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[Kingsley Browne, guest-blogging, December 5, 2007 at 8:40am] Trackbacks
Co-ed Combat - Psychological Sex Differences:

Yesterday's post dealt with physical differences between the sexes. It produced a lot of good comments that I will try to get to today or tomorrow. This morning's post will look at a number of psychological differences. Although measurable sex differences in most psychological traits related to combat tend to be smaller than physical differences -- so there is more overlap between the sexes -- they are still substantial.

RISK PREFERENCE: From toddlerhood on, males have a greater preference than females for risk -- especially, but not only, physical risk -- a fact reflected in the substantially higher rate of accidental death among boys worldwide and the roughly twelve-fold sex difference in workplace deaths among adults in the U.S. A meta-analysis of 150 risk-taking studies covering subjects of all ages concluded that "males took risks even when it was clear that it was a bad idea," while females "seemed to be disinclined to take risks even in fairly innocuous situations or when it was a good idea."

FEAR LEVELS: Risk-taking and fear are intimately related, and females from infancy experience greater fear than males. Sex differences in fear and risk-perception have two components. Women are more likely to perceive risk in a situation than men are, and even when the sexes perceive the same level of risk, women have higher levels of fear.

Psychologist Anne Campbell has argued that sex differences in fear and risk-taking are a consequence of differences in selective pressures acting on the two sexes over evolutionary time. Women have stood to gain less than men from risk-taking, which among men is often related to reproductive competition. Moreover, women have more to lose in terms of reproductive fitness than men, because in primitive societies the death of the mother is a greater blow to the odds of a child's survival than the death of a father. Indeed, the death of the mother often amounts to a death sentence for her children. Thus, Campbell argues, women's minds have evolved to rate the costs of physical danger higher than men's do.

PHYSICAL AGGRESSION AND DOMINANCE: As with risk-taking, sex differences in aggression and dominance appear early in development, being present from about two years of age. Among adults, the clearest evidence for sex differences comes from criminal activity, with men being incarcerated for violent offenses at a rate more than ten times that of women.

Men not only engage in more physical forms of attack, they also have more positive attitudes about aggression. They are more inclined to view it as an acceptable way of achieving one's ends, and they experience less guilt and anxiety about having acted aggressively than women do.

NURTURANCE AND EMPATHY: Women score higher on most measures of empathy, which, to paraphrase a former president of the United States, consists of the ability to feel someone else's pain. This greater empathy may be responsible for the heightened guilt and anxiety that women feel about acting aggressively.

The sexes also differ in the circumstances that attenuate empathy, as demonstrated by a recent study examining empathic responses with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the brain. Subjects watched two players playing a game, some players playing fairly and some unfairly. Players were then given electrical shocks.

When a player who had played fairly was shocked, both male and female subjects showed activation of brain areas that respond both to one's own pain and to observation of pain in others. When an unfair player was shocked, however, the empathic response of male -- but not female -- subjects was substantially reduced. Areas of the brain associated with reward processing, on the other hand, showed enhanced activation in men, but not women, when the unfair player was shocked. These findings suggest that men's empathy may be more easily "switched off" and that they may derive greater psychic satisfaction from inflicting harm on those perceived as deserving it.

PAIN TOLERANCE: Although it is commonly asserted that women have a higher tolerance for pain than men -- a belief apparently resting on women's endurance of painful childbirth -- a large body of data refutes that argument. Instead, women generally withstand pain less well than men. A major review of pain studies found differences of over one-half a standard deviation for both pain threshold (the level at which a stimulus is perceived as painful) and pain tolerance (the level at which pain is no longer bearable).

Like sex differences in strength, these psychological sex differences -- all of which are mediated by sex hormones -- are individual differences that do not hold true for all members of their respective sexes. Moreover, the individually measured psychological differences are smaller than the physical differences described yesterday. Some women possess more physical courage and willingness to kill than some men.

Because of the overlap between the sexes, arguably combat personnel should be selected on the basis of these traits rather than using sex as a proxy. However, unlike strength, which can be easily and cheaply screened for, future courage under fire cannot be readily measured. A consistent theme in the combat-behavior literature is that one never knows who is going to be an effective soldier until the shooting starts, and the identity of the good fighters often turns out to be a surprise.

Because individualized predictions of combat performance are not a practical way to select personnel, at least on a wholesale basis, proxies such as sex are more necessary when it comes to predicting whether one has what it takes psychologically to be effective in combat than they are for strength.

My next post -- I hope later today -- will consider the effects of these psychological sex differences, as well as some others, on combat motivation.

Patrick216:
Assuming all these psychological studies to be accurate, we are once again talking about a Bell curve of fear and risk tolerance. Your argument is that the average man has a higher pain and fear tolerance than the average woman. Very well. But there will be overlap in the two curves, which you acknowledge.

With that said, doesn't the self-selection bias considerably weaken the force of your argument? Why wouldn't we assume that women who volunteer for military service are more risk-loving and less fearful than the average woman? (Likewise, wouldn't we expect that more fearful and more risk-averse men would self-select out of military service?)
12.5.2007 8:57am
RigorAllTheTime (mail):
Women score higher on most measures of empathy,

Misogynist feminism has dragged us down to this idiocy -- we need some "researcher" to tell us women and men are (gasp) different.

In spite of what the self-hating feminists tell us, women are not men with boobs.
12.5.2007 8:58am
Jam:
We home school and a few months ago attended a home school conference. One of the lectures delat with the issue of learning differences between the boys and girls. I do not have a reference to give but one of the issues raised was that of what happens to blood flow to the brain during stress.

According to the lecturer when a male is under stress blood flow to the brain increases by 50%. In contrast, female's blood supply to the brain decreases by 50% during stress. This physilogical response differences account for the ability for males under extreme stress to operate, focus, learn and react, where females would shut down and retreat.
12.5.2007 9:40am
Curt Fischer:

According to the lecturer when a male is under stress blood flow to the brain increases by 50%. In contrast, female's blood supply to the brain decreases by 50% during stress.


I am pretty sure that a 50% increase or decrease in blood flow to the brain would be lethal to nearly all humans.

Want to try again?
12.5.2007 9:44am
Greg (www):
How do we evaluate the validity of studies that are alleged but not cited? I guess we need to wait for the book so we can check out the footnotes.
12.5.2007 9:50am
Justin (mail):
This whole thing is written as an advocacy piece, not an academic one. The problem with an advocacy piece is that a) the advocate has no credibility, particularly when trying to explain ambiguous or conflicting evidence, and b) the author's true views/motives are not discernable from the text.

It would be nice if Kingsley tried to approach this in something resembling a neutral matter - even if that led to the same policy recommendations. But alas.
12.5.2007 10:24am
Skeptical Anon:
[citation needed]
12.5.2007 10:31am
Jam:
I am going from memory. I think that it was 50%. I will try to find a citation.
12.5.2007 10:35am
Muskrat (mail):
How do you get to "However, unlike strength, which can be easily and cheaply screened for, future courage under fire cannot be readily measured" from studies about pain tolerance, aggression, risk tolerance, fear levels, nurturing and empathy? You imply that the male attributes of pain tolerance, aggression, desire to dominate, and willingness to take (even inadvisable) risks all add up to "courage under fire," but I think you elided that point a little too quickly. You don't even define courage-- is it a predisposition to dominate others? The inability to recognize risk? Indifference to the feelings of others? Those aren't my definition of courage.

I can see how the argument would be made that those are essential elements of a good soldier, but so are ability to judge risk accurately, determination to act despite fear, ability to think clearly, etc. The best soldier isn't always the most aggressive, and certainly not the most reckless one.

I'm not saying yor argument can't be valid (although I'm not sold yet), but you need to add at least one more link to the logic.
12.5.2007 10:35am
john w. (mail):
" ...Why wouldn't we assume that women who volunteer for military service are more risk-loving and less fearful than the average woman? ..."

For one thing, the incredibly misleading recruitment ads, that only talk about 'seeing the world' and 'earning money for college' etc., etc.; but never seem to show any photos of severed limbs, gang rapes, intestines oozing into the mud, and so forth.

For another thing, when push really comes to shove, the *&^%$ politicians won't hesitate to re-institute forcible conscription, and then we won't be talking about just self-selected volunteers anymore.
12.5.2007 10:39am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
One of the silliest things I've heard in this whole issue is that of "lighter grenades". Problem is that many women can't throw a grenade beyond its bursting radius. It would be handy to be able to do that. Most of the time, though, grenades are thrown and the thrower ducks down, or the grenade is thrown into a building or over a wall. You still need power, range, and accuracy.
To enable women to throw grenades usefully, we're going to make the grenades "lighter"? There are three components which can be made lighter. The fuse/detonation mechanism weighs only a few ounces and any progress there will be minimal. The remaining components are the explosive and the case. To reduce the explosive reduces the power and to reduce the case reduces the fragmentation effect--the case being turned into fragments. So a lighter grenade will be less effective. This is a good idea?
The same question applies to every effort to accomodate women's reduced physical strength. The weapon or munition in question becomes less effective. Why is this a good idea?
What are you willing to accept in reduced effectiveness to get women into the combat arms?
Be specific.
12.5.2007 10:47am
Jam:
I do not know if this sources are good or bad but is what I found with Google. I will continue to search.


http://ts-si.org/content/view/2729/1120/

The researchers measured heart rate, cortisol levels (a stress hormone), subjects’ perceived stress levels throughout the experiments, and regional cerebral blood flow (CBF), which provides a marker of regional brain function.
In men, it was found that stress was associated with increased CBF in the right prefrontal cortex and CBF reduction in the left orbitofrontal cortex.

In women, the limbic system — a part of the brain primarily involved in emotion – was activated when they were under stress.

Both men and women’s brain activation lasted beyond the stress task, but the lasting response in the female brain was stronger.

The neural response among the men was associated with higher levels of cortisol, whereas women did not have as much association between brain activation to stress and cortisol changes.
“Women have twice the rate of depression and anxiety disorders compared to men,” notes Dr. Wang. “Knowing that women respond to stress by increasing activity in brain regions involved with emotion, and that these changes last longer than in men, may help us begin to explain the gender differences in the incidence of mood disorders.”
12.5.2007 10:56am
Cold Warrior:
Patrick216 is obviously correct.

Even if we accept everything Browne says as true (and I also agree that a lot of it is either anecdotal or -- at least for the purposes of these blog posts -- not substantiated with citations to reliable studies), it simply does not compel the policy he advocates.

I certainly don't want to drag this discussion into one regarding race, but with respect to physical strength would it not be possible to say:

1. Chinese Americans tend to be less strong than European Americans or African Americans.

2. It would be costly and inefficient to measure the strength of all recruits in order to isolate that percentage of Chinese Americans who possess strength equal to or greater than the average European/African American.

3. Therefore, an exclusion of Chinese Americans from combat roles is the most effective policy.

Tell me: how is this different than the argument Browne is making? Surely Browne does not hold to the viewpoint that there is no such thing as an aggressive/strong/bellicose woman who can kick his/my butt?

Now, I don't really have a huge interest in the outcome of the military's policy. It just isn't a hot-button issue for me. But a poor argument is a poor argument, and the author of a poor argument deserves to be called on it.
12.5.2007 11:01am
Cold Warrior:
In short, exactly what is Browne saying that does not fall within the classic ecological fallacy?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological_fallacy
12.5.2007 11:03am
agesilaus:
There are other studies out there that show that men and women have a demonstrable difference in the way information is passed thru the brain in times of stress, and I assume at other times too. Men have a short path into the brain and back out to the muscles. Women use a much longer path with the information flowing into parts of the brain not used by men in this situation.

The end result of this is that men see something that requires action, the information flows into their brains and almost right away back out and to the muscles with action orders. The female apparently looks at the information much longer before she can even begin to form an action plan.

