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[Rosemary Mariner, guest-blogging, December 18, 2007 at 11:14pm] Trackbacks
The Americanization of the Armed Forces-Historical Perspective Women in Combat:

The common approach to the women in combat debate is to follow the "can" women fight versus "should" they fight format. On the first point, the reality is that women have proved they can fight throughout time. The claim that women have never fought a major ground war is counterfactual.

Of all the possible historical examples, none offers better empirical evidence that women can fight, alongside men, than that of Russia (later the Soviet Union) in the twentieth century. In both world wars and the Russian civil war, numerous women fought on the frontlines.

When it comes to "real" combat, it doesn't get much tougher than what the Red Army faced against the Germans on the Eastern Front in WW II.

Over 800,000 women served in the Red Army and Red Air Force during WW II. By 1943, more than half of them were fighting on the front as snipers, machine-gunners, tank drivers, and in the infantry. Several women commanded male platoons. Additionally, women fought as partisans and worked in combat support positions.

The Soviets introduced three female fighter and attack aviation squadrons into combat operations in April 1942. All three fought for the duration of the war, flying thousands of combat missions. By 1945, only one squadron was still composed of women only.

Female combat pilots flew in male squadrons and one woman commanded a male aviation regiment. During the Battle of Stalingrad, female fighter pilots augmented male squadrons, racking up numerous kills. Several women pilots were shot down yet escaped to fly again.

Significantly, while the Soviets initially fielded gender segregated units, few were able to maintain that identity because of heavy attrition across the Red Army. Under intense combat conditions, male units replaced their losses with women and vice versa.

In the American context, Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom constitute the first time women (in all the armed services) have officially served in aviation and naval combat. Not only do women serve in the junior enlisted ranks, they have commanded warships and combat aviation squadrons during these conflicts. In both the Active Duty and Reserve Components military men and women have demonstrated --once again-- that they can and do excel as a cohesive team.

The reason that there are no recent studies concerning these combat positions is because, after thirteen years of gender-neutral assignment policies, women's presence is considered part of normal operations. Mission capability, including personnel readiness, is reported through normal channels.

Of the approximately 200,000 military women deployed to Iraq since 2003, the majority serve in the Army, Army Reserves, and National Guard. Most of these are in traditional military occupational specialties, although many are associated with combat aviation. Women have been involved in ambushes, firefights, and other self-defense combat situations resulting in a number of awards for valor.

Along with female Marines, women are restricted by both Defense Department (DoD) and their respective service policies from assignment in direct ground combat positions. However, especially for the Army, there appears to be confusion over what the policy actually is and its purpose. This is complicated by the Army's recent organizational transformation into Brigade Combat Teams and the non-linear battlefield.

In 2006, Congress directed the Secretary of Defense to submit a report on the current and future implementation of DoD policy for assigning military women. The result was a 2007 report released by the RAND National Defense Research Institute.

The report points out that the 1992 Army regulation for assigning women predates the 1994 DoD guidance and was not updated. It also defines "direct ground combat" differently from DoD, resulting in a more restrictive policy.

RAND researchers concluded that if individual or small-group self-defense is included in the direct ground combat definition, then assigning women to units that routinely conduct self-defense is not in keeping with Army policy, even though allowed under DoD policy. Given the situation in Iraq, compliance with the more restrictive interpretation could close many, if not all, support units to women.

With this brief background, my next post will deal with the issues of physical strength, fitness, cohesion, aptitude testing, and other factors related to military readiness.

wuzzagrunt (mail):
War time propaganda aside, it is an established fact that Russian women gave a good account of themselves. The "Can vs. Should" question is stickier than the Russian example implies, however. A war for national survival against an enemy that has shown every inclination to enslave and/or exterminate the population does not allow the luxury of such a debate. In such exigent circumstances, you put a rifle in the hands of anyone capable of firing it--including children.

An interesting question (to me at least) is why did the Russians deintegrate women from their combat forces, after the war?
12.19.2007 12:10am
Bob in SeaTac (mail):
I fear Capt. Wariner is going to cover all the thoroughly covered ground again. I would have hoped that she had read the many comments to Prof. Browne's blog, but it appears the same material is going to be rehashed that was thoroughly covered by all the commenters. Thus, the two sides will still be "those physically capable should be in ground combat" by one side, and the other side will be "the few women that meet the physical standards should not be admitted due to the extra cost of accomodating them and the always present social problems that reduce unit effectiveness." All downhill from here, with no new information.
12.19.2007 12:46am
Point of Fact (mail):
Capt. Mariner never actually states how many women are currently in combat units and seems to admit she doesn't know and there are no scientific studies of their effectiveness. Am I right? She has no evidence?
12.19.2007 2:20am
Point of Fact (mail):

The reason that there are no recent studies concerning these combat positions is because, after thirteen years of gender-neutral assignment policies, women's presence is considered part of normal operations. Mission capability, including personnel readiness, is reported through normal channels.

Of the approximately 200,000 military women deployed to Iraq since 2003, the majority serve in the Army, Army Reserves, and National Guard. Most of these are in traditional military occupational specialties, although many are associated with combat aviation. Women have been involved in ambushes, firefights, and other self-defense combat situations resulting in a number of awards for valor.




So:

1. We don't know how many women are in actual combat units.

2. We don't know how effective they are.

3. Capt. Mariner cannot address any of the empirical questions that arose in the colloquy between Aegis, Drill SGT, and GV:


Aegis: One meme that keeps arising is that this is a political decision and that we're really judging whether the costs outweigh the benefits and the benefit of "equality" as some define it simply doesn't outweigh the cost of more dead soldiers or reduced military effectiveness especially since the few numbers of women who would meet the new "equality"-based standards wouldn't be sufficient to justify a change in policy without the "equality" considerations as motivation for the change. So it makes perfect sense, given Capt. Mariner has redefined military effectiveness to mean "equality" as she sees it -- a tautology to be sure -- to examine whether the factual predicate for moving towards "equality" -- that women are being discriminated against now -- exists. And it certainly matters if, say, all the advocates of "equality" don't have any verifiable facts to support their beliefs and insist on the truth of those beliefs while making sexist side-comments. (You don't really believe in equality if you're a sexist, now do you?) Which brings in to focus your comment, GV: you suggest there are ample women to make for female inclusion in hand-to-hand combat units perfectly doable. Let's assume that's true. Do you have any evidence -- at all -- that that pool of women is being discriminated against in the enlistment process? Or is the "no women in combat" policy itself your proof that this large pool of qualified women exists, i.e., "It's discriminatory, so it must be discriminating against somebody!"?

Drill SGT:

Aegis

the pool of women willing to enlist and go into direct ground combat jobs is extremely small

the pool of women willing to enlist who would meet the honest objective strength and endurance requirements of those jobs is also very low.

the intersection of the two pools is a tiny tiny number of enlisted women.


it is a political exercise, not one that increases US effectiveness.

(but I think you know that)


GV:
Aegis of Blogistan, I think the last half of your previous post demonstrates the point I was trying to make. You stated: "[Y]ou suggest there are ample women to make for female inclusion in hand-to-hand combat units perfectly doable." I never said that [precise phrasing].

Drill SGT, you stated: "the intersection of the two pools is a tiny tiny number of enlisted women." I've seen this asserted a whole lot. Perhaps it's true. But where is the evidence that it is true? If I'm trying to make up my mind on this issue, a bald assertion on an empirical question by an anonymous commentator on a blog is not going to help me change my mind. If somebody could provide statistical evidence on this point, it would moot about 35% of the comments on this topic. People are making assertions on both sides. I'm sure we'll continue to see assertions on this issue in the next comment thread. But does anybody have actual data or are we left with arguing whose speculation is right?

12.19.2007 2:40am
JohnS:
CMR's Donnelly does not care for the RAND report.
RUBBER STAMP RAND REPORT PROMOTES WOMEN IN LAND COMBAT
10/1/2007 6:11:00 PM

Contrived Confusion Condones Army Misuse of Female Soldiers

The Center for Military Readiness has released a detailed CMR Policy Analysis of the long-delayed RAND Report on women in combat. The 158-page document, titled Assessing the Assignment Policy for Army Women, fails to provide objective, credible information useful for congressional hearings and oversight. Instead, the RAND Report creates needless confusion with unsupported findings, misinformation, and flawed assumptions about questionable Pentagon practices.
12.19.2007 3:12am
ENT (mail):
Why did the Russians deintegrate women from their combat forces, after the war?

After the war, most women demobilized. Anna Krylova argues that, because of the demographic crisis, they weren't encouraged to pursue post-war military careers.

The Soviet authorities were pretty ambivalent towards women in combat even during the war. To illustrate, but not demonstrate conclusively (though I think the body of work in this area is fairly definitive), I recently saw a Slavic Studies conference on Women in WWII; a couple of panels addressed war posters. One notable aspect about posters was the absence of women in uniform in them. Women were either portrayed as supporting the army on the home front or as partisans, reacting against the fascist occupiers. They were not depicted as members of the regular armed forces.

The above to say that, as soon as the crisis was over, they weren't keen on inviting women to stay on in the Red Army, although the army decorated and otherwise officially honored female veterans, and women had the right to volunteer to serve in the post-war army (but didn't have access to military colleges, where most officers got their commissions). This publicly accessible article, "Women and the Soviet Military", while perhaps outdated - in 1982 they wouldn't have had access to Red Army archives which would clarify the "reality vs. propaganda" question of the first paragraph, for example - examines some of the potential reasons behind "deintegration," which seems to have been a matter of adjusting women's access to the military after their demobilization.

The main point, it seems, is that the Red Army did not deintegrate women from combat because they were incapable of performing their duties or fighting alongside men, but because of extrinsic sociological and demographic factors.

Do take into account that this is merely a tangential point, one perspective on the worthwhile question of "Why didn't the Red Army keep women in combat positions if they were so good at it?"

What it does add to this overall discussion about "women in combat" is that it appears to be about more than the physical, mental, and psychological capabilities of men and women, which are presumably universal and ahistorical. One should also take the specific situation into account, and place it in its historical, sociological, and cultural context. When the context is total war, we see that no one gives a crap whether women are as "good" as men; when the context is selective military intervention abroad, it seems we have the luxury to be pickier and cater to some ideal for the body of soldiers and officers (of which at least two have been forwarded in recent discussions).

I'm aware that the above is probably too unconcrete for the tastes of some of the commenters on this thread. I'm also sure there will be plenty of empirical, hard-nosed questions of "define x" and "why should y?" to make up for this uneasy attempt to address a "why" question and bring it into the larger discussion. So, good day.
12.19.2007 7:32am
HBowmanMD:
How many Soviet women served outside the SU? It's different when defending the homeland.

