Another female veteran speaks on women in combat

posted at 2:01 pm on February 3, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

Previously, I offered some of my own admittedly last century feelings about sending American women into direct, front line combat roles. That sparked a fair bit of discussion, including the submission of a letter from a woman who has seen action in the war and who was surprisingly sympathetic with at least some of my views. But we want to get all sides of the discussion out there for a full airing, and that woman’s letter prompted a response this week from another female warrior who has been out there in uniform, putting it all on the line for us. Her views run contrary to those previously discussed in several areas, but her direct experiences and the eloquent way she expresses them are certainly equally worth featuring here and completely valid. With all that said, I offer the unedited testimony of Nicky Vale without comment.

In response to “Some advice on women in combat from a female veteran,” I too am a female veteran, and there is little in this Marine’s commentary I DON’T take issue with. For starters, I was stationed in both Babil and Baghdad, and I did not just “see the male combat units” while I was in Iraq. I was embedded with them. I lived on a patrol base with them, and I went out on foot patrol with them every single day for months. I was the only woman on the team, and I wasn’t there because someone was trying to be politically correct and wanted to make me feel good about being a woman in the Army. I was there because we have spent the last 10 years fighting two wars with an all volunteer military.

I was a member of a four-man team that was sent out to support a patrol base. I was initially assigned to whatever patrol team happened to need an intel collector until the platoon leader of my patrol unit hand picked me to be on his team permanently. He had worked with every single member of my team, and he requested I be permanently assigned to his unit because he felt I was the best person to get the job done. This is a young man who had done three tours in Iraq by his 23rd birthday who I had originally mistaken for someone pushing his 30′s when we first met. His only concern was getting his guys home in one piece. There wasn’t a single decision he ever made to be politically correct, and he sure as hell would not have allowed me to step foot in his vehicle if he thought for one second my presence would have compromised the safety of his unit.

This young lady makes some valid points, but they are completely overshadowed by her obvious inexperience outside the wire. Her statement is among some of the most damaging commentaries I have read on this subject in the past week because, like some of the other infuriating editorials I have read recently, she establishes herself as a subject matter expert to the civilian population and yet, any female in the Army reading her piece could tell by her second paragraph she is what we call in the military a FOBBIT–someone who has never left the comfort of the FOB.

There are many valid arguments against allowing women entrance into the Infantry, but arguing over whether or not women should be allowed into the Infantry completely misses the entire point of what Sec. Panetta’s decision actually accomplishes. For starters, the “ban” on women in combat isn’t about the Infantry–since military branches are allowed to file for exceptions, it is quite possible and even likely these jobs will remain closed off to women. The term “combat” encompasses a huge range of jobs and positions that go way beyond Infantry, and women have been filling those jobs and have been put in those positions for the last decade. What the Secretary’s decision does, effectively, is recognize the role women have already been playing for the last 10 years.

The physical strength argument is valid, although not for the reasons cited here. I know few men, my husband (also a combat veteran) included, who could single handedly scale a 10-foot wall in full battle rattle, and if this Marine is being told that’s what her male counterparts are doing on the other side of the fence, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell her. Women sustain stress injury at a substantially higher rate than their male counterparts, that is a fact. It is a legitimate concern in this debate, but it hasn’t stopped countless women from serving admirably and putting their own lives on the line for our country which apparently doesn’t even realize that’s what they’ve been doing.

Another legitimate argument is the hygiene argument, but I’m getting really sick of reading stories about marines defecating in plastic bags next to each other (she is not the first one). I have to tell you, I’ve taken care of far worse hygiene issues than peeing in a bottle in the back of a HMMWV while out on mission wearing full battle rattle, so everybody who’s freaking out over where the ladies are going to pee or how they’re going to tend to their cycles need to get over it. Of all the arguments against putting women in combat, this one’s pretty low on the list. Again, I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk about hygiene. I just wish service members who never served with women outside the wire, or service women who have never been outside the wire, would stop talking about it in the hypothetical and allow those of us who have actually been in that situation talk about whether or not these things were detrimental to the mission.

There is a really important piece of this entire argument that is being completely overlooked, and that’s the fact that women may not be in the Infantry, but we are already serving in combat, and chances are that when all the exceptions have been filed, and everything is said and done, Secretary Panetta’s decision will be little more than a formal recognition of the present status quo.

I would like to thank Ms. Vale for her valiant, selfless service to our nation. I will also note that she will be having a companion piece published at Patheos in the near future. When that goes live, I’ll update this piece with a link. Here is the link.

EDIT: (Jazz) With my apologies, corrected the spelling of the authors name in all locations to “Vale.”


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Yeah yeah yeah. Some chick thinks she’s tough. You want a cookie?

This is an endless debate.

Steven McGregor on February 3, 2013 at 2:11 PM

Why can’t men give birth? I think it’s time we ended our societal prejudice and allowed men to do this. They are clearly tough enough.

Steven McGregor on February 3, 2013 at 2:14 PM

That whole post rings false. I’m betting that you have been hoodwinked, Jazz. Waiting to see what comes out downstream on this one. Kathleen Parker has weighed in on the subject, too.

fabrexe on February 3, 2013 at 2:15 PM

And I love how combat or the ‘infantry’ is suddenly a ‘human right’. Talk about a self obsessed culture.

Steven McGregor on February 3, 2013 at 2:16 PM

Just another grievance field waiting to happen. Endless lawsuits and court-marshals. A liberals dream. Destroy the military from the inside as well as overtly.

pat on February 3, 2013 at 2:17 PM

Why can’t men give birth? I think it’s time we ended our societal prejudice and allowed men to do this. They are clearly tough enough.

Steven McGregor on February 3, 2013 at 2:14 PM

…I can’t spell or find my udderis!

KOOLAID2 on February 3, 2013 at 2:19 PM

And I love how combat or the ‘infantry’ is suddenly a ‘human right’.

Steven McGregor on February 3, 2013 at 2:16 PM

Yeah I’ll say. It’s a “right” to get trained as a state-sponsored killer, sent off to God-knows-where, and possibly suffer a horrible fate? WTF?

At the absolute best that’s a necessary evil of the world we live in, with emphasis on evil.

MelonCollie on February 3, 2013 at 2:19 PM

I’m glad we’re hearing both sides of the debate. But it was the notion that men will lose sight of their mission if females are captured, and that women will have huge targets on their back, especially in Muslim countries, for those horrible videos they make.

John the Libertarian on February 3, 2013 at 2:19 PM

Once again this so called “combat vet” misses the greater point, which is why should she not be allowed to serve in all male combat units. She confuses COIN operations with the act of locating, closing with, and destroying the enemy by fire and maneuver. She believes that because she went out on some foot patrols and rode in some humvees, that that somehow equals combat. Now it’s not totally her fault, that is all she knows in her young career. That doesn’t even scratch the surface. What I am waiting for is someone to give me one good excuse why the United States needs it’s women to participate in high intensity force on force engagements with a heavy army such as China, Russia, or North Korea. If you don’t think it’s going to happen again one day, you have no business participating in this discussion.

Our current COIN engagements are one small piece of what our forces should be able to do, you can’t use that as the only yardstick to measure what a women should or should not be involved in. I would like to hear the other side of the argument expand on other types of mission sets, not just freakin Afghanistan.

gator70 on February 3, 2013 at 2:21 PM

Monty Python’s Life of Brian has already weighed in on that argument Steven McGregor. Somebody link it, please. I am hopeless at that sort of thing.

IdrilofGondolin on February 3, 2013 at 2:23 PM

Hmm…..sorry. I’m a dinosaur like Jazz. Right now, we’re fighting muzzies. I was born and raised among the fanatical breed of muzzies. No siree, no way our women gets captured by them. I know exactly what would happen. Once its filmed and publicised, America would withdraw unilaterally. Sorry, I’ve been rambling. :-)

tommy71 on February 3, 2013 at 2:24 PM

Amen gator. I’m so sick of these chick stories: ‘so there I was, in the suck… And I’m a chick by the way… I paint my nails and watch lifetime just like any girl.. But here I am walking w the men.’

