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[Rosemary Mariner, guest-blogging, December 20, 2007 at 2:10am] Trackbacks
The Americanization of the Armed Forces-Entry Standards, Strength, Fitness, and Cohesion:

The American military does not recruit, enlist, commission, promote, court martial, or entrust command to groups. Although the demonstrated ability to work well within a group is important to unit readiness, especially on the tactical level, selection and performance are ultimately individual functions.

The emphasis on individual qualification starts with the recruiting process. The definition of a high quality recruit includes brains and health, but not brawn.

Entry level standards have been gender neutral since the 1970s. In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, when male propensity to enlist was at a low, high quality female recruits were essential to maintaining the quality of the volunteer force.

The primary measure of aptitude for determining eligibility for enlistment is an individual's score on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). The AFQT is designed to measure the trainability of potential recruits and identify individuals unlikely to complete entry level training. It includes sections on math and reading comprehension.

A high quality recruit is defined as a healthy individual with a high school diploma and AFQT scores in the top 50%. There is a strong correlation between the ability to graduate from high school and complete an enlistment contract. These are the same people the civilian labor market desires.

The correlation between high AFQT scores and military performance is also well documented. In 2006 the Army almost doubled the number of Category IV recruits scoring in the 10-30 percentile range.

Age requirements are especially elastic, with the services targeting 17-26 year olds, but expanding the range when demand exceeds supply. Today the Army will take recruits up to age 42.

All recruits must pass a basic physical fitness test and medical exam. While Army positions are assigned a physical demands rating, this is only used to give recruits an idea of what the job entails. The Army does not submit male recruits to physical strength tests before assigning them to ground combat positions.

No tests are given to measure courage, spirit, motivation, commitment, aggressiveness, maturity, affability, or other character traits. Waivers may be granted for certain criminal records.

The inclusion of women, a majority of the military age population, to the recruiting pool enhances the military effectiveness of the force by maximizing the human capitol that can be drawn from.

While female propensity to enlist tends to be lower than men surveyed, the addition of women to the pool is significant. This is especially true in a difficult recruiting market; it would be that much more important should the nation face a full mobilization.

Strength vs. Fitness Standards

In tasks that objectively require physical strength, quantifiable standards should be established. The argument that too few women would qualify to make it worth while begs the question, by what standard? How many women is enough, according to whom? When individual capability is the criteria, the degree of overlap doesn't matter.

Many demanding military tasks involve skill, not strength. Training programs teach skills as well as establishing if a person is strong enough to do the job.

An individual man or woman who completes flight training or Ranger school is strong and skilled enough by virtue of successfully completing the course. These difficult programs also provide the important "gut checks" which test spirit and commitment.

Prof. Browne's example of a male pilot requiring all his strength to land a damaged airplane as justification to exclude women from combat aircraft is just plain silly.

First, it ignores the fact that women have flown all types of aircraft since the beginning of aviation, including under much worse conditions. Second, it is analogous to saying that if Arnold Schwarzenegger used all his strength to keep from crashing his Hummer, only people like Arnold should drive.

The notion that pilots shot down behind enemy lines become infantrymen is equally nonsensical. Not only have women done that too, but I don't know of any aviator POWs making such claims. These are survival, escape, resistance, and evasion situations.

Finally, physical fitness tests do not measure strength. Fitness standards are designed to ensure a person's health; they are properly age and gender-normed. If more fitness is required, than raise the standards for everyone.

Cohesion

From the Revolutionary War to WW I, the primary method of raising ground forces was to call forth the militia. During most of the nineteenth century local communities raised regiments which were enlisted into federal service as the U.S. Volunteers. Depending on the state, regiments elected their own officers while governors appointed senior officers. Militia units had built in cohesion; often soldiers were related or had grown up together.

Unlike the militia, the Continental Army (and later the U.S.Army) had to create a cohesive force from disparate troops. Beginning at Valley Forge, under Friedrich von Steuben's leadership, the Continentals drilled and trained together to emerge a greatly improved fighting force. Since then, the armed forces have been well aware of the connection between leadership, cohesion, and the precept that you train as you fight.

The introduction of women has not changed the principle that cohesion is a function of leadership, shared experiences, common identity, and purpose, --not homogeneity. Discipline must overcome emotion, and gender is not an excuse for misconduct. Commanders set the tone and the example for everything under their authority. This is key to the U.S. military's professional ethos.