And if having all-woman combat units was such a good idea, why did they go from none, to three, to one fighter squadron? BTW, how many hundreds or thousands of fighter squadrons did the Soviets have (what percentage of their fighter squadron strength was comprised of females?)
12.19.2007 7:48am
libertarian soldier (mail):
"Of all the possible historical examples, none offers better empirical evidence that women can fight, alongside men, than that of Russia (later the Soviet Union) in the twentieth century"
That female population was one that was agrarian based and had:
lived under the Tsar
Were born in or lived through WWI and the Depression
lived through the Red/White Civil War
lived through Lenin's forced industrialization
lived through Stalin's purges
lived in a country engaged in a life or death struggle with a multimillion man foreign army occupying its territory raping and pillaging

How can possible think such a population was physically or psychologically comparable to the current American female population (the issue is, after all, the "Americanization" of the military??
12.19.2007 8:06am
Randy R. (mail):
Frankly, I had no idea women served in such numbers in the Soviet Army. They don't teach that sort of stuff in school, but they should.

Thanks for the info.
12.19.2007 8:08am
rarango (mail):
Clearly soviet experience in their great patriotic war is a datum to be considered--how transferable it is the current US military operations and policy is a bit more problematic to me. As others have pointed out, the Soviet experience was based on the imperative of national survival--and in that context, warm bodies are warm bodies; no such imperative exists now for US forces. I think that is a significant difference. It may give us some insights into women's capabilities; but I don't believe it is conclusive for the current US military force.
12.19.2007 8:39am
Drill SGT (mail):
In these threads Capt Mariner and others should I think continue to be clear about which of these "combat" situations they are promoting for women. One might group them slightly differently, but I'll posit (random order of risk)

1. direct ground combat units (e.g. SOF (shooters), Infantry, Armor, CBT Engrs, various attached elements, e.g. FO's, medics)

2. combat support units (e.g. artillery (sorry guys, that's how I see it :), Signal, MP's, ADA, MI, Soft SOF (civil affairs, psyops), in Iraq add Transportation units here etc)

3. combat svc units (e.g. Medical, supply, finance, etc)

4. combat aircrew

5. other remaining service folks

The point is that most of us only have issues with women in group 1, and a few have issues with women in either groups 2 or 4.

Before we go farther on this thread I would again try to make a distinction between groups 1 and 2 that I think others try to blur.

1. Direct ground combat units have the mission of closing with and destroying the enemy through fire and maneuver. The strength and durance requirements are huge. privacy is non existant. these units are all male today in every army in the world I think.

2. combat support units contribute to mission success generally without being within eyesight of the enemy. The work can be dangerous, the strength demands can be high (gun bunnies for example) but generally soldiers work and fight from fixed positions or from mounted units so the loads are much smaller and can be shared. these units are often coed.

Iraq has retaught the Army that it needs to refocus combat support officers, NCO's and units on things like "convoy defense", and "defense of an Isolated Signal Position". Hell, my JAG wife reports that the JAG basic school has days and days of field training now.

Nobody is saying that women haven't performed generally well in Iraq combat situations, but those have been defensive fights of convoys or bases for the most part. We should recognize reality.
12.19.2007 8:43am
rarango (mail):
Reality? Reality? we do'n need no stinkin reality.... (apologies to treasure of the sierra madre)
12.19.2007 8:46am
Temp Guest (mail):
Anyone who uses US armed forces "mission capability" and "personnel readiness" reports to support women in the military, as Professor Mariner is apparently preparing to do, based on this:


after thirteen years of gender-neutral assignment policies, women's presence is considered part of normal operations. Mission capability, including personnel readiness, is reported through normal channels.
,

will be using data that has been demonstrated time and again to be worthless. These reports are written to demonstrate how well the officers preparing them are running their units. They often coverup gross deficiencies. They are written to support the current PC positions of senior command.

I may be falsely anticipating Professor Mariner's empirical support for her argument. But if it is based in any way on this type of documentation, her evidence will -- to put it kindly -- be suspect. I'm sure many current and past members of our military will be able to confirm my comment this with anecdotes and research.
12.19.2007 8:47am
Carolina:

The common approach to the women in combat debate is to follow the "can" women fight versus "should" they fight format. On the first point, the reality is that women have proved they can fight throughout time.


This is a silly introduction. No one is claiming women literally "can't fight." Women obviously can pull a trigger, drive a tank, etc. The question is, can they do it as well as men, and what happens to a male unit when it is integrated.

You can just as easily make Prof. Mariner's point about children in combat. The Afghan mujahideen used 12 and 13 year old boys to fight, and so did Hitler at the fall of Berlin. These boys fought and died. So, in Prof. Mariner's view, this "proves" children can fight, too. Completely silly.
12.19.2007 9:21am
Carolina:
Is Prof. Mariner going to respond to any comments? The other thread, especially, had some great comments by readers.
12.19.2007 9:30am
Rob Perelli-Minetti (mail):
I agree with Drill SGT that most of us who have actually served in the combat arms - I was an artillery officer; artillery is a mixed case because some batteries and FIST jobs are definitely combat, but missile batteries and lots of other artillery jobs are really combat support - would distinguish between direct ground combat oriented jobs and the rest of the military jobs.

I don't think very many officers or NCOs have a problem with women who can meet the physical requirements in combat support, combat service support and other units. I know I don't.

The objections come in the 'hard core' combat arms, and I don't know anyone who's been in actual sustained combat who wants to see women in those roles as a matter of policy.

I think one of the points that needs to be addressed more carefully, when so very very few women could meet the physical requirements for special operations, ranger, airborne, or even leg infantry or combat engineer units, and when not all of the women who could do the job physically want to, is: what conceivable reason would anyone push our military to make such a fundamental departure from the accumulated wisdom of several thousand years of organized warfare?

In my view, it's almost never about the enlisted women who would actually serve in such units. Rather, it is about women officers who perceive (probably correctly) that the career path to flag rank (generals and admirals) is through service in the combat arms, and, when there are wars, through actual combat service and command of combat units.

Perhaps we should approach women in the combat arms from that starting point. Women junior officers, especially those who have attended the academies and the military colleges (Norwich, VMI, Citadel) are the ones most likely to want to be in combat arms units, and the ones most likely to have groomed the physical and mental skills necessary to even have a shot at succeeding. They're also the service members with the education and exposure to understand what they're getting into. Let those women compete for the combat arms jobs they want using exactly the same standards as men candidates for airborne, ranger, special forces, SEAL, recon Marine slots. If they can meet the criteria, then assign them to the units and see how it works out, with the understanding that the women are playing in a warrior's world and there will be no accommodation on the basis of gender. Give it a fair trial for 5 years or so and seriously evaluate the results before even considering putting enlisted women into ground combat units.
12.19.2007 9:34am
Bart (mail):

Over 800,000 women served in the Red Army and Red Air Force during WW II. By 1943, more than half of them were fighting on the front as snipers, machine-gunners, tank drivers, and in the infantry. Several women commanded male platoons. Additionally, women fought as partisans and worked in combat support positions.

The Soviets ran out of combat age men to draft into service.
12.19.2007 9:35am
john w. (mail):
Capt. Mariner wrote: " ...The claim that women have never fought a major ground war is counterfactual. ... Of all the possible historical examples, none offers better empirical evidence that women can fight, alongside men, than that of Russia (later the Soviet Union) in the twentieth century. In both world wars and the Russian civil war, numerous women fought on the frontlines. ..."

1.) (minor quibble): In the first sentence, wouldn't it more accurate to say 'fought in' rather than 'fought?'

2.) What about Israel? I would be VERY interested in hearing Capt. Mariner's explanation of why the Israelis experimented with women in combat at the beginning, and then apparently gave up the idea and never went back to it.

3.) Most of what she is saying here about Russian women in WW-2 could also be said about Russian teen-aged boys in WW-2. Doesn't it follow logically, then that if the USA is going to allow (and eventually conscript) 18 year old women into combat, we should also allow 14 or 15 year old boys to serve? And if not, why not? The average 14 or 15 year old male has more physical strength and more innate aggressiveness than the average 18 year old female.
12.19.2007 10:05am
Waldensian (mail):

The reason that there are no recent studies concerning these combat positions is because, after thirteen years of gender-neutral assignment policies, women's presence is considered part of normal operations.

This is certainly true in Naval Aviation, at least from what I can tell.

I was amazed that Browne was arguing against women flying combat aircraft, and even more amazed that some commenters didn't even know that women were already flying combat aircraft (and even commanding squadrons!).

Pardon the expression, but when it comes to women in Naval combat aviation, the ship has sailed.

Tellingly, Browne was at his worst when trying to justify an argument that women shouldn't be in combat aviation. He had nothing but speculative anecdotes, based largely on technical idiocy, and failed to address at all the actual record of women in combat aviation. Which I think might be marginally relevant.
12.19.2007 10:26am
lurker-999 (mail):
'the reality is that women have proved they can fight throughout time.'

This is another strawman. Nobody is seriously arguing that women can't pull a trigger or drive a truck/tank/chopper/plane. (Whether or not most women can use a bayonet effectively is another matter!!)

The issue is whether the benefits outweigh the costs.

The other problem is that CPT. Mariner still fails to clearly distinguish between the issues of women in ground combat (which many of us bitterly oppose) versus women in aircraft and other support roles.
12.19.2007 10:40am
Smallholder (mail) (www):
The attacks on Captain Mariner's analogy like:


Most of what she is saying here about Russian women in WW-2 could also be said about Russian teen-aged boys in WW-2. Doesn't it follow logically, then that if the USA is going to allow (and eventually conscript) 18 year old women into combat, we should also allow 14 or 15 year old boys to serve? And if not, why not? The average 14 or 15 year old male has more physical strength and more innate aggressiveness than the average 18 year old female.


or


You can just as easily make Prof. Mariner's point about children in combat. The Afghan mujahideen used 12 and 13 year old boys to fight, and so did Hitler at the fall of Berlin. These boys fought and died. So, in Prof. Mariner's view, this "proves" children can fight, too. Completely silly.


entirely miss the point.

The objection the anti-integration folks have to letting women be integrated into combat is that women are physically unable to perform combat roles. The fact that other people may be able to perform combat roles is a side issue. The question we ought to ask is:

When national emergency overrides conventional wisdom and places women in combat, how do they perform?

The Russian and Isreali experience is directly on topic.

Unfortunately, particularly in the Soviet case, it is difficult to glean good information because of the pervasiveness of propaganda. Did women perform well or not I'm particularly interested in the female platoon leaders cited by one poster. Their effectiveness in commanding males in ground combat would be revealing on the unit cohesion question.

Both the Isrealis and Soviets decided to de-integrate their militaries when their wars of national survival were included. This supports the anti-integration crowd. The leadership of both countries (one democratically elected) decided that women should NOT continue in combat roles.

The pro-integration side has the onus of proving that the decision to de-integrate was not based on combat performance.

I'd like to hear more from ENT who wrote:


The main point, it seems, is that the Red Army did not deintegrate women from combat because they were incapable of performing their duties or fighting alongside men, but because of extrinsic sociological and demographic factors.