Yeah right. Are they humping the 240? Hell no.

Steven McGregor on February 3, 2013 at 2:25 PM

The problem I have with allowing women in the infantry is that it appears that we’re talking about making it an option – not making it a routine assignment. Will men get to opt out? If the physical requirements are left “as is” many women will not be able to qualify. If the service has to justify not lowering the requirements they will do what most institutions do – fold.
I would also hope that male service members accept that the females in their unit are expected to pull their load and warrant no extra protection.

katiejane on February 3, 2013 at 2:28 PM

if this woman is already seeing combat duty because she can do the job, then it sounds like things don’t need to change, yes?

the problem is allowing *all* women into combat roles. it sounds to me like this woman is the exception, not the rule.

and with all due respect, no i will not shut up about it because i didn’t serve “outside the wire”. our military isn’t a club where you get to decide how it runs. we’re all paying for it. if non-military leftists can demand that gays be allowed to serve, i can certainly demand that there not be a generic rule that allows all women into combat roles.

jetch on February 3, 2013 at 2:29 PM

There is a really important piece of this entire argument that is being completely overlooked, and that’s the fact that women may not be in the Infantry, but we are already serving in combat, and chances are that when all the exceptions have been filed, and everything is said and done, Secretary Panetta’s decision will be little more than a formal recognition of the present status quo.

Nicky Vail

.
I can’t accept the premise of your last line, Nicky.

But doesn’t mean I can’t say with sincerity; “God bless you for your service to our country, Ms Vail.”

listens2glenn on February 3, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Wonder if a female from Israel might give us her views how things are handled there? Any problems, etc. IIRC, all men and women must serve in their military? I have no idea if they are doing the same things the men are?
L

letget on February 3, 2013 at 2:34 PM

There are probably a lot of “combat” positions in the forces that don’t run afoul of the logistical, cohesiveness, and physical effectiveness issues present for women in infantry roles.

Count to 10 on February 3, 2013 at 2:34 PM

fabrexe on February 3, 2013 at 2:15 PM

You may get the chance to debate it and find out, given that the author now has a comment account here…

Jazz Shaw on February 3, 2013 at 2:37 PM

Start drafting women so they can have ” equality ”
in the ranks and all this nonsense will stop ….quickly .

Lucano on February 3, 2013 at 2:38 PM

I was a member of a four-man team that was sent out to support a patrol base. I was initially assigned to whatever patrol team happened to need an intel collector until the platoon leader of my patrol unit hand picked me to be on his team permanently.

So, is an intel collector an addition to a four-man team or makes it the fourth member. The way she writes, it sounds like she was a tag along to a four-man team, but was eventually chosen to be part of a four man team. As I understood it the squad is ten, a squad leader, a medic and two four-man fire teams. If she was a fifth wheel that is one thing since she would be functioning as the integrated four-man fire team; but aside from that was the squad then 11?

Which brings me to a second question. She writes as though a fire team would go on patrol. Is that true, were we operating such that four mean would go on patrol alone, or sometimes with an extra intel collector? That sounds hairy to me, sending a mere fire team out on patrol alone.

Dusty on February 3, 2013 at 2:40 PM

Jazz. You spelled her name ‘Vale’ at the top and ‘Vail’ at the bottom.

Otherwise, an interesting piece.

gh on February 3, 2013 at 2:41 PM

IdrilofGondolin on February 3, 2013 at 2:23 PM

search (yahoo): monty python youtube judea

Here it is

To make a link, copy the URL *before* clicking the link box. Backspace over the useless “http://” (hightlit so one backspace will do) and paste. Type your
text and click the link box (now marked /link) again.

This also came up:

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Life_of_Brian

(notice that links work even if you just paste them).

gh on February 3, 2013 at 2:47 PM

In other words, I don’t have an argument, so I’ll call her a FOBBIT.

Dunedainn on February 3, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Next thing you know, there’ll be gay boy scouts.

trigon on February 3, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Hey it’s done – discussion is over – women in combat. This means that women are equal to men in all respects when it comes to the military.

Which means … when does my daughter have to sign up for selective service? Sorry ladies, you bought it – you got it. Next time there’s a draft … YOU’RE IN BABY!

Men are complete idiots – but women are idiots in their own right. They fight for “equality” without really realizing that when you GAIN equality – you then are forced into certain responsibilities. It’s the word “forced” that women don’t like – because in the universe of women, they want CHOICE in all matters. FORCE just does not work for them. They don’t like it.

Make no mistake, this WILL result in women being FORCED into combat. In five years, when the congress looks at the numbers of women in combat roles they’ll find the women are woefully under represented. That’s not going to be something they’ll be willing to live with – they’ll turn to the services and say … “Hey where’s all the women?” and the services will start involuntarily slamming women into combat units.

I really don’t care – I served 24 years in the Navy and did combat in Afghanistan and Iraq – but I don’t really feel a connection to the military anymore. I view it as the “Arm of the Regime” … specifically the Socialist regime that has has supplanted our former great Republic.

As far as I’m concerned – this regime is only a breath away from having those troops fire on American citizens – so I think it’s in my best interests to cheer on the efforts to gut it – like this effort to get women into combat.

HondaV65 on February 3, 2013 at 2:52 PM

Jazz. You spelled her name ‘Vale’ at the top and ‘Vail’ at the bottom.

Otherwise, an interesting piece.

gh on February 3, 2013 at 2:41 PM

My apologies to both the author and the readers. The correct spelling is “Vale.” I have made a correction and notation.

Jazz Shaw on February 3, 2013 at 2:53 PM

Thanks gh. You’re the tops.

IdrilofGondolin on February 3, 2013 at 3:02 PM

You may get the chance to debate it and find out, given that the author now has a comment account here…

Jazz Shaw on February 3, 2013 at 2:37 PM

Open Registration?

Or, did the powers that be, make a “Special Exemption” to the normal rules? Sorta like SecDef Panetta and a certain subject that I can’t quite remember right now.

D-fusit on February 3, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Typical Post-modernist rant from someone who’s seen too many women action heroes in the movies and thinks she’s a man.

Keep blurring the line, baby. Mess young girls up even further than they already are. Brave new world.

Cleombrotus on February 3, 2013 at 3:05 PM

I’m one of the dinosaurs and served in the army 30+ years ago as a photographer.

I have no argument with the individuals merits of sending women into combat. As individuals, they can do the job or enough of the job to make them assets in combat. Certainly, if my unit had to take out an intel specialist and a woman was the best man for the job, I would have requested her, too.

But if engaged and my maneuver element contained a woman 11B, I might hesitate momentarily before ordering that element to go outflank the enemy.

…or, I might issue the order instantly and just let the guys in the maneuver element worry about this for themselves.

It’s not just about whether the women can do the job – we are going to go thru a period where combat MOS men will have to learn to trust their new distaff teammates.

Most conversations about this seem to overlook the fact that these women will be required to operate as part of a team, and right or wrong, the team does get a ‘vote’.

ElRonaldo on February 3, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Honda I can’t stand all the martyrdom and voting for Obama but I think you’re a freaking wise man regardless. Salt of the earth.

Steven McGregor on February 3, 2013 at 3:15 PM

Well, Ms. Vale needs to shut the hell up. Let her run her mouth about her experience with her Army Units all she wants but until she’s able to handle patrols with the Marines (and there is a difference)she needs to shut her pie hole. Intel Collector…really?

the Coondawg on February 3, 2013 at 3:16 PM

A few points, observations, etc…

1. Apparently she was not trained for combat as a male combat volunteer is. Nor was she required to pass the physical tests. Combat was not her job and she was not expected to perform any and all tasks a combat infantryman would be.