Prof. Browne's assertion that having women in military groups adversely affects cohesion is not supported by research. A 1997 RAND study conducted to assess military effectiveness after the expansion of women's roles concluded "that divisions caused by gender were minimal or invisible in units with high cohesion." A 1999 GAO report on perceptions of readiness in selected units opened to women in 1993 concluded: "most men and women agreed that women either affected readiness no differently from men or affected readiness positively or very positively."

The published research suggests that gender itself has no affect on cohesion in military groups.

Lev:
Not that it matters, but there was a funny political cartoon from about 2002 or three, one panel.

on the left side, a hairy dirty taliban saying women needed to be covered completely except for their eyes.

on the right side, a fighter aircraft, fully loaded, pointed at the taliban, pilot saying: Roger that.
12.20.2007 2:33am
Cro (mail):
Captain, I hate to disagree with you, but a glance at the AFQT will show that the scores that pass a female will fail a male, by a very large margin. The scores I made would have been 'outstanding' every time I took the test if I had been a female. As a male, they weren't. The test is not gender neutral. This is the only issue I fully agreed with Dr. Browne about- women are not able to meet many of the physical tasks required in a combat unit.

I served in the Army National Guard after my active duty stint in the Navy (both the army MOS and rating that I filled are open to women). I fully agree that women can serve, and serve very well, in most roles in the armed forces. I don't think that they do so well in very specific roles, mainly involving ground combat. I agree that piloting isn't one of those roles, but being an infantry soldier is.

I don't think the issue should be that women are unsuitable to serve (for the reasons you outline), but that certain tasks may be unsuitable for them. Or, true gender- neutral physical standards for individuals in those fields should be established.

CTR2, SGT 92A, 98H
12.20.2007 2:37am
yeehah (mail):
Cro, I think Captain Mariner's point is that these fitness tests aren't directly testing the ability to perform the physical tasks required in service/combat. Rather, they are being used to evaluate the ability to do well on a fitness test. These scores, in turn, are a proxy for a host of attributes--general physical condition, dedication, need to succeed--far beyond the simple ability to do 20 pullups.

Thus the gender norming. For the purposes of the armed services, a female recruit who can do X push-ups is of the same caliber--in almost all important respects--as a male recruit who can do Y, even if Y>X.
12.20.2007 3:05am
Avatar (mail):
It's fair to say that, as a sign of physical fitness, a gender-normed test makes sense - a woman who can lift the same amount of weight as a man is considerably more "fit", given her likely lower total body mass, et cetera.

However, combat areas are emphatically not gender-normed. They are inconveniently full of big heavy things that a soldier needs to be able to lift, carry, pack, and use. Tank loader is a good example - a guy can be significantly less "physically fit" than a woman, and still be able to do a much better job of picking up heavy shell after heavy shell and loading it into the breech, simply because the average man will have more upper-body strength and endurance than all except the most exceptional women.

And a soldier's lethality on the battlefield increases with his ability to carry more stuff - extra pieces of equipment like nightvision, heavier armor, additional communications gear, or just prosaic things like more ammo or rations. Sure, we can engineer lighter stuff - but instead of having a 150-pound woman with the lighter stuff, why not a 250-pound man with even more hardware?

At some point "soldiers" will be remotely operating constellations of drones from a safe bunker somewhere, and we won't be having this conversation. But the era where pure physical strength is directly useful on the battlefield has not come to a close, and will not for some time yet.
12.20.2007 3:11am
yeehah (mail):
Avatar, that's fine as far as it goes, but the other point Captain Mariner was making is that, frankly, the importance of sheer brawn is highly overrated as a predictor of military performance. Cutting woman from the recruiting pool would require taking male candidates whose shortcomings dwarfed whatever muscular deficiencies the average female candidate may suffer from.
12.20.2007 3:18am
Brian K (mail):
exactly, yeehah.

i'd much rather have a woman fighting next to me who may not be able to drag me back when i'm wounded than a man who isn't even going to try.
12.20.2007 4:01am
tvk:
Captain, hate to nitpick, but your points strike me as ambiguous. You point out that "[n]o tests are given to measure courage, spirit, motivation, commitment, aggressiveness, maturity, affability, or other character traits." But doesn't that fit right into Professor Browne's point, that these traits are not testable and thus we should rely on gender stereotypes? I would have thought your reply would instead be that we should test and individualize these traits, not that we should not.

