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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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 I think I’m sincerely confused by your comment. Are you making the point that women shouldn’t deploy at all? Or even be in the military at all?

If that is your point, I guess my response would be you have to weigh the tactical benefit against the detriment, and if the equation works out in a conventional warfare scenario that the detriment outweighs the benefit, then yes, women should stay home. But as others have pointed out here, women have been actively engaged in war in one form or another throughout history, so I would be surprised if there is any equation that points to that outcome.

I know anecdotal evidence isn’t really evidence at all, but just based on my personal observation, a 20 to 30% pregnancy rate during deployment seems very high to me. Not so much for in garrison, but high for the deployment. As MI, I served in a battalion where the ratio of females to males was statistically much higher than typical, and as far as I know, we only had one female whose deployment was cut short due to pregnancy. For what it’s worth, the pregnancy occurred when she went home on leave. She was very ashamed and devastated that she had to be sent home early. That’s neither here nor there, but 20 to 30% does sound high to me.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 1:11 AM

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

.
Ok, now were getting somewhere. If your complaint is that women are being forced to serve where they are not supposed to, and are not getting credit for it, I can certainly agree with that. And as a point of note, I am not sure if it is accurate to call it a 1994 ban. Women have always been banned from combat arms, not just since 1994. It’s like when people complained that DADT was evil and needed to be repealed, when in reality, gays have always been prohibited from military service, DADT actually loosened the rules.

weathermen on February 4, 2013 at 1:11 AM

sharrukin I think I’m sincerely confused by your comment. Are you making the point that women shouldn’t deploy at all? Or even be in the military at all?

If that is your point, I guess my response would be you have to weigh the tactical benefit against the detriment, and if the equation works out in a conventional warfare scenario that the detriment outweighs the benefit, then yes, women should stay home.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 1:11 AM

My point is a simple one. I don’t care about fairness or someone’s dreams. I care that the mission is carried out with the highest chance of success, and the lowest rate of casualties that we can manage. If women being deployed in a combat arm, or a non-combat arm compromise these essential tasks then I think they should give way to those who won’t compromise the military. To achieve victory we spend human lives and that cost shouldn’t be elevated because we didn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.

Fairness is something that takes place behind the line of military force and has no place in it.

sharrukin on February 4, 2013 at 1:21 AM

You seem to be partly motivated by a desire to be recognized as having been in “combat.” I assure you that most Hot Air readers acknowledge that the military utilizes women in many roles that involve combat.

It would be helpful if you would address the issue with the demands being made regarding opportunities for career advancement – since this is the supposed origin of the new efforts.

There are plenty of people that are fighting to open up everything to women. Any exception that the a branch of the military “applies for” will be seen as the work of the evil misogynists running the military.

Goodness Blink, I was motivated by a letter to the editor that echoed the same b.s. arguments I’ve been hearing all week, and I addressed those arguments very specifically.

I don’t like the career advancement argument because the military is the one place in our country that I don’t think equal opportunity and fairness towards its service members is really relevant most of the time. When I was a kid, and I used to argue with my father, he was fond of telling me “This is a family, not a democracy. Fair has nothing to do with it and majority doesn’t rule here.” That’s kind of how I feel the military should work.

I am not fond of civilians telling the military how it should be run. I understand full well that the military needs to operate the way it does and establish the rules it does with the best interest of the mission in mind. As such, I don’t know that advancing the careers of women has any place in the discussion. What I do know is that from what I’ve seen, when women are placed in these situations, it is usually because the situation demands it, not politics.

Now if lifting the ban allows women to be recognized for the work they have already done and will continue to do and that allows greater opportunities for advancement, I would say that’s important. But if we’re talking about creating new openings for positions strictly for the purpose of creating new opportunities for promotions, I would say that is reckless, dangerous, and selfish.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 1:26 AM

Ok, now were getting somewhere. If your complaint is that women are being forced to serve where they are not supposed to, and are not getting credit for it, I can certainly agree with that. And as a point of note, I am not sure if it is accurate to call it a 1994 ban. Women have always been banned from combat arms, not just since 1994. It’s like when people complained that DADT was evil and needed to be repealed, when in reality, gays have always been prohibited from military service, DADT actually loosened the rules.