This explains men's quicker reaction times and aggressiveness. Men may not always take the right action but they are quick to do it. Indeed officers are trained not to dither about actions, quick is better than late in combat. And since this is hard wired into the brains there would seem to be little that can be done to train women to act like men.
12.5.2007 11:05am
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
RISK PREFERENCE:
FEAR LEVELS:
PHYSICAL AGGRESSION AND DOMINANCE: Among adults, the clearest evidence for sex differences comes from criminal activity, with men being incarcerated for violent offenses at a rate more than ten times that of women....men experience less guilt and anxiety about having acted aggressively than women do.
NURTURANCE AND EMPATHY:
PAIN TOLERANCE:

What I'm hearing is that women in combat are less likely to get themselves killed foolishly, and less likely to commit crimes and atrocities against the large civilian population in which a few enemy combatants are embedded.
In such a war, atrocities among civilians lose the hearts and minds of the people, so that for every combatant lost in battle another 10 are recruited from the people. That's how Lawrence beat the Turks in Saudi Arabia - the Turks committed atrocities against the Arabs, so the Arabs joined Lawrence in guerilla warfare, and it became cheaper for the Turks to leave.
12.5.2007 11:16am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
arbitrary.
Those characteristics of women can come into play, if they do, after major combat is over. IOW, if the men don't do their thing, the women don't, either.
And, once the major combat is over, the men--see US troops in Iraq--are doing okay on the good-guy thing, too.
Nice try, though.
12.5.2007 11:25am
rlb:
I am pretty sure that a 50% increase or decrease in blood flow to the brain would be lethal to nearly all humans.

Want to try again?


If your resting heart rate is 70, and you raise it to your active rate of 140... what's happened to the blood flow to your brain?

I don't know the answer to this... shoulda gone to medical school.
12.5.2007 11:28am
Mark Field (mail):

A consistent theme in the combat-behavior literature is that one never knows who is going to be an effective soldier until the shooting starts, and the identity of the good fighters often turns out to be a surprise.

Because individualized predictions of combat performance are not a practical way to select personnel, at least on a wholesale basis, proxies such as sex are more necessary when it comes to predicting whether one has what it takes psychologically to be effective in combat than they are for strength.


This argument makes no logical sense. If we are truly unable to predict effectiveness under fire, then it makes no sense to use sex as a proxy. Doing so is just a way of saying we can make such a prediction. You can't have it both ways: either we can predict (even poorly), or we can't. In the latter case -- one of true randomness -- then we are just as likely to err in one direction as another. That means that using sex as a proxy is just as likely to be wrong as not using sex as a proxy.

Logic errors like this tend to make me believe that the author started with a conclusion and working his way backwards from there.
12.5.2007 11:28am
Dick King:
Could you link your posts together like these posts are linked? [Each post in the series has a little table of links to all the posts of the series at the end.]

-dk
12.5.2007 11:31am
Justin (mail):
rlb, are you claiming that a guy's reaction to pressure is to drop his rate to 35? No matter how you slice it, jam's lecturer was full of it.
12.5.2007 11:41am
agesilaus:
Mark Field:
I am fairly sure that Marine Corps DIs and their Army counterparts have a good empirical system in place to wash out those who will not do well in combat. They may not be able to write a paper on what they are doing but the evidence shows that it works. Of course this system is not 100% effective but I suspect the failure rate is low.
12.5.2007 11:42am
qwerty (mail):
Sounds to me like a lot of these "shortcomings" (prudence, empathy) would be very valuable in combat, especially among the officer corps.
12.5.2007 11:42am
Justin (mail):
"Logic errors like this tend to make me believe that the author started with a conclusion and working his way backwards from there."

You're a few posts behind me there, Mark ;)
12.5.2007 11:42am
Sean M:
Browne does have a book. If you want the citations, I imagine they can be found there.
12.5.2007 11:44am
john w. (mail):
" ... the large civilian population in which a few enemy combatants are embedded. ..."

Sorry Aardvark, but what you are describing ain't real warfare. *Real* warfare takes place in situations like Iwo Jima, Verdun, Pork Chop Hill, Cemetary Ridge, Omaha Beach, etc. where the civilians are long gone, and it's just you and your buddies facing fanatical, battle-hardened veterans.
12.5.2007 11:45am
Lugo:
That's how Lawrence beat the Turks in Saudi Arabia - the Turks committed atrocities against the Arabs, so the Arabs joined Lawrence in guerilla warfare, and it became cheaper for the Turks to leave.

No, the reason the Turks left Saudi Arabia is that General Allenby's Army (you know, those foolish men with guns) crushed the Ottoman Army in Palestine and Syria, forcing the Turks to accept an armistice that led to the Treaty of Sevres and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, thus forcing the Turks to leave the Saudi peninsula, among other places. Without the defeat of the Ottoman armies in the field in regular battle, the Turks could have stayed in Arabia indefinitely, since the Arab revolt caused negligible casualties in the grand scheme of things.
12.5.2007 11:46am
rlb:
Justin, I have no idea exactly how heart rate is correlated to blood flow, or how stress affects how that flow is directed.

I just took issue with the idea that a 50% increase in blood flow would kill you, which seems counterintuitive since heart rate can more than triple under stress.
12.5.2007 11:47am
David M (mail) (www):
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 12/05/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.
12.5.2007 11:47am
Cold Warrior:

This argument makes no logical sense. If we are truly unable to predict effectiveness under fire, then it makes no sense to use sex as a proxy. Doing so is just a way of saying we can make such a prediction. You can't have it both ways: either we can predict (even poorly), or we can't. In the latter case -- one of true randomness -- then we are just as likely to err in one direction as another. That means that using sex as a proxy is just as likely to be wrong as not using sex as a proxy.


I just think the logic may be more advanced than what you're used to.

I can see many powerful applications Browneian Logic. For example:

Left-handed pitcher. Barry Bonds due up.

Studies suggest that left-handed hitters fare worse than right-handed hitters against left-handed pitchers.

Conclusion: I should send up Mario Mendoza to pinch hit for Barry Bonds.

O.K., so it's a bit of snark. But the point is this:

Browne assumes, without argument or evidence, that the cost of determining whether Barry Bonds vs. a left-handed pitcher would give me a higher chance of success than Mario Mendoza vs. a left-handed pitcher is necessarily so high that we must resort to the crude device of always favoring the opposite side hitter.

But is the cost really that high? What if we could take a different crude measure that is a better proxy than sex alone? What if we said this: women who are at least 5'8" and 150 lbs and who have played competitive sports in college tend to score as highly as men on the relevant "combat effectiveness" measures. That certainly doesn't seem to be a terribly difficult, costly, time-intensive determination.

Browne also dismisses the potential benefit side of the equation. By using the crude measure ("women should be excluded from combat roles"), surely we miss out on a small number of potential female recruits who would perform brilliantly in that role.

Again, I'm not dismissing Browne's claims about the general, population-wide superiority of men on average on combat effectiveness measures. But his conclusion -- that the only sensible solution is a complete exclusion from combat roles for all women -- simply does not follow. It might follow, but that would require actual evidence. And I'm sorry to say that what substitutes for evidence is the seat of Browne's pants.
12.5.2007 11:52am
Dan Hamilton:
Everyone has agreed that physical and psychological differences between men and women are bell curves that overlap.

I am NOT talking about Pilots. I am talking about Grunts, Ground Pounders, land combat arms.

Look at the selection process for men in the military not just in combat arms. There is a Cutoff in the Bell Curve for men for ground combat arms. That truncates the overall mens curve on the left at some value. Men to the Left of that point in the Bell Curve are not acceptable to the military for ground combat arms. Can you see that curve? Call it the Men's Combat Bell Curve.

The real question is what is the overlap for the Bell Curve for women that COMBINES the Physical and Psychological and the Men's COMBAT Bell Curve.

There will always be some women in the overlap but how many.

Even that overlap has to be mostly on the LEFT side of the Men's Combat Bell Curve. Think how much of that overlap is past the Median of the Men's Combat Bell Curve. Think how much is even past the mid point between the truncate point and the Median.

What I believe you would see is that there are very very few women who are past the Median of the Men's Combat Bell Curve. These are the women that increase combat effectiveness. I just don't see that it is worth it.

Now let's look at what would happen in the real world. The truncate point on the Men's Combat Bell Curve would be moved to the left to allow more women in. It might even be moved far to te left as it has been for Firefighters and Police.

Why was the Men's Bell curve truncated to form the Men's Combat Bell Curve in the first place? Because men in the truncated part of the curve got killed, did badly, got others killed because they could not hack it. What that means is that in the real world women in ground combat will mean most of them will be killed/wounded, do badly, and get others killed/wounded. There is NO WAY ARROUND THIS!

There it is. Unless you can show that I am wrong. Show that the women in combat will not be almost all on the left side of the Men's Combat Bell Curve (and mosly on the far left). You are left saying (for the sake of WHAT?) you want to DECREASE COMBAT EFFECTIVENESS, Incress combat deaths/wounded, and have a lot of women killed/wounded in order to do this.

You really think it is worth it?? I don't!
12.5.2007 11:55am
Jebs:
I am sympathetic to the author's beliefs, but I think "Should women serve in combat units?" is asking the wrong question.

The right question is:

"Given that any method of selecting combat soldiers (short of actually exposing them to combat) will entail some type 1 and type 2 errors that reduce combat effectiveness

and

Given that any method of selecting combat soldiers entails some cost,

What is the most efficient selection method--that is, what selection rule enables us to achieve maximum combat unit effectiveness at the lowest possible cost? Is that method selection by gender, or is it something else?"

Gender selection does have the advantage of being cheap. We don't (usually) have to do any complex testing to ascertain whether a recruit is a man or a woman.

It may be true that a random sample of men makes for a better combat unit than a random sample of men and women. But that doesn't imply that gender selection is the best method available to us. The best method may involve including some women, or it may involve excluding all women and a good chunk of men too.
12.5.2007 11:55am
mischief (mail):

It would be costly and inefficient to measure the strength of all recruits in order to isolate that percentage of Chinese Americans who possess strength equal to or greater than the average European/African American.


It would, on the contrary, be easy and effective. Give them weights to lift, steadily increasing the weights, and note when they start having trouble. Give them something to carry and note how long they do it. Etc.

Testing for strength is trivial.
12.5.2007 12:01pm
Tracy W (mail):
Assuming that these pyschological differences are true, exactly how do these psychological differences add up to women being worse in combat than men?

Are soldiers who charge into dangerous situations without thinking per se better soldiers than ones who exhibit some caution? Is, say, an officer who perceives risk in a situation automatically worse than an officer who doesn't worry his thick head about such details? I remember reading a biography of the Duke of Wellington. At that time, warfare involved artillery firing into neatly-lined up blocks of infantry. Most military leaders would line their soldiers up exposed to the atillery, and suffer terrible casualties. The Duke of Wellington would arrange his men on the far side of a ridge and have them lie down, so the cannonballs would mostly go skipping harmlessly away. (Then when he wanted them he'd order them to stand up and march over the ridge). Was the more cautious Duke of Wellington therefore a worse soldier?

Men may be more physically aggressive, but does that make a difference in a combat situation, where it's do to others before they do unto you? There are plenty of cases of women who've killed someone in self-defence. And if we are talking about women who volunteered for combat roles, then we've picked for women who are happy with physical aggression intellectually.

Are soldiers who prefer infliciting pain on someone who may deserve it better soldiers than those who don't?

Pain tolerance - what's the connection here? Are there a lot of times combat soldiers can choose to stop doing something painful that is also necessary to the mission?
12.5.2007 12:02pm
happylee:

According to the lecturer when a male is under stress blood flow to the brain increases by 50%. In contrast, female's blood supply to the brain decreases by 50% during stress. This physilogical response differences account for the ability for males under extreme stress to operate, focus, learn and react, where females would shut down and retreat.


Is this true? It explains so much. There are surely exceptions, but...

And many thanks to Professor Browne for such insightful posts!
12.5.2007 12:03pm
john w. (mail):
qwerty (mail) wrote: "Sounds to me like a lot of these "shortcomings" (prudence, empathy) would be very valuable in combat, especially among the officer corps."

I honestly can't tell if that was intended as sarcasm. Are you seriously suggesting that WW2 would have turned out better if General Patton ("Don't die for your country; make the enemy son of a bitch die for his.") had been a kinder, gentler soul with lots of empathy for the poor misunderstood Nazis?????
12.5.2007 12:04pm
r78:
From what I can piece together from his bio, I think that Kingsley Browne's professional career was devoted to defending corporations against sexual discrimination suits.

In this context, Browne's assertions are not surprising.

I also did not notice any background or degrees in physiology, psychology nor any military experience.

