The U.S. Military Takes a Step Forward – Women are Now Allowed in Combat Roles

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The U.S. military is now ending its ban on women in combat positions. Did you have to read that sentence again? I still do, and I just typed it …and heard it on NPR this morning, and I heard it on the television last night. I still feel like it’s not something I should be hearing in 2013. No, I’m not talking about the lifting the ban part, I’m talking about the ban to begin with. It’s been nearly 100 years since we gave women the right to vote (and I’m hoping it was equally bizarre to at least some people back then that they didn’t have that right before 1920), and just now can women die fighting for that right, at least officially and directly.

Women have already been dying and getting severely injured in wars for years now. Tammy Duckworth, a disabled veteran currently serving in the House is great proof of that, and proof what kind of a hero a woman can be. The helicopter  she was co-piloting was hit by a rocket propelled grenade in Iraq. Tammy was in the air, though, and a lot of the ban was on ground troops. Still, that proves that devotion and strength of character of women aren’t in question, nor should they ever have been. After all, there are plenty of women buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Even on the ground, though women have been in the line of danger for quite some time.  As CNN points out, too, “More than 800 women were wounded [in Iraq and Afghanistan], and at least 130 have died.” War now is quite unlike war in centuries or even decades past. There isn’t really a defined front line anymore. Developing new strategies to fit into this truth is part of our struggle in Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s also part of the struggle to figure out what our policies and strategies should be in the continuing ‘War on Terror.’ Like it or not, we don’t fight just one clearly defined enemy in a clearly defined space anymore. Our enemies are vast and spread out. As such, women in military roles are already basically in combat roles. As Joe Davis, director of public affairs for the Veterans of Foreign Wars points out, “The current DOD policy is to not assign women to combat units, yet irregular warfare, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan, places those in combat support or combat-service support units in just as much risk as the infantry.” In Afghanistan women are also used as outreach to locals. At any point an assignment like that can already morph into a combat mission.

The last piece in this is that though they could technically already fight and die for their country the ban on combat roles effectively banned them from moving up the ranks in the military like a male could. That is perhaps one of the more outrageous effects of this. Top level commanders are (pretty rightfully) required or preferred to have combat badges, and without those badges, women aren’t allowed into those positions, either. As Greg Jacop, policy director for the Service Women’s Action Network says, “If women remain restricted to combat service and combat service support specialties, we will not see a woman as Commandant of the Marine Corps, or CENTCOM commander, or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” He then goes on to point out a specific example in General Ann Dunwoody, the only woman four-star General in the history of the U.S. military, who was not considered for appointment to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, despite her qualifications. They want to see actual combat veterans in those roles, and, again, that’s not an unreasonable thing in and of itself.

“If women remain restricted… we will not see a woman as Commandant of the Marine Corps, or CENTCOM commander, or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff”

By now I’ve heard many arguments against this, and each one is a bit more suspicious than the last. The first argument is that men would fall prey to emotions, particularly when a woman in their unit is hurt. First, the same sort of logic would apply to friends, too, and as far as I’m aware generally a unit tends to become friends with one another. Being in a dire situation with someone else will do that to you naturally. So, you’re always going to get a strong emotional reaction when someone in your unit dies or is severely injured. This has almost nothing to do with gender. The unit should hopefully be trained well enough to overcome those sorts of things and do their mission.

I’ve even seen people say studies prove those emotional responses. Perhaps that is a real thing. There may very well be a visceral reaction in men to seeing women directly in combat. That’s not really an excuse to keep the ban, however. Those reactions could be deeply rooted in our previously sexist society and traditional gender rolls. I’d bet money that you could find some bad reactions among some whites towards black people when we started desegregating the military and Eisenhower allowed African American soldiers to join white units. At that time, however, the problem wasn’t physical, it would likely have been trust issues. Still, trust is a rather important thing when you’re in combat. I’m sure at that time someone could come up with a convincing argument on what it might do to morale. Despite this, we can’t continue discriminatory policies based on current racist/sexist discriminatory sentiments. It almost becomes a self-perpetuating circle. You have a negative opinion of a group in a role, and then can’t let them into that role because of that negative opinion. In the end it’s nonsense. You have to look to the future.

“We can’t continue discriminatory policies based on current racist/sexist discriminatory sentiments.”

That brings me to the physical problem. The next argument is that women aren’t strong enough to climb over walls or carry a fallen comrade like a man would be. Well, when it comes to choosing particular people you really can’t rely on averages. Even if you say that women are on average less strong, then that doesn’t really say anything. For example, in the Olympics there are a few sports where men on average tend to excel beyond women. Now does this mean when I’m putting together a team that I should only pick men and ban all women? Does this mean I, personally, would be a better choice on say a co-ed swimming team than a female Olympic athlete like Allison Schmitt? After all, on average men might be the better swimmers! No, you’d always pick that Olympic athlete. On an individual level they could kick my butt without even trying. I wouldn’t even be able to touch Allison’s 200m freestyle record despite the apparent genetic advantage of having a penis. That’s what you have to look at, the individual level. There are plenty of women in the world stronger than me. There are plenty quicker than me. And there are definitely plenty far more capable of handling themselves in combat than me. Why should I still have a right that they don’t? If you have what it takes on the individual level, then your genitals shouldn’t bar you from entry. If they do, then that’s sexism, pure and simple.

In the end there will be some adjustment. With strides like this and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, there will probably be a few ripples, but that’s just for now. In the end, just like when white people had to accept black people into their units, people will overwhelmingly learn to fight alongside whoever else is willing to fight and die for their country, and we’ll all be better off for it. Now if only we’d make better strides to curb our sexual assault epidemic in the military. Women shouldn’t have to fear being sexually assaulted more than being killed in combat, but, that’s for another post. One baby step at a time.

