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[Kingsley Browne, guest-blogging, December 4, 2007 at 10:25am] Trackbacks
Co-ed Combat -- Physical Sex Differences and Their Continued Importance:

I appreciate the many thoughtful and enlightening comments to my earlier post. Many of the issues raised are matters I am writing about in this post or in subsequent ones.

Advocates of integration of women into combat forces often downplay the sex difference in physical capacity, correctly pointing out that some women are stronger than some men. In fact, however, there is little overlap between the sexes in terms of strength.

Women, on average, have only one-half to two-thirds the upper-body strength of men. The probability that a randomly selected man will have greater upper-body strength than a randomly selected woman is generally between 95 and 99 percent, depending upon the measure and the sample. Most of this difference is due to differences in the quantity of muscle tissue, a difference attributable primarily to sex hormones.

Although most discussion of physical sex differences focuses on strength, the sexes also differ on a host of other performance measures, such as running speed, aerobic and anaerobic capacity, endurance, and throwing speed and accuracy. These abilities are all potentially important in combat.

Some assert that these large physical differences can be overcome through training. In fact, however, training often increases the sex difference. Both sexes benefit from strength training, and in samples of out-of-shape individuals, women may initially gain more from training than men. Nonetheless, the overlap between the sexes decreases, because training not only increases the strength of both groups, it also decreases the variability within the groups. When males and females both start out in good physical condition, women gain less from further conditioning than men do, so the gap between the sexes actually increases.

Related to differences in strength and bone mass is the high rate of injuries, especially stress fractures, suffered by women in physical training. An extensive study of physical capacity by the British Ministry of Defence concluded that only about 0.1 percent of female recruits and 1 percent of trained female soldiers could satisfy the required physical standards for infantry and armor without sustaining substantially higher rates of injuries than men.

Much of the momentum for sexual integration of the combat arms rests on the assumption that the substantial sex differences in physical capacity, while real, are no longer significant, because battlefield prowess is now "a matter of brains, not of brawn." Thus, the lessons of primitive warfare -- or even that of any warfare prior to the late 20th century -- are thought to have little to teach us. This assumption is both misguided and dangerous.

Modern ground combat still requires substantial physical strength. Today's infantry soldier often carries between 75 and 100 pounds, and sometimes more. Just his rifle, ammunition, helmet, and body armor can weigh 60 pounds. Add to that food, water, night-vision goggles, various other electronic gear (and the batteries for it), and pretty soon the soldier is carrying a very heavy load -- indeed, heavier than that of the soldier of World War II.

After carrying this heavy load, soldiers often must dig in to hard ground for shelter, perhaps in 120-degree heat. If there is concern about chemical or biological agents, as at the outset of the Iraq war, soldiers may have to wear stifling protective gear, which imposes greater physiological stress on women than on men.

Then, of course, comes the infantryman's reason for existence -- engaging the enemy -- for which the soldier must have remaining energy reserves. Hand-to-hand combat (yes, it still happens) is the last resort of all war-fighters, as well as of those occupying support positions, whether signalmen, clerks, cooks, or truck drivers.

Hand-to-hand combat obviously requires physical strength, but it is far from the only fighting activity for which strength is essential. Many other activities do, as well, whether the lifting of heavy artillery shells or machine guns or carrying (or dragging) an injured comrade out of the line of fire.

Many combat-support positions also require physical strength. A study conducted in the 1980s found that all Army men in heavy-lifting Military Occupational Specialties (MOSs) were qualified for their jobs, but only about 15 percent of women were. The military has been reluctant to impose strength requirements widely, however, and even if realistic standards were set for particular jobs, adverse conditions often interfere with the neat system of MOSs. "It's not in my job description" is not a permissible response in a firefight.

Physically grueling tasks are not limited to ground combat. When a Navy EP-3E reconnaissance plane collided with a Chinese fighter plane over the South China Sea in April 2001, the muscular pilot had to "wrestle" the plane down to a safe landing on Hainan Island. He reported that it took "every ounce" of his strength to keep the plane in the air until he could land. Perhaps there are many men who would not have been able to meet that challenge, but it is unlikely that any female pilot could have.

Similarly, if a ship gets struck by a bomb, missile, or mine, all hands may have to turn to the tasks of damage control, such as fire fighting, flood limitation, and evacuation of the wounded. In 1988, after the guided-missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts struck an Iranian mine in the Persian Gulf, it came closer than any other U.S. ship since the Korean War to be sunk due to hostile action. Sailors of all specialties turned to fighting the resulting fire and flooding.

Because the captain of the Roberts was concerned that shells would "cook off," he ordered one of the magazines cleared of ammunition. A "bucket brigade" of fifty sailors -- twenty percent of the ship's crew -- passed the fifty-pound shells from man to man. Although the regular job duties of many of these sailors did not require heavy lifting, if the sailors had been unable to perform when necessary, the Roberts would almost certainly have sunk. Yet a Navy study found that almost all Navy women fail the physical standards for critical damage-control tasks, while virtually all men pass.

If physical performance were all that mattered in combat, the military could employ sex-neutral physical standards to select those men and women with the requisite abilities. It has generally been unwilling to do so, however. (For example, an 18-year-old female is given more time to run two miles than a 41-year-old man.) Moreover, the number of women who could satisfy the physical standards is sufficiently low that the adjustments that would be needed to allow women to serve would dwarf any benefit derived from an infinitesimal increase in the recruiting pool.

In any event, physical capacity is only one part -- and not the most important one -- of combat effectiveness. The sexes also differ along a number of combat-relevant psychological dimensions, the subject of my next posts.

frankcross (mail):
I have no doubt about these differences, but they seem to miss the point. This is a common case of overlapping bell curves, where one (in this case, male) is to the right of the other. The average male is better than the average female, but some females are to the right of some males. If soldiers had to be chosen at random, an all male force would naturally be better. However, if we have any sort of screening facility, you could have a better force by expanding the size of the recruiting pool and selecting the women to the right of the curve as compared with the marginal male candidate. If you don't come to grips with that, I can't see that you've got anything at all. Perhaps it will come in future posts.
12.4.2007 10:53am
frankcross (mail):
Well, forgive me, you briefly addressed at the end with the "infinitesimal increase" claim but the infinitesimal part certainly hasn't been established by your evidence. It seems the main problem with the SQ is the fact that screening is done poorly
12.4.2007 10:55am
Logicman (mail):
with the "infinitesimal increase" claim but the infinitesimal part certainly hasn't been established by your evidence.

Skepticism is fine. But what exactly is the basis of your skepticism, Frank Cross?
12.4.2007 11:03am
gcruse (mail):
"Marine Corps tests show that 45 per cent of female Marines can't throw a grenade beyond the burst radius. The feasibility of lighter grenades is being studied."

I suppose it beats safer bullets.
12.4.2007 11:03am
Logicman (mail):
Yet a Navy study found that almost all Navy women fail the physical standards for critical damage-control tasks, while virtually all men pass.

May we have a link to this study?
12.4.2007 11:04am
stoneyforest:
Frank -

The hypothetical screening process you describe is very different from what exists now. In fact, women are explicitly exempted from the strength and speed requirements that apply to men and are held to a different, much lower standard.
12.4.2007 11:10am
Waldensian (mail):

Physically grueling tasks are not limited to ground combat. When a Navy EP-3E reconnaissance plane collided with a Chinese fighter plane over the South China Sea in April 2001, the muscular pilot had to “wrestle” the plane down to a safe landing on Hainan Island. He reported that it took “every ounce” of his strength to keep the plane in the air until he could land. Perhaps there are many men who would not have been able to meet that challenge, but it is unlikely that any female pilot could have.

Your use of this single anecdote to suggest that women lack the strength required to fly combat aircraft is quite misleading.

The EP-3E Orion is a very, very old aircraft design; in fact, it is a version of a civilian airliner that first flew in 1957. Its control systems may well have required considerable physical effort in the wake of the 2001 collision (and that pilot did an admirable job).

But those control systems are paleolithic compared to modern Navy combat aircraft. For example, the Super Hornet, which is becoming the backbone of the Navy's combat air fleet, utilizes fly-by-wire controls. Nobody needs to wrestle with those.

There are arguments either way about the suitability of women for ground combat and other tasks requiring considerable physical strength. But I am aware of NO evidence that this strength issue affects the ability of women to fly modern combat aircraft.

Are you aware of any such evidence?
12.4.2007 11:10am
Erin (mail):
One question: if the present-day infantry soldier is carrying MORE weight than a WWII-era soldier, isn't that more a problem of bad design than of operational necessity? I keep reading about superlight body armor, miniaturized electronics, and lighter weaponry -- where is it? Stuck in the lab?

The problems of 'unit integration' seem mainly to come down to a "this is our treehouse, no girlz allowed!" mentality, as well. Keeping out women who want to serve only validates that bad behavior ... not to mention that it seems a bit odd to argue on the one hand that soldiers will neglect their duty to protect women soldiers, and on the other that they will haze them in the unit. Which is it? Chivalry or misogyny?
12.4.2007 11:19am
Patrick216:
Waldensian: I thought the main issue with women as fighter pilots was the strength the pilot needed to ensure that the G forces applied to him/her during rapid ascents, descents, and banks would not cause unconsciousness. I've never experienced a G force higher than that on a roller coaster ride as a kid, so I can't relate to it, but I'm told it requires quite a bit of strength and endurance to sustain those forces. Is there any validity to that kind of claim?
12.4.2007 11:20am
Parker Smith (mail) (www):
Waldensian -

I think you miss the point - the incident illustrated the point that in military operations, unexpected things happen that require physical strength to resolve.
12.4.2007 11:23am
Parker Smith (mail) (www):
Erin -

Which is it? Chivalry or misogyny?

It is both - and they both can cause problems that degrade effectiveness.
Sexuality is an incredibly powerful force in human relationships - failure to accept this seems to inform a lot of the arguments in favor of women in combat.
12.4.2007 11:26am
GMUSL '07 Alum (mail):
Erin, since you brought it up, why don't you think about what those WWII soldiers carried. Body Armor? Mostly no. Electronics? Mostly no. Weaponry? Their standard-issue rifles were partially made of wood. Modern rifles can also do just a little bit more than the WWII-era ones could.

Money aside, the real question of women integrated into line units and of female firefighters is essentially algebra: We believe that having a non-trivial number of women is worth X lives of servicemembers. Solve for X.

As for me, well, I care just a bit more about the lives of our service members and people trapped in burning buildings than I do about the feelings of women who don't get to see combat.
12.4.2007 11:28am
rarango (mail):
Erin: with respect to your question about weight; it isn't so much lightweight design of equipment, but the increased quantity of items, most of which, are individually lighter than their WWII or even Viet Nam era counterparts. And unfortunately, no one has come up with a way to make lighter bullets.
12.4.2007 11:30am
frankcross (mail):
If someone claims infinitesimal, I think it behooves them to establish that. Casual analogies, e.g., with sports, suggests to me that there are a respectable number of women athletes who exceed the male mean.

I do think the screening has failed in part, perhaps due to "political correctness." This raises the question of whether the best screening system is pragmatically achievable, in which case total exclusion might be the second best, preferred policy. Of course, I'm not sure that total exclusion is pragmatically achievable either, so the third best, preferred policy might become lighter grenades.
12.4.2007 11:35am
Erin (mail):
Thanks for the comments about weight -- now, is all that stuff really necessary? Or is it part of military-complex pork? I'd like to hear from active-duty soldiers about that.



As for me, well, I care just a bit more about the lives of our service members and people trapped in burning buildings than I do about the feelings of women who don't get to see combat.


Wow, there's a nice bit of rhetoric. Did you forget to add "Why do you hate freedom?" I remember reading a study that women pilots were better able to undergo g-forces (i.e., less likely to black out in spins) than men, and that they also did better on tests of attention and comprehension of instruments. If it were proven that women were better pilots/gunners along that axis, wouldn't it be worthwhile to modify equipment to have women take over their jobs? We can make stuff lighter fairly easily; it's harder to make brains better. It would save lives too, presumably, to have the best possible pilots ...

And what about all-women units? No precious male lives would be lost, unit cohesion not a problem, and you can bet the volunteer women soldiers would be the gung-est of the gung-ho.

I wish that there wasn't such a stink of "No Girls Allowed" in much of the discussion about women in the military. It would make it easier to see certain arguments as reasoned, instead of as clutching at handfuls of anecdotes to keep things as they were.

(I come from a military family; my grandfather was an Annapolis grad and a USMC brigadier general -- and I remember him remarking that any of his five daughters would have been excellent soldiers, not that they were allowed to serve. But then, that's just anecdote ...)
12.4.2007 11:41am
Allan (mail):
If we cannot make combat operations accessible to women, perhaps we should not have combat operations at all. Down with the military!!!!

IMHO, we should have the military set standards for specific specialties. If a woman can meet the standards, put her in the unit.
12.4.2007 11:41am
rarango (mail):
Frank: you were doing great until your third preferred policy. (I happen to like your second option). It isnt just grenades; it is the whole gamut of military equipment which is bulky and heavy. To system-engineer the equipment of an entire military establishment to conform to, say, the mean lifting ability of the average female soldier doesnt appear to be a very cost effective option to me.
12.4.2007 11:42am
AlanW:
I think these arguments miss the point. We have a volunteer military. Women volunteers fill a significant portion of the contingent. If we had to lower standards in order to fill the force entirely with men, then we'd simply be imposing a different kind of risk on our soldiers: A female soldier who can't throw a grenade far enough versus a male soldier who doesn't know when to throw it or pulls the pin while he's goofing around.

It seems intuitive to me that with the value our military places on information and decision-making that we'd be better off keeping the average mental capabilities of our soldiers as high as possible instead of favoring physical capabilities.
12.4.2007 11:49am
Rick Shmatz (mail):
Erin-- Let's pretend you are right that "women pilots were better able to undergo g-forces (i.e., less likely to black out in spins) than men, and that they also did better on tests of attention and comprehension of instruments."

Assuming all else equal, I would take this as evidence that women rather than men should be pilots. I would hope the military would take the same position. But would you? Would you allow men into the "all girls club" and sacrifice lives and equipment in the name of equality?
12.4.2007 11:51am
Bama 1L:
And unfortunately, no one has come up with a way to make lighter bullets.

Of course they have! Smaller bullets are lighter.

Modern rifles in the M16 family fire 5.56mmx45 ammuntion. The standard round for the WWII era M1 was .30-06, or to use the same units, basically 7.62mmx51. In other words, we went from .30 hunting rifle ammuntion to a very high performance .22. Practically everybody else in the world made a similar switch to a lower caliber.

The main reason to switch to the smaller ammunition is so that people can carry more of it; secondarily, to increase magazine capacity. This is a good tradeoff, because most of the time in infantry combat, you're not actually going to hit anybody, so it's the volume of fire that matters. You need to be able to carry lots and lots of bullets.
12.4.2007 11:51am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Erin.
If you're from a military family, some of your questions are disingenuous.
The reason for making things lighter is so the grunt can carry more of them. The limiting factor now, as then, is his carrying capacity. It would be insane to bring less than the maximum amount of combat stuff possible to a fight whose outcome and results are completely unpredictable.
To get a bit technical, the M16 replaced the M14 because it was lighter, and, more to the point, so was its ammo. So, instead of carrying the same 200 rounds and going down the road like a spring lamb, the grunt now carries 600 rounds and goes down the road like one of Marius' Mules.
Surely you are aware of this.

Arguments of misogyny and sexual inadequacy and what not are unworthy of this thread, not to mention being really, really stupid, not to mention exposing more of the arguer's thinking than any rational thought.
12.4.2007 11:55am
Lugo:
if the present-day infantry soldier is carrying MORE weight than a WWII-era soldier, isn't that more a problem of bad design than of operational necessity? I keep reading about superlight body armor, miniaturized electronics, and lighter weaponry -- where is it? Stuck in the lab?

