The Case Against Women in Combat
Imagine your seventeen-year-old daughter fighting for her life in hand-to-hand combat with battle-hardened enemy soldiers. How long would she survive? Two minutes? One minute?
There is a resurgent movement to push female military personnel into ever more intimate contact with hostile forces. The few arguments mustered in support of doing this focus narrowly on manpower issues or misplaced feminist vanity. In all the literature on this subject that I have collected over several years, not once have I found a proponent of women in combat who would speak honestly about the consequences of thrusting our daughters into man-against-woman festivals of death.
The vapid bravado of chair-bound bean-counting feminists was captured by Anne Applebaum in her Washington Post op-ed where she declared that “the argument about women in combat is over,” because two female sailors were killed in the bombing of the USS Cole and women are deployed in Iraq. Ms. Applebaum is content that “American civilization has not collapsed as a result.” In an editorial titled “The Pinking of the Armed Forces,” the New York Times lamented that the United States “is simply a laggard on the topic of women in combat.”
Right away we have a false argument: that because some women were the passive victims of enemy ordinance, therefore women are “in combat.” A mortar shell landing on a mess hall is not what any normal person means by combat.
The New York Times is quick to quote Heather Wilson, “the only female military veteran in Congress” and “a member of the third class of female cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy.” The admiring Times reporter, Ruth Marcus, notes that Wilson “speaks briskly, her voice low and . . . full of controlled fury;” she is careful to include that “pictures of her children [are] flashing on a computer screen behind her,” which is coded TimesSpeak for “She’s not a lesbian.”
On this particular day Heather Wilson is miffed that Congress is considering legislation that would restrict the direct contact of American women in uniform with enemy troops.
Ms. Wilson laments,
The people who are pushing this policy change intend to close positions, not open them. I think it’s offensive. We’ve got women thousands of miles from home doing dangerous work, and for the first time in history the Congress is going to pass a law restricting how the Army can assign its soldiers? But not all of its soldiers – just women. What are they thinking?” (New York Times)
Well, Heather, my best guess is that Congressmen wanted to close those positions in which American women would be sodomized by gangs of sadistic foreigners, which had recently happened to pretty 19-year-old Pfc. Jessica Lynch, a supply clerk whose truck took a wrong turn near Nasiriya. Killed in this ambush was Pfc. Lori Piestewa, a 23-year-old mother of a four-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter and the first woman to die in the Iraq War.
The first female prisoner of war resulting from Bill Clinton’s policy of pushing American women closer to our enemies was Spc. Shoshana Johnson, then the single mother of a two-year-old daughter, who was captured in this same ambush. Shoshana’s family was shocked to see her on television – wounded and in enemy hands. Her folks described her as someone who loved cooking and caring for her child; she had trained to be an Army chef. “She shouldn’t be facing this. She was supposed to cook for the troops. This is just awful,” Shoshana’s Air Force veteran aunt told the Miami Herald. The majority of women in America’s armed forces are either single mothers or married to a fellow soldier.
None of this impresses Heather Wilson: “A woman driving a water truck or flipping burgers in the mess tent can come under attack.”
Her argument is that since women are in danger of being injured by enemy ordinance anyway why not go whole-hog and push woman into close contact with enemy troops? It’s an idiot’s argument. Please note that Heather Wilson, who is touted by the Times as “third-generation Air Force,” spent every minute of her time in the military as a Rhodes scholar, earning her doctorate in international relations, writing her book on international law and fussing about “arms control issues” in Europe. In other words, she’s a big talker, like that other Rhodes scholar, Bill Clinton, who also used his wits to avoid any national service that might muss up his hair, but was only too happy to put teenage girls in harm’s way.
While Heather Wilson talks tough from behind her desk, the New York Times tells us that,
In gradually admitting women to combat, the United States will be catching up to the rest of the world. More than a dozen countries allow women in some or all ground combat operations.
But the United States military may well be steps ahead of Congress, where opening ground combat jobs to women has met deep resistance in the past.” (NY Times, 8/16/09)
This would be more impressive if these other countries actuallyexposed their women to ground combat, but none of them do that.