So the conclusions might be best consumed with a shaker of salt nearby . . .
12.5.2007 12:16pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Ref. pain tolerance.
Gen. Grant said that hard marches and short rations are the school of the good soldier.
There are several reasons for this, although I don't know what Grant had in mind.
One is that getting used to pain (feet, back, knees, shoulders, minor injuries) so that one can operate without being distracted by such things is a very big deal. Being distracted by the fewest number of physical issues (pain, hunger, cold, thirst, fatigue, lack of sleep, injuries and wounds) is a major plus. If men have a built-in start on that, that's extremely important. This issue is one of the reasons training is "tough". If it did not count, the accomodations would be like, say, Ramada Inn, the training day would be eight hours long, physical conditioning would take twice as long, so nobody was unduly pushed. And the instructors wouldn't yell.

Another reason Grant is correct, but not necessarily what he was thinking of, is that fatalism is the result of having the Big Green Machine do to you things like short rations and hard marches. And, so, when ordered into combat, the reluctance is modified by the trained-in fatalism.

However, the point is that operating in circumstances of the most hellish distraction is a good thing to be able to do and pain tolerance is a factor.
12.5.2007 12:18pm
r78:

Are you seriously suggesting that WW2 would have turned out better if General Patton ("Don't die for your country; make the enemy son of a bitch die for his.") had been a kinder, gentler soul with lots of empathy for the poor misunderstood Nazis?????

I think you are confusing empathy for the enemy with concern for the well-being of troops under his command - if I understand the OP correctly.
12.5.2007 12:19pm
DangerMouse:
This is the most politically incorrect posting I've seen on this blog. Just wait until all the feminist blogs notice this stuff. Heh.
12.5.2007 12:19pm
Just a thought:
I find it bizarre to see commenters questioning whether physical aggressiveness or pain tolerance is relevant to a combat situation. Combat, by definition, is physical aggression, and combat can most definitely be painful. Those who are more aggressive and are better able to withstand pain, would tend to be better in combat. Common sense and everyone's practical experience shows this is the case.
12.5.2007 12:21pm
Muskrat (mail):
John W., "empathy" and "sympathy" are not the same word. Of course, on average women have larger vocabularies than us guys, so neither you nor I are really qualified to even use this "Language" thing anyway ... maybe we should just post pictures of the things we've killed lately. Mine would show an empty beer bottle.
12.5.2007 12:21pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
qwerty.

Empathy and so forth might be a good thing to have.
But an officer is required to accomplish the mission even at the cost of casualties. He's graded on how few of his people he gets killed, but if he decides he doesn't want to get anybody killed at all and so declines to move, he's toast.
An officer needs to be hard-nosed enough to be prepared to expend youngsters he knows--if he's a platoon leader or company commander--like his own brothers in pursuit of the nation's objectives.
He can grieve, mourn, drink himself to death, or just try to forget later on. At the decisive moment, he is ordering young men to death.
A solid helping of empathy might not be all that useful here.
Or, perhaps, an ability to compartmentalize empathy would be useful.
12.5.2007 12:22pm
frankcross (mail):
Korea might have gone better if MacArthur had not been so macho in taunting the Chinese to enter the war. But the skills needed of a commander are surely different from those required of the average soldier.

Surely, though, it depends on type of war. While empathy might not have been so important in WWII island hopping, I think empathy for civilian populations might be a distinct benefit in Iraq.
12.5.2007 12:23pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
frankcross.
Empathy for the civilian population is a nice thing to have in Iraq. For those guys who don't have it, direcetion from higher will suffice, or they're gone. They're not stupid.

Macarthur wanted the Chinese to enter the war. If he'd had a clue they were coming, the ensuing population control technique of the Chinese (they lost over a million guys for WHAT?) might have started nearer the Yalu than the Imjin.
12.5.2007 12:26pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
qwerty,

I think you have some misguided view of what military officers' job is. It's not to feel empathy and display prudence. It is to kill people. Officers do that by using their own weapons and by directing the weapons of those assigned to them. The men they are leading will not follow if they think their officer is a sissy.
12.5.2007 12:29pm
Cornellian (mail):
I think you have some misguided view of what military officers' job is. It's not to feel empathy and display prudence. It is to kill people.

I would certainly hope an officer would "feel empathy" and "display prudence" with respect to the men under his command. And it's not just his job to "kill people" but to keep the men under his command from getting killed.

The men they are leading will not follow if they think their officer is a sissy.

Nor will they follow a guy who they think has no concern for their welfare.
12.5.2007 12:39pm
Cornellian (mail):
From what I can piece together from his bio, I think that Kingsley Browne's professional career was devoted to defending corporations against sexual discrimination suits.

Oh, the horrors. What was he thinking?
12.5.2007 12:41pm
Lugo:
I also did not notice any background or degrees in physiology, psychology nor any military experience.

Your lack of background hasn't stopped you from making categorical statements and from challenging people who clearly do have superior background and experience than you. So if "lack of background" disqualifies, buh-bye!
12.5.2007 12:43pm
r78:

I think you have some misguided view of what military officers' job is

As you impugned the valor and honor of a Silver Star recipient yesterday, you seemed to be under the impression that the job of military officers is to hand out medals according to political whim . . .
12.5.2007 12:44pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
Cold Warrior,

Your comments about the Chinese are pretty horrible. I don't know where you get your conclusions that the Chinese are weaker than other races. China and the Asian continent are quite a large place with all sizes and shapes of people.

But, assuming your racist comment is true, the difference between chinese men and african men would be pretty low. Size is not the most important factor of combat. Strength, and to an even greater degree, endurance, are the most important.

The key point is that Chinese men fight wars. African men fight wars. European men fight wars. The Chinese don't use women to fight. Nor does any other culture except in the most extreme peril, at which time they are usually using 12 year old boys, too.

Julius Casear wrote that the Romans were at a great disadvantage for size compared to the Germanic tribes he went up against. Yet, the differences in training and discipline proved more important than size.

Yet no one has formed an army of women and used them effectively against even modestly trained or equipped male armies. There's a reason for this. If using women in combat worked, it would have been done.

Women lack even the strength of small men, they lack the stamina, they lack the aggression, they lack just about everything because that's not what they were designed for.
12.5.2007 12:44pm
r78:

So if "lack of background" disqualifies, buh-bye!

I didn't devote my career in private practice to helping corporations screw female workers to assisting corporations be in complete compliance with all applicable laws regarding sexual discrimination and harassment. So I don't come to the table with that baggage.
12.5.2007 12:46pm
Orielbean (mail):
Frank and Richard - have you heard about Mao's memos of how he wanted to test the Americans and so drew them into the Korean conflict - they knew MacArthur well and knew that he would refuse to back down due to his Pacific performance in WWII.

I am agreeing with you - Iraq's "war" makes more sense to be managed as a police action where order restored is more important than casualties. If we miss that goal, we will be the Turks to Lawrence's Arabs. Empathy to understand legit Iraqii complaints is just as important to winning the war as a well-provisioned fighting force that is prepared to take a life on command.
12.5.2007 12:51pm
Legal Shmegal:
Tracy W,

Overall battle tactics don't sum up the differences discussed here. Being aggressive is not the same as being foolish. An example of aggressiveness is charging an enemy machine gun nest despite its overwhelming firepower because otherwise the rest of the fireteam, squad, etc. is pinned down and isn't able to support the higher element, i.e., platoon, company, etc. What some of us are trying to say is that a man in that situation would say, "Screw it. I'll take them out myself," whereas research indicates that a woman would, for example, wait for support from mortars or call in an artillery/air strike. Both will accomplish the mission but the latter may take precious seconds or minutes in which the tide of battle may change for the far worse.
12.5.2007 12:55pm
Jam:
Learning and Gender, by Michael Gurian

(snip)

My example of the differences in boys and girls writing has a visual link. The female visual system (optical and neural) relies more greatly than the male on P cells. These are cells that connect color variety and other sensory activity to upper brain functioning. Boys rely more on M cells, which make spatial activity and graphic clues more quickly accessible.

(snip)

Because of neural and chemical differences in levels and processing of oxytocin, dopamine, testosterone, and estrogen, boys typically need to do some learning through competition. Girls, of course, are competitive too, but in a given day, they will spend less time in competitive learning and less time relating successfully to one another through “aggression-love” — the playful hitting and dissing by which boys show love.

(snip)
12.5.2007 12:56pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
Cornelian,

You have a strange idea of what a military officer's job is.

Marine officers are trained to kill. I imagine the army does the same.

We're even trained to, gasp, put the lives of our Marines in jeopardy. Horrors.

We're even trained to sacrifice individuals for the sake of the mission.

For example, in a chemical warfare environment, if you don't have access to sensors to tell you that a gas attack is now clear and that there are no residues of the gas remaining, Marine officers are trained to disarm the least valuable member of their unit and through a series of steps, slowly unmask him and see if he reacts to any remaining gas. If he survives or is otherwise unaffected, the officer can give the command to the rest of the men to unmask.

You think that is a job that requires putting the lives of your men first? Do you think that Marine will ever think you had empathy? Do you think that officer could delegate that job to a sergeant?

Military officers are also trained to send men to outposts or conduct recon that they know has a low chance of survivability if the mission requires it. They are trained and expected to make their men charge up a hill behind them into machine gun nests, knowing that a lot will die.

The job of a military officer is to kill and do whatever is necessary to accomplish the mission. No empathy required.

Cornelian's comments go a long way to explaining why so many people don't understand this issue. Too many people do not understand the nature of the job of combat arms.

After the war, soldiers or Marines might sit around and say, oh, this officer or that was good or bad because he had empathy, but that isn't the real grade. The real grade is whether the mission got accomplished. Sometimes that requires bullying. Sometimes that requires convincing. The military officer has to be able to do both.

When I was a midshipman and a Marine option, an officer told me that all Marine officers are jerks because nice guys wouldn't make other people get out of a safe fighting hole and run towards where people are shooting at them.
12.5.2007 12:58pm
Cornellian (mail):
Military officers are also trained to send men to outposts or conduct recon that they know has a low chance of survivability if the mission requires it.

The key point being, "if the mission requires it." Sending soldiers on unnecessary missions with low probability of survival is an entirely different matter.

Cornelian's comments go a long way to explaining why so many people don't understand this issue. Too many people do not understand the nature of the job of combat arms.

Perhaps you didn't read my comment carefully. I didn't say it was an officer's job to avoid all risk. Rather, he needs to measure risk against necessity and I don't read your comment as disputing that.
12.5.2007 1:04pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
Yes, Cornelian, but that measurement is only for the sake of preserving your own unit's strength and morale for the next battle. It has no other purpose.
12.5.2007 1:12pm
Legal Shmegal:
Cornellian,

Your distinction is without difference. No one advocates sending Marines on a suicide mission that is wholly unnecessary. The point is that when the mission does require it, research indicates that men are more willing than women to risk lives in accomplishing that mission.
12.5.2007 1:14pm
Legal Shmegal:
And it's not just his job to "kill people" but to keep the men under his command from getting killed.

That's plainly incorrect. Everyone's heard the term "acceptable casualties."
12.5.2007 1:17pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Cold Warrior:

The Wikipedia article on the ecological fallacy is garbled. For example look at this statement in the first paragraph.


“In statistical terminology the equivalent term used is biased sampling and is avoided by using methods such as stratified sampling.”



Biased sampling pertains to samples that are not representative of the target population. Examples are response bias and survivor bias. This has little to do with the ecological fallacy. Stratified sampling is a method used to reduce sample size by exploiting homogeneity within the strata. Again this has little to do with the ecological fallacy.

The ecological fallacy (also called the ecological inference problem) has to do with the spurious calculation of individual level correlations from aggregates. For example suppose we want to know the correlation between income and voting. If we use average incomes at the state level and voting outcomes at the state level (50 pairs), we don’t get the correct answer. Sampling has nothing to do with the error as we still get the wrong answer even if all the data is used instead of a sample.
12.5.2007 1:19pm
Cold Warrior:
Skyler said:


Your comments about the Chinese are pretty horrible. I don't know where you get your conclusions that the Chinese are weaker than other races. China and the Asian continent are quite a large place with all sizes and shapes of people.

But, assuming your racist comment is true,


Good Lord, could people please pay attention to context?

I am not saying this is true. I have no idea if it is. Probably Chinese Americans are somewhat smaller of stature on average than the other classes of Americans I described. But that wasn't the point. The point was the opposite: that there are certainly many, many Chinese Americans who have greater physical strength than many, many European or African Americans.

So I make an argument that crude racial/gender classifications are a very bad idea, and I get accused of saying something racist.

A fine example of why intelligent discourse is dying out today ...
12.5.2007 1:21pm
Cold Warrior:

Cold Warrior:

The Wikipedia article on the ecological fallacy is garbled. For example look at this statement in the first paragraph.