We ought to have access to the Israeli decision process - why did they do it?
12.19.2007 10:41am
A.C.:
lurker-999 -

The other issue is how women in support roles NEAR combat are trained... what is expected of them in the event the fight comes to them, and how to ensure that they are able to meet those expectations.
12.19.2007 10:49am
David M (mail) (www):
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 12/19/2007 A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.
12.19.2007 10:58am
Houston Lawyer:
The Soviets also took prisoners and ran them through mine fields to clear them. They lost around 10 million people fighting WWII. If we reach the point to where we're willing to give anyone who can walk a gun and send them to the front, I won't object to women in combat roles. But that is not where we're starting from.
12.19.2007 11:17am
LTDan (mail):
I know I'm echoing what has already been said by others (more eloquently to boot).

But Capt(ret) Mariner completely misses the "can vs should" debate by confusing what roles women are not allowed in.

Regardless of what confusing language the DoD rules and Army rules may state, it is very clear what positions in the Army women may not serve in.

Infantry, Armor and Special Forces are the only branches that women are completely excluded from. They cannot serve in any MOS for those three communities, period. Yes, they can serve in units of those types in support roles (finance, intel, etc.), and usually do at higher level headquarters.

For the other combat arms branches, Artillery, Air Defense Artillery, Engineers, and Aviation, women are allowed to serve in a limited number of positions. Usually in units whose normal mission sets do not involve them being on the front lines during conventional ground combat (aviation being the exception). Also, again, the higher headquarters (Brigade level and above) usually have women in support roles regardless of mission.

Why? Because of what Drill SGT already posted: the mission of said units is to close with and destroy the enemy. Sure, support units in this war (and previous ones) find themselves under attack. Women end up pulling triggers, evacuating wounded buddies, etc. and represent themselves well. But that is rarely the mission they are being sent out to do (Military Police patrolling is perhaps the exception). These units do not fight as well as combat units. They are not trained or equipped to do so and frankly, often lack the caliber of Soldier (male or female) to do so.

I have no issue with women flying fighter aircraft, attack helicopters, commanding squadrons (be they aircraft or boats), being promoted to general/admiral, shooting cruise missiles from the sky and/or the sea, serving as military police, or a variety of other jobs outside direct ground combat.

But it is a fact of biology that nearly all women lack the physicality to do the ground combat job. That matters, period. The few number of women that can would not be excepted for reasons of cohesion, need for aggression, trust and brotherhood.

Call it sexist. Call it wrong. But remember that it effective and tested through thousands of years we humans killing each other.
12.19.2007 11:20am
common sense (www):
I'd like someone who is pro-integration to address the hygiene issue. I certainly am no expert on what the actual requirements are, and I believe the Army currently requires showers of some type every 3 days for women. I do not know what scientific evidence that is based on. Assume we won't always be in Iraq. What if we expand our presence in South East Asia tracking insurgents. Assume light infantry in the field for weeks to months without being able to clean up. Ranger School tends to exceed the ability of some guys to stay clean (cellulitis is not pretty), so I wonder how women would react? Bad field hygiene, throughout history, has been a large source of casualties, and my understanding is that women have a higher requirement.
12.19.2007 12:13pm
Anthony Mirvish (mail):
The Soviet experience has been used and abused in ways that most other comments have covered. Contrary to Captain Mariner's views, there is no evidence that Soviet women (other than as snipers and pilots) directly engaged in all-out ground combat against the Germans. "Tank driver" also refers to delivering the tanks to combat areas, not actually driving them in combat. Even well into the modern period, the gear mechanisms and main gun loaders on Soviet tanks were manual, not automatic. Handling these systems in direct combat was very physically demanding. The women flying combat missions did indeed engage in combat. Their losses were high, they were considered expendable by the Soviet command and their performance was marginal in most cases. Post-war accounts by many of the women fliers indicated severe physical and medical costs during and due to their service. It seems a lot to pay for a relatively small gain, but perhaps necessary within the context of a total war and a huge manpower shortage. For an additional, more comprehensive description of it can be found in Martin van Creveld's "Men, Women and War." Van Creveld, who is an Israeli military historian also clears up most of the misconceptions surrounding Israel's experience with women in combat positions.

With respect to aviation, there were a number of studies conducted in the US during the 1990s that looked at aspects of women's performance. These articles are available through (the journal of) Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine. Although the physical demands of high-performance flying remain somewhat in dispute (and are under-investigated), the ability of women to actually withstand the same G forces as men (provided they're wearing a G suit designed or modified for a woman's body) is not in question. However, one study found that women scored consistently 15% lower than men in centrifuge tests on a target tracking test while under high-G's. The same study found that the women experienced no adaptation to physical training specifically designed to improve their resistance to G forces, something not true of men. It also found that the two brains of the two sexes used oxygen differently during these tests and that this may have been related to the difference in target tracking ability. Other tests have established that women are at greater risk of serious injury than men during ejection from aircraft and of injury if they have to parachute to the ground (stress fractures in female parachutists are about 4x those of men - 11% versus 3%). Overall, this is not equal performance even if the women can fly the aircraft. To my mind, more direct tests between the sexes are needed (e.g. at Top Gun or Red Flag exercises). The claim that aviation is a done deal is a bit premature, especially since no aviators (male or female) have actually engaged in combat against competitive air defenses or enemy air forces.

It should be noted that, historically, there is a difference between flying and fighting an airplane. This also applies to handling ships and submarines. During WWII, almost 50% of US submarine commanders were relieved for not being aggressive enough. This was despite excellent peacetime records and high levels of technical competence. Most kills in air combat, likewise, come from only a small number of pilots. This is not necessarily an indictment of women in that role, merely a reminder that there are a number of other factors involved beyond just flying the airplane.

In some cases, 100% of women sailors are unable to perform standard shipboard damage control and casualty evacuation tasks. That statement is supported by the Navy's own study into the situation, a fairly comprehensive report by Trent &Robertson (the exact title is long and not to hand).

More generally, the notion that some combat support roles are okay for women and direct combat is not seems a bit arbitrary. All soldiers should be fully capable of and trained for combat, at least until someone can guarantee that only specifically trained infantry will get into or be needed for a fight. The Marines use this "every man a rifleman" approach and it works. Historically (i.e. before the coed military), Army basic training was a lot more uniform too.
12.19.2007 12:20pm
Sk (mail):
"Over 800,000 women served in the Red Army and Red Air Force during WW II. By 1943, more than half of them were fighting on the front as snipers, machine-gunners, tank drivers, and in the infantry."

I am quite skeptical of this claim. The modern US military has a tooth-to-tail ratio of roughly 1-to-9 - in other words, there are 9 supporting soldiers (tail) for every one fighting soldier (tooth).

During WWII, I'm sure that ratio was less. And, I'm sure in the Russian army, it was less still. As a semi-educated guess, I'd guess that the tooth to tail ratio may have been 1-to-4. But to claim that 1/2 of women soldiers were actually fighters is either claiming that the tooth to tail ratio in that army was 1-to-1 (which is frankly unbelievable), or that women were actually preferentially sent to combat units; that they were more likely to be infantrymen than men. I find both premises extremely unlikely.

Sk
12.19.2007 12:24pm
r78:

All downhill from here, with no new information.

Nonsense.

I read the previous threads and I do not recall any discussion of Russian women in combat.
12.19.2007 12:40pm
r78:

This is another strawman. Nobody is seriously arguing that women can't pull a trigger or drive a truck/tank/chopper/plane. (Whether or not most women can use a bayonet effectively is another matter!!)

Did you read any of the hundreds of comments posted in the past threads in which people argued again and again and again that women were not physically capable of marching with heavy packs or _even_ flying modern fly-by-wire aircraft because they were too weak?
12.19.2007 12:43pm
Drill SGT (mail):

More generally, the notion that some combat support roles are okay for women and direct combat is not seems a bit arbitrary. All soldiers should be fully capable of and trained for combat, at least until someone can guarantee that only specifically trained infantry will get into or be needed for a fight.


more to the point, all soldiers and units need to have these skills:

- preparation of a defensive position (day/night)
- reaction to ambush
- convoy operations

the distinction is that direct combat units are required train on a bunch of offensive operations, tooo numerous to lay out here. The problem for women comes in these, where soldiers, unlike the defensive operations need to personally haul 100 pounds each of equipment and fight while loaded.
12.19.2007 1:12pm
Lugo:
Anthony Mirvish, exactly right.

I am quite skeptical of this claim.

As you should be, it is ridiculous and untrue.

I read the previous threads and I do not recall any discussion of Russian women in combat.

http://volokh.com/posts/1196907502.shtml#298044
http://volokh.com/posts/1196907502.shtml#298045
http://volokh.com/posts/1196907502.shtml#298060
http://volokh.com/posts/1196907502.shtml#298082
http://volokh.com/posts/1196907502.shtml#298094
http://volokh.com/posts/1196907502.shtml#298121
http://volokh.com/posts/1196907502.shtml#298124
http://volokh.com/posts/1196907502.shtml#298136
http://volokh.com/posts/1196907502.shtml#298147
http://volokh.com/posts/1196907502.shtml#298166
http://volokh.com/posts/1196907502.shtml#298413

And that's just from ONE of the Browne threads...
12.19.2007 1:15pm
LTDan (mail):
I think you are confused. What most of the comments (including my own) have stated is that while women can perform the individual skills (firing a rifle, driving a tank) combat jobs require, they are too weak to be able to handle the job in its entirety.

Being a tank crewman involves a lot more than just being able to drive the tank or acquire targets through a sight. Being an infantryman involves more than carrying a rifle and shooting it. Combat flying involves more than being able to manipulate flight controls.

The pro-integration folks tend to dismiss the physical requirement of the job (typically the first disqualifier). The physical requirements are simply not understood by a large number of people both in and out of the military (infantry of all types account for around 4 percent of the total military population).

It's not being able to walk miles and miles with a heavy pack. It's that plus being able to fight effectively for hours when you get there. Then being able to get little or no sleep or food and do it again the next.

For those offering the technological panacea, let me clue you in. Military issued stuff is often crap that breaks down. All the time. I need 40 guys who can close with and defeat the enemy regardless of whether the vehicle that is supposed to carry us breaks down, whether they have dry, clean, warm clothes, whether they have a rifle or and entrenching tool or pointy stick.

It's more than a list of physical requirements, it also requires a fortitude, aggressiveness and discipine possessed by few enough men.
12.19.2007 1:24pm
john w. (mail):
" ...there are a number of other factors involved beyond just flying the airplane...."

Including the fact that if you get shot down over enemy territory and survive, you have just been automatically promoted (demoted?) to a ground combat role, whether you were trained for it or not.
12.19.2007 1:26pm
HBowmanMD:

Randy R. (mail):
Frankly, I had no idea women served in such numbers in the Soviet Army. They don't teach that sort of stuff in school, but they should.

Thanks for the info.


