January 28 2013
Women in Combat: Let's Move Beyond the Ideology
When ideology is the driving force behind a drastic policy change, it’s hard to sit back and have a reasoned discussion.
It appears that the issue of lifting the ban on women in combat is such an issue.
And, as Bill Kristol points out today, the arguments for women in combat are being “made from ideology (‘Equality requires it!’) or from authority (‘The Joint Chiefs signed off on it!’). What’s missing is input from women who have been near the front and worry about lifting the ban.
Retired Colonel Martha McSally, who has a distinguished career as the first female combat pilot and one who has flown missions in the Middle East, has been vocal about her support for lifting the ban. But there are many women, less visible women, who disagree with Colonel McSally.
Kristol provided links to compelling testimony on the other side of the issue from other women who have served in the military (here and here). He also linked to an amazing post by Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw.
Shaw originally spotted an account of what it is like for a woman in the military, published under the pseudonym “Sentry,” on National Review’s blog. Shaw checked out the woman’s background. She posted the entire piece again.
I encourage you to read it and decide not just if you want to see women at the front but if you’d like to see your son at the front with women by his side in the thick of battle. Just a sample:
I’m a female veteran. I deployed to Anbar Province, Iraq. When I was active uty, 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.
Everyone wants to point to the IDF as a model for gender integration in the military. No, the IDF does not put women on the front lines. They ran into the same wall the US is about to smack into: very few women can meet the standards required to serve there. The few integrated units in the IDF suffered three times the casualties of the all-male units because the Israeli men, just like almost every other group of men on the planet, try to protect the women even at the expense of the mission. Political correctness doesn’t trump thousands of years of evolution and societal norms. Do we really WANT to deprogram that instinct from men?
When the ban is lifted, Retired General Jerry Boykin, who appeared opposite Colonel McSally yesterday on Fox and is now a vice president at the Family Research Council, noted that women will be in situations that require hand-to-hand combat in which women will have to fight men.
McSally came up with a memorable quote on Fox:
Some who argue against women in combat believe that females aren’t as physically capable as men. Col. McSally said it comes down to treating people as individuals. “The current policy basically says that no women can meet the standard and therefore all men can. So that’s like saying, Pee-wee Herman is okay to be in combat but Serena and Venus Williams are not going to meet the standard.”
Leaving aside the sad little joke at Mr. Herman's expense, how long will it be before some feminist organization files a lawsuit because women aren’t proportionally represented in combat units?
Meanwhile, Heather Mac Donald has a superb post dealing with this and the bizarre notion that putting women at the front, where they can be assaulted by the enemy, is a good way to reduce sexual assaults by members of the U.S. military.