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Seven Myths About “Women in Combat"
Michael Yon ^ | 17 March 2013 | G.S. Newbold, Lieutenant General, USMC (Ret.)

Posted on 03/19/2013 9:23:52 PM PDT by robowombat

Seven Myths About “Women in Combat"

Written by G.S. Newbold, Lieutenant General, USMC (Ret.)

17 March 2013

Published here with permission from the author.

Written By: G.S. Newbold, Lieutenant General, USMC (Ret.)

Marine photo / Cpl. Jennifer Pirante Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Michelle Berglin trains for an upcoming deployment at Camp Pendleton in January.

Myth #1 – “It’s about women in combat.”

No, it’s not. Women are already in combat, and are serving well and professionally. The issue should be more clearly entitled, “Women in the infantry.” And this is a decidedly different proposition.

Myth #2 – “Combat has changed” (often accompanied by “There are no front lines anymore”).

This convenient misconception requires several counters. First, any serious study of military history will reveal numerous historical examples about how successive generations (over millennia) believed that warfare had changed forever, only to find that technology may change platforms, but not its harsh essence. To hope that conflicts over the last 20 years are models of a new, antiseptic form of warfare is delusional.

The second point is that the enemy gets a vote – time, place, and style. For example, war on the Korean Peninsula would be a brutal, costly, no-holds-barred nightmare of mayhem in close combat with casualties in a week that could surpass the annual total of recent conflict.

The final point on this myth reinforces the Korea example and it bears examination — Fallujah, Iraq in 2004, where warfare was reduced to a horrific, costly, and exhausting scrap in a destroyed city between two foes that fought to the death.

The standard for ground combat unit composition should be whether social experimentation would have amplified our opportunity for success in that crucible, or diminished it. We gamble with our future security when we set standards for warfare based on the best case, instead of the harshest one.

Myth #3 – “If they pass the physical standards, why not?”

Physical standards are important, but not nearly all of the story. Napoleon – “The moral (spirit) is to the physical as three is to one.”

Unit cohesion is the essence of combat power, and while it may be convenient to dismiss human nature for political expediency, the facts are that sexual dynamics will exist and can affect morale. That may be manageable in other environments, but not in close combat.

Any study of sexual harassment statistics in this age cohort – in the military, academia, or the civilian workplace — are evidence enough that despite best efforts to by sincere leaders to control the issue, human instincts remain strong. Perceptions of favoritism or harassment will be corrosive, and cohesion will be the victim.

Myth #4 – “Standards won’t be lowered.”

This is the cruelest myth of all. The statements of the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are telling.

They essentially declare “guilty until proven innocent” on anyone attempting to maintain the standards which produced the finest fighting force in the world. There are already accommodations (note that unit cohesion won’t be a metric), there will be many more, and we will pay a bloody price for it someday.

Pity the truthful leader who attempts to hold to standards based on realistic combat factors, and tells truth to power. Most won’t, and the others won’t survive.

Myth #5 – “Opening the infantry will provide a better pathway to senior rank for the talented women.”

Not so. What will happen is that we will take very talented females with unlimited potential and change their peer norm when we inject them into the infantry.

Those who might meet the infantry physical standard will find that their peers are expected, as leaders, to far exceed it (and most of their subordinates will, as well).

So instead of advancing to a level appropriate to their potential, they may well be left out.

Myth #6 – “It’s a civil rights issue, much like the integration of the armed forces and allowing gays to serve openly.”

Those who parrot this either hope to scare honest and frank discussion, or confuse national security with utopian ideas.

In the process, they demean initiatives that were to provide equally skilled individuals the opportunity to contribute equally. In each of the other issues, lowered standards were not the consequence.

Myth #7 – “It’s just fair.”

Allow me two points.

First, this is ground warfare we’re discussing, so realism is important.

“Fair” is not part of the direct ground combat lexicon.

Direct ground combat, such as experienced in the frozen tundra of Korea, the rubble of Stalingrad, or the endless 30-day jungle patrols against a grim foe in Viet Nam, is the harshest meritocracy — with the greatest consequences — there is.

And psychology in warfare is germane – the force that is respected (and, yes, feared) has a distinct advantage.

Will women in our infantry enhance a psychological advantage, or hinder it?