Close, but I would never say forced to serve–just that situations arise where women are put places they weren’t officially supposed to be. But I never knew a single woman who complained about it.

When the decision came down that each one of our THT’s had to pull a guy to form a new THT and go out the PB, the only reason not to send me would have been because I was a woman. Sending our team leader would have been too damaging to our collection efforts from the FOB, and the other guy on my THT hadn’t even come back yet from the other PB he was out on. They were talking about pulling him from his assignment where he was, or waiting for him to come back so that they could turn around and send him to the next PB, and considering the length of time he had been living out there, how effective he would be at the next assignment was questionable. Neither one of those scenarios would have been considered for a second if I was a male member of the team, so I volunteered to go. Not because I wanted to prove I was all hooah. Just because it wasn’t right watching everyone scramble to find a workaround just because we only had three soldiers and one of us happened to be a female. Command approved the decision because it made the most sense tactically.

What I’m trying to say is I don’t know of any woman who is forced outside the wire. We are all trained to do jobs, and we all understand that our teams count on us, and we all want to do the jobs we are trained to do. What I am saying is that because of staffing and all sorts of other issues, often situations arise where it doesn’t make sense tactically not to send a woman. Sometimes commanders have a choice between sending a male or a female with the same MOS and they feel, for whatever reason, the female is the most appropriate choice. I’m not saying it’s good or bad. I’m just saying it happens a lot more than people like to think–especially when you’re talking about entire units that are being tasked out to do missions that are traditionally considered infantry ops, like MP units.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 1:45 AM

Goodness Blink, I was motivated by a letter to the editor that echoed the same b.s. arguments I’ve been hearing all week, and I addressed those arguments very specifically.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 1:26 AM

They aren’t BS arguments. You seem to want to argue for women in combat without arguing for women in combat.

That women have put up with terrible hardships is not news to anyone but the most naive. We know about Auschwitz, the Siege Of Leningrad, Stalingrad, the Partisans, and the mass expulsions of German civilians from eastern Europe. Putting up with hardship is only one part of a much greater whole that amounts to modern combat. The hardship that you are speaking of in Iraq is nothing compared to what civilian women have suffered through in World War Two. That suffering did not mean they were suitable for combat roles.

You claim that they are already there, but that simply isn’t the case. Iraq is a low-intensity conflict with excellent supply, air support, artillery support, and comfortable bases from which to operate from. That isn’t what people mean when they talk about combat roles.

sharrukin on February 4, 2013 at 1:45 AM

Fairness is something that takes place behind the line of military force and has no place in it.

That’s kind of funny. See my comment below in reply to blink. I was writing it the same time you wrote this.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 1:46 AM

That’s kind of funny. See my comment below in reply to blink. I was writing it the same time you wrote this.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 1:46 AM

I think that is something we fully agree on.

sharrukin on February 4, 2013 at 1:47 AM

You claim that they are already there, but that simply isn’t the case. Iraq is a low-intensity conflict with excellent supply, air support, artillery support, and comfortable bases from which to operate from. That isn’t what people mean when they talk about combat roles.

Oh my gosh, now you are just arguing for the sake of arguing. I am not talking about a subjective interpretation of the word “combat.” I am talking about the official definition, and the 1994 ban specifically banned women from serving on the ground in combat units smaller than brigade size. The work around this is that women have been “attached” rather than assigned.

Yes, we all know that COIN operations, Iraq and Afghanistan have nothing on the wars of old. I make that very same exact point in the piece you quote me on. If you finished reading it, you would know that. That has nothing to do with the OFFICIAL definition of combat, and OFFICIALLY, women have been serving in places they were OFFICIALLY banned from. In this sense,and only in this sense, is the advancement argument relevant, as I stated in my comment to Blink. This OFFICIAL definition of combat has also had very real consequences on other things, like disability ratings, because women were told for years that they did not serve where they had in fact served because OFFICIALLY they were not allowed to serve where they had served!