78 comments

  1. Ruth Rainwater

    Hm, interesting post. We are slowly climbing our way to an equal society. I know many people think having women in combat is wrong, but I haven’t heard any real, rational arguments against it, just a load of BS. Your last-but-one sentence is quite telling. And it’s interesting to me that every time we try to make strides in equality, the old arguments are dusted off and recycled.

    • DogTags

      Here’s a rational argument for ya: Women are weak. Weak women will reduce the ground combat unit’s effectiveness. Women will NEVER be physically equal with men. To pretend men and women are equal in all aspects or that their differences won’t have any consequences on the battlefield is simply insanity. The military’s job is to defend the nation. In order to do that the military must kill people and to break things. Women are not designed for killing people or breaking things. The military is not a place for your left-wing crazy social engineering. Don’t you have some Kindergarteners to introduce to sex education? Leave the military alone.

  2. makeitfun4thumbs

    Have you signed up to join our brothers and sisters in arms? You make Don’t Ask Don’t Tell sound like a bad thing. If you go back to history, it was initiated by our Liberal leaders of the 1990s to prevent asking if someone was gay or not. It opened the door to allow more people into the military without questioning their sexuality. Their sexual identity doesn’t matter. It makes no difference if someone is gay or not, married or not, so long as the service member showed up to work and performed their job professionally. Recent events in the news chastise DADT. Because I was enlisted when DADT was installed and originally in the news, I was harassed by my civilian friends and civilian classmates. I was the subject of many jokes, despite being heterosexual.

    I’ve known several homosexuals who performed tremendously in combat. No, wait, I don’t. Because the servicember did not go around announcing his sexuality. Because in the US military, your sexual identity does not matter. You have a job to perform.

    You are rightfully supporting women in combat. I’ve know many. And I ask, are you willing to join them?

    • Trevor

      You’re right that DADT was a good thing for a time in that it allowed someone to serve whether gay or not. It was a baby step on the way to where we actually need to be. It was a bandaid on a bigger problem. Repealing it was another step forward, though, on the way toward real equality. You’re right, your sexual identity should not matter in the military, because you have a job to perform, so why would we force homosexual and bisexual members to hide it? It was a discriminatory policy. You could talk all you want about your heterosexual life, but if you were homosexual, you couldn’t. Why should we bar them from being able to talk about their families or their relationships with their unit members? I’m sure many members talk about their girlfriends, boyfriends, wives, or husbands back home. Why should merely mentioning that you might have a boyfriend back home if you’re a man suddenly make you unfit to serve our country? Why should merely saying “I’m gay” bar you from serving? Why should someone finding out that you might be gay bar you from serving? You said it yourself, “Their sexual identity doesn’t matter. It makes no difference if someone is gay or not, married or not, so long as the service member showed up to work and performed their job professionally.” Let them do their jobs. Let them do it as themselves. Let them serve their country as who they really are. Let them die for their country as who they really are inside. You shouldn’t have to hide who you are from the country you’re willing to die for. That’s silly, and DADT was a bad policy in the long-term.

      • makeitfun4thumbs

        You have valid points. You said people should serve as they really are. Should I tattoo my religion on my forehead so others know what I believe? So that we can sit around and discuss one religious view after another? Of course not.

        I’ve enjoyed our discourse yet I still want to know when you plan to join the military or if you ever have.

        I see you have a contributor to your site with a masters of divinity. I am curious should that contributor serve as a Chaplain in the military, how he would provide counseling for same sex couples.

      • Trevor

        I fail to see how tattooing your religion on your forehead compares to being openly gay in the military. The fact is that you’re speaking from a point of heterosexual privilege. Plenty of heterosexual military members talk about their wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, or even perhaps what woman they find hot, etc. That’s normal conversation between friends. DADT barred homosexuals from ever revealing that portion of their lives. It was an unequal and unfair policy. Again, they could never mention the people they care about or reveal that they might be writing to a boyfriend back home (if they’re male). It speaks volumes that you think a homosexual merely speaking about their real lives and who they are means that they are flaunting their sexuality and you fail to see how heterosexual people are doing the exact same things, yet apparently not flaunting it.

        And as far as I know there aren’t any rules barring religious tattoos in the military. Foreheads might be a bit much, but if I had to hazard to guess I’d say there are probably absolutely plenty of cross tattoos on people throughout the military. I’m also sure friendly unit members talk about their religious views plenty, too. Hell, you mentioned military Chaplains! Speaking about your religion isn’t banned in the military!

        I’m not sure why me joining the military has anything to do with anything at all.

      • Tim

        You don’t have to tattoo your religious views to your forehead, but you shouldn’t have to hide them or otherwise be discharged from serving.

        And why does he have to serve in order to have a discussion on the military? You don’t have to serve to have an opinion on the issue, nor does everyone have to serve in order to become a good person. His opinion is no less valid because he’s not in active duty or a veteran.

      • makeitfun4thumbs

        What started off as a great conversation with you has spiraled out from others. If you would like to continue privately, please let me know. Plus, it matters not whether you join the military or not. I was curious. This did seem to hit a chord with you and Tim.

      • Trevor

        I don’t think it hit a chord with me at all, really. I just asked why it matters. Glad you seem to admit that it doesn’t matter.