Second, if it’s about fairness, why do women get a choice of whether to serve in the infantry (when men do not), and why aren’t they required to register for the draft (as men are)?

It may be that we live in a society in which honest discussion of this issue, relying on facts instead of volume, is not possible. If so, our national security will fall victim to hope instead of reality. And myths be damned.

Gregory S. Newbold served 32 years as a Marine infantryman, commanding units from platoon to the 1st Marine Division. His final assignment before retiring in 2002 was as director of operations for the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; Philosophy; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: military; myths; usmilitary; womenincombat; yon
Here are a couple of relevant comments from this post:

To support my previous assertions that women in general are just not physically capable of the daily rigors of life as an infantry"person ", I give you this. This is an official assessment from a Presidential Commission (funny how none of this ever surfaced with the media:

From the report of the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces dated November 15, 1992, it states in part:The average female Army recruit is 4.8 inches shorter, 31.7 pounds lighter, has 37.4 fewer pounds of muscle, and 5.7 more pounds of fat than the average male recruit. She has only 55 percent of the upper-body strength and 72 percent of the lower-body strength. An Army study done in 1988 found that women are more than twice as likely to suffer leg injuries and nearly five times as likely to suffer fractures as men. Further, the Commission heard an abundance of expert testimony including:- women’s aerobic capacity is significantly lower, meaning they cannot carry as much as far as fast as men, and they are more susceptible to fatigue.- in terms of physical capability, the upper five percent of women are at the level of the male median. The average 20-to-30 year-old woman has the same aerobic capacity as a 50 year-old man. After a study was conducted at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, one expert testified that:- using the standard Army Physical Fitness Test, the upper quintile (top 20%) of women at West point achieved scores on the test equivalent to the bottom quintile (bottom 20%) of men.- only 21 women out of the initial 623 (3.4%) achieved a score equal to the male mean score of 260.- on the push-up test, only 7% of women can meet a score of 60, while 78% of men exceed it.- adopting a male standard of fitness at West Point would mean 70% of the women he studied would be separated as failures at the end of their junior year, only 3% would be eligible for the Recondo badge, and not one would receive the Army Physical Fitness badge.

I was in the AF 1973-1977 and it was a time of bringing in women to the ranks and they were held to a different standard. Women were not expected to perform to the same requirements as the men. They were given waivers excusing them from what they couldn't handle. Men were not allowed to say anything that the women were offended by. I remember while at Lowry AFB, an airman said something about a female airman as a joke to fellow airmen that was relayed to her. She was very rude and vulgar in the way she acted towards the men and it was an off the cuff comment in response to what she had said But she did get offended and cried to her superiors. The base commander wanted a head to role because she got offended and issued a statement that the women could say and do anything they wanted but the men were not allowed to reciprocate. I was FCS but I had friends in ECM that I spent a lot of time with and they had a female airman. She only worked about a week each month because she got time off or light duty for premenstrual cramps, menstrual cramps, and post menstrual cramps leaving a bulk of her duties to fall on the guys. What made it worse is they could not say anything critical about the situation without threat of article 15 or other disciplinary action. Another thing I have noticed over the last forty years is a majority of women I have known or met are constantly complaining about back problems and other ailments from normal household duties or professional duties such as nursing so I am sure there is a good possibility those who do try to hack the backpack and harsh environments are going to suffer for it, especially since women have higher rates of osteoporosis than men. I have nothing against women serving in the military and even defensive fire situations but front lines infantry is a much different animal. I remember the men vs women competitions to prove women were equal to men. They were a joke and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt they were not equal physically. All the physical challenges were handicapped. In the endurance and track and field competitions they were given huge head starts which is right off the bat saying it was not equal. Heads up racing is equal, bracket racing is an equalizer for those who can't stack up the best. If women were equal, why is it they never come close to the male runners for the top spot. It is always the fastest male and fastest female but there is a noticeable difference. Problem is, an enemy combatant is not going to cut them the same slack as the government lackeys. I am sure there are some women who can be as rude, crude, and indignant as the men but they are the exception, not the rule. My grand daughter is a Marine and can shoot as well as the men and I could not be more proud of her, but I worry about her because her size and weight of 110 pounds is not going to have much affect on a 200 + pound, muscle bound male soldier in hand to hand which happens quite often in front line infantry duties.