The Times piles on:
Poll numbers show that a majority of the public supports allowing women to do more on the battlefield. Fifty-three percent of the respondents in a New York Times/CBS News poll in July , said they would favor permitting women to “join combat units, where they could be directly involved in the ground fighting.”
This poll would be impressive if the pool of poll respondents was packed with people who had a clue what combat was or had spent even an hour in uniform, but the Times poll was taken from a population that would never dream of enlisting in the military or allowing their children to enlist. These poll respondents are perfectly content to let “those people” fight America’s battles. If some of “those people” are females crazy enough to enlist, then why shouldn’t those females pay the high cost of being crazy? “Better her than me” is how Times respondents see the world. “Thank God there isn’t a draft!”
Pentagon studies keep producing the same statistic: Only about 10 percent of women in uniform express any interest in volunteering for combat duty, but policy changes promoted by militant feminists have exposed many of them to unanticipated menace. Unexpectedly, the feminist push for “equal opportunity” has exposed many women to very unequal risks.
Let’s take a moment to assess the lopsided disadvantages confronting women in combat, and then we will look at the real-world history of women in combat. After that, we’ll take a hard look at the decline of America’s military academies after the admission of women.
The Problem of Women’s Bodies
There are seventeen weight classes in professional boxing. Boxers are constrained to fight within their own weight class because exaggerated weight differences between boxers are dangerous to the lighter boxer. Such lopsided contests are also unsatisfying to spectators because their outcomes are so predictable.
The eight lightest weight classes differ from the next nearest class by only 3 or 4 pounds. Near the top of the list, super middleweight (168 lbs.) and light heavyweight (175 lbs.) differ by only 7 pounds. That’s all it would take to almost guarantee a victory for the heavier boxer – seven pounds! This is less than the average weight difference between male and female enlistees. If these contests were between male boxers, who tend to accumulate muscle after puberty, and female boxers who tend to accumulate fat after puberty – they would be outlawed as homicidal. Now imagine these boxers were in military uniforms in a battlefield confrontation with no “time outs.” The beatings of the female soldiers would be merciless.
The average American female soldier is five inches shorter than her male counterpart. She has half the upper-body strength and 37 percent less muscle mass. Women also have 25 to 30 percent less aerobic capacity, which reduces their endurance.
In any physical contest with men, these women will be the losers; therefore their inclusion in forward combat units could only weaken that unit. A woman may drive a big truck (with power-assisted steering) but she needs help changing its tire. Women assigned to artillery units are often too weak to lift the ammunition. These are tasks that are expected for these military occupational specialties so, clearly, standards are being dumbed down to accommodate women.
To get a better idea of just how unsuited women’s bodies are for the rigors of combat, we can review the ample evidence provided to us by another endeavor that is often likened to war: sports.
The May 11, 2008 issue of the New York Times Magazine included an article titled “The Uneven Playing Field” by Michael Sokolove which unintentionally makes a good case for excluding women from close-order combat. The teaser subtitle reads, “Everyone wants girls to have as many opportunities in sports as boys. But can we live with the greater rate of injuries they suffer?”
This article explores the higher rates of injury among female athletes and humanizes its topic with biographical profiles. One mother laments, “I’m afraid for her, and for all these girls. What’s it going to be like for them at 40 years old? They’re in so much pain now. Knees and backs and hips . . . it’s taking a toll. Are they going to look back and regret it?”
Later in the article the author describes his encounter with a 21-year-old soccer player: “As Amy walked toward me the first time we met, her right leg was stiff and her whole gait crooked. She moved like a much older woman. If I hadn’t known her history, I would never have believed she had been an athlete, let alone an elite one . . . She was done playing. She had been told she would need a knee replacement by the time she turned 30.”
In many ways, military life is more rigorous than ball playing. A study of military personnel who have reached the rank of colonel revealed that 5 to 6 percent of men had permanent orthopedic damage due to the rigors of military life. The number for women was thirty percent.
Two of the injuries to which women are most susceptible are ruptures of the anterior cruciate ligament (A.C.L.) and concussions. The ACL is a ligament no thicker than your little finger that is attached to the upper leg bone (femur) and to the tibia in the lower leg; it stabilizes the knee. When it ruptures, this ligament pretty much explodes and turns into a viscous liquid that cannot be repaired. A replacement for the ACL is sliced from the patient’s patellar tendon or from her hamstring tendon. Rehabilitation is slow and painful because both the repaired injury and the donor site must heal. Female athletes suffer ACL ruptures at a rate that is five times higher than for males. That’s a big weakness.