      • makeitfun4thumbs

        Your choice of words “admit” appears accusatory. I affirm it matters not. I agree it matters not. We all have opinions and are provided that right in this nation. For example, we can have a conversation about some movie. I can talk about why I think about it, what others have told me about it, however if I’ve never watched the movie, I don’t have the same appreciation for the content being discussed. Therefore, I was simply ascertaining your point of reference.

      • Trevor

        Your highly flawed comparison shows that you are definitely not just simply ascertaining my point of reference. You seem to want to take away credibility.

    • ellanutella6

      I understand your reasoning, but I respectfully disagree. I don’t think that women should be in combat for a variety of reasons, a few of which you mentioned in your post, and I don’t think this is a women’s rights issue at all. I realize that many people disagree with me, but this is just one of those issues where people generally are for or against it, and there’s no argument to sway one in another direction. Why we believe a certain way in controversial topics has everything to do with our ingrained values. You believe that the difference between a male and a female is merely their anatomy, whereas, I believe there are things that define us as men and women that go beyond mere physiology. I just recently wrote about this very topic on my blog, as well, as I suspect many people have. The values that you say are deeply rooted in our sexist society? I would disagree. The protective instinct that many men have toward women is just that, an instinct, and as such, natural.

  3. william wallace

    Its more ado to with employment than that of combat.

    Over decade the expansion of the USA military has
    drained the nations resources / millions dependent
    on their income coming via they in the forces or in
    such employment which is supplying military forces
    with its guns bullets bombs tanks as other transport
    planes / its doctors it’s nurses / dentists /it’s etc etc
    it being USA military command long long long past
    lost the plot when they believed that through brutal
    force they would then master the worlds it’s people.

    Such a madness has brought the nation to moral
    as financial bankruptcy / they could have learned
    from history the folly that such fantasy in thinking
    would only end in disaster /yet the sad reality the
    american govt as military don’t learn from history
    power mad they be hell bent in making of history.

    The other added problem american firms have
    taken their buisness to poorer countries where
    paying very poor wages / they can then make
    make vast profits untaxed a situation in which
    resulting in millions of americans unemployed.

    Thus it not in truth women are losing the plot
    it’s simply people are accepting the the best
    means in earning a income in which support
    themselves as their family as often the case.

    What’s the solution for Americans America ?.

    It’s to expand the employment opportunities
    outside that of the military & outside that of
    govt administration / where ten people are
    do govt work / which only requires the one.

    Thus it for govt & military in coming back to
    reality / stop the 24/ 7 war propaganda and
    start living with the rest of humanity not that
    of a world of fantasy where rulling the world.

  4. rami ungar the writer

    I have to say, it’s about time. And did you catch SNL last night? They mentioned this during the Weekend Update. The message was pretty clear: women were already in combat roles to begin with. This is just making it official.

  5. free penny press

    I served in the Army during first gulf war.. non-combat role.. we train just as our male counterparts, thus should fulfill combat roles. Are we saying a males life is less important than a females with regard to combat? The military is a volunteer job.. Don’t want to do combat, don’t join…

  6. yerttle

    Make the field level, then. There are different physical fitness standards for males/females. Whatever the minimum requirement for an MOS, that should be the standard. Grading on a gender curve weakens the argument that girls are as strong as boys. If everyone is required to perform the same tasks and tests, the weakness will get weeded out, male or female. On patrols, females often do not carry the same load as their male counterparts, requiring the rest of the platoon to take up the female’s slack. Is that fair? On patrols, females require escorts to take a bathroom break, putting more people at risk. If Girl’s can go pee by themselves in the field, GReAT. But they aren’t allowed to. They are required to rotate back to FOB and outposts for hygiene purposes, putting further strain on the rest of the platoon/squad/company/whatever.

    If a female is willing to die for me, I will hug her, thank her, equip her, pay her, and honor her. She needs to be doing the same job, top to bottom (rucking, running, lifting) as everyone else.

    Congress (ie the people) need to remove the handcuffs of the Double Standard. Either women are men’s equals or they aren’t. As a nation, we seem to be okay with “separate but equal” again.

    I know some ladies who have patrolled with dudes. I am so very, very grateful for their service. I also know that the dudes who went out on their missions with them carried their stuff. Chivalry has NO place on the battlefield.

    • Animus

      I think that it is true women should have the same standards – and I am sure a lot of women who would be interested would agree. Women aren’t allowed to pee by themselves? That’s ridiculous. That sounds like a policy problem, not a problem with the soldiers. The point really is they should have the opportunity to prove and try to hack it on the *same* level as men. If they can’t, they can’t.

  7. admin

    while i want women to be top operators, i can’t just see them getting hurt, we men are the coarse, useless lot, why put girls through conflicts, one region will have women fighting, another wouldn’t even let them cross even their own courtyard, men versus women is put into motion, US isn’t budging now, these guys or whoever else want to cover all the bases from where a possible attack they can think of, destroying them is something like a sweep to clean the leaves, but you don’t know can’t certain that none of those leaves twigs or burnt hay wouldn’t be in your courtyard, instead of these wars what if US’s war people, i call them that, would have spent the money to educate the poor nations it wrecked havoc on, do those little kids and youth who have been left to disabilities know who played chess and are responsible for the state in which they, their families are, hell even the most told people can’t tell who is pulling whose chords

    isreal has women but most are in r and r, it would be better to educate people than prepare every one for a battle they are wishing for reasons of which even the fucking god doesn’t know! be better people let live
    we wouldn’t be making much progress from i see, drones can go robotic but eventually these women and the men, the war machine of highest cadre would be behind whatever would control those planes,

    it is good that women must or should be respected and given opportunities, but feminism wave is uprooting almost everything and transforming into something else, i don’t know but these lines remain same, because we can’t offend women folks we have to walk a very thin thread, result the refined lines like that of constitution’s terms and conditions

    • Animus

      Women are already loosing legs and limbs in this war. Now, they will have the opportunity to be officially recognized for their service and combat experience.