Don't forget that the population of women serving was a very, very small percentage of the soviet population. 3 fighter squadrons? Maybe 1000 women total (if that many)?
12.19.2007 1:28pm
HBowmanMD:

"Over 800,000 women served in the Red Army and Red Air Force during WW II. By 1943, more than half of them were fighting on the front as snipers, machine-gunners, tank drivers, and in the infantry."

I am quite skeptical of this claim. The modern US military has a tooth-to-tail ratio of roughly 1-to-9 - in other words, there are 9 supporting soldiers (tail) for every one fighting soldier (tooth).

During WWII, I'm sure that ratio was less. And, I'm sure in the Russian army, it was less still. As a semi-educated guess, I'd guess that the tooth to tail ratio may have been 1-to-4. But to claim that 1/2 of women soldiers were actually fighters is either claiming that the tooth to tail ratio in that army was 1-to-1 (which is frankly unbelievable), or that women were actually preferentially sent to combat units; that they were more likely to be infantrymen than men. I find both premises extremely unlikely.

Sk


I'd like to see the numbers too. But, the Soviets had 1.1 million troops just at the battle of Stalingrad. And suffered 750,000 casualties. The germans had about the same.

And the good Captain is being either accidentally or deliberately disingenuous. The number of women in the Red Army has NOTHING to do with the number of women in combat. Just as the US has 'no' women in combat but considerable numbers of women in the military, so did the soviets.

How many of the women in the Red Army (aside from the 3 squadrons of fighter pilots, and a few snipers, etc) were actually in combat? The US had a variety of different groups during WWII that placed women in military support roles (including the WACS, WAVES, SPARS, WM's, all who were actually in the military, and then support groups like the WASP's that made men available for combat roles by ferrying airplanes.

Frankly, Captain Mariner's arguments are weak, and I expected better.
12.19.2007 1:36pm
HBowmanMD:

rarango (mail):
Clearly soviet experience in their great patriotic war is a datum to be considered--how transferable it is the current US military operations and policy is a bit more problematic to me. As others have pointed out, the Soviet experience was based on the imperative of national survival--and in that context, warm bodies are warm bodies; no such imperative exists now for US forces. I think that is a significant difference. It may give us some insights into women's capabilities; but I don't believe it is conclusive for the current US military force.


Keep in mind that the Soviet Union was invaded, and I'd be willing to bet that the vast majority of women who served in combat (a very small subset of the women in the Red Army, to be sure) served only within the nominal boundaries of the SU.

If the US was invaded by an enemy with a similar correlation of forces as Germany and the SU, I'd be all for letting women fight in combat - but they'd be better in guerrilla operations and intel gathering. And even women combat pilots would have a much greater chance of being able to either make it back across the FEBA or E&E across the lines than a female US pilot in any likely combat zone the US will enter.
12.19.2007 1:41pm
HBowmanMD:

Carolina:


The common approach to the women in combat debate is to follow the "can" women fight versus "should" they fight format. On the first point, the reality is that women have proved they can fight throughout time.



This is a silly introduction. No one is claiming women literally "can't fight." Women obviously can pull a trigger, drive a tank, etc. The question is, can they do it as well as men, and what happens to a male unit when it is integrated.

You can just as easily make Prof. Mariner's point about children in combat. The Afghan mujahideen used 12 and 13 year old boys to fight, and so did Hitler at the fall of Berlin. These boys fought and died. So, in Prof. Mariner's view, this "proves" children can fight, too. Completely silly.



Of course it is silly. Captain Mariners entire premise so far has been specious.
12.19.2007 1:43pm
HBowmanMD:
And another necessary datum that is necessary to compare the experience of the Soviets in WWII: What was the relative value of the woman only units, or woman filling true ground combat roles, vs. traditional male units?

Quality is ideal, but as Stalin said, "Quantity has a quality all it's own". Utilizing all resources (throwing "everything including the kitchen sink") may have been necessary for the Soviets, but it's not necessary for the United States.
12.19.2007 1:46pm
Drill SGT (mail):

This is another strawman. Nobody is seriously arguing that women can't pull a trigger or drive a truck/tank/chopper/plane. (Whether or not most women can use a bayonet effectively is another matter!!)

I was an Armor commander. I picked that branch after standing in a rice paddy near Hue and watching tanks drive by with lawn chairs and ice chests sitting on their back decks. I decided that was the soft easy way to go to war, not this grunt slogging sh_t. I say that to emphasize that the infantry have it much worse than tankers.

Having said that, we tankers used to have an alternate PT test the illustrates that all the tank related tasks are brute force related. These combat surrgate events as I recall were:

- road wheel roll. roll a 200 lb road wheel around all 4 bases on a ball field.
- tow cable crawl. low crawl 20 yards dragging a 150 lb, 10 ft long steel cable
- track block shuttle. run 10 yards, pick up a 20 lb track block, run back 10 yards, repeat 10 times
- ammo load. pick up a 40 lb main gun round and lift it over your head. repeat 60 times.

another event from an earlier, late 60's PT test that was eventually dropped due to too many blown knees was the 150 yard man carry. a surrogate casualty test.

pair off. pick up a man at least your weight. run 150 yards with him over your shoulder.

fun times.
12.19.2007 1:49pm
Avatar (mail):
So long as we're discussing WW2 Soviet army composition, keep in mind that their unit effectiveness was far, far, far below that of the modern US army. Certainly, exigencies of the war were to blame for a significant amount of that; it's also true that US armed forces doctrine has evolved since those days.

But while it's all right to use the example of women in Russian uniform during WW2 to debunk myths that women have never been integrated into a modern army, it does not necessarily follow that there was no deleterious effect to unit cohesion or combat effectiveness. It's simply impossible to evaluate the two forces on the same scale, because of the enormous confounding influence of the total war environment. (That is to say, when your units are taking tremendous casualties daily, and you're so low on equipment that you order unarmed men to participate in infantry charges against prepared positions, that's so unlike the modern US military that you can't really compare the two.)

That said, what are the actual advantages of integration of the combat arms? They do exist, sure.

First, there's the point which was brought up earlier in the thread, with women officers and career advancement in the military. It's hard to get promoted all the way up the chain without any service in a combat unit; transfer to and service in a combat unit has traditionally been a path to male officer career advancement as well. We can disagree as to whether that's desirable on its face, but it's at least a legitimate goal.

Additionally, there's the advantages to having more gender integration in the ranks of the veterans back home. Consider that the military tends to greater conservatism, politically, than the population average - and that women, politically, trend a bit towards the liberal side of the average. To the extent that women joining the military undergo military socialization, that means that women veterans will average considerably more conservative than non-veteran women. So from the political perspective of the conservative, this is no bad thing (though we're probably not talking about much of a shift, given the limited numbers of people involved.)

Furthermore, military service, especially combat service, would prove to be beneficial to female politicians seeking advancement (in the same way that it is for the men.) This would have the effect of increasing female participation in the upper levels of policy-making - but again, the increase would be represented by female veterans, who would probably have a slightly different pattern of policy preferences than non-veteran women.

Finally, addressing the specific issue of policies on gun control, this is currently an issue in which there is a large gender gap, one where a significant amount of the support for gun control is fueled by good old-fashioned hoplophobia. That's not an attitude you can maintain through a military deployment. Increasing the number of women who, far from being afraid of guns, are trained on military hardware, would tend to decrease the support for gun control as a whole.

One can point out that the second and third advantages can be obtained by recruiting additional women for the non-combat arms (well, the "no direct combat" - I cede any points about women in aviation, and I acknowledge that women in support branches will still get into combat from time to time.) In fact, I don't know that integrating the combat arms would significantly affect the second or third advantage, given the inherently limited numbers of women involved - at the end of the day, we can't afford to ignore the physical differences, and while there are women who have physical performance equal to a fit man, they are a distinct minority of women as a whole!

I don't favor further integration of the armed forces at this point (mostly on a "it ain't broke, don't fix it" principle.) But if we're honestly going to discuss the issue, we need to discuss both sides of it. We've done a good job of focusing on the disadvantages of doing so, but we haven't really analyzed the advantages - so how can we judge if the one outweighs the other? If the costs exceed any expected gains, then we can table the idea until such a time as the situation changes significantly.
12.19.2007 1:56pm
LTDan (mail):
There is also the fact that the last two "advantages" have absolutely nothing to do with the ability of the Armed Forces to accomplish its given mission. The first likely impacts the military's ability to protect the nation not at all either.

Also, I find in my own experience that the officer corps tends to be much more diverse in the liberal/conservative spectrum than the general military population (which is conservative).
12.19.2007 2:04pm
r78:
Lugo

None of those posts to which you link offer the detail and substance of the guest blogger's post.
12.19.2007 2:31pm
Rob Perelli-Minetti (mail):
Both Avatar and LTDan reinforce my earlier point: the primary impetus for women in combat comes from those who believe that officer career advancement requires (successful) command of combat arms units (and in the navy, major combatant vessels up to and including carriers) at progressively higher levels.

Other benefits of military service to the country - greater understanding of the military by both citizens and politicians, a greater appreciation of the price of liberty and a connection with our citizen-soldier heritage, which can heighten awareness of need for civil rights such as the right to bear arms - can be satisfied by almost any sort of military service by women.

Without knowing more about the Soviet experience - and better information about just how women actually served - I wary of using the example of a totalitarian society in which both women and men were routinely worked to death in the gulag as a basis for US policy. The exigencies of the German invasion and Soviet indifference to the loss of life in trying to stop it, do not provide much basis for decisions about structuring an elite volunteer military in a society such as ours.
12.19.2007 2:56pm
Temp Guest (mail):
Anthony Mirvish seems to provide citations to scientific research suggesting that women are much less capable of target tracking in jet combat situations. This suggests that women are as unsuited for jet combat as any other form of combat, since even the smallest marginal lack of skill in aerial combat usually translates into death and/or loss of an aircraft. I'd be curious if Waldensian and others who've been pushing the idea that female jet combat pilots are a done deal can provide any info on whether they've been tested against their male counterparts in, e.g., anything like the Top Gun program. If not then female combat pilots are a still untested and dangerous PC stunt.
12.19.2007 3:19pm
Bart (mail):
Sk (mail):


"Over 800,000 women served in the Red Army and Red Air Force during WW II. By 1943, more than half of them were fighting on the front as snipers, machine-gunners, tank drivers, and in the infantry."

I am quite skeptical of this claim. The modern US military has a tooth-to-tail ratio of roughly 1-to-9 - in other words, there are 9 supporting soldiers (tail) for every one fighting soldier (tooth).

During WWII, I'm sure that ratio was less. And, I'm sure in the Russian army, it was less still. As a semi-educated guess, I'd guess that the tooth to tail ratio may have been 1-to-4. But to claim that 1/2 of women soldiers were actually fighters is either claiming that the tooth to tail ratio in that army was 1-to-1 (which is frankly unbelievable)...