Yes it is.

I linked to it quickly to give folks an idea of the concept I was talking about.

Sample bias/error is quite a different thing, and really has no place in the "ecological fallacy" entry.

Although the Wiki entry is misleading about the meaning of the term, it remains abundantly clear to me that Browne's argument is, in fact, a prime example of the ecological fallacy.

Perhaps his book makes the better argument: that the cost of separating the wheat (strong/combat-suited women) from the chaff (women ill-suited for combat) is so high that the only practicable solution is to bar women from combat duty. That is an interesting proposition, but it is not one I am inclined to accept without very good evidence. After all, Browne points us to a number of studies that measure potential combat effectiveness, none of which appears to be terribly costly or time consuming, and all of which could be used to identify the subset of women who are well-suited to combat roles.
12.5.2007 1:26pm
john w. (mail):
I'm just curious:
Does *anybody* in this discussion actually have hand-to-hand combat experience? Has any of us ever killed a man at close range or watched his/her buddy get blown to bits up close &personal? In other words, do any of us really know what we are talking about? (I'd guess from recent posts that maybe 'Skyler' does; but anyone else??

I'll admit that I don't. The grand total of my military 'experience' was 2 years of ROTC training on a nice safe college campus, over 40 years ago. .... On the other hand, I have at least killed things: e.g. I shot a deer last week. And yet I have the feeling that even that meager little experience probably makes me more of an expert in violent death than 90% of the folks who are pontificating away here. (Talk about the one-eyed man being King in the land of the blind.)
12.5.2007 1:28pm
agesilaus:
Tracy W,
You have no idea what combat is like. And this isn't the "if you weren't in the military you cannot discuss this" , line. But decisions are made is a fraction of a second. A door is broken down, you see something move in the dark, do you shoot or not? You have 1/4 of a second to decide. A wrong decision, either way means that you shot a child or that you didn't shoot and you and your team get shot by a terrorist. Calm consideration does not come into it, drill, drill and instantaneous aggressive evaluation mean you live or die. And you do all this is 120 degrees, thirsty, tired and carrying 100 pounds of gear. You had three hours sleep in the last three days, you haven't had a shower in 5 weeks, two of your team were sent to the hospital from an IED this morning and so on.
12.5.2007 1:28pm
theobromophile (www):

Although it is commonly asserted that women have a higher tolerance for pain than men – a belief apparently resting on women’s endurance of painful childbirth – a large body of data refutes that argument. Instead, women generally withstand pain less well than men. A major review of pain studies found differences of over one-half a standard deviation for both pain threshold (the level at which a stimulus is perceived as painful) and pain tolerance (the level at which pain is no longer bearable).

Two things. From the studies I've seen, the "pain" administered (quite understandably, as it is really the only way to conduct a controlled experiment) is through the skin. Women's nerves are closer to the skin surface than are men's. This does not tell us, however, how they both deal wtih fatigue, endurance, and the like - note the evidence that women are better able to metabolise fat in certain circumstances. While that is not directly related to pain tolerance (assuming equal administered pain), it does relate to how well people's bodies hold up in the field. Pain tolerance isn't much of an issue if you aren't in pain to begin with. ;)

Furthermore, I've heard that women's pain tolerance radically increases after childbirth, at least for the purposes of athletics. (I can't find the cite, but I've heard that elite marathoners improve after childbirth, which is strange because the hips spread out, and narrow hips are strongly correlated with running efficiency.)
12.5.2007 1:32pm
r78:
JohnN - its interesting that the discussion centers almost exclusively on soldiers on the groung engaged in actual combat as popularly understood - being out on patrol or expected to engage the "enemy". (I have wondered if the 10% figure includes rotation - whether _at one time_ only 10% is so engaged but 20 or 30% might be engaged over time)

My imperfect understanding is that only about 10% of deployed soldiers in Iraq are routinely involved in combat and that 90% are in support capacities. Then you can factor in the fact that the 150,000 or 160,000 troops in Iraq are only a small percentage of those in our Armed forces.

There are, no doubt, positions that require great aggression, and upper body strength and ability to resist pain. But there are also a number of positions that require the ability to sit in an air-conditioned trailer and operate a drone by remote control. (And, of course, there is no question in my mind that boys are better at video games.)
12.5.2007 1:36pm
Mark Field (mail):

I am fairly sure that Marine Corps DIs and their Army counterparts have a good empirical system in place to wash out those who will not do well in combat. They may not be able to write a paper on what they are doing but the evidence shows that it works. Of course this system is not 100% effective but I suspect the failure rate is low.


I suspect you're right, but that's not what the post said. I'm only judging his logic.

BTW, how's that Persian thing going for you?


You're a few posts behind me there, Mark ;)


Not for the first time.

Corollary to the point I made in yesterday's thread, the skeptics here seem to have a broader view of the military's role than Browne or his defenders. The latter focus on the specific case of actual combat, the latter on the more general actions armies take before, during, and after combat itself. I'm not claiming one side is right or wrong, just noting that seems to be the case.

I will say, though, that once you open the door to women in the military at all -- which we've done, of course -- it can be hard to distinguish formal combat roles from non-combat, espcially in unstructured situations like Iraq. This suggests to me that training women soldiers for combat is a good idea, even we don't (yet) put them in formal combat roles. That just allows them to protect themselves. It also may give us some empirical guidance on their actual performance in combat. Anybody disagree?
12.5.2007 1:37pm
Lugo:
I didn't devote my career in private practice to helping corporations screw female workers to assisting corporations be in complete compliance with all applicable laws regarding sexual discrimination and harassment.

Huh. So your view is that corporations should not be assisted to be in compliance with the law, and should not be defended when they are not? I am sure you would sputter with outrage if someone suggested that vicious felons should be denied legal advice, but eeeeeevil corporations are a different case entirely, it seems.

So I don't come to the table with that baggage.

Irrelevant. Exactly what background do you have that qualifies you to make categorical statements about women in combat? You have said that lack of such qualifications means we can discount whatever the unqualified person says. Apply this standard to yourself and you must cease making your biased, ignorant comments immediately.
12.5.2007 1:38pm
Richard Gould-saltman (mail):
Jam:

While this is tangential to the point being discussed here, that your home-schooling lecturer made the assertion that you remember should tell you a lot about the validity of any other ostensibly scientific information that person was dispensing.

You'll note that in the study you located, there's lots of discussion of activation, neuro-messenger levels, etc.,
(my adolescent son was a volunteer subject for one of the brain differentiation studies a few years ago; I have a lovely MRI "portrait" of his head as an occasional screen-saver) but that nowhere does anyone say, "Oh yeah, and as everyone knows, we observed that when you subject women to stress, the blood flow to their brains drops by 50%, as contrasted with the men, whose brain blood flow increases 50%."
12.5.2007 1:38pm
abu hamza:
seems like this guest blogger has really smoked out all the mysoginists, who in their abundant comments seem a bit over-gleeful in talking about the weaknesses of the fairer sex.
12.5.2007 1:38pm
r78:
Re what soldiers actually do - here is a link to a Times article.

It is a bit old but it's interesting that that the "combat" troops seems to have dropped from 20% circa Vietnam to about 11% today.
12.5.2007 1:41pm
r78:

I am sure you would sputter with outrage if someone suggested that vicious felons should be denied legal advice,

Actually, I don't believe that vicious felons have any right to legal advice.

People accused of being vicious felons do.

But I imagine that distinction doesn't matter to people who are apparently incapable of making distinctions in their thought.
12.5.2007 1:44pm
Common_sense:
As a former Army infantry officer, I do have the experience to talk on this point. The problem seems to be that so many people come into this debate with such pre-conceived notions that it really doesn't matter. In the debate yesterday, focusing on the physical differences, I thought the issue was pretty cut and dry, but people still protested, although some of the issues revolved around combat pilots, which isn't the main focus. As far as other differences, I don't think this thread offers too, too much. Most of the data is hard to prove or disprove. In addition to the phyiscal aspects, to me the most important thing is how a female combat soldier's peers, superiors, and subordinates would react to her. Based on the army recruiting pool, it wouldn't be well. The army was able to lead the way in racial integration in WWII because there was a need. The army is not in a time or place right now to integrate women into combat units, most especially the infantry. The army is not a place for social integration. I think there are the same issues with homosexuals. Eliminate prejudice in society at large, especially the areas that are most receptive to entering the Army, then bring the Army along. Also, another point that gets mentioned from time to time. What happens when we have to draft? No one who is pro-women in combat has addressed that. The costs simply aren't worth the benefits.
12.5.2007 1:48pm
wfjag:
Cold Warrior:


I certainly don't want to drag this discussion into one regarding race, but with respect to physical strength would it not be possible to say:

1. Chinese Americans tend to be less strong than European Americans or African Americans.

2. It would be costly and inefficient to measure the strength of all recruits in order to isolate that percentage of Chinese Americans who possess strength equal to or greater than the average European/African American.

3. Therefore, an exclusion of Chinese Americans from combat roles is the most effective policy.

Tell me: how is this different than the argument Browne is making? Surely Browne does not hold to the viewpoint that there is no such thing as an aggressive/strong/bellicose woman who can kick his/my butt?

Now, I don't really have a huge interest in the outcome of the military's policy. It just isn't a hot-button issue for me.


Quite obviously your last 2 sentences summarize your biases. But, let me see if I can explain/illustrate your error to your satisfaction.

The "discrimination" is not based on race. It's based on physical size, strength and fitness -- all of which are individual characteristics only remotely associated with race.

If your ancestors are from certain places in China, especially Manchuria, you have a good chance of being around 6 feet tall. If your ancestors are from certain African tribes, you have a good chance of being around 7 feet tall. That's a competitive advantage for getting a Basketball Scholarship to college or becoming a NBA Center. However, that height will disqualify you from military service. For example, the driver's compartment of the M-1 Abrams tank is very, very cramped, and depending on the way the turret is turned, hard to impossible to get in and out of. Being less than 5'10" is an advantage for a tank driver, and if you have to get out because the tank's on fire, a matter of life and death. However, inside the turret, the loader has to heft the main gun's rounds from the storage rack and load the gun. "Shoot first or die" is the rule that applies. Being a big, strong person, especially upper body strength, with the stamina to do the pulling, lifting, turning and pushing movements, is required. These are individual characteristics, having at most only a very indirect relationship to race.

However, they are also individual characteristics that have a close relationship to gender.

Still, for other combat roles, women may have an advantage in some circumstances. Women (evolved or were created, take your choice) to go through labor and have children. The physical characteristics of that also tend to give women an advantage in better handling the high G-forces in jet fighters in combat maneuvers. Providing separate accomodations for sleeping, showering, bathrooms, etc., is not a major issue on airbases and aircraft carriers, and when engaged in combat using planes that cost tens to hundreds of millions of dollars (the last estimated cost I saw on the F-22 Rapter was $250 million each), it makes sense to have pilots less likely to black out under the highest G-forces experienced.

When Army and Marine units are integrated by gender, not only do physical size/strength issues have to be considered, all of the personal privacy issues have to be addressed, as do unit cohesion and morale. Soldiers and Marines fight and die for the other members of their fire team or squad, not for Mom, apple pie, the flag, etc. The psychology of figher pilots is different. There's a much larger element of "I'm better than you" and pushing a button so you can watch the blip on your radar screen (your missile) as it closes with another blip (the enemy plane) at distances of up to 100 miles, is different than zeroing the site of your M-16 or M-4 on someone's face or body at 200 meters or less, and then watching blood and guts splurt out and hearing a scream, and then choosing another person to shoot and repeat the process. The Army and Marines are becoming better and better at weeding out those who cannot do that -- in the first 180 days, under the expedited discharge program, a basic trainee can "quit" for any reason, or no reason at all. By that time basic trainees should have a very good idea of what ground combat may entail. The washout rates are fairly high -- since by that time the trainees should know what military life and discipline entails, and whether they can adapt to it, the physical demands, the lack of privacy, and everything else it entails.

