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Why Are Women in Combat?

Drowned out by the cacophony of the incoming administration was the fact that America’s first female recruits began infantry training [1] at Ft. Benning, Ga., this month. More than a year after the Pentagon lifted the ban on women serving in combat roles, the first class of coed 11X [2] (infantry with options to attend advanced schools such as Ranger and Special Forces) recruits is set to graduate in May. “More than 500 women are slated to join combat MOSs this year, according to U.S. Army Recruiting Command statistics,” reports [1] The Army Times.

[3]To someone like me who attended infantry training at Ft. Benning over a decade ago, these far-reaching changes have the unreal quality of a dream. Back in 2005, as the insurgency in Iraq was heating up and “The Home of the Infantry” was monomaniacally focused on urban warfare [4] and spotting IEDs, a prediction that women would eventually join the infantry would have belonged to the crackpot or crank. The general consensus in the barracks seemed to be that it would be foolish to force such a drastic experiment on the military during a time of war. It was an attitude that rendered the question of whether women were physically or mentally fit for combat almost moot.

But what did matter then, and what continues to grow in relevance as our wars in the Middle East drag on indefinitely, is the stark disconnect between the American military and the American public. In 2005, the problem didn’t seem to be diversity within the Army itself, but the fact that the military was like a universe parallel to and almost completely misunderstood (when it wasn’t being ignored) by the civilian world. Questions like whether transgender people should openly serve or whether women should be in combat almost seemed like a distraction from the larger issue—the military being cordoned off from the country itself. Simply put, making the military more inclusive as an institution doesn’t bind it more intimately with average citizens or make it more responsive to our republic. It just renders the bubble that surrounds it in technicolor.

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change_me

Profound divisions in American society are never so obvious as during election years. And in a counterintuitive twist, our tribalism can actually seem like a fundamental facet of our collective national character. We hunker deeper down into our political and cultural identities, demarcating ourselves from one another with “in” and “out” group codifications. Sometimes the categorizing is a moral necessity. Sometimes it’s glib theatrics. But the chasm that separates the military from the everyday experiences of civilians is morbid. And it continues to grow.

The civilian/military divide is partially explained by a drop in sheer numbers of veterans. According to a study [5] by the Pew Research Center:

The share of the population with military experience—counting those who are on active duty or were in the past—has fallen by more than half since 1980. Then, 18% of adults were serving or had served in the military. By 2014, the share had declined to 8%, according to Census Bureau data, with an additional 1% serving in the reserves. Among U.S. men, the decline was even more dramatic, dropping from 45% in 1960 to 37% in 1980 and 16% in 2014.

According to VA projections [6], that trend will continue into 2045, when they predict that the total number of veterans will dip to around 14.5 million as Vietnam and Gulf War veterans pass away. What this means is that, as we move further and further away from the elimination of the draft, fewer and fewer Americans are fighting in our wars. From a high [7] of around 9 percent of the population serving on active duty during World War II to a low of 0.05 percent for post-9/11 deployments, fewer Americans are sacrificing for their country. And Washington suffers too: the number of veterans in Congress has plummeted [8] from a high of 75 percent in the late ’70s to just around 20 percent now.

To some, fewer veterans might seem like a good thing, as if it indicated less global military engagement. Obviously it doesn’t. And while it is true that the Pentagon’s Third Offset Strategy (and every previous Offset Strategy) carries the animating logic [9] of replacing humans with technology, not everyone will have the luxury of experiencing combat from inside an air-conditioned office. And so the burden of fighting what has become the longest war in American history falls on the shoulders of a shrinking cohort of outsiders who are forced to endure deployment after deployment, further disconnecting them from the country they’re fighting for. Anyone who has read the masterly Ben Fountain novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, a satirical novel about the experience of Iraq War veterans participating in a so-called victory tour, will understand how this disconnect can feel like a betrayal to veterans. It’s something I’ve felt myself.