  8. Francis Philip

    Women are necessary to regenerate the human race with love and dignity through the bearing of children. Why do you think we are here today? Men can not do that. Women are formed by God to be mothers, protectors and nurturers – men are formed by God to be fathers, defenders and providers. Where do you think replacement troops come from? A manufacturing facility? No, they come from the wombs of loving, nurturing mothers. Those who whine about women’s dignity lost on not being able to fight in combat units – well they are just incredibly naive about the meaning of life and the ulitimate dignifty of motherhood. Life is not about selfish ambition and neither is military service. People who go into the miltiary for their own personal promotion and money are the truly low-quality warriors – it’s all about themselves. That’s not the sort of people we need defending all that is good in the world. That stated, there are surely a select few women who may be well suited as warriors in combat units; I would not be averse to them being allowed to serve in that way if that is where their vocation really is. But, I would at the same time ask the Government to completely outlaw any sexual harassment or relations (expressed or implied) among troops in the same service. What I mean is this: no two troops can have sex or marry. Period. You can’t have it both ways – You can’t deny gender and then let gender be gender.

    • fireandair

      If God didn’t want women to be in the military, they wouldn’t want to be there. They would naturally be content with the role you want to force them into. Clearly, they aren’t.

      If they are capable, then they will do the job, with the skills that nature endowed them with. If they aren’t, then we’ll find that out.

      Basically, if women aren’t “meant” to be in combat roles in the military, then why are so many of them so damn good at it?

      • Francis Philip

        It is God who created women to be mothers; no one forces them to do anything. There is nothing I need to write on that topic since it is already proven in nature. Also, I already stated that I thought a few women are probably well-suited for combat, but not all or most. It is silly to have one of the most dignified abilities in the world – the ability to bring forth life in cooperation with God – but then to disregard that in order to procure an ability to kill instead, and to make much progress in that area not because of love, but because of ambition and a desire to prove what does not need to be proven. God does not inspire people with pride.

      • fireandair

        That’s nice, have a cookie.

        Look dude, if women did what you wanted “naturally,” you wouldn’t have to come here and tell them to do it, would you?

    • Dr. Sherri E. Ritter

      F. Philip, you are an idiot. The last time I looked it takes both a man and woman to procreate. As for those who serve being self-serving, it is obvious you have never done anything in your life for anyone other than yourself. These young men and women are anything but self-serving. When was the last time you looked at the salary of one of these warriors? Would you be willing to live in poverty and possibility sacrifice your life for anything? You are the self-serving one, you enjoy in the freedoms they paid for with their blood, while you do nothing but criticize. To top off, the last I heard it was illegal to sexually harass or abuse another person, but that has not stopped the problem.
      It is closed minded bigots like you that create the problem. Don’t let your own self- worth issues define what others can do.

      • Francis Philip

        Dr. Ritter, but I did not and do not state that women are “baby factories.” That is your misperception of my words. Now, I don’t think poorly of you because you have or had this perception. Women have been mistreated and abused in family histories; this is true. But it is not that way and has not always been that way in all family histories, and this is not how the Catholic Church teaches its children to understand women, mothers or the miracle of life. Pope Bl. John Paul II of happy memory taught clearly the Church’s position regarding the “genius of women.” The Church absolutely loves women for their unique “genius” which men would sorely be lost without. I hope that you will read his own words here:
        http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_29061995_women_en.html

    • reformedmanofgod

      Bravo, sir. Endure as you are crucified by these “unreasoning animals.” Remember to not cast your pearls before swine. Do you have a blog of some kind yourself?

  9. fireandair

    Well since women were already effectively serving in combat roles that were pretended not to be because they were filled by women, this is a bit like “letting” gays and lesbians into the military, isn’t it?

    In other words, more like recognizing reality from behind the curve. It’s about damned time.

  10. Gregory Garland

    What if this nations military took a bigger step forward and accepted responsibility for hundreds of years of living lies? What if. None of those people deserve to where any type of laurel on their uniform. According to my college education of how thyose things developed as norms for amasses of arrogant people using someone elses lineage. It’s taking everything I have at this time for refraining myself of walking into a rcruiting station, stripping the recruits uniforms of all things garland and beating their asses. If the war wasn’t about lineage why war? Some time those masses are going to have to answer one persons questions instead of questions from within their masses. Who are you waring for.

  11. william wallace

    Everyone has the right to die / how they die is in main not
    a choice /however one can put oneself in such a situation
    where one’s life at risk / or the great risk of serious injury
    such be when one forced by govt or willing join a conflict
    even though one knowing such conflicts are illegal under
    international law. A example be the invasion of IRAQ with
    the bogus claim IRAN had “weapons of Mass Destruction”
    which of course was but appalling media spin as used to
    invade trhe nation where putting in place a puppet govt
    to replace the previous puppet govt which stepped out
    of line their refusing to continue attack its neighbouring
    nation IRAN. IRAN which within the fantsay world of USA
    govt & military IRAN is being portrayed as the great evil
    which may stop western nations lead USA UK FRANCE
    having complete control of the middle east & resources.

    The sad reality for americans if one’s to remain employed
    then its either join the forces / or work for those supplying
    the military forces / or work for the FBI or CIA or the many
    other secret organizations dealing with homeland security.