Military doctrine is conservative, because it's based on historic, life and death experiences. The first Union Commander to accept Black Soldiers was Grant. After his supply lines were cut in Sept. 1862, the only thing he had plenty of was paper and script to print greenbacks on, and a freed slaves who were entering his lines in Northern Mississippi. To add to the number of Soldiers for guarding in rear areas, he enlisted many of the former slaves and provided them rudimentary training. One of those units, a Battalion, assigned to guard a town near his HQ in Northeast Louisiana, was attacked by a Texas Regiment. Both units fought to nearly the last man. As I recall, Grant awarded 19 Metals of Honor to members of the Black unit. Grant's only criticism of Black Soldiers was long the lines that they didn't know when to retreat. The first ground combat commander in Europe to ask for Black Soldiers was Patton. He asked for the 761st Indep. Tank Battalion. He needed trained and equipted tankers to kill Krauts -- and didn't care about the color of the American Soldiers who did that. That unit distinguished itself. So did the "Red Tailed Devils" who never lost a bomber they escorted to German fighters also distinguished themselves -- and, like the 761st, got the chance to do so because trained and equipted personnel were needed. The Japanese-American regiment distinguished itself in Italy (and other places). In other words, based on the harsh experience of combat operations, race is not a factor in performance.

Whether in GWOT operations, where there is no "rear area", women will similarly distinguish themselves in ground combat, I cannot say. Some women already have. However, false heros like Jessica Lynch, and criminals like Ms. England, and incompetents like the former BGen who allegedly was in command of the units at Abu Ghraib (and who said that a Sergeant wouldn't let her enter the facility, so she couldn't know what was going on), don't support concluding that women should be integrated into ground combat units.

Equating race and gender when discussing the military is a fallacious argument. The military is not a social experiment. Race is an irrelevant consideration. If and when gender is irrelevant are open questions.
12.5.2007 1:55pm
r78:

The army was able to lead the way in racial integration in WWII because there was a need.

Weren't most of the blacks in the Army in WWII segregated into black units?
12.5.2007 1:56pm
r78:

Whether in GWOT operations, where there is no "rear area", women will similarly distinguish themselves in ground combat, I cannot say.

Roger that, I just completed my daily patrol of Starbucks and I can report that we are free of Jihadists today. (Or maybe just _apparently_ so.)
12.5.2007 2:03pm
john w. (mail):
" ... The army was able to lead the way in racial integration in WWII because there was a need...."

I would think that racial integration during WW2 was also a success due to the simple fact that in reality there are no significant physical or psychological differences between Black men and White men. But on the other hand, there really are *huge* physical &psychological &sociological differences between men and women. Therefore, the analogy with racial integration kind of breaks down.

But the point I was trying to lead to in my earlier post was that I suspect that most of the people who are advocating women in combat just don't realize, at a gut level (no pun intended) just how hellish ground combat is.

I don't care how many times they've watched "Saving Private Ryan" or "Full Metal Deer Apocalypse" on TV -- it just ain't the same as the real thing.
12.5.2007 2:04pm
GatoRat:
What bothers me is the notion suggested by the author on several occasions (though not always) that sex is a good proxy to determine combat roles. It seems to me that deficiency here is the lack of truly objective (versus traditional and/or anecdotal) measurable criteria of what the actual requirements are for specific jobs, and the political willingness to accept that the result may heavily favor one sex over the other.
12.5.2007 2:08pm
Jam:
Richard Gould-saltman: When I get home I am going to try to find any notes that I may have taken. It could have been 15%. The lecture dealt with optimum learning environment and research was quoted on the differences between males and females. Some of the issues discussed were color perception, spatial perception, room temperature and stress.

The blood flow to the brain comes into play under stress condition and affects, among other things, memory. Hence, understanding of these differences when dealing with a child, in my case a certain young boy who just hates to write and, often, when instructed to write an essay, just stares into the air or the blank piece of paper, bringing certain level of stresses when he does not complete the given task.

The lecture was given by a person held in high esteem in the home schooling movement, but not just among home schoolers, who is highly successful in teaching writing and training teachers.

My 3 oldest children are boys and the youngest is a girl. We definitely see differences.
12.5.2007 2:12pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Just a historical note: the army was integrated (meaning blacks weren't relegated to their own specific support units) primarily after WWII, in the years right before and including the Korean War.
12.5.2007 2:19pm
Curt Fischer:
@jam

[...]
http://ts-si.org/content/view/2729/1120/
[...]


Thanks for doing a bit of googling! The link you found seemed much more reasonable in its claims. Obviously your point that men and women react differently to stress still stands, based on the findings in your link.

But, importantly, the claim that women's reaction is to retreat and men's is to aggress, is no longer supported.
12.5.2007 2:20pm
GatoRat:
In World War II, black that served in combat served in segregated units. In 1948 Truman ordered the military be fully integrated, though it took until 1954 for this to be accomplished.
12.5.2007 2:21pm
Cold Warrior:
The incoherent grandstanding Skyler said:


The Army and Marines are becoming better and better at weeding out those who cannot do that -- in the first 180 days, under the expedited discharge program, a basic trainee can "quit" for any reason, or no reason at all. By that time basic trainees should have a very good idea of what ground combat may entail. The washout rates are fairly high -- since by that time the trainees should know what military life and discipline entails, and whether they can adapt to it, the physical demands, the lack of privacy, and everything else it entails


And I thank her for proving my point: that it would be a relatively simple matter to weed out those women ill-suited for combat roles (a pool that will already be quite small thanks to self-selection).
12.5.2007 2:25pm
Cold Warrior:
Oops, it wasn't Skyler, it was the incoherent grandstanding "wfjag."

Sorry Skyler.
12.5.2007 2:28pm
trekker (mail):
The big problems with this argument are the failures to present any evidence that the characteristics in question translate into poor combat ability and the failure to consider how these characteristics might interact with other "female" characteristics to counterbalance any negative affects on combat performance.

For instance, I've read of studies previously indicating that women process emotions much more easily and quickly then men. So if that's true, does the increased fear that women feel compared to men really matter in terms of performance? Maybe women feel increased fear but can cope with that increased fear better than the average man can cope with a lower level of fear? And isn't how the fear is coped with in the end as or more important than the level of fear an individual experiences?

The same goes for this empathy argument. The studies I've seen of empathy usually note that people with higher empathy don't necessarily have more sympathy for people they empathize with. It just means they're able to see things from the other point of view better. (And personally, it's been my observation that women, once angered, can be 10X as viscious as men toward others)

Does increased risk taking capacity translate to better combat performance in modern warfare? I would guess it does but has anyone actually studies this? Someone gave an example of how a guy might say screw it and charge a fortified gun to take it out where a woman would call in air or artillary support to take it out instead and therefore the guy would save valuable time. This positive conclusion, of course, assumes the guy is successful. If he's not, then all that's happened is more dead people before having to call in the artillary or air support anyway. So I think there's a case to be made that the risk taking tendency can cut both ways as long as you are not arguing that women are incapable of taking risk at all, which is the conclusion that it appears some want to draw. But that's not really what the studies are saying.
12.5.2007 2:30pm
agesilaus:
r78:
Let me from personal experience tell what happens when you fill up all the rear echelon jobs with women. This happened in the Navy, where I served on subs. The Navy had a sea-shore rotation policy. They knew that leaving men on sea duty for long periods led to those men not re-enlisting. There was one infamous example of the Enterprise which had a 3 year rotation overseas and when they came back they lost something like 70% of the crew. On the sub I was on we spent 143 days underwater on one mission. Showers were locked about 3 days into the 143 days.

So the practice in theory was that men would serve a sea rotation and then an equal rotation in a shore job. So you could see your family for 3 years out of six anyway.

But when they greatly increased the number of women in the Navy they filled up those shore billets with women. This meant there was no place to send the men who were due for a shore rotation. Whichn meant that they increased the length of the sea rotation, people got fed up and refused to re-enlist.

The law of unintended consequences.

My father spent 26 years in the Army and I grew up on Army bases, but that was in the time before all this occured. So Im am unsure if the Army or Marines have a corresponding program.

This brings to mind another physiological difference. I've seen studies that show that women are much less able to deal with long periods of minimal hygiene. The 140 days without a shower in my past, or weeks in the field in mud and dirt for ground pounders. Women tend to suffer health breakdowns in these conditions much more often then men.
12.5.2007 2:37pm
common_sense:
Its been awhile since I trained with a mixed sex unit, but I believe the reg was that women required the opportunity for some sort of bath/shower every 3 days. I don't know what medical science this was based on, but I do remember sitting in the mud wishing the rule applied to me.
12.5.2007 2:47pm
john w. (mail):
" .... in the first 180 days, under the expedited discharge program, a basic trainee can "quit" for any reason, or no reason at all. ... (a pool that will already be quite small thanks to self-selection).

Is anybody STUPID and NAIVE enough to think that 'self-selection' and 'expedited discharge' will continue to exist after the day when the politicians bring back the Draft?? (which they will inevitably do once they finally manage to get us immeshed in something too big for a volunteer army to handle)

I personally agree with Heinlein that "conscription is slavery." but I'm afraid I'm in the minority.

+++++++++++++++++++++++

" ... I also think there are prices too high to pay to save the United States. Conscription is one of them. Conscription is slavery, and I don't think that any people or nation has a right to save itself at the price of slavery for anyone, no matter what name it is called. ... If a country can't save itself through the volunteer service of its own free people, then I say: Let the damned thing go down the drain!" -- R.A. Heinlein, 1961
12.5.2007 2:47pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
For reportage of direct experience of hand-to-hand combat during the Iraq war, see this posting by Michael Totten.
12.5.2007 2:50pm
common_sense:
John W.
Although I disagree with you, I would say that the chief justice of the Supreme Court during the Civil War held your viewpoint. The state supreme court of PA actually heard a case and ruled that way.
12.5.2007 2:50pm
r78:
McNeil -

Do you believe this:


In the kitchen, we found drugs and U.S. Army-issue auto injectors. They had been full of atropine and epinephrine. The muj inside the house had shot the drug directly into their hearts. It acted like PCP – angel dust – and kept them going long after my bullets should have killed them.
12.5.2007 3:05pm
wfjag:
Cold Warrior:

Between your race baiting and ad hominem attacks, you've told me all I need about you to properly weigh you comments. Since it isn't apparent that you are familiar with the meaning of "ad hominem" and it's lack of validity as a form of logical argument, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem.

FYI: I'll compare my deployments with yours. Do you:
1. Know what a 7.62 mm round sounds like whizzing by your head?
2. Do you know what a mass grave looks like?
3. Do you know what a mass grave smells like?
4. Have you ever seen a rape camp?
5. Have you ever known someone who was held in a rape camp?
6. Have you ever seen a "Bouncing Betty" go off?
7. Have you ever seen what a "toe popper" will do to a human foot and ankle?

I can answer all those questions "Yes." Can you? And, I can add quite a few more to the list. Be careful taking your knowledge from the movies. They are fiction.
12.5.2007 3:32pm
qwerty (mail):
"I think you have some misguided view of what military officers' job is. It's not to feel empathy and display prudence. It is to kill people."

That's correct, but only in a videogame.
12.5.2007 3:50pm
Cold Warrior:

3. Do you know what a mass grave smells like?
4. Have you ever seen a rape camp?


Bragging about raping Iraqi women? You've hit a new low.



[I'm beginning to see how much fun this "deliberately misunderstanding someone to support my fake indignation" thing can be!]

Well, at least now it is evident that your argument is not an argument at all. It is an emotional appeal. Then again, what else would we expect from a woman?
12.5.2007 3:50pm
qwerty (mail):
I don't think comparing military credentials is useful here. Anyone can be a general on the internet. A civilian can make valid points about the military. It just so happens that Mr. Browne doesn't.
12.5.2007 3:53pm
Smallholder (mail) (www):
As many have said previously, the army wasn't integrated until Truman did it by fiat over the strenuous objections of the army (predominantly white and southern) leadership. The arguments condemning Truman's actions are similar enough to the anti-gay and female integration that it gives many of us pause. After a short period of adjustment, the military adapted. The issue of blacks and whites serving together was somewhat of a problem with the draftees of the Vietnam era, but modern volunteers tend to accept the reality. As I said in an earlier post, my father attributes his support for racial equality to his marine sevice in the Korean War. He rapidly discovered that there were plenty of black soldiers who were more reliable than white soldiers. Thus, people are people are people.

The physical factors for women make a much stronger case than concewrns about unit cohesion. If strength is still a primary requirement for combat and if every soldier needs to be able to perform every task that could possibly arise (and our active duty folks say there is), the anti-integration folks have a strong case.