As terrible as that alienation might be, you won’t hear veterans complain too loudly about enduring it. It might not be what they signed up for, and it certainly isn’t what they deserve, but it’s something everyone has adjusted to over the past 15 years or so. That same alienation seen from the other end—civilians cut off from the violence conducted in their name—is, however, much more dangerous. To put it plainly, if average Americans were forced to deploy to the roughly 150 countries [10] worldwide in which we currently have a military presence, I predict that you would see a profound shift in our defense posture and foreign policy. That the sacrifices are borne by such a tiny elite is one of the mechanisms that makes our reckless military overreach possible in the first place.

Smarter minds than mine agree. Immanuel Kant argued in his pamphlet Perpetual Peace that democratic participation in the military is a prerequisite for peace. Many Enlightenment thinkers went in the opposite direction, asserting that peace laid the groundwork for a participatory government (in all senses, including military service). Kant disagreed, arguing that the very foundations of peace were “citizens, whose periodic and voluntary military efforts will win security from aggression for themselves and their country.” He goes on to compare the military decisions of the sovereign—in this case, anyone in the role of consenting to war—to forming a hunting party. It becomes a diversion done on a whim, “without any significant reason, as a kind of amusement.” Reducing the strain of war upon the population while continuing to wage it, insulating them from the failures of policy and strategy alike, gives America’s Long Wars the ambiance of a hunting party waged by out-of-touch royals.

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But what does this disconnect have to do with women in combat? Nothing—and that’s exactly the point. Opening combat roles to women lends a veneer of democratic engagement without actually having any real connection to larger society. The military remains a menagerie, just a slightly more interesting one. And as former Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter himself admitted [11], what this demographic shift, among others like trans-inclusion, really portend is a human-resources grab:

The Defense Department and the military need to avail ourselves of all talent possible in order to remain what we are now—the finest fighting force the world has ever known. … We don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or marine who can best accomplish the mission. We have to have access to 100% of America’s population.

So really, this is about the Pentagon’s “right” to hire whomever it wants in order to engage in an endless national hunting party. It isn’t about some renaissance in military/civilian relations or a restoration of the military’s bond with the public. The deployments continue. The only difference is that now women will get to wear a Combat Infantryman’s Badge when they pull the trigger, usually in countries where Americans shouldn’t be in the first place. And that’s hardly a victory for anyone.

Scott Beauchamp is a veteran and writer based in Portland, Maine.

46 Comments (Open | Close)

46 Comments To "Why Are Women in Combat?"

#1 Comment By Richard Parker On February 23, 2017 @ 1:08 am

Doubling the number of bodies available to the pentagon to mutilate. Women with no faces, no hands, no legs, no arms.

Who doesn’t think this is a great idea?

#2 Comment By Fran Macadam On February 23, 2017 @ 1:53 am

“The only difference is that now women will get to wear a Combat Infantryman’s Badge when they pull the trigger, usually in countries where Americans shouldn’t be in the first place.”

Not the only difference.

Now they too have equal opportunity to have pieces of their anatomy blown off, suffer traumatic brain injuries, PTSD and the psychoses that killing other human beings always entails.

Not likely a kinder, gentler America, nor its womenfolk.

#3 Comment By REEFSHARK On February 23, 2017 @ 6:30 am

Good article. The questions: Why are we involved in continual wars? Who benefits? Who goes? Who stays home? A death or maiming of a member of our military is a loss regardless of gender. The warmongers, in and out of government, should be held accountable.BTW – anyone notice just how fragile is our own domestic infrastructure? Charity begins at home.

#4 Comment By A.K. On February 23, 2017 @ 6:59 am

“That the sacrifices are borne by such a tiny elite is one of the mechanisms that makes our reckless military overreach possible in the first place.”

I’ve always believed that myself. But at the same time I’ve always thought a flaw in the reasoning I can’t explain is if that’s the case why do members of the military overwhelmingly vote for candidates who support reckless wars of choice? McCain and and Trump – two men who gleefully advocate for wars of choice at every opportunity were the choice of our military. Even though it seems like common sense that a true understanding of the costs of war would discourage more citizens from wanting to go to war on the flimsiest of pretexts I’m not sure there’s any proof of it.

