry. And I still think it will be an unmitigated disaster to incorporate women into combat roles. I am not interested in risking men’s lives so I can live my selfish dream.

We’re not just talking about watering down the standards to include the politically correct number of women into the unit. This isn’t an issue of “if a woman can meet the male standard, she should be able to go into combat.” The number of women that can meet the male standard will be miniscule–I’d have a decent shot according to my PFTs, but dragging a 190-pound man in full gear for 100 yards would DESTROY me–and that miniscule number that can physically make the grade AND has the desire to go into combat will be facing an impossible situation that will ruin the combat effectiveness of the unit. First, the close quarters of combat units make for a complete lack of privacy and EVERYTHING is exposed, to include intimate details of bodily functions. Second, until we succeed in completely reprogramming every man in the military to treat women just like men, those men are going to protect a woman at the expense of the mission. Third, women have physical limitations that no amount of training or conditioning can overcome. Fourth, until the media in this country is ready to treat a captured/raped/tortured/mutilated female soldier just like a man, women will be targeted by the enemy without fail and without mercy.

I saw the male combat units when I was in Iraq. They go outside the wire for days at a time. They eat, sleep, urinate and defecate in front of each other and often while on the move. There’s no potty break on the side of the road outside the wire. They urinate into bottles and defecate into MRE bags. I would like to hear a suggestion as to how a woman is going to urinate successfully into a bottle while cramped into a humvee wearing full body armor. And she gets to accomplish this feat with the male members of her combat unit twenty inches away. Volunteers to do that job? Do the men really want to see it? Should they be forced to?

Everyone wants to point to the IDF as a model for gender integration in the military. No, the IDF does not put women on the front lines. They ran into the same wall the US is about to smack into: very few women can meet the standards required to serve there. The few integrated units in the IDF suffered three times the casualties of the all-male units because the Israeli men, just like almost every other group of men on the planet, try to protect the women even at the expense of the mission. Political correctness doesn’t trump thousands of years of evolution and societal norms. Do we really WANT to deprogram that instinct from men?

Regarding physical limitations, not only will a tiny fraction of women be able to meet the male standard, the simple fact is that women tend to be shorter than men. I ran into situations when I was deployed where I simply could not reach something. I wasn’t tall enough. I had to ask a man to get it for me. I can’t train myself to be taller. Yes, there are small men…but not so nearly so many as small women. More, a military PFT doesn’t measure the ability to jump. Men, with more muscular legs and bones that carry more muscle mass than any woman can condition herself to carry, can jump higher and farther than women. That’s why we have a men’s standing jump and long jump event in the Olympics separate from women. When you’re going over a wall in Baghdad that’s ten feet high, you have to be able to be able to reach the top of it in full gear and haul yourself over. That’s not strength per se, that’s just height and the muscular explosive power to jump and reach the top. Having to get a boost from one of the men so you can get up and over could get that man killed.

Without pharmaceutical help, women just do not carry the muscle mass men do. That muscle mass is also a shock absorber. Whether it’s the concussion of a grenade going off, an IED, or just a punch in the face, a woman is more likely to go down because she can’t absorb the concussion as well as a man can. And I don’t care how the PC forces try to slice it, in hand-to-hand combat the average man is going to destroy the average woman because the average woman is smaller, period. Muscle equals force in any kind of strike you care to perform. That’s why we don’t let female boxers face male boxers.

Lastly, this country and our military are NOT prepared to see what the enemy will do to female POWs. The Taliban, AQ, insurgents, jihadis, whatever you want to call them, they don’t abide by the Geneva Conventions and treat women worse than livestock. Google Thomas Tucker and Kristian Menchaca if you want to see what they do to our men (and don’t google it unless you have a strong stomach) and then imagine a woman in their hands. How is our 24/7 news cycle going to cover a captured, raped, mutilated woman? After the first one, how are the men in the military going to treat their female comrades? ONE Thomasina Tucker is going to mean the men in the military will move heaven and earth to protect women, never mind what it does to the mission. I present you with Exhibit A: Jessica Lynch. Male lives will be lost trying to protect their female comrades. And the people of the US are NOT, based on the Jessica Lynch episode, prepared to treat a female POW the same way they do a man.

I say again, I would have loved to be in the infantry. I think I could have done it physically, I could’ve met almost all the male standards (jumping aside), and I think I’m mentally tough enough to handle whatever came. But I would never do that to the men. I would never sacrifice the mission for my own desires. And I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if someone died because of me.

