The week after my squadron returned from what was my first deployment, we held an officers’ meeting in the Ready Room. At the meeting’s close, our XO stood up and asked the younger pilots to stay behind. The Ready Room emptied out and eventually only a dozen of us first lieutenants and captains were left. The XO shut the door, then saw me and kicked me out too. He needed to speak to us because the squadron had to supply a pilot to be a Forward Air Controller for an infantry battalion, but he didn’t want me there because I wasn’t allowed to be a FAC with an infantry unit.

No one really wanted the FAC tour just yet, since we’d just finished our first deployment as new pilots and had been busting our butts learning how to fly and fight our aircraft. The war in Afghanistan was new, we were young and unscathed, and we were chomping at the bit to do our jobs. But we needed to send a pilot to the battalion, and as a woman, I was unqualified.

After nearly a year in the squadron, I was just another pilot among many. But suddenly I became a female pilot, and was set apart. And regardless of personal qualifications, my presence immediately limited the command’s options.*

Why keep a capable, qualified pilot from serving as a FAC with an infantry unit? Why restrict any qualified individual based on assumptions about his or her gender? This debate has been going for years, and the same arguments against lifting the restriction on women in combat keep echoing, but after a decade of war, those arguments sound empty given the reality on the ground and in the air.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, women have repeatedly proven that they can handle the physical and mental stresses of combat in many different forms. Nearly 300,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, in a range of jobs unmatched in recent history. They have participated in combat operations at historical rates. Women can do the job, and women are doing the job, right alongside men who have long since stopped seeing them as women, and instead simply see them as fellow Marines, Soldiers, Airmen, and Sailors. My own experiences overseas and those of many of my generation—male and female—have rendered the combat restriction obsolete, reinforcing that gender does not matter if one can do the job…it’s about ability.

Debates about the legal restriction on women in combat units are usually accompanied by arguments about physical strength and biological differences, the nature of combat versus the nature of men and women, and the effect women will have on men and, therefore, on unit cohesion and effectiveness. But the past decade has offered up years that counter these assumptions, showing that we have systematically underestimated our Marines and Sailors and their abilities.

Physical strength:

Women are already carrying the same loads that men are, in training and in theater (has anyone seen the pictures accompanying General Amos’ road show brief?). From The Basic School to Iraq and Afghanistan, we all carry and wear lots of gear. But to erase lingering doubts about capabilities, set one physical standard for combat units and stick to it. Maybe only a few women will make the cut, but we may see less 130-lb, video-game-playing 19-year-old men, too. If someone is physically qualified, they should not be restricted based on gender. Period.

The nature of combat vs. the nature of gender:

Passive women, aggressive men, nurturing mothers, protective fathers…these are stereotypes that do not cover all—or arguably even many—people. Most people, male or female, are not suited for the violence of combat (or for any military service, for that matter). But some are. There are female Marines I’d follow anywhere and male Marines I wouldn’t. We all know those who don’t fit the gender “mold.” Let ability be the deciding factor.

Showers and toilets:

Everybody stinks after awhile. Water bottles, solar showers, wet wipe baths. Not pretty, but I did it. Everyone does it. As for privacy and bathrooms, we all adapt and figure out how to make things work. If you have enough gear on, nobody can see anything, anyway. One of our bathrooms in Iraq was the rusted hulk in the picture at the top. Worked like a champ if timed right. If you want more details, I’m happy to provide. Bottom line, women make do, just like men do.

The effect of women on men and the breakdown of unit cohesion:

Claiming that men are “hard-wired” to compete for women insults men and women alike. It insults our integrity, intelligence, dedication and professionalism, and places the responsibility for handling this “natural” occurrence squarely on the shoulders of women. The usual argument is that men can’t handle themselves around women, so women should not be allowed. Whatever happened to leadership, professionalism, and taking responsibility for one’s actions? And as women and men train together, gender can disappear, and then we are all simply what we wanted to be to begin with: Marines. Not male Marines, not female Marines, but Marines. If you see someone every day and you know that person can do the job, there’s no distraction.

Our Marines and Sailors are not so poorly trained or simplistic that the presence of someone who looks different will destroy a unit from the inside. Women—just like men—have heart, soul, and incredible motivation, and join the Marines to be a Marine: to be challenged, to serve with the best, and to be part of something great. Claiming that the presence of women will destroy a unit underestimates the intelligence, dedication and professionalism of our military, and—above all else—shows ignorance of what our military does on a daily basis.

Look at our forces today. Women have been serving and fighting alongside men in Iraq and Afghanistan all along, and the sky hasn’t fallen. The fears have not materialized. Unit cohesion has not collapsed, the mission is being accomplished, and men and women are serving and sacrificing side-by-side. As Marines. Ask all four Wings or the Marine Logistics Groups. The Divisions are no different: find an infantry battalion without women “attached” in theater. By all measurable standards of readiness, we have co-ed units deployed today capable of successfully performing the most complex missions. If the presence of women will break down cohesion, causing readiness to plummet and units to fail, where are these failing units? Where is the mission failure?

Keeping the legal restriction in place reinforces and perpetuates the assumption that women cannot fight as well as men and cannot protect themselves. It draws lines between Marines that don’t need to be there. In deployed units, this can have highly negative consequences and can poison units from within, something I have experienced firsthand.

This restriction keeps women from serving in all capacities based on what is assumed about the abilities and natures of all women and all men. Ostensibly, these regulations protect vulnerable women from the dangers of combat while keeping men from being distracted—or endangered—in combat by a woman (whether protecting her or picking up her slack). This generalizes all women and their capabilities while denying women the opportunity to fully answer the call to serve. Just like men, women are capable of great ambition and of yearning to belong to something bigger than ourselves, to serve and sacrifice. Isn’t that why we all—no matter the gender—sign up?

It’s time to finish this debate and do what’s right. Putting up barriers between men and women based on generalized assumptions distracts those serving and wastes time and energy. We should let the best person have the job, regardless of what’s between their legs. To many of those fighting the war today, it’s a non-issue. They are already serving together, and have been for years.

General Amos, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, recently sent a letter to the senior leadership, addressing the ongoing discussion on women in combat. He described the research that the Marine Corps is conducting on the topic and closed the discussion with, “Our end state is a thorough, credible, and defensible Service position that responds to our civilian leadership while keeping faith with our Marines, in garrison and in combat.” Let’s keep faith with all Marines. Open up all MOSs to everyone, keep the standards high, and do not raise invisible barriers. Let Marines be Marines, and the rest can follow.

*as for the FAC tour, a friend took it, and I never felt right about it.




Posted by Jeannette Haynie in Marine Corps


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  • UltimaRatioReg

    It would seem there are a few contrary opinions on the subject. Including your assertions of “generalized assumptions”.

    From July’s Marine Corps Gazette article “Get Over It”, by Captain Katie Petronio, USMC:

    “Who is driving this agenda? I am not personally hearing female Marines, enlisted or officer, pounding on the doors of Congress claiming that their inability to serve in the infantry violates their right to equality. Shockingly, this isn’t even a congressional agenda. This issue is being pushed by several groups, one of which is a small committee of civilians appointed by the Secretary of Defense called the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service (DACOWITS)…”

    And about her experiences:

    “I was a motivated, resilient second lieutenant when I deployed to Iraq for 10 months, traveling across the Marine area of operations (AO) and participating in numerous combat operations. Yet, due to the excessive amount of time I spent in full combat load, I was diagnosed with a severe case of restless leg syndrome. My spine had compressed on nerves in my lower back causing neuropathy which compounded the symptoms of restless leg syndrome. While this injury has certainly not been enjoyable, Iraq was a pleasant experience compared to the experiences I endured during my deployment to Afghanistan. At the beginning of my tour in Helmand Province, I was physically capable of conducting combat operations for weeks at a time, remaining in my gear for days if necessary and averaging 16-hour days of engineering operations in the heart of Sangin… I was the senior Marine making the final decisions on construction concerns, along with 24-hour base defense and leading 30 Marines at any given time. The physical strain of enduring combat operations and the stress of being responsible for the lives and well-being of such a young group in an extremely kinetic environment were compounded by lack of sleep, which ultimately took a physical toll on my body that I couldn’t have foreseen.

    By the fifth month into the deployment, I had muscle atrophy in my thighs that was causing me to constantly trip and my legs to buckle with the slightest grade change. My agility during firefights and mobility on and off vehicles and perimeter walls was seriously hindering my response time and overall capability.

    It was evident that stress and muscular deterioration was affecting everyone regardless of gender; however, the rate of my deterioration was noticeably faster than that of male Marines and further compounded by gender-specific medical conditions. At the end of the 7-month deployment, and the construction of 18 PBs later, I had lost 17 pounds and was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (which personally resulted in infertility, but is not a genetic trend in my family), which was brought on by the chemical and physical changes endured during deployment. Regardless of my deteriorating physical stature, I was extremely successful during both of my combat tours, serving beside my infantry brethren and gaining the respect of every unit I supported. Regardless, I can say with 100 percent assurance that despite my accomplishments, there is no way I could endure the physical demands of the infantrymen whom I worked beside as their combat load and constant deployment cycle would leave me facing medical separation long before the option of retirement. I understand that everyone is affected differently; however, I am confident that should the Marine Corps attempt to fully integrate women into the infantry, we as an institution are going to experience a colossal increase in crippling and career-ending medical conditions for females.”

    “There have been many working groups and formal discussions recently addressing what changes would be necessary to the current IOC period of instruction in order to accommodate both genders without producing an underdeveloped or incapable infantry officer. Not once was the word “lower” used, but let’s be honest, “modifying” a standard so that less physically or mentally capable individuals (male or female) can complete a task is called “lowering the standard”! The bottom line is that the enemy doesn’t discriminate, rounds will not slow down, and combat loads don’t get any lighter, regardless of gender or capability. Even more so, the burden of command does not diminish for a male or female; a leader must gain the respect and trust of his/her Marines in combat. Not being able to physically execute to the standards already established at IOC, which have been battle tested and proven, will produce a slower operational speed and tempo resulting in increased time of exposure to enemy forces and a higher risk of combat injury or death. For this reason alone, I would ask everyone to step back and ask themselves, does this integration solely benefit the individual or the Marine Corps as a whole, as every leader’s focus should be on the needs of the institution and the Nation, not the individual?