Because of their more fragile skeletons, females suffer more knee pain, more shin splints and more stress fractures. They also suffer higher rates of ankle sprains, back pain and hip pain. A study by researchers at Ohio State University and Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, confirms that high-school girls who play basketball suffer concussions at three times the rate of boys. Statistics from the NCAA confirm that girls who play soccer experience concussions at the rate of male football players. It takes less force to cause a concussion in a female because of her smaller head and her lightly muscled neck.
The physical abilities of the sexes diverge sharply at puberty. Testosterone causes boys to add muscle; they become less flexible. Estrogen causes girls to grow more fat and become more flexible. Girls must train vigorously to gain the strength that comes to boys naturally. Estrogen makes a girl’s ligaments lax which increases flexibility, but it also increases the risk of injury whenever girls have not worked hard enough to pack on lots more muscle.
Girls tend to run in the girl fashion – more upright and unflexed which puts them at risk when changing direction or descending from jumps. Women tend to be knock-kneed because of their wider hips – which is another risk factor. For their own safety, female athletes have to be <em>taught</em> how to move like boys.
The Times article quotes ACL-damage investigator Sandra Shultz, who teaches graduate courses in athletic training at the University of North Carolina, on the topic of candor when speaking about the fragility of women:
It depends on what side of the fence you’re on. If your job is to encourage inclusion of more women in sport, maybe you are not going to accentuate the negative. You don’t want to paint women in a negative light and tell a girl that if you play sports, your knees, by the time you are 30 or 35, may be in bad shape. But intuitively, people know it.
This same lack of honesty is luring young women into a false security that they are fit for service in combat units. It’s a cruel fraud. To quote the New York Times:
There is a fascinating parallel in research on injury rates in U.S. Army basic training, a two-month regimen that pushes recruits to their physical limits. In numerous studies going back more than two decades, women are shown to suffer injuries at substantially higher rates than men, with stress fractures to the lower legs a particular problem.
Got that? Women are breaking their legs at elevated rates during training exercises.During protracted combat movements in the field these broken women would be dead weight dragging down the chances of an American victory.
Damning evidence of the inferiority of women as combatants came in sworn testimony in the case United States of America vs. Virginia Military Institute which challenged VMI’s men-only admission policy. It was then, in April of 1991, that Colonel Patrick Toffler of West Point’s Office of Institutional Research admitted under oath that separate physical requirements were secretly established for men and women at West Point. Toffler admitted that some physical challenges for both sexes had been relaxed or abandoned altogether because women’s ratings would suffer what Toffler euphemistically called “adverse impact.”
In sworn testimony Colonel Toffler admitted that West Point had identified 120 physical differences between men and women as well as psychological divergences. Toffler testified that West Point responded to the proven physical inferiority of female cadets by making its physical training more woman-friendly. For example, cadets no longer train in the combat boots they would be wearing in combat; they train in light and cushy jogging shoes because the fragile women were suffering higher rates of injury.
Women at West Point are excused from those challenges that are beyond normal female capacity. For example, men must lift their full body weight doing pull ups, while the women do something called “flex arm hangs.”
The renowned West Point “recondo” week during which cadets are tested to their limits on long marches with full backpacks and other challenging activities, has been eliminated in deference to the low capacity of female cadets. Likewise, every upper-body strength event on obstacle courses has been eliminated to avoid embarrassing the females. Running with heavy weapons is no longer done because expecting women cadets to actually function like real soldiers has been declared “unrealistic and therefore inappropriate” by the top brass.
In those few remaining activities where men and women are required to face identical challenges, the scores of the females are elevated through the magic of “gender norming.” The underlying reality is that half of the female cadets consistently score below the bottom 5 percent of male cadets on such common military tasks as lifting and carrying weapons and equipment. Apparently the liberals learned nothing from their previous failed experiments in race norming. (See Race Norming for Dummies in this series.)