Some folks have objected to the idea of allowing women able to meet the male standard join combat units because they fear what will happen if the draft is reinstated. These folks are - I'm not sure how to put this delicately - delusional. We live in a democracy. Any politician who supports intstituting the draft will be turned out the next election cycle. Support for the war in Iraq would be almost nonexistent if the middle class feared its own children might be going overseas. The military itself doesn't want a draft - they remember the morale problems during Vietnam. In short, anyone who understands modern politics and brings up the spectre of the draft is a demagogue (see Charles Rangel, et. al.) Anyone who honestly fears a draft isn't thinking clearly and their arguments should be discounted.

I have read several people who assert that the higher level of testosterone is determinative of aggression. One hopes that the repeated statistic that men have ten times as much of the hormone is not being used to say that men are therefore ten times more aggressive. Biology doesn't often lead to straight line correlations. I become somewhat concerned when people make the masculinity argument because it echoes an anti-black integration trope that got a lot of play back in the late forties. An essential element of Southern racist ideology was a denial of black masculinity. That didn't turn out to be a true assumption. Perhaps in the right environment and with the right training, women could be as aggressive as their male counterparts. Anyone who is a parent - male or female - discovers that there are huge wells of untapped violence deep in their soul. Threaten our children and we will unleash the beast. Brotherhood in war is (some evolutionary biologists claim) an example of how the kin selection hard wiring of our brain has been sublimated into unit cohesion and/or patriotism. Our anscestors were willing to die for their comrades in war because there was a high likelihood that the members of their tribe shared many of their genes. So we are hardwired to lay down our lives for the group if it is necessary. The group now contains people with no relationship to us but the brain doesn't recognize that on a subconcious level. There must be at least some of that within the female genome.

In an earlier thread Mr. Aubrey seemed to be astonished that I didn't (don't?) understand that modern warfare still requires great brute strength. I must be slow, because I am still somewhat unconvinced of strength's universal necessity. Within a platoon, the members are not all interchangable. Different soldiers have different skill sets. This is reality - a modern combat rifleman can't be an expert at all the skills needed on the modern battlefield. If we can rely on a trained specialist for higher level first aid or to properly run the auto-loader in the tank, why can't we rely on the bigger members of the team for the grunt work? (My uncle was what the marines called a "gun bunny" - his size meant that he was assigned to be the loader on his 105 crew. Many of the battery members that landed with him at Iwo Jima could not lift the shells - but they didn't need to.

Someone else objected to my turret analogy and said that swining a 50 cal on a Hummer turret did require great strength. Having completed my service years ago, I don't really recall how hard it was to swing a support weapon in a cupola - I may have done it a few times in the maintenance shed, but I just don't recall one way or another. However, I suspect that the fact that it is mounted on a rotating track means that you don't actually have to support the weight of the machinegun and that most of the recoil is absorbed by the mount. Are there any current soldiers who can speak to this issue?

Another commentor argued that even if soldiers don't hump 20 miles to combat, the rough, bouncy ride to combat in the back of a Bradley is physically exhausting. Having marched with a full pack and ridden in a Bradley, I have to disagree. Riding in a Bradley is very uncomfortable - particularly if you are 6'2 and 210 pounds (ah, to be 210 pounds again...). But it wasn't nearly as exhausting as marching. That's the point. Mechanized infantry can go faster and further and be ready to fight when they arrived. The kinks from the ride can get worked out pretty quickly. If anything, I think being a smaller female would be an advantage when riding in the back of a Bradley - it is a cramped space back there).

Again, I don't know how strongly I have a dog in this fight. Idealistically, I'd like everyone to have equal opportunities. But we live in the real world. I am not willing to increase the chance of casualties in order to satisfy my egalitarian instincts. I'm willing to be convinced that the shortcomings of women would lead to higher casulties (in which case I would oppose gender integration), but I haven't been convinced yet.
12.5.2007 3:57pm
frankcross (mail):
wfjag, the argument wasn't an ad hominem. You suggested that the military could effectively screen candidates. Which undermines any argument for an a priori categorical standard. However, criticizing another's argument based on their personal attributes (e.g., not having seen a rape camp) is in fact an ad hominem argument.
12.5.2007 3:58pm
Cold Warrior:

Since it isn't apparent that you are familiar with the meaning of "ad hominem" and it's lack of validity as a form of logical argument


I did not make an ad hominem attack. Your argument was incoherent: "lacking orderly continuity, arrangement, or relevance." As for grandstanding ("playing or acting so as to impress onlookers"): I think your latest missive proves that. It is nothing more than "I've seen hell and I wouldn't want a woman to be there in these situations."

Or something like that.

It is not an argument. It is a suggestion that only those who have been in combat should have the ability to weigh-in on this issue. And maybe that's true, but obviously that is not what Kingsley Browne is attempting to do. He is attempting to construct a solid argument based on the physiological, emotional, and mental differences between men and women. Many of us have pointed out the logical flaws in the argument as he presented it on this blog. Perhaps his book provides more support or rhetorical power. I don't know. But as presented here, the argument is flawed because the conclusion ("The only practical way of ensuring combat readiness is to exclude women") does not follow from the evidence.
12.5.2007 4:09pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Smallholder.
The reason the military cross-trains people is because nobody knows who's going to have to do what in the chaos of battle. We even trained junior EM to make squad or fireteam leader decisions, just in case being in country three months made you senior in whatever little group happened to be in the shitter.
If the guy who can cock the M2 from the prone position is dead.... You see my point?
I'm too old to have ridden in a Brad, but the 113 was a hoot going hard over broken ground. It was a three-ticket ride. I have a distant relation who's had two tours in an Abrams and was shocked at how rough and bang-around the Brad was in comparison.
The point is not that it is as tough as marching. After all, you use different muscles to keep yourself from breaking your nose or arm while being thrown around from a supposedly sitting position. The point is that you use energy, of which there is a limited supply, and then you get out and have to go at 200% in combat.
What normally happens in the predictable--ha!--combat scenario is one thing. The unpredictable may well require one's peak strength. And that's one place where muscle, as lower-class and last-century as muscle is, is still going to determine the outcome.

It is said that Navy boot camp had a test where two guys had to carry a third on a litter through a simulated maze of ship's passageways. Women couldn't pass the test. So the Navy switched to four women carrying the litter. So, now they can pass the test! Isn't that wonderful? But picturing four women trying to get a litter with a casualty on it down the passageways of a damaged ship under battle conditions (watertight doors closed unless jammed open, unless jammed shut) makes me glad we've had nobody in the family afloat since 1945.
But they can pass the test. Terrific.

BTW, and not only in the military world: The reason for race or gender norming tests is so you can sue for discrimination. "They both have the same scores. So the hiring/promotion decision must be discriminatory." Like this is a secret.
12.5.2007 4:12pm
Dave D. (mail):
wfjag,

....The 332nd, Tuskegee airmen, lost 25 bombers. The claim that they never lost a bomber is spurious. ( www.acepilots.com )
12.5.2007 4:33pm
Lazy 3L:
There are too many stupid people posting on this thread. I would like to encourage them to stop. I will now take my own advice and go back to lurking.
12.5.2007 4:34pm
common sense (www):
First, I would say the draft argument is a real concern. You are correct, in the current political climate, its not realistic. However, once we integrate women, do we kick them back out once things change enough that we do have a draft? During this tiny, discrete point in time a large land war that would require a draft isn't likely. But this policy will be in effect longer than that, and a draft may well happen at some point in the future in response to unforeseen circumstances. Those talking about a draft aren't demagogues in the least.

Secondly, everyone in a light infantry platoon had better be able to drag out anyone else and all of their critical equipment. Even if its unrealistic to believe that everyone will have to do all jobs, its completely realistic to expect everyone to at least have the ability to drag someone and carry their equipment.

Third, with regards to a turret mounted crew served weapon- those things still require strength. Most are not powered, and swinging it around in a HUMVEE, especially one that's been on patrol in the desert awhile does require a large amount of strength.

I think we look on racial integration in the army far too fondly. It did result in additional deaths in Vietnam because of the type of person drafted. There were racial slayings in the 80's. There is still racial tension, and the affirmative action policies that resulted undermine some minority leaders, even if they are fully qualified. Yes, racial integration was the correct thing to do. We can learn lessons, though, from the way it was done. I think this more applies to homosexuals than females, though. As far as females go, the physical requirements of direct ground combat units will only continue to rise as technology increases (you must assume it will break, and when it does you have to drag it, carry it, or blow it up), and the cost of integrating women is not worth the benefit.
12.5.2007 4:48pm
Dave D. (mail):
Smallholder,
...Your claim to absolute moral authority reguarding the impossibility of a future draft would be more believable if we hadn't had the draft in 5 wars. As I recall, we were a Federal Republic, not a Democracy, when those drafts were imposed. You could not resgregate the military racially any more than you can restrict the franchise to property owners, as was done in the past. And when the draft is next instituted, it will be by necessity in a war of national existence. If we have women assigned to combat units, who will argue that they not be replaced by women ? Who could ? The law will require it, feminists will hail it, sergeants will dread it and lefties will love it.
...Why do I hear Hubert Humphteys voice scoffing that insects will never be protected by the ESA ?
12.5.2007 5:03pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
r78 writes:
McNeil — Do you believe this:
In the kitchen, we found drugs and U.S. Army-issue auto injectors.  They had been full of atropine and epinephrine.  The muj inside the house had shot the drug directly into their hearts.  It acted like PCP — angel dust — and kept them going long after my bullets should have killed them.


I believe (without checking) that it’s in the book House to House by David Bellavia, as Totten reports.  As to whether the foregoing statement is accurate, I lack the information to decide — though I have heard similar allegations about insurgent behavior in the past.

Indeed, why wouldn't fanatics expecting their final battle dope themselves up, so they can remain honed at the maximum degree of courage and amplified reflexes?  Rather like the Air Force has done in the past, issuing amphetamines to pilots setting out on long missions, so they will not have any inclination to nod out or otherwise perform at less than maximum awareness.

Are you implying that “Islam” would forbid it for insurgents in such a situation?  Highly unlikely in my view.
12.5.2007 5:11pm
Birch Barlow:
There entire discussion is stupid.

1) A combat position requires certain characteristics, abilities, etc.
2) Gender affects these variables, but is not the sole determinant of said variables.
3) Gender, in an of itself, is not a relevant variable. Knowing the gender of a person is not relevant when evaluating their combat capability.
4) Thus, it is possible that a particular person, who happens to be a woman, is better suited for combat than another person, who happens to be a male, that she is competing against.
12.5.2007 5:12pm
r78:

I think we look on racial integration in the army far too fondly. It did result in additional deaths in Vietnam because of the type of person drafted.

Oh please do expand on this . . .
12.5.2007 5:43pm
wfjag:
Dave D.:

Lt. Colonel Thomas E. Highsmith Jr., "Pingry Remembers America’s Heroes – A Visit with a Tuskegee Airman"
(Nov. 11, 2002):


During their years of service, not one U. S. bomber plane was lost to enemy fire with a Redtail escort.


I was unaware that in March 2007 the USAF issued a new report concluding that 25 bombers were lost to enemy fighters when being escorted by the unit. "Report: Tuskegee Airmen lost 25 bombers" (AP)04/02/2007

http://aimpoints.hq.af.mil/display.cfm?id=17731

Thanks for alerting me to the correction of the record. Even so, they compiled a remarkable, distinguished record. Too bad someone felt the need to try to make it better than it already was.

Cold Warrior — Troll somewhere else, and stop pretending veteran's status.
12.5.2007 5:53pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Weren't most of the blacks in the Army in WWII segregated into black units?
Until the Battle of the Bulge, when shortages of combat soldiers required moving black soldiers into roles that traditionally were white-only.
12.5.2007 5:56pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
r78,

You numbers may or may not be correct regarding the 10% or 15% but I have no reason to doubt them. But the conclusion is obvious. If combat forces are 10% of the military, then what is the need to put women in those roles? Clearly there are plenty of opportunities in other roles.
12.5.2007 6:21pm
wfjag:
frankcross (mail):

wfjag, the argument wasn't an ad hominem. You suggested that the military could effectively screen candidates. Which undermines any argument for an a priori categorical standard.


Basic trainees are in single sex units. Those who self-select for discharge in the first 180 days, or who are eliminated by the command during that time, have not yet served in mixed gender units. They have either decided, or for any number of reasons been found, unsuitable for military service. Either Cold Warrior's attack was based on ignorance of the facts, or it's ad hominem.

Challenging him to discuss his deployment experiences isn't an ad hominem attack. Rather, it was to see if he had any basis for his statements. It's apparent that he doesn't. And, his comment:


Bragging about raping Iraqi women? You've hit a new low.


certainly qualifies as an ad hominem attack.