Even SSG Pearsall, who had sustained a bad neck injury when her vehicle hit an IED, and who also sustained wounds dragging a 6’2″ soldier in full battle rattle into an MRAP while under fire, has talked about how commanders and health care providers didn’t believe her injuries were combat related because, after all, officially women don’t serve in combat.

I understand the point you are making about convectional war vs. asymmetric warfare. But that’s not really relevant to the point I’m making. I agree Iraq and Afghanistan are a walk in the park. That has nothing to do with the OFFICIAL ban on women serving in the very exact units they have in fact been serving for the last 10 years!

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 1:58 AM

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 1:45 AM

.

Interesting. The push for women forward is actually because of a manpower shortage. I hadn’t really considered that. Well, I learned something tonight. It doesn’t change my mind on integrating Women in the infantry, but thanks for sharing your experiences here. And thanks for your service. John

weathermen on February 4, 2013 at 2:03 AM

Interesting. The push for women forward is actually because of a manpower shortage. I hadn’t really considered that. Well, I learned something tonight. It doesn’t change my mind on integrating Women in the infantry, but thanks for sharing your experiences here. And thanks for your service. John

Thank you. For what it’s worth, I don’t think women should be in the Infantry either. Good night.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 2:04 AM

That has nothing to do with the OFFICIAL ban on women serving in the very exact units they have in fact been serving for the last 10 years!

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 1:58 AM

That’s nice.

That isn’t what the argument has been about, and that isn’t what is being done here. This has nothing to do with recognizing women in those roles.

Gen. Dempsey: If Women Can’t Meet Military Standard, Pentagon Will Ask ‘Does It Really Have to Be That High?

“Importantly, though, if we do decide that a particular standard is so high that a woman couldn’t make it, the burden is now on the service to come back and explain to the secretary, why is it that high? Does it really have to be that high? With the direct combat exclusion provision in place, we never had to have that conversation.”

sharrukin on February 4, 2013 at 2:13 AM

They aren’t BS arguments. You seem to want to argue for women in combat without arguing for women in combat.

I am not saying all arguments against women in combat are b.s. arguments. I’m saying that a lot of b.s. arguments are drowning out the legitimate arguments. I have already said that CPT Petronio makes incredibly legitimate arguments against putting women in the infantry based on her personal experiences. I am addressing here the b.s. arguments, like scaling 10-foot walls in full battle rattle!

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 2:16 AM

That’s nice.

That isn’t what the argument has been about, and that isn’t what is being done here. This has nothing to do with recognizing women in those roles.

Are you not familiar with the term multifaceted argument? It may not be the facet of the argument that concerns you, but it is most certainly a facet, and it happens to be the one I am addressing here.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 2:20 AM

She seems to be ignoring the actual agenda being pushed for some strange reason.

blink on February 4, 2013 at 2:29 AM

Agree.

She seems to be suggesting that women are already in combat, but then retreats on that.

the fact that women may not be in the Infantry, but we are already serving in combat

This is not some administrative adjustment as she seems to be suggesting and woman are not serving in combat roles. Jessica Lynch saw real combat and she was a truck driver, not in a combat role. I certainly recognize what happened to Jessica Lynch as combat but this isn’t about benefits, or some ribbon you can wear, or not wear on your uniform.

sharrukin on February 4, 2013 at 2:42 AM

“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.”

Blah blah blah. You were there because you fit the T/O. Got it.

“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.”

An intel team – an intel team – and you’re going to tell us about haw the infantry works? Jesus, does even intel not understand how the grunts operate? Have they never seen any sort of movie that has SO and regular units ever?

“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.”

So… some jackwagon soldier is busy calling a Marine Company Commander a FOBBIT. Well, have fun with that. Bradley Manning was an intel specialist too, princess, and I’d follow that Captain into hell with two cans of gas and a match before I’d follow Army Intel Super Agent so and so.

“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.”

So… Fallujah didn’t happen, lady? Or are you just talking about the Army part, where it was let the Devil Dogs slug it out.. ?

“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.”

Never seen toxic shock, and never ran the percentages. No wonder the Army is so ate up if this is the kind of Intel they get.