Actually, Soviet tooth to tail ratio was actually very close to 1:1 during WWII. The Soviets generally did not expect their combat units to remain combat effective for very long and maintain extended operations. Rather, they would throw in successive waves of combat units until the other side broke.
12.19.2007 3:26pm
Rob Perelli-Minetti (mail):

The Soviets generally did not expect their combat units to remain combat effective for very long and maintain extended operations. Rather, they would throw in successive waves of combat units until the other side broke.


Hardly a mentality that would be appropriate to a professional army in which the success of the unit depends having a cohesive team of exceptionally capable warriors who can inflict damage upon the enemy far out of proportion to their numbers.
12.19.2007 4:00pm
Michael Gray (mail):
IDF - women in combat. Simple google check, no special background. Not expressing an opinion here, just providing you all with some factual grist for your mills.

Link
(Article regarding internal IDF report, commissioned by Personnel Dept., on gender integration - dated this past September - and coming down in favor of more integration; article also mentions combat support role of women during recent Lebanon war)

Link
(Letter to the Editor, in Military Review, offering footnoted comments on the status of integration in the IDF - dated 2003)

Link
(Feature article by IDF spokesperson on the Karakal co-ed (co-mil?) light infantry battalion - dated this past August, so includes anecdotes from Lebanon war)
12.19.2007 4:08pm
Christopher Gerrib (mail) (www):
There are two questions here which are not being addressed. First, there is a difference between "effective" and "optimal." The Soviets felt an all-male military was optimal, but discovered that a mixed military could be effective. In their case, they lacked draftable men. We seem to have a shortage of volunteers at the moment.

Second, until the bullets fly, it's very difficult to see who will be merely adequate, good or outstanding. True story - man tries to enlist in US Army in WWII. At 5' 5" and 115 pounds, he's too small for paratroops and Marines. Finally get into the Army, does a stint, and takes up acting after the war.

His first role? Playing himself in "The Audie Murphy Story." If you didn't see the movie, it's the true story of when Audie wins the Medal of Honor for combat valor in Italy.

It seems obvious that being effective as a soldier is down to what you are not how you're built. (quote from Brian Dunbar at http://bdunbar.livejournal.com/289080.html)
12.19.2007 4:21pm
r78:
But could Audie Murphy carry a 165 pound guy on his back for 200 yards?

If not, we need to keep people like him out of the armed forces.

I guess that is the argument anyway.
12.19.2007 4:33pm
Waldensian (mail):

Overall, this is not equal performance even if the women can fly the aircraft. To my mind, more direct tests between the sexes are needed (e.g. at Top Gun or Red Flag exercises). The claim that aviation is a done deal is a bit premature, especially since no aviators (male or female) have actually engaged in combat against competitive air defenses or enemy air forces.

I would like to see links to these studies, and their dates. The information I saw the last time I looked was that in the late 1990s, after changes were made to the helmets, g-suits, and other equipment issued to women to accommodate longer/thinner necks, different body shapes, etc., there was no evidence that women were less capable of flying combat aircraft than men.

In any event, I assure you -- women in Naval combat aviation is entirely a done deal. They appear to be performing admirably, and I've never seen any evidence otherwise. Why mess with success?

I have talked to several Naval aviators who have told me that some of the most lethal pilots they know are women. And note that these pilots mix it up with each other under conditions that fully simulate combat against an "equivalent" air force.

Another poster writes:

...if you get shot down over enemy territory and survive, you have just been automatically promoted (demoted?) to a ground combat role, whether you were trained for it or not.

This -- the "what if they get shot down" argument -- is to my mind the only potentially viable argument against allowing women to fly combat aircraft. But I don't think it's a good argument. A shot down pilot isn't suddenly an infantryman; he or she is a fugitive on the run. Women actually make surprisingly good runners. I can certainly dream up scenarios in which male-only brute strength might be needed, but in an equivalent number of situations it might also be useful to be left-handed, and we don't restrict pilots to left-handed people.

We're apparently in the world of anecdotal evidence, but I like mine: Scott O'Grady described the experience of eluding capture as being like a "scared bunny rabbit" and emphatically maintained that he was "no Rambo."

The relative unimportance of physical conditioning for pilots is emphasized by the surprisingly lax physical standards imposed on pilots -- at least veteran pilots -- in Naval aviation. You may not believe this, but you can be awfully out of shape and still fly in an F-18, with the Navy's blessing. I'm not naming names, but trust me -- there are some real fatties.

The joke about one A-6 pilot I knew was that if he ever ejected, he would keep flying straight and level, and the entire aircraft would plummet downward. He was big.
12.19.2007 4:35pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: Captain Rosemary
RE: A Bogus Argument....

"The common approach to the women in combat debate is to follow the "can" women fight versus "should" they fight format." -- Captain Rosemary

....in the first sentence, yet.

It is not, repeat NOT, either one or the other, Herren Captain. It is BOTH.

Once again, you're attempting to frame the argument in a bogus fashion. The first attempt, in your 'overview' was it wasn't 'feminization' but 'Americanization'.

I called you out on that.

I'm calling you out on this linguistic machination as well.

More to follow later. It's just that I was so 'struck' by this sophomoric debate trick that I had to say something right away.....while I'm waiting for the bleach to work on the stains in the sink....

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[It's a dirty job, but SOMEBODY has to do it. And bleach makes her lovely nails brittle.]
12.19.2007 4:36pm
HBowmanMD:
Well, it's as true as holywood could make it. However, Audi Murphy was, in fact, able to pass the relevant physical standards for an infantryman. How many woman of WWII were willing and able to do the same thing?
12.19.2007 4:37pm
r78:

I called you out on that.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are in the presence of a bona fide tough guy - one who is not afraid to call out people via pseudonyms on the internets.

This is exactly the sort of strength we need in our infantryman (and infantrywomen!)

/sarcasm
12.19.2007 5:21pm
rarango (mail):
Waldensian--is the navy still flying A6s? those things must be about as old as me, C 130s and B52s.
12.19.2007 5:24pm
Carolina:

Second, until the bullets fly, it's very difficult to see who will be merely adequate, good or outstanding. True story - man tries to enlist in US Army in WWII. At 5' 5" and 115 pounds, he's too small for paratroops and Marines. Finally get into the Army, does a stint, and takes up acting after the war.

His first role? Playing himself in "The Audie Murphy Story." If you didn't see the movie, it's the true story of when Audie wins the Medal of Honor for combat valor in Italy.


This is highly, highly misleading.

Audie Murphy grew up dirt poor and was basically malnourished when he entered the army. Murphy was so poor that he had to place the three brothers and sisters he was caring for in an orphanage.

I am at work and don't have access to my books, but I am 99% sure that Murphy gained 30-40 pounds and grew in height from eating the "delicious" army chow once he enlisted. He did not win his Medal of Honor weighing 115 pounds.

Unless you are suggesting that women are merely malnourished men who will turn manly with chow hall army food, keep Audie Murphy out of this.
12.19.2007 5:30pm
justanotherguy (mail):
About women officers who want to serve- women have been allowed equal footing in the Navy and Air Force for over a decade. All the data about willingness to serve is there for analysis. How many woman are still serving in combat tactical aircraft onboard carriers after ten years? How many women are serving on front line warships after ten years? Like most other professions that require long hours, sacrifice of personal time and homelife and generally preclude a normal 'working mom' relationship with the kids...how many have bothered? If they don't want to stay around in the Navy, why would they in the Army combat units...even if they had the requisite abilities which few do.

There are a few women who stick it out in the combat arms side of the Navy and Air Force. I think that those who stay on the point of the spear is very small. For those who do there isn't data on their quality compared to their male counterparts-there is no way to compare them-after ten years or so. The first few years of a pilot there might be the carrier landing scores, and a few other measures, but these become the base competency and more competencies are needed. The system is so glad to have them left that of course they are 'great.'

Lots of data on the experiment in the Navy and Air Force, and lots of stories and data of two separate systems and standards.

I think that the Navy and Air Force experience show that so few women are willing to stay in the same career path as the boys, that it wouldn't be worth the loss fighting effectiveness. The very few women who want to play and may actually be able to play isn't worth the effort and two-tracked standard that gets set up.

I don't think the Navy or Air Force experience has shown it, although the system s in each service has to admit that it is.
12.19.2007 5:32pm
Vovan:
Detailed soviet (meaning evil propaganda) account of Russian women in the war, briefly glancing over it, I don't think the number match those cited by the Captain.

But whoever, reads the commie script can take a look if they want:

Click Here
12.19.2007 6:33pm
Ash:
Several comments on the whole WW2 SU female soldiers:

1) Not 10 million dead. 25 million. As pointed out above, yeh... they were running out of men.

2) Pilots - most were night fighter pilots, very light very old planes. Not fighters. Light bombers. No dogfighting.

3) Your country is overrun. Your husband and possibly father are at the front.... or dead. Why not go? Nothing left to lose, unless you have kids.... live ones. Sure, Stalin will take you. Quantity over quality is the Soviet way.

4) There were many many 14-15 year old boys fighting too. Does that mean we should let 14-15 year olds join up with the US army and let them go into combat, since they have historically proven to be able to die just like a 20 year old male?

5)Yeh, there were 800k females in the SU army. And yes, some did fight at the front. Most however, were in supporting roles and many were also medics. Some were effective, no doubt. However, in an army that at the end of the war consisted of around 10 million people, that number is less than negligible.

6) What a Russian woman of that era could endure, an American woman of this era can NOT. Period.

Generally speaking, I find the example presented by the esteemed guest not just weak, but in the category of "grasping at straws". Disappointing.

p.s. Only someone who has never experienced real combat would be *demanding* to be allowed into it and complaining about it. It's not a freaking privilege, it's an obligation.
12.19.2007 6:52pm
HBowmanMD:

rarango (mail):
Waldensian--is the navy still flying A6s? those things must be about as old as me, C 130s and B52s.



Hey! When the last F35B is flown to the boneyard by some Marine, he'll fly home in a C130...probably an H model.

:)
12.19.2007 7:12pm
Carolina:
Just wanted to add one detail that illustrates the magnitude of Soviet losses in WW2 and how alien that is to our situation:

Of Russian boys born in 1923 (who were 18 years old in 1941), only 20% survived WW2.

As several posters have pointed out, they were literally running out of men.
12.19.2007 7:14pm
Enoch:
The Soviets felt an all-male military was optimal, but discovered that a mixed military could be effective.

It wasn't very mixed. 97% male, and most of the females were in non-combat / admin / support roles.

Waldensian--is the navy still flying A6s?

Only in EA-6B form.

A shot down pilot isn't suddenly an infantryman; he or she is a fugitive on the run. Women actually make surprisingly good runners.

You're missing the point. Downed pilots run, but they usually get caught quickly if they aren't picked up by CSAR. The real issue is how they will fare in prison camp.
12.19.2007 7:23pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: r78
RE: Tough Guy, Eh?

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are in the presence of a bona fide tough guy - one who is not afraid to call out people via pseudonyms on the internets." -- r78

So....