    Which leads one to really wonder, what is the benefit of this potential change? The Marine Corps is not in a shortage of willing and capable young male second lieutenants who would gladly take on the role of infantry officers. In fact we have men fighting to be assigned to the coveted position of 0302…”

    “Finally, what are the Marine Corps standards, particularly physical fitness standards, based on—performance and capability or equality? We abide by numerous discriminators, such as height and weight standards… tall Marines are restricted from flying specific platforms, and color blind Marines are faced with similar restrictions. We recognize differences in mental capabilities of Marines when we administer the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and use the results to eliminate open specific fields. These standards are designed to ensure safety, quality, and the opportunity to be placed in a field in which one can sustain and succeed. Which once again leads me, as a ground combat-experienced female Marine Corps officer, to ask, what are we trying to accomplish by attempting to fully integrate women into the infantry? For those who dictate policy, changing the current restrictions associated with women in the infantry may not seem significant to the way the Marine Corps operates. I vehemently disagree; this potential change will rock the foundation of our Corps for the worse and will weaken what has been since 1775 the world’s most lethal fighting force.”

    Go read the article. Captain Petronio offers some interesting alternatives to your very predictable premise of dismissing ten thousand years of cultural history as being somehow irrelevant.

  • Jeannette Haynie

    I already linked her article in my post above, down toward the bottom if you missed it. Her point is certainly well written, but she invalidates her own title by saying that while we aren’t all the same, women actually are the same. Which is precisely where I beg to differ. Her experience is anecdotal and discounts those of many out there with her.

  • Chaps

    The plural of anecdote is data. And the data says there is not enough (if any) of value added with women in combat arms to justify the hassle of screening for those few who may be able to hack it.

    These posts are just a lot of whining, “Gimme what I want and screw the rest of the Marine Corps.”

  • http://snafu-solomon.blogspot.com/ solomon

    What’s this? 3 articles on women in combat? Seems like you’re on a jihad. How about an article on leadership, aerial tactics, providing ground support in conflicted airspace….

    But no, you’re stuck on this. Feel good and move on. Its obvious that you and your fellow travelers have won. I just hope you’re happy. Some young girl is going to be sent into the meat grinder that you’re lusting after and will suffer mightily because of it. Question. You’re a Marine. If your daughter told you that she was skipping college and going to become an Infantryman how would you feel. You’ll lie on these pages and say that you fully support it, but deep down inside, in places that you’ll never make public you know the truth. It would tear you up inside and your husband would probably never sleep well till she was done.

    You and yours know the pain. The SGTMAJ surely knows what these women will be going through yet is still pushing it. The broken bodies will be something to see….and many of these women will break before they get to combat. Unless standards are drastically lowered.

  • Mittleschmerz

    “your very predictable premise of dismissing ten thousand years of cultural history as being somehow irrelevant.”

    As is your premise that the “cultural history” is monolithic…

    As much as there are some women who can serve in combat, and should be allowed to, there are men who cannot.

    Why not allow a single standard? What is so special about the XY chromosome that it should be the sole and singular (arbitrary) first qualifier?

    Sort of like how the pilots arbitrarily set 20/20 vision for their requirements, long after aircraft became flying computers. Because 20/20 vision is such a clear indicator of leadership ability. Right?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Mittleschmerz,

    THAT is my premise? Huh. Here I was thinking that perhaps men and women are equal, but not in all things. Which doesn’t mean they aren’t equal. It means they aren’t the same.

  • Mittleschmerz

    No, they aren’t the same. Neither are all men “the same”.

    So, why not a single gender-neutral standard?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    From Captain Petronio’s article:

    “Let’s embrace our differences to further hone in on the Corps’ success instead of dismantling who we are to achieve a political agenda.”

    Sound advice indeed.

  • Emilio

    Women arrived late in the Italian Armed Forces, but there is a perfect parity.

    They “man” OPs in firebases, go on patrol, get wounded.

    The last wounded is Monica Contrafatto, a Bersagliere.

    She lost a leg during a rocket attack on her base in Afghanistan, while some of her comrades where kiled.

    In the following interview she simply tells: “The new leg will be better, and I will be able to go back to Afghanistan…”

    http://tinyurl.com/cjr7ckt

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “why not a single gender-neutral standard?”

    Sure, until physical attrition from stress injuries takes better than half of the female candidates, which will be considered “discriminatory”, and the standard lowered. It is as predictable as the tides.

    Did a hitch training recruits of both genders. Increasing the physical training for women, even at Parris Island, came at a price. It wasn’t long before that price, stress fractures in the pelvis, broken wrists, shredded knees, all largely due to physiological differences to males, made keeping such a relatively minor increase politically unacceptable.

    (And not without reason. A male recruit with a stress fracture almost always had it below the knee. Almost all healed with no long term effect. The pelvic stress fractures of the female recruits often did permanent and disabling damage.)

  • Mittleschmerz

    URR – very sound advice…but who’s political agenda are you talking about? The Left? Or the Right? Because both sides (forced acceptance, and forced denial) are a political agenda.

    Back to the Major’s post: What is the fear of letting women compete on a level playing field? Why not allow the individual woman to make the choice?

    Yes, I get the arguments and concerns that standards would be lowered. And I am not in favor of that route.

    There should be a single standard, one that does not use gender as a discriminator.

  • http://www.stokenewingtonchambers.co.uk kris

    Back in the day, having left the Navy and needing a good topic to write about, I chose the combat exclusion and citizenship – and, without taxing my brains too much, I was able to link the combat exclusion to gender based harassment and second-class citizenship. Work it out: Treat people as “not quite the real deal” and you’ve officially set them up as “less than” and as targets. (44 Nav Law R. [1997] p.223)

    Having failed to provide any substantive reason for the continued exclusion, faithful readers above play to emotion by showing a great deal of Kurt Schlichter #caring about the possibility of a daughter sharing dirty conditions or getting blown up in battle. Actually, you don’t care about her – you care about preserving combat as “men’s work” and “masculinity”.

    While combat remains about “men” rather than “ability to do the job” – don’t be too surprised that doing more of your failed “zero tolerance” policy remains utterly ineffective.

    QM1 KH

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “Having failed to provide any substantive reason for the continued exclusion,”

    Sorry, kris. You can mouth those words after humping around Helmand and Sangin, or even 29 Palms with a radio, spare belt of MG ammo, two 60mm mortar rounds, flak jacket, helmet, water, and as much of your own ammunition as you can carry. For weeks.

    MI: Level playing field? Not for long. You know it, and I know it.

  • http://www.stokenewingtonchambers.co.uk kris

    Dear Ultima

    As far as I’m aware, it’s still voluntary service.

    If a woman or a man can pass the job validated requirement test and want to do the job, I salute them.

    Why can’t you?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Nice switch of logic, but your assertion of “failing to provide any substantive reason” is hollow.

  • YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III

    Single standard across the board should be the mantra of anyone against women in combat roles. Because, if cultural history is any indication, women will be in combat roles. The question is how. To hold the line at not allowing it to happen only serves to enable terms no one will be happy with.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    YN2,

    Women are in combat. I have served next to them. As I pointed out in other posts of this ilk elsewhere, there is a world of difference between incidental combat busting an ambush, or securing a perimeter, and being a part of an infantry element whose expressed purpose is to locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver, or repel his assaults by fire and close combat.

    We train our females, officer and enlisted, for incidental combat, FOB defense, perimeter security. Thinking that means you are ready for prolonged combat as an infantryman is simply ignoring reality, very likely for advancement of a political agenda. As Captain Petronio very eloquently points out.

  • Anne B

    The military should have a uniform physical standard; it’s not something that simply concerns combat. That said, if a woman can support/carry the same equipment, weapons, and ammunition as a man, for the same duration of time, is fully aware and willing to accept the risks and toll of combat (physical and psychological), much as a man is willing to take those same risks….why shouldn’t women be permitted to serve as they choose, if capable? To say no woman is capable of doing this, is to state a blanket absolute and wipe the idea from the table; remove the topic from discussion. Convenient. Rather than stating something is impossible, instead create a physical standard to ensure women (and men for that matter) who shouldn’t be there are not.

    There is a need for women on the ground in war. The success of the Lionness Teams demonstrates this. Sixty years ago no one would have fathomed the role of women in the military today. Can you do the job equal to a man? Are you skilled, capable, and willing to take the risk? If the answers are all yes, then what else is there?

  • http://www.stokenewingtonchambers.co.uk Kris

    You keep beating the Capt Petronio drum but cannot answer a simple question: It’s still at 6 July 4:04pm.

    I await your substantive response.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    [removed by admin]

    There has been significant discussion on this topic here. Go find the author’s other posts and see them there.

  • Mittleschmerz

    URR – another reminder of why I comment so little on posts here. Why can’t you either let others comment, or answer the questions they pose? Instead you commandeer the commentary and rebuke anyone who disagrees with you.

    [removed by admin]

    Admin – feel free to delete this, but URR’s monopolizing of ideas is in public and the rebuke should be as well.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    [deleted by admin]

  • Mittleschmerz

    So, to paraphrase…

    In order to be a ground combat arms officer one must be male?

    Is that a fair summation?

    Here are my pull quotes, FWIW…

    “Welcome to all you commenters who haven’t a thing to contribute to anything else except to yet another feminist topic. I do think you will dismiss whatever answers are given to your “questions” with the same cries of “sexism!” and “old-fashioned!” that have been typical of such.”

    “As I pointed out in other posts of this ilk elsewhere”

    “Go read the article.” (which, BTW, was linked)

    ====

    All of which are dismissive of the commenters or authors. And drive people away from the discussion. Not because you dissent, but because of HOW you dissent. You do it very well. Sadly.

    ====

    You, and Sol, and whoever else is just trying the Nancy Reagan “Just Say No” approach doesn’t realize that yours is a losing proposition and you are expending your energy in the wrong direction because the political forces are greater than any of us.

    So, what do I in my lofty ivory tower think you should be expending your energy on? Focus on your comments about pelvic fractures, and provide something that supports your personal observations. And then provide some potential solutions for how to help the women who choose to enter combat arms – with better gear, or different physical regimens that seek to capitalize on women’s physiological differences. But, to be honest, that one gem was lost in all the other “stuff” you posted in your polemics.

    If you truly believed that women are your equals, as different as they are, then you would be spending your time informing, and educating, and working to minimize or mitigate the impact rather than just telling the “No, because I said so”.

    They deserve better than that.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    No it isn’t a fair assumption. And you know it.

    Yes, they can read comments in other posts on similar subjects. Perhaps they can inform themselves. You can do the same.