2. Apparently she was an intelligence expert whose job was to gather and evaluate intelligence. Again, combat was not her job, though she served with a combat team.

3. Patrolling an urban area is only one of many, many tasks that can be assigned to combat units. There are others that are much, much more demanding physically demanding.

4. While some women may be able to perform some tasks assigned to combat teams sometimes, working around all of these “some” and “sometimes” scenarios is no way to effectively and efficiently plan, train, and prepare an army or a Marine combat unit. Either she must be able to do everything expected of everyone else all of the time in all possible situations or she should not be a full time member of a “combat” unit.

5. Whenever physical limits and capability requirements are set there will always be exceptions where people who do not meet the physical limits and requirements could perform most of the tasks most of the time. Some five foot tall men can do most of what men who barely meet the height requirement can do sometimes, maybe most of the time. But a line must be drawn somewhere in the best interest of the combat unit, including their collective and individual safety, and the defense of the nation. This is not an equal rights issue. It is about providing the best possible defense for the nation and maximally efficient and effective combat units.

farsighted on February 3, 2013 at 3:17 PM

gh on February 3, 2013 at 2:47 PM

Hilarious!

Steven McGregor on February 3, 2013 at 3:21 PM

Jazz Shaw on February 3, 2013 at 2:37 PM

You are right Jazz, it should prove interesting. I look forward to her replies to all of this, and while I have reservations on the way this is being implemented I am far from her enemy, however HondaV65 while making a great stand alone point, actually highlights the entire problem with how they are going about this.

MarshFox on February 3, 2013 at 3:23 PM

[D-fusit on February 3, 2013 at 3:04 PM]

The rules are for the peasants.

Dusty on February 3, 2013 at 3:23 PM

You may get the chance to debate it and find out, given that the author now has a comment account here…

Jazz Shaw on February 3, 2013 at 2:37 PM

…I think I’m going to like her!

KOOLAID2 on February 3, 2013 at 3:24 PM

Good point Farsighted – it may not be conveyed in infantry training, but any combat unit with a lick of sense is going to keep the intel assets as far to the rear as possible (even on the ‘front line’) and only allow the intel weenies forward when they think it’s safe – or let the 11Bs go thru pockets and drawers and file cabinets etc and bring the susected intel to the rear.

ElRonaldo on February 3, 2013 at 3:24 PM

Is Nicky Vale any relation to Vicky Vale?

Next thing you know, there’ll be gay boy scouts.

trigon

And gay guard dogs.

xblade on February 3, 2013 at 3:41 PM

There are no women on NFL football teams. Why is that?

With virtually no exceptions — actually none that I can think of — women cannot compete with men at the professional level in team or in individual sports, where the free market of merit and ability rules.

Yet the US will now place women on combat teams as equals to men.

It may even soon place them on combat teams and expect less of them than it does the men.

This is not rational. And it reveals that the US is no longer as serious about facing reality and its defense and security as it is about enforcing political correctness and trying to socially engineer utopian fantasies.

Our enemies approve.

farsighted on February 3, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Why can’t men give birth? I think it’s time we ended our societal prejudice and allowed men to do this. They are clearly tough enough.

Steven McGregor on February 3, 2013 at 2:14 PM

…I can’t spell or find my udderis!

KOOLAID2 on February 3, 2013 at 2:19 PM

Actually, a man can carry a baby without a uterus. The zygote can attached to a vascualr area of the outside of the intestine or the omentum, and be carried fairly normally inside the abdominal wall. And delivered by caesarian.

I don’t even want to think about it. Or hear the first truck driver whose pot belly is really a pregnancy say, “You’re not really a man until you’ve had a baby.”

flicker on February 3, 2013 at 4:33 PM

Since it is obvious I have not made my position entirely clear, I will try to reword this so there is no confusion:

1. I do not think women should serve in the Infantry.
2. I do not think I am tough. I just happened to have lived through some of the ridiculous “hypothetical” scenarios that people are getting hysterical about and can’t imagine women going through.
3. There are hundreds of women a hundred times tougher than me who went through a lot more than I did. I would like to hear a lot more from them AND THE MEN WHO SERVED ALONGSIDE THEM and a lot less from those who have never been put in those situations.
4. I have no problem with anyone who thinks women shouldn’t be in combat. I have a problem with people acting like we aren’t already there.
5. I know all you 11 Bravos out there think you are the only ones who have served in combat, but lifting the ban on women serving in combat is about a much broader definition of combat than just being in the infantry. I make this point more clearly here: http://onlyspartanwomen.com/2013/01/26/women-in-combat-part-i/. (Oh—and for all of you questioning the veracity of my service—I’m the one in the pic front and center wearing the 3rd ID patch).
6. The different branches of service are being allowed to file for exceptions to all allowing women to serve in certain MOS’s that they feel should remain exclusively male. I think we can all agree that if an exception is going to be filed for any MOS, it will most certainly be for 11B, which speaks to my point that this is about a far broader definition of combat than just the 11B MOS.
7. The ban that has been in place since 1994 prohibited women from being assigned to units smaller than a brigade, leaving the general population with the impression that women have not been operating outside the wire in small combat units in ANY capacity, which is just false. The reality is women have been attached to much smaller units and have been put directly in the line of fire repeatedly and frequently over the last 10 years. Furthermore, because we have been “officially” banned from serving in combat, those who have served haven’t been recognized for it. One very real consequence of this misconception is that women who have been shot at, blown up, and watched people die were denied PTSD ratings for years by the VA because they were told they were never there (and no, I am not referring to myself).
8. I think it’s kind of funny that while half of you are bashing me for not really being a member of a combat unit, the other half think that what I have described is literally unbelievable.

Jazz has pointed out to me that I have not acknowledged any of the arguments on the other side. That is because I am not making an argument here for either side. I am just pointing out that enough soldiers have already been put in these situations that we should be allowing them to speak for themselves without giving a soap box to every person in uniform who can’t imagine what the unit would do if a woman on the team had to take a potty break.

In the upcoming Patheos piece, I fully acknowledge the problems with allowing women to serve in the infantry, and I even cite the argument put forward by marine Captain Petronio—one of the veterans I’m referring to who has actually lived through the experiences she is commenting on and has earned the right to speak for herself. You may all be surprised to hear that I agree with her wholeheartedly.

My point is not that I’m so tough and women should be allowed to serve in combat. My point is that if you have questions about how a woman could possibly pee in the back of a HMMWV, then ask one who’s done it. Gator, I know exactly what “locating, closing with, and destroying the enemy by fire and maneuver” means, and so does the female MP my husband, the combat medic, lost. She was shot and killed clearing houses, kicking down doors, doing just that.

My point is that we’re already there, and when women in uniform write commentaries that reinforce the misconception that we’re not, it dishonors the service of the women who have given their lives being there. And they didn’t lay down their lives to be politically correct. The fact that all of you here don’t seem to realize this has been the reality of the last 10 years proves my point. There are women who have gone so far above and beyond what I ever did, they deserve to be heard without having to compete with the voices of those who apparently don’t realize what they’ve gone through. And when I read a commentary that begins with the sentence, “I saw the male combat units when I was in Iraq,” I probably care what that marine has to say about as much as you 11 Bravos care about what a woman who refers to herself as a combat veteran has to say.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 3, 2013 at 4:37 PM

That whole post rings false. I’m betting that you have been hoodwinked, Jazz. Waiting to see what comes out downstream on this one.
fabrexe on February 3, 2013 at 2:15 PM

Yes, something rings hollow about this post. The writer never gives her own experiences the way other women in combat have and speaks in generalities.