“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.”

Lady, there is a difference with serving in combat and being in the Infantry. A big difference. Sometimes when you go play in the sandbox you find yourself in a bad situation. In the Infantry, you are the bad situation, and it’s your job to happen to the bad guys as much as possible. Why is this so hard to understand?

flashoverride on February 4, 2013 at 3:31 AM

Secretary Panetta’s decision is already being used to call for women to join men 18 to 25 in being required to sign up for the draft.

J_Crater on February 4, 2013 at 7:44 AM

(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

She seems to be ignoring the actual agenda being pushed for some strange reason.

blink on February 4, 2013 at 2:29 AM

I’m beginning to think she’s more of a feminist than she realizes.

Cleombrotus on February 4, 2013 at 8:18 AM

Nicky Vale says little to contribute to the argument. She does not refute, in any way, the core of the earlier argument. If Obama gets his way, the military will be rendered ineffective.

Quartermaster on February 4, 2013 at 9:03 AM

This is a bunch of garbage. I know exactly what MOS this female is and her function in the unit and why she got pushed down to the combat arms unit.

She is not kicking down doors, and she’s not keeping pace in formations on movement’s to contact. She’s not carrying double loads of ammunition, not carrying a M240 or an M249 or a mortar tube (or jumping up 10′ walls in full battle rattle).

Military intelligence soldiers do get pushed down to manouver units, but they’re typically not integrated into pre-deployment train-ups, except in the rare cases where the commanders/S2s have been around the block a few times – but right now, it’s not doctrine or official SOP and we’re drawing down…(meaning it’s probably not going to make the cut). If the MI soldiers aren’t integrated with the manouver units prior to deployment, they’re a liability.

This whole debate has as much obfuscation and lying-by-omission as the gun control debate. We’ve always expected females to engage the enemies – every SOF element in the world plans to hit rear areas and log sites – that’s why we issue females rifles. The bottom line is standards. Females absolutely must be held to the same physical standards as the males.

John_G on February 4, 2013 at 9:26 AM

Sorry, but I find her unpersuasive. If she’s doing “collection” in Iraq or Afghanistan, then she’s likely going on soft patrols where they chat with the women and kids. Why do I say this? Because there are very few (if any) local males in these places that are going to talk openly to a woman. (HUMINT is about the only thing we don’t use technology to collect nowadays, and that involves interacting with the locals.) There are other possibilities, but they don’t generally include hard combat ops.

She doesn’t address the fundamental issue with women in combat: we should not be putting women intentionally in harm’s way. Ms. Vale sounds an awful lot like Col. Martha McSally. She never understood that concept, either. Any society that does put women in harm’s way – except as a last resort – has lost its moral grounding entirely.

John_G on February 4, 2013 at 9:26 AM

Yes.

GWB on February 4, 2013 at 10:09 AM

She is not kicking down doors, and she’s not keeping pace in formations on movement’s to contact. She’s not carrying double loads of ammunition, not carrying a M240 or an M249 or a mortar tube (or jumping up 10′ walls in full battle rattle).

Military intelligence soldiers do get pushed down to manouver units, but they’re typically not integrated into pre-deployment train-ups, except in the rare cases where the commanders/S2s have been around the block a few times – but right now, it’s not doctrine or official SOP and we’re drawing down…(meaning it’s probably not going to make the cut). If the MI soldiers aren’t integrated with the manouver units prior to deployment, they’re a liability.

This whole debate has as much obfuscation and lying-by-omission as the gun control debate. We’ve always expected females to engage the enemies – every SOF element in the world plans to hit rear areas and log sites – that’s why we issue females rifles. The bottom line is standards. Females absolutely must be held to the same physical standards as the males.

John_G on February 4, 2013 at 9:26 AM

This helps clear up some of the confusion — some of it deliberately created to muddy the water and sway the uninformed — about what is and what is not “combat”.

Everyone in the military is expected to defend themselves, their unit, their position, etc. if attacked and they have access to weapons. But they are not trained for and assigned to engage in “offensive” combat operations.