100 pounds of superlightweight miniaturized equipment weighs, er, 100 pounds...
12.4.2007 11:56am
Waldensian (mail):

Waldensian: I thought the main issue with women as fighter pilots was the strength the pilot needed to ensure that the G forces applied to him/her during rapid ascents, descents, and banks would not cause unconsciousness. I've never experienced a G force higher than that on a roller coaster ride as a kid, so I can't relate to it, but I'm told it requires quite a bit of strength and endurance to sustain those forces. Is there any validity to that kind of claim?

Not to my knowledge. I'm no physiologist, and if I pull many Gs in my airplane the wings tend to come off, but my understanding is: the ability to withstand Gs depends in large part on physical conditioning, breathing techniques, etc., and of course the technology available (G suits, seat position, etc.).

I'm not aware of any evidence that women are worse at it than men.

Interestingly, an old (70 plus) airshow pilot told me that the older he got, the easier it was to pull Gs. Meanwhile, I saw Patty Wagstaff give a speech in which said she had to gradually condition her body, at the beginning of an airshow season, so that she could pull big Gs. She's an example of a female that pulls a LOT of Gs but is nevertheless a top-performing aerobatic pilot.

I pulled about 3.0 gs flying an aerobatic aircraft once, which was VERY noticeable to me although it was chickenfeed compared to what the military pilots pull. Even with G suits they are in a much more demanding environment.

However, the issue is really not physical strength, it's figuring out how to keep blood in your head.
12.4.2007 11:58am
whit:
"If someone claims infinitesimal, I think it behooves them to establish that. Casual analogies, e.g., with sports, suggests to me that there are a respectable number of women athletes who exceed the male mean"

realizing that the cultural difference is seperate from the strength difference, i'll say this again.

the primary difference between men and women is (as stated) sex hormones. women have, on average 1/10 the endogenous testosterone of men (which means they have less muscle mass, they respond less positively to strength training, they have higher recovery time, their muscles are less prone to both hypertrophy *and* hyperplasia, etc. etc.)

however... (and it's a big however), i have trained (olympic style weightlifting and raw powerlifting) WAY too many exceptionally strong women to not realize that there are MANY women who are strong enough for combat, and some who are even suitable for elite units.

*if* there were not cultural issues as well (which i am admittedly uneducated enough in military culture to opine about one way or the other), i would be all for allowing women into combat GIVEN the EXACT same physical standards.

i would think it disgusting (but typical) as well as dangerous, if physical standards were lowered at all, to help accomodate women. this HAS happened in law enforcement and in firefighting and it is harmful to fellow officers, the public, and suspects, since weaker officers are more likely (ceteris paribus) to have to resort to higher force levels to accomplish the same task AND in the case of firefighting i have seen examples where women were actually required to drag a LIGHER dummy during the PT test (which is beyond absurd).

but i see way too many people who are admittedly completely ignorant of military culture etc. just assume that GIVEN a physically capable woman, that all the cultural issues are merely irrelevant, and that's pretty arrogant to assume w.o knowledge of combat, or at least familiarity with the military in general.

simply put, in the military, we should value efficiency/effectiveness NOT gender integration. if the latter can be incorporated without hurting the former -fine, but it is FAR from clear that this is the case.
12.4.2007 11:58am
rarango (mail):
Bama1L: I was initially armed with an M1 when I went through Basic Training in 1961; in viet nam, 1969, I was armed with an M-16--the last significant downsizing of rifle ammunition was over 40 years ago. I think we have reached the limit of downsizing unless we go to some type of flechette round (dart).
12.4.2007 11:59am
whit:
"However, the issue is really not physical strength, it's figuring out how to keep blood in your head."

which depends on contraction of certain muscles and is thus a TYPE of strength. as dr. hatfield and other strength scientists repeatedly emphasize (but is little understood by people outside the field), there are many many forms of strength (hatfield lists about 20 iirc), and the issue is far more complex than "how much can u bench press" (being the standard in america. i compete in strength sports and i haven't bench pressed, even in training, in YEARS).

keeping the blood in the head relies on CONTRACTION of muscles, forcefully i might add, and is thus COMPLETELY an issue of strength.

once one was taught HOW to keep the blood in the head (by muscle contraction... note also that strength is not just a muscle issue, it's a neurological issue (rate coding, etc.)), one's ability to do it, is in large part a STRENGTH issue.
12.4.2007 12:03pm
Waldensian (mail):

I think you miss the point - the incident illustrated the point that in military operations, unexpected things happen that require physical strength to resolve.

No, the point is that if you are looking for a strength-related issue suggesting that women can't be combat pilots, you'll probably end up with a single anecdote involving a 50-year-old airliner design.

Say what you will about ground-pounding infantry work. But I am aware of NO evidence that women are at a disadvantage in flying modern combat aircraft. In the context I am vaguely familiar with (I know a fair number of Navy fighter pilots), women seem to be performing quite well in that role. If they are falling from the sky at disproportionate rates, nobody seems to be paying any attention.

I guess we could ban them from flying Orions.

I now await endless discussion of Lt. Hultgreen, as if that incident has anything to say about women's current performance as combat pilots.
12.4.2007 12:06pm
rarango (mail):
Totally agree with waldensian: discussions of women in aviation dont add much to the issue of the physical strength required for GROUND combat. I dont care what gender (or for that matter sexual orientation) is flying the airframe as long as they put the ordnance when and and where I need it. I think women have already proved they can fly combat missions.
12.4.2007 12:13pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
rarango.
Once the military abandoned the full-size round (30.06 or 7.62) the importance of the machine gun increased. This is unfortunate, since there are only so many of them in a platoon. Long-range area fire, penetration of buildings and thin-skinned vehicles now require the attention of the machine gun(s).
I once asked a grunt about having thirty Infantrymen fire fifteen rounds from the prone position, at the rate of one round per second. In fifteen seconds, there could be 450 rounds in a house at one thousand meters.
From a tripod mounted machine gun? With the M60, it would be about forty seconds. With the newer guns, whose cyclic rate seems to be astronomical, probably a good deal less. And the beaten zone would be larger than the house.
But, as he said, I'll tell you where the next 450 rounds are coming from, and it's not the machine guns.
Lightening the grunt's ammo seems to be a trend which could profitably be reversed, possibly to halfway back to the full-sized round.
Anyway, if we figure a woman can carry two-thirds of her body weight and weighs 130 pounds, that means 87 pounds. A guy weighing 180 carries 120 pounds. Since the beginning of the load includes armor and helmet and water and so forth, the difference in the rest of the load is ammo and other expendables. So the difference in the load is 33 pounds of ammo. That might close a bit if the woman's armor and so forth weighed less than a man's. Let's say it's a difference of 25 pounds of munitions and other combat expendables.
A platoon of forty men carries half a ton more of stuff to kill with than a platoon of forty women.
Doesn't that strike anybody as being in the least relevant?
12.4.2007 12:13pm
BladeDoc (mail):
<blockquote>
One question: if the present-day infantry soldier is carrying MORE weight than a WWII-era soldier, isn't that more a problem of bad design than of operational necessity? I keep reading about superlight body armor, miniaturized electronics, and lighter weaponry — where is it? Stuck in the lab?
</blockquote>

The difference is that we were prepared to sacrifice tens of thousands of soldiers for minor gains in WW II (and even more so in WWI whereas now we routinely expect exchange ratios in the hundreds or thousands to one. In WWII we lost (British and American) approx. 6000 men just in the invasion of Sicily which lasted merely 2 months. To date in Iraq we have lost slightly more than HALF that number in 5 years.

The wounded to killed ratio is also much higher because of the body armor (many more amputations also, sadly because the limbs are the least protected area). The equipment load-out is immense and only getting bigger — for example see the "land warrior project" in the attached link.

CNN cyborg warrior
Basically what happens is that an infantryman can be expected to carry and fight in about 100lbs of gear (give or take a little). So every time they lighten up a piece of gear it only serves to make room to add another piece of gear.
12.4.2007 12:14pm
Cro (mail):
While this may not be the most important argument against women in combat, it is by far the easiest to prove. It's also the most palatable. It's hard to argue with.

Just having high, gender-neutral standards for combat units would effectively prevent integration without leaving critics much to complain about. Between the few women who are interested in those fields, and the physical requirements, we'd see few women in combat units. As for the psychological aspects, any women who could hack it physically and really wanted to do it just might deserve to be there.

I don't want reduced standards for the sake of integration that few people in the military acutally want.

There was a Weekly Standard column in 2002 addressing the physical differences between male and female athletes. This isn't really pertinent, but large differences exist at the high end of fitness as well as the low. It's not a social construct when very driven individuals at the peak of human conditioning have such a large gap in capability.
12.4.2007 12:15pm
Waldensian (mail):
Whit:

Okay, so it's a TYPE of strength. Is it a TYPE of strength that women lack?

Are you aware of any evidence that women are worse at sustaining Gs than men?

I've never heard that, and I've been around flying a while. But I'm no jet jockey or acrobatic pilot, and I'm always ready to be educated.
12.4.2007 12:16pm
whit:
"Okay, so it's a TYPE of strength. Is it a TYPE of strength that women lack? "

i don't know. that's why i didn't state an opinion either way as to THAT issue, merely as to your claim that it wasn't a form of strength.

but GIVEN that women are weaker in ALL applications of strength i am aware of (in every study, etc.) and GIVEN that this exercise is a form of strength (muscle contraction), the burden would reasonably be on one making your argument that they were as good (or better) in this form of strength application.

they MAY be. and of course what matters is that an individual woman (or man) can meet this strength benchmark, not what %age of women or men can.

your argument (uneducated as to what strength actually is) was a way to circumvent the issue by wrongly claiming that this exercise was NOT a form of strength, thus trying to take it out of that realm, when clearly it IS a form of strength.

note that there are SOME physical tasks that women are superior at - for example: long distance cold water swimming (women are slower swimmers, but they are more efficient swimmers (calories expended per mile swum... mainly due to their profile in the water, and their buoyancy (more fat in lower body on a relative basis). this is why english channel swims (and bering strait swims) have seen some very successful women.

"Are you aware of any evidence that women are worse at sustaining Gs than men? "

no. nor did i claim such. i merely corrected your erroneous statement that it was not a STRENGTH issue, when it clearly is.

hth
12.4.2007 12:23pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Waldensian,

As a non-flyer--take that into account--I am aware of two types of strength necessary to fly in a high-G situation.
One is the ability to keep one's head (and helmet) up and moving, and the arms, as well, in order to see and to manuver the aircraft. The second is the ability to contract all the body's muscles as if straining at stool in order that the expanded muscle fibers shrink the blood vessels to reduce pooling and the consequent blood flow from the brain. The Blue Angels, it is said, do not wear G suits because the inflation and deflation when G come and go would push their arms and legs slightly. When formation flying at, say, three feet of separation, that could be deadly. So they depend on extreme conditioning for the straining technique and go without artificial help against high G loads.
One factor in avoiding blackouts in high-G manuvers is the distance from the brain to the heart. The farther, the more difficult it is to avoid blackouts. Women, being smaller, have slightly less distance and thus a slightly higher resistance to high-G blackout.
IMO, the question of women on combat aircraft is more a matter of PC-motivated reduction of standards than of ability.
12.4.2007 12:26pm
Greg (www):
A study in Medicine &Science in Sports suggests that in races of greater than 66 miles, women have a physiological advantage over men. (In 2002, the woman who won the Badwater ultra finished five hours ahead of the first man.)

If we're throwing out singular examples (wrestling an Orion to the ground) I thought this one should be out there as well.
12.4.2007 12:34pm
r78:

Physically grueling tasks are not limited to ground combat. When a Navy EP-3E reconnaissance plane collided with a Chinese fighter plane over the South China Sea in April 2001, the muscular pilot had to “wrestle” the plane down to a safe landing on Hainan Island. He reported that it took “every ounce” of his strength to keep the plane in the air until he could land. Perhaps there are many men who would not have been able to meet that challenge, but it is unlikely that any female pilot could have.


Is this a joke?

The guy who sits next to me is a retired naval aviator who is 5'8" and weighs about 130 pounds. My teenage daughter is stronger than he is.

He is very bright and very tough mentally, but his job flying fighter planes required him to exert a few ounces of pressure on a stick.

To argue that physical requirements of flying modern aircraft provide some support for the idea that only men should be involved is so absurd that it is laughable.
12.4.2007 12:38pm
Rick Shmatz (mail):
r78-- maybe he shouldnt be a pilot either. Maybe he doesnt fly that particular plane. Maybe that is why they gave him a job that only "required him to exert a few ounces of pressure on a stick", rather than one that that requires the exertion of many ounces on a stick.
12.4.2007 12:42pm
whit:
" study in Medicine &Science in Sports suggests that in races of greater than 66 miles, women have a physiological advantage over men. (In 2002, the woman who won the Badwater ultra finished five hours ahead of the first man.) "

this is correct. ultra-distance (think ann trason) for a # of reasons - women have an edge. just like the distance cold water swimming events i mentioned.
12.4.2007 12:46pm
r78:
Rick - do you know anything _at all_ about mechanical and electronic controls on fighter aircraft?

And I am sure my office mate - a graduate of the Naval Academy and a former instructor would appreciate your thoughts that maybe he should not have been a pilot either.

Look you can make an argument that there are positions in the armed forces where strength is important - but to suggest that people flying modern aircraft need to be able to bench 250 is just stupid.
12.4.2007 12:50pm
ALS:
r78

To argue that physical requirements of flying modern aircraft provide some support for the idea that only men should be involved is so absurd that it is laughable.

To argue otherwise proves only that you have never sat in a high performance cockpit.
12.4.2007 12:51pm
r78:
ALS - well actually I have sat in the seat of a F-16 as a tourist. It was a very tight fit since I am 6'2" and weigh 230 pounds.

The cockpits are much more comfortable for a smaller person.
12.4.2007 12:55pm
ALS:
r78,

You misinterpreted my use of "sat." That in itself adds fuel to my 12:51 argument
12.4.2007 12:59pm
r78:
ALS - I didn't realize I was dealing with a real-live fighter pilot or something. Could you let me know what aircraft you have piloted that requires great upper body strength?

Or are you more of a desk pilot?
12.4.2007 1:06pm
Muskrat (mail):
Browne, you cite two cases (surface ship crews and aircraft pilots) that are already open to women. Are you using them as examples of "this much is bad enough, let's not extend it" or are you arguing that women should be excluded from those positions they are currently allowed in? If the latter, are there any military jobs you think women should be permitted to hold?
12.4.2007 1:15pm
Dave D. (mail):
....Hinted at in the earlier thread on females being allowed in combat, perhaps we should remember that in Previous wars we drafted. It is likely we will draft in future wars and it won't be a case of allowing, but of requiring females to serve in combat units. Nine weeks training and your 18 year old is sent to be used up like a gallon of gasoline is bought to be used up. Put into a unit at the front, at night, where she knows no one. That's the way it's happened in the past. When she can't cock a .50 caliber BMG in prone position, when she can't carry the essential gear necessary to fight and to survive, she will be despised by those who have to hump it in addition to their load. When she responds to their hatred by crying and sitting down, she will be left. And another replacement will be sent forward, if one can be found.
...There is no " and then the miracle happens " moments. She was sent there to kill and by doing so, save herself and her fellows. If she can't do it, she dies. If she won't do it, she's prosecuted. And her sister is drafted to replace her. All the blather and obfuscating by feminists gets down to this. Draftees are there because we sent them, against their will, to kill other people. If women are allowed into combat units, they'll be forced into them in the future. That's what we are really discussing here.
12.4.2007 1:22pm
r78:

All the blather and obfuscating by feminists gets down to this.