It’s funny how this change was made by an out-going SecDef who won’t have to argue on its behalf; and the incoming SecDef will say it was set policy when he came it. Or rather, “I’m not here to run things, and I’m not expected to set policy, either. So there.”

flicker on February 3, 2013 at 4:41 PM

katiejane, in the Army, you choose your MOS (assuming you qualify), so yes, the men get to opt out of the Infantry. It remains to be seen if lifting the ban on women in combat will actually allow them to serve in the Infantry as the different branches of service are still allowed to file for exceptions for those roles they feel still need to remain exclusively male.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 3, 2013 at 4:44 PM

50 men and 50 women go against an enemy of 100 20 yra old trained males,and all the bullets run out we better have 50 pink body bags

rico101 on February 3, 2013 at 4:52 PM

If this post is legit than I thank her for her service, but respectfully disagree. We need women in the service and in most roles they are perfectly capable of doing the job just as well as men are. I’m not opposed to women serving in all combat roles as long as they meet the same standards the men do. Since I know this will never happen, or that those standards will be lowered for reasons of political correctness, I cannot support an action that places men and women in danger needlessly. And please, don’t insult my intelligence by lying and saying that the standards won’t be lowered or will supposedly be made the same when all evidence seen to date has been to the contrary. Prove me wrong. Raise the standards for women filling ALL roles in the services to be equal to the men and sign females up for the draft and then maybe I’ll believe your serious. Until then, forget it.

JohnAGJ on February 3, 2013 at 4:56 PM

One more thing: From what I’ve read, the legal reasons that women can’t be required to register with selective service is because they are not permitted in the infantry.

How will all those women out there who celebrate this as a victory for women’s rights, feel when they realize it removes their exemption from the draft.

flicker on February 3, 2013 at 4:56 PM

One more thing: From what I’ve read, the legal reasons that women can’t be required to register with selective service is because they are not permitted in the infantry.

flicker on February 3, 2013 at 4:56 PM

Which I’ve always though was a stupid argument. I forget the exact ratio but it takes something like 2/3′s of personnel to keep that 1/3 in combat. That’s everyone from admin to logistics to medical etc. There is no valid reason whatsoever for females to be exempt from the draft when the bulk of conscriptees would not even see combat but instead would be in support roles for those who would. You want to make this about “equal rights”? Ok. Sign up for the draft and meet the same standards as men, then I’ll be happy to listen to the argument.

JohnAGJ on February 3, 2013 at 5:00 PM

As far as I’m concerned – this regime is only a breath away from having those troops fire on American citizens – so I think it’s in my best interests to cheer on the efforts to gut it – like this effort to get women into combat.

HondaV65 on February 3, 2013 at 2:52 PM

I agree with you in general, Honda. But where are all those combat-experienced people going to go? Somebody has to fire all those 750,000,000 rounds of hollow-point at somebody.

flicker on February 3, 2013 at 5:12 PM

Just so you know, the author has responded here under the moniker OnlySpartanWomen

Jazz Shaw on February 3, 2013 at 5:12 PM

JohnAGJ on February 3, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Are you saying in respect to gender equality we should all pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty?

flicker on February 3, 2013 at 5:25 PM

Just so you know, the author has responded here under the moniker OnlySpartanWomen

Jazz Shaw on February 3, 2013 at 5:12 PM

Curiously ironic since, as another poster commented on a previous thread on this topic, that for 600 years, the Spartans boasted that their women never had to see the campfires of their enemies.

That’s the issue for me. We’re too busy blurring the distinctions between men and women in our society and this is just another manifestation of it.

Cleombrotus on February 3, 2013 at 5:31 PM

Dusty, the four-man team I was a member of (I am including myself as one of the four) was a Tactical HUMINT Team (THT). We were sent to Patrol Base Whiskey 1 in Khudamiyah, which is a village you’ve probably never heard of south of Baghdad (this place here: http://www.usmilitary.com/7040/patrol-base-whisky-assumed-by-isf-force/ ). We were there to support Bravo Battery, 1-9 Field Artillery, 2 BCT, 3rd ID. They were there to play Infantry. Their squads were not composed of nice, neat, pairs of firing teams with a squad leader and a medic. I was a member of Blue Team, which was more like a platoon, and because they were artillery, their leader was called a Chief (not to be confused with a Warrant). If you want a better picture, the Times did a story about our unit, which happened to be the surge, and our mission. You can find that story here (http://theoifdeployment.wordpress.com/category/whiskey-1/).

Hey Flicker—is this specific enough for you so far? Our mission was to go out on patrol, every day, and clear parts of the AO that we had not yet secured. I wasn’t there to hitch a ride to go talk to a source. I was there, walking in the footsteps of the guy in front of me through fields we hadn’t cleared yet and through villages we hadn’t secured yet, to try and convince people to tell us where the IEDs were buried so that the rest of the team didn’t get blown up “locating, closing with, and destroying the enemy by fire and maneuver .” Amazingly, the Iraqis kind of liked me, which is why they told me where stuff was, which helped keep the rest of my team safe, which is why Chief decided I was his permanent THT.

I’m not saying I saw so much action, or I was some kind of GI Jane. All I’m saying is if you want to know about women on the line and hygiene and how we could survive outside the wire for days on end and how would the guys handle a woman being out there with them, I can answer those questions. Our PB had no running water. I used a water bottle for hygiene and went on refit to the FOB the same time the rest of my team did. All I’m saying is my Chief accepted me enough that he had me TC his vehicle up route Tampa when he couldn’t go out with us, so don’t talk to me about unit cohesion if you’ve never lived with a combat unit. (Hey ElRanaldo, I’m assuming you know what a TC is and what Route Tampa was–is that forward enough for you?)

OnlySpartanWomen on February 3, 2013 at 5:58 PM

To everyone who has made a comment about the Selective Service or the draft, it might be interesting to note that when I enlisted, I was well aware that recruitment was at an all-time low (2005). I am a patriot to my core, but I have never believed in the draft. I also understand that the only way to avoid the draft is with enough volunteers. I enlisted in large part because I was putting my money where my mouth was.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 3, 2013 at 6:05 PM

This young lady makes some valid points, but they are completely overshadowed by her obvious inexperience outside the wire. Her statement is among some of the most damaging commentaries I have read on this subject in the past week because, like some of the other infuriating editorials I have read recently, she establishes herself as a subject matter expert to the civilian population and yet, any female in the Army reading her piece could tell by her second paragraph she is what we call in the military a FOBBIT–someone who has never left the comfort of the FOB.

“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….As a company grade 1302 combat engineer officer with 5 years of active service and two combat deployments, one to Iraq and the other to Afghanistan, I was able to participate in and lead numerous combat operations….For those who dictate policy, changing the current restrictions associated with women in the infantry may not seem significant to the way the Marine Corps operates. I vehemently disagree; 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.” – Capt. Katie Petronio USMC

Is Capt. Petronio qualified enough to have a valid opinion?

Django on February 3, 2013 at 6:06 PM

Cleombrotus I am well aware that the Spartans were not the model for feminism, nor were their women warriors in battle. The moniker is the title of a blog I started when I came home from Iraq, the theme of which is often cognitive dissonance. (and I should probably also note that I am not a liberal or a “feminist” per se.)

OnlySpartanWomen on February 3, 2013 at 6:10 PM

Is Capt. Petronio qualified enough to have a valid opinion?

Django, I have already answered this question in the comments section. Please see above, where you will find the following statement:

“In the upcoming Patheos piece, I fully acknowledge the problems with allowing women to serve in the infantry, and I even cite the argument put forward by marine Captain Petronio—one of the veterans I’m referring to who has actually lived through the experiences she is commenting on and has earned the right to speak for herself. You may all be surprised to hear that I agree with her wholeheartedly.”

OnlySpartanWomen on February 3, 2013 at 6:13 PM

Is Capt. Petronio qualified enough to have a valid opinion?