It seems to me that the issue involves four questions:

1. What are the traits that are important to a particular military job?
2. Of those traits, which ones are individually testable?
3. Of the ones that are not testable, to what extent does biological sex make an accurate predictor?
4. Does the use of biological sex for one trait create more likelihood of error (for other traits) than the benefit?

You correctly point out that brawn and reckless bravery are highly overrated for most military jobs. Strength beyond a minimum threshold is unlikely to be important to a pilot; recklessness a definite no-no. But surely there are some jobs in the military where stereotypical masculine aggressiveness is important. If you say that such aggressiveness is not tested and not testable, I would say you have a difficult time refuting Professor Browne's thesis in regard to that limited set of jobs.
12.20.2007 4:38am
Random Commenter:
"i'd much rather have a woman fighting next to me who may not be able to drag me back when i'm wounded than a man who isn't even going to try."

Amounts to pretty much the same thing, doesn't it? In either of these elemental infantry scenarios, you lose. Personally I'd rather have a soldier next to me who IS going to be able to drag me back when I'm wounded, and who IS going to be able to dig a foxhole in hard ground, who IS going to be able to carry and use full-sized equipment, grenades, armor, etc., and who IS going to be able to fight hand-to-hand against men without being gutted instantly. It's fairly clear that most people able to accomplish all these physical tasks are men. In my opinion women who are able to perform on the same level as the men should be allowed to serve in the same units. But with respect to the hard, dirty-boots core of the Army and Marine Corps, let's be realistic about how large that sorority is likely to be.
12.20.2007 4:54am
Brian K (mail):
Amounts to pretty much the same thing, doesn't it?

no, they do not. the woman may not be able to drag me a hundred yards to friendly lines, but may be able to drag me a few yards to some cover, could tend to the wounds, provide protective fire, etc. a male soldier who never even comes to my position can't do any of these things.

let's be realistic about how large that sorority is likely to be
then we should also be realistic about how large the pool of perfect soldiers are.
12.20.2007 5:17am
Hey Skipper (mail) (www):
CPT Browne said When individual capability is the criteria, the degree of overlap doesn't matter.

Presuming, of course, there is some overlap.


Letting Google be my friend, I found this article on male v. female grip strength:

Hand-grip strength has been identified as one limiting factor for manual lifting and carrying loads. To obtain epidemiologically relevant hand-grip strength data for pre-employment screening, we determined maximal isometric hand-grip strength in 1,654 healthy men and 533 healthy women aged 20-25 years. Moreover, to assess the potential margins for improvement in hand-grip strength of women by training, we studied 60 highly trained elite female athletes from sports known to require high hand-grip forces (judo, handball). Maximal isometric hand-grip force was recorded over 15 s using a handheld hand-grip ergometer. Biometric parameters included lean body mass (LBM) and hand dimensions. Mean maximal hand-grip strength showed the expected clear difference between men (541 N) and women (329 N). Less expected was the gender related distribution of hand-grip strength: 90% of females produced less force than 95% of males. Though female athletes were significantly stronger (444 N) than their untrained female counterparts, this value corresponded to only the 25th percentile of the male subjects. Hand-grip strength was linearly correlated with LBM. Furthermore, both relative hand-grip strength parameters (F max/body weight and F max/LBM) did not show any correlation to hand dimensions. The present findings show that the differences in hand-grip strength of men and women are larger than previously reported. An appreciable difference still remains when using lean body mass as reference. The results of female national elite athletes even indicate that the strength level attainable by extremely high training will rarely surpass the 50th percentile of untrained or not specifically trained men.

I happen to be out of time. But I'll bet that a little more Googling will yield the same result for any other strength measure: the overlap between the two distribution curves is practically nil.

And where it does occur, it will be in the range below that considered acceptable for male performance.
12.20.2007 6:22am
Rob Perelli-Minetti (mail):
[PT test scores] are a proxy for a host of attributes--general physical condition, dedication, need to succeed--far beyond the simple ability to do 20 pullups.

Thus the gender norming. For the purposes of the armed services, a female recruit who can do X push-ups is of the same caliber--in almost all important respects--as a male recruit who can do Y, even if Y>X.


