Skip to comments.Do US women belong in the thick of the fighting?
Posted on 05/29/2005 11:13:11 AM PDT by Crackingham
Maggie Williams and her daughter Sam Huff had much in common. As a teenager 35 years ago, Ms. Williams joined the US Marine Corps and became an air traffic controller, directing jet fighters and helicopters in Vietnam as the war there was winding down. Back in the United States, she began a career in law enforcement, married a police officer, and raised a family.
When she was just 16, Ms. Huff told her parents she wanted to join the US Army right out of high school, and later start a career with the FBI. She toughed out boot camp last year and then joined a military police unit driving Humvees through the mean streets of Iraq. But there the mother-daughter similarity ends. On April 18, Pfc. Huff's Humvee hit a roadside bomb in Baghdad, and she was killed. Posthumously awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, she was buried at Arlington National Cemetery recently. She was 18.
As Memorial Day approaches, one might say that Maggie Williams and Sam Huff are bookends for the history of women in the US military in the modern era. As a marine, Williams did a job that was very traditionally male. Huff - the 37th (and latest) American woman to be killed in Iraq - epitomizes the current debate over whether women, even if they volunteer, should be fighting alongside men. Congress has been debating the issue this week. Some lawmakers want to assert more congressional control over Pentagon policies that have opened up more and more jobs to women in recent years, including those that increasingly put them in the thick of the shooting. Of the 37 women lost, 25 were from hostile causes such as rocket or grenade attacks, ambushes, and roadside bombs.
In a way, the job expansion is a pattern that has occurred since the Vietnam War: Women demonstrate excellence in such positions as fighter pilot, military police officer, and heavy equipment operator, and then are more likely to have perilous assignments - particularly during a recruiting shortage. Some welcome the opportunity; but some do not, according to surveys of women in uniform. Here, too, the changing nature of war seems to accelerate the pattern.
"Modern wars will be fought 360 degrees, which means women will be on the 'front lines' whether the Congress likes it or not," says retired Army Col. Dan Smith, a military analyst with the Friends Committee on National Legislation in Washington.
Though many servicemen in Afghanistan and Iraq have children, it is the mothers in the war zones who seem to raise greater concerns. (Army Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa, the first American woman to be killed in Iraq, left two small children to be raised by their grandparents.) Until recent years, if a woman in uniform got pregnant or adopted a child, she had to leave the service. Loren Thompson, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va., says his parentsare a good example of what happened in the past. His father was an Army colonel who served with Gen. "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell in China. His mother was an Army major on Gen. Douglas MacArthur's staff during the occupation of Japan. They met in Korea and married.
"Some time later I was conceived and Mom got the boot, even though she appealed her involuntary retirement all the way to the Senate Armed Services Committee," recalls Dr. Thompson.
While the general trend toward more rights for women in the United States has advanced steadily in recent decades, those gains aren't necessarily exportable - particularly in wartime. Waging a counterinsurgency war in one of the world's most traditional societies is a reminder that American values cannot be the only factor shaping military policy, says Thompson.
"The first lesson of effective counterinsurgency is respect for local peoples and their cultures, so this could become a test of American flexibility," he adds.
"This is one case where it may not be feasible to honor American values and those of the people we propose to liberate at the same time," he says. "Our attitudes toward gender equality and relations between the sexes may simply be too different."
Illustrating this point is an Army Reserve unit based in Richmond, Va., which will soon go to Iraq to train Iraqi soldiers. They will leave behind some 20 female drill instructors because of such sensitivities.
"I understand each culture has different morals and customs, and I have to respect that," Staff Sgt. Stefania Traylor told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "But on the other hand, it's quite different from our culture, so I do have a problem with that. If you are getting experience, knowledge, and guidance from an individual, it shouldn't matter whether you are male or female."
Those who argue otherwise note the physiological differences between men and women - for example, the upper-body strength necessary to operate some heavy weapons effectively or to pull a fallen comrade out of harm's way.
"To pretend that women would have an equal capability of doing that is a dangerous philosophy, and lives could be lost as a result of it," says Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness and one of the most outspoken critics of current military policy on women in war zones.
"Roadside bombs are being considered combat and thick of the fighting. It isn't."
Right, exactly. This young woman (may she RIP) was doing police work, not fighting in combat.
The terrorists in Iraq are blowing up children and housewives and old men, lots of people who would never be considered for combat duty. They basically are killing our military by happenstance in cases like this.
I think you're right. The author seems to have an agenda that he doesn't really want to reveal.
yes they are....
it will get better for the Iraqis. They have their own military again. They have their pride again.