    There is lots to know and consider. I am not going to type it in a little box here. When you and other say “there is no good reason why not” when the very first comment posted was a quote from a superb article by a super-fit female Lieutenant who had prolonged exposure to the infantry, and it tells of the physical toll (without even the effects of extended combat), it shows me you are highly selective in what you consider, and are very, very fast to dismiss out of hand.

    So perhaps you should follow your own advice.

  • http://blog.usni.org M. Ittleschmerz

    I’ll paraphrase Chap…anecdotes are not data.

    Likewise, just because someone likes something does not increase it’s veracity.

    Captain Petronio wrote a good article (and I read it before Major Haynie posted here).

    But it is one article. That’s all. It is not data.

  • Trudy

    In 2012 the ‘Seperate-But-Equal’ claim still flies with some ? Was thrown out by the Supreme Court generations ago…

    There’s little point in schlepping (all your gear) around distant parts to help the locals get out of a whole range of medieval assumptions – which accounts for the absence of reasonably civilized circumstances – while you are happily burdening yourself with prejudice and presumptions that has kept your own society from evolving as far as it could to in part indeed produce a better Marine Corps, Army etc. yet.

    From the toxicity of gender-specific raising of children all the way to URR-type assumptions about womem in combat (and thus men !?) this casual embrace of ‘Hierarchies of Human Worth’ has consistently kept us from reaching maximum capabilities in every walk of life, from cradle over military service to grave.

    Hence tragic divorce-rates, domestic violence, imbalanced board-rooms, along with otherwise-sensible folks disintegrating in public into piles of embarrassing incoherence – which should indeed disqualify from ‘Leadership’-positions. Four-letter language such as ‘Feminist Agenda’ should be one such indicator of an under-evolved perspective and thus automatically reduced ‘authority’, due to not being up to ‘the standard’ to defend or represent this society…

  • UltimaRatioReg

    [Deleted by admin]

  • http://snafu-solomon.blogspot.com/ solomon

    why is admin deleting URR comments.

    [admin note: We reserve the editorial right to delete comments that are ad hominem, personal, off topic, bullying, etc. Our policy is here: http://blog.usni.org/what-is-the-naval-institute-blog/

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    As usual, there is the ideal, and the real, which cannot ever be the ideal.

    Fred Reed, over at “Fred On Everything” laid out the argument against women in the infantry on the basis of simple physical incapacity some years ago.

    The life cycle cost to the woman is pretty clearly much higher than to the man, on average.

    This is not to say that women cannot, or have not, been successful in other MOS’s. Or that some women cannot perform satisfactorily in the infantry role, albeit rarely,

    But the current post isn’t much interested in costs and benefits of a course of action. It is more about feeling left out, and singled out.

    That happens. The Spartans admired the ability to carry on and let the fox gnaw. The Amazons were not Spartans, though self mutilation to increase combat effectiveness was reportedly the norm among them.

    It all depends on how important combat effectiveness is to the person in question.

    My vote is sine qua non, with the recruiting philosophy of Gideon’s Band.

    How important is combat effectiveness to this blog. My vote is as above, with the proviso that this is the NAVAL Institute. Infantry has its role, and my esteem.

    But this is not a discussion high on my priority list. Surviving the folly which seems inevitable for the near future.

    Given sequestration is likely soon to be upon us, what overwhelming reason is there at all to continue enlisting and commissioning women?

    Mmmm?

  • http://snafu-solomon.blogspot.com/ solomon

    interesting. question. is the author of this post censoring URR comments or is it a neutral party. URR does write at USNI blog so I’m sure he’s well aware of the “rules”. i’m really curious to see how he crossed the line…if Haynie is censoring him then its time to get a new judge.

    [admin note: Major Haynie does not have any editorial control over comments, nor do any of the other Guest Bloggers. That is an editorial function of the blog.]

  • YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III

    Grandpa Bluewater, as he is better able than most, brings up a very valid point.

    Is the issue of women in combat an issue of exclusion, or an issue of denying a capable and valid source of capability?

    To be honest, I err on the side that women will be able to bring capability to an infantry, or other combat unit. I am not for including women in combat roles unless they are able to contribute as much as any other their male peers.

    Anecdotal evidence is one thing (as that is what is cited in both this blog as well as in CPT Pertronio’s article). but, hard numbers are another. Stepping back from actual combat towards the training pipeline that readies personnel for combat and looking at the non-verified numbers of attrition does not quite convince me that women cannot perform adequately in combat. I would assume–yes I know, I am assuming–but, I would assume, that there are other methodologies that do not compromise training that also does not ‘soften’ the end product (combat capable personnel).

    Admittedly, this issue is a much more tenuous one for the Marines than it is for the Navy. A woman is combat capable aboard a ship if she knows how to properly classify a contact as an Operations Specialist; a woman is combat capable if she knows how to keep a ship’s course true in restricted maneuverability; she is combat capable if she knows how to combat a class Bravo fire and can function as part of the team combating that casualty. Though, I would be remiss if I did not mention the trepidation I felt when securing a water-tight hatch aboard ship with two females holding the ~200 lbs hatch above my head–though this trepidation is only somewhat more significant than some of my male colleagues holding the same hatch).

    However, as outlined in the article by CPT Pertronio, the physical demands on Marines can be vastly different; different in a way not familiar to me, nor that I can truly even say that I have anecdotal evidence to support. Though, in light of the experiences I have had, and based upon the logical assumptions and educated guesses I can make I am willing to say that the issue here is not one of exclusion, nor is it one of catering to political demands. Rather, that it is one of standards, and being able to train people to those standards.

    The debate we should be having is how we can create in a raw recruit the same abilities regardless of gender. Both genders have to make sacrifices to meet standards. In reality those sacrifices will necessarily have to be gender specific. As CPT Pertonio outlined, she had to sacrifice her ability to have children. That is a sacrifice, that should not be viewed through a prism that gives any connotation different from what a male sacrifices to meet the objectives set before them. For in an equal footing, the measure of accomplishment is not what one sacrifices to meet a goal; the measure is meeting the goal. If we can let go of the natural cultural impressions many feel in regards to sacrifice, we have eliminated many of the hurdles inherent in incorporating women into combat roles.

    Granted the most perilous aspects of readying women for combat come from a political level. The aversion many feel towards bringing women into combat roles is predicated upon the historical record of bringing women or minorities into things they have historically been excluded from. If, you’ll permit one additional anecdotal story to suffice for evidence I’ll cite the words of Col. (Ret.) Charles McGee of the Tuskegee Airmen. He told us at the Milblog Conference that (and I am paraphrasing) nothing was easy for them in being an all black unit training to be fighter pilots in WWII. But, that the standards we not, I repeat, not relaxed for them and that if anything, the standards were much more stringent in that they were being watched very closely with the anticipation that they would fail. This overt attention paid to them, and sticking to the most stringent requirements in training made them into the exceptional unit that they were.

    With knowing of the peril of implementing combat roles for women, and of the example of the Tuskegee Airmen, how can we not proceed without ensuring we do right by both the first women to truly enter into such roles as well as the combat record of our infantry units?

    Anyway, this is just the opinion of a Fobbit Surface Sailor, who is now on cushy shore duty in Belgium. Take it for what it’s worth.

  • Jeannette Haynie

    YN2, you may be a Fobbit Surface Sailor, but I think you distilled it down much better than any of us. Thanks for a very well-thought-out comment.

    One of the problems is that it’s nearly impossible to boil the subject down to a blog post. It doesn’t do either side justice. The standards are the biggest part of it all–we must keep them high and apply them to all. No quotas, one standard. If the standards are not compromised, then you don’t have the fears of resentment, lack of ability, and many of the other issues that get brought up with this topic.

    Great example of the Tuskegee Airmen. I love it. It’s one of the things we–the military–messed up with integrating women. I don’t know any woman serving who likes the different physical standards. Or quotas. Those things just poison us from within.
    50 years from now, our kids and grandkids will be laughing at how stupid we sound and wondering why we just didn’t do it right from the beginning. Hopefully we get it right at some point here.

    URR, what specifically is it about allowing women in combat units that you disagree with? Boil that down and I can discuss it with you, as I offered to do on email last week. If it’s that you don’t think history agrees with me, history doesn’t agree with either of us. In fact, it tells that as Americans, we’re doomed. If we lived as though history held all that we need, we would never strive to make things better. Why bother ending slavery? prostitution? poverty? Why try to stop tyranny? Civil war?

    Is it that I’m disagreeing with Capt Petronio? I certainly am, as are many other Marines, male and female. Take a look through the commentary on the Gazette article. Ask some women currently serving. While I appreciate her opinion, it is only an opinion. Same as yours and mine. She states that men and women are different, but that women are not different from each other. She invalidates her very point. She had physical problems that others have not. And men are no different. I went through TBS with a number of older 2ndLts who were 03s, and they had joint problems and other physical pains, and did not easily keep up with all of us 22-year-olds. They did, but it hurt them much more. And these were guys in their mid-late 20s. And we hadn’t been in a prolonged war.

    You talk about “knowing” that the standards will eventually get lowered. That’s a fear I have too. But we have to ensure they are not. That’s why we have to do this right. I don’t want lower standards. None of us do. Do not equate me with a “feminist” or “political” agenda, whatever that is. I’m a Marine, just like you or any of us, and have a different opinion than you do on a controversial topic.

    What is it specifically that you disagree with? Do you agree that Marines are Marines, no matter what stripe? If we set one standard, and women can meet it, why restrict them? I’m probably spinning my wheels bothering to respond here, but something in me can’t quite give up on you. Probably stupid of me. Especially since only about 5 of us are reading these comments.

    Chaps, there’s actually quite a bit of discussion out there on what women bring to the table, especially WRT different leadership techniques, different ways of solving problems and handling crises, etc. Some anecdotal, some larger studies. There’s more than anecdotal evidence that women add more to co-ed units and make it function on a better level. Can you show me the data showing the unit failures or plummeting readiness/effectiveness in deployed or about-to-deploy units?

    Solomon, glad to see you’re back. Actually, as a parent, part of me hopes none of my kids will join the military. But I realize that with two Marine parents at least one of them probably will. I’d be equally scared and proud if they join the military, especially if my kids joined an infantry unit, whether my son or my daughters. Do you honestly feel that a man’s life is worth less than a woman’s? As a parent, I absolutely do not. Anyone who talks about how glorious and wonderful this job is (the blood lust you talk about) is probably not someone we want leading anyone into battle. Hopefully our civilian leadership will take all military decisions seriously, knowing the possible results, whether just men or men and women are in the units sent out.