#5 Comment By Fred Bowman On February 23, 2017 @ 7:42 am

As both a veteran and someone who grew up as an “Army Brat” I’ve always felt that America needs a draft and that having “citizen-soldiers” in the ranks makes America stronger and more importantly, at some point forces politicans to think about what they’re committing American forces to. I can’t imagine that the US would still be caught in the quagmire of the Middle East if there was a military draft. The American people would be demanding an end to it.

#6 Comment By Peter Jones On February 23, 2017 @ 7:49 am

I think Beauchamps is basically wrong here. Women-in-combat-arms was basically forced on the services by the everyone-is-equal fantasies promoted by “women’s rights advocates” and imbibed by the “educated” uber-masses as well as, importantly, being supported by the “libertarian” corporate ideologues.

The morale of the US military is brittle and underpinned by the technological superiority over the third-world opponents we have been facing for many decades. If and when our system, with its absurd and, let’s be honest, demoralizing (to men) employment of women in combat arms, is tested against a peer competitor at some point in the future, we are likely to have a catastrophic disaster on our hands.

#7 Comment By Uncle Billy On February 23, 2017 @ 8:28 am

Women will be killed and if captured, raped. People will be horrified, but injecting women into combat will result in unpleasant outcomes. Sherman said War is Hell. It is not an affirmative action project.

#8 Comment By The Wet One On February 23, 2017 @ 9:38 am

In response to the titular question, could the answer not simply be that women wanted to be in combat and now they are permitted to be in combat?

Or is that too simple?

#9 Comment By c matt On February 23, 2017 @ 11:45 am

Completely agree that if everyone were required to do a one or two year stint in the military, no exceptions, we would have far fewer engagements world-wide.

The tacit agreement being that if you don’t force us to join, we will let you deploy wherever you want in our name.

#10 Comment By Howard On February 23, 2017 @ 12:20 pm

“Why Are Women in Combat?” To sever our connection with traditional morality, so that a new morality can be programmed into us; to have us violate our consciences, so that new consciences can be constructed for us. This is something that anyone who understands human beings knows to be wrong, and THAT is why it is being done. It is a reprogramming technique similar to the way cults often force new recruits to sever their ties with their families.

#11 Comment By Nelson On February 23, 2017 @ 12:40 pm

The real problem: It’s far too easy for old people to tell young people to go to war.

#12 Comment By Patrick On February 23, 2017 @ 1:00 pm

I don’t disagree with your premise–that the DoD is always looking for fodder for its endless conflicts–but they would never have implemented this policy without relentless pressure from Obama appointees at the highest levels of the Pentagon and lobbying groups like the Military Leadership Diversity Commission. Recognizing that combat arms officers have disproportionate representation among general officers, the MLDC’s main goal was to improve promotion opportunities for women, and thereby increase the number of female joint chiefs, senior defense officials, etc. I think Obama and his lackeys simply saw an opportunity to score some easy diversity points, combat effectiveness be damned.

The fact remains that integration is unlikely to result in a significant number of women joining combat units, much less special operations units, where the strain of endless war is felt the most. Even the watered-down “gender neutral” PT standards won’t change that.

#13 Comment By SDS On February 23, 2017 @ 1:19 pm

And they’ll get the privilege of dying in the mud of a far-off battlefield; for no reason except Lindsay Graham’s stock portfolio…..

I dare say if the US were REALLY threatened they would have no problem filling the ranks…
But that’s not really the case; is it?

#14 Comment By WillW On February 23, 2017 @ 4:14 pm

Service guarantees citizenship!

#15 Comment By c matt On February 23, 2017 @ 4:37 pm

why do members of the military overwhelmingly vote for candidates who support reckless wars of choice?