That may be true as far as it goes, and it may be true that it is a good thing (perhaps even essential) that we expand the pool of people from which we recruit service members generally, but it does not follow that because we recruit women service members who are as relatively generally fit as men that the women are capable of doing every job in the services, and especially that they are capable of doing the mission critical jobs in combat and even some combat support jobs.

While the military theoretically takes the position that every male recruit is a potential combatant, the most physically and attitudinally challenging combat roles are not filled by random recruits, rather only by those who complete more demanding training courses - ranging from airborne school through ranger school, special forces training, BUDS (SEALs), and, for pilots, very demanding flight training. In all cases, these schools require one to be a volunteer - though I think in the past draftees were assigned to airborne training).

If we want to seriously evaluate whether women can perform at the standard we expect from men in these elite combat units, it would be logical to experiment with women volunteers who would be held to precisely the same standards as men. No gender-norming, no accommodation for gender of any kind. As I suggested on an earlier thread, the place to begin with this would be with women junior officers - who are the ones who would benefit the most from being able to serve in combat arms slots, and are likely to be the most motivated to do so.

While I find Captain Mariner's posts interesting, it appears that she is writing in a vacuum -- that is, without reading or responding to the many thoughtful commentators on these threads.
12.20.2007 6:36am
common sense (www):
Since we seem to be focusing on the very small percentage of overlap, let me throw a study out there. While I was at my commissioning source, everything was mixed sex. One girl maxed her physical test, and scored as well as many men, including 90 push-ups in two minutes. So, by the Army standards that the army measures, she was equal to men. That same summer, we did one week of infantry operations. I am loathe to call them that, because sometimes there was fresh food brought you, and there were occasional administrative pauses, etc. Definitely not good infantry training. Anyway, by day three, the girl was done. People were carrying her gear, she was sleeping through shifts. She wasn't alone in this by any means, and I'm sure she went on to an excellent army career. But physically, she could not handle an psuedo-infantry week despite scoring higher than most men. Yes, just an anecdote, but when training along service support units during my time in the Army, nothing changed this perception. The Army does have a test to determine physical requirements for ground combat service, and it does involve physical strength. They ask you what your sex is, and its a pretty good determinative factor.

Unrelated note. The CAPT keeps making this an individual issue, and I wonder if that's because of her background as a pilot, with the reputation that that entails. I've known quite a few air force officers, including my father in law, and pilots seem to be regarded as individualists. I wonder if that accounts for her discounting some of the group dynamic issues. Yes, good leadership will deal with sexism issues, but that detracts from time when that good leadership can be teaching battle drills, or spending time with their family between deployments. And please, CAPT, cite to any woman who has passed Ranger school. I hope that if women ever do enter Ranger school, it is not dumbed down to the insanely easy school that Airborne has become so that enough women can pass to satisfy PR requirements.
12.20.2007 6:57am
Happyshooter:
You have gone from spinning to very close to lies.

The initial fitness tests are not the same for men and women. Your post is grossly wrong.

Entry level standards have been gender neutral since the 1970s. In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, when male propensity to enlist was at a low, high quality female recruits were essential to maintaining the quality of the volunteer force.


All recruits must pass a basic physical fitness test and medical exam.

Women do not go to ranger school

An individual man or woman who completes flight training or Ranger school is strong and skilled enough by virtue of successfully completing the course.
12.20.2007 8:56am
Swede:
I went through Airborne School in 1987. There were very few women there, and they were separated into their own group during pt. They had a crazy, curvey track that we would run on. The men's group consistently lapped the women's group. The pullups to get into the pt pit in the morning were different too. The men had to jump up to reach the bars and then knock out the required pullups to get into the pt pit. The women had this bar that was roughly 3 feet off of the ground, they would lay down on their backs and pull themselves up to the bar. And for anybody who has been loaded up for an equipment jump you know how heavy that is. Two different standards, yet both are trained and ready to jump into combat? Not even close. The fact that those standards are different show that the Army knows women can't meet the minimum requirements a man must if he is going to jump, fight, and survive. That equipment doesn't get lighter because you're a woman.
12.20.2007 9:13am
LTDan (mail):

The notion that pilots shot down behind enemy lines become infantrymen is equally nonsensical. Not only have women done that too, but I don't know of any aviator POWs making such claims. These are survival, escape, resistance, and evasion situations.