– Sentry

I will close by noting that the picture on the front page of the site associated with this letter is not of the author. Also, the text has not been edited from the original in any way other than to remove some page breaks which make publication messy.

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Women to be admitted to Ranger School………….

“It was clear that nobody’s opinion was being solicited. The message came from the Chief of Staff of the Army, and the order seems to have come from echelons above him: Ranger School will admit women within a few months. And the women will pass, whatever it takes.

Solaratov on January 26, 2013 at 1:13 PM

I can’t wait to hear how the first little darlins deal with immersion foot and crotch fungus…and with having one of her team mates burn a leech off her azzhole with a cigarette.

But…they will pass…and people will die because of it.

Solaratov on January 27, 2013 at 8:35 PM

I have concluded after all these threads on this topic. Two things, the gilled one is correct, if not absolutely crazy. And that this decision was made for reasons not sited.

Yes, clarity has been achieved. Happy that we have reached a consensus.

bluegill on January 27, 2013 at 1:22 AM

Never thought I would live to agree with that stinkfish. But here we are.

Bmore on January 27, 2013 at 8:39 PM

This is madness.

Bulletchaser on January 27, 2013 at 7:15 PM


But madness with an agenda.

Solaratov on January 27, 2013 at 8:45 PM

listens2glenn on January 27, 2013 at 8:33 PM

Let’s not sidetrack the thread, l2g,

Cleombrotus on January 27, 2013 at 8:47 PM

Solaratov on January 27, 2013 at 8:35 PM

Most who go through Ranger school never serve in a Ranger unit but they do wear the tab on their uniform. Practically any specialty can attend Ranger school, not just infantry.

crosspatch on January 27, 2013 at 8:50 PM

Thanks darwin, here’s the link

Chessplayer on January 27, 2013 at 8:52 PM

And finding women who can do 6 the pullups for the Ranger PT test is going to be difficult but not impossible.

crosspatch on January 27, 2013 at 8:57 PM

Most who go through Ranger school never serve in a Ranger unit but they do wear the tab on their uniform. Practically any specialty can attend Ranger school, not just infantry.

crosspatch on January 27, 2013 at 8:50 PM

The purpose of sending people to Ranger School who do not go into the Ranger Battalions is so that they can, upon return to their units, teach the people in their units what they learned at RS. (On that note, however, I don’t think that you’ll find a lot of Quartermasters, JAG or Cooks and Bakers at RS.)

As an aside, when I went through Ranger School, there were NO Ranger Battalions other than the training cadre at the schools. Everyone who went through was expected to teach upon RTU.

Solaratov on January 27, 2013 at 9:25 PM

crosspatch on January 27, 2013 at 8:50 PM

And, the requirements and standards at Ranger School are the same, no matter what sort of unit one is in.

And they usually have about two-thirds of each class wash out.

Solaratov on January 27, 2013 at 9:27 PM

And finding women who can do 6 the pullups for the Ranger PT test is going to be difficult but not impossible.

crosspatch on January 27, 2013 at 8:57 PM

It won’t be difficult at all.

Now, finding women who can hump an M60 or M249 or M240 all day – and all night…who can function on 10-minute walking cat-naps for three days straight — and make decisions and properly deploy her people when it’s her turn to be the leader…
THAT’S gonna be the problem.

And, to repeat…
When she gets into the swamps at Eglin…
I can’t wait to hear how the first little darlins deal with immersion foot and crotch fungus…and with having one of her team mates burn a leech off her azzhole with a cigarette.

And, since you obviously know nothing more about Ranger School than what you’ve googled or wikied, I’ll end the discussion here. OK? OK.

Solaratov on January 27, 2013 at 9:35 PM

The first females through are to be officers only so I imagine this, sadly, is more about getting the tab for promotion consideration than anything else.

crosspatch on January 27, 2013 at 9:35 PM

Semper Fi, Sentry.

hungrymongo on January 27, 2013 at 9:41 PM

Once they make it to Eglin, very few (relatively speaking) drop out. The majority of drops are in the first week. 98% of those who start the Florida phase finish. Some due recycle to get through it but by the time you have got through mountain phase most of the drops have already fallen out.

crosspatch on January 27, 2013 at 9:42 PM

It is really going to depend on how it is handled and how political it becomes. What do you think would happen if none of the females finished the course? There’s a lot of pressure at the top for someone to be crowned the “First female Ranger”.