West Point has totally eliminated the tradition of peer ratings because the honesty of peer ratings was shattering to delicate female egos. These ratings also made a laughingstock of the hot-air feminist fictions being parroted by the top brass.
The worst casualties of the feminist invasion are the male cadets who are no longer challenged at the newly feminized West Point. The cardio-vascular efficiency of male cadets is not what it once was because men who are required to meet female standards of excellence will barely break a sweat. The girls at West Point may never kill an enemy soldier, but they have certainly killed West Point. Put an asterisk next to the name of anyone who graduated from the feminized fashion-makeover West Point because they met a lower standard excellence. Colonel Toffler’s testimony was all the more damning because he had been called as a witness for the prosecution. Under cross examination by the VMI defense team Toffler’s testimony destroyed the fiction that West Point was still a serious school for warriors. As usual the quest for equal opportunity had mutated into a demand for equal results, which could only be achieved by lowering the standards for men to match the lower capacities of women.
The presence of women at institutions once dedicated to preparing men for combat leadership has been toxic. The neutering of military-academy training in the name of equality has emasculated the warrior spirit. There is now an over-emphasis on academics at the expense of leadership training. Being studious grinds in high school is what gets girls into any military academy, but leadership isn’t learned from textbooks; it emerges from trainees who are put under lots of stress, the kind of stress that makes people question their identity. The best stress environments are physically and mentally punishing; they make each trainee reach deep inside himself for the resources to keep going. At traditional military academies, waves of stress are passed down from upper classmen to the unseasoned newcomers below them. It’s a harsh realm – even cruel. It’s a system intended to produce men who will not shrink from hardship, who will persevere. This system was abandoned because it made females feel uncomfortable.
America’s military academies have been infected with corporate management techniques, but management is not leadership. Management is an academic discipline that any gender can learn sitting in a classroom. Management is all about making decisions. Military leadership is something else – a motivating command presence and the ability to lead by example. Traditional leadership training was competitive, abrasive and usually vulgar. It was also a celebration of masculinity that pushed trainees deeper into manhood.
Putting a woman in such an environment could only raise questions about her sexual identity. To spare the ladies this discomfort, America’s military academies have made their environments less stressful and, therefore, inferior.
In his insightful essay “Women Can’t Fight,” James Webb retells the story of how a naval-academy first-classman was reprimanded by his company commander during the first week of the academic year, the week that was traditionally the most rigorous week of the academic year for plebes. His offense? He had “upset” a female plebe. He had repeatedly corrected her table manners to no effect. In frustration, the upperclassman had ordered her to eat her next meal with oversized utensils, which was an extremely mild reproach. Her response was to burst into tears. Her female roommate hastened to the company commander and protested her friend’s punishment because it would be embarrassing. The upperclassman was ordered to stop harassing the girl. Before the feminization of our military academies, it would have been the whining plebes who received a dressing down.
The female cadets who are rising to the upper ranks at the academies are doing so thanks to quotas, preferential grooming and watered-down standards; they are not attaining these positions in the time-honored manner that men have. Every cadet knows the system is now rigged in favor of girls with good grades; every male cadet knows that women will never be accepted or admired as comrades or leaders. The academies suppress candor and dissent by threatening all critics of female inclusion with expulsion. A Washington Post front-page feature showcased a female midshipman, pictured bracing up a plebe. Way down in the text the reporter quoted two male midshipmen who offered their opinion that the presence of women at the Academy diminished its purpose and that the women lacked first-rate officer potential.
For speaking their minds, the men were harshly reprimanded and were “invited” to resign. The frantic over-reaction to every criticism suggests that the Academy upper brass are fearful that any unquashed dissent will produce a chorus of critical agreement.
Israel Learns a Lesson
The number of countries that permit women in combat units can be counted on your fingers. Fortunately for the women of New Zealand, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland and a few others, their chances of experiencing combat are virtually zero. Canada opened combat training to women in 1987 as part of its experimental CREW Trials (Combat Related Employment of Women). The Canadian Defense Ministry got the bright idea to compare the performances of two combat units, one composed of 80 men and the other composed of 40 men and 40 women. The experiment was stillborn because the Canadian Army couldn’t find enough women who would volunteer.