Django, I have already answered this question in the comments section. Please see above, where you will find the following statement:

In the upcoming Patheos piece, I fully acknowledge the problems with allowing women to serve in the infantry, and I even cite the argument put forward by marine Captain Petronio—one of the veterans I’m referring to who has actually lived through the experiences she is commenting on and has earned the right to speak for herself. You may all be surprised to hear that I agree with her wholeheartedly.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 3, 2013 at 6:13 PM

Sorry, OnlySpartanWomen, I thought you were presenting the other side of the discussion when Jazz wrote “we want to get all sides of the discussion out there”.

Yes, we know that women have been dying in combat and from enemy fire for several decades. And yes, many women won’t have a problem with hygeine issues in the back of a HMV.

And while I think that personal modesty is an issue, it is a irrelevant in combat. But do we really want to obliterate the social distinctions between men and women?

Do we really want to send women into harm’s way?

Will our military and our nation be better served by women in combat squads?

Will we be forced to weaken down physical requirements to keep a proper percentage of women in combat roles?

The headlines have been phased as “women are now allowed to serve in combat”. This is a broad phrasing of a social and political victory for gender equality. But just as broadly speaking, are men and women really equal in combat?

And if there is no longer any philosophical or adjudicated basis for an exemption to women registering for Selective Service, must we now insist that women be just as eligable for the draft as our young men are?

What’s your point? For us to acknowledge that women are endangered in non-combat MOSs and should be respected for their hardships and sacrifices? That’s true.

flicker on February 3, 2013 at 6:15 PM

Another legitimate argument is the hygiene argument, but I’m getting really sick of reading stories about marines defecating in plastic bags next to each other (she is not the first one). I have to tell you, I’ve taken care of far worse hygiene issues than peeing in a bottle in the back of a HMMWV while out on mission wearing full battle rattle, so everybody who’s freaking out over where the ladies are going to pee or how they’re going to tend to their cycles need to get over it. Of all the arguments against putting women in combat, this one’s pretty low on the list. Again, I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk about hygiene. I just wish service members who never served with women outside the wire, or service women who have never been outside the wire, would stop talking about it in the hypothetical and allow those of us who have actually been in that situation talk about whether or not these things were detrimental to the mission.

So in other words… only she is qualified to argue about this position.

By this same logic.. only people who have been in the military are allowed to argue about how we use the military. “If you haven’t been there.. then shut up.”

You know who says this? Libs. Unless it’s about them and what they do, of course.

Was bill Clinton in the military? Was Obama? then why are they making decisions that change the core of the military? They’ve never served? But if you’re against their decisions.. then you need to shut up unless you’ve served to the same extent she has cuz your just a FOBBIT.

The physical strength argument is valid, although not for the reasons cited here.

But you never cited the reasons, did you?

Women sustain stress injury at a substantially higher rate than their male counterparts, that is a fact. It is a legitimate concern in this debate, but it hasn’t stopped countless women from serving admirably and putting their own lives on the line for our country which apparently doesn’t even realize that’s what they’ve been doing.

Yeah.. it’s a legitimate concern but if you talk about it your just a FOBBIT. So shut up. Besides.. guys are not all that tough either. They can’t scale 10 ft. high walls with full pack under heavy fire in the desert so don’t try to say women should!

JellyToast on February 3, 2013 at 6:23 PM

The only way to accurately assess the effectiveness of females in combat is to have all-female combat units. Otherwise, there is no way to know what adjustments men are making.

DrMagnolias on February 3, 2013 at 6:38 PM

This young lady…

I enjoyed that description of the previous female soldier, writing against the issue. I’m highly skeptical of this article for several reasons, some are: the extreme lack of details regarding the author’s self; for the dismissive nature of another’s argument; buzz words and phrases.

I do not believe this is a successful refutation, veracity notwithstanding.

seriously, who uses the technical abbreviation of “humvee” when speaking of one generally.

John Kettlewell on February 3, 2013 at 6:49 PM

JellyToast on February 3, 2013 at 6:23 PM

Yeah, I don’t quite get her point. And I still don’t quite get what she is upset about.

Hey Flicker—is this specific enough for you so far?
OnlySpartanWomen on February 3, 2013 at 4:37 PM

With all respect for you and your service, no, it really isn’t. If you have personal experience with the integration of women in combat, tell us what they are. I, for one, am interested.

I don’t think the question is where you were on a map but rather your personal perspective as a woman on women in combat, and other direct experiences you have had with other women in combat; what you did, how you reacted and adapted to it and to what degree you were successful, and what you perceived to be the specific challenges for you as a woman in combat, and for the men who served with you.

That would add to the discussion. As it is, it sounds like you’re saying that there were no functional or psychological differences at all. Weren’t there any?

If there were, why don’t you think women should serve in the infantry?

And while you’re at it, why don’t you tell us what you really think about the infanry?

flicker on February 3, 2013 at 6:56 PM

(and I should probably also note that I am not a liberal or a “feminist” per se.)

OnlySpartanWomen on February 3, 2013 at 6:10 PM

No, I didn’t suspect you were. And I admire your reasons for enlisting. They were the same as mine when I enlisted in the Marines in ’69. (No, I was neither in a combat specialty nor did I go to RVN)

However, I’m looking at this issue from a much broader perspective – a philosophical one, if you will. I think, as I’ve already stated, that the issue is one of maintaining the distinction between men and women in our society – and for very good reasons – NOT whether women can carry the weight of gear, etc. all good reasons enough to retain the restrictions. I would argue on their basis alone except for the fact that I think it obscures a larger and more important point.

I don’t think it can be argued effectively that our forebears developed the practice simply because of hygiene or utility, but for deeper and more profound reasons that I believe our society is losing its understanding of to its detriment. This issue, like so many others that a few short decades ago wouldn’t have been considered, is simply a continuation of the confusion arising from a misplaced emphasis and a misplaced priority on what are called “rights” these days, but are merely political preferences and serve no useful societal purpose beyond advancing one or more special interest groups’ advantages.

In this case, it IS the feminists’, or at least the perspective that the feminists have been successful in advancing in our society, that women are the equivalent of men. Or at least should be considered so.

I disagree. And I think the net effect on our young women has been detrimental. While you may see the issue in terms of the advancement of our society or societal progress because that is how it is now defined and you have grown accustomed to that view, I view it as mistaken and an indication in itself of the confusion arising in our society as a result of discarding, what may be called, traditional views of the mutually supportive roles of men and women.

I DON’T think those views are outdated or regressive, as modern feminists argue, but are crucial in maintaining and sustaining a stable and fruitful society. And I also think that the average person, unless conditioned otherwise or suffering from psychological dysfunction, has a visceral reaction to seeing women in armed gear patrolling in combat zones.

They may not be able to identify just what it is that repels them but they suspect that something has gone awry.

Cleombrotus on February 3, 2013 at 7:11 PM

Hmm…..sorry. I’m a dinosaur like Jazz. Right now, we’re fighting muzzies. I was born and raised among the fanatical breed of muzzies. No siree, no way our women gets captured by them. I know exactly what would happen. Once its filmed and publicised, America would withdraw unilaterally. Sorry, I’ve been rambling. :-)

tommy71 on February 3, 2013 at 2:24 PM

Which, is what I’m starting to wonder is the whole point of this exercise.

Either that or just another panderfest.

kim roy on February 3, 2013 at 7:14 PM

As far as I’m concerned – this regime is only a breath away from having those troops fire on American citizens – so I think it’s in my best interests to cheer on the efforts to gut it – like this effort to get women into combat.

HondaV65 on February 3, 2013 at 2:52 PM

Hey Obama voter – having fun yet?

Hope so. You voted for it. Have any women in your family you’d like to see getting captured by the enemy?

It’s okay. You chose it.

kim roy on February 3, 2013 at 7:16 PM

1. I do not think women should serve in the Infantry.

Enough said. Still not one good reason to take this decision.