In a COIN theater of operations there are often no well defined lines of defense and the chances of personnel not explicitly trained for and assigned to offensive combat operations getting involved in a fire fight are much higher.

However, being trained for, assigned to, and engaging in planned offensive combat operations is an entirely different matter and situation. And that is what most knowledgeable people are talking about when they talk about “combat”.

So what exactly is Panetta talking about when he refers to combat? Clearly he knows and understands this difference. Yet he does not choose to inform and enlighten.

I think there is little doubt the leftist utopian social engineers want women to be able to volunteer for, be trained for, and to engage in offensive combat. That is their goal. And anyone who aids them in muddying the water is helping them achieve that goal.

farsighted on February 4, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Because there are very few (if any) local males in these places that are going to talk openly to a woman.

You have no idea how wrong you are. Why don’t you tell that the man who told me where the pressure plate IEDs were buried in the field we were about to clear. Most of my sources were men, and they had no problem speaking with a woman.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 10:41 AM

She is not kicking down doors, and she’s not keeping pace in formations on movement’s to contact. She’s not carrying double loads of ammunition, not carrying a M240 or an M249 or a mortar tube (or jumping up 10′ walls in full battle rattle).

No, I wasn’t, and I never said I was. I have said repeatedly that I’m not making a case for women serving in the infantry. What I am saying is the ban applies to a lot more than just the infantry. What I am saying is I’m sick of the hygiene arguments that people are throwing around to say women can’t live outside the wire for two or three days at a time. That I did do, and it was for a lot longer than two or three days. We didn’t have any running water on the PB when I showed up, and I managed to take care of personal hygiene under the same set of circumstances that everybody else had to put up with.

Military intelligence soldiers do get pushed down to manouver units, but they’re typically not integrated into pre-deployment train-ups, except in the rare cases where the commanders/S2s have been around the block a few times – but right now, it’s not doctrine or official SOP and we’re drawing down…(meaning it’s probably not going to make the cut). If the MI soldiers aren’t integrated with the manouver units prior to deployment, they’re a liability.

What the hell are you talking about? We all do the same effing NTC training together. I was 3rd ID. We trained as a brigade, and our THTs were attached to 1-30th and 1-64 in pre-deployment training. The guys in my platoon went with 1-30th right off the rip with the initial push into Arab Jabur, so don’t tell me about integrating THT into maneuver units. They slept in ditches and rucked through terrain our vehicles couldn’t maneuver through and were with the Infantry every step of the freaking way. THT was utilized during the surge to an extent that we had never previously been used, so I have no idea where you were or when you were there, but you are wrong.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 10:53 AM

So… Fallujah didn’t happen, lady?

If you have, in fact, single-handedly scaled a 10-foot wall in full battle rattle, than you should know exactly where I am coming from. If you have really, truly, scaled a 10-foot wall with no leg up, no climbing, no stepping–just by virtue of your height alone, you were able to leap over the wall in a single bound, consider how it feels that I am standing here, a person who has never been in that situation or even come close enough to the situation to find it possible, and I am telling the world it never happened.

Your fellow marine is using hygiene arguments to make the point that women can’t go outside the wire for two or three days at a time when I know that I and many other women have lived out there with no running water for a lot longer than that. The Army doesn’t go out for a couple days and come back. From the surge forward, they pushed all their maneuver units out to PB’s and that’s where they stayed. I know women who helped build these PB’s from the ground up, and they stayed out there for weeks doing it. I lived on one of these PB’s for months, so what I’m saying is, we don’t need to use our imaginations to answer these questions because women have already been put into these situations.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 11:14 AM

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

OnlySpartanWomen, could you address this please? I’d like your take on it.

Cleombrotus on February 4, 2013 at 12:03 PM

On one hand, you’re arguing that women are already in combat roles as if there is no ban.

On the other hand, you’re arguing that the ban is too broad.

I think you should try to address this inconsistency if you want anyone to take you seriously.

