Skip to comments.Feminizing America’s Fighting Force
Posted on 02/22/2011 9:34:36 PM PST by Coleus
With dont ask, dont tell scrapped by congressional vote late last year and open homosexuals now free to be all they can be in the armed forces, activists determined to force social change on Americas military have once again turned their efforts toward placing women into combat roles. On January 14, the Associated Press reported that a military advisory commission was putting the final touches on a diversity study that includes a recommendation that the Pentagon scrap the rule that for over 200 years has kept women from serving directly in combat. While the Military Leadership Diversity Commissions 131-page draft report, entitled From Representation to Inclusion: Diversity Leadership for the 21st-Century Military, offers a plethora of recommendations to address the supposed need for broader diversity in the military, its most widely publicized prescription is encapsulated in a small section (pages 74-77) recommending that women be allowed to serve in combat in order to create a level playing field for all qualified service members.
Then and Now
Presently women may serve in the proximity of combat in support roles, but are prohibited from being assigned to any unit smaller than a brigade whose primary mission is direct combat on the ground, reported the Associated Press. The Pentagon says that currently about 14 percent of the nations armed forces are composed of women, and of the 2.2 million service members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, an estimated 255,000 have been female personnel. According to Department of Defense (DOD) statistics, as of early January 2011, a combined total of 134 women service members had been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, compared to 5,700 men. Many of the women killed, as well as the hundreds of others who have been wounded and maimed during the nine-year conflict, were the victims of improvised explosive devices (remote-controlled makeshift bombs buried in roadways).
By comparison, according to the Army Times, some 33,000 women were deployed during the first Persian Gulf conflict, and 16 were killed, nearly all medical personnel. An estimated 7,000 women served during the prolonged Vietnam War, and 16 made the ultimate sacrifice. Among those killed in the early days of the 2003 invasion of Iraq by U.S. forces was Lori Piestewa, a 23-year-old mother of two who was serving as a supply clerk when the convoy she was part of was ambushed in Nassiriya. Eleven other soldiers were killed in the attack, and several injured and captured, among them PFC Jessica Lynch, whose dramatic rescue and contrived account of heroics were used to demonstrate how effectively women could fight alongside men. In reality, neither Piestewa nor Lynch had expected or desired combat duty, and multiple accounts confirm that Lynchs wounds were too severe to permit her to fight off her captors.
Over the next few years, women personnel were killed or maimed on a semi-regular basis, and the accounts of the sacrifices they made for their country were often used to buttress the case for using women in combat. One of those permanently disabled while serving in Iraq was Major Ladda Duckworth, who lost both of her legs when a rocket-propelled grenade exploded inside her Black Hawk helicopter. As the militarys diversity commission released their draft report, Duckworth was trotted out to declare how, as quoted by NPR, she would eagerly go back into combat in a minute for the honor of being able to serve next to some of the greatest folks that Ive ever been able to serve next to. Its about the job. Women are doing that right now.
With the enormity of the dramatic change the 31-member Diversity Commission is suggesting in combat troop makeup, it is surprising that its draft report offers nothing to counter the exhaustive 1992 study completed by the Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces, convened by President George H.W. Bush after the 1990-91 Persian Gulf action. That commission came to the determination by majority vote that women had no place in direct combat on land, in the air, or on submarines and amphibious vessels. Since Americas armed forces have not been involved in any campaign since Vietnam that included large-scale and protracted battlefield involvement with the enemy, there are no relevant instances of women performing effectively in combat situations on the ground, other than a few examples from Iraq and Afghanistan where a minority of female support personnel have found themselves thrust into battle.
Nonetheless, with little to draw from, the commission forged gamely ahead to make its case. For example, ignoring the absurdity of comparing race to gender in the present debate, the commission report states:
One frequently-cited argument in favor of the current policy is that having women serving in direct combat will hamper mission effectiveness by hurting unit morale and cohesion. Comparable arguments were made with respect to racial integration, but were ultimately never borne out. Similarly, to date, there has been little evidence that the integration of women into previously closed units or occupations has had a negative impact on important mission-related performance factors, like unit cohesion.