Ya, once they got the right to vote, they got all uppity.
12.4.2007 1:24pm
ALS:
r78,

Prior to progressing to larger multi-engines, I did primary flight in T-6's, to the tune of just over a hundred hours. A single 1 to 2 hour sortie was physically demanding; three in a day and I was utterly exhausted. I was in good shape throughout, but I could tell if I had knocked off at the gym for a week or two because of reduced G tolerance. Am I a fighter jock? No. Do I have relevant experience? Yes. Unfortunately, this thread seems to be a case of several people with zero knowledge making philosophical arguments against people who have actually been there. Care to lay yours out, or something?
12.4.2007 1:25pm
fishbane (mail):
This just all seems so silly. Replace 'women' with 'black' or 'autistic'. Who cares what identifiers attach? Get the best people available. That we apparently need to fall back to looking at genitals to decide who is fit to serve just demonstrates a broken recruiting process.
12.4.2007 1:31pm
HO (mail):
I designed a refuling tanker for the Army about 15 years ago, while working for a major manufacturer. One of the requirements was that it must be operable by 5th percentile women (very small) to 95 percentile men (quite large). There was a MIL-spec specifically detailing sizes, shapes, and strength in 5% increments.

One of the pieces of equipment that was required to be carried on the tanker was a standard military jack for changing a tire. The problem was that the weight of the jack was more than the 5th percentile woman could lift, let alone the wheel/tire. We had to get a special exemption since they were not going to scrap all the jacks the military already had on hand.

From memory, a 5th percentile man was somewhere around a 40th or 50th percentile woman in general size and strength. I remember thinking to myself that a 5th percentile woman could not have picked up, let alone fired, a Garand. Luckily (at least for them) rifles are lighter and kick less nowadays.
12.4.2007 1:37pm
r78:
ALS - I've never flown a plane in my life

I notice you didn't argue that great upper body strength was required - just that you had to be in good shape.

So I assume that if there were a physical test that was closely tailored to match the physical requirements of flying that you would have no objection at all to women flying who could pass that test? Right?
12.4.2007 1:43pm
rlb:
See, I was right about physical strength being required to pilot even (some of) today's aircraft, especially once damaged.
12.4.2007 1:44pm
ellisz (mail):
out of curiosity, have the Israelis used women in combat? (I know they do in various military roles, just not sure if they've put them in combat). if so - what were the results?
12.4.2007 1:50pm
Greg (www):
I was right about physical strength being required to pilot even (some of) today's aircraft, especially once damaged.

How do you figure?
12.4.2007 1:58pm
Lugo:
This just all seems so silly. Replace 'women' with 'black' or 'autistic'. Who cares what identifiers attach? Get the best people available. That we apparently need to fall back to looking at genitals to decide who is fit to serve just demonstrates a broken recruiting process.

If men and women are physically, mentally, and psychologically absolutely 100% functionally interchangeable, then this thread is silly. If they're not, then it's not. Apparently some silly people think there is more to the difference between men and women than just different genitals...
12.4.2007 1:59pm
Mike99:
Frank,

Regarding sports, while there are many woman competing in professional sports, I think you overestimate their abilities. Professional basketball and soccer players (women) would have a tough time competing against very good boy's highschool teams. I have heard, anecdotally, that certain pro woman soccer teams often scrimmaged against a boy's highschool team. While many of the women had better dribbling skills, the boys could easily knock them off the ball, kick "through balls" and run by the woman, and take harder shots on goal than the women goalies were accustomed to.
12.4.2007 1:59pm
rlb:
How do you figure?

Did you just miss the bit about the collision with the Chinese fighter in the OP?
12.4.2007 2:03pm
DavidP (mail):
Regarding women's advantages in ultra-distance running, let's look Badwater - a 135 mile ultra marathon run in part through Death Valley in the summer.

Results for 2007: Top 15 finishers were men - the fastest man beat the fastest woman by over 6 hours. 40 of the top 50 finishers were men.

2006: Top 7 finishers were men - the fastest man beat the fastest woman by over 6 hours. 39 of the top 50 finishers were men.

2005: A good year for women - top 4 finishers were men - the fastest man beat the fastest woman by about 6 hours. 39 of the top 50 finishers were men.

Pamela Reed won the Badwater in 2002 and 2003, a great accomplishment. Her fastest time - 27:56:47 - is five hours slower than the fastest men's time ever - 22:51:29 in 2007.

Badwater results are here: http://www.badwater.com/results/index.html


We would all like the world to be a different place, but the clock doesn't lie. In an event in which women are supposed to have a natural advantage according to the medical study cited, what does the clock say?
12.4.2007 2:04pm
ALS:
r78,

(1) In extreme situations, upper body strength, and lower body strength, is required. Needing to reach anything other than an on-throttle or on-stick control during a high-G maneuver is difficult. The broader import of that is usually unacknowledged in this debate, i.e. the military spends 99.9% of its time preparing for extreme situations, but it is performance in those extreme situations that is a matter of life and death. In the case of a high-performance pilot, he is taking the aircraft as close to its limits as is possible even during training.
(2) As for physical tests, gender is a very strong proxy for them. See H.O.'s comment at 1:37PM. The question is how rare does a passing female have to be in order to justify the cost of the testing?
(3) There are also physiological considerations. For example, ejection seat design assumes certain weight ranges. Pilot too heavy, and he won't get adequate vertical; pilot too light, and the impulse will break a bunch of her bones. Ability to operate the controls is another. When female pilots were allowed, cockpits had to be altered to account for shorter limbs. That being said, the Navy does take physiological measurements of all pilots-to-be, and aircraft assignment can be altered based on e.g. sitting height or sitting reach. Again, gender is a very good proxy for all of these considerations.
12.4.2007 2:05pm
statfan (mail) (www):
It seems to me that the military has no problem at all killing people effectively. But that hasn't helped it a bit in Iraq. We are responsible for something like 600k excess deaths (to be fair, mostly not in combat) -- and we still can't kill enough Iraqis to make the survivors not hate us.

The military is presently ineffective -- it can kill people but it can't win a war. Why are you worried about how effectively women soldiers are at killing people, when more killing doesn't help us at all?
12.4.2007 2:06pm
Greg (www):
Sorry, I thought you meant modern fly-by-wire aircraft when you said "today's aircraft."
12.4.2007 2:07pm
SocratesAbroad (mail):

One question: if the present-day infantry soldier is carrying MORE weight than a WWII-era soldier, isn't that more a problem of bad design than of operational necessity?

No, Erin, it's not. In contrast to the load of his WWII-era counterpart, a modern ground pounder, based on my time in the light infantry (93-97), has to do more and react to additional threats, thus increasing his load. Which would include:
NVGs/night scope
a GPS for pltn ldrs and above
binos for sqd ldrs and above
an AT4
more ammo
more meals/water
pro mask and chem suit (the latter to be added as needed)
kevlar
batteries (for all of those wonderful electronics)
demo/mines
combat lifesaver bag, chem tester,
And that's not including specialized (trans. heavier) loads for machine gunners, AGs, RTOs, medics, mortarmen, Dragon gunners, and such.

Thanks for the comments about weight -- now, is all that stuff really necessary? Or is it part of military-complex pork?

Yes, Erin, as you're obviously unaware the above items are necessary. In contrast to his WWII-era counterpart, the modern infantryman is expected to fight longer in more diverse (trans. unforgiving) environments at a greater distance from resupply and with legal or environmental restrictions on foraging/living off the land. Plus he has the added benefit of additional threats to contend with like night warfare, tanks/armored vehicles, and chemical attacks.

The problems of 'unit integration' seem mainly to come down to a "this is our treehouse, no girlz allowed!" mentality, as well.
[snip]
I wish that there wasn't such a stink of "No Girls Allowed" in much of the discussion about women in the military.

Erin, I haven't noticed anyone here suggesting that women not serve in the military, so we'll toss that issue aside. On its face, 'unit integration' is similarly not a problem except when used as a codeword for allowing women into combat arms where the vast majority of women could not meet the same standards as men.
12.4.2007 2:07pm
r78:
David - my scientific estimate is that 99.99997% of people - male or female - could not complete Badwater. Is it really a good yardstick for determining who gets into the armed forces.

Here's a crazy idea - why not tailor re physical tests to closely match the requirements of the job. I will concede that there probably are some positions that few women could fill because of physical requirements.

But a blanket ban based on gender and not ability is wrong - both from a readiness and a moral standpoint.
12.4.2007 2:10pm
r78:
"As for physical tests, gender is a very strong proxy for them."

The armed forces don't need such "proxies". They conduct rigorous testing of potential pilots.

So your "proxy" argument is dead on arrival.

If a woman passes all of the courses and pass the same physical training required of other pilots, you would disqualify her just because she is female?
12.4.2007 2:14pm
jmarisam:
If one brackets equalilty concerns, a primary question here is institutional competencies. If commanders on the ground are time and again sending women out in combat support units, why should we question their call on utilitarian grounds when they are in the best decision to make those cost-benefit decisions?
12.4.2007 2:20pm
ALS:
r78,

And that "rigorous testing" costs money. Lots of money. And lots of time. Again, the question is how rare does a passing female have to be in order to justify the cost of the testing? Remember, we're not talking about onesies or twosies, we're talking about thousands (e.g. pilots) or tens of thousands (infantrymen) every year. Furthermore, there is the political reality that such "testing" will be adjusted to ensure that enough females pass. See, e.g., the discussion of Lt. Hultgreen in the first of the three threads on this topic. My experience has certainly been that testing requirements were adjusted to accommodate women. The focus is on reality, not philosophy.
12.4.2007 2:24pm
Kate S (mail):
"I think these arguments miss the point. We have a volunteer military. Women volunteers fill a significant portion of the contingent. If we had to lower standards in order to fill the force entirely with men, then we'd simply be imposing a different kind of risk on our soldiers: A female soldier who can't throw a grenade far enough versus a male soldier who doesn't know when to throw it or pulls the pin while he's goofing around.

It seems intuitive to me that with the value our military places on information and decision-making that we'd be better off keeping the average mental capabilities of our soldiers as high as possible instead of favoring physical capabilities"

Alan W makes an excellent point and one I totally agree with. I approached this obliquely in my post on the last thread. There are many things that can jeopardize a military mission. Mistakes happen every day and while there is much anecdotal evidence of situations where pure physical strength saved the day, there is no comparison of how many deaths or compromised operations are caused by factors other than physical inability to complete a task. I think any fair study of causation has to take all military deaths into account and find out how many of those were totally or primarily attributable to a lack of strength and speed, those areas where I think we can all agree men have the advantage. In addition when you find out that a death was caused by lack of strength or speed, to be fair, you then have to analyze whether the average military male would have had the strength or speed to have saved the situation from becoming lethal one. In many instances it may be the case that even a superman would not have survived the incident which in legal terms would eliminate the "but for" part of the causation. I think you will find that doing dumb things is probably the biggest cause of all mortality in both the military and the civilian populations. Why do you think young males with little education get charged such high rates for automobile insurance? These companies have run the numbers and know what the risks are. Young men are not only more likely to get themselves killed, they are more likely to get others killed as well by doing "dumb things" These, my friends, are the same young men who end up in the combat arms when they join the military.
At the same time I think there are many good reasons to keep women out of the infantry and some of the other combat arms that have nothing to do with pure physical strength. An all volunteer military ought to have the freedom to use women in as many roles as they can to free up as many men as possible for the roles that women should not be doing for any number of practical reasons. K (Field Artillery Reconnaissance and Survey Officer 1980-1987).
12.4.2007 2:25pm
Toby:
Women and Injuries...


Sex differences in knee joint laxity change across the female menstrual cycle

Gender Differences in Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries

Now if we can just make sure that we don't fights wars for one week out of four...

We can get to that one right after make our planes invulnerable to pilots always fly by wire and never have to land using emergency systems.
12.4.2007 2:27pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Kate S.
The investigation you describe is nearly impossible.
The issue would be, did the mission get accomplished in a timely fashion, or did we have to take an unplanned break in the approach march? If it was not completed in a timely fashion, did somebody, someplace, die of it? Would unit X on our flank have benefited from having an artillery spotter where we were supposed to be fifteen minutes before we got there?
Et cetera.
12.4.2007 2:35pm
r78:

"And that "rigorous testing" costs money. Lots of money. And lots of time. Again, the question is how rare does a passing female have to be in order to justify the cost of the testing?"


This is bullshit. They test everyone to get into the flight programs. The idea that it would be such a huge burden to also test women who meet the other requirements is silly. Of course, we all know what a cost-conscious operation the US armed forces are, though.

I will ask you again - since you seem to want to refuse to answer: If a woman passes all of the courses and pass the same physical training required of other pilots, you would disqualify her just because she is female?

I mean if you just don't think women should be pilots just because they are women why don't you just have the balls to say so?
12.4.2007 2:40pm
Waldensian (mail):
Here's an interesting tidbit: apparent differences in women's ability to sustain Gs appear to have disappeared when they redesigned the equipment involved. Check out the top right of page 4 of this. Can't vouch for the source itself, but it's interesting.

Anyway, I'm a pilot who pulls as few Gs as possible. But I know a number of pilots, in the military and outside, who pull a lot of Gs. I have never, ever heard any of them say that men have an advantage in that department. I don't see any facts here that lead me to think otherwise. Patty Wagstaff makes me think at least some of them are pretty good at pulling Gs. Check out this performance.

Meanwhile, women seem to be flying combat aircraft for our military quite successfully.

I think my original point still stands: Kingsley Browne's speculation about a woman's ability to land a damaged, 1950s-design airliner has nothing whatsoever to do with whether women are suited for aerial combat in modern combat aircraft. All the evidence I have seen suggests to me that women are fully suited to that role.

Some people seem to hate this fact, but their evidence that women are ill-suited to aerial combat is.... where?
12.4.2007 2:52pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
Kate,

Men do dumb things with cars because they're looking for danger. In combat there is plenty enough danger. So by your own argument, we should exclude women from combat because they would be insufficiently motivated to seek out the danger that is required to win in combat. In combat you have to march to the sound of the guns, this requires people willing to seek danger. You're admitting that women don't seek this danger. Thus they are not best suited for the job.

In my experience as a candidate at Officer Candidates School, later on the staff of that school, and while a lieutenant at The Basic School, it was clear that the women could not keep up with the men. These were women that were highly screened prior to arriving. The drop out rate at OCS for women was substantially higher. Often it was because they couldn't handle the stress.

Most of the drops for women were because of injuries, but I'll tell you that many of the injuries were exaggerated to cover for the fact that the women had essentially had nervous breakdowns. The stigma of being dropped for psychological reasons is quite strong and medical would happily blame something else if they could. This occurred with some men, but it was much less common, whereas for the women this was quite common as a reason for dropping them.

It comes down to this: I can take a random sample of men and, so long as they are reasonably healthy, I can get them to achieve fairly high physical standards. Very few, almost none, women randomly sampled can do this, although they fare somewhat better with lowered standards.