I thought I have addressed thoroughly, but if my position stills seems inconsistent, I will clarify:

1. The official ban on combat applied to a much wider range of assignments than just the Infantry MOS

2. The ban prohibited women from being assigned to combat ground units smaller than the size of a brigade

3. Even though there was a ban in place, the work around was to attach women to these units instead of assign them

4. While everyone here can talk smack about my assignment, the fact is that under the ban, I was not “allowed” to be where I was “officially.” The same goes for the women who went way above and beyond what I did, specifically MP’s, line medics, etc.

5. As a result of the ban, there is a widespread misconception that women have not done many things and have not been many places because “officially,” we were prohibited from being in those places and doing those things, but in reality, we were there.

6. It might not count as combat to anyone here, but officially, that’s what it was called. Lots of women have kicked down doors, rucked through the mountains, and participated in operations that were “officially” combat missions that they were supposed to be prohibited from doing.

7. What I am addressing in my arguments are all these other roles women have filled that are, like it or not, “officially” considered combat assignments that women have been doing but have not been recognized for doing because there was a ban in place that said they weren’t supposed to do it.

8. I do not think women should serve in the infantry. I do not think anything I did personally was remotely akin to being an infantryman. I do not care about women being in the infantry. What I care about is all these other “combat” roles that women have in fact filled, in some cases died or were severely injured filling those roles, and are not being recognized for doing those things because the ban on women in combat said they were never there.

9. This has had real consequences in the form of denial of certain types of disability ratings for years and care providers not understanding that many women suffer from injuries sustained in combat—they were blown up, shot at, etc. To answer your question blink, I do not know if this has translated into women not advancing because their combat service wasn’t recognized as such. What I am saying is that I do not buy into the career advancement argument as a legitimate reason for lifting the ban because I don’t think advancing the careers of women has any place in this discussion UNLESS the argument is being made that they are not being recognized for the service they performed because of the misconceptions that have arisen as a result of the ban. I don’t know if that is the case–I’m just saying that is the only way I can see that argument even being relevant. I do know that SSG Pearsal has stated that she has had a hard time convincing commanders that her neck injury and other injuries she sustained pulling a 6’2″ tall soldier out of the kill zone while under fire were injuries that resulted from combat.

I hope this clears up any perceived inconsistencies. I have to go offline now.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 4, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Anyone familiar with the kind of poster who claims they agree with you, but…

Then proceeds to say all of your arguments are wrong and have been empirically proven wrong in real life, and they have seen it with their own eyes, and have heard directly from others who have told of their own personal experiences…

… And then continues to repeat they agree with you. But they offer no argument of their own about why they agree with you, nor an argument of their own they consider valid. But, they really do agree with you. But…

They are *concerned* about all of the bad arguments being made and how that affects people who are being treated unfairly and/or suffering …

I’m getting that vibe from our special guest. May not be true at all… but I’m *concerned* many are getting that impression. But it could be, probably is, because no one here really understands, no matter how many times it is repeated, over and over again. And so on and so forth.

I’m moving on, having learned little new.

farsighted on February 4, 2013 at 2:04 PM

Remarkable. Telling. Still not a single good reason for this decision.

Bmore on February 4, 2013 at 7:25 PM

What would your (everyone’s) opinion be regarding all female units – tank crews, infantry, destroyer crew, etc. I’m not saying this to be a smart alec, but as a thought experiment. I’ve thought about this before regarding other types of endeavors. For those traditionally all male roles, would they be as successful (more? less?) if they were 100% female? I’m referring to roles where there may be controversy. Why don’t we see 100% female oil drilling crews, home improvement companies, etc. There is nothing to stop women from engaging in and competing in these areas.

a097005 on February 4, 2013 at 7:57 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?

Sorry Cleombrotus, I was having a hard time keeping up with the barrage of commentary. Honestly, I’m not sure how to answer your question.

Do I think women should aspire to hunting down and killing other human beings? I’m not sure anyone should “aspire” towards that goal. I understand full well that is essentially the mission of the infantry, but again, I’m not making an argument for women being in the infantry, and the official definition of a combat assignment is much broader than that, regardless of how anyone feels about it.