Arguing that the militarys exclusion of women in combat roles is out of sync with the realities of present-day warfare, the commission noted that some of the military women deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have already been engaged in activities that would be considered combat-related, including being collocated with combat units and engaging in direct combat for self-defense. Lory Manning of the Womens Research and Education Institute insisted the move to put women in combat is a logical outcome of what women have been doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the Army and Marines have been essentially ducking the policy. They come up with the [term] attaching someone to a unit as opposed to assigning, but theyve been doing it for nine years now.
But Lieutenant Colonel Robert Magin-nis (U.S. Army, retired), a senior fellow for national security with the Family Research Council (FRC), pointed out that like many others anxious to make a case for placing women in combat, Manning has mistaken the counterinsurgent nature of the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan with the more complex and protracted mechanics of conventional warfare. While some women, in violation of long-established DOD statutes and regulation, have been attached (but not assigned) to ground combat units in support roles, Maginnis said he was unaware of women conducting the tough counter-insurgent ground operations that male soldiers did, particularly in the early days of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Few women have truly been in ground combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, Maginnis told The New American, and those who were pressed into service did so out of the necessity of the moment, not because they were part of a cohesive team of fighting soldiers. Being present in hostile engagements or hit by a roadside bomb is dangerous, but not like taking the fight to the enemy, he explained. Few women should or have been asked to take the fight to the enemy whether he be hiding in rocks outside Afghan villages or inside mosques in Fallujah. That is an entirely different proposition.
Of course, all military personnel serving in hostile locales such as Iraq and Afghanistan can be considered in harms way. But the peril in which those serving as combat support find themselves is far different than that faced by the brave men who, as Maginnis noted, take the battle to the enemy. In a March 2008 report on women in combat, the Center for Military Readiness (CMR) recalled the launch of Americas 2003 invasion of Iraq, when infantry, armor, artillery, Special Operations Forces, and Marines led the fast-moving ground assault to liberate Baghdad. Over a year and a half later, in November 2004, the same troops, fighting door-to-door and street-to-street, cleaned out Fallujah, an enemy stronghold. Those intense battles, and many others waged by U.S. troops throughout the region, are a true reflection of direct ground combat, which, noted the CMR report, involves more than the experience of being in harms way.
Contrary to the arguments of proponents of placing women in combat, the offensive missions of direct ground combat units, such as the infantry, have not changed, noted another report from the CMR, whose president Elaine Donnelly served on the 1992 Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces. Our female soldiers are indisputably brave, but the military cannot disregard differences in physical strength and social complications that would detract from the strength, discipline, and readiness of direct ground combat units. These troops attack the enemy with deliberate offensive action under fire.... No ones infantryman son should have to die because [a] support soldier nearest him cannot lift and single-handedly carry him from the battlefield if he is severely wounded under fire. Most male soldiers have that physical capability. Female soldiers, no matter how competent and brave, do not.
Another member of the 1992 commission, Colonel Ron Ray (USMC, retired), a decorated veteran of the Vietnam conflict and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration, noted that there is significance behind the term selective service used by the military in choosing who will join Americas armed forces. In theory, if not in practice, only the most select of individuals physically, mentally, and emotionally are chosen to serve. Men and women are profoundly different and those enormous differences have military significance, Ray told The New American. Across the world men and women do not compete together in sports in the high school, college, Olympic, or professional levels of sport, and it is solely because their physical differences are substantial.
What holds true in athletics is of life-and-death importance on the battlefield. As a combat veteran, Ray lived through a brutal 1967-68 combat tour in Vietnam, including the infamous Tet Offensive. From my own personal experience, said Ray, I can attest to the fact that physical combat, close combat, infantry, artillery, armor combat all are profoundly more demanding than any sport, and there is no place there for women combatants.