....tell me when you graduated from the US Army Ranger Course.

Me? 1979.

RE: Out-of-Touch-With-Reality

"This is exactly the sort of strength we need in our infantryman (and infantrywomen!)" -- r78

There are no such critters as 'infantrywomen'. And we are here to discuss that.

Bring forth your evidence supporting Captain Rosemary's premise or shut the flock up. This continual brain-drizzle of your ilk is a bore. Not to mention a waste of good bandwidth.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. Anytime....anywhere....

You can find me in the phone book, buckie. And I'm all over the web like a bad rash.
12.19.2007 7:32pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
P.P.S. I don't mind dealing with ad homs. I've been abused by the best.

Ever meet Colonel 'No Slack' Stack?
12.19.2007 7:33pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: r78
RE: Detail....Detail....

"None of those posts to which you link offer the detail and substance of the guest blogger's post." -- r78

Actually, albeit I'm still preparing my fisking of the good Captain's latest, I'm finding little 'detail' and more 'broad-brush' in her latest article.

Some citations would be useful, but only here and there, e.g., Russian Civil War of the Reds and Whites in the early 20th Century.

The point is, the good Captain is long on broad-brush statements and short on 'detail'. But you go ahead and call for more details from the opposition. [Note: I sit as a high school debate judge of Cross-X. I LOVE details in deciding a round between such bright kids as I judge this time of year.]

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. I have serious doubts you'd fare well against the majority of these kids.

And therein lies some hope for the future.....
12.19.2007 7:43pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
P.P.S. Tiring of the ad homs yet, buckie?

We can always get back to the topic at hand.....
12.19.2007 7:44pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
r78 said,

But could Audie Murphy carry a 165 pound guy on his back for 200 yards?


Speaking as a guy who weighed 115 pounds when I went through Marine OCS, I can assure you that weight matters little. I finished 11th in my company at the basic school in physical fitness. I was tied for first, but the wall on the obstacle course made me lose a few seconds on the time.

Men are stronger than women. I was much stronger than any woman in the other companies (not integrated back then). And in my experience on the staff of OCS later is that any healthy male can be brought into the physical condition to succeed, whereas women cannot meet those standards no matter how much training is applied.
12.19.2007 7:46pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
P.P.P.S. A Monty Python Moment



Now go away or I shall taunt you again, you silly feminist knighit. -- Monty Python and the Holy Grail
12.19.2007 7:49pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: r78
RE: Skyler's Report

"Speaking as a guy who weighed 115 pounds when I went through Marine OCS, I can assure you that weight matters little." -- Skyler

I can attest to that.

Part of the Ranger Course is a block of instruction in evacuating someone who is totally incapacitated; down a sheer cliff is one part of it.

They took the smallest—5'2" - 130 pounds—guy, who had survived so far, in the course and matched him against the biggest—6'5" - 230 pounds—guy. Sent the pair down a 100' cliff and across a largish open space.

It's all a matter of leverage.

Now, how does this apply to women?

I don't know if you missed this recent discovery by 'science', but women seem to have a 'slight' but 'significant' difference in bone structure in their vicinity of their hips. It allows them to walk upright during the latter part of a successfully progressing pregnancy.

Imagine that!

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Vive la 'differeance'! -- most REAL Men]
12.19.2007 7:56pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: Enoch
RE: What You Find on the Battlefield

"A shot down pilot isn't suddenly an infantryman; he or she is a fugitive on the run. Women actually make surprisingly good runners. -- someone Enoch cites

You're missing the point. Downed pilots run, but they usually get caught quickly if they aren't picked up by CSAR. The real issue is how they will fare in prison camp." -- Enoch, to that someone

I put it like this....
Once the shooting starts [whether you are a tanker or pilot who's abandoned their regular vehicle or a shopper at Westroads Mall], you are either infantry or you're a pop-up target.


As for what happens IF you're captured, that's another story.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. If I were a woman captured by our current enemy......well.....you can guess......
12.19.2007 8:03pm
john w. (mail):
"...There were many many 14-15 year old boys fighting [ in the WW-2 Soviet Union] too. Does that mean we should let 14-15 year olds join up with the US army and let them go into combat..."

Personally, I find the idea of sending 14 year old boys into combat a little bit LESS obscene than sending 18 year old girls (not that I'm in favor of either choice!)

Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't it fairly commonplace in European countries as recently as 200 years ago for 14 year old boys to be combat soldiers? In particular, couldn't they become midshipmen in the British Navy, and actually command other men in battle?

The idea of regarding 14 year olds (of either sex) as 'children' rather than as young adults is a very recent one -- and stupid, I might add.
12.19.2007 8:29pm
Christopher Gerrib (mail) (www):
JustAnotherGuy - well, I must be a REAL failure - I only made it 5 years in the Navy ;-) Seriously, dude, MOST people don't make the military a career. Good thing too - there's only so many Admiral / General slots to go around.

Regarding Audie Murphy - read his bio. The guy was constantly at the ragged edge of NOT making the relevant PT standards of the time. The only reason he saw combat was his determination to go. Nor did he grow in the service - after the war, Eisenhower, watching the movie, couldn't believe such a little guy did all that stuff.
12.19.2007 8:33pm
Hey Skipper (mail) (www):
Here are a couple facts about Soviet female pilot performance during WWII:

There were roughly 60 Soviet aces.

Two were women.

With six and twelve kills, they were the bottom two on the list.

The median number of kills was 35.
12.19.2007 8:34pm
Carolina:
In case anyone is still reading this, I am home now and verified that in the couple of years following his enlistment, Audie Murphy gained almost 40 pounds and grew FOUR inches. Benefits of a healthy diet when you have grown up dirt poor. During the action that earned him the Medal of Honor, he therefore was 5'9" and weighed about 155 pounds.

P.S. Murphy had no birth certificate. He told the recruiter he was 18, but might have lied. Or he really might not have known exactly how old he was. He conceivably might have been 16 or 17. That is one alternative possible explanation for the growth spurt and weight gain after enlistment, or it really might have all been due to finally getting nutritious meals regularly.
12.19.2007 8:35pm
HBowmanMD:
Ccarolina: Then Murphy was very average in size for a WWII soldier...All of them were suffering from what we today would call malnutrition, due to the depression.

That actually puts his BMI on the high end of the healthy range (18.5 to 24.9), his BMI would be 22.9
12.19.2007 10:45pm
Anthony Mirvish (mail):
(link)Waldensian

The studies and articles to which I referred do not have hyperlinks: you have to pay for the articles. They are as follows:

Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, Vol 69 No 12 Dec 1998 "Male/Female SACM Endurance Comparison: Support for the Armstrong Laboratory Modifications to the CSU-13B/P Anti-G Suit" - this one supports equal G resistance (as you noted and as I stated in my post) between the sexes with properly fitting G suits.

Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, Vol 72, No 8 Aug 2001 "Accomodation of Females in the High-G Environment: The USAF Female Acceleration Tolerance Enhancement (FATE) Project" - this also supports the equal G resistance with proper pressure suit argument. It acknowledges though that the issue of muscular strength contribution to anti-G resistance (through straining maneuvers) was not studied nor was it in any of the studies referenced in the article. It was also noted that several of the small number of female test subjects in this experiment were exceptional athletes and thus not necessarily representative.

Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, Vol 69, No 9, Sept 1998 "Female Exposure to High G: Performance of Simulated Flight aft 24 Hours of Sleep Deprivation. This study found overall performance was not reduced despite 24 hours of sleep deprivation, but it noted that "when G forces were added, the women did not maintain the tracking range as closely as the men. Call reaction time (i.e. noting threats like missiles) nearly doubled, the percent of altitude breaks was down by 20% and missile survival was reduced by 8%." The women required more time at high G to achieve their scores, typically 15 seconds versus 10 seconds (a 50% difference and meaningful given the time of an air combat environment, also costly in fuel and air speed in a turning fight). "The poorer tracking by the females resulted in their trying harder to catch up with the target...when the G loads were real (the test was also conducted at 1 G), women pulled the same loads as men - at the expense of the tracking score." Other points regard the difference in the genders' ability to use oxygen. "During indoctrination training, women's bodies did not provide adaptation to G while men's bodies did provide adaptation. During G exposure, women displayed less loss of oxygen content inthe arterial-venous mix of blood within the cerebrum. Overall, women did not perform the air-to-air combat task as well as teh men, even though they pulled just as much G. We believe these results to be consistent under the following model. The lack of physiological adaptation to G (no increase in cardiac contractility or baroreceptor sensitivity) meant that women had to strain harder to pull the same G and experienced more transient visual symptoms. Both of these requirements would lead to less congnitive capacity to perform the combat task. The women apparently did not extract oxygen from the cerebrum in the same proportions as the men; this may contribute to the lower tracking scores achieved by the women as ag roup. The men were capable of more cognitive workload, since they were getting more reflexive help from their bodies." That said, the study still concluded the women should fly combat and commended them for enduring the high G's. I'm not sure I'd reach the same conclusion.

Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, Vol 69, September 1998. "Female Exposure to High G: Chronic Adaptations of Cardiovascular Functions." This study basically continued the work of the previous study (both were published in the same issue). It concluded that adaptations to G-training were limited in females, a finding that may provide a physiological basis for their lower simulated combat tracking performance during simulated aerial combat maneuverss compared with men.

A recent US Naval Institute Proceedings article noted that Navy pilots now average about 10 practice dogfights per year and that combat skills are less than optimal. I can't comment on those aviators who told you that some women were first rate, but since neither the men nor the women seem to have much actual experience, judgements need to be considered in that context. Recent exercises against the Indian Air Force showed USN and USAF pilots to be a bit less impressive than our PR would lead one to believe.

Also, one aspect of the "Manchurian Candidate" type responses (party line if you perfer) of the official military on this subject is that it is extremely difficult to evaluate the credibility and honesty of those making the statements. This is because PC has infected every institution in our society (ask Larry Summers about his experience at Harvard in this context). Genuine debate about any issue related to race or sex is virtually impossible. In the context of women in the military, military women and their feminist supporters have only themselves to blame if the views of serving personnel are therefore regarded with suspicion. Moreover, as some ex-military personnel on this blog have made clear, as other mil-bloggers have made clear on other sites, and as other studies have indicated, there appears to be a number of people who hold different views from those officially touted.

You can argue that it's a done deal, but that's just a way to avoid the issue. Change in one direction, one time is silly. Policies need to be evaluated on their merits. If they're not good, then there is a moral obligation to those who serve (both sexes) to correct them. Only a very small percentage of women pilots fly jets.