    And as admin noted, I don’t approve or trash anything on here.

  • Chaps

    The Tuskeegee airmen were watched very closely because they were expected to fail. Women are watched very closely because they will not be allowed to fail. Historically, at the Naval Academy, flight school, Officer Candidate School and others, when women did not pass in the politically acceptable numbers, “adjustments” were made to ensure the right numbers were met. F-14’s hitting the back end of carriers was only one result. Don’t ask me to supply specifics, although they are out there, because this decision will not be made on the needs of the services, combat effectiveness, or anything remotely resembling those. The decision about women in the infantry will be made under political pressure to satsify an interest group, most of whose members would never don a uniform. I read a report, and I’m sorry I can’t cite it, on the commission that recently studied the issue of women in direct combat. The NUMBER ONE reason they gave for ending the exclusion was that being excluded hurt women’s chances to be promoted to the very senior positions. Not better leadership, not increased effectiveness…… better promotion chances.

  • http://blog.usni.org M. Ittleschmerz

    Chaps – but who’s fault is it that women, as you say, aren’t allowed to fail?

    The women?

    Or the men how make, and enforce, the rules?

  • http://BostonMaggie.blogspot.com Maggie

    One of my favorite sayings is “You can put kittens in an oven; doesn’t make them biscuits.”

    You can hope and wish all you like, but men and women, in certain areas, are different. That’s all there is to it. It’s not prejudice, it’s not sexism, and it’s not fearful to say so.

    Can some women, a small minority to be sure, meet the current standards? Certainly. But at what price to themselves and to the Marines? How many female candidates will be injured, perhaps irreparably? How much time and money will be spent sorting them out and paying for disabilities?

    This is not about providing opportunities for women, it’s about having the best possible recruits to win battles and protect each other.

    In the end, it’s not about what is good for men or women, it is about what is good for the service – period.

    This notion that we are missing out on all these fabulous candidates is not necessarily true. You may believe it but you are guessing. Yet when two people who have “been there, done that” tell you of problems they witnessed, you say “prove it!”.

    To bring up the Tuskegee Airman is to play the “race card”.

    The Marines do not exist to provide opportunities for recruits, male or female except to serve.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Major Haynie,

    The discussion off line will be welcome if you are open to it. History is, however, on my side, as is a hundred centuries of western culture, biological and physiological facts, and a fair degree of political agenda that will ensure our fears of lower standards and guaranteed success.

    Nobody is questioning the courage of female Marines. Least of all, me. I have served next to them in combat, and have had them in my close combat section. Hell, I was married to one. (Her opinions, by the way, were very close to mine on this subject.)
    I do question several assumptions you make, among which is whether such as you propose will make the Marine Corps, and particularly its backbone, the infantry, more effective. That does not make me an ignorant sexist responsible for all the woes of the female gender for the last several decades, as some seem to assert.

    Boston Maggie really sums up the point well.

    As an aside, I am reading about the Soviet counteroffensive that began with the Siberian Corps that has slammed into the German 112th Infantry Division, frozen, half-starved, and exhausted, in November of 1941.

  • James

    The problem isnt thise women who CAN make it or even the ones who cant.

    Its the ones who DEMAND that the women are treated special. Who pull the purse strings and control the politicaly connected puppets. The ones who will make damned sure Their view is pushed above all others.

    The problem is to many people look at this logicly as they see it. Nothing runs on logic.

    The same people have gotten others because of their race pushed forward when they werent ready…..and people have died because of it.

    Its not the insistence that Some women cant its the insistence that because most men can make it most women Must in the end make it.

    Most people accept women as fighter pilots right easily. Why? Because they have a edge in high G combat. The physical difference dont really matter. The same cannot be said for ground operations.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Chap,

    Here you go. http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=63065

    “and you look at the demographics in the military, then you look at the senior leadership positions, both in officer and senior enlisted ranks, to some it may give the appearance that there are biases that prevented women and minorities from achieving those senior ranks.”

    Along with the usual platitudes that somehow, their ideas of “diversity” make us “stronger”. Another assertion that cannot be challenged without paying the political price, no matter how absurd it is.

  • OpieandAnt

    Since this is an open forum, and the page the Admin has referenced do NOT mention any posts being edited or deleted … WHY were they deleted? If it was a personal attack on the OP that’s one thing but it should be communicated to the group as a whole rather then having the comment just disappear. It seems like the moderator or even the USNI is pushing an agenda / view point. And what is the administration stance on this. I feel as if the line level Admin were deleting posts, but not communicating that with the USNI Leadership.

    Perhaps a blog post might be in order from USNI on how these are handled?

    I for one will write to ask CEO Daly his stance on his mods removing posts and then not defending their actions.

    [admin note: It is not our intention to push any agenda. You point is well-taken and we will discuss internally whether we need to provide a reason why. We have discussed this post internally with the publisher this morning and are going to discuss it more broadly in the organization. Thanks you for your input.]

  • http://www.militaryairships.blogspot.com campbell

    I was a Marine in uniform some four decades ago. Now out of uniform certainly, but still a Marine.

    My job was to kill, and be prepared to risk being killed myself. My second job was to prevent, as far as possible, my fellow Marines from being killed.

    It was NOT about promotion, opportunity, career track, equality, or any of the cutesy similar words I’ve read above. THEY DON’T MATTER.

    You want promotion? opportunity? career track? equality?
    Get out. FULL STOP.

  • YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III

    I did not play any sort of race card. I cited an example of the process through which a new group of people were brought into combat. There is no way to cite any example outside of minorities or women. If I could have cited an example using white males, I would have. The fact that it was a group of black men is irrelevant to my point, actually. As my point was the process and the necessity of high standards.

    If anyone is inferring or has inferred that the point I make out to be the contrary of my argument is racist, sexist or any ‘ist’, please understand that is not how I intended my words to be taken (nor do I think that’s how they were written–mentioning race does not equate use of a race card).

    To try to concisely outline my premise again:

    In looking back to 20th Century history I see no way to avoid having women in combat. The arguments against the physical limitations women have in comparison to men are essentially a moot point in regards to women filling infantry or other direct combat roles–no matter how otherwise valid.

    There are examples like the the experience of the Tuskegee Airmen of how standards were maintained and combat effectiveness was ensured. Such examples should be emulated in brining women into combat roles. The physical characteristics of the Tuskegee Airmen are irrelevant, it is the methodology that that is applicable to what we’re discussing here.

    There is a political agenda that will push for women to be in combat roles just so that women can be in combat roles. The argument made for the physical limitations of women inherently precluding women from combat roles plays is expected and anticipated by this political agenda and only serves to strengthen the agenda’s position. It plays to the agenda’s hand, there by weakening the rest of the arguments opposing the agenda.

    To defeat the political agenda that wishes for women to be in combat roles just so that women can be in combat roles, the argument should be made that they are placing women’s lives and the lives of those that serve with them at risk, as well as they additionally are risking the ability of the United States to win wars. It should be cited that they do not care for the lives of those in the military as much as they do for a false paradigm for equality.

    The weakness in the political agenda’s argument is in using the metric of what an individual sacrifices to accomplish what is set out before them. The debate needs to be moved beyond what the individual is sacrificing, and to what the individual is doing or has done.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    YN2,

    As I stated above, women are already in combat, and have been trained for it.

    That is nowhere near the same thing as advocating for women in the infantry, or artillery, or armor.

  • Eric_Strattoniii@yahoo.com

    If you really wanted to have them meet the same standards, you would first advocate for the recruiters to drop the “goals” of 15% of slots for enlisted females, with the Navy having a goal of 20% via the CNO. Next, you would advocate for the elimination of “goals” and set asides that are in place at the Academies and OCS for females in spots throughout the military, such as in engineer, pathfinder and of course flight school for instance. They are there, again, not hard to find with a simple search and if you would like I am happy to post some links. Next, have them do the following for a test, make the men do it too.

    -10 dead hang pull ups with 25lbs

    -A Small O Course by themselves (the little one at JEB-Little Creek would be a good model, with 6′ walls and climbing, one without body armor on for time and one with body armor on for completion. It is only about 18 obstacles and all pretty close together with only one tall wall and two 6′ walls, the rest is easy.

    -Timed ruck with at least 40-45lbs for 12 miles over uneven terrain

    -Drag a 190lb dead weight dummy for 100 yards

    On frat/sex in the same unit:

    The incidents of females getting pregnant overseas is well documented and those that do not get pregnant are still quite often having relationships while deployed in austere and not so austere environments. A simple search or just a deployment will back me up on this. This one is a no brainer.

    Ask yourself and then answer these questions when you advocate for women in combat-

    How does this make us more combat effective?
    How is this cost effective?
    How do we maintain standards and equal standards when we have NEVER done this in our entire military history?
    Outside of things along the Civil Affairs lines that deal with the “Hearts and Minds” part of COIN via MEDCAPs, what do women bring to the table?

  • Eric_Strattoniii@yahoo.com

    Some facts on the big differences between men and women:

    Q Angle:

    -The “Q” angle and how it effects females: Women are more prone to several sports injuries than men based simply on bio-mechanical differences. One such difference is a wider pelvis in women then men. Many sports medicine experts have linked a wider pelvis to a larger “Q” (Quadriceps ) Angle – the angle at which the femur (upper leg bone) meets the tibia (lower leg bone).
    -It is measured by creating two intersecting lines: one from the center of the patella to the anterior-superior iliac spine of the pelvis; the other from the patellar to the tibial tubercle.
    -On average this angle is degrees greater in women than in men. It is thought that this increased angle places more stress on the knee joint, as well as leading to increased foot pronation in women. While there may be other factors that lead to increase risk of injury in women athletes (strength, skill, hormones, etc..), an increased Q-angle has been linked to:
    -Patellofemoral pain syndrome: A high Q-angle causes the quadriceps to pull on the patella and leads to poor patellar tracking. Over time, this may cause knee pain, muscle imbalance
    -Chondromalacia of the Knee: This wearing down of the cartilage on the underside of the patella leads to degeneration of the articular surfaces of the knee.
    -ACL injuries: Women have considerably higher rates of ACL injuries men. An increased Q-angle appears to be one factor that causes the knee to be less stable and under more stress.
    -These all combine to also cause increased wear and tear on the lower back, especially when carrying heavier weights, such as in pregnancies.