Since Kennedy, every single one of the candidates for POTUS have supported reckless wars of choice. The particular location of the war they choose may differ, but the all choose it. Have to feed the MIC to keep the campaign funds flowin’.

#16 Comment By Myles On February 23, 2017 @ 5:41 pm

Also, it seems there is a very high percentage of involved personnel who are not military, but mercenaries/contractors, employed at twice the pay. The wars are basically “out of sight – out of mind” to the citizenry and the massive expenditure/waste of money and resources is stolen from real needs at home and/or deferred to the future. Compulsory military service for everyone at 18, as in Israel, would stop the useless wars and thus free the funds to allow the young people affordable housing and higher education.

#17 Comment By Matt On February 23, 2017 @ 9:29 pm

Young Women with their guts blown out screaming for their Dads equals out the young men with their guts blown screaming for their moms.

My guess is that women will be given the safer jobs anyway and there will less safer jobs given to men.

#18 Comment By Zebesian On February 23, 2017 @ 9:38 pm

Women in combat is not really an important issue. Military careers are no longer among the most dangerous (that would be agriculture and construction), the military is a tiny fraction of the population, and absent massive changes in standards, women are unlikely to ever make up close to half of all enlisted.

#19 Comment By EliteCommInc. On February 23, 2017 @ 9:59 pm

I am generally opposed to the idea. However, if they are going make claims of equality, then that means stepping off the pedestal and into the mud of warfare front and center.

But that such service means no shortcuts and I suspect as is ever the case, that the expectations are being lowered to meet the feminists agenda.

The volunteer military was never a good idea.

#20 Comment By Arthur Granville On February 24, 2017 @ 1:19 am

First of all what ever happened to American Chivalry? America has always been a chivalrous nation and a patriotic one at that. My generation(1946-1964), at least the older ones, never had to worry about political correctness in the military. We thought it unbelievable that women should be in combat. It is terrible enough for men. If a nation leaves a vacuum, like ours has, you will have women wanting to fill it.

That’s the problem. The military should have never caved in to the social engineering designs of the Left. We need good old chivalry back in America. Men who are willing to defend a woman’s honor and sacrifice for them. After all, what is our main goal but to lead our women to Heaven.

#21 Comment By J Harlan On February 24, 2017 @ 11:22 am

In order to facilitate women in the combat arms gender neutral fitness tests are needed to hide the low level of fitness required to allow you to get a few passes. Enter the new army OPAT.

[12]

The levels of fitness required to score “black” and enter the combat arms are what can be expected from a fit 14 year old boy in the ball throw to a fit 60 year old man in the run.

If you’re planning to lower fitness standards:

1. adopt unusual events that most people haven’t done.
2. use non-standard equipment to make replication of the test difficult
3. make the test difficult to administer so that if you’ve miscalculated and many females can’t pass a part you can pretend you can’t do it “this cycle”.

The Canadian Forces went through all of this starting about 20 years ago. It now doesn’t have any fitness test worthy of the name. The infantry currently are held to the same standard as middle aged female air force clerks.

#22 Comment By Fran Macadam On February 24, 2017 @ 11:29 am

“McCain and and Trump – two men who gleefully advocate for wars of choice at every opportunity”

McCain loathes Trump for questioning failed wars and for wanting not to stoke war with Russia.

You need to check your sources, if it’s not just your feelings pretending to be fact.

#23 Comment By Fran Macadam On February 24, 2017 @ 11:35 am

“Compulsory military service for everyone at 18, as in Israel, would stop the useless wars and thus free the funds to allow the young people affordable housing and higher education.”

You’ll have to put us in jail before we’ll agree to go kill strangers. In the past some of us were even tortured and murdered for failing to do what the government commanded as patriotic duty, which was nothing more than the elites’ wars of choice. Some of us adhere to original Christian beliefs, rather than their cynical and idolatrous War Jesus perversions.

#24 Comment By EliteCommInc. On February 24, 2017 @ 12:44 pm

“The levels of fitness required to score “black” and enter the combat arms are what can be expected from a fit 14 year old boy in the ball throw to a fit 60 year old man in the run.”