But if they have to slow down an entire training cycle to accommodate the women, that isn’t doing anyone any good.

crosspatch on January 27, 2013 at 9:57 PM

I have been closely following this particular thread and I would like to make a few comments.
With respect to women actually being in h/h combat, I believe it is extremely unlikely. The reasons have been listed here are do not bear repeating.
I do believe women will eventually be allowed to go through Ranger treaing, Special Forces, etc., all at perhaps significantly reduced standards.
They then can obtain rank, prestige and have everyone says, well, i told you they could do it. However, my bet is they will never see h/h, close quarter combat! Nor lug around heavy equipment and people if necessary.
I have been around a long time and I have seen the exact same thing happen in business. When the execs decided it was time for equality in the work place, women were quickly promoted and many men with more experience, skill and ability were passed over. It makes for lousy workplace morale and it is highly insulting–not to mention it frustrates the sh-t out of you. The promoted women never paid the price and did the grunt work to deserve the promotions. And when you add the arrogance the women aquired–man, it was tough sledding. When you have a wife and 2 kids to worry about you swallow alot of crap!!
Now on the bright side. When women worked together it really doesn’t allows go well. They can become real bitchy to each other and are tremendously jealous of each other. Plus women do not make the best bosses. (please google this for your self).
Finally, during the 1950’s Brown v. Board of Education came to pass and withit desegragation. I doubt many of you were around but I was. They took totally unprepared black children and placed them it what should have been there equivalent grades. It was a disaster. All of the sections of black children entering my high
school flunked. They were initially put in classes together but wre subsequently integrated into the other classes over the years. Initially, 8th grade reading books had to brought in for the black 11th grade kids.
My point: It should have happened this way. The integration should have been done gradually, i.e., starting first in kindergarten, then contining slowly to first grade, etc.
Not my idea, some guy named Booker T. Washington stated this.
What’s going to happen with the women is going to be bad news in many respects–it–things are not tried very gradually–while keeping the same standards. I just don’t think this is a good idea. Any yeah, I was in the Army for 6 years. I loved my M-1.

Old Guy on January 27, 2013 at 10:00 PM

Putting stars on the shoulders of men does nothing to the brain.
mixplix on January 27, 2013 at 5:47 PM

There is a reason JO’s joke about the O-4 lobotomy.

Female hips are wider and the hip socket rotated to support the extra load of pregnancy. The elbows are rotated to hold infants, which make females bad at throwing overhand. This is old truth, which is being ignored to set up the end of the nation state
A truth the feminists will not admit: females are valuable in time of war, to replace the dead with new children. Do not waste them in combat
entagor on January 27, 2013 at 6:39 PM


The whole time I’ve read this thread with so many great comments from the good and true men, I keep having one thing go over and over in my mind. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. Why are so many women so opposed to their natural use? Why do so many not see or embrace the beauty and wonder of the feminine genius?

So much that is happening these days hearkens back to that, the rejection of the natural use. I keep saying it, but I’ll say it again. We are Romans 1.

pannw on January 27, 2013 at 10:54 PM

Can a woman go a month without a shower, as my son did in Kirkuk, and Hawija? Picking up body parts, sanitation, 30 grunts living in a 4 room house. Just axking?

gooddad on January 27, 2013 at 11:09 PM

There’s no potty break on the side of the road outside the wire. They urinate into bottles and defecate into MRE bags. I would like to hear a suggestion as to how a woman is going to urinate successfully into a bottle while cramped into a humvee wearing full body armor.

This part really caught my attention because…ewww. But also because it raised a point I hadn’t even considered before: how much more susceptible women are (no matter their physical strength) to urinary tract infections. The other “hygiene issues” women in combat would have to deal with are bad enough. But UTIs/kidney infections are debilitating, easily brought on by dehydration/lack of good hygiene, and require medical attention and antibiotics–antibiotics that could be better used to treat infections caused by, you know, actual wounds from battle.

Oh, well. Reason #3,392 why women in combat should be an absolute last resort and not a societal goal.

butterflies and puppies on January 27, 2013 at 11:23 PM

I propose an experiment to see how ready America is for the reality of women in combat. Combat troops are highly-trained, well-conditioned fighting machines. Even the Taliban spends time training their recruits. So, we need to know if well-trained women can hold their own with well-trained men.

Let’s have a PPV where every match is male vs. female. We’ll have boxing and MMA in each weight class.

Now, in some classes, the men will win because there won’t be fit women to represent some of the heavier weight classes. Guess what? In combat, you’re likely to run into some heavyweights.