Additionally, you could make the argument that MP units often have that very same mission, and they are fully integrated (at least in the 3rd ID they are). The entire focus of the surge into Iraq was hunting down high value targets and establishing coalitions with the civilian population to drive Al Qaeda out of their strongholds. (Which is also, incidentally, why THT was so instrumental during that particular series of campaigns).

Our MP units were sent out to seek, find, capture and kill HVT’s, and the women weren’t left in their vehicles while the guys went to go kick down doors. They were, contrary to what anyone in this forum wants to say, right there next to them, kicking down doors and clearing rooms.

The physical demands of an MP, however, are not nearly as high as that of Infantry, so integrating women into that situation works, whereas I don’t think it could ever fully work in an Infantry unit. The most powerful point made by CPT Petronio is one I myself am all too familiar with: anyone, especially someone who lives by some form of a warrior’s ethos, can do anything once. The strongest women can endure for a time, but the real question is for how long? Eventually our biology gets in the way, and the physical demands of the Infantry MOS will take its toll on us much faster. Even if we could make it through an entire deployment, could we make it to retirement?

Having said that, is a woman who gets shot and killed kicking down doors clearing houses in search of a high value target not on a combat mission?

OnlySpartanWomen on February 5, 2013 at 2:58 PM

So, you’re not claiming that women are not receiving recognition that they deserve for their individual roles.

You’re trying to claim that women, as a gender, have not received universal recognition for certain roles because the ban confuses some people into thinking that women, as a whole, are not serving in these roles.

Do I have this right?

What I’m claiming is that the ban has not been adhered to. Commanders frequently circumvent it with the “attached not assigned” workaround.

As I just pointed out to Cleombrotus, our MP units in the 3rd ID were fully integrated. Because OIF was a COIN operation, as so many here are fond of pointing out, the MP’s mission was frequently to hunt down high value targets. The women were not exempt from these missions. The females, right alongside the males, were also central in the coalition building efforts that put us smack dab in the center of the Iraqi population, (yes, working and talking to the men)which often put the female MP’s directly in the line of fire.

Maybe this will help drive my point home a little more clearly. LT Huff was a 3rd ID MP. Her bio from the 3rd ID History Archives:

“The Department of Defense announced Sept.25th, 2006 the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
1st Lt. Ashley L. (Henderson) Huff, 23, of Belle Mead, N.J., died of injuries suffered in Mosul, Iraq, on Sept.19, when a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near her mounted patrol during combat operations. Huff was assigned to the 549th Military Police Company, 385th Military Police Battalion, Fort Stewart, Ga.”

If you are sincerely interested in what I am trying to say about women serving in combat, please take the time to read the story of LT Henderson here:

http://blog.nj.com/njwardead/2007/05/lt_ashley_henderson_huff_septe.html

I sincerely believe some of you in this forum will find it enlightening.

OnlySpartanWomen on February 5, 2013 at 3:28 PM

Sorry, but I find her unpersuasive. If she’s doing “collection” in Iraq or Afghanistan, then she’s likely going on soft patrols where they chat with the women and kids.

Soft patrols my a@#! My job was to accompany my team on night raids and cordon and search missions! That’s why it’s called a TACTICAL HUMINT Team! I wasn’t there to drink chai with the effing ladies! This is exactly the kind of misconception I’m talking about. I’m not talking about women being in the wrong place at the wrong time filling their support roles when a mortar strikes. What I am trying to tell you stubborn men is that women have already been attached to combat units and sent out with teams whose missions were to find, capture, and/or kill! I did not kick down doors, it was not my job to be on the stack. I was pulling security on the perimeter until I got the all clear to go into the house and question whoever we believed was withholding information, so stop effing talking to me about truck drivers! I wasn’t a freaking analyst, I wasn’t civil affairs, and I wasn’t the only female in my unit to be on site during infantry operations! And as a matter of fact, on one such mission, another female in my unit did get pulled to be on the stack during a night raid! I have been modest on this point because, by the grace of God, my team never took fire on a mission I was on, but plenty of other HUMINTERs in my unit were on teams that did going on the same exact types of missions, so stop talking to me about freaking truck drivers!

OnlySpartanWomen on February 6, 2013 at 10:15 PM

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