Your reply indicates that you were unaware that basic training is done in single gender units. So, I disagree with your conclusion. I said that the Army and Marines are getting "better" at screening. And I concluded "If and when gender is irrelevant are open questions."
12.5.2007 6:23pm
Cold Warrior:

Cold Warrior — Troll somewhere else, and stop pretending veteran's status.

I'm a pretty frequent commenter here, and I'm not "pretending veteran's status." I am not a veteran, and I never pretended to be.

I do not know what you are, wfjag, but you certainly seem quite full of yourself.
12.5.2007 6:37pm
Dan Hamilton:
Birch Barlow


1) A combat position requires certain characteristics, abilities, etc.
2) Gender affects these variables, but is not the sole determinant of said variables.
3) Gender, in an of itself, is not a relevant variable. Knowing the gender of a person is not relevant when evaluating their combat capability.
4) Thus, it is possible that a particular person, who happens to be a woman, is better suited for combat than another person, who happens to be a male, that she is competing against.


I what world would (could) that happen. Not in the current real world.

They said they were doing that for the Fire Departments. Didn't work out that way. They lowered the standards until they got the number of women they wanted and by passed the men scoring above them.

They said they were doing that for the Police Departments. Didn't work out that way. They lowered the standards until they got the number of women they wanted and by passed the men scoring above them.

They said they were doing that for the people going into the Military. Didn't work out that way. They lowered the standards until they got the number of women they wanted.

It would be great if the government would or could do what you are asking. But it ain't happening. It is POLITICALLY IMPOSSIBLE.

Of course there is no stopping women being put into combat units. The politics can't be fought. No matter how stupid it might be, it is going to happen. So why fight it. Let women into combat units.

While we are fighting in Iraq and other places and during training, women will be injured, die, etc. and this will be overed up or just not talked about. Much like the problems the Navy has with women on ships. The politicians and women will say what a great thing it is that women are serving in combat units.

Once a real War starts the women in combat units will die (be wounded) quickly in very large numbers. The women back in the US will scream bloody murder and women will be pulled out of combat units. In the between time lots and lots of women will die. Lots and lots of men will die because of the women. The military will be in chaos. Hopefully we will go on to win the War. And that will put an end to the stupidity of putting women into combat units.

Face it people, that is what is going to happen. Nothing is going to stop it.
12.5.2007 6:38pm
Cold Warrior:
wfjag said:


Challenging him to discuss his deployment experiences isn't an ad hominem attack. Rather, it was to see if he had any basis for his statements. It's apparent that he doesn't. And, his comment:

Bragging about raping Iraqi women? You've hit a new low.

certainly qualifies as an ad hominem attack.


We may certainly hope that you are not really a member of the JAG corps. I work for and with many former JAGs. They are intelligent, thoughtful, and exceptional lawyers. They are more than capable of making a sound legal argument.

Let me just say that you do not fit the profile.
12.5.2007 6:41pm
Brian K (mail):
if someone responded to this i apologize...i'm doing my best to catch up.

"If your resting heart rate is 70, and you raise it to your active rate of 140... what's happened to the blood flow to your brain? "

answer: it doesn't change. the increase in blood flow is shunted to the muscles which are oxygen deprived (assuming normal physiologic increase in heart rate and not pathologic). The body constricts and dilates vessels as necessary to move blood to where it is needed. the brain needs a relatively constant supply of blood and doesn't require extra despite increased physical activity. the opposite happens when heart rate is decresed...the last organ to lose blood supply is the brain. your body will shunt blood away from nearly every other organ to ensure an adequate blood supply to the brain.
12.5.2007 6:46pm
john w. (mail):
Dan Hamilton wrote: " ...Once a real War starts the women in combat units will die (be wounded) quickly in very large numbers. The women back in the US will scream bloody murder and women will be pulled out of combat units. In the between time lots and lots of women will die. Lots and lots of men will die because of the women. The military will be in chaos. Hopefully we will go on to win the War. And that will put an end to the stupidity of putting women into combat units...."

That is *precisely* the high-stakes risk that we are facing with all this nonsense. If we suddenly find ourselves facing a real ground war against a real, well-trained, battle-hardened enemy (not some 3rd world basket case like Iraq); the chances are that our wimpy, feminized, over-lawyered, politically-correct, sensitive, armed forces will be overwhelmed so badly in the initial encounter, that they not get the second chance. ....

... one more good reason to keep and bear arms in your own home to protect your own family.
12.5.2007 7:08pm
DeezRightWingNutz:

I've heard that women's pain tolerance radically increases after childbirth... which is strange because the hips spread out


Isn't the pelvic bone, of which the hips are a part, pretty damn well fixed? Someone with an understanding of human anatomy please feel free to disabuse me of this notion.
12.5.2007 9:45pm
von (mail) (www):
Thanks to Kingsley Browne and many of the commentators for an interesting -- if not always sane -- discussion. I have no idea where I shake out on this one, but I'm enjoying the ride (and hope to enjoy next week as well).

But I'm not commenting merely to give kudos. Wfjag, I don't know you or Cold Warrior from Adam. But I do know trolling, and you're doing it. Stop. Focus on the arguments that CW actually makes. (And, no, you're not using the term "ad hominem" correctly -- and please don't waste a post arguing that you do.)

(This is not to say that I agree with each of CW's posts.)
12.5.2007 10:01pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
r78

In the late Sixties, LBJ and McNamara decided to lower the standards and draft a bunch of guys who didn't quite cut it. They were known as "McNamara's Hundred Thousand" and they were said to have identifying ID numbers. They were a disaster. The few the Army was able to keep in uniform--in the US, the draft is like the income tax, it depends on voluntary compliance even though nobody volunteered for it--were so bad that units in Viet Nam who were unfortunate enough to have one or two would go to the field with empty slots, leaving these guys in the rear.
Most were black and hispanic. There was a reason for the standards these guys had initially flunked. We presumed that the decision was made because these guys were connected to relatively few voters, and those in districts safe for dems anyway.
This gave the antiwar effort--which fomented racial divisiveness as a tool--more grist for the mill.

Wasn't all We Shall Overcome back then, and, in fact, it was probably worse than right after the presidential order in 47.
12.5.2007 10:19pm
r78:

In the late Sixties, LBJ and McNamara decided to lower the standards and draft a bunch of guys who didn't quite cut it. They were known as "McNamara's Hundred Thousand" and they were said to have identifying ID numbers. They were a disaster. The few the Army was able to keep in uniform--in the US, the draft is like the income tax, it depends on voluntary compliance even though nobody volunteered for it--were so bad that units in Viet Nam who were unfortunate enough to have one or two would go to the field with empty slots, leaving these guys in the rear. Most were black and hispanic.

If I recall correctly McNamara's 100,000 were called up in 1965 pursuant to request by the military command.

To fill the request, the army lowered the minimum acceptable score on the Armed Forces Qualifying Test. This change was made across the board and I have never seen _anything_ that would suggest that "most" were black and hispanic.

If you have data, I'd be happy to be educated.

But, as of now, it appears you are a flat-out racist.
12.6.2007 12:09am
JohnS:
DeezRightWingNutz

Isn't the pelvic bone, of which the hips are a part, pretty damn well fixed? Someone with an understanding of human anatomy please feel free to disabuse me of this notion.
Not during pregnancy -

The sacroiliac, sacrococcygeal and pubic joints of the pelvis relax in the later part of te pregnancy, presumably as a result of hormonal changes.
Olds, Sally B. et al, Maternal-Newborn Nursing &Women's Health Care, 2004. I couldn't find a decent free obstetrics reference on the web.

The key item here is that the pelvic girdle is not one solid bone but three left-right paired bones plus the sacrum, and the joints are not fused in the same sense as the skull bones are.
12.6.2007 3:39am
Brian K (mail):
JohnS,

can you provide a link? I wasn't able to find one via google that I could access. I was never taught about that during first year medical courses, and am interested in reading up on it. (I was taught that the pelvis is shaped differently in the female and the male and that this difference provides enough room for the child to pass through.)
12.6.2007 4:31am
Tracy W (mail):
agesilaus: - I can follow the logic as to physical strength, speed, stamina, etc making a big difference in surviving combat while succceeding at its aims.

But is a more cautious approach to risk overall a bad thing in combat? What's the right level of risk to take when behind that door may be a two-year old kid or an armed and waiting terrorist? I take Legal Shmegal's story about taking out an attacker by yourself vs calling in the support, but how does this balance overall?

I was querying pain tolerance, because my experience is that if you can't get away from pain you have to bear it. I endured a lot of pain a fair few years ago from an infection that I endured because I had no choice about it (I did get to the stage of contemplating cutting off my foot in order to get rid of the source, but dismissed that because I'd heard about amputees suffering psychic pain in their lost limbs). This is very different from a lab situation where you can say the pain is unbearable and remove your hand from the freezing water (all the tests of pain tolerance I have heard about use a hand in freezing water). I functioned when I was in really bad pain, but there's no reason I would have bothered tolerating it for some lab test, much as I admire science.

Kingsley Browne is not addressing these posts only to people who are in the military and have been in live combat. Volokh Conspiracy is not a military magazine with subscription limited to the armed services. Some dot-filling is nice. Okay, I understand there are things that cannot be fully explained to civilians, I have never been able to explain "reactive power" without using complex maths, so I do not blame people for having to do a bit of hand-waving in areas that I'm not an expert on. But Kingsley Browne didn't do any hand-waving. The examples selected imply that there is a "right" level of risk taking for combat, and women are less risk-averse than that, but what the right level is nowhere stated.
12.6.2007 5:12am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
r78.

"racist"? Sure. The reason I know is that my vision was sufficient to tell the difference between black and white.
But maybe that's the sort of little thing we righteous will pretend didn't happen.
The majority of these guys came from urban areas, the underclass being more prone to be unfit, mentally, morally, or physically.
And they were disproportionately trouble. Grossly disproportionately trouble. That goes for the ones in my unit, and what I heard from other junior officers.
So, take the bogus--you know it's bogus--accusation and put it where your proctologist can find it.
12.6.2007 7:48am
Smallholder (mail) (www):
Dave D,

There won't be a draft. I'm not sure how this is a "Moral authority" claim.

If we were to get into a war of national survival, we would utilize the awesome firepower that we possess. If it was truly a war of national survival, our reticence about inflicting civilian casulties would be diminished. The very fact that we could destroy any nation that threatened our national survival precludes anyone from trying. Recall that there was never a "hot" confrontation between the superpowers during the cold war. Mutually assured destuction works. The type of combat our forces are likely to see is counter-insurgency and optional interventions.

Arguing that we used the draft in WW II ignores the fact that our politics has significantly changed. Both major parties pander to the middle class and the middle class isn't all that gung-ho for self-sacrifice. Any politician who even suggested the draft would be punished at the ballot box. More importantly, in any scenario where we suddenly needed 12 million troops (like we needed to defeat Germany and Japan) could also be solved through the application of other types of firepower.

Do you actually think a draft is possible or are you fearmongering purposefully to undermine support for counter-insurgency and optional conflicts?
12.6.2007 10:28am
JohnS:
Brian K:
can you provide a link? I wasn't able to find one via google that I could access.
I had a similar problem. Best I can discover is here;
Musculo-skeletal
* Increased ligamental laxity caused by increased levels of relaxin contribute to back pain and pubic symphysis dysfunction.
* Shift in posture with exaggerated lumbar lordosis.
American Journal of Obstetrics &Gynecology disagrees that relaxin is the cause, but the change in the joints is confirmed:
CONCLUSIONS: Peripheral joint laxity is noted to increase as pregnancy progresses. The cause of this change is undetermined. (AM J OBSTET GYNECOL 1996;174:667-71.)
12.6.2007 3:03pm
JohnS:
BrianK:

One other link: Pregnancy-related Low Back Pain
Hormonal

Correlation of the onset of menstruation and menopause with low back pain suggests a hormonal role.20 In fact, relaxin, estrogen, progesterone, and cortisol all demonstrate increased serum levels during pregnancy.32,33 Relaxin, a polypeptide hormone produced by the corpus luteum, is the hormone most notably implicated in pregnancy-related low back pain. Current theory suggests that high levels of relaxin in the first trimester, which stimulates collagenase expression, may increase joint laxity and promote low back pain.34 The remodeling of collagen decreases the tensile strength of ligaments, allowing for increased range of motion (ROM) of most joints.30 Estrogen is believed to enhance relaxin�s effect on joints either by increasing relaxin receptor sensitivity or by directly influencing joints.4,35 In addition to targeting the pelvis, relaxin also promotes expansion of the cervix and uterus. While these changes may directly lead to pelvic instability, they accommodate for the fetus during pregnancy and delivery. Hence, they may act as a protective agent by reducing fracture risk due to a fall or other trauma during pregnancy.36,37

Despite these findings, the association between serum relaxin levels, joint laxity, and low back pain during pregnancy remains unclear. One study revealed that relatively low relaxin levels were present in patients experiencing pelvic pain, casting doubt on the degree of relaxin�s role.38 Schauberger et al34 demonstrated that joint laxity did not correlate with relaxin levels, and Ostgaard et al10 concluded that pain intensity and joint laxity were unrelated to increased movement of pelvic joints. Yet researchers still implicate hormonal factors to explain problems with pelvic instability and walking during the early stages of pregnancy, before the weight and size of the fetus can become factors.23
Much of the discussion seems to be in the context of low back pain.
12.6.2007 3:16pm
r78:
"The majority of these guys came from urban areas, the underclass being more prone to be unfit, mentally, morally, or physically. And they were disproportionately trouble. Grossly disproportionately trouble. That goes for the ones in my unit, and what I heard from other junior officers.
So, take the bogus--you know it's bogus--accusation and put it where your proctologist can find it."