    All the nations resources being ploughed into the military
    as the media in their spinning out 24 /7 propaganda that
    the USA is under attack from terrorists / where reality of
    the situation is USA govts & USA military having become
    the biggest terrorist organization the world having known.

  12. Lavender Blume

    There’s no question that gender equality is a good thing, and this may help improve the experience that many women have in the military. But women’s participation on the front lines just isn’t something I can feel good about, because I don’t feel good about the idea of anyone – male or female – participating in what is essentially state-sponsored murder, and on a broader scale, terrorism and imperialism. While I believe that many soldiers have good intentions, work very hard and are very brave, and even do some good abroad, the fact remains that overall, they are not defending their country’s freedom or spreading democracy, peace and stability around the world. They are instruments of the military industrial complex. That a new demographic can now play an even more direct part in the global campaign for political and corporate domination isn’t something to applaud, in my opinion.

  13. Dov Osher

    This is a position I once voiced for extrapolation as a consistency argument — as a child. An extrapolation of views of Dorothy Ginsberg, the kidnapping CIA Nazi who trotted out alternative social agenda — based on ‘gender equality’. She and associates advocate(d) domestic CIA institutionalized rape and slavery via ‘controls’, wanton sex, kidnapping with hormone therapy and experimental sex change in St. Johnsbury, VT, organized crime prostitution in the US and abroad, hiding the source and proliferation of venereal disease and the deliberate undermining of the US military as part of covert progression of US German-Austrian thermador. I couldn’t DISAGREE more. Gender matters. So does the rule of law — which is sometimes upheld by the military — when the wars involved are not guided profiteering efforts by the same parties mentioned. Engagement needed now to remove Hoover’s National Intelligence Directorate, the CIA (removed prior by FDR as the OSS), and restore the rule of law (including the military) and the fabric of society.

  14. primalnights

    The military takes a step forward in social equality but backwards in military readiness. I was the Command Sergeant Major in one of the US Army Five Training Divisions when the Army intigrated women in the basic training cycle at President Clintons direction to the Army.

    The Army measures its ability to mobalize and fight based on averages, average marksmanship or PT scores etc. Prior to the intigration male platoons had one standard and female platoons had a different standard. Not lower just different. An infantry soldiers physical and training requirements are different from that of a mechanic or truck driver.

    Army readiness dropped markedly in the year following intigration. Army wide basic marksmanship scored dropped, because in general female soldiers did not shoot as well. Overall Army wide Army Physical Fitness scores dropped because women did not have the same upper body strength as men. Many forms of training were redesigned to account for soldiers where were overall physically less able to accomplish training requirements. Many forms of training were deleted, life the two many carry in first aid where a soldier had to demonstrate the ability to carry a fellow soldier. This was deleted because the training was physically demanding and because many female trainees complained about the necessity of being lifted or carried with a fellow soldiers arms between their leg (To be frank about it). I dont remember single change that improved the militaries ability to do its mission and there were many that reduced it and so the DA was directed to lower the standard to accomitate the new soldiers.

    That meant that after intigration it is possible that a soldier in a combat arms postion training in an intigrated platoon, did so to lower standards due to the need to accomidate the average soldiers training needs.

    And for you to say that “Now if only we’d make better strides to curb our sexual assault epidemic in the military” is insulting. Yes sexual assult does take place in the military but it does so at the same rate that it does in the civilian community. Your link that I suppose you use to justify your stong words “sexual assault epidemic” does go over several incidents involving the Military but it does not say there is an epidemic, nore do any of the independent studies conducted on the subject.

    When you say “Even if you say that women are on average less strong, then that doesn’t really say anything” that certainly shows that you do know anything about combat. I served in combat in 4 different conflicts. I was wounded once. Shot and knocked out cold. Do you know why Im not dead. Because a fellow soldier, who was a stud of a soldier picked me up and carried me to safety. At the time I weighted 215 pounds and was carrying 120 pounds of gear. Strength is the primary thing the military trains to achieve. Every soldier in every branch of the military is required to do physical training every day to improve a soldiers physical readiness.

    No one is questioning a womans valor or honor or love of country. The military must always consider its needs for combat first and based on what is needed to accomplish that mission, this decision flys in the face of that.

    • Trevor

      Sorry I don’t have time right at the moment to go over everything, but here you go about the sexual assault in the military: “The department of veterans affairs, meanwhile, released an independent study estimating that one in three women had experience of military sexual trauma while on active service. That is double the rate for civilians, which is one in six, according to the US department of justice.”
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/dec/09/rape-us-military

      • primalnights

        This quote originates in The Guardian. A left leaning British weekly who according to its editor Ian Katz said “… it is no secret we are a centre-left newspaper …” Every quote you see on the internet about the military rape epidemic that shows the one in three number quotes this article in The Guardian. But The Guardian does not credit anyone with a quote and it is not on any DVA sites. The 3100 reported sexual assaults is on the VA’s site. 3100 divided by the number of soldiers on active duty which is between 700,000 and 750,000 depending on the source is less than 1 percent. I’m not saying that is does not happen or that it is not horrific in each case. I simply don’t believe that it is an epidemic or that it has any bearing on the topic of women in combat roles. Unless it is to say that it introduces an added complexity to what is potentially the most complex environment there is namely combat.

    • reformedmanofgod

      I have heard that the military has been training men to ignore cries for help by female soldiers if it does not comply with the mission because we are wired to help females in distress. Do you know anything about this?