For US Navy shipboard task performance comparisons by gender, consult "Documentation of Muscularly Demanding Job Tasks and Validation of an Occupational Strength Test Battery (STB)" by David Robertson and Thomas Trent, Nov 1985, available through the National Technical Information Service.
12.19.2007 10:47pm
Anthony Mirvish (mail):
As a further comment, changes to gear (G-suits and such) have done much to eliminate many of the limitations between the sexes in air combat. However, there are still many areas that have yet to be explored thoroughly and the research shows that there are some differences in performance despite the gear changes. It's worth noting that when the Army softened up its basic training to better allow women to get through it, many critics in and out of the military noted that "support" troops would have to fight. Those arguments were dismissed. Jessica Lynch's experience was the result. What is relevant there is not that she or the other women were total failures and thus responsible for their defeat (the only US ground unit to be routed in combat since Task Force Smith in Korea in 1950); they weren't. What was responsible was the changes made to training to accommodate them. It was that which left the unit unprepared.

There are a number of other articles that address these points. I can cite them if requested. During the 1990s there were some efforts to look at these issues. Most of the studies tended to conclude in favor of the women even where this seemed somewhat at odds with the results of the research. One should also note that the researchers tended to approach the subject without always considering the full context within which combat occurs. The air combat tracking results cited previously are an example. In a real air battle, pilots won't have as much time as needed to complete the task, something that they do have in a centrifuge test. Differences of 5-10 seconds reaction in a modern, very intense, high-tech environment may be considerably more critical to pilot survival than in earlier ages. Small things tend to add up. It's also worth noting that even a centrifuge test won't expose the pilot to the full range of motion and demands that would be experienced in real combat. This is true even though modern aircraft use fly-by-wire controls with most weapons controlled through buttons on the stick and are not of themselves particularly muscularly demanding.
12.19.2007 11:05pm
cathyf:
First, there's the point which was brought up earlier in the thread, with women officers and career advancement in the military. It's hard to get promoted all the way up the chain without any service in a combat unit; transfer to and service in a combat unit has traditionally been a path to male officer career advancement as well. We can disagree as to whether that's desirable on its face, but it's at least a legitimate goal.
Does it matter whether it's real combat or pretend combat? Virtually all of the top officers running the Iraq war served their "combat" rotations in training exercises with no enemies in sight, since we weren't in any shooting wars back then. As I understand it, the purpose of "ticket punching" through service in a combat unit is to give the officer the experience to advance to higher command (which is definitely well behind the front lines) of troops in combat. Well in that case we already seem to have decided that a general who did his "combat" tours back in Germany in 87-90 and South Korea in 98 &99 is qualified to order about troops who've been fired upon by actual enemies.

For the purposes of "ticket punching" for women officers, suppose we restrict them to the sort of "combat" that men in combat units perform in peacetime? So, for example, they command "combat units" in Germany, Korea, Japan. Then, with their "tickets punched" they are just as qualified as lots of our current officers whose only "combat" duty was after 1992 and before 2003.

If we are talking about service in "combat units" that does not involve any actual combat, then doesn't that change the whole dynamic of lowering the physical requirements? Especially if you allow men who can't meet the physical requirements for real combat into the "special ed" version of combat, so that they, too, can get their tickets punched and move on to important command of support services back at headquarters? As Minard showed us, the more mundane issues of supply, preparation, and meteorological competence are pretty darn important, too -- perhaps it is good to ensure that skills other than direct combat are represented in the senior officer corps?
12.20.2007 12:19am
SFCMikeJ:
CathyF Said:

For the purposes of "ticket punching" for women officers, suppose we restrict them to the sort of "combat" that men in combat units perform in peacetime? So, for example, they command "combat units" in Germany, Korea, Japan. Then, with their "tickets punched" they are just as qualified as lots of our current officers whose only "combat" duty was after 1992 and before 2003.


The "ticket punching" you refer to you misunderstand. Officers process through commanding units of increasing responsibilty and serving on the staffs of commanders with more responsibility in order to gain experience to move to the next level. A similar process happens in corporate America. So an officer "punches his ticket" as a young platoon leader, then as a company executive officer, then as a company commander, then as a battalion staff officer, then as a battalion exec, then as a battalion commander. Most will never go any farther that this and at each stage the pool of positions is smaller and smaller and the competition is fierce. This is education and experience and it is a good thing.

Actual ticket punching usually refers to things that will make you more competitive. Things like airborne school and ranger school for officers that will not actually serve in those units.

Your suggestion that women serve in combat units away from the combat zone supports the idea that women in combat units is a bad idea. What happens to the cohesive unit when it is deployed to combat and has to change leadership. What happens to the officer that has to walk into an unknown unit and take it into combat? What happens to the soldiers in a unit when a female officer who is just "punching a ticket" to get promoted fails to prepare them properly for combat because she will not have to suffer the effects of poor training.

And, as I pointed out above, there is a shrinking number of slots as the officer progresses. What happens to those officers who may have to lead troops in combat but lack the training and experience because a female was "punching her ticket" to get promoted and there was no place for him.

Additionally, and I don't intend to be mean, but you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the military. The senior officer corps doesn't need more guys who understand meteorology because that skill is not needed to train a unit for combat and then plan, coordinate and implement combat operations at the major unit level. Combat branched officers don't "punch their tickets" in some combat unit slot and then go on to some air conditioned easy job somewhere until the "glory" time happens. The serve in combat units their entire career with some exceptions.

By the way what do the "Ticket Punching" females, commanding combat units, in your scenario do when some enemy attacks without properly notifying our military to transfer all the females out of their pretend combat units?

The military is meant to defend this country. It's not a jobs program or some social experiment. This is a deady serious business. Your life and liberty depend on the military doing its mission successfully. You would risk that so that a handfull of females won't have hurt feelings?
12.20.2007 2:49am
TLove (mail):
The debate over the role of women in combat, and women in other extreme occupations, is nothing more or less than a debate over whether you are willing to consider that there may be systematic differences between men and women that affect job performance. If you believe that there may be systematic differences, then you can live in a world with no female tank gunners or fighter pilots. If you don't believe it, or are for ideological reasons unwilling to accept its consequences (as the good Capt appears), then you inevitably end up moving rapidly past equality of opportunity to affirmative action and quotas.

It is not widely understood how extreme the effects of small systematic differences among populations are at the extreme
ends of the bell curve. In the middle, you will find the various populations reasonably evenly represented. But at the extremes, you will find the disadvantaged population completely absent. You won't find a few outliers, you will find none at all. Not a little absent, completely missing.

The most obvious and least debatable examples of this effect is in professional sports. The top 200 100 meter sprint times, and the top 494 of 500, have been run by men whose ancestors came from four countries in west africa. Forty percent of the top marathon runners in the world come from a population of 500,000 people in Kenya. These statistics don't mean that every nigerian male can beat every swedish male in a sprint. There are plenty of fast northern europeans, and slow nigerians. But it does mean that no swede will every win a medal in the 100 meter dash in the olympics, in fact, no swede will ever appear in the finals heat. At the extreme end of the populations the one-hundredth fastest nigerian will beat the fastest swede, every single time they race, for ever. And will post 494 of the 500 fastest times in history.

Annika Sorenstam is arguably the greatest female golfer in history. Her statistics indicate that she would rank in the 180 range among male pga tour golfers. This means that she would never win a tournament, never appear in the top 10 in a tournament, and almost never make the cut (as she didn't in her pga appearance). She would perform no differently than a male 180, and I guarantee you you can't name more than 15 pga pros, let alone 180. You would never have heard of Annika Sorenstam.

Martina Navratilova for a time practiced with a male practice partner whose highest rank was also around 180 on the male tour. She could not beat him. Had Martina appeared in a male event, she would not, on a single occasion, have gotten out of the first round. Not once, not ever.

This effect appears to be unfair, because it is. It appears to be suspicious, because the results are so extreme and unexpected (494 out of 500?). Men are marginally better at math then women, but only marginally on average, so it seems
surprising that in the extreme sport of graduate degree level math and physics, almost all the participants are male (and from my friends practicing those extreme sports, it should be all, not nearly all).

Combat is an extreme sport. Indeed, the extreme sport. If one understands the effect of small population differences at the ends of the bell curve, it comes as no surprise that no one uses women in combat.

Some would argue that if women meet the minimum standard then that should be enough. But that's true only if you intend to take everyone who meets the minimum standard. The soviet example in WWII is inapposite - they were running out of bodies and not only did they take everyone who met the minimum standard, they pretty much took everyone period.

The US does not have to take everyone who meets the minimum standard. And in those circumstances it is the bottom of the class that gets weeded out, and the few women who make it in flight school or tank school will be in the bottom of the class. Ask Annika. So sure, if we get in a big shooting war, and need more pilots, we are likely to, like the soviets, take the whole class, and follow that up by lowering standards. But when demand drops, so will the bottom of the class.

So some will argue for equality of opportunity in the face of this. Right? Who is harmed by equality of opportunity? But that won't solve the Capt's problem, unless we're in year three of the Great USA-China war. Equality of opportunity means no female combat personnel (and no female golfers in the pga). Not a few, none. And logically speaking, if you are unwilling to accept a formal rule barring women, you are unwilling to accept the effect of the extreme end of the bell curve, because it puts you in the same place - no women in combat. So you deny the possibility of systematic population differences, chalk up Annika Sorenstam's inability to win a pga tournament to gender discrimination (that Tiger Woods, he's such a meanie), and then demand affirmative action quotas as an appropriate response, which, if that's your theory, they are.

So then some will say that if we recognize that systematic differences do on occasion exist, then it's open season on discriminating against women in every job, everywhere, all the time. Except that the vast majority of jobs, by definition, are not at the extremes. And away from the extreme ends the populations overlap enough to make this irrelevant. There are plenty of out of shape cigarette smoking nigerian laywers for all of the svelte swedish personal trainers to run circles around whenever they want. So recognizing that the next quarterback of the New England Patriots is probably going to be male doesn't mean the next general counsel of the New England Patriots also has to be male.

My question is when will the Swedish goverment demand that swedish sprinters have to run only 90 meters when running a 100 meter race against nigerians. I mean, after all, the fact that the swedes keep losing is damaging to their self-esteem, and there are higher goals to be served here, including respect for slow-poke swedes and racial harmony. And god forbid that swedish youngsters start to think, hey, we can't beat nigerians in the 100 meters, that means we can't be laywers and accountants either. And really, in the end is running the 100 meters the fastest, or killing the bad guys better than they kill you, all that important in the face of such lofty goals? Of course not, unless, of course, you're a nigerian, or a tank gunner.
12.20.2007 4:49am
Brian K (mail):
If one understands the effect of small population differences at the ends of the bell curve, it comes as no surprise that no one uses women in combat.

hmmm...i always though that we had more than 500 combat soldiers in the military. i guess i was wrong.

in all seriousness, we are not dealing with the extreme ends of the bell curves because 1) those at the extreme ends of the bell curve aren't in the military and 2) our demand for boots on the ground is greater than the number of people at the extreme end of the bell curve. and as you say "In the middle, you will find the various populations reasonably evenly represented." that means that as you move away from the extreme end, women rapidly join the ranks.

