Women in Combat Roles – a Non-Starter

by DAVID SAYERS February 12, 2013

The left would have us believe placing women in direct combat roles is a problem in search of a solution. They are not only wrong but dangerously so. It is not part of a necessary military evolution such as going from a battleship Navy to a carrier Navy. As the old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Since the early days of mankind, the male role has traditionally been that of the protector /provider and the woman's role that of mother/nurturer. Despite outcries from the left, especially the feminist, and with the understanding that there are exceptions, this is the way of nature and what has sustained civilization for eons.

The primary role of the military in combat is not to provide a remedy for their perceived gender inequality or any other form of PC social experimentation.  The sine qua non of front line combat troops is to prevail in combat and simply put, men are far better equipped both physically and mentally to accomplish that role! This is in no way meant to speak adversely of women's courage or their willingness to go in harm's way; rather, it is a matter of the most effective way to accomplish the mission of combat troops. Unfortunately, too many of those advocating this proposed new role for women are more interested in advancing the cause of gender equity rather than preparing combat troops to defeat the enemy. This is a dangerous  aspiration with deadly consequences!

While there are isolated cases of women placed in combat roles (the Israelis, Soviets, and Germans, when in desperate need of front-line troops, placed women in combat, but later barred them) these have been rare and there were extenuating circumstances. Those conditions simply do not exist in our military.

"Most importantly", "(combat roles for women) would overturn two centuries of settled law and military policy based on deeply held and commonly shared cultural assumptions defining how men should treat women".[2 From Final Report entitled "The Case Against Women in Combat".

The two main arguments put forth by feminists for women to be allowed in combat are:                                        

1. Putting women in combat are crucial to women's self-esteem and to men's respect for women. (That has never been true in the past and it is impossible to see why it should be true now.)

2. Combat roles are important to military advancement for women. Individual career advancement (whether men or women) is not the issue here. Winning battles and defeating the enemy is the only concern of importance.

As a side note, I it find astonishing that for years "feminist" have made such an issue of acts of violence against women at the hands of males ( and rightly so), but now they want to expose women to situations that could very well mean they would face the ultimate in degradation by males in the enemy forces.

There are three issues related to women in combat, which need to be covered:

  • Physical differences
  • Increased cost (to accommodate women)
  • Combat Effectiveness/Degradation

Robert Bork, in his book Slouching Towards Gomorrah discusses the physical differences:" The obvious physical differences between men and women are of course one of the drawbacks to having womwn in combat roles.   Physical ability "In physical fitness tests, very few women could do even one pull-up, so the Air Force Academy gave credit for the amount of time they could hang on the bar. Female cadets averaged almost four times as many visits to the medical clinic as male cadets. At West Point, the female cadets' injury rate in field training was fourteen times that of men, and 61 percent of women failed the complete physical test, compared to 4.8 percent of men. During Army basic training, women broke down in tears, particularly on the rifle range." from Robert Bork, Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline, pp. 218-223]

Even though West Point officially says there have been no negative effects from the admission of women, the sworn courtroom testimony of a West Point official says that women cannot perform nearly as well as men and that the men's training program has, for that reason, been downgraded. For example, men are no longer required to run carrying heavy weapons because women are unable to do that. Adopting coed basic training for all the services except the Marines lowered the standards to the physical capabilities of women. This was often disguised by gender-norming, the deceitful practice of scoring women higher than men for the same performance and then pretending that women are performing equally.

In physical fitness tests, very few women could do even one pull-up, so the Air Force Academy gave credit for the amount of time they could hang on the bar. Female cadets averaged almost four times as many visits to the medical clinic as male cadets. At West Point, the female cadets' injury rate in field training was fourteen times that of the men, and 61 percent of women failed the complete physical test, compared to 4.8 percent of men. During Army basic training, women broke down in tears, particularly on the rifle range. "Gender norming" is now the rule at all three service academies, so that women are measured against other women, rather than against men who outperform them.