Bmore on February 3, 2013 at 7:23 PM

OnlySpartanWomen on February 3, 2013 at 6:10 PM

Additionally, let me address another very significant issue in this debate and that is the issue of keeping the definition of “combat” as the systematic hunting down and killing of other human beings.

Do you really think that’s a role that women should aspire to?

Cleombrotus on February 3, 2013 at 7:23 PM

…this lady started most paragraphs with… THE OTHER PERSON HAS VALID POINTS.

Well, of course, because the previous story was valid. She seems to simply not agree with it. It does not however, make it invalid.

TX-96 on February 3, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Cleombrotus on February 3, 2013 at 7:11 PM

I don’t know when you started commenting on HA, but let me say that you are excellent.

DrMagnolias on February 3, 2013 at 7:35 PM

DrMagnolias on February 3, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Thank you for that, Dr. I have my days, I guess. And my issues. This one is important to me. Very important.

Cleombrotus on February 3, 2013 at 7:43 PM

Thanks for posting both sides of this argument Jazz.

woodNfish on February 3, 2013 at 8:13 PM

There wasn’t a single decision he ever made to be politically correct

COIN itself in Afcrapistan is the epitome of political correctness.

VorDaj on February 3, 2013 at 8:34 PM

Are you saying in respect to gender equality we should all pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty?

flicker on February 3, 2013 at 5:25 PM

Sure… as long as one of those burdens is REAL equality with women meeting the exact same standards expected of men.

JohnAGJ on February 3, 2013 at 8:45 PM

My military connection and thoughts:

My late Father was 19 years old when he landed on Omaha beach on June 6, 1944. He fought his way across France, hedgerow by hedgerow, until a German artillery shell peppered his body with shrapnel, earning him a purple heart and a ticket home. His four brothers also served in the European theater. My Mother’s Father was a Naval Officer.

When i was just a kid, my parents used to go to Travis Air Force base on the weekends to help welcome home returning Vietnam Veterans.

For myself, I am a former peacetime Marine Corps infantry squad leader (Sgt), honorably discharged.

I have been nothing but proud of the way our American troops have handled themselves during the Iraq/Afghan wars. They far exceeded my expectations. I have no doubt however, that this PC crap will utterly destroy our fighting capability. It may not be such a big deal now that we are winding down in Afghanistan, but it sure will be if our military is ever called on again to fight a major land war with the likes of N. Korea, China or Russia.

If this is what our Government orders, with the blessing of the American people to boot, there is nothing I can do about it, and I will no longer waste my time arguing against it. But I think it is a big mistake and it will be hard to continue to respect our military if they end up kowtowing to this “politically correct” lunacy.

weathermen on February 3, 2013 at 8:47 PM

Holy cow people! It’s not that complicated! My point is that WE ARE ALREADY THERE! WE ARE ALREADY THERE! WE ARE ALREADY THERE!

MAYBE WE SHOULDN’T BE—BUT WE ARE!

Have the discussion—by all means have the discussion—just don’t have it like it’s not already happening! JellyToast—you failed to highlight in bold the most important phrase in that entire quote—the one that sums up exactly what I’m “so upset about.”

in the hypothetical

If this marine had said, for example, “I know women who have had to take care of their personal hygiene in the back of the HMMWV, and I they told me it was a problem,” that would still be hearsay, but it would at least be hearsay that acknowledges the reality of what’s been happening. Instead, the whole gist is “I’ve talked to the guys who were out there, and they said they do gross stuff in front of each other that women wouldn’t be able to deal with out there.”

I will say it again—everybody is arguing over whether or not women should be allowed in the infantry when chances are, lifting the ban won’t even change that. Everybody is missing the point! According to the ban that was in place, I and hundreds of other women were never attached to the units we were attached to, never served in the capacity we served in, never peed in HMMWV’s, never slept in the same quarters as men , etc., etc., etc., But in fact, WE DID. Like it or not, WE DID. And the fact that half of you have accused me of lying about it proves my point. LIFTING THE BAN IS LARGELY A FORMALITY THAT ACKNOWLEDGES WHAT HAS ALREADY BEEN TAKING PLACE!

Argue over whether it’s good or bad, I don’t care. Have long, lengthy discussions about the philosophical ramifications and what it will do to the foundation of our society. By all means. Just don’t talk about it like it hasn’t already happened! And please, if you are someone who has worn a uniform and served in OIF or OEF, don’t write commentaries that perpetuate the myth that women have been sheltered from these situations. Maybe you were, but lots of other women weren’t.

TX-96:

She seems to simply not agree with it. It does not however, make it invalid.

Wrong. Citing a ridiculous example like scaling a 10-foot wall in full battle rattle is not a valid argument. A valid argument is Captain Petronio’s: while women may meet the standard for a time, biology will prevent them from being able to sustain the pace without severe physical consequence to their bodies and detriment to the mission. One person here is talking about her personal experience, while the other is repeating hyperbole and hearsay. One is acknowledging the reality of what has already taken place while the other is perpetuating the myth that it never happened at all.

flicker:

With all respect for you and your service, no, it really isn’t. If you have personal experience with the integration of women in combat, tell us what they are. I, for one, am interested.

This was a letter to the editor addressing a very specific commentary after a very long week of commentaries that have made it painfully clear that the American public has no idea what women have been doing in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last 10 years. It is not my life story. If you are sincerely interested in my position, read the Patheos article when it is published this week. If you are really interested about my own personal experiences in Iraq, go to http://www.onlyspartanwomen.com . But stop accusing me of LYING about my service because I haven’t divulged enough personal information for your satisfaction. Beyond the point that I have, in fact, gone through some of the experiences that the author of the commentary seems to think women just couldn’t endure, THIS ISN’T ABOUT ME! This is about the countless women who have already gone through all these ridiculous scenarios that people keep talking about like they’ve never happened.

Kettlewell:

I’m highly skeptical of this article for several reasons, some are: the extreme lack of details regarding the author’s self; for the dismissive nature of another’s argument; buzz words and phrases.

Yes, you caught me. I spent six years writing two blogs about my experiences in Iraq and life after, all because I knew this day would come and I would be able to someday pretend to be a woman who lived on a PB under conditions many men who served in Iraq never had to put up with all so that I could convince a bunch of bloggers that women belong in the infantry even though I don’t think women should serve in the infantry! It’s absolutely diabolical! A conspiracy only the Illuminati could come up with!

Give me a break.

I don’t care what your feelings are about women in combat. Just stop talking about it like we were never there. And please, stop giving liberals credit for the circumstances that have pushed us closer and closer to the line. Here’s the real effing irony:

The liberal media is hailing lifting the ban like it’s some kind of revolutionary step in history, giving progressives full credit for something that has evolved as a natural consequence of fighting two wars with an all volunteer Army for the last 10 years. The reality is that if anyone is responsible for allowing women to serve in combat, it is the conservative and patriotic commanders who were truly gender blind, who made their decisions based on tactical necessity, but that’s okay. Let the liberals tell the world that it was a bureaucratic policy change that allowed women to serve their country in a capacity and to an extent that is completely unprecedented in history.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 3, 2013 at 10:27 PM

I can’t accept the premise of your last line, Nicky.

But doesn’t mean I can’t say with sincerity; “God bless you for your service to our country, Ms Vail.”

Thank you, listens2glenn

OnlySpartanWomen on February 3, 2013 at 10:43 PM

Holy cow people! It’s not that complicated! My point is that WE ARE ALREADY THERE! WE ARE ALREADY THERE! WE ARE ALREADY THERE!

MAYBE WE SHOULDN’T BE—BUT WE ARE!

Have the discussion—by all means have the discussion—just don’t have it like it’s not already happening!

