Yesterday’s TTAG question of the day was “Why Shouldn’t Women Be on the Front Lines?” This is a poor question because short answer is, they already are. The question that should actually be asked is “Why shouldn’t women be allowed into Combat Arms MOS (Military Occupational Specialty)?” See, the “front lines” are everywhere, and there are plenty of women serving in dangerous areas and forward FOBs (Forward Operating Bases). But that’s not the same thing as being a grunt. . .
Before I go on, this is a subject that deserves an establishment of bona fides and a good, thorough disclaimer. My rank was Sergeant (E-5). I served in the US Infantry, 11-B MOS. I received a medical discharge (honorable) in ’06 after sustaining injuries in an IED blast. I’ve got my EIB, CIB, Purple Heart, Manchu buckles, school badges – all that good shit. When it comes to the infantry, I have been there and done that. No more and no less than thousands of my brothers. Nothing I say should be taken as an indictment of women in general nor a slander against the thousands of women who serve honorably in our military.
That said: here’s why women should not – under any circumstances – be allowed into most combat MOS, especially the Infantry:
1) I often hear the “civil rights” argument, which is good for a chuckle. If you are out there laboring under the hilarious delusion that not letting women be grunts violates their constitutional rights, let me enlighten you. No one in the military has any rights. Legally speaking, you do not have freedom of speech, freedom from random search and seizure, or even from summary execution in the military.
It may be ironic, but you abandon those rights when you swear to uphold them. No one in the military has a right to anything except to be used as the military sees fit in the defense of our country. The military is not a social experiment. It is an organization formed to break things and kill people. Anything that does not help us do that better is useless.
2) The women in combat “experiment” has already been done. Several societies over the years have tried it and it’s been reversed every time. Most notably, the Soviet Union in WWII and Israel in 1948 were driven, through sheer desperation, to use women broadly in direct combat. In both cases they reversed policy soon afterward because it was a military disaster.
Canada ran a pilot program to get women into direct combat a couple years back and scrapped it, because not one female passed their requirements. There are plenty of studies done on this. Feel free to read them, but it basically boils down to this: including women in combat is hard on the women, and harder on the men whose discipline erodes when women are injured or killed. Israel still uses women in some combat roles (pilots, for instance), and they’ve found that women make the best instructors, but they have eliminated them from direct ground combat. So please, don’t act as if this whole thing hasn’t been tried and proven a failure before.
3) Physical capabilities – I don’t want to overstate the case here, but it should be self-evident. A far smaller percentage of women are physically capable of standing the rigors of direct ground combat than men. Please note the Army APFT standards for women and men, and how the maximum score for a woman is roughly equivalent to the minimum score for a man across most age ranges. On a PT test, that’s one thing. On a road march, there is no “needs improvement”, there is only go and no go.
4) Mental – and here is were I can really get into trouble. I’m not saying women are mentally unfit, but if crime statistics show us anything, it’s that women are far less aggressive than men. That much is simple, provable. This isn’t to say women are incapable of killing, they clearly are. It’s just one more way in which the statistics clearly don’t run in their favor.
5) Morale – mixed-sex units have lower levels of it. This is due to a whole host of issues, not all of which can be attributed to the females. But it doesn’t change the fact that having young men and women work together produces very reliable results, And not always the ones you want in a combat unit.
6) Fraternization – it’s a problem. It becomes a bigger problem when the people involved are in each others chain of command. You can’t expect 19-year-old men and women not to…how shall I put this delicately? Fuck like Viagra-intoxicated bunnies at every opportunity. This leads to all sorts of problems such as real and opportunistic charges of sexual harassment, constant reassignments to try to keep the web of sexual connections from impacting command decisions. Basically, it’s a clusterfuck. I was always glad my units weren’t as jacked up as the support bats.
7) Readiness. Anyone who has been in a unit that’s been ordered to deploy is aware of the rush to get out of it just prior to the unit leaving. For men, they have to convince a psychiatrist that they’re insane. For women, all they have to do is get pregnant. This doesn’t happen all the time, but two of the support battalions I deployed with lost over half their female soldiers to pregnancy before they left. That leaves everyone short-handed and severely impacts unit readiness. Those units had to get backfilled from the National Guard. This isn’t insurmountable, but it’s a serious problem.
8 ) Promotion. This is the argument I always see trotted out, and it’s bogus. “Women officers don’t get promoted as fast because they don’t have experience commanding combat troops.” That may be true, but it’s not because we don’t let women into the infantry. Officers don’t have an MOS. They can command anything. Letting women into the infantry will not produce one single female infantry commander.
The only thing required to fix this “problem” (and I have no sympathy with whining officers of either sex) is to change the officer protocols to allow females to command combat arms units. There. Simple. You can have your promotions, I don’t care, but don’t lower the quality of our combat troops to facilitate it.
9) Finally, I feel the need to ask this of anyone who wants women in direct ground combat: why? How does this benefit the Army? What capability does this bring us that we do not already have? If the only benefit you can think of is that some non-military feminists will feel better and some officers will get promoted faster, you need to rethink your position, because you do not have the best interests of soldiers in mind.
I support the inclusion of women in every single MOS in which they are an asset to the military. This does not include the Infantry, Cav, Arty and Specops MOS. I don’t see a lot of women clamoring to be enlisted Infantry anyway. If the officers want to bitch, let them command at the company+ level.