But it should be fun to see the toughest women in the country square off against, say, Jon Jones or Floyd Mayweather, right? I’m sure the women will win at least a third of those matches, right? If not, then why are we allowing them into combat?

hawksruleva on January 28, 2013 at 12:22 AM

not only can I do pull-ups, I can meet the male standard.

whooptif’nshit. That ‘male standard’ was a minimum of THREE. It was that 20yrs ago when I was in the Marines, and it’s that still –

It’s nothing to brag about, by either gender. Especially not anybody trying to perform in an Infantry MOS. Marine Corps’ Schools of Infantry has a dropout rate of something like 10% of young fit males that can’t hack the physical demands of combat environment training. So it isn’t very likely that many women will pass it. The upper body strength requirements are heavy. Women just aren’t built that way. It takes a lot of work BEFORE entry into the Marines for a woman to meet that standard. You won’t achieve it DURING the training.

and it’s a measure again of the huge and ever-growing divide between our military services and our general population – especially in media – that civilian folks don’t know these things. They’re counting on shit like ‘GI Jane’ and the on-air cheerleading of a woman combat pilot – experience and expertise that means squat regarding the physical demands of ground combat. That woman pilot flies home at the end of her day. She’s not living out of an amtrac for a month. Or climbing on, over or thru walls in urban combat, with 60-100 pounds of gear.

rayra on January 28, 2013 at 12:41 AM

Male standard for pull-ups…Marine Corps: Three lousy pull-ups…not much of a standard.

mcra99 on January 27, 2013 at 8:31 PM

Well, she might be referring to the 100 point standard. We don’t know, do we?

unclesmrgol on January 28, 2013 at 1:02 AM

Creating a soft target. The enemy is famously not fond of girls.

Female detainee + video + internet + KNIFE…well…U I doubt you’d get Hillz to do anything but the detainee’s unit will.

Chaos ensues after that.

CorporatePiggy on January 28, 2013 at 1:49 AM

Amazing point-by-point, example-laden, refutation. Some items not even thought about by a lot of us whom do not wish women to be placed on the front-line. Worthy of being possibly the best argument anywhere, from anyone, for or against.

Hopefully, it will be disseminated far and wide. Can’t wait to read a response, directed towards Sentry’s statement.

John Kettlewell on January 28, 2013 at 2:18 AM

while maybe the army will be a little less efficient, it wont matter much because soon enough, all the wars will be done with drones.

nathor on January 28, 2013 at 6:19 AM

I am total agreement with the author of the article. Women just don’t belong in combat units. But as a little side note, does anyone on this thread know who was the most decorated American Army soldier ………….. Audie Murphy. His height and weight upon entering the service was record as 5′ 5″ tall and 110 pounds. The following is from Wikipedia:

Murphy had long dreamed of joining the military. After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Murphy tried to enlist in the military, but the services rejected him because he was underage and only about 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m).[5]
In June 1942, shortly after what he and his sister Corrine believed was his 17th birthday, Corrine adjusted his birth date so he appeared to be 18 and legally able to enlist. His war memoirs, To Hell and Back, maintained this misinformation, leading to later confusion and contradictory statements about his year of birth.[12]
The 5-foot-5-inch (1.65 m) and 110-pound (50 kg) Murphy tried once again to enlist, but was declined by both the Marines and Army paratroopers as too short and underweight. The Navy also turned him down for being underweight.[4] The United States Army finally accepted him,[5] and he was inducted at Greenville[8] and sent to Camp Wolters, Texas for basic training.[1][8] During a session of close order drill, he passed out. His company commander tried to have him transferred to a cook and bakers’ school but Murphy insisted on becoming a combat soldier, and after 13 weeks of basic training, he was sent to Fort Meade, Maryland for advanced infantry training.[1][8]

SC.Charlie on January 28, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Good article, I agree with her points.

nonpartisan on January 28, 2013 at 8:56 AM

So!!!!!!! When will women have to start registering with Selective Service?????

Dread Pirate Roberts VI on January 28, 2013 at 9:59 AM

If they can do this with no questions asked then maybe we’ll talk. Not gonna happen like this, waivers all around. Boys, help the little lady out and carry her ruck and her weapon, and don’t forget the ammo too.

D-fusit on January 28, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Still not one good reason this decision was taken………

Bmore on January 28, 2013 at 10:42 AM

Having read this and considered the consequences, the logical outcome of this policy is that American ground forces will not be deployed into combat theaters again. Not by this administration, anyway.