This damaging social experiment is being done so a handful of female officers who are true careerists want to be able to do a 'Colin Powell combat arms command punch' so they can go back to climbing the pyramid to get choice staff billets (Divison or Corps G-3) and move on to command spots in major tactical units. We will weaken the capacity of rifle and tank companies to function on the battlefield so some uniformed female politicians can slither their way to star status. I knew one female 0-6 who was the perfect example of these squalid types. She was called the 'Female O J (Simpson)' (this was before O J's legal trouble). It meant she was a card board soldier like the Simpson card board rental car advertisements.

1 posted on 03/19/2013 9:23:52 PM PDT by robowombat
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To: robowombat

That, and along with open homos in the military was designed to weaken and destroy the US military.

2 posted on 03/19/2013 11:24:27 PM PDT by Eagles6 (Valley Forge Redux)
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To: robowombat

Some of what the Marine says is cohort specific, and could possibly change. Bottom line, though, is physiological. Men are bigger and stronger than women. The difference is dramatic. Only a few women could meet the standard that should be set for infantrymen. The question is, is allowing those few to enter the infantry more disruptive than it’s worth. There are other roles - including combat roles - for which women may be just as good or better than men, or at least good enough in the sense of releasing men for the specialities for which they are needed.

I don’t have as much experience as the Marine has, but I have a broad range of experience, from Army infantry units to support units. Although that was, now, some time ago, I can say that there’s a big difference between the majority of women in the military and the few who would seek out combat. I think we can accommodate the honorable desire of those few without forcing the majority into positions in which their individual performance would be substandard and their unit’s performance risked in the name of social experimentation.

3 posted on 03/20/2013 2:51:33 AM PDT by Redmen4ever
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To: robowombat

President R. Reagan, already did this female experiment. He also tested training infantry, under draftee conditions- at the same time. Women were found to be insufficent by biology. Period. The men who trained at old Infantry training stations- by undergoing basic & AIT, in the field, performed higher than expected. Now, that last bit would seem normal, given to present standards of all missions are excellent, rated by the staff officers/NCOs evauluating themselves to their highers and so-forth. CinC President R.Reagan had a different breed of US Military, at that time.

4 posted on 03/20/2013 3:14:33 AM PDT by RedHeeler
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To: RedHeeler

The fact that we are debating this shows to what level we’ve fallen. Not possible, we’re it not for the agenda driven media.

5 posted on 03/20/2013 4:17:21 AM PDT by The_Media_never_lie (Actually, they lie when it suits them! The crooked MS media must be defeated any way it can be done!)
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To: The_Media_never_lie

Yes, and a soured leadership culture in Our US Military.

6 posted on 03/20/2013 4:39:44 AM PDT by RedHeeler
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To: robowombat

NONE OF THIS is necessary and NONE OF IT will enhance the ability of the armed forces to fight. This issue is being impelled by radical feminist activist politics and cultural marxism.

This notion of placing women into combat roles is just so easy to refute. Many of you may have heard of a little dustup called World War II. At the peak of United States involvement in that war there were 12 ½ million personnel in uniform, many of them women. Over 400,000 personnel were killed in the line of duty, against the toughest battlefield enemies this country has ever had to face, ones that were capable of and often did inflict shattering BATTLEFIELD defeats upon our sea, land and air forces. Despite this no one saw any need to place women into combat roles that had the responsibility to directly close with, engage, and destroy the enemy..

Today with a much smaller and almost hand picked elite Armed Forces, and a population base that is more than twice as large as that during World War II, there is even less need for it now than then.

This entire idiocy is being propelled by the demand for selfish feminists to qualify for chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, nothing more and nothing less than that.

This lunacy WILL weaken the ability of the Armed Forces to fight, just consider the logistical strain that it will place on the Armed Forces for separate housing and the like. The evidence of the disparity in physical suitabilities for combat MOS’s as reinforced by study after study is simply overwhelming. The effort that will be necessary to obtain a relative few qualified women will not result in anything remotely resembling any accepted model of effeciency, but since that is NOT the object any way, why worry about that? This is merely another sop to the perverted Cultural Marxist notion of fairness and equality and another step on the road of “fundamental transformation” of the vital institutions of this nation.

7 posted on 03/20/2013 11:52:34 AM PDT by DMZFrank
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