Ignoring the obvious physical differences: overall size, muscle, mass, bone mass, heart and lung size, oxygen intake, body temperature, and sweat-gland function, men have  decided advantage in, physical strength, endurance, and heat tolerance.

In an intense, close combat situation, there are going to be wounded. Is a 175lb. male going to be able to count on a 115lb. female fellow soldier to pull him out of danger? What effect will that have on soldiers in a tightly knit unit where everyone depends on each other?

There is a very real financial cost involved in accommodating women to serve with men, regardless if on a ship or in a ground unit. The extra cost needed to accommodate woman troops cannot be justified especially now with the expected cutbacks in military is spending.  The Modification of facilities, quarters, vehicles, and equipment for women in combat roles takes away from funds needed to maintain equipment etc. We need to get the biggest bang for our military funding  that we can and there is no way that will happen by putting women in a combat role!

Last, and certainly not least, is the overall derogating of morale and combat effectiveness of a combat unit that can be expected with the introduction of a female element. Having men and women working in close proximity on a daily basis in combat units is going to cause problems. You can't ignore nature. Relationships are going to develop despite any number of rules and regulations proscribing it. Just look at what has happened with mixed gender crews on our navy ships. Record numbers of commanding officers, executive officers, and command master chiefs are being sacked for personal misconduct," he writes. "If they who have so very much to lose aren't being good, how can we expect our sailors to behave?" Then there's the pregnancy problem. Navy ships have had to be recalled from missions because of the pregnancy of female sailors.

Again, Robert Bork addresses this in an excerpt from his book Slouching Towards Gomorrah. "Effects on morale can be particularly adverse. The presence of women among male troops weakens combat readiness. All-male units in the field experience bonding that enhances unit cohesion and effectiveness. When women are introduced, men stop relating to each other and begin trying to attract the women. Men can quickly become on less-than-friendly terms with a mini-war over a woman. Nor can morale be improved when accusations of harassment are always a threat. An accusation of sexual harassment by the woman, even if unproven, would severally damage the man's service career, and both the man and the woman are acutely aware of the fact.

Effects on morale can be particularly adverse. The presence of women among male troops weakens combat readiness. All-male units in the field experience bonding that enhances unit cohesion and effectiveness. When women are introduced, men stop relating to each other and begin trying to attract the women. Men can quickly become on less-than-friendly terms with a mini-war over a woman. Nor can morale be improved when accusations of harassment are always a threat. An accusation of sexual harassment by the woman, even if unproven, would severally damage the man's service career, and both the man and the woman are acutely aware of the fact.  Male troops forgot their tactical objectives in order to protect the women from harm of capture, knowing what the enemy would do to the female prisoners of war. This made combat units less effective and exposed the men to even greater risks. There is also the question of what traditional, male warrior type, would want to serve in a "feminized" unit? 

To quote an unknown source "Rationality tells us there should be only one standard - the soldier's one. The enemy won't ask if you are a man or a woman. The hill won't be lower, the mud less wet nor backpacks lighter if you're a female."

Engaging an enemy in ground combat is at best, an intimidating experience. At worse, it can quickly deteriorate into a brutal, hand to hand, no holds barred, very brutal fight to the death. Either you kill the enemy or you're dead! Civilized people don't send their daughters, mothers and sisters into combat. Are we, as a civilized country, ready to see grim and gory pictures of our young female soldiers lying broken on a battlefield in a foreign country, or hear stories of them being raped and tortured? I think not and fervently hope we never are willing to accept that as a new standard in our society.

Note: To get an woman veteran's excellent perspective on this subject please go to Some Advice on Women in Combat from a female veteran.   

David Sayers is a Viet Nam Veteran that served in the U.S. Army for 13 years, is airborne qualified. He Served with 82nd Airborne and 101st.  David is a graduate of Southern Oregon University and is a  small business owner for the past 30 years specializing in marketing and telecommunications.     


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