494 out of 500?
And incidentally, this means that greater than 1.2% of women would be fit for combat (greater than because of the above explanation that as you move towards the middle of the bell curve more women are qualified). this number is much higher than some anti-integration people have claimed in this discussion.

My question is when will the Swedish goverment demand that swedish sprinters have to run only 90 meters when running a 100 meter race against nigerians.
this quote is an example that your entire argument is premised on the fact that physical strength is absolutely the only thing that makes a good soldier. as has been pointed out by many people above, this is not true. in the olympic running events, shear speed is the ONLY thing that matters, in real world combat much more matters.
12.20.2007 5:10am
TLove (mail):
I cited sports as clear example of the general effect of the end of the bell curve (and also cited math and physics), not as a proxy for combat. But many others with direct experience point out how extreme the demands of combat are. It being an outlier job, it's should come as no surprise that it has an outlier job population.
12.20.2007 5:37am
SFCMikeJ:
TLove: Well stated.

Brian: The question isn't are 1.2% (or whatever figure you want here) of females fit for combat. No doubt they are. The question is do we make policy based on that 1.2% of the population. I say no. I am willing to bet that at least 1.2% of people who are legally intoxicated can drive a car safely. Should we change the DUI laws to allow for drunk driving?
12.20.2007 9:24am
cathyf:
We are not at the extreme end of the distribution. Extreme is NFL football players, NBA basketball players -- a job for which there are NO women physically qualified to do is a job which 99.999% of men are physically unqualified for. And no one is claiming that combat infantry is a job which 99.999% of all men could never do.

One thing that no one (or I missed it if they did) has quoted any statistics on (do they exist?) is what percentage of the male population is physically incapable of what should be the minimum standard for combat, no matter how hard they train. I have seen things which hint that this is a pretty high number -- stories about modern challenges in military recruiting which include that a fairly high fraction of high school seniors simply could not make it through basic training.

Just to give a sort of broad order-of-magnitude feeling for the numbers... If the minimum physical standard is at the one standard deviation level for men, while at the three standard deviation level for women, then 99% of women cannot make that standard, while 2/3 of men cannot make that standard.

This is the criteria that I use for judging these statistical arguments. If you say that the physical requirements are such that there are no women at all who are qualified, then you had better be able to show that 99.999% of men are unqualified, too. If you claim that only 1% or 2% of women are qualified, but 95% of men are qualified, then you are going to have to work very very hard to prove to me that the presence or absence of "girl cooties" aren't in fact the primary factor of your set of qualifications.

I'm familiar enough with the military to know that different branches of the military have different standards. Guys who wouldn't make it through marine boot camp can do just fine as army infantrymen. Special forces or rangers are an elite physical group. Does anyone have any access to studies where the military has tried to estimate what percentage of military-aged men there are in the total population who can rise to the various particular physical standards that they have? (This would seem to be one of those pretty basic numbers that would go into long-range planning -- you can't recruit 10,000 men to perform at a particular level if there are only 1,000 men in the entire population who could perform at that level.)
12.20.2007 12:50pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
cathyf.

We have had numerous examples of difficulties arising from male-female integration aside from the necessity of fudging the physical standards.
To refer to them as "girl cooties" is absurd.
12.20.2007 1:59pm
Brian K (mail):
SFCMike,

but that was not the argument that i was responding too. the argument wasn't that too few women would qualify, but that no women would qualify.

I say no
I say yes.
12.20.2007 4:47pm
Brian K (mail):
I am willing to bet that at least 1.2% of people who are legally intoxicated can drive a car safely. Should we change the DUI laws to allow for drunk driving?

we already do this implicitly. to get pulled over you have to show signs of driving intoxicated (with the exception of DUI checkpoints). the at least 1.2% of the population that can drive normally aren't pulled over as long as they avoid checkpoints (which is not hard to do if you're not intoxicated).
12.20.2007 4:50pm
Brian K (mail):
It being an outlier job, it's should come as no surprise that it has an outlier job population.

statistically, there are just as many female outliers as there are male outliers. also, where is your evidence that only male outliers are put into combat positions? that claim is in direct contrast to many of the military people on this board who claim they can take (almost) any male and train them into good combat soldiers.
12.20.2007 4:52pm
r78:

....tell me when you graduated from the US Army Ranger Course.

Me? 1979.

Thank you for serving as the poster boy for the if-they-let-girls-in -combat-units-I-will-have-to-take-even-more-Viagra wing.
12.20.2007 11:57pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: Captain Rosemary
RE: Rebuttal; a Fisking of [Rosemary Mariner, guest-blogging, December 18, 2007 at 11:14pm]

"The common approach to the women in combat debate is to follow the "can" women fight versus "should" they fight format. On the first point, the reality is that women have proved they can fight throughout time. The claim that women have never fought a major ground war is counterfactual." -- Captain Rosemary

I addressed this earlier in this thread's comments. Please see above.

"Of all the possible historical examples, none offers better empirical evidence that women can fight, alongside men, than that of Russia (later the Soviet Union) in the twentieth century. In both world wars and the Russian civil war, numerous women fought on the frontlines." -- Captain Rosemary

I'm somewhat familiar with the Soviet Union's need for women to fight in combat units during WWII. It was due, entirely, to the stupidity of Stalin that caused such severe losses at the outset of the Nazi Operation Barbarosa.

I'm not familiar with the Russian Civil War of the early 20th Century. Do you have some citations? Preferably something that is rated A1 for accuracy and reliability.

"When it comes to "real" combat, it doesn't get much tougher than what the Red Army faced against the Germans on the Eastern Front in WW II.

"Over 800,000 women served in the Red Army and Red Air Force during WW II. By 1943, more than half of them were fighting on the front as snipers, machine-gunners, tank drivers, and in the infantry. Several women commanded male platoons. Additionally, women fought as partisans and worked in combat support positions." -- Captain Rosemary



Again, as I stated. This was due to a self-inflicted wound that the Soviet Union HAD to bring women into fight.

The Israelis, at the outset of their war of independence against the invading Arab hordes found itself in the same dire straits. Albeit for somewhat different reasons. They had not been lead by someone as stupid as Stalin.

However, the question comes up as to where are these fighting women in Israel's Defense Force or the Russian Army, today?

Last I heard, neither the Israelis NOR the Russians had such any more.

Why is that?

"In the American context, Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom constitute the first time women (in all the armed services) have officially served in aviation and naval combat. Not only do women serve in the junior enlisted ranks, they have commanded warships and combat aviation squadrons during these conflicts. In both the Active Duty and Reserve Components military men and women have demonstrated --once again-- that they can and do excel as a cohesive team." -- Captain Rosemary

So what?

This discussion of yours is about whether or not women can AND should serve in the combat arms. Not about whether they served in the armed forces.

Why the digression?

"The reason that there are no recent studies concerning these combat positions is because, after thirteen years of gender-neutral assignment policies, women's presence is considered part of normal operations. Mission capability, including personnel readiness, is reported through normal channels." -- Captain Rosemary

How very odd.

I'll wager you dollars to donuts that the Navy and the Air Force keep track of all flights of our multi-million dollar aircraft for performance and that inside that data is what is the gender of the crews of those aircraft.

As I asked over on your 'overview' item, where is the data?

If it was positive, I'm certain as tomorrow's Sunrise, you'd be touting it as evidence supporting your premise.

However, neither you nor anyone else has demonstrated the statistical data of performance of women in such operations.

Why is that?

"Of the approximately 200,000 military women deployed to Iraq since 2003, the majority serve in the Army, Army Reserves, and National Guard. Most of these are in traditional military occupational specialties, although many are associated with combat aviation." -- Captain Rosemary

What do you mean by 'traditional military occupational specialties'?

Combat Arms?

Combat Support?

Combat Service Support?

Why the obfuscation, Herren Captain?

"Women have been involved in ambushes, firefights, and other self-defense combat situations resulting in a number of awards for valor." -- Captain Rosemary

What others besides Jessica Lynch?

I think I addressed what happened to her comradess-in-arms, Lori, in your previous installment's comments.

Now her children are orphans. Do you know what it's like to be an orphan? [Note: Sorry. Just had a flash of Pirates of Penzance with that one.]

"Along with female Marines, women are restricted by both Defense Department (DoD) and their respective service policies from assignment in direct ground combat positions. However, especially for the Army, there appears to be confusion over what the policy actually is and its purpose. This is complicated by the Army's recent organizational transformation into Brigade Combat Teams and the non-linear battlefield." -- Captain Rosemary

I think I addressed this business over in your previous installment.

The non-linear battlefield has been around since the 80s. And I've had my concerns about the ramifications since I was an infantry battalion S4.



My concerns were reinforced by my contact with veterans of GWI at the Army Logistics Executive Development Course in 1992.

When did YOU finally learn about it?

"In 2006, Congress directed the Secretary of Defense to submit a report on the current and future implementation of DoD policy for assigning military women. The result was a 2007 report released by the RAND National Defense Research Institute.

The report points out that the 1992 Army regulation for assigning women predates the 1994 DoD guidance and was not updated. It also defines "direct ground combat" differently from DoD, resulting in a more restrictive policy.

RAND researchers concluded that if individual or small-group self-defense is included in the direct ground combat definition, then assigning women to units that routinely conduct self-defense is not in keeping with Army policy, even though allowed under DoD policy. Given the situation in Iraq, compliance with the more restrictive interpretation could close many, if not all, support units to women." -- Captain Rosemary

Hmmmm.....

....this sounds very similar to my thoughts. Especially in light of the fact that combat has always been something that takes place anywhere/anytime. And usually where you least expect it.

Regards,

Chuck(le)

[A woman's place is NOT forward of the COMMZ. -- CBPelto]
12.21.2007 3:02pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: r78
RE: Not Enough, Eh?

"Thank you for serving as the poster boy for the if-they-let-girls-in -combat-units-I-will-have-to-take-even-more-Viagra wing." -- r78

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.....aaaaaahhhhh!

Youngster. You have nooooo idea of what you're talking about.

One doesn't need 'viagra' when you're married to a woman who reminds you of the female lead in the movie Life Force. She even (1) has the same maiden name and (2) gets that same intent look in her eyes.

Eat your heart out....

Regards,

Chuck(le)

P.S. I met her are 1984 Denver Mensa Holiday Party, Denver Museum of Natural History. Got a photo of her, in a pretty pink cocktail dress, like Madonna wears in that video "Material Girl", flanked by myself in dress blues and the guy who was the Best Man at our wedding in a t-shirt with a cigar on it and the text, "I was rolled in Jamaica".

She has the look of a bunny between two wolves. Very 'cute'.

She was just walking by us as we were talking when we grabbed her and swung around to the photographer, who'd been lining my friend and I up for a shot.

Oh...yeah....and lest I forget, she has the attributes of the woman described in Proverbs 31.

Talk about being 'blessed'.....

When you FINALLY get a life, you'll know better....

[You haven't lived until you've almost died.]
12.21.2007 3:03pm