Lower standards are fine for non-combatant roles. Aircraftmaintenance, data technicians, etc. are perfectly okay for women. But once you get into mission statements that begin with "locate, close with and destroy the enemy," then you'd better have men on hand. Apparently, you learned the same from your own experience working with artillery. For whatever reason, it didn't work, did it?
12.4.2007 2:55pm
Kate S (mail):
Richard, I agree that they are many factors that could be included, making a complicated investigation of causation almost impossible. There are many intangibles that simply can't be measured. We humans are inefficient mistake prone creatures, even the best of us. No organization operates at 100 percent accuracy or efficiency least of all the military What I am suggesting is a study that attempts to determine whether lack of physical strength is a significant factor in the one area they everyone cares about, mortality, on the battle field. The military and society seem willing to accept casualties caused by stupidity and poor planning and does not always attempt to control for all of them by recruiting smarter people and using fewer people. Mechanizing the battlefield is a large driver behind getting rid of some of these problems. The bottom line is: are losses caused by the average physical differences between men and women a significant part of total losses as the military is now structured? I state again, there are many practical reasons to keep women out of certain types of units but the average physical factor may not be a significant one. A lot of men move onto other jobs in the military after starting out in the combat arms because they just can't take the physical stresses anymore as they age. The military allows for that. K
12.4.2007 2:55pm
ALS:
r78,

Since, in your vast experience as a pilot, you seem to know so much about the "rigorous testing" prior to flight training, why don't we review. We'll use the example of an Academy midshipman who wants a flight billet.
(1) In the beginning of his junior year of college, he'll see a flight doc, who will make sure that he has no obvious medical defects.
(2) He'll take a standardized written test of spacial recognition and mechanical knowledge.
(3) He'll be interviewed by a panel of officers and, based on his grades, standardized test score, and interview, decide whether to give him a flight billet.
(4) Next stop... Pensacola. Here' he'll really get medically scrutinized for the first time. He'll have to pass a run/pushup/situp test, but the passing scores are different for males and females. There are a few other physical tests, but they are fairly straight-forward survival skills, i.e. he can either escape from the inverted helo-dunker, swim over to the winch, and hook on, or he can't. The other graded physical test is a timed swim, but once again, different scoring for males and females. Nothing to do with absolute strength. He'll take six weeks of graded academics, then proceed to primary flight training.
(5) So now that our young SNA has moved (at government expense of course) from college to Pensacola, he'll move again to the far side of Pensacola Bay; Corpus Christi, TX; or Valdosta, GA (again at government expense). Now he's doing primary flight. Janus, who appears to have been a flight instructor, notes that, once again, the grading is different for males and females.
(6) And so on, through intermediate and advanced, until winging, followed by the RAG, and ultimately assignment to a fleet squadron.

I'm interested where, exactly, in this program do you see non-medical physical testing for flying? There certainly aren't any strength tests. The physical tests that are given ARE graded, but with minimal passing requirements and different scores for males and females. This is the real world. And so... There ARE other reasons why I don't believe women should be in combat arms, including aircraft, but the subject of this thread is physical capability, something that really isn't tested in the current pipeline. So where exactly would you add it?
12.4.2007 3:00pm
r78:
ALS

This is a simple question: If a woman passes all of the courses and pass the same physical training required of other pilots, you would disqualify her just because she is female?
12.4.2007 3:21pm
Hey Skipper (www):
r78:

Modern aircraft do not require very much strength to control.

However, modern fighters require significant strength to endure. A 9G turn is ferociously punishing -- it makes the head / helmet combination alone weigh close to 180 lbs. Additionally, significant strain strength (and rapid recovery) is required in the legs and abdominals to avoid G-induced loss of consciousness.

Arm strength is not an issue, because modern fighters put nearly all the controls required for combat on either the throttle or the stick.

As it happens, women in pilot training have virtually the same washout rate as for men. However, they are far less likely to be represented in the top half of a graduating class.

Why? Just a guess, but I'll go with physical trepidation, particularly in close formation flying.

Women can be effective fighter pilots (so long as we do not have an adversary capable of forcing us into frequent and sustained dog-fighting). However, they rarely finish well enough to choose fighters, and almost never select fighters when they do.

Unfortunately, as a retired fighter pilot, pilot training instructor and squadron commander, I am forced to rely upon first hand experience.
12.4.2007 3:22pm
r78:

physical capability, something that really isn't tested in the current pipeline.

Oh, so you mean that our armed forces don't make any physical assessment of potential pilots?
12.4.2007 3:23pm
ALS:
r78,
Allow me to quote from my 3:00PM post:
"There ARE other reasons why I don't believe women should be in combat arms, including aircraft, but the subject of this thread is physical capability, something that really isn't tested in the current pipeline."

In answer to your question, yes, I would disqualify the female. There are a host of reasons which are beyond the topic of THIS particular thread. And even if we ignore those reasons, there are practical reasons why physical testing is not cost-effective, which IS the topic of this thread, and the subject of my prior posts.
12.4.2007 3:26pm
Smallholder (mail) (www):
Rarango -

Re: Bullet weight

We are unlikely to further reduce round size/weight. Historically speaking, this was a military mania at the end of the 1800's, sparked in large part by the volume of fire produced by the Prussian Army in 1870-71 and the Prussian army's demonstration of the importance of professional logistical officers - the eggheads hit upon the idea that accurate lighter bullets were the panacea for the age of rapid fire. The Japanese went the furthest and brought the trend to a close in the Russo-Japanese war. The very lightweight rounds fired by Japanese infantry did not inflict disabling wounds on the Russians and the trend changed toward heavier ammunition (think the 45 in the Phillippine Insurrection) until after WW II when the fully automatic weapons of the Cold War effort pushed round size back down.

As to the main argument of this thread, I would like to ask a question. If we grant that your average grunt is encumbered with a hundred pounds of ammo, how often does he have to actually hump that? My impression is that the modern infantryman isn't marching ten miles to battle anymore. We are much more mobile and reliant on vehicles today - it allows a more rapid response. For non-infantry types, I can't see that the turret gunner in a Hummer needs a lot of strength to aim and swivel his or her weapon. Is physical strength as necessary for a counter-insurgency soldier as it was for someone landing at Normandy?

As to the occasional, weird things happen argument, I'm not sure why every single soldier needs to be physically able to do every task in the platoon. If some of the unit's equipment is heavy enough to be awkward, but one strong man can handle it, does it really matter if only 35 of 42 of the platoon members can do the one-man job? We don't expect everyone to act as a medic or armorer or comm tech.

I'm not supporting one side or another here - just asking questions.
12.4.2007 3:38pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Kate. It is absolutely stupid to say that society accepts the casualties from poor planning and incompetence. That's what "relief" is for, and efficiency reports and why some get promoted, some don't, and some get pitched out on their ears. It's why actions are studied, reported upon, and judged by higher.
There is no "accept" about it.
There is the realization that war is a complicated business and one way to win is to screw up less than the other guy.
The military recruits pretty smart people and, by the time they get any command, the education level is quite high.
You been listening to Kerry again?
We could use fewer people. How many would it have taken to absolutely destroy, not a stone upon a stone, the troublesome cities of Iraq?
And, as I said before, the difficulties resulting from lack of physical strength are likely to be so spread out in time and space as to defy any kind of investigation.
Keep in mind that results, if any, which piss off the feminists are going to be dismissed as bookcooking, anyway.
So a couple of guys get into a hand-to-hand fight and one stabs the other. Is it a matter of strength or that, due to the grappling they have on each other, one's knife is handier than the other guy's? Investigate that. And then figure why they got into a fist fight in the first place. Is it because, in the effort to lighten the loads, we are giving our guys M4s firing 5.56mm ammo in a short barrel and the folks getting hit are not happy? They can still put up a fight for the next two or three minutes before shock sets in, while our guy is trying to clear his weapon. Which jams a lot. Or because we went all NATO and took up the 9mm pistol, the poodle-shooter, and dropped the forty-five?
Not accomodating a woman's predictable lack of strength could be said, hypothetically, to reduce the number of times physical strength is necessary.
12.4.2007 3:44pm
r78:
ALS - see Hey Skipper's post which indicates that the wash out rates are about the same.

Since you stepped up and admitted that you would disqualify women as pilots regardless of how qualified or capable they are - your argument have the whiff of rationalization.
12.4.2007 3:45pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Smallholder.
The reason everybody should be able to do everything is in case the designated guy got killed.
Happens, you know.
12.4.2007 3:48pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Smallholder.
We're not talking about humping 100 pounds on a three-day approach march.
We're talking about sprinting, more or less, from one position to another, going over a wall with some semblance of agility and landing without breaking a leg. We're talking about breaking down a door and being combat capable, instead of sprawling flat inside or bouncing back into the street. And myriad other things which would flatten the ordinary man.
This stuff is on your nightly news. What about it do you not get?
12.4.2007 3:51pm
ALS:
r78,

(1) Admitting that this isn't the only issue that weighs into my consideration does not give my argument the "whiff of rationalization." It means that I'm abiding by Ms. Browne's and the Conspirators' decision to break this issue into subject specific threads rather than a single giant, superficial fur ball. Because I have been there, I realize how complex this issue is, and how many factors require consideration. I've seen how implementation of your idea works n the real world, rather than in the warm, safe world of a blog. I can also can put a face on the people who will pay the price so that someone young lady can feel equal.
(2) I haven't seen any statistics, so I can't and won't dispute Skipper's post re: washout rates. But if we're going to be citing random posters, you should also throw in Janus's discussion of different standards for "passing" checkrides for men and women.
12.4.2007 4:01pm
Greg (www):
Ms. Browne

Ms. Browne has a very bushy beard. For a Ms.
12.4.2007 4:03pm
Kate S (mail):
Lower standards are fine for non-combatant roles. Aircraftmaintenance, data technicians, etc. are perfectly okay for women. But once you get into mission statements that begin with "locate, close with and destroy the enemy," then you'd better have men on hand. Apparently, you learned the same from your own experience working with artillery. For whatever reason, it didn't work, did it?

Skyler, the main reason women did not work in the Missile and Target Acquisition Artillery was because women were put in the artillery with no thought as to what you needed in terms of assignments for promotion and career progression. A long range artillery unit is not in a position on the battlefield generally where actual infantry combat takes place and in that respect, are more combat support. There were also many support elements in my Artillery Battalion that included women such as commo, ADA, admin and logistics. However the problems for women officers came about the time you hit Captain. Because women were only allowed in select units in the artillery, maybe ten percent of the total force, there were limited opportunities for a Battery command. A Battery command was a non negotiable requirement for promotion to major and even some of the basic training units at Ft. Sill which could have been opened to women for a command were not. At Ft Sill, women were given no preference in the commands that could be held by a woman leading to the branch artificially closing off most of the only means to advancement in rank for the women officers in the artillery. It became a bottle neck that few could get through. There were a few early ones that got through unscathed because they happened to be in a place and time where there was a shortage of officers in general so they got their opportunity for a Battery command. These women were year group 78 or 79, and there were very few of them. The ones from about year group 80 on up were not so lucky. A lot of the women in the first class with women at West Point were in this group. These women were force- branched into Artillery in order to fill a quota of women who were also West Pointers. Some of them would have been able to choose other branches if their options had been based solely on class rank (as the men were allowed to do). Artillery was not a popular branch among even men who were West Pointers. The Officer's basic course for Artillery was notoriously difficult compared to some of the other branches. A lot of the ballistic and firing information was calculated manually back then. I think they were trying to branch women into artillery who would succeed at the heavy math requirement. To make a long story short, the introduction of MLRS (multiple launch rocket system, which was not open to women) and replaced the army's ground to ground missile systems, as well as some of the long range cannon systems, the lack of command opportunity, and the rif (reduction in force) during the late 80's early 90's was what killed the career of most of the women officers in the Artillery. The quasi combat role was not really a factor.
12.4.2007 4:09pm
Triangle_Man:
Logicman,
I would hazard a guess that the Navy study referred to was this one. The interesting thing is that the conclusion of the study was not that women should not be serving on ships, but rather that future engineering decisions should account for the wider distribution of body sizes that go along with having women on ships. Current engineering standards specify accommodating the 5th - 95th percentiles of men.
12.4.2007 4:15pm
ar (mail):
I would just like to comment (from personal experience) that, if we are targeting people on ships for elimination based on physical incapacity, maybe we should start with the obese guys rather than the women. Many crewmembers on modern ships are pretty seriously overweight. If we're concerned about increasing physical readiness, why not start there? It's easier to correct than being born a woman.
12.4.2007 4:45pm
Kate S (mail):
Kate. It is absolutely stupid to say that society accepts the casualties from poor planning and incompetence. That's what "relief" is for, and efficiency reports and why some get promoted, some don't, and some get pitched out on their ears. It's why actions are studied, reported upon, and judged by higher.
There is no "accept" about it.
There is the realization that war is a complicated business and one way to win is to screw up less than the other guy.
The military recruits pretty smart people and, by the time they get any command, the education level is quite high.
You been listening to Kerry again?


Richard, your denying that the military accepts that fact that there will be mistakes and incompetence does not make it so. We as human beings have to accept it because we are imperfect forgetful and thoughtless at times. Even the most intelligent among us make mistakes, the intelligent and mentally stable just tend to make a lesser percentage of them and have better judgment in general. OER's, EERs and promotions are a blunt tool for weighing the screw ups and incompetence after the fact. Darn little of it is pre-emotive.
I know what the average ASFAB scores are for infantry and artillery enlisted, (not officers mind you, a different category, and you are taking apples and oranges) I also know what it takes to get into West Point. My husband went to school there. :-) No amount of leadership can prevent some soldiers from doing dumb things, getting lost and making mistakes and yes, 90 percent of the problems are caused by 10 percent of the troops. If you don't believe that poor decision making and mistakes causes significant war time casualties I think you need to read more military history and a few more of those after action reports you are so keen on.
I believe the military, on average is more intelligent than the general American population. Studies seem to indicate that military women on average are better educated than the men. In my opinion, military people are also nicer people. My own son is an enlisted E-4. As far as Mr. Kerry is concerned, I didn't vote for him and am not inclined to listen to anything the man says. It is all political pandering. Also Richard, since I am ABA accredited law school graduate, in addition to having a history degree, I won't attack your intelligence if you don't attack mine. Or am I just stupid because I am a woman? :-) K
12.4.2007 4:45pm
r78:

Admitting that this isn't the only issue that weighs into my consideration does not give my argument the "whiff of rationalization."

That's because you can't see your own bias. In post after post you just keep throwing up rationalizations. You posted above about the modifications that were necessary to cockpits because women's arms weren't long enough to reach the controls. Okay, then shouldn't the requirement be that you have a sleeve length of at least 34 inches or something, regardless of whether you have a penis or a vagina?

You argued that sex is a good proxy for determining who has the strength to fly a plane. Okay so that means that physical strength is one of the key requirements of the job, right? Then you say "physical capability, something that really isn't tested in the current pipeline." So here is this key requirement of being a pilot, something so important that it is a matter of life and death, right? Oh, but the military doesn't test for it. (You're wrong about there not being physical testing in the qualification process, by the way.)


I can also can put a face on the people who will pay the price so that someone young lady can feel equal.



I guess next you will be talking about how children are the future or some other claptrap. But since you can put a face on those folks, and since you are all about supporting the troops or something, wouldn't you want the best qualified people flying those planes, not merely those with penises?

The poster above mentioned that men and women wash out at the same rate but that there are fewer women in the top 1/2 of the class. Fair enough. So let's say that in a class of 100 there are 10 women and they are ranked 51, 55, 70, 71, etc. Under your "realworld" approach, we would allow all of the men who ranked below those to fly our planes but just exclude the women. In other words, there would be better pilots who aren't flying just because you have some hang up against chicks.

And, to employ the sort of melodrama that seems to resonate with you, what will you tell that mom and dad in Kansas whose child has been killed because there was a lesser qualified pilot flying it than one of the women who did better than him in flight school. Can you put a face on those people?

I come at the question this way: 1) what is the job, 2) what do you have to be able to do to do the job well, and 3 who can do the tasks in #2.

You start with the premise that women should not be flying planes, even it it means that equally or even better qualified pilots will be excluded.

So, you don't give a crap about the faces on those people because you aren't ultimately concerned about results. You are just concerned about keeping chicks out. Go salute that.
12.4.2007 4:46pm
Mark Field (mail):
Others have touched on this, but I'm going to elaborate on it a bit.

It seems to me that the whole focus of the post is far too narrow. The initial question we should be asking is, "What is it that makes a good soldier?" The answer is going to include a great many characteristics: upper body strength; physical quickness; hand-eye coordination; intelligence; mental reaction time; judgment; mental toughness; ability to deal with others (friend and foe); etc. Nobody will possess all these characteristics in equal measure; any evaluation of a soldier will necessarily involve judgments regarding which quality is more important, and that's likely to vary with the circumstances and the expectations even of a particular commander.