We are a military family and I seriously question the issue of women in the Military.
something really smells about this article. maybe its because I just don't agree with it, based on Experience...
Amen! Dicking around on the MSR is "in harms way." Taking the fight to the enemy is combat. Very few engage in combat. As for her bronze star - for what? Because she died? I know a guy who is being put in for a Bronze Star, because he saved the lives of at least 70 people when he engaged a car bomb and a suicide bomber, before they could attempt to push through the breach, during a major attack against a patrol base. The two do not compare - not even close. Handing out medals in such a loose fashion degrades the accomplishment of people who actually earn them.
My thoughts on women in "combat".
Nice to see someone agrees with me.
I don't think women should be in the military either,except as auxiliaries as they were in WWII.
I think women belong in the courtroom,the boardroom,and the operating room but not in the military.
I don't even think they should be firefighters or police officers either but I'm really dating myself with that opinion.
By the way,I'm a woman.
Me too!!! And well put.
well I won't comment about medals. I dont know the entire situation....
Personally, she did die in the service of the country and if they can give it to her for something she actually did, I am all for it....
I don't know if that's true. One of the first lessons of effective counterinsurgency is a good understanding of local culture* -- that's different from "respect."
I don't think the point is trivial. The way Muslims barbarians mistreat women is directly related to the way they mistreat each other (and the Western world) in other ways. If we can show them a different way for men and women to get along we're teaching them a lesson about how to act more civilized.
* The relevant Special Operations Imperative says, "Understand the operational environment," and that includes culture. It doesn't really say anything about "respect."
so then answer me on #13 then please....
No I don't want the draft. We are just going to have to learn to fight a leaner more efficient kind of war. BTW one of our boys is working on a project for the Navy that will do just this.
It is true that feet do have to be on the ground. I just don't want it to be Mom's. My Husband is former military, so I am not completely in the dark about how things work.
I do appreciate the work that you are doing in Iraq.
I am not there anymore....
Here is the deal, most women are not going on patrols and certainly are not going on combat patrols. I did not see ONE female at ANY checkpoint in my time there, especially in Baghdad.
Quite a few where in MI, support and MP roles well away from the sweep and clear parts of this war. However, terrorists would fire rockets and mortars at us all the time. I was a non-combatant over there....it just doesn't matter...
I kind of agree with the others too. I don't think women should be in combat situations. There is this movement to defemanize women and emasculate men. You get something milk-toast like in the middle. Yuk!
define a "combat situation" please.....
Do women belong in the thick of firefighting?
Do women belong in the thick of law enforcement?
Do women belong in the thick of (insert your favorite dangerous activity here)?
I believe that what is happening here is that men are feeling very threatened by the presence of girls in the club house. In my many years of experience fighting against this mindset, I am often reminded of Lord Peter Wimsey's observation that "Three fourths of chivalry is a desire of a man to have all the fun."
If a woman is physically incapable of doing a job, she ought not to do it. If a man is physically incapable of doing a job, he ought not to do it. A man who is five feet nothing and 98 lb. is not superior to a woman who is 5'10" and 165 lb. of solid muscle, merely due to the fact that he has a penis and she has none. This is not a question of male and female. It is a matter of ability to do a job.
If you don't want girls in your club house, why aren't you man enough to say so? And if women don't wish to serve, the Army is volunteer only and nobody will hold a gun on them and force them to leave their babies behind and go off to make the world safe for those babies. I really don't see the continuing problem here.
Agree totally and I am a woman also
Comment: However, nothing, absolutely nothing, can resist holy equality.
Since I do hear it when woman want to use unfair treatment to their advantage , and we don't have a need for breeders as does europe, I say treat em equal and put em in full combat...
Any country that is so degenerate as to have it's women do its fighting is not worth saving.
so, more or less, you don't want them in Iraq. My experience tells me the mission, as it stands right now, would be extremely difficult, if not impossible without women being in Iraq.
But I know you won't leave, you just want to scream and yell and act like someone gives 2 $hit$ about what you say....
Usually you are so nice to people who disagree with you.
I have had a nap and watched a show on the food channel about the Memphis in May BBQ since my last post to you and you are still going on.
I am going to watch the race, another place that women do not belong. ( in the race car, on the track) See Ya!!
You aren't "dating" yourself. Liberals are always using the term "setting back the clock" and other such useless phrases to criticize traditional values and morality.
Their reason? Social Darwinism. Time=progress, so in whatever direction society is going, it must be good, so let's hurry it up some more.
The reality is that women are NOT equal to men in many ways, and vice versa. Women cops should be doing office work or some other duties that don't require the skills and abilities that men are more likely to have, and same thing for firefighters and military.