An Exhaustive Study
Following the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War, as Congress was considering a repeal of the ban on women in combat, President George H.W. Bush appointed the 15-member Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces, which was charged with analyzing all aspects of women in combat. Following an eight-month study, in which its members pursued the most thorough investigation that has been done on the issue to date, the commission came to the majority conclusion that the DOD should continue the ban on the assignment of women to combatant aircraft, land combat and special forces units, and most combat ships.
As the CMR noted in a review of that commissions study, Congress held no hearings on the commissions findings, and under the incoming Clinton administration the DOD began assigning women to combat aircraft in April 1993, which was followed by a repeal of the policy exempting women from most combat ships. While Congress and the Clinton administration (along with the most recent commission) chose largely to ignore the commissions report, its findings of nearly 20 years ago remain a vital epistle to present leaders, as they appear ready to welcome women into the historically male role of warrior and defender.
While the evidence arguing convincingly against women in combat is wide ranging, two factors stood out above the rest in the commissions findings, as summarized by the CMR in a 2004 report:
Unit Cohesion: The commission heard testimony confirming that the cohesion of a military unit develops where members share common values, conform to group standards of behavior and performance, lose their personal identities, focus on shared goals, and become totally dependent upon each other all for the purpose of meeting critical military objectives. The commission concluded that cohesion would suffer in the male-dominated combat sphere with the introduction of women. Cohesion can be negatively affected by the introduction of any element that detracts from the need for such key ingredients as mutual confidence, commonality of experience, and equitable treatment, noted the CMR summary.
Further factors affecting such cohesion would include the real or perceived inability of women to carry their weight without male assistance, the interference with male bonding that would come with the presence of the opposite sex, the natural instinct for men to protect women, and the potential for inappropriate relationships between male and female soldiers, particularly when perceived as a way to escape from combat duty.
One Navy Special Warfare commander testified to the commission, Even if some women are strong enough to handle the physical demands of combat, the introduction of factors such as sexual entanglements and jealousies would make the forward commanders job more difficult. According to the CMR report, Commanders of Special Operations Forces testified that because of unparalleled physical demands and forced intimacy, even in training, women would degrade the readiness, cohesion, and effectiveness of their units.
Combat Considerations: The ground combatant relies heavily on his physical strength and stamina to survive, fight, and win, noted the CMR summary. The Commission heard an abundance of expert testimony about the physical differences between men and women, differences that would disqualify women from serving effectively in combat. Among the disparities:
1) Women are shorter, have less muscle mass and weigh less than men;
2) Female aerobic capacity is approximately 70-75 percent that of males;
3) women are at twice the risk for injuries to their lower extremities and at nearly five times the risk for stress fractures, according to a 1988 Army study.
The commission found that the experience of other countries offered little reason to believe the United States could successfully introduce women into combat. For example, noted the CMR summary, Of 103 women recruited for infantry training after Canada repealed its combat rules in 1989, only one woman succeeded in meeting the physical requirements necessary to complete the training. Further, the commission viewed a report from the federal Government Accountability Office showing that during Desert Shield/Desert Storm, 18 to 20 percent of female soldiers in some Army units were un-deployable. It also saw reports showing that 56 percent of personnel deployed in Desert Shield/Desert Storm with mixed-gender units said that some women in their units became pregnant just before being deployed, or even while they were in the Persian Gulf, making these women un-deployable.
Equal Opportunity or Military Readiness
Perhaps the clearest argument against women in combat can be found in the Alternate Views section at the end of the commissions report, which emphasized that the key issue in preparing to win and survive in combat is not what is best for the individual, but what is best for the unit and the military as a whole. While civilian society may rightly forbid discrimination in many types of employment, the military, in building fighting units, must be able to choose those most able to fight and win in battle. There is good reason for this. In a combat unit serving on land, at sea, or in the air, the inability of any member of the group to perform at levels demanded by the battlefield can present a direct risk to the lives of others and to the accomplishments of the military mission.