    VO2 Max:

    It is about double in men on average compared to women. I will not put on all the citations, I would ask folks to look them up themselves since that way you can do some research, I have re-printed studies from the Presidential Commission on Women in the Service and West Point Study in prior articles on the same topic in SOFREP and other news websites.

    Upper Body Strength and other physical differences:
    Again, men and women are vastly different.

    From the report of the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces dated November 15, 1992, it states in part:

    -The average female Army recruit is 4.8 inches shorter, 31.7 pounds lighter, has 37.4 fewer pounds of muscle, and 5.7 more pounds of fat than the average male recruit. She has only 55 percent of the upper-body strength and 72 percent of the lower-body strength.

    -An Army study done in 1988 found that women are more than twice as likely to suffer leg injuries and nearly five times as likely to suffer fractures as men.
    Further, the Commission heard an abundance of expert testimony including:

    – women’s aerobic capacity is significantly lower, meaning they cannot carry as much as far as fast as men, and they are more susceptible to fatigue. – in terms of physical capability, the upper five percent of women are at the level of the male median. The average 20-to-30 year-old woman has the same aerobic capacity as a 50 year-old man.

    After a study was conducted at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, one expert testified that:

    – using the standard Army Physical Fitness Test, the upper quintile (top 20%) of women at West point achieved scores on the test equivalent to the bottom quintile (bottom 20%) of men.

    – only 21 women out of the initial 623 (3.4%) achieved a score equal to the male mean score of 260.

    – on the push-up test, only 7% of women can meet a score of 60, while 78% of men exceed it.

    – adopting a male standard of fitness at West Point would mean 70% of the women he studied would be separated as failures at the end of their junior year, only 3% would be eligible for the Recondo badge, and not one would receive the Army Physical Fitness badge.

    On “Goals” for females:

    Read the recent report on “Diversity” in the Military that was presented to the US Congress and is one of the biggest factors in pushing the idea of females in ground combat. Ask a recruiter what his/her “goal” is for female recruits, on average it will be about 15%, the Navy announced a few years back via the Chief of Naval Operations instituted a “goal’ of 20%.

    From the congressional report on diversity- http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=63065

    You can also just google it or look at past links I have posted on this website that will give you the actual report.

    On meeting the same standards:

    The US Navy SPARTAN study, women were asked to complete a lot of the Damage Control Tasks that are mandatory on a ship. They performed in a rather terrible manner at the start. The women were then put on a 6 month weight training program and asked to do the test again. A lot of the test are obsolete since the P-250 pump is no longer in use but the one that will never go out is the two man litter carry up and down the ladder on a ship. None of the women passed getting the wounded man up the ladder and <2% passed going down ( a lot easier I might add). What did the Navy do in regard to this result? They changed the standard to a four man litter carry. You can find references to this study in the Notini book series on "How to Make War" and "Dirty Little Secrets", the one on Vietnam talked about females when fragging was mentioned and the double standards that happened.

    Go observe US Army Airborne School, the basic Military PRT/PFT standards and look at the new PRT/PFTs being looked at for being gender neutral, no upper body strength test. There has never been, nor will there ever be an equal standard that will be held high.

  • Carrie Smith

    Excellent Eric…no opinion; just facts. Let those facts speak the truth. Not surprising, but good data is good data. Thanks for sharing…….

  • Squid

    I have read the article and comments. I have a few statements and questions. Starting off with the current Navy PFA/PRT, why are there separate standards? The PFA/PRT is a basic standard even without specialty jobs. Why are there recruiting quotas? Are these not lowering the standards? How do weaker people make for better if the job can be filled by someone who is both physically and mentally capable? The author is pressing for a change because of perception, not experience. What is the major consensus of those females who have actually fulfilled the role of actual SUSTAINED COMBAT? What do the studies say? The military needs to discriminate on the people they get to fight. They need the best so they can win. If the vast majority of females cannot fulfill the BEST requirements, why do you need to change it? If the change will incur more harm to females and males, why change it? There is a huge difference in physical capability. It is a fact. Just because the opportunity is not there, is that a reason to lower standards, open up more waste, and end up with a lesser product in the end? Remember, lives are on line here. National security is on the line here. How many women will fail to meet the requirements and incur the loss of money, training, time, slots not filled, just for that? You say the major point is that is is possible for a tiny amount of women to make it. What interest are you advocating for? Is it for the success of the military to fight or to further political special interest and give a relative few a better chance to advance? If it is not to further the success of the military’s fighting capabilities, then it is not in the best interest of the military, the nation, and the lives at stake. The military is not a social experiment. There is a mission, and the best should be there to do it, period. If there are specific jobs that women are better at, then have to it. But, in most cases, this is not true in the military because of the necessary physical requirement. Many exceptions are already being made for females. If the military, right now, as a whole, set standards for the best person to be selected, how many instances would a female be more capable than a male? There is just the physical requirement that cannot be met without lowering standards. I cannot see a benefit to making the suggested change, other than for a few special instances. Overall, is it more beneficial, or more harm to the people, and military? Where is the push for the inclusion coming from? Is it from the vast few, or the majority of the population, and the professionals with the factual backgrounds in requirements and capabilities?

  • http://BostonMaggie.blogspot.com Maggie

    Why were the services segregated? Fear and ignorance. A complete lack of willingness to train those they didn’t want to serve with.

    Do you think anyone arguing against women in infantry combat units feels that? Do we hate women? Are we trying to oppress them? Do we think women are less than?

    No. So that makes the Tuskegee Airmen irrelevant in this discussion.

    Did those who were against women on subs (by the way not me) say they couldn’t meet the physical standard? That many women who attempted to meet that standard would be injured?

    No. So women on subs is irrelevant to this discussion.

    Let’s leave out the red herrings.

  • Eric_Strattoniii@yahoo.com

    Maggie, while I agree with your basic premise that this has nothing to do with race, I disagree with women meeting the physical standards for Damage Control on ships. I would read my other posts on this topic as to why i dont agree.

  • Jeannette Haynie

    URR, history is not fully on your side and it’s not fully on mine. It’s incredibly complex and easily manipulated to fit your worldview. You read what you want out of it, but in doing so you neglect quite a bit. I’m pretty surprised that you keep bringing it up as if history is one thing and one thing only.

    Let me see if I can get this right: my anecdotal evidence, and the anecdotal evidence coming from Iraq and Afghanistan (some of which I linked in my original post, if you missed it), is not useful because these are the opinions of those who have only served in “incidental” combat. Never mind that many of those who are serving and have served over the last decade agree with me. But the anedotal evidence offered by URR (and Capt Petronio and those commenters who agree with him) is allowed because you know what you’re talking about? If that’s the case, there is no point in ever arguing with you. To casually dismiss the idea that anyone other than yourself or those who agree completely with you could possibly have an informed opinion wholly detracts from the nature of these comments. It’s no wonder most people don’t read the comments.

    As for the standards, and the different physical fitness levels we see as a result, Mittleschmerz is absolutely correct. Don’t point your finger at women who are serving. Point it at the men in charge who set the different standards, or who adjusted them due to political pressure.

    I’m not talking about diversity, or sexism, or racism, or anything other -ism. Those who bring up terms like that seem to be trying to distract from the real discussion, which is barely taking place anyway. Makes me wonder who has the real “agenda” here.

    Talking about diversity or career opportunities or any of that happy you-know-what detracts from the real question at hand. That should be the last thing on anyone’s mind, which is why in my post I completely ignored that whole discussion. I don’t like it.

    Fact: women are already serving with infantry units. Women are already involved in the “incidental” combat URR mentions. Where is the mission failure? Where is the lowered effectiveness?

    And finally, the question I and other commenters have repeated throughout: why not set one standard for all, regardless of gender?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Jeanette,

    Analysis of my knowledge and take on military history is one of those off-line topics. It is indeed complex. And it includes more than just counterinsurgency operations from fixed bases against an enemy of very limited capability, with a such a robust supply line that everybody gets three meals and plenty of fresh water every day.

    Life for the infantry isn’t always like that. It gets considerably harder against a near-peer, or, heaven forbid, a superior enemy that can interdict effectively. AFG and Iraq are not the end-all of the possibilities of combat operations.

  • Eric_Strattoniii@yahoo.com

    Jeannette,
    I can vouch personally for the combat ineffectiveness that FETs cause and when talking to other SOF units, I can assure you the CSTs are the same. You talk of political pressures that these men gave into but ignore how you benefited from them directly and how in the past I have yet to see you or any other woman who is pro-females in ground combat advocate for an increase. Please spare me the self-righteousness when you and others with you never wrote in the past for equality under the standards, advocated for dropping the quotas, etc…but now you are of course writing furiously.

  • http://BostonMaggie.blogspot.com Maggie

    “And finally, the question I and other commenters have repeated throughout: why not set one standard for all, regardless of gender?”

    It was answered. Perhaps you missed it.

  • Jeannette Haynie

    URR, we actually agree for once about history and the differences between what some have seen in Iraq/Afghanistan vs earlier wars. I’m sure that won’t last.

    But you cannot dismiss out of hand the entire experience of the modern Marine Corps and Army as being incidental or small arms, or the opinions of those who serve and have served in combat who agree that one standard is the smartest way to go. Not everyone has deployed to an area where they had three meals and showers every day. And there are infantry veterans of earlier wars who support making one physical standard regardless of gender. There’s a whole lot of stuff out there.

    The gender restriction only furthers the stupidity about what all men or all women can supposedly do or not do. There is also plenty of anecdotal data on the use of women in much harsher combat situations. Good offline topic, there, too.

    Why not have one standard for all?

    Eric: Do some research, you’re missing quite a bit. Don’t post the same older stats on every site you visit. Personal, baseless attacks detract from the point you’re making, especially when you don’t know anything about my service.

  • Eric_Strattoniii@yahoo.com

    Jeanette,
    As a side note, who are these people who agree with you? Let me guess? Every one of them is an Officer? Maybe a few Senior NCOs here and their but let’s be honest, almost all Officers and I am betting the NCOs are not line guys or have not been for a while. Do you think these guys will speak out of place? Do you think that the same Officer Corps you accuse of pushing the double standards you seem to rail against are now going to speak out openly? Where is the logic that follows that line of thinking? Make a valid argument and answer my previously posted questions, look at the facts that have been posted as well. As for History, there is no history supporting your idea that women will be held to the same standard. As for past military history, the only time women have been used in direct combat was during WWII, the women on the ground, with the exception of some snipers, did horribly. The NVA/VC used them as guerillas, a very different model than a line infantryman

  • Eric_Strattoniii@yahoo.com

    Jeannette,

    “Eric: Do some research, you’re missing quite a bit. Don’t post the same older stats on every site you visit. Personal, baseless attacks detract from the point you’re making, especially when you don’t know anything about my service.”