      • primalnights

        I doubt it very much. I spent 14 years in the Special Forces before being wounded then spend another 10 years in Intell and retired as a Command Sergeant Major in a Training Division. When someone calls for help, no matter who it is, you respond with help. Within in the Ranger Creed are these words. “Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one-hundred-percent and then some.” The NCO Creed includes these, “My two basic responsibilities will always be uppermost in my mind—accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my Soldiers.” The Warriors Ethos says “I will always place the mission first.

        I will never accept defeat.
        I will never quit.
        I will never leave a fallen comrade.”

        No soldier will ever be trained to ignor another soldiers plea for help not matter who it is. The only exception is that the “Mission Always comes first” but you cant complete a mission without soldiers. Ive been in combat 4 times and soldiers dont ignor soldiers. Male or female.

  15. scottmathson

    Its truly taking time though, you know!? I am so happy in this forward step and can only hope that this progression keeps providing more and more equality to everyone. Its 2013 for f*cks sake! One positive step forward, and many more to come! Great writing, I appreciate this post 😉
    Cheers

  16. william wallace

    Nothing is done for nothing it having reason / that focus is on women in the combat role
    then such will be used in a propaganda campaign encouraging anti Islam / hate malice
    it be USA females will be killed in action USA 24/7 govt brainwashing media will focus on
    such their sacrifice in dying to defend American democracy american freedom & justice
    building the hate malice agin muslim nations (it imost like leading to a bombing of IRAN.

    One need look at the bigger picture when victim of govt brainwashing / not what govt’s
    want you believe in their playing with your feelings emotions but to rise above emotions
    feelings & with an clarity of understanding / see through their 24/7 media brainwashing.

  17. reaching4hishem

    Interesting point of view. I know everyone jumps on the bandwagon of the small percentage of people who fight for these “rights”. I would like to bring a different perspective. I am a woman who just finished my term in the military after 14 years last month. I got out because I felt pressured and criticized for wanting to be a mother. Now don’t get me wrong if a woman wants to serve in combat then that should be her choice; but I speak for the women who don’t! What about the women who didn’t mind filling nurse or administrative roles in the military but were forced to do other jobs after these “equal rights”. What about the women in the Navy who never planned to serve onboard ships but had no choice after the issuance of rights?! And in the future what about the women who don’t want to serve in combat but will be forced to because of these rights? What people who aren’t in the military or who have never been in fail to understand is what goes for one goes for all! There’s no exception to the rule. The women in combat seats will not be exclusively opened up for Olympic caliber athletes. All women will be required to go and if they fail to perform up to “standard” they will be harassed, criticized, and given poor evaluations. I know first hand! That’s my only objection and that’s why I got out. However I couldn’t get out until the end of my term. That was 3+ years, after I had made up my mind that I had to suffer at the hands of inconsiderate supervisors etc. Also with this change who’s to say women wont be required to register for selective service at 18? If the draft returns then why not draft them? This certainly limits our options as a woman in simply becoming a wife and mother. Despite popular belief there are still women who want to take on that role! Thanks for posting great discussion!

    • Animus

      So women who wish to be mothers are the only ones allowed to have rights? If the draft returns, then it returns and both should be drafted. That’s what a draft is – though currently we have no need for one. Moreover, I was under the impression that only volunteers are being asked to step forth as of right now. Additionally, it will still be decided in the coming years what combat roles are included, and what (if any) might not be included.

      Women who join the navy and never plan to serve on board ships? I am pretty sure you don’t get a choice in this factor. Having many friends and talked to many people in the navy, I never heard of such freedom as to be in the navy and choose where you serve (aside from rates). And for those who don’t wish to see combat – everyone joining the military should do so assuming they run the risk of putting their lives in danger. Even those women not in direct combat roles still have this risk. If you find somewhere on any website or application that says otherwise, I’d love to see it. Whether the individual is willing to admit or realize these risks, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

      If it becomes true that all women will have to test for combat roles and they are harassed, criticized, and given poor evaluations perhaps this isn’t the fault of the step in bridging this gap for women but the way these women are being treated? Perhaps should be asking why aren’t we producing solutions to the behavior of said criticizers? Such behavior is *wrong*, and should not be acceptable. Whether women should be allowed into combat roles has nothing to do with this.

      • reaching4hishem

        Animus
        It is clear you either a) didn’t read my post correctly or b) read it objectively and chose to read what you wanted. When did I say women could join the Navy and not be on ships? That obviously is obsolete and it was due to steps like this! The point I was making was women were not always allowed to serve on ships, when the rule changed it didn’t change for the ones who wanted it to. It changed for all! That leaves the women who didn’t want to be included….included! That’s my point! There are some women who would rather be in more traditional roles and ARE NEVER told at the beginning of their terms: “the rule may change and you’ll be subject to combat just so you know!” Just like those caught in the whirlwind were never given warning about the changes to women on ships, or submarines. It just happens! If you have time left on your contract then there’s nothing you can do about it. I am not trying to stop the rights of women who want to be on the front lines, I’m trying to protect the rights of those who don’t. There’s a difference! Again I just spent 14 years in the Navy and got out last month. I would have gladly gotten out sooner had I been provided the opportunity. My point is there is no one size fits all for these rules but they are being categorized that way. It’s a shame people cannot see that.

    • Animus

      You are correct, when I read your post I didn’t read that sentence correctly. For that, I am sorry. I am not saying that those who are already in military shouldn’t be taken into view – they most certainly should. I agree there is no one size fits all. That’s the problem with groups of people and organizations I suppose. It is hard to find a balance. Perhaps these issue may be addressed in the future. Perhaps it should be pointed out and discussed that those already in service should have the choice and not be forced into positions.