OnlySpartanWomen on February 3, 2013 at 10:27 PM

I think it may be a difference in definitions. Combat involves more than just being there. Women have been around military operations for thousands of years. Counter-insurgency operations are low-intensity operations and are only part of the reason the military exists. Full scale war with another nation state is what they were created for, and that is what most people think about when they hear combat, which is why they ask the obvious question about firefights.

http://onlyspartanwomen.com/2012/05/27/have-you-ever-been-in-a-firefight-part-i/

I may have never been in a firefight, but I lived on the most underserved patrol base in our area of operations, I went out on foot patrol daily, I spoke to more Iraqis than Americans while over there, and I drove up and down one of the deadliest highways in Iraq on a regular basis for months. Don’t get me wrong—my exposure to “combat” was extremely limited, but that had a lot more to do with luck and timing than it did my proximity to the line.

Private Jessica Lynch HAS been in a firefight, but that doesn’t translate to her being suitable for the combat arms. She also drove down some very dangerous roads as evidenced by what happened to her. It doesn’t mean what you seem to be suggesting.

sharrukin on February 3, 2013 at 10:54 PM

The opinions of the readers here mean absolutely nothing, as we all should know. But I appreciate your taking the time to share your perspective, Ms. Vale.

VerbumSap on February 3, 2013 at 11:08 PM

I think it may be a difference in definitions. Combat involves more than just being there. Women have been around military operations for thousands of years. Counter-insurgency operations are low-intensity operations and are only part of the reason the military exists. Full scale war with another nation state is what they were created for, and that is what most people think about when they hear combat, which is why they ask the obvious question about firefights.

Sharrunkin, I happen to agree with you, but that is the point I have been making. The ban addresses the official definition of combat, not the commonly accepted one, and there is a very broad range of situations that constitute being on the ground in a combat unit less than the size of a brigade. Yes, I understand that the Infantry is what most people think of when they think of combat, but as I have said repeatedly, lifting the ban may not even change whether or not women will serve in the Infantry, and that is because the ban doesn’t just apply to the Infantry–it applies to all of these other scenarios that women have already been serving in as well.

Furthermore, as I have also stated, this isn’t about how effing hooah I was. I lived with female MP’s who went out on mission, kicked down doors, and got into plenty of firefights. My husband, who was a combat medic, lost a female MP who was shot and killed during his first tour. My point is not that you should ask me about every scenario that we can imagine under lifting the ban on combat. My point is that for every scenario you can think of, there’s probably at least a handful of women, and men who have served alongside them, that have already been through it. Ask them.

My big thing has been the hygiene argument because it has been repeated ad nauseum, and my point is there are women who have survived worse hygiene conditions than most men who have deployed. Stop speaking in the hypothetical and start talking to them (or in this case I will say us).

I have not made one reference here to firefights or the other argument I have heard a hundred times: how will a woman pull a 200lb man to safety? I haven’t commented on that because I can’t speak to that experience. But what I would say is why don’t you ask SSG Pearsall (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/25/us/from-front-lines-women-offer-evidence-on-ability-in-combat.html?_r=1&) or CPT Curtis (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/08/jennifer-curtis-afghanistan-courage_n_1866123.html). Or even find a guy who served with a woman who couldn’t pull someone to safety because I’ll bet money that has happened a time or two as well. Ask them. Ask the men. Ask the women. Because all of these hypotheticals people are talking about have happened. And just like CPT Petronio, who I happen to agree with, the people who were in those situations may say it was bad and things need to change so that it stops happening. But ask them. And stop talking like it hasn’t already happened.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 3, 2013 at 11:28 PM

The opinions of the readers here mean absolutely nothing, as we all should know. But I appreciate your taking the time to share your perspective, Ms. Vale.

Thank you VerbumSap

OnlySpartanWomen on February 3, 2013 at 11:32 PM

MAYBE WE SHOULDN’T BE—BUT WE ARE!

Have the discussion—by all means have the discussion—just don’t have it like it’s not already happening!

OnlySpartanWomen on February 3, 2013 at 10:27 PM

That’s hardly the issue. As far as this thread is concerned it’s about making it OFFICIAL POLICY, OSW.

And, for what it’s worth: No, you are right – you shouldn’t be.

So why are you arguing FOR it?

Cleombrotus on February 3, 2013 at 11:42 PM

OK, so if Panetta was only recognizing what we’ve been doing for 10 years, then he’s not saying anything, is he? It’s like he’s naming a US post office, then.

If “combat” is to include the usual ancilliary roles already assumed by women, then this debate is pointless. People took it to mean equal access to front-line roles, which many people think is a poor idea if it means by policy placing physically weak individuals in key positions that require abilities that most of them will never attain.

We can all find inspiring anecdotes to back up our positions, but Panetta is talking about a general military policy, one that will probably lead to unnecessary casualties.

Or do I have this completely wrong? Combat assignments are all about personal career advancement and gender fairness issues?

virgo on February 3, 2013 at 11:53 PM

And Sharrunkin, the luck and timing I was referring to in that piece was, for example, the time my HMMWV got totaled by a Katyusha rocket and me and my team happened to be on the other side of a T-wall when it got hit. If you are going to quote from a piece that I wrote and use my words against me in a forum of individuals who have already thoroughly discounted my service, at least have the decency to put it in context, because I’m pretty sure I talk about both the attacks where I was saved by either luck or the grace of God, whichever you prefer. Ironically, that entire piece is about how FOBITS are combat vets too, how if we are in a pissing contest over who gets to call themselves a combat vet and who doesn’t, I’m pretty sure our entire generation looses when you reflect back on past wars, and how the lines of combat are a little harder to define in asymmetric warfare. If you followed the link to the Times piece about where I was stationed, and you took the time to read it, you might notice one of the Infantrymen talking about how he felt about the lack of firefights.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 3, 2013 at 11:57 PM

If “combat” is to include the usual ancilliary roles already assumed by women, then this debate is pointless. People took it to mean equal access to front-line roles, which many people think is a poor idea if it means by policy placing physically weak individuals in key positions that require abilities that most of them will never attain.

Exactly. What people are taking it to mean is not necessarily what it does mean. We will not know if women will be allowed to serve in the Infantry until all the exceptions have been filed, reviewed, and either approved or denied. If this was strictly about putting women in the Infantry, there would be exceptions to file.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 3, 2013 at 11:59 PM

Or even find a guy who served with a woman who couldn’t pull someone to safety because I’ll bet money that has happened a time or two as well. Ask them. Ask the men. Ask the women. Because all of these hypotheticals people are talking about have happened.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 3, 2013 at 11:28 PM

Arguing about exceptional individuals and situations doesn’t invalidate what people are saying. Twelve year olds exist that can do some of these things as well, but that isn’t an argument that they are suitable for combat. The large majority of women are not capable of performing the tasks that are routinely asked of men and many of us fail to see any valid reason to go to the expense and cost of accommodating those exceptions.

The non-deployability of women due to pregnancy is around 18% in garrison and can rise to over 30% when combat is expected.

Women are injured at a much greater rate than men and that too effects their readiness status.

Women are never required to meet the same standards as men in the same job and when they have been tested to the same standard they fail badly. The standards are always lowered to accommodate them and that sometimes means that lower quality male recruits are allowed in.

Then you have the quotas and the politically correct attitudes that come with these changes. The Marines for example are downsizing by 20,000 and they have around 13,500 women. They aren’t going to do the logical thing and get rid of mostly women because the men are generally more capable, and can be placed where most women cannot if needed. They will get rid of mostly men and keep most of the women.

The juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

sharrukin on February 4, 2013 at 12:03 AM

That’s hardly the issue. As far as this thread is concerned it’s about making it OFFICIAL POLICY, OSW.

And, for what it’s worth: No, you are right – you shouldn’t be.

So why are you arguing FOR it?

That’s exactly the issue Cleombrotus! First of all, show me one place where I argue FOR OR AGAINST the policy. My point is that the policy reflects a reality everyone is in complete denial of. Period. How I feel about it isn’t really relevant to this discussion. Whether or not I think it’s a good idea or bad idea is not my point at all.

