Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Best Essay on Women in the Military You'll Read

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

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

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

That piece should be required reading for anyone on the topic.

And check Jazz Shaw's earlier comments, "A few thoughts on women in combat from a dinosaur."

And there was some push back at my previous post, "Women in Combat." I hear the criticism, although folks are overlooking what I wrote:
I think it's about time, although the service branches should be flexible in adapting to gender differences, going with what works and what is comfortable for those on the ground.
So to be clear, I've been talking to veterans on this topic for over ten years and opinions are divided. Some male vets report that women just aren't able to meet the standards of men, and this will reduce combat morale and readiness. But some men have reported that they'd just as soon have women as men as comrades. And I've had lots of women veterans who argue that the prohibitions on women amount to rank sexist discrimination and that they'd like the opportunity to serve equal in ground combat. I don't know from first hand experience. I am not a veteran. I'm a professor. As a matter of straight up military performance, I'd say all male ground combat units should be the exclusive norm. But as a matter of current day realities where everything is a matter of equal opportunity, I expect that the more the services can guaranty open access for women who want to perform those roles the better. If that's politically correct, so be it.

Added: From USMC Captain Katie Petronio, "Get Over It! We Are Not All Created Equal":
The bottom line is that the enemy doesn’t discriminate, rounds will not slow down, and combat loads don’t get any lighter, regardless of gender or capability. Even more so, the burden of command does not diminish for a male or female; a leader must gain the respect and trust of his/her Marines in combat. Not being able to physically execute to the standards already established at IOC, which have been battle tested and proven, will produce a slower operational speed and tempo resulting in increased time of exposure to enemy forces and a higher risk of combat injury or death. For this reason alone, I would ask everyone to step back and ask themselves, does this integration solely benefit the individual or the Marine Corps as a whole, as every leader’s focus should be on the needs of the institution and the Nation, not the individual?

Capt. Petronio did tours in both Afganistan and Iraq. She faced personal physical deterioration that raised questions in her own mind whether she was up to the standards the battlefield required. (Via Blazing Cat Fur.)

More, "Armed Forces in Canada Resolved Issue Long Ago":
Opening the Canadian military to women followed a protracted debate, but the questions over the suitability of women as combat troops have now all but faded from the nation’s collective memory.

“It doesn’t even enter into conversation anymore,” said Capt. Jaime Phillips, a female artillery officer who commanded not only Canadian men but male American and Afghan combat troops in Afghanistan. “It’s just so ingrained in my generation that it seems silly to hear the same old arguments again.”...

Women make up about 12 percent of the total military force but Canada’s Department of National Defense did not disclose how many of them are in combat roles. A study presented in late 2011 by Krystel Carrier-Sabourin, a doctoral student at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, found that 310 women filled combat roles in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2011.

Captain Phillips, who is now an adjutant at an artillery school in New Brunswick, said that she found herself commanding soldiers from both the United States and Afghanistan.

“They were not used to it, that’s for sure,” she said of those troops. “You could tell it was a curiosity for them and they were of the mind of ‘that’s fine for you guys but it’s not our way’.” Nevertheless, Captain Phillips said that her orders were always obeyed and she was never the subject of overt hostility.

Cpl. Katie Hodges, whose time with an infantry unit in Afghanistan was partly documented for the film “Sisters in Arms,” said that it is important to note that combat roles are voluntary for both men and women in the Canadian military.

“I went because I wanted to,” she said. “I wanted to be in the exact opposite of an office job.”

During her training and once she was deployed to Afghanistan, Corporal Hodges shared sleeping accommodations with men, like all women in the infantry. The only time she experienced separate quarters, she said, was when she went down to an American military base for joint training. In the Canadian military, only showers are segregated by gender.

Corporal Hodges, who is now a military photographer stationed at a base northwest of Toronto, is among those surprised that there has been any controversy in the United States about including women in combat roles.

“It’s hard to believe that there is a such a draconian attitude,” she said. “I certainly don’t want to sound offensive but the U.S. is far behind.”
So, again, the fine details of how women would serve in direct combat positions should be worked out by the service branches, but if women want to serve, they should have that right.