Except for unusual cases, men are phsycially stronger, have more upper body strength, stronger grips, bigger hands, shoulders and more. They think better under stress, don't have PMS, periods, don't get pregnant, and don't obsess about their complexions, their fat, don't have to pluck their eyebrows or shave their legs.
Uni-sex crap is harming the military and law enforcement. Remember the a**hole that grabbed a gun from a (lady) cop in Atlanta, and went on a shooting rampage recently? The lady cop was 50 years old and about 5 feet tall.
Insanity. The relatives of those murdered should sue Atlanta justice department big time.
Political correctness in the realm of "gender equity" is total crap and ruins whatever it touches. It also gives girls and boys growing up weird ideas and practically forces them to try to go against their own natures. Girls used to dream about getting married and having babies; now they're ashamed to admit, even to themselves, that that's waht they want.
And boys are shamed about natural competitiveness and natural male aggression. So their natural agggression gets twisted into unhealthy areas.
Feminism is no lightweight evil, it's a biggie.
Really? I somehow doubt that statement. How many women got pregnant to avoid deployment or even got redeployed? Are abortions In-Theatre? What are the "Sick Call" ratios? Are the women still NOT pulling their own weight?
1) I'm sure that the women that get pregnant are redeployed and not offered abortions. At West Point, female cadets are given a 'pass' to get abortions .... somehow I doubt if that works in Iraq.
2) How many of the 38-40 women KIA were pregnant? (Best guess would be at least some of them were...)
3) How many other soldiers have died as an indirect response to having to do 'double duty'?
I assume that you've been there and know what you are talking about.
Well, I've been there....22 years of military service and saw the encroachment of women's lib on the military. I observed some fine female soldiers and some who couldn't carry water in a bucket. I was mostly in Special Operations so your quote "A man who is five feet nothing and 98 lb. is not superior to a woman who is 5'10" and 165 lb. of solid muscle, merely due to the fact that he has a penis and she has none" had no relevance. Most cultures will not even talk to you if you DON'T have a penis. In the type of war we are now in you have to develop male relationships that evolve into trust. Women in a lot of cultures haven't reached that level and won't for several generations if at all. No caterwauling will change that.
Most 5'10" and 165 lb. women of solid muscle I've encountered in my service have been BAMs.
It looks like you agree with me.
There is an innate difference in the sexes as you pointed out,and it's not just physical strength.
Women can "read" people better and have more sharply honed intuitive skills.
When I was raising my family I could automatically sense if something was disturbing one of my kids. Their father would say,"Gee, he/she seems okay to me". I was always right in this type of thing.
Dad did his thing,I did my thing and it all worked out.
I like having someone around to do the "heavy lifting" LOL
Women could be in auxiliary units,as I said.
We did very well for many,many years without women in the military facing combat.
As a female I feel that 'feminism" has actually set women back.
I am old enough that I remember when men tipped their hats to women,even young women,gave them the seats on the bus,and held doors for them.
In the old days women like my mother were not the weaker sex,their strengths were just in different areas than the men.
The strengths of each sex complemented eachother.
Women in the military is a social experiment that goes against the natural order of things. It will probably end in disaster, either in the military itself, on the civilian side, or most likely both.
Those of us who have seen the grim horror at the sharp end of infantry combat (as I did in a Mech Infantry outfit in Vietnam) are concerned at the rhetoric of many of those pushing the women in combat agenda. Daily we are regaled by the sight of 110 lb. women routinely beating the stuffing out of 250 lb male behemoths in choreographed entertainment fantasies like Buffy the vampire Slayer, Dark Angel, Tomb Raider and the Matrix Reloaded. We all listened breathlessly to the initial (later revealed as inaccurate) reports of brave little Jessica Lynch mowing down hordes of Iraqis.
It is only natural that with this continual barrage of opinion shaping that an attitude will begin to form that women are just as generally capable of participating in infantry combat as men are, with a comensurate erosion of the rationale for excluding them in the first place.
This is not to say that women can not serve in positions that enhance military capability, they are already serving in them, and serving well and honorably. It was Nazi Armament Minister Albert Speer who cited the German failure to mobilize their women in the manner that the Allies did in WWII as a significant factor in the Nazi defeat. In situations involving large scale mobilization, they are essential. (Don't forget that the Soviets only did it because of the hugely staggering quantity of casualties that they suffered, on a scale that we can scarcely concieve of) That is not the case now as most personnel requirements could be met with the available pool of qualified males. Today, the issue is clouded by feminists and their societal influence ranging from lefist cum Marxist to liberal gender equity advocates. All too often combat readinesss, morale and unit cohesion is secondary to remaking the military institution into one which advances a radical social agenda. The decision to incorporate such large numbers of women into today's military is a political decision, not one of military necessity has was the case with the Soviets during World War II.