The point of this is that it's a serious mistake to accept or reject soldiers on the basis of just one charateristic. There's no such thing as "a" best candidate, any more than there's "a" best soccer player. We need every unit to have a good mix of all qualities so that it's flexible enough to face different situations, just as a soccer team needs defenders, attackers, players whose strength is field vision, and players whose strength is endurance and energy.

This means that every decision to induct a soldier is based on trade-offs. This guy is strong but dumb; this one is smart but weak; this one will maintain squad morale but can't hit the ground with a grenade.

These same trade-offs have to be considered with women soldiers. Sure, this one may be too weak to carry a machine gun, but so is the 130 lb. guy who's willing to take point regularly. There's just no way to boil the issue down to single data points as this post tries to do.
12.4.2007 4:54pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
Kate, it sounds to me that the "quasi" combat role was the entire issue. Because the job was a combat mission except for the administrative schools and oddly one type of artillery that someone deemed too far in the rear, there were no jobs for these officers to grow into.

If the only battery commands available were school batteries, then the schools were be too heavily populated by women commanders. Not only would this lead to decreased training for the men going through the schools, because the commander wouldn't have the ability to lead physically, nor the moral authority to demand a standard higher than she can attain, but because good male artillery officers would be deprived of getting the good schools billets and the opportunity to shape the future of the army (and Marine) artillery.

Essentially, allowing women to command schools batteries but not combat batteries sets up another quasi affirmative action.

Before the navy allowed women on ships, the men used to grumble that the best shore billets were being taken by the women since they had nowhere else to go. The reward for a few tours at sea would no longer be a tour at a good shore facility so you could meet your family again, it was another tour at sea because the billet was taken by a woman who never went to sea. The navy solved this the backwards way. Instead of limiting the role of women further, as they should have, they succumbed to political pressure and let women aboard ship.

I remember the attack on the USS Cole. The ship was still struggling to stay afloat while waiting for the transport ship. The captain seemed to want to reduce the crew size. Whom did he send back? The women, mostly, who couldn't handle the damage control work. I remember seeing a local woman being interviewed after her return, people were calling her a hero as she blubbered incoherently and emotionally on the local tv. But a little introspection would lead one to conclude that she was the least useful person aboard the ship and that's why she was let go first. If I were that ship's captain, I'd have made the same choice.
12.4.2007 4:59pm
HANK (mail):
I JUST WANTED TO COMMENT ON TWO ENTRIES

A study in Medicine &Science in Sports suggests that in races of greater than 66 miles, women have a physiological advantage over men. (In 2002, the woman who won the Badwater ultra finished five hours ahead of the first man.)

2007 Kiehl's Badwater Ultramarathon Post-Race Press Release
By Paul Skilbeck and Chris Kostman
Lone Pine, Calif. (July 26, 2007) -- The 30th anniversary Kiehl’s Badwater Ultramarathon turned out to be a record breaking foot race that was extraordinary in many ways. The 135-mile non-stop run from Death Valley to Mount Whitney featured the highest caliber field yet seen in this race, and it produced two worthy champions in Valmir Nunes of Brazil, and Lisa Bliss of Spokane, Wash., who stood out from of a field that included 84 athletes from 15 nations and 21 American states.
The two year-old course record was smashed by the rookie runner Valmir Nunes, 43, who came back from third place to take a hard-earned race win after an eventful night out on the road. His finishing time of 22:51:29 was a long way inside the previous mark of 24:36:08, set by Scott Jurek in 2005.
Lisa Bliss, 39, came back from a long way behind in the women’s field to turn the tables on her rivals and emerge as a surprised winner with a time of 34:33:40.

Search Results
Bib# Last Name First Name M/F Age City State Country Nationality Start Time FC: 17mi SPW: 42mi PS: 72mi DW: 90mi LP: 122 PR: 131 Finish: 135
1 43 Nunes Valmir m 43 Santos São Paulo BRA BRA 10:00 2:12 5:39 11:20 14:43 19:35 21:37 22:51:29
2 2 Konya Akos m 32 Oceanside California USA HUN 10:00 2:11 5:33 11:04 14:38 20:56 22:54 23:47:47
3 5 Goggins David m 32 Chula Vista California USA USA 10:00 2:20 6:09 12:13 16:21 22:29 24:45 25:49:40
4 100 Pacheco Jorge m 39 Los Angeles California USA MEX 10:00 5:18 10:29 14:00 21:13 25:13 26:41:52
5 3 Engle Charlie m 44 Greensboro North Carolina USA USA 10:00 2:39 6:52 13:34 17:47 24:18 26:38 27:42:32
6 47 Fatton Christian m 47 Noiraigue Neuchâtel CHE CHE 10:00 2:23 6:23 12:48 17:16 24:14 27:12 28:29:07
7 8 Vallee Albert m 48 Chauvigne Brittany (Bretagne) FRA FRA 10:00 2:24 6:49 14:26 20:10 26:17 29:04 30:26:48
8 53 Benke Blake m 30 New York New York USA USA 10:00 2:21 6:23 13:40 19:03 27:03 29:51 30:56:59
9 95 Jones David m 55 Eagleville Tennessee USA USA 10:00 2:49 6:51 13:51 18:37 27:18 30:14 31:12:32
10 4 Karnazes Dean m 44 San Francisco California USA USA 10:00 2:35 6:59 14:25 19:48 27:45 30:25 31:31:34
11 76 Mendoza Adalberto m 55 Burbank California USA MEX 08:00 2:58 7:59 16:15 20:47 28:02 30:38 32:02:23
12 84 Westergaard Danny m 48 Rolling Hills California USA USA 06:00 3:00 8:10 15:47 21:23 28:52 31:20 32:22:58
13 99 Pressler Greg m 39 Portland Oregon USA USA 10:00 2:51 7:40 15:47 20:51 29:24 31:54 32:51:20
14 26 Heukemes Achim m 55 Gaefenberg Free State of Bavaria (Freistaat Bayern) DEU DEU 10:00 2:34 7:55 15:55 20:46 28:48 31:56 33:02:42
15 77 Radich John m 53 Monrovia California USA USA 10:00 2:54 7:48 16:40 22:34 29:25 32:05 33:08:58
16 39 Bliss Lisa f 39 Spokane Washington USA USA 10:00 2:52 7:38 16:49 23:00 30:50 33:24 34:33:40
17 66 Frixe Eberhard m 57 Meine Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) DEU DEU 08:00 3:04 8:23 17:20 22:45 31:05 34:00 35:09:58
18 11 Alidina Noora f 50 Palm Harbor Florida USA JOR 10:00 2:40 7:01 15:49 22:14 31:02 33:58 35:12:13
19 37 Lusskandl Gerhard m 37 Ober-Grafendorf Lower Austria (Niederösterreich) AUT AUT 06:00 3:21 9:27 18:35 23:43 32:57 35:45 36:52:56
20 49 Runions Neil m 49 Calgary Alberta CAN CAN 06:00 3:15 8:18 16:59 22:32 32:44 36:14 37:24:01
21 33 Kuhn Brian m 33 Champaign Illinois USA USA 06:00 2:53 7:44 15:54 23:09 32:27 36:05 37:25:52
22 27 Thomas Tracy f 45 Champaign Illinois USA USA 10:00 2:50 7:14 14:44 20:53 32:52 36:03 37:26:44
23 83 Rennison John m 47 Hamilton Ontario CAN CAN 06:00 3:58 9:59 19:45 25:03 33:43 36:19 37:30:49
24 9 Webb Arthur m 65 Santa Rosa, California USA USA 10:00 3:07 9:01 18:44 24:14 33:16 36:29 37:48:35
25 82 Rasmussen Kim m 40 Allinge DNK DNK 08:00 2:39 8:09 21:07 26:52 34:11 36:49 38:01:01
26 78 Millar Anton m 37 Bryanston Gauteng ZAF ZAF 06:00 3:15 8:39 18:02 24:06 33:36 36:54 38:27:00


ellisz (mail):
out of curiosity, have the Israelis used women in combat? (I know they do in various military roles, just not sure if they've put them in combat). if so - what were the results

AS OF 5-6 YEARS AGO AS PER AN ISRAELI MAJOR THAT A FRIEND KNEW THE ISRAELIS HAVE NOT HAD CO-ED COMBAT UNITS SINCE THE SIX DAY WAR. HE SAID THAT WOMEN DO NOT EVEN TRAIN ON THE RIFLE RANGE AND CARRY NO WEAPONS. HIS COMMENT ON US WAS THAT ISRAEL TAKES WAR SERIOUSLY WHEREAS WE SEEM TO USE OUR TROOPS AS A SOCIAL EXPERIMENT.
12.4.2007 5:01pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Kate.
Going to law school means you can swallow law education. Sense? No connection.

The military does not "accept" the deaths caused by difficulties in command. It tries mightily to avoid them. But they happen. What the military is supposed to do besides that--hold an incense-scented mourn party?--is unclear.

If you mean the military has accepted that it cannot be perfect, I guess you're right. The next question is, so what?

We have maxed out the brains issue. It would be hard to get better soldiers. The problem is not to recruit a math geek. We need guys who can assimilate a huge number of variables,some of which are not entirely clear, in a split second, and then apply one or another technique used in training. The techniques are likely to be violent, noisy, require strength, and take place in circumstances of bowel-loosening fear. You want to figure out a test for that? One guy said the higher-IQ half of basketball players is ideal, due to the necessity for constant, rapid assimilation of numerous factors and the instant reaction to the situation. Don't know about that, but an IQ test by itself isn't going to do it.
As your military relations what 11B and 71542 means. And I do read military history. That's why I know it.

You're not being silly because you're a woman. You're being silly because you're trying to back up a refutable proposition.
12.4.2007 5:01pm
ALS:
r78,

I'm curious, given your vast experience in this arena, if you could point out exactly where there is physical testing in the current pipeline. In case it isn't obvious, the "Academy midshipman" in my 3:00PM post was me. It's been a few years, but I know that I certainly didn't undergo any testing other than what I listed in the post. Perhaps you can point out something from my training that I forgot?

As to the class rankings you are discussing: If we're going to rely on other posters with credentials, lets rely on all the posters with similar credentials. Skipper, who posts that he is a former IP and squadron CO, notes that females tend to be in the bottom of their class. Janus, who posts that he was also in the military flight training business, notes that male and female students tend to have different burdens on elimination rides, i.e. "for males, the burden is on the student pilot to prove that he [is] capable enough to be passed, [but] for female student pilots, the burden is on the check pilot to prove that the female student is hopelessly incapable of continuation in the program." See http://volokh.com/posts/1196654370.shtml#296896

Remember, that testing is youryour argument. So putting these two posts together, what we currently have is a VERY expensive testing system that proves women pilots, on average aren't as capable as their male compatriots, but the system passes them anyway, i.e. their grades are lower, but they are less likely to be attrited from the flight pipeline. My personal experience is that this statement is broadly valid in areas outside of the flight pipeline as well, from Academy admissions on up.
12.4.2007 5:09pm
ALS:
As for my approach to the issue, both history and my personal experience indicate that (i) on the whole, women aren't as capable in these roles, and (ii) actual "testing" is very expensive and a political non-starter. My approach is to start out with the concept of "it ain't broke and it works better than anyone else's, so the burden is on those who want to experiment and risk messing it up."
12.4.2007 5:15pm
r78:
ALS

The simple point is that you would prefer to have a lesser qualified male pilot flying even if there were a better qualified female pilot. Period.

Which means that you don't give a crap about mission readiness or having the best possible armed services. You just don't want chicks there.

I don't know how it is that you happened to stumble into being a pilot without there being any physical assessment of your abilities. From what I understand from talking to people who went through the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy, they were ranked constantly based on academics, physical abilities, etc.

But, if you are right and there isn't any physical testing required to become pilots in whatever pipeline you went through, all that does is destroy your argument - just holds it down and shoves a stake through its heart. First you talking about how important it is to have strong pilots and how lives depend on it yadda, yadda, yadda, and then you say that you did not undergo any physical testing yourself. If you dont' see the disconnect there, I can't help you.
12.4.2007 5:18pm
Dave Ruddell (mail):
Does it take a lot of strength to land an A-10 without hydraulics? I ask beacuse this story seems quite impressive.
12.4.2007 5:19pm
r78:
And, to be clear, the ranking was what eventually determined the assignments available to them.
12.4.2007 5:20pm
s-class:
Dave

That sound you hear is ALS running away babbling with his hands over his ears.
12.4.2007 5:22pm
r78:

"My approach is to start out with the concept of "it ain't broke and it works better than anyone else's, so the burden is on those who want to experiment and risk messing it up."

Yowsa, yowsa, yowsa, dat's what we wuz sayin' to all them negroes back in 1963, too.
12.4.2007 5:24pm
SIG357:
rin
I wish that there wasn't such a stink of "No Girls Allowed" in much of the discussion about women in the military.



Well, I wish you could read. The article we are commenting on has no such stink.
12.4.2007 5:31pm
SIG357:
This just all seems so silly. Replace 'women' with 'black' or 'autistic'. Who cares what identifiers attach? Get the best people available.



The point being made is that the best people available are men, whether white, black, or 'autistic'.
12.4.2007 5:34pm
Jared McLaughlin (mail):
Bama 1L:

I suggest a slight correction on your comment on military ammunition. The WWII era M1 Garand Rifle used .30-06, or in metric terms, 7.62x63. The more modern 7.62x51 or .308, which is a .30-06 made into a medium length round, is still used in the U.S. Army and Marines in the M240 and m60 series of machine guns, the M14, and at least one sniper rifle model.

I find the rest of your comment to be spot on, other than that the Marines might tend to disagree with the part about not hitting anything.
12.4.2007 5:35pm
SIG357:
Yowsa, yowsa, yowsa, dat's what we wuz sayin' to all them negroes back in 1963, too.




Yowsa, yowsa, yowsa, do liberals have more than one clapped out argument in their arsenal?

The article above, which you seem not to have read, lays out some very good reasons why women are poorly suited for combat. You got anything to say on topic, or is this vaudville act the best you can muster?
12.4.2007 5:38pm
Jared McLaughlin (mail):
Richard Aubrey,

Another factor in the adoption of the M16 as a replacement for the M14 was the later's lack of practical utility in automatic fire mode. The M14 is basically an update of the M1, using a cartridge that was an update of one used for the 1903 Springfield.

Weight certainly was a factor in weapon changes, but so were the lessons of the utility of a rifle that could also act as a submachine gun via the Sturmgewehr of Hitler's Germany.

You may have been resorting to hyperbole, but I find the idea of a 600 round combat load to be a bit excessive. We're talking about the average grunt, who's combat load will most likely be six magazines of thirty rounds, give or take a few. Some guys carry a couple more magazines, few fill magazines to thirty rounds.

I also find it interesting to note that there are serious suggestions of moving the M16 series into the 6.5 or 6.8mm range at some point in the future. Current conflicts seem to indicate that a varmint round is a poor choice for enemy combatants at serious rifle range.
12.4.2007 5:46pm
Jared McLaughlin (mail):
Erin,

The idea that the current soldier carries more weight than his WWII counterpart does not seem to be a reflection on the design of the equipment, but on the variety of equipment used. The modern infantryman carries a variety of sophisticated equipment that was unavailable in previous conflicts, and provide a great enough margin of effectiveness as combat multipliers to justify their use. Part of the reason things like weapon systems and armor are decreased in weight with increased development is to allow the soldier to carry more things. Ever see how much stuff some soldiers can cram onto their chests with the modern MOLLE system?
12.4.2007 5:51pm
ALS:
r78,

Is it possible for anyone to cite enough evidence or experience to change your mind? Or are all the animals equal because you say that they're equal?
12.4.2007 5:55pm
Jared McLaughlin (mail):
Erin,

I just caught your second comment questioning whether the profusion of equipment the average infantryman carries is necessary or "pork". Most, if not all, of the equipment currently carried into combat are effective combat multipliers. Are they necessary? In theory all the is necessary is a rifle and a few rounds. The rest makes the fighting man more effective, and increases his survivability. Ask yourself if this is necessary.