Israel is the only nation with real-world experience putting women in combat. Having gained that experience, Israel has banned women from combat units since 1950. Israel’s lessons were hard-won; the feminists in Congress have yet to learn them.
The first lesson is that men could be taught to kill strangers, but they would not stop caring for women. That is as it should be: civilized countries want to create soldiers, not savages. During the 1948 War of Liberation Israeli men would abandon their missions to come to the aid of women in distress, thereby endangering their missions, their units and themselves.
Lesson Two: The Israeli public was deeply distressed by maimed, disfigured and dead women soldiers. Israelis were horrified at the thought of their women in enemy captivity. In 1979, in testimony before the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the House Committee on Armed Services, Brigadier General Andrew J. Gatsis recalled that Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan had told him that during the War of Liberation “we had a constant fear of what the Arabs would do if they captured them [the women],” and that the men could not stand the psychological stress” of watching women being killed or captured. He recalled that Dayan felt that women in combat units “knocked down their effectiveness.”
Lesson Three: Women really are the weaker sex. It takes twice as many women to lift heavy equipment. That’s twice as many targets for the enemy, twice as many mouths to feed, twice as many women to transport. It takes women longer to accomplish physically challenging tasks such as digging a foxhole or a gun emplacement. Therefore, large numbers of women in combat would be a logistical nightmare.
Lesson Four: When the Muslim opposition discovered that they were fighting women, the Arabs spontaneously chose to fight to the death. The very thought of being defeated by a band of women was so shameful to them that it made them implacable. They would not surrender to women. Every encounter became bitter and protracted. For a small country surrounded by millions of hostile neighbors, these drawn-out struggles were a formula for national ruin.
As proof that reality makes no impression on liberals, I give you Nicholas D. Kristof who, from deep inside his cozy cocoon at the New York Times, offered us a column titled “A Woman’s Place,” in which he put forward his best argument for pitting young American women against battle-hardened Third World goons in hand-to-hand combat. Here’s a sample of Mr. Kristof’s genius:
In the aftermath of the Iraq war it’s time to re-examine the ban on women in American front-line forces. Women are barred from about 30 percent of active-duty positions, and there’s still a deep emotional resistance to exposing American women to deadly violence.
That’s right, Mr. Liberal, decent men and women are still resisting the insane idea of exposing American women to deadly violence, especially when they will be hopelessly outclassed by hulking illiterates who were raised to believe that women are trash. Mr. Liberal continues:
Granted, the sight of a female P.O.W. on television sent a frisson down the American spine, and there is such discomfort with women in body bags that maybe it can’t be countered with practical arguments. But let me try.
This is truly disgusting. Mr. Liberal is exerting himself to undermine the finest moral instincts of normal men and women. He is pleading for the opportunity to convince us that our most-decent inclinations are silly and should be ditched in favor of “practical arguments. If ever there was a slippery slope, this is it.
Mr. Kristof tells us that he sees “advantages to allowing women even on the front.” The “front” means direct physical contact with big men who feel nothing but contempt for women. Here now, is Mr. Kristof’s best example of a “practical argument” for thrusting young American women into front-line combat encounters:
First, particularly in the Muslim world, notions of chivalry make even the most bloodthirsty fighters squeamish about shooting female soldiers or blowing them up at checkpoints. For this reason, I asked a woman to sit beside me in the front seat while I drove on a dicey highway in Iraq on the theory that befuddled snipers would hesitate to fire. Let’s let foreign chauvinism work for us.
Mr. Kristof has confirmed my low opinion of liberals by exploiting a woman as a human shield. His argument would be comically grotesque if it weren’t so factually vacant. There is zero evidence that “bloodthirsty” Muslim fighters are the least little bit squeamish about shooting women “or blowing them up at checkpoints.” Mr. Kristof is talking about the same bloodthirsty Muslims who routinely pressure Muslim women into strapping explosives on their bodies which then explode, killing her and lots of other women bystanders. He’s talking about the chivalrous Muslims who slice off their daughter’s heads for the affront of dating a Christian or wearing a short skirt or wanting an education.
Mr. Kristof’s anecdote of how he convinced a woman to sit next to him “on the theory that befuddled snipers would hesitate to fire,” is proof that he is a moral idiot. I was instantly reminded of another anecdote about a Western man who left Afghanistan and returned years later. This man remarked to his Afghan guide that when he left Afghanistan the wives had walked behind their husbands, but upon his return the wives were walking far in front of their husbands. The guide answered him with two words: land mines.