For the majority of those endorsing the move, however, what is best for the nation and its fighting forces appears to have taken a back seat to what is best for women wishing to advance their military careers. With combat experience often a prerequisite for promotion to senior positions in the military, proponents call the move one of fairness. Former Marine Captain Anu Bhagwati, who serves as executive director of the Service Womens Action Network, argued that holding them back from active combat positions represents a huge glass ceiling for servicewomen. It is archaic, it does not reflect the many sacrifices and contributions that women make in the military, and it ignores the reality of current warfighting doctrine.
Maginnis pointed out that the supposed glass ceiling that frustrates some female officers ambitious for promotion is necessary because most high commands require commanding combatants. One should appreciate from personal experience the role before commanding such units. Since only men serve in ground combat roles, explained Maginnis, it stands to reason that only men will eventually command large, ground forces. He emphasized that commanding large numbers of fighting men is not something learned in the classroom, and tough to learn in peacetime. The Alternate Views section of the 1992 commission report noted that while all service members are free to pursue opportunities for career advancement, when it comes to combat assignments, the needs of the military must take prec-edence over all other considerations, including the career prospects of individual service members.
During testimony the commission found itself barraged with witnesses who insisted that the military must pay any price and bear any burden to promote equal opportunities and career progression for an ambitious few mainly female officers who consider the common-sense policy confining. But military policies must be based on actual experience and sound judgment, not doctrinaire notions of sexual equality unsupported by human experience and history, the Alternate Views summary emphasized.
The summary noted that in its intensive, eight-month study, the Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces concluded that assigning women to combat would: 1) adversely affect the critical components of combat readiness, unit cohesion, and military effectiveness; 2) leave women exposed to the possibility of involuntary assignment to combat and conscription; and 3) overturn two centuries of settled law and military policy based on deeply held and commonly shared cultural assumptions defining how men should treat women. Most significantly, the exhaustive study confirmed to the majority of commissioners that the military does not need women in [and] should not assign women to combat.
Falling on Deaf Ears
As happened when the report was first released in 1992, those important lessons may continue to fall on deaf ears, as those in key positions appear willing to stand passively by while what has been allowed by default slowly becomes twisted into policy. In a speech last November, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pointed out that over the last several years women service personnel have experienced their share of battlefield risks as they have worked in support roles. I know what the law says, and I know what it requires, he said. But Id be hard pressed to say that any woman who serves in Afghanistan today, or who served in Iraq over the last few years, did so without facing the risks of their male counterparts. Mullen said that in much of present-day warfare there is no longer a clear delineation between the front lines and the sidelines. Speaking of those in uniform cycling back from service in the Middle East, he declared that this will be the first generation of veterans where large segments of women returning will have been exposed to some form of combat.
But Colonel Ray explained that the campaign to insinuate women into combat roles began several generations earlier in 1950, with the appointment of Anna Rosenberg as Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Truman administration. Recalled Ray, Anna Rosenberg was well known as a liberal member of the Roosevelt administration, and after being appointed as the first Assistant Secretary of Defense, she initiated the creation of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS), which became a feminist activist group in the Pentagon, promoting the move of American women closer and closer to the battlefield.
According to Ray, the recent recommendations of the Military Leadership Diversity Commission represent the latest in a protracted bipartisan political campaign to feminize Americas fighting force. This is really the culmination of a 60-year effort to promote the civilian notion of equal opportunity for women, he said, so that it predominates over the vital traditional and uncompromising American military standards of combat readiness, exemplary conduct, unit cohesion, and military effectiveness. And the ultimate consequences of this campaign will be the compromising of Americas historic ability to defend her vital national interests in peace and war.
Its Darwinian A lot of leftist women want to be cannon fodder. I say give them their chance, with the upside of
an improved gene pool.
My niece is in the army reserve. She is hard-core military. I understand that she is not as strong as a man, but there is a slot for her.
Why did Russia and Israel make similar decisions?
1) Both found that all-female or mixed male-female units had higher casualties. The women would try to “prove” themselves by taking more risks = high casualties. Or, the males would try to protect the females = higher casualties.