Here’s a factor rarely considered, in my view. From the time a male child is born, he is trained coaxed, pushed to compete. And that competition includes the use of his body for combat. Sports, boy scouts, ll manner of play is all part of his training for what might be battle for life, limb, his fellows and country as service to some greater good. A service for which were too valuable to risk.

Women to this day are not so exposed a men with every fiber of their being. A fourteen year old boy subconsciously knows grasps that. Being a man remains that.

Several hundred thousand years worth of expectation, unknown to women.

#25 Comment By Hexexis On February 24, 2017 @ 2:01 pm

“fewer and fewer Americans are fighting in our wars.”

& Even fewer service personnel, since supposedly only 37-41% are “eligible for combat”; hence, the infamous “stop-loss” scheme.

& Interesting about Kant comments, as much later, German principalities among first to impose restrictions on child labor, because too often child labor injuries rendered males ineligible for mandatory military service!

#26 Comment By A.K. On February 24, 2017 @ 4:36 pm

“McCain loathes Trump for questioning failed wars and for wanting not to stoke war with Russia.

You need to check your sources, if it’s not just your feelings pretending to be fact.”

The same Trump who waxed poetic to the best of his limited ability about his desire to tear up the deal with Iran, put China on notice, defeat all of our unnamed innumerable enemies for their numerous vaguely described offenses – that is the one that exists on the planet you live on.

I understand a lot of people, including yourself, projected a lot of your own hopes and dreams and wishful thinking onto Trump. With little to no practical basis or justification beyond your own wishful thinking.

#27 Comment By A.K. On February 24, 2017 @ 4:40 pm

““Compulsory military service for everyone at 18, as in Israel, would stop the useless wars and thus free the funds to allow the young people affordable housing and higher education.”

Decades of compulsory military service have helped lead to a more warlike Israel though. Younger Israelis are actually far more likely to support continued and escalated conflicts with Iran and the Palestinians. They are also more likely to explicitly support reducing the rights of Palestinian Israelis based on their ethnicity.

#28 Comment By what kind of “man” On February 24, 2017 @ 8:04 pm

It’s really a question of basic decency, isn’t it?

A civilization that sends women into combat has lost its bearings and moral authority. It’s no mystery how we got here: feminists and ideologues who admired totalist societies like the Soviet Union or Israel (both of which early on forced women into the military) worked very hard to persuade us that our Christian and Western attitudes (not to mention our basic instincts) on this were wrong. I’m afraid they succeeded.

And yet if we send women into combat, we forfeit the claim to the title “civilization”, and there’s really nothing left for anyone who isn’t a complete brute or ideologue to defend.

Anyway, if any US government tries to force my daughter into the military – still less into combat – they’ll have to deal with me and many other fathers. I’d guess that many of us have served.

#29 Comment By Anon On February 24, 2017 @ 8:57 pm

Why the obsession with pushing women into combat? Don’t overlook the sex-fetish angle. There seems to be a fascination with badass tuff-girls in the semi-respectable entertainment media (Aeon Flux, Hunger Games, Tomb Raider, etc.) not to mention the porn that gives full expression to this obsession (probably beloved by the leftwing man-lets who push this policy). I’d like to see further psychological research into this angle.

#30 Comment By Todd On February 25, 2017 @ 3:53 am

Scott, seems you’re saying that the Pentagon dreamed this up to increase recruiting. Please recall, the Services didn’t dream this up, it was shoved down their throats by the Obama administration.

#31 Comment By cajomu On February 25, 2017 @ 11:13 am

The old male-female protection paradigm — men thinking it their sacred duty to defend women and women both desiring and being grateful to be defended — is dead and buried. It has been replaced by things like MGTOW and fourth wave feminism.

The Trump Administration may slow down the transformation of the military into a gender neutral organization, but the societal changes that have led to it cannot be reversed. What remains to be seen is how effect a fighting force the new, gender integrated military will be and how many men and women will want to be part of it.