      Isn’t it true, however, that combat related positions are specific positions related to your rate? Wouldn’t there still be the same rates available and positions for women to join as before? Could people not still join and be in the same positions that were available before this decision? In this question, I am only going by what I have been told by friends who are in the Navy, and they are male friends as well so the information I receive may not be as good.

      I also was just trying to make the point that the way you were treated wasn’t right, and that it shouldn’t just be accepted that this is how women will and are treated in military careers.

      • reaching4hishem

        Yes you are correct that there are rate specific combat ratings for other branches not exactly the Navy. The Navy is a sea going branch and doesn’t have rates for combat for the most part besides hospital corpsman and military police. However several years ago (about 5) the DOD started IA billeting for people in the Navy. That stands for Individual Augmentees and that is where sailors are sent on the ground (combat) to help augment the Army andMarine soldiers. mostly due to the fact that many have died and they are short handed. First it started as a volunteer thing but you can imagine that didn’t last long. Now it is mandatory for all rates and all sailors to be chosen at one point and time to go. There is no backing out, if you’re chosen you go. I’m not bucking up against the system I think you got the point I was trying to make. I just wish we could have rights for both sides. But thanks for your insight and seeing my point, I see yours as well. 🙂

  18. rebeccafisseha

    Stimulating post. Although you point to trust being the issue in question when blacks were allowed to join white units, and emotion being the issue when women were being considered for combat, I think the trust issue applies to the women in combat question as well. Specifically, the inability of male soldiers to trust that female soldier can have their back as fully as a male soldier. Trust is also implied in your last paragraph that touches on the issue of sexual assault as well. So I think you’re right, the emotion argument is a flimsy one. It all boils down to trust, in my opinion.

  19. northernmalewhite

    Military Takes a Step Forward – Women are Now Allowed in Combat Roles

    yep they are running out of people who will voluntarily get themselves killed to allow some rich people to keep making money so they open it up to another “demographic”.. waging war everywhere in the name of the dollar is spreading them a little bit thin..

  20. Feliza

    It’s just kind of interesting to me, reading through the comments, that the people who are opposed to women serving are all male, and many of the supportive female commenters have served in the military.

    To clarify, I’ve never served in the military – based on the standards of physical fitness as well as vision requirements, I likely would never be allowed, which is something I researched when I was interested in joining the Navy Reserves. However, as a woman and as a human, it seems only right to me that anyone who wishes to serve their country in the military should be allowed to do so regardless of their gender, sexuality, or anything else so long as they meet physical fitness and mental health requirements.

    One of the best articles I’ve ever read on the topic was written by a female veteran who supported opening combat roles to women – as long as the standards for women in combat were raised to the same as those in place for men. It was the most logical thing I’d ever heard. If only that were the case.

    • northernmalewhite

      “For allowing soldiers to be openly homosexual, and for putting women on the front lines, Obama is weakening the moral component and the physical strength of the US military ON PURPOSE”

      Moral component? in THE ARMY? MORAL? Frontline action e.g. killing people. MORAL? Wake up there, Lady.
      They are running out of people to send out to foreign places to be killed so they have opened up the army to all-comers now. Its got nothing to do with morals, sexism, racism or anything. Its purely fiscal. As usual.

  21. Pingback: old habits, just distracted. | musings of a pirate
  22. william wallace

    Be it woman man they will face the ultimate judgement in
    facing the power of creation. In the taking of another life
    there’s no defence to make before the ALmighty it being
    the greatest the gravest of crimes / thus if one wishes as
    makes a decision that they’ll step into a role that requires
    the killing of others then the ultimate outlook being bleak.

    One need consider is their first duty unto god or govt. If
    govt requires one commits the ultimate sin in their killing
    a brother a sister / then one must side with the Almighty
    not that of govt more so with terrorist govt’s as that of a
    USA and its military forces whom in their gain to master
    the world continue robbing nations of natural resources
    where in a process in their gaining of world domination
    bring great destruction and great suffering to humanity.

  23. yerpirate

    Interesting perspective but ultimately leaves many questions unanswered. The first major one is the American penchant for seeing war as sacred, and equating the ability to cause invade other nations with the moral right to do so. I would like to see more women in key positions to avoid repeating the disastrous efforts in adventurism since the 1960s. Personally, at a field level, I am thankful for female medics, who take outrageous risks, but to see the cheer leading from people safe at home how great it is for a women to go to war on the ‘front line’ is not pleasant. You need to remember that for the United States, war means invading other countries, not being invaded. If you are stuck inside a town trying to root out ‘terrorists’ based on faulty info I can guarantee you snipers on rooftops,people with explosives and others who wish to do great harm will always target the female soldier. Our female medic was targeted for exactly that reason, while attending a wounded soldier on routine patrol in Afghanistan- the ‘enemy’ from a different culture, who is trying to get the US out of his country will not play by your equal rights rules.
    A fine read, but a bit shallow,and too many cheerleaders from armchairs in my opinion. GB person by the way.

  24. theroadtoad

    It is because of Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen and women who have volunteered to serve that we enjoy the freedoms and liberties that we have. Everyone has their own opinion and that is what makes the United States a great place to live and if you don’t like it, then quit…As for the previous post about war meaning the US invading other countries… Let me think, the American Revolution, the Civil War, Pearl Harbor, 9/11. The loss of live on our own soil pales in comparison to the losses overseas.