Look, you are the one who said that McNamara's 100,000 were mentally unfit and immoral. And you are the one who has said that "most" of them were black or latino.

You have provide ZERO evidence to support it. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

Blacks and Latinos were (I am guessing) about 15% of the population in 1965. If you have any evidence at all that "most" (that means >50% by the way) of them were black or latino - all you have to do is just provide it.

If someone says that X are a bunch of immoral, unfit, idiots and that most of X are minorities the only way in the world that the speaker is NOT a rascist bigot is if that statment is true. Can your tiny, hateful mind grasp that?

So you can do one of two things: you can just provide a link to a source that says that "most" of McNamara's 100,000 were minorities or you can reflect on the fact that you are a racist and try to get your mind right.
12.6.2007 3:20pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
r78
'scuse me for seeing stuff. My most groveling mistake.

But, to fix your misreading. I said the majority of the 100,000 who hadn't made the cut the first time were black and hispanic. That was true. And they were disproportionately trouble. In part, they still couldn't cut it. In part, they were either AWOL, insubordinate, disruptive, or uncooperative. And units had them were not happy.

Your fourth graf makes no sense. Do you think 50% of blacks and latinos would be blacks and latinos? Or would it be more, by a bit?

Next to last graf. The 100,000 were disproportionately trouble and disproportionately minority. Not my fault. Wasn't my idea.

The urban underclass is disproportionately black and latino. Education is poor, dropouts are high, health issues abound, including poor pre and post natal nutrition which affects mental development, and crime is more common, which is to say criminals are more common. That's why the underclass was/is underrepresented in the military, and why pulling in a 100k of them didn't work out very well.

If the powers that be had wanted more bodies, they could have looked at college deferments. But,as I say, we were convinced the point was to get more bodies without pissing off very many more voters.

Anyway, the tactic of accusing someone of racism for noticing something has worn out. Dead horse. Transparent.
Not interested or impressed. The idea that the accusation will cause someone making an argument you can't handle start censoring himself is a pipe dream. Not to say it didn't work, once upon a time. No more. Try something else.
12.6.2007 4:17pm
Brian K (mail):
JohnS, thanks.
12.6.2007 4:38pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
I'm not a veteran, but I did assist my wife through three pregnancies. (Taking care of babies and young children is very life-changing.) Bones that normally stay together did get loose and didn't come back together the same way. Not just the pelvis, but the feet changed shape.

Other than her ill health, my wife was a very strong woman. We wore the same size clothes, and I've got broad shoulders. She could pick me up. So I don't think "girls are weak". Some are, plenty aren't.
12.6.2007 5:05pm
s-class:

I said the majority of the 100,000 who hadn't made the cut the first time were black and hispanic. That was true.

Asserting the same thing again and again does not make it true.You just keep repeating nonsense.

When the Army lowered the cut-off score, it was lowered for *everyone*. Blacks and hispanics were (I'm guessing) about 15% of the population at the time.

Why in the world do you think that "most" of the moral and mental misfits (as I think you put it) were black and hispanic.

I notice that you now are trying to spin yourself out of your racist remarks by stating:


The 100,000 were disproportionately trouble and disproportionately minority.


So which was it "most" of them were black and hispanic or merely that they were "disproportionately" black and hispanic but less than 50%?

Hmmm?
12.6.2007 5:28pm
s-class:

That's why the underclass was/is underrepresented in the military,

Actually, the number of blacks who died in Vietnam was slightly higher than the number in the American population.
12.6.2007 5:31pm
r78:
paging Mr. Aubrey, paging Mr. Aubrey, you crow pie is ready . . .
12.6.2007 7:51pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
s-class. The anti-war folks hoped that was true. Wasn't, to within about a tenth of a percent.
Happened that, when the first line units went in, they were Marines and Airborne, both about 50% black in the rifle units. So casualties among blacks were higher than proportional to the population for some time. Then, to average out to proportional, there had to be some time when they were less than proportional. Think about that.

The cut-offs were lowered. Problem was that the intake did not intake 15% minorities. There were far more minorities than 15% in that group. Hugely more. The presumptions--we had no proof--was that the urban draft boards got the pressure/green light and the suburban and rural boards did not.
The concentration of unfit in the inner cities was higher for reasons already mentioned.
And the new cohort was almost always trouble. The bulk of the trouble was that they simply couldn't manage the training. But there was a good deal of disruptive activity as well. And AWOL. It is conceivable that the whites who were newly eligible simply failed at their various tasks and made no splash. But I didn't see it.

If the information is available in any form--which I imagine the perps would be at pains to avoid--besides the knowledge of those of us who were there, I really don't know what your finding it out would do for you. Nothing, is my guess. No, I take that back. I'm certain.

Example. On Memorial Day weekend, when I was in Infantry AIT, we had too few cadre around. I was, at the time Platoon Guide, a sort of trainee NCO. I was, I had been informed, an NCO legally for orders and so forth although my actual rank was E2. Being the ugliest guy in the platoon, I got the job. Too few real sergeants, for obvious reasons. That was too bad.
Some of the blacks decided that one end of the barracks--we had three floors--was to be the Soul Staircase. One of my guys didn't know, and got beaten up for his ignorance. So I got my entrenching tool and went up and down the Soul Staircase until the point was made and the perps went away.
At the time, racial problems were considered to be a failure of leadership and so commanders usually hoped it would be taken care of by the troops without a riot and the turbulent spirits shipped out someplace before trouble really happened. Officially noticing this sort of thing could hurt an OER.

I don't know what you can do to make my experiences go away. The accusation of "racist" didn't work. Got anything else?

I don't have to say that black lifers were mortified by the actions of the gutter punks who made trouble and called them "Uncle Tom"--usually only once.
12.6.2007 8:08pm
r78:
Aubrey - here is why you are a racist:

You have said that "most" of the "moral and mental misfits" of McNamara's 100,000 were blacks and hispanics.

You still haven't offered any proof of that. Nothing except that you apparently saw more dark skinned folks than you would like. I imagine that is a common experience for your.

And here is the latest:


The cut-offs were lowered. Problem was that the intake did not intake 15% minorities. There were far more minorities than 15% in that group. Hugely more.
The concentration of unfit in the inner cities was higher for reasons already mentioned.

The army was desperate for soldiers so it lowered the recruiting standards across the board. That means that many more people with lower scores - of all races - were admitted.

In your mind, you belive that blacks and hispanics are much more likely to be stupid. So it makes perfect sense to you that "most" of the members of McNamara's 100,000 would be minorities.

I notice that you no longer say "most." You are using weasel words like "disproportionate" and "hugely more."

See most means more than 50%. You don't have any evidence or proof of that and you refuse to even man up and say, "Gee I overstated that." Instead you are seeking refuge in weasel words.

I am done with you.
12.7.2007 12:54pm
LBG:
From Dec 10, 2007 Navy Times Bill emphasizes care for female veterans p. 30.

"... whether the staff is sensitive to the fact that women are a minority at VA centers..."

Why does it matter? Aren't they rough and tumble combat soldiers?

"Another pilot program would look at whether mental health counseling for women recently disharged from the military could be provided on group retreats, rather than in VA's Vet Centers, in order to offer women a more comfortable setting for their counseling."

Really? give then special treatment and then argue they are held to the same standards and this ingenders teamwork and cohesiveness? Please. Everybody proceed to the head for urinalysis, you people are on something.
12.7.2007 1:26pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
r78.
Didn't work. Not being able to discuss the issue, you fall back on the "racist" schtick. Useless.

The issue is that Mc.'s 100k got mostly the underclass, that being where the almost but not quite qualified usually were. The underclass is disproportionately minority. As I said, there may have been some skewing of the locations where the pressure was higher, or lower.

It's certainly possible that the non-underclass not-quite-good-enoughs had a bit of pull so they didn't get hauled in. The underclass had no pull at all.

Those are speculations as to why the bulk of the 100k --in my view and that of others who were really there--were minorities. It's what we saw.

And since the 100k were disproportionately trouble, the face of trouble in the Army was have minority.

You are working awfully hard to discredit what I/we actually saw. It would be better to complain about the scummy political calculations which did nobody any favors except those connected to voters and money.

You seem disappointed that the accusation of racism hasn't caused me to stop talking about a reality. Get used to it. That wore out.
12.7.2007 3:24pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
BTW. Bit of karmic coincidence here.
Wednesday, I got two CDs full of lengthy interviews of some of my colleagues at a reunion of a group which spent summers in the Sixties teaching at Rust College (HBCU) in Holly Springs, MS. I did 67 and 68. Civil rights and education.
I just love getting crap from people who would have pissed their knickers at the thought of going south of Cincinnati.
12.7.2007 3:43pm
RWBinATL:
To r78 --

Sorry to burst your self-righteous bubble, but here is some documentation for Aubrey's statements (a simple Google search will turn up much more:


In all, 354,000 volunteered for Project 100,000. The minimum passing score on the armed forces qualification test had been 31 out of 100. Under McNamara's Project 100,000, those who scored as low as 10 were taken if they lived in a designated "poverty area." In 1969, out of 120 Marine Corps volunteers from Oakland, California, nearly 90 percent scored under 31; more than 70 percent were black or Mexican. Overall, 41 percent of Project 100,000 volunteers were black, compared to 12 percent of the rest of the armed forces. Touted as providing "rehabilitation," remedial education, and an escape from poverty, the program offered a one-way ticket to Vietnam, where these men fought and died in disproportionate numbers. The much-advertised skills were seldom taught.

Source: Myra MacPherson, "McNamara's 'other' crimes: the stories you haven't heard" Washington Monthly, June, 1995

I know that your apparently reflexive political correctness calls for you to reject Aubrey's statements out of hand, but you might want to do a little research before casually labeling people racists.

Also, I am embarrassed to have to point this out for you, but where certain groups (i.e. blacks, hispanics) consistently score significantly lower on standardized tests, lowering the threshold passing score for such tests to a point on the far-left hand side of the normal distribution will result in a disproportionately large amount of individuals from the under performing groups in the newly qualified group. But that's so obvious you already knew that, right?
12.7.2007 4:02pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
RWB.
I never liked McNamara, and if I got the chance....
But I don't like the folks who want to try him and Kissinger--Hitchens not included--either.

I do recall LBJ esplaining how this was going to grow these folks up into real men.

I would be interested in hearing for sure whether they fought and died in excessive numbers. Most I had anything to do with were either AWOL, or in the stockade, or discharged later on for raw inability.

The myth of the overrepresentation of minorities in the Viet Nam KIA lists was valuable to the antiwar movement, but has been busted over and over. So I would be inclined to think that piece of the referenced source was reflexive.
12.7.2007 4:43pm
r78:
RWB

Aubrey said that "most" of McNamara's 100,000 were blacks and latinos.

He provided no documentation. You state:


Overall, 41 percent of Project 100,000 volunteers were black


You do understand that 41% is less than "most" don't you?

Try again.
12.7.2007 4:50pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
r78. You're typing too fast and thinking too slow.
41% black plus....% latino....
12.7.2007 4:58pm