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Women and combat and other opportunities

January 25, 2011 | Captain Hannah He

A recent report recommended that women be permitted to be fully assigned to ground combat units and in combat MOSs. A report by ArmyTimes discussed some pros and cons. Here's my thoughts on the issue.

For generations women have wholeheartedly served in the Army, many following the mantra, "It's my war too," in many roles from supply to admin to to pilots to signal to ADA. But, even during the most recent conflict, most Americans think that women do less and sacrifice less and are kept safer, because they aren't the door-kickers and bomb-droppers. So first, I wish the average American was more grateful for the countless women who have served and sacrificed so much to serve.

By opening combat units and MOSs to women, I think  all servicewomen will earn more respect for their contributions. Also, the opportunity to have fully acknowledged combat experience, to get the training and opportunities and more prestigious assignments, will definitely help the women who choose to pursue that path because it will earn them more respect from their peers than if they were stuck in non-combat units. 

This, however, brings up the question, can women do it? Women in general cannot do what an average 11B does, but then, neither can the average American male.All  AIT and BOLC courses would need to be more stringent in their evaluations of every Soldier going through and not be scared to fail someone and send them to a more appropriate MOS. Just because a female puts down Infantry and by luck of the draw gets assigned that, if she can't complete the requirements of Infantry BOLC, then she needs to be rebranched. Just the same, if she can't pass the technical classes of Signal BOLC, she also needs to be rebranched. So maybe the Army needs to rethink their assignment process for officers and offer more evaluations to help guide new recruits pick an MOS, and then determine the highest standards for that branch and enforce them.

More opportunities, such as Ranger School, however, should be available to women. In any branch, a Ranger tab brings instant respect, and any woman who can complete the course deserves the same respect. 

In conclusion, I would wholeheartedly support full integration of women into every aspect of the Army. It will draw better women, and build a better Army. Just as they did when women first showed up in uniform, society will adjust.


1 Comment

  • Jon
    7/22/2011 2:56 PM
    First I'd like to say I appreciate your viewpoint LT, and a lot of women feel the same as you, but you couldn't be more wrong in my opinion.

    Let me quote you first: "Women in general cannot do what an average 11B does, but then, neither can the average American male"

    Very true, but look again at what you said. "Women in general" can't do it...that includes any and all women in the population, whereas the average American male can't. I'd dare say any male that played any physical sport - soccer, football, baseball, etc who is in decent shape would pass Infantry BCT...whereas women in general would not, if the standards were the same for both.

    Women are not physically built for the job that the infantry do. A PT Test (that the average army woman couldn't pass if held to the male standard) doesn't tell the whole story of what a basic infantryman does, much less a Ranger. A 200 pound man can carry (at times) a 100 pound rucksack - 50% of his body weight, before adding in a weapon, body armor, and the like. That is tough by itself. Now put that 100ish pound woman in the same position...even if she can do it, she won't be doing it for long, and more likely than not will hurt herself in the long run.

    If this weren't true, then for example, separate leagues for any and all sports would be irrelevant. If men and women can compete on an equal playing field, and we are all "equal", there would simply be few if any women playing at all. Instead, there are separate leagues, smaller goalposts, shorter tees, and softball for a reason...because physically, the male body is built for combat, for physical activity, for hunting and protection, and a woman's body is designed for child bearing, and for lighter physical activities than a man. That is just science FACT.

    I think we are just trying to be "politically correct" in that women can do anything men can do, when in fact it is just not true over a 4 year enlistment, let alone a 20 year Army career. If anything, lets make ONE standard before we introduce this concept. ONE PT Test, ONE Tape Test, ONE ranger/SF test that ALL candidates must pass, before we talk about this subject. I would wager a guess that maybe .25 percent of all women in the army could do this ONCE, and only a handful could go their entire career meeting these standards.

    On a personal level, I know of female soldiers who have died, paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. I don't want to see them in CLOSE combat, where they can be captured more easily, or killed. With the current situation, sometimes mortars, IED's land where they may...but having a women kick down a door or go on foot patrols is something I personally don't want to see. Men naturally want to protect women...that is inherent in men. I don't want infantrymen worried about those women next to them more than they are about the mission. That is just a personal opinion that I hold.

    I'm not trying to be cruel or anti-woman, but I am a realist. Women serve amazingly in Combat Support and Support roles. Some of the finest all around soldiers that I have met are women. I just believe they should continue supporting the fight, and let the Combat MOS's continue to be an all-male force.

    Jon

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