My point is that the entire debate that has ensued dishonors the service of the hundreds of women who have been injured and wounded serving in situations that apparently no one realizes they’ve already been put in, and commentaries like the one written by the female marine reinforce the myth that women haven’t been out there doing it. That is all. Don’t read into it anymore than that.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 12:06 AM

Arguing about exceptional individuals and situations doesn’t invalidate what people are saying. Twelve year olds exist that can do some of these things as well, but that isn’t an argument that they are suitable for combat. The large majority of women are not capable of performing the tasks that are routinely asked of men and many of us fail to see any valid reason to go to the expense and cost of accommodating those exceptions.

I’m not arguing about exceptional individuals or situations. What I’m saying is that women have been pushed out to the line in much larger numbers than anyone wants to talk about. I will repeat for the gazillionth time, I don’t think women should serve in the infantry. I’m not here to make a case for or against women serving in combat. All I am saying is that enough of them–not just a couple–but a large enough number of them have already served in these scenarios everybody keeps throwing around that the question should be “how did this effect the mission” not “how will it affect the mission?”

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 12:11 AM

And Sharrunkin, the luck and timing I was referring to in that piece was, for example, the time my HMMWV got totaled by a Katyusha rocket and me and my team happened to be on the other side of a T-wall when it got hit.

And Jessica Lynch has more bragging rights than you do.

It still doesn’t amount to a coherent argument.

If you are going to quote from a piece that I wrote and use my words against me in a forum of individuals who have already thoroughly discounted my service, at least have the decency to put it in context

OnlySpartanWomen on February 3, 2013 at 11:57 PM

I am not discounting your service, I am saying that it isn’t the same thing as being in a combat arm. Jessica Lynch also saw combat and has the scars to prove it, but her experience doesn’t mean that women are generally in combat, nor does it mean that they should be.

sharrukin on February 4, 2013 at 12:12 AM

And Jessica Lynch has more bragging rights than you do.

It still doesn’t amount to a coherent argument.

Of course Jessica Lynch has more bragging rights than I do! I’m not bragging! All I’m saying is that I am one of many who have lived through some of these ridiculous “hypothetical” scenarios that are being thrown out there as arguments–and there are countless more women who have gone way the eff above and beyond what I have ever done!

It’s not a coherent argument because it’s not an argument at all! All I am saying is stop arguing with “hypothetical” scenarios that have already taken place in reality!

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 12:17 AM

All I am saying is that enough of them–not just a couple–but a large enough number of them have already served in these scenarios everybody keeps throwing around that the question should be “how did this effect the mission” not “how will it affect the mission?”

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 12:11 AM

The problem with that goes back to counter-insurgency campaigns. They are low-intensity conflicts where the demands on individuals (particularly the combat arms) is less that what they will see in a full scale war. There aren’t going to be any green zones in a war with China, or Russia.

sharrukin on February 4, 2013 at 12:22 AM

Jesus, even the marine who wrote the letter that made me mad is a “combat” veteran–I guarantee you she has gone through things most people here assume women in service are exempt from, lived under conditions most people wouldn’t believe, and probably even came close to getting blown up a time or two. The only reason I identified her as a FOBIT is because she was speaking to situations that happen specifically outside the wire in a way that strongly suggested she never experienced any of those things first hand. But even being a FOBIT puts both men AND women way closer to the line than most people realize. There are plenty of soldiers who never left the FOB and never made it home. There is no “rear” in the traditional sense, and as such, lifting the ban on women serving in combat applies to just about any position women are placed in outside the wire!

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 12:25 AM

The problem with that goes back to counter-insurgency campaigns. They are low-intensity conflicts where the demands on individuals (particularly the combat arms) is less that what they will see in a full scale war. There aren’t going to be any green zones in a war with China, or Russia.

That’s a completely valid point, and I won’t even argue against it. But unless it turns out that women will actually be allowed entrance into the infantry, I’m still not sure lifting the ban will change the dynamics of the situation all that much. What your are talking about is conventional warfare, and most of the units that would be involved in the initial waves of invasion, before a front and a rear are established, will still be primarily male even without the ban in place(assuming the exceptions will be granted).

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 12:31 AM

It’s not a coherent argument because it’s not an argument at all! All I am saying is stop arguing with “hypothetical” scenarios that have already taken place in reality!

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 12:17 AM

.

The hypothetical situation everyone is talking about is Women integrated into a rifle platoon. No one denies that you were in a dangerous environment or believes that your contributions should be trivialized in any way. The point is that being attached to an artillery battery as an intel collector is not the same thing as having a co-ed infantry company. So no, you can’t claim “been there done that.” And if you really think there are going to be exceptions granted for the infantry, I’ve got some land I’d like to sell you.

weathermen on February 4, 2013 at 12:40 AM

When does male only selective service registration end? Is there a lawsuit here?

rickyricardo on February 4, 2013 at 12:49 AM

The hypothetical situation everyone is talking about is Women integrated into a rifle platoon. No one denies that you were in a dangerous environment or believes that your contributions should be trivialized in any way. The point is that being attached to an artillery battery as an intel collector is not the same thing as having a co-ed infantry company. So no, you can’t claim “been there done that.” And if you really think there are going to be exceptions granted for the infantry, I’ve got some land I’d like to sell you.

If that were the only hypothetical everybody has been talking about, I might agree with you, but it is not. Even if it were the only hypothetical scenario everybody was talking about, it is not the only scenario the ban applies to. I never said being attached to a battery is the same as having a co-ed infantry company. What I said is that under the 1994 ban, I, along with countless other women in similar situations, was officially never supposed to be there, and as such, am often regarded as never having been there.

Whether or not the exception will be granted is not the point–there would be no exceptions to file at all if all the ban applied to were rifle platoons. As such, the ban on combat applies to a much broader range of scenarios that women have already been injected into.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 12:54 AM

But unless it turns out that women will actually be allowed entrance into the infantry, I’m still not sure lifting the ban will change the dynamics of the situation all that much. What your are talking about is conventional warfare, and most of the units that would be involved in the initial waves of invasion, before a front and a rear are established, will still be primarily male even without the ban in place(assuming the exceptions will be granted).

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 12:31 AM

http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/acsc/99-016.pdf

Impact of Pregnancy on U.S. Army Readiness, which states that, among other things, the Army doesn’t keep good records of unit readiness at the level of granularity required to make good policy decisions about pregnancies, that addressing the problem is stifled by political expediency, and that units approaching or in deployments have pregnancy rates of up to or over 30%, and sometimes up to 20% in garrison.

So what is the impact of 20% to more than 30% pregnancy rates when women are to be deployed? If they are truck drivers, perhaps not so much. If they are pilots, or medics, perhaps a lot. If you lose that number in a combat unit that is going to be in the wave that hits the beaches?

Then there is the problem of getting them out in the same way you would need to evacuate a casualty. More airlift not tasked to providing supplies, evacuation of real causalities, etc.

And we should pay that price for what exactly? So that the 1% of women who show any interest in the combat arms can have their dreams fulfilled?

sharrukin on February 4, 2013 at 12:55 AM

OnlySpartanWomen, I certainly appreciate you making your point clear.

I agree that many of the arguments that some on here have been using aren’t germane.

However, it’s foolish for you to think that the military will NOT be under pressure to open many new “career” fields up to women.

I believe that this pressure needs to be countered. Statistically, it doesn’t make sense to commit the resources necessary to open these fields.

Again, I appreciate the fact that your message is limited, however you seem naive about the direction that this is going.

Blink, thank you for your diplomacy. I don’t disagree with the pressure you refer to. I think that is an important discussion to have. It’s just not the discussion I’ve been having. But thank you for your considerate response.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 12:58 AM

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