Also, consider, there's not an infantryman I've ever known that would carry a single piece of gear that he really didn't think he needed. Take a look at the nice, lightweight M4 Carbine being issued to soldiers in the current theaters of operation. Then look at all the fancy, weight adding additions they purchase for them.
12.4.2007 5:56pm
r78:
let's all pause a moment to let SIG357 read this thread and get up to speed.
12.4.2007 5:58pm
Hey Skipper (www):
r78:

Oh, so you mean that our armed forces don't make any physical assessment of potential pilots?

There is a very intrusive physical exam, but no strength training.

The Air Force was very successful, after initial difficulties (that included the fatality of a female student pilot whose performance would have washed out a male), in applying objective standards to student performance.

In the late 90s, DACOWITS threatened to subpoena instructor pilots in my squadron to find out there were virtually no women students electing to become fighter pilots.

The course training standards nipped that nonsense in the bud. The very few female fighter pilots deserve to be there (although I question their ability to fly three hard combat missions a day in an F-15/16/18).

Not so with the Navy. Laura Hultgren paid for flexible standards with her life.

It is worth noting that the T-6 Texan underwent $ignificant cockpit rede$ign because what fits 95% of men in terms of reach and strength only fits (IIRC) far less than 40% of women.

That number was not correct enough, hence the redesign.

So, yes there are a few women who are both capable of, and desire to be, fighter pilots.

Now, what about when it comes time to take their turn with the Army as forward air controllers?

As for the real combat services, the only reason we are having this discussion is because the US's military supremacy allows us the luxury of nods to wish fulfillment.
12.4.2007 6:04pm
Jared McLaughlin (mail):
whit:

In relation to your comment concerning the advantage women have in long distance running, I submit the following andecdotal information:

It has been my personal experience that every female I have ever taught to shoot starts at a point of accuracy beyond their male counterparts. My personal belief is that women generally have better fine motor control. However, the men are able to shoot more rounds and for longer periods of time, as shooting is in itself a physically demanding activity.
12.4.2007 6:05pm
Jared McLaughlin (mail):
Dave D.:

I feel I must respectfully disagree with the idea that the use of a draft is somehow an imminent future possibility. The great success of our current all-volunteer force tends to mitigate any desireability for such a drafted force.
12.4.2007 6:09pm
r78:

Is it possible for anyone to cite enough evidence or experience to change your mind? Or are all the animals equal because you say that they're equal?

If you gave a crap about the safety of our troops or the readiness of our armed forces, you would want the best qualified people working as pilots regardless of whether they had a penis or a vagina.

But, for you, the paramount issue is keeping chicks out.

If a woman can fly a plane as good as or better than a man, I say she should be in the plane. You, on the other hand, seek to arbitrarily exclude 50% of the population from the pool. And you ask about ME not being swayed by evidence? That is a hoot.
12.4.2007 6:13pm
s-class:

Is it possible for anyone to cite enough evidence or experience to change your mind?


did you see this?


The very few female fighter pilots deserve to be there (although I question their ability to fly three hard combat missions a day in an F-15/16/18).


Tell me more about how some people refuse to listen to evidence.
12.4.2007 6:16pm
ellisz (mail):
Thanks for the input on my earlier question re the Israelis. I think their experience in this area is esp relevant. they have less room than we do for placing hopes and wishes before reality.
12.4.2007 6:17pm
Jared McLaughlin (mail):
I think I should note at this point that relevent to the physical differences between men and women, that much infantry combat is won at the individual and small unit level. It is also a game of margins. It is the unit or individual that is marginally better in a set of several characteristics than the one they confront that wins.

I am curious, for the apparent experts of human anatomy and capability, what is the difference between men and women, if any, in the capability to withstand a severe trauma and continue to fight. My uneducated assumption is that women would have a harder time surviving terminal bullet wounds for as long as men do. Why is this? In my experience women are smaller, and my logic dictates that they hence have less total volume of blood. The relative amount of blood lost is a factor in shock and incapacitation due to wounding. Given that two equal wounds lose two equal amounts of blood in a given time, I wound believe that the individual with more blood will survive longer. They may survive long enough to recieve effective treatment, or at the very least continue the fight for a longer period of time. There have been many cases where this is a factor in the small and large scale. The wounded machine gunner who survives the majority of the fight is still an asset.
12.4.2007 6:21pm
Steph (mail):
You talk rather freely about bias, but don't seem to see your own. You keep using this penis vagina talk because you don't want to deal with the fact that women and men are not physicaly and psycologicaly the same. That is you are consciously or not trying to assert that the sex organs are the only difference between men and women though you also tacticly abandon that position when neccessary.

Further you keep ignoring the thrust of the other sides arguement which boils down to an agrguement that if one abandons the sexist standard of male only then the practical effect will be to lower standards because it will be politically imposible to hold to equal standards.
12.4.2007 6:26pm
ALS:
S-class,

Can you at least read the part of the Skipper's sentence in parentheses before you cite it as supporting your idea? I guess it's too bad for the guys on the ground who needed a third close-support sortie that day.

r78,

I'm interested in keeping out as much of the bottom half of the bell curve as possible, and doing so in a manner that is as cost-effective as possible. As for the "physical" grading at the Academies, it too is running/situps/pushups only, with different grading scales based on gender. I would also point out that in the class rank computation, PRT score and military performance count only a very small fraction as compared to academic grades. The institutions are living on their reputations from the '60s.
12.4.2007 6:26pm
Jared McLaughlin (mail):
Kate S:

I must respectfully disagree with you on several points. It is my experience that physical strength is a substantial factor in battlefield success. The military certainly is not willing to accept loses due to stupidity, and relieves officers of their duty on a regular basis due to this. Poor planning? No one would be accepting of negligently poor planning, but planning in a military sense is a routine in futility at times. The best remedy for this is intelligent, motivated, aggressive individuals at the individual and direct leadership positions.

It may not be your idea, or relevent, but it is my opinon that a mechanized battlefield is a poor idea. Combat is the arena of shocking violence, will and ingenuity which mechanized things cannot compete in, but can only complement.
12.4.2007 6:31pm
whit:
"Men do dumb things with cars because they're looking for danger"

getting back to the SCIENCE (vs. the rhetoric). again, the primary physiological difference (on average) between men and women as relates to strength (and to an extent - psychology) is endogenous testosterone levels (men - 10X as much as women... on average)

this does not just affect strength. it affects psychology. men are different PSYCHOLOGICALLY from women, as well as physiologically. contrary to the anti-scientific old-skool feminist rhetoric, this is not (just) socialization. it's biological (endocrinological).

men are, for example, less risk averse. (again... all this stuff is ON average without needing to say it).

women who take AAS (anabolic androgenic steroids), specifically highly androgenic varieties (such as bodybuilders, etc.) have reported increased "male like" behaviors - aggression, risk seeking behavior, etc.

which again goes to prove that there are significant biological differences between men and women, and they do not end at the genitalia.

again, this does not mean that there aren't SOME women who can pass the physical tests (there most definitely are... i've trained with them).

also, depending on the unit, mission, etc. higher or lower levels of risk aversion vs. risk seeking personality might be desired anyway.

i just find it interesting that the most obvious physiological difference (apart from genitalia) that we see in men and women is also so clearly related to the psychological/emotional differences we see as well.

some of the elite female athletes i trained with were tested and on the whole had significantly more testosterone than the average, which of course makes sense - that's why they ARE elite, in large part (as well as discipline, coordination, etc.).

i also saw a study years ago that determined that lesbians who tended towards the "male role" (insert colloquialisms here) tended to have a more "male like" psychological profile AND more endogenous T on average than the average woman.

which again makes complete sense.
12.4.2007 6:35pm
Jared McLaughlin (mail):
Smallholder:

Excellent view of history. I learned something, and for that I thank you.

I think your current view may be a bit skewed, however. Mechanized infantry can and does in current conflicts, do more and travel more. There is still quite a bit of ground pounding to be done. In some terrains, and for some operations there is simply no other answer. And yes, it takes quite a bit of strength to successfully operate the turret on a humvee when loaded with an M240, M2 or Mk19. Those things aren't controlled by motors, it's a game of strength in the torso. Firing at moving targets, while on the move, with wind resistance can be a daunting task.

To answer your question, the heavy equipment such as a machine gun usually have two people assigned to them. The load is generally split, and if the primary gunner is out the fight for any reason the assistant takes on that role. We do ask everyone to act as a medic, armorer and comm. tech at a very basic level. At that same level, everyone is also a machine gunner.
12.4.2007 6:39pm
Dave D. (mail):
Mr. McLaughlin,

...As long as we fight 2nd and lower class armies, I agree. Our last fight with a first class army was in WWII. Small, professional armies are the best for fighting small, foreign wars. But the world always changes and my crystal ball says that mankind will always fight wars. We won't always be the worlds only superpower. Big wars take big armies and big armies require a draft. I can't tell you when, though.
...Something not commented on is the poll of current enlisted servicewomen that found only 20% of them ( my memory ) wanted to engage in combat. If that's true, then 80% will probably not re-enlist if we change the rules and assign them to combat units. And many of those who say they want combat assignments are going to change their minds when they see how hard and dangerous training is.
...I don't understand why all the posting about flyers. Groundpounding has the vast majority of jobs available.
12.4.2007 6:42pm
Kate S (mail):
Skyler wrote "Kate, it sounds to me that the "quasi" combat role was the entire issue. Because the job was a combat mission except for the administrative schools and oddly one type of artillery that someone deemed too far in the rear, there were no jobs for these officers to grow into.

If the only battery commands available were school batteries, then the schools were be too heavily populated by women commanders. Not only would this lead to decreased training for the men going through the schools, because the commander wouldn't have the ability to lead physically, nor the moral authority to demand a standard higher than she can attain, but because good male artillery officers would be deprived of getting the good schools billets and the opportunity to shape the future of the army (and Marine) artillery.


Before the navy allowed women on ships, the men used to grumble that the best shore billets were being taken by the women since they had nowhere else to go. The reward for a few tours at sea would no longer be a tour at a good shore facility so you could meet your family again, it was another tour at sea because the billet was taken by a woman who never went to sea. The navy solved this the backwards way. Instead of limiting the role of women further, as they should have, they succumbed to political pressure and let women aboard ship.
Essentially, allowing women to command schools batteries but not combat batteries sets up another quasi affirmative action.

I remember the attack on the USS Cole. The ship was still struggling to stay afloat while waiting for the transport ship. The captain seemed to want to reduce the crew size. Whom did he send back? The women, mostly, who couldn't handle the damage control work. I remember seeing a local woman being interviewed after her return, people were calling her a hero as she blubbered incoherently and emotionally on the local tv. But a little introspection would lead one to conclude that she was the least useful person aboard the ship and that's why she was let go first. If I were that ship's captain, I'd have made the same choice."

Skyler wrote “Essentially, allowing women to command schools batteries but not combat batteries sets up another quasi affirmative action.”
Why? just because those batteries are both classified as being in the FA and the majority of officers go on to work in a secondary field and never spend time again in another actual Field Artillery battery again after the rank of Major?

Skyler, I think you have a couple of misconceptions going on here. The first is that the only commands available to women were the school batteries and the second is the role of a commander in a school battery. Some of the commands available to women at Ft Sill were the school batteries for the officers. There were about four of them. These commands were all admin (paperwork) commands for admin purposes over the students in the FA officer's basic course. One was for officers in the FA Advanced Course and there were a few more in the staff and faculty batteries for control of the teaching staff and admin people at the FA school. None of these positon were “leadership” positions per se. They were admin positions over other admin officers in that the commander was not out there "leading the troops" while they ran morning PT or doing training like you do in a real unit. This was also true of the basic training batteries for enlisted. The commanders did not "lead the troops" as they went about the training. So I am not sure how you think having a woman commander would have had a negative impact on training or their ability to lead. A sound mind was the most vital asset for a comander and I have met a few male artillery commanders who clearly didn’t have one, but all of them got commands.  Commanders did administrative stuff, article 15's counseling, training schedules etc. They delegate execution to their NCO’s. There was one Lance Battalion at Fort Sill and one Pershing Batallion. I believe there was also a Target Ac Battery . Theoretically all those battery command positions were open to women both at Ft Sill and other posts. There were five battery commands in each. 95 pecent of the time all of these commands open to women were being filled by men in addition to the hundred other commands on post only open to men. I did have a good woman friend, USMA Class of 80, who after a long hard fight managed to get a battery command in the Staff and Faculty Batallion. She was probably one of the finest officers that I have ever met and her career ended during the army rift in the mid 90’s after 18 years with a non selection to LTC. She was never in another Artillery unit after our time in Europe.
We were both in a Lance Battalion in Europe along with a few other women officers. It was one of three Lance Batallions over there. There were five battery commands in each Batallion. In this batallion as a Lieutenant I did "lead the troops" as I was both a platoon leader and battery XO. I never had a woman in my platoon although there were a couple in the battery. My leadership there included morning PT at times althouh even with army PT, it is the NCO who is actually in charge. The NCO’s do the training in the army(and most of the leadership) How do you think a long range missle platoon trains? Do you have the perception that we were all out there with bayonets charging tackling dummies all day and doing hand to hand combat? :-) News flash: the training is very technical and the emphasis is on safe handling, and firing of nuclear and conventional warheads. At no time when I was in Europe was there any woman with a battery command. This is what I met about a lack of opportunity. I have a hard time figuring out what you think you are justifying here. Women should not be commanders in admin or school units that don’t do infantry or physical training because their troops might perceive that they are not physically capable of leading an infantry unit? I will stipulate to the suggestion that women should not be in or leading infantry units. I have already stated that in several other posts.
My biggest memory of the incident where the Brits were captured at sea last year was the statement that one of the sailors (male) was crying when the Iranians took his IPOD or Game boy away. So if you want to talk blubbering as a disqualifier for the military or combat, I have seen a few men do it. I had a supply clerk one time that would cry every time I talked to him. K
12.4.2007 6:47pm
whit:
"In relation to your comment concerning the advantage women have in long distance running, I submit the following andecdotal information: "

just for the record (to clarify, not to disagree...) i am referring to so called "ultra-distance" events - including multiday events well in excess of 100 miles. men completely dominate at marathon distances for instance - and always will ... due to superior genetics.

however, there is a VERY small pool of athletes who train for or compete in ultra distance events and an even smaller %age are women, so i don't think anything definitive (not even close) has been determined, just that women do remarkably well in these events.

the long distance cold water swimming event (the one i first mentioned ) is a better example, since there's lots of history there, and some very obvious physiological explanations (higher bodyfat, more efficiency) why women do so well.

in regards to strength events, there is only one component of strength events (that i am aware of) that women are, on average, superior in - and that is joint flexibility.

this is very noticeable when teaching women (vs. men) the technique of the squat snatch. also, for the rare athlete that does a squat jerk (vs. a power jerk or split jerk) exceptional flexibility also comes in handy).

women do have superior flexibility. however, most sports movements are far more dependant on the whole isometric reversal thang (strength then contract and reverse) than the absolute flexibility thing. and these are the movements that generate incredible power ratings (the highest power output ever generated by a human being was during the jerk portion of the clean and jerk), and again men clearly dominate.

in some sport events, extreme flexibility can be a drawback as it makes the athlete more prone to joint injuries fwiw.

