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Women in Combat Arms
From the beginning of time women have generally stayed home and cared for children while men have gone off to war. Whether to preserve the sanctity of their Nation or to protect their loved ones, the brunt of the responsibility of warfare has traditionally been shouldered by men. Recently, ranking military officials have spoken of the possibility of allowing women to serve in combat MOSs (Military Occupational Specialty), while this is a noble gesture which will further close the gap between gender inequalities, its consequences will cause more harm than good.
My intent is not to diminish what women in our military have done, accomplished, or are still doing in service to their country. However, there are a number of obvious reasons why allowing women to serve in combat roles is a misplaced ideal at best, and counterproductive and detrimental at worst. There are fundamental differences in the physiology between men and women. Upper body strength in men is generally 30% stronger than that of females. Men also have larger hearts and lungs than women. If a man was running at 50% capacity, a woman would have to run at 70% or more to keep up with him. There are significant height and weight differences as well that will affect what and how much a soldier can carry. In combat, at any given time, infantryman will carry a hundred pounds or more of equipment including body armor, extra ammo, water, food, optics (day and night) and their personal weapon, which ranges in weight from 10 to 30 pounds. The average infantryman will carry this weight for an unknown time and distance, over punishing terrain, just to get to the fight.
America has the worlds greatest all volunteer military, which is a direct result of high standards and professionalism throughout its ranks. The infantry soldier, for example, must meet a series of standards to successfully complete the Infantry Basic Course and ultimately is held at a higher standard upon arrival at his assigned unit. Not all soldiers who attend the Infantry Basic Course meet these standards. Therefore, they do not become infantrymen. I realize there are women out there who are physically capable of meeting these standards, but, they are few and far between. However, the military is all about numbers and quotas, and there will be a required number of women in these career fields if they are allowed to occupy combat positions. In order to appease the social reformers and military planners and to meet the desired amount of women in combat MOSs, the standards met by today’s Infantrymen would have to be significantly lowered across the board. For example, the length and time requirements for forced ruck marches and the amount of weight carried will decrease, severely diminishing our overall combat effectiveness. The Army’s current physical fitness test standards for pushups and the two mile run are significantly different for men and women. In the 17 to 21 age bracket, in order to get a 70%, a female need only do 25 pushups, whereas a male needs to do 49. In order to score a 70% for the 2 mile run, females must run it in 18:06 and men must run it in 15:12. Therefore, a male and female with identical PT scores actually have vastly different levels of physical fitness. For the combat arms soldier, high levels of fitness can literally mean the difference between life and death.
The high operational tempo of Units between the major named areas of operation puts a huge mental and physical strain on combat soldiers and their families. The majority of units in which women are currently serving are stationed on super FOBs (forward operating base), enjoying hot showers, gyms and MWR facilities. Basically, these installations have all the amenities of home. Infantrymen are far removed from these amenities, located on small outposts across the country, sometimes fighting off insurgents on a daily basis. There are female soldiers who have volunteered as CSTs (combat support teams) that go out to these outposts to work with SOF (special operations forces) units. They engage the female populace throughout Afghanistan. However, they tend to be more of a distraction and a liability than an asset. I have personally experienced, first hand, what happens when you add females to an isolated, male-dominated location for extended periods of time. When you throw 1 or 2 females into a 12 man team in the middle of nowhere, attraction, jealousy and conflict are some of the inevitable consequences. Regardless of the level of professionalism of the personnel involved, human nature will prevail. These negative side effects far outweigh any positive outcomes that result from women occupying combat roles.
Whether or not it is drilled into them from birth, or it is some instinctual reaction from within, men will always view the softer, gentler sex as someone they need to protect. It is for this reason that women will be a distraction if allowed to serve in combat roles. Infantrymen will be more concerned with the welfare of the female soldier than of the enemy who is shooting at him. Americans do not want to see their women return home in body bags. Nor are they psychologically prepared to see women return home disfigured and/or as amputees if they were lucky enough to survive the horrible, hellish explosions from roadside bombs that insurgents are so fond of.
Men and women are fundamentally different, which make them better suited for different roles. Not being able to serve in a combat MOS does not degrade a woman’s value to the service. Men and women in all MOSs across the different services all play an integral role in the operation of America’s well-oiled military machine. There will always be feminists and social reformers beating the drum about how unfair it is that these jobs are not open to women. While these are probably the same people who have never served in the military, would never advocate that their daughter or sister serve as an infantrymen, my response to them is this: combat isn’t fair either. These people, far removed from the reality of warfare and the dynamics of combat arms units, do not understand that the second and third order effects of allowing women to occupy such roles would cause serious damage to the effectiveness of our military. Therefore, we should not change our standards, which play a vital role in how America’s military is perceived abroad: the greatest fighting force the world has ever known.
1 year ago on A Female CST and Special Forces Enabler Speaks Out