Where did Kristof get the idea that Islam was suffused with “notions of chivalry”? When CBS News reporter Lara Logan was separated from her protective male companions in a crowded Cairo street, she was immediately stripped of her clothes and sexually assaulted in a crowd of about 200 average Egyptian men. Ms. Logan endured what CBS News tersely called a “brutal and sustained sexual assault.” Translation: she was gang raped. In a part of the world where imams preach that infidels are creatures without souls, it should surprise no one that a Western woman was gang raped in the middle of a city street by a crowd of strangers.
Does Mr. Kristof read his own newspaper? On February 20th, 2011, the New York Times published an article titled “Reporting While Female” in which reporter Sabrina Tavernise references the savage rape of Lara Logan and then proceeds with her inside look at the challenges of field reporting. Rather stupidly, the liberal Ms. Tavernise can’t break her ingrained habit of excusing the bad behavior of Third World jerks. She recalls visiting a Baghdad gun market in 2003 “when a crowd of young men, impoverished and not used to seeing foreigners, first started touching me, and then began ripping off my clothes . . .”
What!? Since when is being poor and not cosmopolitan an excuse for ripping off a woman’s clothing and fondling her body? Did poor Christian boys strip and fondle arriving immigrant women as they set foot on Ellis Island? What is Ms. Tavernise thinking?
Then she makes matters worse by blaming herself:
It was a beginner’s mistake. I was wearing pants, baggy and formless, but still looking nothing like any of the women in the area, who all wore abayas, black sheaths completely covering their bodies. . .
Yikes! For as long as I can remember, advocates for rape victims have been fighting the notion that “she had it coming” because she was wearing seductive clothing and here is a reporter for the liberal New York Times declaring that her “baggy and formless” pants were still too seductive for Muslim males who just couldn’t stop themselves.
She kept having creepy encounters:
“In the spring of 2006, I found myself at the center of an odd parade. A crowd of boys gathered around me, staring. . .
Some were as young as 5, some were teenagers. A boy in a lime-green T-shirt darted out and grabbed me hard in the crotch. Then another, and another . . . The crowd began to chant something in Arabic that I later learned had been a crude remark . . .
What’s a girl to do? After her gun-market groping, Ms. Tavernise “went to an Iraqi clothing shop to stock up on ankle-length jean skirts and shirts that reached to mid-thigh.” She doesn’t tell us what she shopped for after boys, “some as young as 5,” took turns groping her sex organ. Kevlar panties, perhaps.
As a certified former boy, I can say with assurance that if I had ever groped a woman’s crotch on a public street my neighbors would have fallen on me like a ton of bricks. I would have been an instant outcast. That’s because the women in my world had moral authority; they were respected and valued. Only in a culture where women are treated like trash do bystanders witness a sexual assault in broad daylight and then chant vulgarities at the victim. Can we expect jerks like these to treat our captive daughters with decency?
Nicolas Kristof’s next argument for putting our daughters in combat zones is that “wars these days are less for territory than for hearts and minds, and coed military units appear less menacing.”
Yes, they do! And painting our armored vehicles pink and festooning them with lavender balloons would also make our military appear less menacing . . . and far less convincing. An unconvincing military gets no respect, not from our enemies and not from those civilians who look to us for protection.
Mr. Kristof concludes that “one of the reasons we go to war is to uphold values – like equality for all. We transmit that message every time our troops encounter foreigners, particularly when our soldiers have flowers in their helmets and names like Claire.”
Yes, he actually said that. But does any sane person really believe that a seventeen-year-old girl has an “equal opportunity” to survive hand-to-hand combat with battle-hardened men who are bigger and stronger and who have been taught since infancy that women are less than dust? Of course not. She will be knocked on her ass by warriors who are infuriated by her femaleness. If she does not die from the beating and savage gang rape she will receive, then her friends and family might be entertained by the video her captors will post on the Internet of Pfc. “Claire” being decapitated in the name of Islamic jihad.