"It has been my personal experience that every female I have ever taught to shoot starts at a point of accuracy beyond their male counterparts. My personal belief is that women generally have better fine motor control. However, the men are able to shoot more rounds and for longer periods of time, as shooting is in itself a physically demanding activity."

i have had generally the same experience (i am a firearms instructor for my police dept.).

i think the general consensus is that for "slow fire target type shooting" women MAY actually be superior for the skillset that this kind of shooting requires.

i would contrast this with combat type IPSC shooting, where men appear to be superior.

military combat certainly more closely resembles the latter vs. the former fwiw.

there may also be a psychological aspect here.
12.4.2007 6:49pm
r78:

You talk rather freely about bias, but don't seem to see your own. You keep using this penis vagina talk because you don't want to deal with the fact that women and men are not physicaly and psycologicaly the same. That is you are consciously or not trying to assert that the sex organs are the only difference between men and women though you also tacticly abandon that position when neccessary.


Actually, ALS believes that a woman who is a better pilot than a man should be prevented from flying for no reason other than the fact that she is a woman. That's it.

Doesn't matter if she is strong or weaker, more fit mentally or physically. Nope. None of that. The only that matter in his calculus is that one has vagina and the other does not.

My position is that we should have the best qualified people in the jobs regardless of whether they are male or female. Not that hard to understand, really.
12.4.2007 6:51pm
Jared McLaughlin (mail):
Dave D.:

I still tend to disagree with you on the point of the draft. However, neither of us seems to have the information to support their point beyond ideas. You feel that fighting a large, modern military requires another large modern military. I believe that tactical superiority of our professional soldiers via better equipment, better training, and other combat multipliers mitigates that point. There has not been such a war to date, so it seem we'll see. I'm a bit biased in my opinion, but I feel that we could successfully take on any force in the world with the military we have now. We're also off topic, but thank you for the liveliness of debate.
12.4.2007 6:54pm
r78:

i think the general consensus is that for "slow fire target type shooting" women MAY actually be superior for the skillset that this kind of shooting requires.

Be careful there Whit, snipers always think that they are the toughest hombres around - the idea that a gal might be better suited for the position is going to get them riled up. :)
12.4.2007 6:58pm
Jared McLaughlin (mail):
whit:

On the difference of men and women in shooting and it's applications, I agree that women are better target shooters in general. It is my experience, however, that this is only one component of success on the battlefield with regards to marksmanship. There is much to be said for a continuous barrage of relatively accurate fire in combat.

I've never shot IPSC, but from what I've heard and my experience, it has little relation to combat shooting. But then, I have alot of deep personal opinions on the subject of shooting in combat situations.
12.4.2007 6:59pm
r78:
Whit - a little off subject, but I just opened the Atlantic Tactical catalog that landed on my desk and they sell "tactical" pants with up to a 54 inch waistline. That's a hoot.
12.4.2007 7:01pm
SocratesAbroad (mail):

If we grant that your average grunt is encumbered with a hundred pounds of ammo, how often does he have to actually hump that? My impression is that the modern infantryman isn't marching ten miles to battle anymore. We are much more mobile and reliant on vehicles today - it allows a more rapid response.

The answer is that he'll have to hump that load quite often, so your impression is quite wrong. One reason light infantry and airborne can provide a rapid reaction is the lack of vehicles, meaning less prep time and fewer required supplies. Second, vehicles on the battlefield also require an established and protected supply route to provide the necessary fuel and parts. Infantry, in contrast, can be airdropped ammo, food, and water. In terrain ill-suited to large armor, e.g. jungle and built-up areas with poor roadways or small alleyways, infantry is a necessity.

For non-infantry types, I can't see that the turret gunner in a Hummer needs a lot of strength to aim and swivel his or her weapon. Is physical strength as necessary for a counter-insurgency soldier as it was for someone landing at Normandy?

Often mounted on MP hummvees, a Mk19 auto grenade launcher is a load for 2-3 guys to carry - so how many women would be needed to do the same? Moreover, the ever-present threat is having to dismount, whether because of vehicle trouble or damage, and hump your gear to safety. And yes, physical strength is also needed by soldiers kicking down doors to fight a counter-insurgency.

I'm not sure why every single soldier needs to be physically able to do every task in the platoon. If some of the unit's equipment is heavy enough to be awkward, but one strong man can handle it, does it really matter if only 35 of 42 of the platoon members can do the one-man job?

And what if the strong guy, in your example, gets hit - who carries him? Using a poleless canvas stretcher, 4-6 guys can carry a wounded comrade if need be (even if it was a 6'3" 220lb brick like me). How many women will be needed to do the same?

We don't expect everyone to act as a medic or armorer or comm tech.

Actually, those of us in the infantry do. While I was company armorer when in the barracks, I was an RTO in the field. Similarly, platoons have medics, but they also have combat lifesavers (infantry trained in giving IVs and basic first aid) to provide aid should the medic go down. We routinely practice "fall-out drills" to train in case a higher up is wounded or KIA so that the survivors can continue to the objective.
I've limited myself to infantry here, but I'd be safe in wagering that tankers and arty had the same cross-training and drills.
12.4.2007 7:05pm
whit:
"Be careful there Whit, snipers always think that they are the toughest hombres around - the idea that a gal might be better suited for the position is going to get them riled up. :)"

but slow fire target shooting =/= being a sniper

there is WAY WAY WAY WAY more to being a sniper than just scoping and shooting a target.

i realize you were being facetious, but i just wanted ot make that point. you could be a GREAT target shooter but that doesn't necessarily mean you'd be even a mediocre sniper.
12.4.2007 7:05pm
whit:
"On the difference of men and women in shooting and it's applications, I agree that women are better target shooters in general. It is my experience, however, that this is only one component of success on the battlefield with regards to marksmanship. There is much to be said for a continuous barrage of relatively accurate fire in combat. "

of course. i was referring to a specific and narrow skillset - slowfire target shooting.

that does not equal, and never was it implied that this equaled the skillset necessary for combat.

just a skillset that i have found some evidence that women MAY exceed men in.

"I've never shot IPSC, but from what I've heard and my experience, it has little relation to combat shooting. But then, I have alot of deep personal opinions on the subject of shooting in combat situations."

so do i. having been in shooting myself (cop not military).

i think that IPSC is "closer" to simulating combat shooting than slowfire target practice, but neither comes close to ACTUAL combat.

for example, in neither type of shooting competition is their somebody actually SHOOTING AT YOU! :)

or if there is, you got bigger problems than "front sight, smooth trigger pull"
12.4.2007 7:11pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
Kate said, "A sound mind was the most vital asset for a comander."

I'm not sure I agree with that statement. Commanders come with all sorts of qualifications, some are smart, some are looney, some are dumb. The important thing is to be able to lead. That's a tricky mixture of traits that we all solve to different degrees of success.

But I think at the battery and company level, it's critically important to be able to provide the physical example. How the heck are you going to lead your men (and in your theory women) if you're gasping for air and falling behind?

If your battery didn't have a more physical component to its mission, I'd say that was a severe fault in the army doctrine that they're only now beginning to correct after the Jessica Lynch fiasco.
12.4.2007 7:21pm
Smokey:
r78:
"If you gave a crap about the safety of our troops or the readiness of our armed forces..."
Why is it that disparaging other posters by implying that they don't give a crap about our soldiers appears to be a fairly routine comment from those who have never served. Just sayin'...
12.4.2007 8:01pm
r78:
Smokey


Why is it that disparaging other posters by implying that they don't give a crap about our soldiers appears to be a fairly routine comment from those who have never served. Just sayin'...


It follows a statement by ARS (who says he has been in the armed forces) that he has faces to put to the names of the people killed as a result of molly-coddling feminists - or some such nonsense.

If so, I would think that he would want the the best qualified people to be flying our planes. He doesn't. He wants the best qualified _as long as they have a penis_.
12.4.2007 8:14pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
One item overlooked in talking about mech infantry.

Riding in one of those things over broken terrain, as opposed to an improved road, is exhausting. You have to keep yourself balanced against unpredictable moves of the vehicle, catch yourself before your face hits something when the vehicle pitches, and do it for a very long time.

In areas where fire is possible, armored vehicles will endeavor to move from defilade to defilade. Which means balls to the wall from the start, jerking around obstacles, and stand on the brakes to stop.

Then, of course, you get out and begin practicing the world's second oldest profession in the ancient way. Tiring.

My kids were jocks in high school. Boy-girl twins. I knew their teammates on the soccer, football, tennis, and basketball teams, and the kids of other interested parents. I watched games of all kinds, including sports they didn't play where I watched the children of friends.

Somehow, the idea that watching motivated, dedicated, conditioned girls would convince me they could do grunt work doesn't quite compute.
12.4.2007 8:27pm
Randy R. (mail):
Ellis: "Thanks for the input on my earlier question re the Israelis. I think their experience in this area is esp relevant. they have less room than we do for placing hopes and wishes before reality."

Well said. And since the Israelis have successfully integrated gays into their military, that issue should be moot for us as well. But of course, it isn't. And that's a whole 'nother thread....
12.4.2007 9:18pm
Logicman (mail):

Erin the Sexist: If it were proven that women were better pilots/gunners along that axis, wouldn't it be worthwhile to modify equipment to have women take over their jobs? We can make stuff lighter fairly easily; it's harder to make brains better.



As we can see from the "better brains" comment, many of the supporters of gender integration of combat units simply are misandrists who seek to destroy the military.

Why not lighter grenades? Indeed, why not have special seats made for pregnant women to drive tanks. Because that is the way to have the most effective military. I mean, women are superior and all, with their ability to give birth WHILE driving a tank, something men cannot do.

Uh, right. What you're seeing is the conflation of arguments for equality (which might presume no biological differencs, but should not be hostile to scientific data showing otherwise) and arguments against the military (which are blind to arguments in favor of military effectiveness). The result is many of those arguing in favor of "equality" are really just arguing in favor of whatever wrecks the military's effectiveness. Because they hate the military. In great part because its necessity shows men aren't useless and masculinity is not just a social construct.

Oh, and Frank? Yes, there are plenty more female athletes these days. Because of Title IX. Playing lacrosse in college, however, is not the same as hand-to-hand in Fallujah. Steffi Graf could whup my ass in tennis; that still doesn't mean she's right for a tank crew or makes a good firefighter.
12.4.2007 9:21pm
Bama 1L:
Jared: Thanks for the correction. I knew the .30-06 and 7.62mm NATO standard round were not identical, but not as different as the dimensions you gave.

My understanding is that the Marines kept believing in individual marksmanship long after the Army, influenced by S.L.A. Marshall's work, kind of changed course. Of course there is a rich literature on this topic.

I think ammunition can get a bit smaller even with what is still basically conventional firearms technology. The Germans very nearly adopted the H&K G11, which uses a 4.7mmx21 caseless round. (It was completely ready to go and they were all set to introduce this weapon for the 1990s, when the Cold War ended and the Bundeswehr's funding was slashed. A scifi rifle was the last thing they wanted to spend money on.) Caseless ammunition is very compact and very light. But beyond that, we probably are getting into gauss guns or some other technology.
12.4.2007 9:25pm
John A. Fleming (mail):
One thing this topic could use is more data to settle everybody's opinions down. When the action in Iraq dwindles, somebody (Browne?) needs to compile all the action reports of U.S. women in combat, such as the exemplary Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester, Silver Star medal winner. Her story might imply that *good* training enables the confidence and attitude so important to combat success. When battles are are short and intense, with no extended heavy lifting or long-distance load humping, training ,aggressiveness, and esprit de corps carry the day.

Studying reports such as these might give the USA and Marines, and analysts such as Browne, insight into how women can best serve while in harms way.
12.4.2007 9:30pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
And there were certainly no political implications to that award, either. You know, like just because the army national guard was looking like idiots what with Jessica Lynch getting captured because her unit got lost and didn't know how to use their rifles. Or that a national guard unit had mutinied shortly before this and refused to drive their trucks where they might get hurt. Or that the national guard, a brigadier general even, was responsible for the Abu Ghraib fiasco. Or that . . . you get the picture.

This woman certainly did a lot of good things, and I won't denigrate her one bit. But the army's standards for handing out medals is, um, by reputation quite lax. And it came at a good time to make the national guard look good that one of their units actually did something that was worth publishing that didn't involve a national scandal. A lot of good national guard units are out there, to be sure, they're not all like the ones above. The army was pretty desperate to improve the decidedly unjust reputation that the national guard was being tarred with.

So, count me among those that aren't about to whisk women into combat based on this one event.
12.4.2007 10:16pm
StephenC (mail):
What about women and PTSD? It is, at least anecdotally, if not widely held that men are far better at compartmentalizing traumatic experience. If the increasing incidence of PTSD in men is an example, what will happen to women under similar circumstances? Does anyone know of any studies on this? Curious.

As an aside, my own personal experience on integrated conduct in general(8 years active duty) on a Navy carrier in charge of 36 people was that both sexes had to be reigned in, enlisted and officer alike. It definitely hurt morale.
12.4.2007 10:28pm
Randy R. (mail):
I have a friend who served in the military and was a pilot for Black hawk helicopter. She's a butch lesbian and probably could kick the ass of most of the men here. She served well, loved the military, and did a great job, earning several citations and medals and what not.

She probably did at least as good a job as anyone else, but she has two strikes against her, from what I can see: woman, and lesbian. Of course, her entire unit know that about her on both accounts, and she said that she got along great with everyone, men and women, straight and gay (she certainly wasn't the only one). If you told her she wasn't as good as the others, she'd probably take you down (well, in a friendly way, I'm sure).

I'll ask her about the strength requirements and whether she is inferior to men in flying those things, but I suspect I already know her answer.

What disturbs me here is an assumption that even if a particular woman proves herself equal in strength to a man, there are some here who would still deny her a place in the military. That means that they are saying that women are *inherenly* unqualified, and that no matter what they do or what they are physically capable of, every woman is subpar to *any* man.

That's pretty breathtaking in the extreme. I don't think anyone in the top brass thinks that way. Furthermore, considering that we have such a hard time recruiting people for the army now, I would thing that we should be happy that women are willing to step into the breach.

But that doesn't make some people happy at all. I doubt any arguments will sway them.
12.4.2007 11:03pm
bj (mail):
A little off topic, but I think movies tend to distort our perception/intuition of reality. For instance in GI Jane, Demi Moore weighing maybe 130 with fake breasts trains to be a navy seal. Her body type doing the physical things shown in the movie should have been laughed out of the room.

A second point. Brains matter, but is letting in a few women really going to make our low level military leaders that much smarter? Its not like the military is drawing from a small pool of people.
12.4.2007 11:12pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Randy R. The Israelis have not completely integrated gays, and the arrangements made for them would strike US activists as discrimination.

I took my kids to see Top Gun when it first came out because I wanted them to see guys who went to work sitting down and even broke a sweat when things got tough. Chopper pilots don't equal grunts. The anecdotal evidence about unit cohesion in mixed units is mixed.

Anybody here putting combat efficiency first? Show of hands? Anybody?

We won't be flying air-to-air combat until we take on the Russians or the Chinese. Until then, our combat aircraft are going to be dropping bombs on gomers in support of the ground troops. That means long periods of loitering at reduced power settings and little G. Once in a while they have to lay a bomb on somebody. From time to time, they may have to make a strafing run.

What if something horrid happens and we're back to the happy days of the early Forties when a bomber crew in the Eighth Air Force had a one in three chance of making its twenty-five missions? And, say, a quarter of the dead were women?

We have had it easy in the last couple of decades. That's not guaranteed to be the future.
12.4.2007 11:25pm
r78:

This woman certainly did a lot of good things, and I won't denigrate her one bit.


And that sentence was preceded and followed by a paragraph suggesting that the medal awarded to her were due to external political concerns and not due to her valor and abilities.

