GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter said women have no idea what they’re in for during battle because this generation has never seen real, total war while speaking at a Wednesday event discussing Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s order for the services to open up the infantry and special operations to women.
“My generation has never seen real war period,” Hunter said at an event hosted by the Independent Women’s Forum and the London Center for Policy Research. “Counterterrorism, counterinsurgency is not war. It’s not the Civil War. It’s not World War II, where you have thousands of people dying in one day. We lost about 5-6 thousand people since 2003 in Iraq and Afghanistan until now. It is short-sighted and naïve to think that what we are seeing now is in any way comparable to what combat really is.”
“Combat is: take that hill, go.”
The Department of Defense’s response has been to claim that real, total war just won’t take place, according to Hunter. The trenches of World War I have given way to short-term counterterrorism operations and cyberwarfare.
For Hunter, the idea we can definitively say we’ve passed the point of reaching another real war is fanciful.
“Big war will happen again. When Turkey shot down that Russian plane—that could’ve been World War III. I’m telling all of you: you have not seen real war, unless you’ve seen Saving Private Ryan,” Hunter added, referencing a brutal war drama film portraying the Invasion of Normandy during World War II.
“And when that day of total war comes, women in infantry will not be up to the challenge.”
But with the end of all restrictions on women serving in the infantry and special operations, females who join the military likely will not have a say when it comes to the front lines.
“Most of the women join the U.S. military don’t want to join the infantry,” Hunter said. “They don’t want to go infantry. But if you join the Marine Corps, you don’t get to choose. You go where the Marine Corps needs you, period.”
But even if women don’t elect to join the military, Selective Service may expand to include women in the draft, since the central justification for keeping the draft all-male has evaporated.
And if draft day ever comes, America’s daughters could soon be on the front lines.
“Whether you’re a church-going family on Sunday or a liberal coffee house family who drinks Blood Marys on Sunday, neither family wants their daughters drafted.”
Amber Smith, former U.S. Army helicopter pilot and senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum, pulled the brakes on the hype surrounding Selective Service and noted the U.S. hasn’t had a draft since Vietnam. Even if a draft is instituted, there still are criteria that need to be met for inclusion.
“It’s not that automatic,” Smith said. “There’s a little bit of hype.”
Retired Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Jessie Jane Duff, also a member of panel, confirmed the practice of involuntary assignment.
“The combat exemption has been lifted. They’re assigning women to these units right now,” Duff, senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, said. “If I joined an infantry unit right now, the men would look at me like they’d want to kill me because I hadn’t earned my spot.”
Duff, like Hunter, argued the services will be unable to hold fast against lowering standards and they inevitably will introduce quotas to ensure a certain base level of female representation in infantry and special operations.
“I don’t believe in quotas, but guess what, they’re going to have them. Gen. Martin Dempsey said in his outgoing speech that women will be represented in MOS’,” Duff said, mentioning comments made by Dempsey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“If we can hold the standards, I’d be surprised,” retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Bob Newman, JR. said.
“Even if a few women are ready for this integration, our nation’s combat units should not risk the combat effectiveness because a few women can do 20 pullups and a 12-mile run,” Newman added.