Absolutely nothing will be equal for females on the battlefield. Sooner or later, things fall apart. Even the best battle plans descend into chaos. It is then that war making unwinds back to 500 BC; it is then that both victory and survival will depend upon muscle and grit. When the ammunition is spent and there is no longer some protective technology to lend women their false “equality” on the battlefield, it is then that the “GI Jane” mythology will evaporate. When that moment arrives, our daughters are doomed.
There is no evidence that women are fit for battlefield service. The training standards in our armed forces and our military academies have been diminished to match the lesser capacities of women. Every hint of criticism or dissent from the policy of female inclusion is met with threats of demotion or expulsion; peer review has been abandoned. It is the triumph of feminist wishful thinking over experience. The only real-world experiment with women in combat was a failure; Israel ended this experiment in 1950. Canada’s attempt to assess the fitness of women for combat was stillborn because so few women were interested in volunteering. The best test would be an all-female combat unit, but no person of influence has suggested that.
The crooked path down which any American woman has found herself in a combat zone was captured in a New York Times article titled “G.I. Jane Stealthily Breaks the Combat Barrier,” which the Times showcased with its most-favored placement in the upper right-hand corner of the front page of its Sunday edition, on August 16th, 2009. The Times applauded the idea of American girls in the enemy crosshairs and told us that “their most challenging work is often the result of a quiet circumvention of military policy.”
What that means on plain English is that military recruiters are luring teenage girls into national service with assurances that they will not be thrust into life-and-death confrontations, but “quiet circumvention” is putting these girls in the line of fire. To normal people, that’s called fraud and it ought to void any defrauded girl’s contract with Uncle Sam.
According to the black-letter text of current military policy, women are protected from inclusion in infantry, armor, Special Forces and most artillery units. Women are also protectively excluded from close support jobs with field combat units during hostile encounters. And, in the strange parlance of the New York Times, “Women can lead some male troops into combat as officers, but they cannot serve with them in battle.” By “lead some male troops” the Times really means order the men to do stuff from a safe distance far to the rear.
So the policy that the military presents to the public and to young female recruits is one that establishes clear moral guardrails against female recruits in “kill zones.”
But, as the Times tell us,
Yet, over and over, in Iraq and Afghanistan, Army commanders have resorted to bureaucratic trickery when they needed more soldiers for crucial jobs, like bomb disposal and intelligence. On paper, for instance, women have been “attached” to a combat unit rather than “assigned.”
In other words, our daughters are being thrust into lethal confrontations through the immoral device of “bureaucratic trickery.”
Does the danger end there? Of course not! The Times continues:
This quiet change has not come seamlessly – and it has altered military culture on the battlefield in ways large and small. Women need separate bunks and bathrooms. They face sexual discrimination and rape, and counselors and rape kits are now common in war zones. Commanders also confront a new reality: that soldiers have sex, and some will be evacuated because they are pregnant.
And there are lots of pregnancies, many of them intentional because a pregnancy is an express ticket out of the war zone. These abrupt departures create random disruptions due to unexpected personnel shortages. More to the point, women are doing hazardous duty without any public debate and without Congressional approval.
“I fault the Pentagon for not being straight with uniformed women,” said Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, a group that opposes women in battle zones. Ms. Donnelly supported unsuccessful efforts in Congress in 2005 to restrict women’s participation in warfare. “It’s an ‘anything goes’ situation,” she observed.
While feminists and Pentagon bean-counters tout the butch glamour of “G.I. Jane,” the fact is that most uniformed women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan were the hapless victims of suicide, accidents or injuries inflicted by “friendly forces.” There was nothing heroic about these needless deaths. But leave it to the New York Times to hang a smiley face on horror. The Times quoted Lindsay Rousseau Burnett, “who was one of the first women to serve as a communications specialist with a brigade combat team in Iraq,” who cheerily declared: “As horrible as this war has been, I fully believe it has given women so many opportunities in the military.” Well, gee, Lindsay, maybe you’re just, like, distorting the meaning of the word “opportunity,” for sure.
If teenage girls are recruited with the promise that they won’t be exposed to deadly violence and are then thrust into firefights against brutal goons who will bust their skulls and rape them to death, then it’s a bit of a stretch to call that a career “opportunity,” Lindsay.