You are a piece of work.
12.4.2007 11:28pm
AndyKrause (mail):
I liked the comment about causal analogies so here is an interesting one. The womens Olympic 100 meter record holder is Florence Griffith-Joyner in 10.49 seconds. This would place her second to Jermaine Stafford who ran 10.46 in the New York State High School boys competition.
12.4.2007 11:38pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
r78. I've read various citations for the Silver Star and Hester's award seems in line.
It would be silly, however, to presume there was no, at least, relief in some quarters that there was a legit Silver Star award for a Guard female.
Whether the pressure was exerted on Sergeant Hester's situation or not is different from the question of whether she deserved it. Moving forward (which means standing up) against guys in trenches, who outnumber you and out gun you is a Very Big Deal, especially when you prevail.
But pressure.... Absolutely.
12.4.2007 11:53pm
Elliot123 (mail):
For the advocates of women in ground combat units:

How about having all female infantry platoons? Then they could compete against all male platoons in training and we can get an idea how well they would do against the all male platoons they would probably meet in a real war.
12.5.2007 12:24am
Logicman (mail):
What disturbs me here is an assumption that even if a particular woman proves herself equal in strength to a man, there are some here who would still deny her a place in the military. That means that they are saying that women are *inherenly* unqualified, and that no matter what they do or what they are physically capable of, every woman is subpar to *any* man.


No, no one is making that argument at all. An argument is being made about the best system for maintaining military effectiveness. A system of criminal procedures that results in some innocents being jailed can still be fair and effective. So the question isn't whether there are innocents jailed, but why you oppose an effective criminal justice system. If it were relatively easy to eliminate error (DNA testing), then you might have an argument, but in that case the burden of proof and persuasion is on you in each and every case to which you say the rebuttable presumption is inapplicable. Criticism doesn't justify anarchy, and supporting an effective military doesn't make one a misogynistic bigot.
12.5.2007 1:00am
Randy R. (mail):
Aubrey: " The Israelis have not completely integrated gays, and the arrangements made for them would strike US activists as discrimination. "

Really? You'll have to explain. All my information is that in 1992 Israel fully integrated gays, and so they may serve in any capacity. Indeed, it's for that reason that US 'activists', as you put it, look to Israel as a model for gay integration. (Britain is another). I've never heard anyone say that there is official discrimination. Perhaps private discrimination or harassment, but that occurs everywhere.

I think we all agree that our military should be the best that it can be, and if anyone can't hack certain minimal requirements, then they shouldn't be allowed to serve. Those minimal requirements or standards should be based on real life combat stress, whether mental or physical. The question is what are those minimal standards? And if women meet them, or anyone, shouldn't they be allowed to serve? I just don't see the argument.

And seeing how women have been in the military for several decades, I hardly see any groundswell, either in the military or Congress, for throwing them out. So it's sort of a moot point.
12.5.2007 1:19am
Logicman (mail):

I think we all agree that our military should be the best that it can be, and if anyone can't hack certain minimal requirements, then they shouldn't be allowed to serve.



1. We don't all agree about that. See Erin's comments about "women having superior brains" above. She doesn't think any persons with penises should be pilots.

2. You are wrong. This is not about the minimal requirements to serve. It is about who should serve in combat. We shouldn't -- as you suggest -- kick women out of the Armed Forces simply because they shouldn't be in combat units. There is more to the military than combat, believe it or not.

3. This argument is about sex. Not sexual orientation. Way to push an agenda.


And seeing how women have been in the military for several decades, I hardly see any groundswell, either in the military or Congress, for throwing them out. So it's sort of a moot point.



This would make sense if every position in the military was a combat position. Apparently, despite having openly butch lesbian combat pilot friends whose entire battalion willfully violated DADT, you know jack shit about the military.
12.5.2007 3:38am
Skyler (mail) (www):
Eliot said:

How about having all female infantry platoons?


Hee hee! And we could line them up to only fight the enemy's female platoons!

Oh, wait. The enemy wants to win. They won't have female platoons.
12.5.2007 6:24am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Randy.
During the Senate hearings on gays in the military, the proponents said the Israelis had successfully integrated them. Opposing witnesses said gays were not in line units. If true, that doesn't mean successfully integrating, but, in the parsing and lying of social activism, the assertion of successful integration could be said to be not exactly a lie
Other witnesses contradicted the cheerful statements about the Brits and French, who were also said to have successfully integrated.
12.5.2007 7:57am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Randy. Forgot to mention something said so many times you shouldn't have bothered to make the case yet again.
"Standards" will be lowered. They are always lowered. They will always be lowered. That's a fact.
So talking stoutly about standards in this context has to be taken as an attempt to deceive. You know better. More to the point, so does everybody else.
12.5.2007 7:59am
Al Maviva (mail):
The people who volunteer for, and are accepted to airborne training are among the fittest soldiers in the fairly fit Army population. In jump school, they broke us into "ability groups" for physical training based on a first day PT test and weigh-in. One group had to run 6 miles daily at a pace that varied from 6 to 7 minutes per mile, in formation, and 10 miles on Fridays; had to do a couple or three hundred pushups (in sets of 50) and a dozen chinups, along with a bunch of other calisthenics during the first hour or so of each training day. (Upper body strength being *very* important for miltary parachuting - 100+ pounds of gear minimum, and you need to be able to steer the chute using your arms and do a bunch of other upper body feats of strength or you will wind up dead or wishing you were dead). The lower ability group ran 8-9 minute miles, did around 80 pushups total in sets of 20, and had to do one chinup. We had around 600 soldiers &some Marines in the class, the breakdown between the high ability group and the low ability group was roughly 570:30. Care to venture any guesses as to how many women passed the test to get into the high ability group, and how many men were permitted to train in the low ability group?

Precisely 1 woman, an olympic trialist runner who was also a collegiate heptathlete PT'ed with the high ability group and more or less held her own with the 50th percentile men in the non-running parts of the training. No men were in the low ability group since failure to produce around an 80th percentile score on the PT test, on much more stringent men's scale, resulted in automatic dismissal for the men.

I realize this is one story so it's an anecdote, but surely a sample size of 600 taken from among the fittest and most motivated volunteers in the active duty force says something about inherent physical abilities and sex differences. This isn't a question of men having slightly greater marginal strength that might be useful for ground combat, it's about the center mass of male strength, especially in well trained men, being much greater than the center mass of female physical strength. You can always try to say that busting the HMMV tire or carrying a track section or digging a fighting position in clay or limestone sand can be done using a couple soldiers, rather than one strong man, but then you're putting twice the soldiers on the job than you would have needed, and this degrades operational readieness elsewhere. I have no objection to women serving in combat when their combat support or service support job requires it and am proud of how female soldiers like SSG Hester have performed, and proud of how my own colleagues performed in Desert Storm and other missions - but will note that ground forces structure isn't about tailoring systems to deal with exceptional people, it's about how to achieve success with the average soldiers that get fed into the machine. Lower physical standards enough to deal with average, or anything short of extremely exceptional females, and you'll mess up the machine.
12.5.2007 8:20am
ALS:
r78, Randy, et al,

Have you noticed a trend in this thread as to where, almost to a man, every commenter who has actually been there falls on this issue, versus those who "know somebody" or "think"?
12.5.2007 8:51am
Lugo:
But that doesn't make some people happy at all. I doubt any arguments will sway them.

Seems that no argument will sway the people who think that men and women are 100% interchangeable.
12.5.2007 9:33am
r78:

Have you noticed a trend in this thread as to where, almost to a man, every commenter who has actually been there falls on this issue, versus those who "know somebody" or "think"?

Have you ever noticed how the people who actually fought the fires in San Francisco, New York, Boston, Chicago, etc. thought that there was no read to hire black people?
12.5.2007 12:41pm
Birch Barlow:
Are you people retarded? Position = X. Number of people selected for said position = Y. If Y is large enough, then the BEST PEOPLE for the job, period, will include both men and women, regardless of whether the average male or the average female is better suited for the job.
12.5.2007 1:20pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
Birch, you're missing a major point. This is not a "job." It's a part of a machine designed to defend the nation.

If any tire can work at speeds up to the legal limit of 75 mph, then I should be able to put any four tires on my car, right? Except some are bigger diameter, some have different numbers of studs to mount to, etc.

A very extremely rare few women can meet the minimum (barely) that can be expected of the average healthy male. But there are so many other reasons not to include women that they override any need to include them, including the misguided "need" to provide a place for gender equality.
12.5.2007 6:00pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
r78,

You are mischaracterizing people's points.

I don't believe everyone who says they want the best people for the job. I believe that if testing washed out too many women for their tastes they would claim the tests are biased. That's politics.

Some people who oppose you are no doubt making a political assessment. They believe that letting the camel's nose into the tent will be followed by the rest of the camel. That is, that allowing women into combat roles will result in lower standards and increased dead, wounded and injured American personnel. It's possible that we could have a hard line on standards as you propose and that we would stick to it. If your political goal is to avoid lower standards and increased dead, wounded and injured American personnel I don't know whether it's better to exclude women entirely or to try to hold a hard line on standards. Politically speaking, I know that we have sucessfully excluded women from combat roles. However, I know of no cases where, politically speaking, we have held a hard line on standards. Do you? Does anyone?

Yours,
Wince
12.5.2007 6:46pm
holdfast (mail):

She probably did at least as good a job as anyone else, but she has two strikes against her, from what I can see: woman, and lesbian.


In my experience, for a lot of folks, the latter would actually offset the former. There is a serious difference in how gay men and lesbians are perceived in the Army. It may only be perception / stereotype, but lesbians are often seens as better than straight women (ie closer to the male ideal). Also, they do not create the same sexual tension with males or complain about the presenence of the sort of skin mags preferred by straight males.
12.6.2007 12:44am
LBG:
Wince, I can tell you that we have not. The training requirements for women is below that of men. The physical standards are vastly different for men and women. In fact, a man in his 40's is STILL held to a higher physical standard than a women in her 20's. This is a glaring example of this. Also, the interaction in the military is far gentler so as not to upset people. This is also a new thing once we let women in a wider set of MOS's. I consistently have to watch what I say around women. They MIGHT take offense. To motivate men, you often attack their manhood, you sarcastically use girl's names or call them ladies. I've seen this in sports and the military my whole life. But that is demeaning to women, so next thing you know, you've got a hostile work environment and thus a conduct unbecoming charge and you're their at an Art 15 proceedings because a female did not like your words. Once again, how can we even countenance this duality? How can we ponder women in combat? It's a pipe dream and one I'm certain the senior officers in DC will support for political expediency. Cowards.
12.6.2007 7:45am
Ghostmonkey:
I enjoyed the professor's thoughtful posts on this subject. I think it important to point out that the physical differences in sex are already noted in the Military, and women are subject to a much less rigorous standard than men are when it comes to Physical Conditioning.

I find it telling that those who say women should be allowed in Combat, also insist on a different PT Standard for women.

Let's look at this a bit more in depth. Let's take a 20 year old Female and a 20 year old male.

The minimum physical fitness standards for the Male are as follows:

42 Pushups in 2 Minutes
53 Situps in 2 Minutes
15:54 2 Mile Run.

The minimum physical fitness standards for the Female are only:

19 Pushups in 2 Minutes
53 Situps in 2 Minutes
18:54 2 Mile Run.

The plain fact of the matter is, most women could not meet the Minimum Male Standards, hence the military had to LOWER standards for the Female.

Given that Physical Fitness is a requirement in combat, how can anyone logically justify the inclusion of women into this role?
12.6.2007 11:00am
Randy R. (mail):
Logicman: Apparently, despite having openly butch lesbian combat pilot friends whose entire battalion willfully violated DADT, you know jack shit about the military."

The entire battalion wilfully violated DADT, and many other do too, because it doesn't make any sense to throw someone out of the military who is doing a good job and is needed. Don't argue with me, argue with those in the military.

But you avoided my assertion, which was that there is no groundswell or movement to get rid of women in the military anywhere. Don't like it? Then create your own. Until then, you have to face the fact that women are here to stay.

Aubrey: "Opposing witnesses said gays were not in line units. If true, that doesn't mean successfully integrating, but, in the parsing and lying of social activism, the assertion of successful integration could be said to be not exactly a lie
Other witnesses contradicted the cheerful statements about the Brits and French, who were also said to have successfully integrated."

Well, witnesses can say anything. But the fact remains that in Israel, France and Britain, as well as Canada, New Zealand and Australia, being gay is not a bar to any position within the military. Again, you may not like that, but that how it is. And the Army-Navy War College did an extensive report several years ago about just this matter, and they found that admitting openy gays in those militaries caused very few problems.

Me, I will believe the College over any witnesses, as they are much more inclined to be thorough in their report, as opposed to anecdotal evidence.

Logicman: " Way to push an agenda."

As opposed to those to want women out of the military? Nope, no agenda there....
12.6.2007 11:03am
Randy R. (mail):
Aubrey: ""Standards" will be lowered. They are always lowered. They will always be lowered. That's a fact.
So talking stoutly about standards in this context has to be taken as an attempt to deceive. You know better. More to the point, so does everybody else."

Well, I didn't know that I was intentionally deceiving everyone when I suggested that there should be standards for physical endurannce. Thanks for exposing me! But you know, since I'm gay, I always lie about everything, right? And straight people are the truthful ones....
12.6.2007 11:07am
Skyler (mail) (www):
Randy R., no one said that women should be out of the military. The argument is strictly that women should not purposefully be put into combat by assigning them to combat units.

Combat support has been allowed for women for a few decades, for better or for worse and that's not going to change.
12.6.2007 1:32pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
So, Randy. You going to admit you knew standards were always lowered?
Or are you going to insist you're absolutely and perfectly clueless?
12.6.2007 10:25pm
LBG:
How did we get on gays in combat? As someone that goes to sea, works in the field, I don't care if they are gay. Why? Because they are not supposed to be screwing each other in the field. Homo or hetero proclivities and orientations. I have found in my experience that women are far more destructive to unit cohesion than gays. Gay men don't get pregnant, but I can say I had to deal with female on female sexual harassment and the military will very quickly turn a blind eye to that as it touches on two very scary monkeys for them. Gays AND women. And honestly, I think if we got rid of the double standards, told the activists that screamed that we didn't care what they think, the rules say thus and little mr/ms gay or straight service member broke the rules and will be treated as is proscribed in the UCMJ, well, then we might solve some of this. Those that belong would continue to work and work well, and those that do not belong would be kicked our or be recalibrated. They will learn to follow the rules and become a valid meber of the team.
12.7.2007 10:18am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
LBG. That would be nice.

Won't happen, for two reasons. One is that the accredited victim groups always get lowered standards. The other is that the military is to be used to force changes on the larger society.

Unit effectiveness is simply not a concern.

Casualties? The neocons' fault. Nothing to do with activists.
12.7.2007 11:30am
Sid (mail) (www):
I served in a few infantry units and now an MP unit where women serve (though in much smaller numbers than other fields).

The current system is a balance of many reasonable concerns. Effectiveness is important. Very. But we have to have a military that functions off the battlefield also. I would think that most reasonable, sane humans would accept that a very small portion of females could pass the physical requirements to serve in some combat roles. But the military would spend enormous amounts of money to intergrate these few women into those roles. The military does not have an unlimited budget. It has a budget that is very political.

The current system, though unkind in some respects, does the most practical function of pre-screening individuals for certain roles and then culling the pre-screened individuals for those capable and willing to perform that role WITHIN THE APPLIED CONSTRAINTS OF THE ENVIRONMENT. Women have roles that they perform as well as their male counterparts. No denying it. Most support roles and many battlefield roles are carried out by women today in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the combat roles are male dominated because males dominate in combat.

This is not a decision that can be made in a vacuum. We cannot afford the luxury of fairness. Most men can defeat most women. Most highly trained men can defeat most untrained men. Most highly motivated men can defeat most unmotivated men. We must have highly-motivated, highly trained men defeating our enemies. We cannot assume that our enemies are unmotivated or untrained. In many cases today, the opposite is true.

But we must remember that our military must function well off the battlefield also. We must have women able to serve, have careers, and contribute. The military has to manage this issue to the best of its ability within the system our country constructs.

I thought the author did a fair and balanced summation of the realities of this issue.
12.9.2007 12:48am