#32 Comment By UGA Oldtimer On February 25, 2017 @ 12:24 pm

Any nation that won’t defend its borders, kills its unborn children, and sends its women out to fight for it is a nation that is not going to last very long.

#33 Comment By J Harlan On February 25, 2017 @ 6:09 pm

From the Canadian experience. The Human Rights Commission (CHRC) mandated a certain % of females to be in each component (regular or reserve) and combat arm (infantry, armor, artillery and combat engineers). There was no hope of meeting the goals, especially for infantry, even without any upper body strength testing.

What to do? Convince the CHRC to allow both components and all arms to be considered as a whole. The advantage is that the 20 odd reserve “armoured regiments” (about 100 troops each with no AFVs) are a great place for university students to make some extra cash. There’s no PT. No heavy lifting. Travel in the field is via pickup or jeep. Meanwhile in the artillery drivers and command post operators became handy jobs for people who couldn’t hack the gun line. The quotas have never been met but they’re closer and the CHRC has gone off to tilt at other windmills.

I predict the same thing will happen in the US military. Very few females will want to be in the combat arms. Fewer will make it. The ones who do will slowly gravitate toward cushy jobs. Standards will be lowered to make it easier for females but the real effect will be to lower standards for male soldiers.

#34 Comment By p s c On February 25, 2017 @ 7:23 pm

I say more women, gays and trans in combat! It will lead to an ineffectual military which will end perpetual war in the middle east.

Peace through progressive madness.

#35 Comment By ensign morituri On February 26, 2017 @ 2:03 pm

It’s barbaric. What disgusting, decadent people our elites have become, that they want to send American women into combat to fight wars for globalist corporations, foreign interests, and PC ideology. Wars that they and their own children are too soft, lazy, cowardly, or incompetent to wage.

I’m glad my father (WW II Navy vet, Pacific) isn’t alive to see this. It’s the kind of thing he fought to defeat.

#36 Comment By The Shame Of It On February 26, 2017 @ 7:43 pm

With a Republican president and Congress, ending this affront to civilization and basic decency should be quick and easy.

Just stop it. And dismantle the institutions inside the military who helped to foster it and demote those officers who promoted it.

#37 Comment By Howard On February 27, 2017 @ 9:02 am

“Any nation that won’t defend its borders, kills its unborn children, and sends its women out to fight for it is a nation that is not going to last very long.”

Any nation that won’t defend its borders, kills its unborn children, and sends its women out to fight for it is an abomination, a curse on the human race, and it does not deserve to last very long. That is much worse than it not actually lasting long. In Ezekiel 24:21-23 the greatest horror is not that the Temple is to be destroyed; it is that “you shall not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of mourners … you shall not mourn or weep” because it comes as justice from the LORD, not as a mere injustice at the hands of evil men.

I am not optimistic about the prospects for this country over the next few decades. Don’t get me wrong; I am not talking about anything overtly supernatural, just the natural consequences of a long sequence of bad choices we have made. (Recall that the destruction of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar after the kings of Judah dealt foolishly with him was not overtly supernatural, either). I also question whether a state united not by ethnicity, religion, or a long and harmonious history, but by political convictions, can be rebuilt after disaster, particularly given the obvious absence of political consensus. Perhaps this country is destined to die for its sins, but we can still pray to die as Dismas rather than as Gestas.

#38 Comment By TR On February 27, 2017 @ 10:07 am

We’ve had women on the front lines for some time–they’re called policewomen.

#39 Comment By J Harlan On February 27, 2017 @ 6:20 pm

TR: Cops and combat arms soldiers have far more differences than similarities. The fitness required of general duty police is far less. Nothing in the police world comes close to the endurance required of a foot soldier.

But since you mentioned it what do we get from having policewomen? Theoretically they’re better at consoling kids etc. We also get a lot of smaller and weaker cops who in turn need tasers that in turn don’t work and then leave cops within “21 feet” so the end up shooting people.