    What am I missing? The research is current, the West Point Study and the Presidential Study are older but you and your gender have not made a giant evolutionary leap forward. Please, back up your statements. Counter the research, I have my stuff backed up, none of it is hard to find. So, please, make a valid argument against it but saying “do some research” when I have it and posted it is not logical argument.

    As for the personal attacks? What is personal? That you and all the women who push for this never railed against these past injustices or quotas but now of course act as though you want equal treatment? If it is true it is not a personal attack Jeannette. As for your background, do some research, even your Air Medals are online, not hard to look up and does not equal you being an SME on ground combat.

    I’ll tell you what, I will stop getting upset at what I see as a huge hypocrisy that I see in your writing if you will argue against the questions I posed or even my research cited.

  • Malachi Marine

    Maj Haynie-

    Women in combat operations do play a valuable role. Albeit, in the current fight, where men have limited access to women in the Afghan culture. However, even though those women are attached to infantry units, oftentimes they are located at the Battalion’s FOB. Which means a special patrol must be conducted IOT link-up with them, before they can assist to completing the mission. Those teams’ mission tasking is NOT close-combat. And they rarely if ever participate in direct/deliberate offensive operations, for many of the reasons URR, Maggie, and others brought up.

    Women provide a unique capability to combat arms now, but not necessarily in any future fights. Overall unit effectiveness and mission accomplishment far outweigh the desire to make someone FEEL included and/or equal. Men and women are NOT. Its OK. Its in our DNA (XX Vs XY).

    -Malachi Marine
    Current Infantry Officer

    N.B. To Grandpa Bluewater, this is the NAVAL Institute. The Marine Corps is a proud member of the NAVAL Service. We are proud of our heritage as NAVAL Infantry. We may ride along on ugly ships, or on small ugly rubber boats, but we both wear anchors on our uniforms.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “But you cannot dismiss out of hand the entire experience of the modern Marine Corps and Army as being incidental or small arms, or the opinions of those who serve and have served in combat who agree that one standard is the smartest way to go.”

    No, Jeanette, but I can give that experience the value it is worth. Which, while not nothing, is not nearly what you think it to be. Because we have not engaged in major combat operations for more than a few days against anybody resembling a near-peer in almost fifty years, our “collective experience” is lacking in the extreme, specifically in understanding the cost in manpower and resources to fight and win against someone who can challenge us in what has been our exclusive domains.

    You should understand this, being a pilot. With apologies to Belloc, it is something like this: “Whatever happens, we have got, close air support, and they have not”.

    Try some of what we believe we can do when we haven’t, or the bad guys do. Bring the Marines and Soldiers who fought in Fallujah, either time, into a room with those folks in the Navy who think that “port seizure” is a piece of cake. Please record said meeting.

    So, no, the “entire experience of the modern Marine Corps and Army” is not quite as rich in strategic, operational, or even tactical lessons as we might think.

  • Eric_Strattoniii@yahoo.com

    URR,
    Another thing that seems to be forgotten is that even in the current conflict, we will not longer have the CAS available that we are used to having. Unless you are pinned down, cannot maneuver and are not near any compounds you will not get CAS due to concerns for CIVCAS and the I/O campaign. CAS is not going to be our “buddy” anymore on the ground so being a capable, fit and aggressive troop is going be even more important.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Eric,

    Another rather goofy idea is to look around for a fair fight. And the deactivation of artillery.

    The next battlefield with a near-peer will be dominated by fires, especially with the precision capabilities entering service and on the horizon.

    Jim Conway warned us not to forget how to shoot, move, and communicate in a no-kidding high-intensity slugfest. Let’s hope we heed.

  • Eric_Strattoniii@yahoo.com

    URR,
    I only see a few groups doing that, the SOF community and the Marines are still looking at that but big Army is still looking to tech instead of basic skills for their people. It is an institutional problem that everyone seems to acknowledge but no one wants to speak openly and honestly about it, a bit like the fantasy of females in combat, equal standards and “success” stories.

  • YN2(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III

    Maggie,

    You can’t call something a red herring when you don’t address my central premise–women will be in combat roles. It will not be kept from happening. I don’t know why you’re so sensitive to any notions of sexism or racism, but I’ve said unequivocally that I am not, NOT, inferring that. I don’t know how much more emphatic I can be regarding that.

    I addressed my premise first in every post I’ve made. From there I addressed where we should be devoting our energy–figuring out how to make it work.

    I’ve approached this pragmatically fromt he start. This is not an abstract issue to be debated as–if–it was going to happen. It will happen, so lets move the debate beyond why or why not and towards making it work. So that we don’t have conditions forced upon us that don’t work.

    Have a plan to make it work, submit the plan, and do an end-run around those who wish to see this happen for the wrong reasons (political agenda).

  • Malachi Marine

    YN2-

    Actually, it is a matter to be debated. There is no order from the civilian or military to mandate females in ground combat MOSs. However, the Commandant has been directed to investigate and determine the feasibility of such actions. Debates like these all boil down to whether or not females are suited to occupations involving direct/offensive combat operations and the pros & cons associated with that possibility.

    Bottom-line: the decision has NOT been made yet. Ergo, we have a responsibility to inform our higher commanders of ALL problems that might be associated with the integration of females into ground combat MOSs. While, we do need to be prepared for such a decision to be made, now most definitely IS the time to voice our concerns.

    -Malachi Marine

  • UltimaRatioReg

    YN2,

    If this is preordained, and our roles are simply to “try and make it work” regardless of how politically motivated the concept, how ill-advised, how harmful to capability and morale, how much money and time better spent actually IMPROVING combat effectiveness is required, why do we have military leadership at all? Why not make DACOWITS the Defense Secretariat, with specific women-focused appointees to each of the services?

    They would not, after all, need to know anything about the service, nor heed any advice about what is prudent or imprudent, what would enhance or detract from combat capabilities, or have any particular understanding of strategic or operational thought. They can simply concentrate on furthering the cause of women, and visiting retribution on any male who might stand in disagreement with their views, or worse, tell them perhaps their female-centric view of war and combat may be amiss.

    If as you say, this is preordained, why don’t senior Defense and uniformed leaders have the seeds to say so? And if they lack the seeds to say so, why on earth would I follow them into the shooting?

  • http://blog.usni.org M. Ittleschmerz

    URR – current leadership won’t say it because those who are pushing FOR the inclusion of women in combat MOSs won’t take “no” for an answer. And those who are pushing AGAINST inclusion of women in combat MOSs refuse to put together cogent fact-based arguments that are absent broad anecdotes, dated studies, historical barn painting and so on.

    Look – you consistently push back against Major Haynie’s posts. Why haven’t you made a clear post of your own authoring that puts forward why you know the inclusion of women in combat arms is a bad idea? Without hyperbole, or generalizations, or extrapolations. That latter part is a challenge, but it is the only way to get out of the emotional morass both sides are in.

    If the data is so clear and so straightforward, why don’t any of those who are against the inclusion of women write about it instead of just responding against those who are in favor?

    Defense may be the strongest tactical position…but it defense rarely, if ever, leads to victory.

    Make your case so even a simple ship driver knows what you are saying.

  • Eric_Strattoniii@yahoo.com

    M.ittles,
    The data is out there, it is clear but you somehow fail to grasp that it is politics not facts that matter.
    I think my posts lay it out simple enough for a ship driver yet every time I do lay out facts it would seem people choose to ignore them rather than debate them. The classic is that the tests are outdated somehow. Ha! As though there has been a giant evolutionary leap forward in the last 20 years, heck, the last 1000 years.
    Try and answer the questions I laid out, tell me how it makes us more combat effective? Etc….until then it’s all emotion and want someone “want’s” instead of what’s best for the organization.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    MI,

    So I am not permitted to counter the assertions of those that push for this? Read my comments on this and other similar posts. Copy and paste them into a single word document if you like. They are pretty self-explanatory.

    When you use terms like “hyperbole” and “generalizations”, you imply that experiential and historical framing have no place in the discussion. Which is absurd. But not untypical of the “everything is different now” and “generation gap” meme.

    You want to know the bases of the argument above and beyond what I point out here? Read. The Twentieth Century is replete with western warfare. Both world wars. Korea. Vietnam. When the preponderance of the experience of the millions over some centuries says one thing, and some hundreds or thousands claim it irrelevant or no longer applicable because of some “new paradigm” and the “changing nature of war” (which never does), when that is mixed with the personal experiences of those who have served with and in the infantry, deciding which is legitimate and which is not comes relatively easily.

    Do your own homework. And I will continue to challenge invalid and inaccurate assumptions when the ideas and concepts put forth are politically-motivated and do not increase combat effectiveness.

  • BJ Armstrong

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    When we publish under a pseudonym our “experiential” certainty is invalidated. I’m sorry guys, that’s just the way it is. If “Mr.SemperFi” tells me that he “saw it when I was at Paris Island” it means little. When Gunny Smith, USMC, who did a tour as a DI and a tour working with the FET’s tells me that he experienced something…he is validated. That’s actually part of what give’s Capt Petronio’s article such strength. It is also what gives MAJ Haynie’s writing a solid foundation. I’d love to hear an honest discussion between the two of them, which could help us all better understand the issue.

    There are great strengths to writing under a pen name (the ability to take on subjects that may cause political or career pressure, the ease with which we can set rank aside, etc) but there are also weaknesses. Yes, this may be the interwebs…but it is still publishing, and it is still The United States Naval Institute. To quote a revered veteran “this is not ‘Nam, Smokey. There are rules.” They apply to all of us whether we choose to use our own names, or another. Comments on the internet are just that, comments. Blog posts are just that, blog posts. Articles that have been through an editorial process are even something else. Don’t conflate them as all the same thing.

    This is a subject that will require serious people to do serious work, on both sides of the issue. Dealing in absolutes will get us nowhere. Well, that’s not true, dealing only in absolutes will create a no-mans-land between the arguments, which will deliver the maneuver room for political considerations to be the only ones that matter.

  • http://blog.usni.org M. Ittleschmerz

    URR – you can do whatever you want. I’m just asking why you choose third fiddle as a commenter instead of second fiddle blogging on it or the first chair that BJ is advocating for.