What can’t be done by drones will be outsourced to locals. France in Mali, or Libyan rebels in Libya, or Syrian rebels in Syria, or Ethiopian troops in Somalia.

Not only will this be the case for this administration, it will hamstring the ability of future administrations to, say, invade Afghanistan in response to a terrorist attack. It will force us, for now and for future generations, to intervene overseas only with air power, sea power, and limited SOF forces.

So this is likely the beginning of the end for America in the Wilsonian/FDR interventionist mode. It means a return to isolationism. Ironically, it is being brought about by the same “progressives” who brought us WW1 and WW2 in the first place.

I’m sort of conflicted. Because I’m not convinced that stepping away from the intent of the Founding Fathers to wage global war was a great idea in the first place. Yes, we saved the world from Hitler. But I suspect that if Wilson hadn’t bungled us into WW1 in the first place, Hitler would never have come to power in the first place!

Maybe if we’d left Germany and the allies to fight to a draw in WW1, they’d have come up with something like the peace of Westphalia, instead of the grotesquely unfair treaty of Versailles which provoked German anger and helped kill the German economy , setting up angry and desperate people all too willing to follow a demagogue.

The world existed long before Americans existed to save it from itself. And watching the Arab Spring, I’m not convinced the world needs any more “help” from us and our bungling State department.

So I’m conflicted. If I say Obama is wrong now, I have to say that Wilson was right. If I say that Wilson was wrong then, Obama must be right now.

Now *I* would prefer an America able to defend itself that was “friend of liberty everywhere, but guardian only of its own”. But that doesn’t seem to be on the menu, regrettably.


Brian P.

pendell2 on January 28, 2013 at 11:17 AM

The Left’s real agenda for the past 20+ years regarding the military has nothing to do with inclusiveness for gays or women…it has everything to do with remaking military culture into one in which conservative-minded people do not wish to participate.

As to the reasoning behind their maneuvering…as well as the end game at which they’d like to arrive…well, I’m sure you all can work that out on your own.

rvastar on January 28, 2013 at 11:44 AM

I’m afraid that I have to agree with rvastar. It has been happening in the media, the schools, the government, and now in the military. This agenda isn’t about fairness or diversity. It is about crossing lines which certain people will reject, in order to push them away.

I won’t read newspapers or watch network news, because their Leftist agenda is too prevalent and unacceptable to me.

I homeschooled my children because the teacher’s unions have brought mockery of all things decent into education, teaching lies as truth, and rejecting historical facts.

Moves like this, or like making the military into an LGBT petri dish, are less about progressiveness, and more about “souring the milk”, to borrow a phrase, for all those with traditional values.

Divide and conquer is the order of the day. This isn’t political, though the useful idiots think it is. This is Good vs Evil, and a time for reckoning is at hand.

Freelancer on January 28, 2013 at 12:16 PM

while maybe the army will be a little less efficient, it wont matter much because soon enough, all the wars will be done with drones.

nathor on January 28, 2013 at 6:19 AM

Drones can’t hold land. The simple reason why airplanes aren’t the only combat troops in existence counters that argument.

No I can’t outfight a jet with a rifle; but that doesn’t seem to have ended the war in Afghanistan. If you can’t hold the land you eventually have to leave.

gekkobear on January 28, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Maybe if we’d left Germany and the allies to fight to a draw in WW1, they’d have come up with something like the peace of Westphalia, instead of the grotesquely unfair treaty of Versailles which provoked German anger and helped kill the German economy , setting up angry and desperate people all too willing to follow a demagogue. – pendell2 on January 28, 2013 at 11:17 AM

World War I was a stupid, pointless war fought mainly between three first cousins, King George V of Great Britain, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Czar Nicholas II of Germany. It should never have been fought in the first place. If the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria had not been assassinated by the Muslim Gavrilo Pincip in 1914, the entire 20th Century would have been very, very different.

SC.Charlie on January 28, 2013 at 4:55 PM

Panetta is no more the secdef than I am…………

ultracon on January 28, 2013 at 5:57 PM

The little darlins will get what the feminists want, and there will be changes as the stanfards are changed and renormed for the chicks, if they don’t openly have a female standard anyway. When I was in the women had a different PT standard than the men, and they will continue to have one, as a practical matter. They’ll simply lower the single standard, if they have one, so the chicks can pass. The Navy did it for pilots way back when, and the rest will do it too.

This country is so screwed.

Quartermaster on January 28, 2013 at 6:55 PM


Bmore on January 29, 2013 at 3:11 PM