The Times reports that, “In 2008, 57 women were serving as generals or admirals in the active-duty military, more than double the number a decade earlier.” Then comes the line, “And many more women now lead all-male combat troops into battle.”
Again: sending a radio message from a bunker in Baghdad is not “leading” men into battle, it is sending them into battle while talking on a cell phone. Somebody please pass the lady general another jelly doughnut.
It should shock the conscience of our nation that we have young women serving in war zones who refer to one another as “Combat Barbies.” It says something about the degraded status of American womanhood that such an expression could exist.
Here’s the short history of how we got to this sorry place. In 1948 women were granted permanent status in the armed forces so long as their numbers did not exceed 2 percent of the total force; they were banned from naval vessels and combat assignments. In 1973 the draft ended, prompting higher recruitment goals for women and an expansion of their service roles. In 1976 women were admitted to all service academies. In 1991 Congress repealed the prohibition against women in combat aircraft. A few years after that, women were permitted aboard warships. In 1994 the secretary of defense rescinded the Risk Rule and introduced policies that allowed women to be assigned to any position to which they were qualified, but excluded them from assignments whose primary mission is direct combat.
That said, it is evident that the military is in violation of the clear intent of this policy. For example, women who are banned from Bradley fighting vehicles are being deployed as machine gunners on Humvees. Women are barred from light infantry duty, but are deployed on the dangerous streets and back alleys of Iraq with police units. Women are banned from short-range artillery units, but have been introduced to long-range artillery units.
This is a classic case of “defining deviancy down.” From 1991 onward, the trend has been to increase the risk exposure of women in the military. Only 7 percent of the troops sent to the 1990-’91 Persian Gulf War were women. That number jumped to 11 percent and rising for the 2001-and-thereafter wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But risk exposure is not what women want. Our volunteer military allows enlistees to choose their military occupational specialties (MOS) and it is crystal clear from women’s preferences that women prefer not to be physically threatened.
For example, only 6 percent of the Marine Corps are female because the Marine Corps has a reputation for being the most in-your-face confrontational of the armed forces. The most popular branch of the military for women is the Air Force which has a reputation for dealing with the enemy from a distance using missiles and long-range aircraft. Women comprise 20 percent of the Air Force – over three times their number in the Marines. A comparison of officers’ military occupations demonstrates that women outnumber men in healthcare and administration by almost two and a half times, while men outnumber women by the same margin in tactical operations. Women prefer roles that nurture and support; they avoid the head-banger occupations.
“But,” as the New York Times tells us, “the conflict in Iraq, like other modern wars, has blurred the line between combat and non-combat units.” Well, the bright line has been blurred because our military forces are being misapplied as social workers. Why are we spending even five minutes trying to reform any Muslim culture? The Iraqis cannot resist their ancient ingrained impulses to exterminate their neighbors over hair-splitting details of Muslim theology. The only force that kept a lid on Iraqi Islamic fratricide was the thuggish secular despot Saddam Hussein, but the “compassionate” neo-conservative George W. Bush got rid of him, which opened the door to fraternal mass murder in Iraq and boosted the burgeoning geo-political influence of the nuclear-bomb-crafting Iranian imams.
Now American teenage girls are being assigned to dangerous police duty in Iraqi slums because only a woman can pat down a stranger hidden under a black burka who might have five pounds of high explosive packed between her breasts. This is what Hell looks like.
Women in uniform are facing increasing danger in the absence of serious debate about their diminishing safety. When the issue of the deteriorating security of women was broached back in the Clinton years, it was met with a brusque brushback by Clinton’s assistant secretary of the Navy, Carolyn Becraft, who snapped, “This is their job. These are the conditions of their employment.” (Washington Post)
Ms. Becraft defends her position by asserting that dead mothers and gang-raped teenagers volunteered for service, but the policy advertised by our government is no women in combat!
While hard-hearted feminists advocate equal-opportunity mayhem for women, a few military leaders displayed a glimmer of gallantry when, back in 1992, the heads of each service argued against the gender integration of our combat forces. It was then that former Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill McPeak told the “Women in Combat” Presidential Commission that he sincerely believed “old men shouldn’t send young women to war.”
General McPeak, sir, I salute you.
March 15, 2011