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January 24 2013

A Naked Truth about Women in Combat

Charlotte Hays

Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s last important act—lifting the ban on women in combat—is a triumph of ideology over reality. But that’s now how it sounds in this description from Fox News:

Leon Panetta, in one of his last acts as President Obama's defense secretary, is preparing to announce the policy change, which would open hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs after more than a decade at war, the Pentagon confirmed Wednesday.

The groundbreaking move recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff overturns a 1994 rule banning women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units. Panetta's decision gives the military services until January 2016 to seek special exceptions if they believe any positions must remain closed to women.

My first thought was that it’s a darned good thing the tide of war is receding because this is no way to run a military. The military is to fight our battles, not to serve as a vehicle for social engineering. Putting women in combat has the potential to reduce our capacity to fight wars.   

Heather Mac Donald reacted in a similar manner:

We have apparently arrived at the Golden Age, free from strife and the threat of foreign enemies. Little else can explain so gratuitous a decision as to place women in combat units. The downsides to such a policy are legion and obvious; the only reason to pursue it is to placate feminism’s insatiable and narcissistic drive for absolute official equality between the sexes.

Any claim that our fighting forces are not reaching their maximum potential because females are not included is absurd. The number of women who are the equal to reasonably well-developed men in upper-body strength and who have the same stamina and endurance is vanishingly small. Because the number of women who will meet the military’s already debased physical-fitness standard will not satisfy the feminists’ demand for representation, the fitness standard will inevitably be lowered across the board or for women alone, as we have seen in civilian uniformed forces.

Elaine Donnelly, Center for Military Preparedness and a former member of the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces, points out that the feminist view of the military as “just another career opportunity” fails to take into consideration what it is like to fight a war. She made a good comparison three days ago in a piece in the Washington Times:

Professional football entertains fans with non-lethal combat on the gridiron, but the National Football League does not “diversify” its teams with female players. Military teams that engage in lethal combat, however, are supposed to deploy significant numbers of women, willing or not, to achieve gender-based “diversity metrics” on the battlefield. …

In 1997-98, the British military conducted an 18-month experiment with “gender-free” training. Under standards identical to men’s, women’s injury rates soared. In 2002 and 2010, the British Ministry of Defense decided to keep infantry battalions all-male.

Women have long served in the military, as well they should. But moving women into jobs for which most are physically unfit is going to harm a lot of women just to satisfy a feminist agenda. Ryan Smith, a former Marine infantryman, who is now a lawyer, paints a picture of the life on the front that women will encounter:

The column would not stop for a lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or even a company commander to go to the restroom. Sometimes we spent over 48 hours on the move without exiting the vehicles. We were forced to urinate in empty water bottles inches from our comrades.

Many Marines developed dysentery from the complete lack of sanitary conditions. When an uncontrollable urge hit a Marine, he would be forced to stand, as best he could, hold an MRE bag up to his rear, and defecate inches from his seated comrade's face.

During the invasion, we wore chemical protective suits because of the fear of chemical or biological weapon attack. These are equivalent to a ski jumpsuit and hold in the heat. We also had to wear black rubber boots over our desert boots. On the occasions the column did stop, we would quickly peel off our rubber boots, desert boots and socks to let our feet air out.

Due to the heat and sweat, layers of our skin would peel off our feet. However, we rarely had time to remove our suits or perform even the most basic hygiene. We quickly developed sores on our bodies.

When we did reach Baghdad, we were in shambles. We had not showered in well over a month and our chemical protective suits were covered in a mixture of filth and dried blood. We were told to strip and place our suits in pits to be burned immediately. My unit stood there in a walled-in compound in Baghdad, naked, sores dotted all over our bodies, feet peeling, watching our suits burn. Later, they lined us up naked and washed us off with pressure washers.

Yes, a woman is as capable as a man of pulling a trigger. But the goal of our nation's military is to fight and win wars.

I would also like to add that I think women in combat will be harmful to men. What kind of man doesn’t rescue a woman in distress? Our military took risks to rescue Jessica Lynch when she was captured in Iraq in 2003 that it might not take for a man. If we are to put women in the front lines, men will be forced to learn to act more like the men on the Costa Concordia than the Titanic.  Chivalry will be dead, and, unfortunately a lot of women will be harmed in a more directly physical manner. 

Like many feminist agenda items, this is not good for women.


 

 

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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