2) Differences in physical strength and endurance.
3) Horrendous effects on unit morale when women died in often very gruesome ways. Female deaths and severe wounds caused harsh psychological problems for both sexes.
4) In mixed sex units fraternization, favoritism, abuse of authority, and jealousies were very bad.
Combat is bad enough, then or now. However, multiculturalism demands PC in the ranks and it needlessly puts females at greater risk, especially when the enemies are Muslim.
Wait till May-June when the high school`class of 2011 graduates. Will they shun the military en masse? Will the class of 2007, upon finishing their 1st hitch op out en masse? Will the Defense Dept. call for a new draft? Will the GOP go along or force the RATS to show their butts in trying to get the draft re-started????
Will they shun the military en masse?
No. We already have the delayed entry numbers we need. We will be fine in the military until the economy comes roaring back and then and only then will we have problems. The GI bill will be what makes the retention a problem after that. The new GI Bill is VERY generous and will DEFINITELY have an impact on retention.
Good post, thanks.
We have such well informed "experts" today that the lessons of history are no longer applicable.
"That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that History has to teach
-- Aldous Huxley
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
— Rudyard Kipling
The mission of our military is to fight and win the nations wars. That's it. It is not to be a social experiment.
When I was a commander I had a female soldier who was pregnant. We were deploying in the next year. During a retention interview she told me that she wanted to have her child and then go on the deployment with the unit. I told her she didn't have to do that she could stay rear det. She was going to leave the baby with her mother, she was a single mother. When we deployed the child would have been six months old.
I told her she should talk to her mother about this and wait until she had the child. After she had the child she changed her mind. If she wouldn't have changed her mind I don't know what I would have done.
While soldiers when captured by the enemy are often subjected to abuse or even torture, what would happen to female soldiers especially in cultures where women are regarded as little more than cattle? The recent sexual attack in Egypt on CBS News reporter, Laura Logan, would be a walk in the park compared to what a captured female soldier would have to endure.
Thanks for the Kipling quote.
It’s a KEEPER!
“Gods of the Copybook Headings”; he wrote it in 1919, and pretty-much forecast the next 100 years.
We can learn that from observing what often happens in civilian life.
My company, a leader in their field, was forced by an EEO complaint to add more females to work crews.
Up to that time there were few females on the crews because the work was demanding and hard, required extensive travel, and projects were often in places most females did not want to work for safety concerns.
In order to keep the females from quitting they were given the plum assignments and because most women could not produce the quantity and quality of work that was the norm, extra men were added to the crews to pick up the slack.
We ended up with half the men trying to do their work for them and/or hit on them. The other half was resentful over the females special treatment, unearned promotions, and inability to carry their share of the workload. Eventually their resent translated into obstructive behavior.
Supervisors were still required to maintain standards of manloading, production and quality so the introduction of under-performing crew members made their jobs much more difficult.
Production dropped, costs went up, quality suffered and we became less competitive. Today, for this and other reasons, that company is out of business. Of course there were other factors at work but the change in crew composition was a big contributor to the demise of the company.
Thanks for the reference.
I’ll be reading it soon!
Read it soon, read it often.
Brief description of “Copybook Headings” here:
We are ruled by te political correctness,easured by a usurping tyrants foot: Commander in Thief.
They know very well this will cause problens of military effectieness. Its the same with the abolishment of don;t ask, dont tell.
It is being done to demoralize and destroy military effectiveness. Thats the whole point.
We now cannot have the military liberating oppressed peoples, that is the kings job, to export his own personal brand of revolution.Soon he will need his own pesonal military, and he cannot have it without fist destroying the best volunteer military the world has ever seen.
How? By destroying the bond of brotherhood that all combat soldiers feel in combat, because they fight for each other. Obama and the left mean to destroy that. It is their sworn goal.That in fact is what this ‘females in combat’ meme and the abolishment of DADT meme is all about