#40 Comment By Howard On February 28, 2017 @ 1:02 pm

Actually, the most significant difference (in this context) between a policeman and a soldier is that when a soldier is killed in the performance of his duties, it is usually not murder, whereas when a policeman is killed in the performance of his duties, it usually is. They both may have to use deadly force, and they both may have deadly force used against them, but an enemy soldier may have to be stopped, but he is just another guy doing his job and does not need to be punished, whereas a criminal who kills a cop is a murderer who must be punished. The police are already protected by a taboo that does not protect the armed services.

#41 Comment By A. Strickland On February 28, 2017 @ 2:45 pm

“Why are women in combat?” Why not? Some men will object on religious or cultural grounds. For example “women can get raped.” To those that use this argument the question is, And men can’t be raped? Regarding the changing physical requirements. Requirements have changed ever since the first battle ever fought and will continue to change. Don’t blame women for this. And on religious grounds, Not everyone shares the same religious views. Don’t try to impose one religion on everyone. Any attempt to do so will definitely lead to battle.

#42 Comment By Howard On March 1, 2017 @ 10:48 am

@A. Strickland — Some things are worth battle, particularly when by “battle” you really mean nothing more than angry disagreements and cold stares at family gatherings. You are trying to impose an “ethics” that does not try to prove itself to be right, it considers itself to be above considerations of right and wrong — but you still want it to have the same obedience as if it were believed to be right.

#43 Comment By J Harlan On March 1, 2017 @ 4:58 pm

A. Strickland. Why not? In an AVF with limits on recruiting the effort to lower fitness standards and eventually increase promotion rates to meet whatever targets for females pols set will serve to lower readiness and harm male job satisfaction and hence retention.

It’s not what a particular women brings to a military unit that’s the problem. It’s the effect trying to force results for the mass of females that will be harmful.

BTW the fitness requirements for an infantryman today is greater than ever due to the body armor, comms gear etc they have to lug around. At the same time the Army fitness test has been made easier. Forget correlation with the move to have females in the combat arms it’s direct causation.

#44 Comment By Stephen M. Stirling On August 19, 2017 @ 4:37 pm

Mass armies of “citizen soldiers” are not an American tradition.

The period between 1940 and 1972 is not “normalacy”, and that’s the only long period when we’ve had a draft, and it’s the only peacetime draft in our history too.

In fact, effective conscription(*) has only existed for brief periods in WW1, WW2 and the earlier part of the Cold War.

Big emergencies, in other words.

The actual American tradition is a small army of volunteer professionals profoundly separated from (and often mutually hostile with) civilian society as a whole.

The “Indian-fighting army” was about 50% foreign-born for most of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

In the 1920’s and 1930’s, towns near military bases often had “No Soldiers or Sailors allowed” signs on ‘respectable’ establishments.

The military was widely regarded as an employer of last resort for no-hopers who couldn’t get anything better.

(*) the Civil War draft in the US was intended to spur volunteering, not to actually produce lots of soldiers, which is about how it worked. And you could buy a substitute.

#45 Comment By Joe On November 2, 2017 @ 8:08 pm

“The military was widely regarded as an employer of last resort for no-hopers who couldn’t get anything better.”

What a load of horse manure. I have a question for you. If I brought two books into the latrine with me; one Tim O’Brien novel and one Stephen M. Stirling novel, and I read the Tim O’Brien novel. What did I do with the Stephen M. Stirling novel?

#46 Comment By DC M On May 27, 2018 @ 11:27 am

Women Troops have always died in combat situations. Now we can get more equal pay and benefits. Here is one of many women to honor this Memorial Day. VIA Service Women (SWAN) (@Servicewomen):

PO1 Regina R. Clark
Died: 23 Jun 05 in Fallujah, Iraq. 43 years.
Naval Construction Regiment Detachment 30, Port Hueneme, CA., assigned to II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
PO1 Clark died from wounds sustained when a suicide, vehicle-borne IED struck her vehicle.