One of the problems in assesing the impact of this issue vis-a-vis the Iraq war is the fact that we handily defeated them with the forces that were already in place in the invasion phase. Due to a combination of the skill of our superbly trained, equipped, motivated soldiers; and the ineptitude of our enemy (but they are getting better) our casualty rate has been thankfully far lower than we should have been reasonably able to expect given historical precedents. Notwithstanding this the question must be asked as to what would happen should we face an enemy that could inflict the sort of casualties on us has was the case during the fighting in northwest Europe in WWII? The United States Army was forced to comb out military personnel who had been assigned to the Army Specialized Training program as technical personnel (aircrew, radar operators, etc) and convert them to infantry to replace the staggering losses. Since 14% of the Army is not deployable to such duty (women) this does not bode well for such an eventuality. While we can continue to pray that we will never again face an enemy that will be able to attrite us as the German and Japanese Armies did, we MUST not plan as though it will never again happen. The Iraq war as it is presently playing out IS NO TEST OF THIS PROPOSITION.
Many commentators are relentless in their determination to ignore the considerable body of factual evidence indicating that the present policy of sexual intergration is inconsistent with certain vital forms of combat readiness. Study after study (reinforced by my 20 yrs of anecdotal observation in the active duty military and NG) highlight the physical unsuitability of most women for the tasks of the combat soldier, and often even the support soldier. My personal observations include the inability to change the tires on military vehicles, clear routine stoppages on M60 medium MG's and .50 cal HMG's, carry heavy loads any appreciable distances at necessary speeds, lift and evacuate casualties, and an inordinate disposition to injury. The reason that the military adopted "dual physical training standards" was to ensure politically acceptable numbers of women, since 40-60% of them would be washed out if they were required to meet male physical training requirements. My son, a reservist in a NG chopper unit, is contemptuous of what he describes as continual coddling of female soldiers. He is planning to transfer to an infantry unit.
In situations of full mobilization, women are essential. I believe that women are a militarily valuable asset, provided that asset is used in a manner that makes the military ready to fight, and subordinates feminist social engineering to that end.
Hundreds of thousands of women have served and are serving their country honorably and well. I honor them for their service and accept them as comrades and fellow veterans. We can only hope that their service will be continued in such a manner as to enhance the ability of the military to fight. The potential consequences for the individual soldier and the military's mission are too serious to subordinate to social engineering.
Yes, and in the "old days" (the 1970s) I was unable to rent an apartment without my father's signature on the lease, although he was retired in Alabama on a disability pension and I was a successful engineer. Because he was a man and I was 'a girl'.
And in the "old days" I could not get into law school, "because it's no use teaching girls to be anything; they just get pregnant and quit." I was told that my scores on the LSAT and my university grades "are high enough if you were a man, but WE DEMAND HIGHER GRADES FROM THE GIRLS."
I have been fighting for 40 years against this "Men are men and women are girls" mentality and I'm sick of it. However, I expect this entire generation of men have to die off, and the last one to die will be moaning 'NO GIRLS IN THE CLUB HOUSE!' as he shuffles off to a Heaven in which he will be horrified to find that women are not kept around only as brood mares and sex objects and typists.
Unless he's a Mormon, of course.
"If a woman is physically incapable of doing a job, she ought not to do it. If a man is physically incapable of doing a job, he ought not to do it. A man who is five feet nothing and 98 lb. is not superior to a woman who is 5'10" and 165 lb. of solid muscle, merely due to the fact that he has a penis and she has none. This is not a question of male and female. It is a matter of ability to do a job."
You are missing the point. More than likely the "5 foot nothing, 98 lb male" will not make the selection cut due to physical unsuitability. The 5 foot nothing woman with identical physical capability could possibly be selected under the "gender normed" regime of dual physical standards that have been adopted to insure politically acceptable numbers of women.
Remember, a man who can only meet the female standard of physical fitness gets washed out. Women get to stay and are magically presumed to be able to do the same job under the same criteria as the washed out male soldier.
No YOU are missing the point. I am saying that there ough to be ONE standard and ANYBODY who meets it ought to be accepted and anybody who does NOT meet it ought to be washed out.
I am 100% against a standard for men and a standard for women. ONE STANDARD FOR EVERYBODY.
"And in the "old days" I could not get into law school"