    You can choose your own role. I’m just asking about your choice.

    Eric – same for you. If all the information is out there, why don’t you pull it together?

    I would, but my bias is towards letting women make their own choice, ergo I would be a poor person to write the article I think needs to be written.

    If the case is so clear – make it. But don’t think that making it in the comments will get anywhere.

  • Eric_Strattoniii@yahoo.com

    BJ,
    You are assuming that a few things-

    One, that there is in fact room to maneuver on this, it is all politics.

    Two, you are assuming there is an equal standard. They are women and hence can write either way on the topic, they can use their real name and will feel no blow back for the men, not so much.

    Three, pseudonyms are needed if you are still on AD, it is just the way it is. It’s not hard to find the posers from the folks who have been there or who are still in. You can always see the reality of the effects women have had on the military since they have been mixed in, if you are still in you would have seen it both here and overseas. Overall it is a negative effect in my view but that is one thing that is just my opinion. If a man, especially in a Field Grade or above position goes against the conventional wisdom that women should be in all spectrums of the military and he does so openly then he is done.

    Lastly, here is just one example of a man who tried to make things equal-

    “WASHINGTON — An Army general in northern Iraq has added pregnancy to the list of reasons a soldier under his command could be court-martialed.

    The new policy, outlined last month by Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo and released Friday by the Army, would apply to both female soldiers who become pregnant on the battlefield and the male soldiers who impregnate them.

    Civilians reporting to Cucolo also could face criminal prosecution under the new guidelines.

    Army spokesman George Wright said the service typically sends home from the battlefield soldiers who become pregnant. But it is not an Army-wide policy to punish them under the military’s legal code, he said.

    However, division commanders like Cucolo have the authority to impose these type of restrictions to personnel operating under their command, Wright said.

    Cucolo oversees forces in northern Iraq, an area that includes the cities of Kirkuk, Tikrit and Mosul. His Nov. 4 order was first reported by the military newspaper Stars and Stripes.

    Cucolo’s order outlines some 20 barred activities. Most of them are aimed at keeping order and preventing criminal activity, such as selling a weapon or taking drugs.

    But other restrictions seemed aimed at preventing soldiers from leaving their unit short-handed, including becoming pregnant or undergoing elective surgery that would prevent their deployment.

    Under Cucolo’s order, troops also are prohibited from “sexual contact of any kind” with Iraqi nationals. And, they cannot spend the night with a member of the opposite sex, unless married or expressly permitted to do so.”

    Now, this is what he started, guess what happened about a week later after he issued this policy? Well, he had to rescind it. Not even a month went by for a man in a combat zone until he was told he could not hold them to the standard. It’s a joke and thinking that the author for using her name is somehow more credible is simply not being honest with yourself. She is a pilot who is in her position due to unequal treatment, quotas (they are hard) and the same double standards for physical readiness that she now somehow advocates for. It’s all a joke man, the GOs have the moral courage of a politician and the women who are advocating for this know full well they have always worked under a different standard and that the standard will be dropped again for them if they open up ground combat. There is no example in our history where we have held them to an honest equal standard nor will there be in the future. Read the diversity report I linked to in a previous post and then someone, anyone tell me that quotas won’t be instituted?

  • Eric_Strattoniii@yahoo.com

    MI,
    The information is gathered, cited and posted. It is in the comments section because a man will never be able to what the author did,i.e; write under their real name and not receive political flack. Just because we can’t write in USNI does not mean we will go “gentle into that good night”.
    I see you argue in favor for this but yet still not answer any of my honest questions or counter the date laid out.

  • http://BostonMaggie.blogspot.com Maggie

    YN2,

    I was not responding to you specifically. I believe that integrating the services righted a wrong and strengthened the Military. I don’t see how it relates to the current discussion. I am not accusing you of anything. You have nothing to defend.

    You, MI and others believe that women in combat units is inevitable. Some of us don’t.

    This post was not written with the message “It’s coming, how can we best implement.”. It was written as “I don’t like the way it is and I want it to be different”.

  • BJ Armstrong

    Eric, 2 quick responses:

    1) As I am an active duty officer, in the Navy’s equivalent of the “Field Grade” who writes under my own name in a number of print and online publications…I completely understand that there are career implications of what I do. Trust me. I’m well aware. It helps me ensure that I write about things that I truly believe in. Jim Webb wrote about gender issues a few decades ago under his own name…took the flack because he believed in the seriousness of the subject…and ended up as SECNAV. And no, you’re probably right, I probably haven’t “been there.”

    2) As a former flight instructor who taught both men and women, including a number of women who have proven themselves in combat many times over since the days we flew together in Pensacola, I do take personal affront to the insinuation that I taught/graded/mentored them differently.

  • Eric_Strattoniii@yahoo.com

    BJ,
    One, I did not say I doubted you were there, I don’t know you from ‘Adam’, take a wrap off “Ghostrider”. As for the writing, outside of Webb who else ever did that openly against women in combat? Webb also did that in a very different era and as a civilian, not as an AD officer, so not the same thing. Let’s not act like our GOs are not politically motivated to do what they must due to pressure. American GOs do not have a custom of resigning over something they see as wrong with the exception of a JAG over torture. So, please, let’s not act like the AD Officer Corps is falling over themselves to get both side of the story on this topic. It is career suicide, plain and simple.

    Two, if you did not treat the women any differently, then please explain why you did not resign in protest over their getting quotas for flight school via the Academies? Or the different physical standards? Yes, that was meant as a bit of a wise remark but you can’t say that you “take personal affront to the insinuation that I taught/graded/mentored them differently” when in fact you did just by how they got to be there, how their standards are and in the end the effect they have due to politics.
    So, if you say you did not treat them any differently, not buying it and you would be the first person I have talked who did say that.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    MI,

    Why don’t I instead compile a reading list? You can let me know when you finish, and I will be happy to lend you each and every book on it.

    For all of them, ask the same two questions: Just how many females could survive the environment described and be combat-effective? And what would happen to the troops she is serving next to/leading if she isn’t?

    I’d be more than happy to. It would make for far more than a blog post.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    A few replies:

    Maggie: Superbly said and admirably succinct.

    Malachi: I quite agree. Never a doubt. However COMMA recently COMMA the blog seems a bit fixated on women Marines and why the Corps isn’t perfect for them just yet, and what needs to be done…

    Appropriate and timely, but there are other fish in the sea, some of which will bite us all, and some quite soon, which are not quite so frequently presented, if at all. Just lobbying for getting a topic or two in edgewise, and just possibly one that can generate more light than heat. Call me jaded, grumpy and a tad partial toward the blue water Navy.
    Just don’t deny my esteem for good Marines and the Corps they serve as part of the Naval Service.

    Of course if the AD Navy guys were drowning Admin with pithy posts on hot topics (which I kinda doubt) the list would come off nice and easy, and all would be on an even keel (that’ll be the day).

    Perhaps I really am wishing for more AD Navy folks to blog under their own name (or nom du blog), daring to think, speak, and write (and blog herein) at least as often and as well as the ladies of the Corps.

    YN2: of all the things that I have lost to retirement, I miss my YN the most often. Thanks for the kind word.

  • Jeannette Haynie

    All: interesting commentary for the most part before it broke down.

    The main objections seem to be along these lines:
    -women and men are different but women are categorically similar to each other
    -women are weaker
    -women can’t do it
    -10,000 years of history say women can’t do it
    -there is no value that women can bring to any combat unit
    -standards will be lowered
    -this is a feminist, political agenda talking
    -sequestration is looming, so we should just stop enlisting and commissioning women anyway
    -we need more posts by men in the Navy
    -women will not be allowed to fail due to political agendas
    -current PFT/PRT standards are different
    -women are only in the services to fill quotas
    -our combat experience over the past decade is nothing like in previous wars, so we can’t use the data of the past decade (and women couldn’t do what was done in previous wars)

    While the last reason is worthy of many, many more posts (and I agree with the first half in parts), bottom line is that any standard we set should be high enough that any individual who reaches it would be theoretically able to handle combat in its many forms (as well as any human body handles it). We’d lose quite a bit of men in the process, as well. Anecdotal research shows that some women certainly can capably perform. It also shows that some men cannot.

    But the vast majority of these reasons listed above could be answered by having one standard.

    Calling proponents political or agenda tools or other names detracts from the real discussion. Assuming that all men bring something to the table that women cannot or that there is one set of tools that all women would bring to the table once again assumes that all men are alike and all women are alike, but that all men and all women are different from each other. Absolutely not true, proven repeatedly throughout history.

    The rest reflects on cultural beliefs about women and men held by each person. So no matter what data or what info I bring to the discussion, personal or otherwise, those who don’t believe it will find ways to ignore it.

    Either way, this has been interesting. If you don’t agree, you are always welcome to write about it. And now I am going to start writing posts about males in the Navy.

  • Eric_Strattoniii@yahoo.com

    Sigh, Jeannette,
    The fact that you refuse to acknowledge that you are the result of not holding an equal standard or that we have never done that in our history is a bit false don’t you think? I understand some of the points you put up you think are worth debating but yet you don’t? So, you put something like this out on the net as an article, stating your view but are not willing to engage the real and honest factors that come into play on this topic. I’ll answer them for you.

    Here I will address each of your points you seem to think are not worth really answering back.

    “The main objections seem to be along these lines:”

    -women and men are different but women are categorically similar to each other

    (yes, just as men are categorically similar to each other, to say otherwise goes against common sense and a little thing like science)

    -women are weaker

    (As a whole they are, when men and women are put into physical training their bodies respond differently. When men are sampled compared to women and both genders have been exercising the chances you will find a man that is stronger than a woman is about 98.5%, please read Kingsley Brownes “Co-Ed Combat”)

    -women can’t do it

    (Some may be able to but the cost in unit cohesion, wasted man hours on frat, the simple fact that she will be more easily injured due to her skeletal system frame, the cost of it and that there is no need to change makes it not worth it. You are not in direct combat even and you are already cost more in morale, distractions, wasted man hours, political correctness, lowered standards and “touchy feely” BS. What do you think will happen when you are in combat arms?)

    -10,000 years of history say women can’t do it

    (Yup, what is your retort? You say recent experience backs your view but having been to Iraq 2x and Afghanistan 4x I have not seen it and the only people I ever advocate for combat inclusion are O’s, Politicians and non-combat folks)

    -there is no value that women can bring to any combat unit

    (Not in direct combat, in intel, in MEDCAPs during a COIN War but otherwise, nope. So please point out what you bring to the table?)