    Back to the topic at hand, I have been in the military for over 20 years, as both an enlisted sailor and an currently as an officer in the Army. On my first deployment in 2003 as a sapper company commander, I had the honor of serving under the very first woman combat engineer battalion commander. Let me tell you, she was a ROCKSTAR and I couldn’t have asked for a better leader. There were no special accommodations, no reduction in standards, nothing. Based on her performance, seeing and working with with many women over the last 20 years in the military, it is all about changing the culture. We have had women attack aviation pilots for years and initially it caused the same uproar. Now they don’t draw a second glance.

    • william wallace

      What happened to the road map in bringing an free PALESTINIAN STATE ?
      is the question the majority of americans keep asking. Barack remains silent.

  25. Sean Hillyer

    Great post, loved the insight. I was excited to hear this as well, it is a great step forward for women and the military as whole. The views and assumptions of people like General Jerry Boykin are outdated, a detriment to the military, and an insult to everyone who has ever worn a uniform. I for one stand in solidarity with my sisters in arms.

    • william wallace

      The problem be via TV and the movie industry americans
      can’t divide illusion from reality both in having become but
      intwinned thus a sad situation for the people of all nations.

      Via an constant 24/7 govt media brainwashing an greater
      majority of americans now fully living in the “Twilight Zone”
      thus beleiving the slaughter as destruction that they bring
      upon the world is in an defence of freedom of democracy.

  26. mkesling63

    Until all Military fulfills their humanitarian duty at home in their own country’s they bare all failures. Now they get disbanded everywhere by tops getting executed as terrorists. That humanitarian even has to be explained in providing medical, dental, housing etc to all disabled or without first before anything is a serious crime.

  27. Pingback: Editor’s Letter: Woman Warrior « Girls in Capes
  28. ssgtrock

    Welcome ladies…a brother Ranger wrote this on another site, and while I fet compelled to put my two cents in here, I thought he expressed it much better than I;

    “Now a woman can join the fun….This is your life.

    Now a women can join us carrying an 80 pound ruck sack, 2 pounds of armor, kevlar helmet, a 10 lb weapon, and a full combat load (210-30 rds abut 10 b) of ammo and grenades, while running in a skinny little ditch beside a sun baked road for 8 miles in 105 +\- 10 degree temperatures.

    Now a woman can leap through an open window, trip on the stone sill, fall face first onto a rickety table breaking her nose. and then have to wrestle face to face with a bad guy with no teeth, who has that wiry country boy strength that never, ever, quits, and kill him with her knife.

    Now a woman can butt stroke and kick the crap out of a bunch of sullen Iraqi teenagers who refuse to lay down when we’re clearing a house room by room.

    Now a woman can shoot a screaming / charging imbecile in the head from 5 feet away and watch his skinny arms flail about and see that last O face as he s**ts himself. Then she can laugh about it with her buddies, because if you don’t laugh you’ll go friggen insane. And she can do that every damned day for months at a time without any breaks.

    Now a woman can be exposed to a platoon of hungry, horny, 20 something alpha males who will all be competing to get in her pants, because…well…that’s what 20 something males do. (Remember your teens and 20′s men? How many of you had good judgement?)

    Can women keep up with 20 something bad ass door kickers? very few.

    Will they lower the standards? Hell yeah.

    Will this reduce a unit’s effectiveness in combat? Yep.

    Ranger up ladies, you wanted it you got it.”

    • william wallace

      The body can be female but the mind that of male
      thus their be females in form / but male in attitude
      thus capable of torture mass murder / where it be
      done under the cover that it’s done in defence of
      freedom democracy defending the good ‘ole USA.

      In defence of americans / where raised on a diet
      of media brainwashing / where raised on an diet
      of violence it little wonder many have lost the plot
      even more so where the nations wealth ploughed
      into the military in it’s aim being the worlds master
      such a situation where if one to be employed then
      the options are limited / it’s one joining the military
      services or to work for those supplying the military
      services other alternative is one join one of USA’s
      many secret services as example CIA FBI etc etc
      whom 24/7 work in their capturing terrorists those
      whom planning acts of terrorism against the USA.

      ps / it is reckoned by the secret services that
      99% of americans under torture do admit in
      having the capability of becoming a terrorist
      and in their then committing act’s of terrorism
      thus USA Security Services are short staffed
      fully stretched /in defence of freedom in their
      defending democracy thus there being much
      work opportunity / within the secret services.

  29. msmitch17

    ‘The arc of the moral universe bends toward justice’, and if there’s one institution that can handle being on the cutting edge, it’s the military. Those brave women and men already deal with issues that are a lot more complex and difficult than these,

    • william wallace

      More the TWLIGHT ZONE than the cutting edge
      If it were not fot the fact that they having flashing
      lights to guide them 99% of americans would not
      be abled cross the road in finding the other side.

  30. iamgaffney

    I am 100% for females being allowed to work in combat zones but the dilemma i have arrived only at the end of the post. Will there there be more sexual assaults if women start working and fighting with men? This is a great victory for our armed forces, but i can only hope they have more procedures that they have put into place to protect women from be sexually abused.

  31. lsurrett2

    I like your post and I’ve been curious about the whole idea. I asked my brother-in-law and his wife about it recently (he’s in the Air Force for 8 years) when they were in town. The reaction was interesting…neither had an issue with it. Their concern was the possible (and they foresaw it as inevitable) lowering of standards for women. I don’t mean lower than men…it’s already like that. But lower than what it is for women already. They foresee that because the ban has been rescinded, there will be a large percentage of women signing up for roles that involve combat. But what if the percentages don’t meet the expectations? Will they lower the standards for women to meet those numbers?

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