    -standards will be lowered

    (They have been throughout the introduction of women into the ranks, why would that change now? Again, what is your retort outside wishful thinking?)

    -this is a feminist, political agenda talking

    (Lmao! There is! Have you read the Diversity Report? Have you followed NOW and DACOWITS at all on this topic? Perhaps that bastion of non-gender motivation SWAN has missed your view? It is not the only thing driving this but if you think that identity politics don’t play into it you are again not paying attention)

    -sequestration is looming, so we should just stop enlisting and commissioning women anyway

    (Not sure where you got that from on here but who doesn’t love a straw man right?)

    -we need more posts by men in the Navy

    (Yeah, we would like honest debate about this and in the open but if you are honest with yourself you know that it is career suicide to do so while on AD if you are a man. If you think it is not then I question your situational awareness or your integrity.)

    -women will not be allowed to fail due to political agendas

    (Did you see my posts on West Point and Navy Damage Control? Have you been in the same military I have been? Or are you going to ignore those actual documented cases because it does not fit your agenda?)

    -current PFT/PRT standards are different

    (Yup, retort on how to fix this?)

    -women are only in the services to fill quotas

    (They are, it is again a documented fact they have quotas for jobs at the OCS/Academy level and “goals” on the enlisted side. What do you call it?)

    -our combat experience over the past decade is nothing like in previous wars, so we can’t use the data of the past decade (and women couldn’t do what was done in previous wars)

    (There has been no air to air, no real ground threat against aircraft that has been consistent or thick, so no, in the air it is not a real bit of data to use. There has been no sea warfare, so again, not a real bit of data to use. On the ground we are a huge tooth to tail ratio, at the grunt level and I include SOF in this, it is still very similar to past counter-guerilla wars but not to conventional ones. Infantry is still infantry, but that is the point, females are not out getting into it with the enemy. Going head to head after the TIC is not the same. Yes, stepping on a mine/IED counts as a KIA but it is not the same as clearing a room, going head to head or even hand to hand. CAS and IDF is about to go away for the most part, being an aggressive, strong grunt who can shoot, move and communicate is going to be even more paramount. Your “equality” endangers my life, sorry if it hurts your opportunity to advance but I kind of like my life more than your job.)

    Look, a women can be just as brave as a man, does me no good when she cannot hump as much kit as I can, as fast as I can or as long as I can. It does me no good when she cannot drag me to a safe position or to a CASEVAC platform. It does me no good when she gets injured at a far higher rate than I do. In short, desire does not equate to ability. Men and women are vastly different both physically and mentally, it is genetic and science backs me on that. Even our brains act differently and that is being more and more proven every single day but it is like not one person wants to acknowledge that white elephant in the room. I am tired of it, I am tired of the obfuscation I see come out of officers’ mouths, tired of the out right lies I hear out of peoples mouths and tired of everyone being “offended” at everything. I think your inability to honestly defend your position is sad. I think that many of the folks who advocate for this idea are motivated by an illusion of equality and meritocracy in the military frustrating . I think the inability of people to be honest about this topic is disheartening. I think this is a good example of why I have little to no faith in the senior officer corps. Tell you what Jeannette, I will look at the people who advocate for this position a little better when they start putting as much effort in increasing our physical standards by making them actually difficult, then enforcing them and holding to them, finally then advocating for the same standards. I have a feeling I will be waiting a long time to see that amount of energy from a group has done nothing but benefit from the massive double standard in treatment, stationing, quarters and standards throughout the last few decades.

  • Eric_Strattoniii@yahoo.com

    Forgive my tone Jeannette but you basically refuse to put it out there and actually give and take, that is what a debate is.

    “The rest reflects on cultural beliefs about women and men held by each person. So no matter what data or what info I bring to the discussion, personal or otherwise, those who don’t believe it will find ways to ignore it.”

    What data to do you have to support this view or counter the data against your view? Your entire article was based on light anecdotal evidence while ignoring the vast physical differences in men and women. You are basically doing the blog equivalent of taking your ball and going home.

  • Malachi Marine

    Ladies & Gentlemen-

    Before we get too hasty here, I refer you to this fine article from the NY Times by a former Marine Infantry Officer and graduate of that sacred and unholy institution, which occupies the fortress-like and decidedly separate Mitchell Hall, the Infantry Officers’ Course.

    Remember this is the first day, there are many more and many worse ones to come… I know. I am a proud graduate from the Church of Violence, though it took far more to accomplish that feat than I would ever acknowledge to my Marines.

    My pull quote:

    “Of 96 officers who had started the endurance test, 76 passed, 7 quit, 7 were injured and 6 failed.”

    All male. All volunteers. All of impressive physical ability. But remember the reporter left out most of the blood, sweat, tears, grit, shame, confusion, and wonderful surprises that are a part of the damnable CET. Very anecdotal, but the requirements to graduate are not dictated by TECOM as a strict 80% average on graded exams. This is the only exam these men will take, as IOC views an 80% score as not good enough. Especially, when it comes to the practice of interpersonal violence and the judicious application of Marine Infantrymen.

    Still believe it is worth the time, effort, manpower, and money to find the few exceptions that might be able successfully complete this course? For your consideration:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/09/us/grueling-course-for-marine-officers-will-open-its-doors-to-women.html

  • Capt. HW “Woody” Sanford,MC,USNR(ret.)

    Dear Major Haynie,
    I have posted a few comments about your discussion over the last two months, none of which may be relative to your expressed concerns. In closing my offerings, I state the following:
    With a background of Military College graduate, 20 years in the Navy and Naval Reserve Medical Corps and many years of non-fiction miltary reading and writing, I am qualified to say anything I wish about military history and service. I take an Ayn Rand approach to this. The group/unit is vital, but the performance of the individual(s)controls the outcome. In reading your posts, I think you agree with this. One thing I think, however, is that perhaps physical,not mental or dextrous/reflexive, actions are more daunting in the ground forces than in aviation or aboard ship. Many EXCEPTIONS of course!

    You should seek command at the earliest possible moment. Do not be satisfied until you get it.
    Be a true Professional. Use all you have learned in this process to benefit yourself and then all others in active or reserve service.
    Act constructively! Create a lecture series, write a book, organize an advocacy group, seek time on media, consider politics.
    Use your BRAIN every day. Take care of yourself. You’re already an activist, DEVELOP that!
    You have strong writing skills. Use them!
    Go back to school. Become a lawyer or a doctor or an aerospace expert. You can have a 2nd military career in many disciplines. One of the Navy Surgeon Generals(USNA class of 1962)busted out because of some physical problem that didn’t affect him at all in the Medical Corps or in promotion.

    Anchors Aweigh!,

    Woody Sanford, MD, FACR

  • Eric_Strattoniii@yahoo.com

    Capt. Woody,
    I am a fan of Ayn Rand but the military is and must be about the organization not the individual. As soon as people think in the manner you do the military will cease to be an effective group and we are on that route now. The military must be and should be about the group not the individual, the fact that you would propose that idea of the individual over the group is a bit shocking to me but consistent with the what I have seen in the non-line community unfortunately. Your line of thinking disappoints me. I do not understand the train of thought that the military should be about the individual over the group, it would seem that you have lost the things the military should instill. An 06 who thinks in this manner has not taken on the intangibles that the military continues to offer the youth of the country: self-sacrifice, loyalty, honor, nobility, fortitude, etc…it’s supposed to be all about the group. The very nature of the military is about the group, I am lost after reading your post. Check your premise.

    • Greta Ostergaard

      She is not saying that it should be about the individual she is pointing out that there should be a group standard that everyone has to pass, and it shouldn’t matter on the individual who passes. She is pointing out that the group will not be affected by any individual because if they have all passed the same test, they are all equally indvidually qualified to be in that group, and that they will learn to work together, as is the nature of the military. That whoever is in your group, it doesn’t matter their race, gender, or age you will learn to work with them and you will succeed every obstabcle. That is what she is talking about, and I completely agree with her.

  • Sperrwaffe

    Eric
    With regard to the FITREP post by CDR Sal.
    The Military is about the group. Really?
    Based on your categorizations and your FITREPs it is not. It’s about the Individuals and the competition behind it. In order to get promoted.
    “The best of the best of the best, with honors…” MIB
    You see what I mean? There is a dilemma from my point of view. And it certainly influences the heated approach in the discussions about Jeanettes posts.
    Something which struck me yesterday evening.
    I will try to come back on this in the discussion over at the FITREP thread.

  • eric_strattoniii@yahoo.com

    It’s about the individual competition to advance in rank or for position but the task and mission of the military itself is about the group. When you say it is about the individual that only holds true in the time you are up for rank and that is still supposed to be in order to better help the organization by advancing the best. FITREPs are for evaluations and help in this but the individual is not nor should they ever be more important than the mission or the organization. Would you stop a Fleet Movement if a man fell overboard at sea? Would you stop a ship’s movement if a sailor did not show up?

    As for “The best of the best” and all that, the military is not a complete meritocracy, mostly due to political influence. An example was Clintons implementation of the 12-12-5 program for Officer Advancement that stated that 12% of Officer Promotions should be for African Americans, 12% for Hispanics and 5% for Asian/Pacific Islander. Another example is the set asides for females for jobs at the OCS and Academies that is still in use.

  • Capt. HW “Woody” Sanford,MC,USNR(ret.)

    Eric,
    Well, I stand admonished! It was not my intent to shock you in any way. I stated that the group or unit was VITAL. My point is that the OUTCOME of any mission, battle, war, conflict often depends on the decisions/actions of individuals(Spruance at Midway,Eisenhower in Europe,Truman ordering the A-bomb in Japan.)
    OF COURSE, these men made full and effective use of all the forces and resources at their disposal, yet I wonder what other Individuals or Groups could have done the same. In wartime, battalions, regiments, armies, fleets, squadrons,etc. are all important and all commanders must understand that, yet I BELIEVE that without the training,intuition and wisdom of the Commanding Officer(“the man on the scene”)the unit can become ineffective very quickly. I HAVE NEVER BEEN IN COMBAT. I AM A 73 y/o RETIRED PHYSICIAN. I suggest that with my background(posted previously,)I am as fully qualified to comment on these matters as any Line Officer. I joined the Navy in 1961,had 8 years USN,12 years AR,6 years IAR, retired in 1988. In those 27 years and since I have continuously read and studied Naval Literature.

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