This is true. The idea that downed pilots "become" infantrymen" is flat wrong. They become desperate individuals doing whatever they can to get back to friendly forces (I don't blame them).


An individual man or woman who completes flight training or Ranger school is strong and skilled enough by virtue of successfully completing the course. These difficult programs also provide the important "gut checks" which test spirit and commitment.


Wrong again. I know people who went to Ranger school as know-nothign privates and passed and stellar NCOs and Officers who failed out or recycled several times. Why? Because the team failed its mission on a patrol, often not due to the action of the patrol leader. Teamwork is the key for getting through Army schools, even Ranger.


Many demanding military tasks involve skill, not strength. Training programs teach skills as well as establishing if a person is strong enough to do the job.


Unfortunately, this is wrong. Ask any Officer or NCO what one thing an enlisted Soldier can do to ensure smooth promotion through the ranks is and they will answer scoring high on the Army Physical Fitness Test. Will you find that in any regulation or field manual? No. But it is a truth even in situations where it shouldn't be. This is triply the cases in combat arms.
12.20.2007 9:14am
libertarian soldier (mail):
It would be enlightening for those who cite age norming as the same as or a justification for sex norming PT test results to look at the disparity (google is your friend). To cite just one example: to max the two mile run an 18 year male has to run it in 13 minutes; a 40 year old male in 13:36; an 18 year old female, 15:36.
And proponents of females in combat arms need to remember that it isn't enough to be able to function under heavy loads over long distances and extended times as an 18 year old; the senior officers and NCOs in tactical units need to be able to as well.
12.20.2007 9:18am
Temp Guest (mail):
Again, Professor Mariner is engaging in straw man argumentation. The AFQT is not intended to measure the extreme capabilities of strength and endurance required in combat situations (particularly those on the ground). Neither concidentally does it measure the ability to acquire and track targets under high g-force (an obvious requirement for air combat at which men far exceed women).

Also, as others have pointed out, Professor Mariner has been less than truthful about the AFQT when she states that it does not discriminate between men and women. The AFQT is sex-normed. Women who receive much low scores on the un-normed AFQT will be accepted into the armed forces while men with much higher un-normed scores will be rejected.

The RAND and GAO reports that Professor Mariner cites are badly flawed, according to what I have read. For one thing, my understanding is that they were based on reports prepared by unit commanders. This is sort of like basing a study of corporate effectiveness on the brochures handed out before an IPO. No unit commander in his right mind is going to report that he cannot produce a strac outfit.
12.20.2007 9:24am
Uncle Fester (mail):
I don't think she's moving the debate forward at all. She doesn't address the ground combat/strength issue very well at all, and she glosses over all the readiness issues too.

She quotes "most men and women agreed that women either affected readiness no differently from men or affected readiness positively or very positively."

I recall multiple posts discussing pregnancy, injury and deployability- and all the good CAPT could cite was a subjective opinion comment?

Gratuitous Ad Hominem Remark: That's probably why she's not RADM Mariner.
12.20.2007 9:36am
Happyshooter:
Gratuitous Ad Hominem Remark: That's probably why she's not RADM Mariner.

That's not cool. Very few get a star, even those who deserve one.

Plus, that would be RADM(LH)
12.20.2007 9:40am
Happyshooter:
Sorry, that should be RDML, which is a lower half, RADM is upper half.
12.20.2007 9:42am
Anthony Mirvish (mail):
I'm unaware of any actual women pilots shot down behind enemy lines and asked to survive. The nearest example that I can think of is Col. Rhonda Cornum, a medical officer, who was captured during the first Gulf War. She was sexually molested although by her own account in a rather tentative and limited way (unlike Jessica Lynch who was viciously raped and sodomized).

The issue with respect to strength versus fitness is something of a straw man because it ignores the distinction between the relative and the absolute. A man and a woman can be equally physically fit and still have widely different capabilities. Since there are tasks all soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines must be capable of doing regardless of MOS, the ability to perform those tasks is critical and thus related to strength. Is strength the most important factor? No. But the blunt fact is that an enormous number of men who meet all of the other requirements also possess the strength to do those things that do require them. The same is not true of the women. In other words, it's not the similarities but the differences that matter. Capt Mariner seems unable to understand or address this point.
12.20.2007 9:45am
Carolina:

While I find Captain Mariner's posts interesting, it appears that she is writing in a vacuum -- that is, without reading or responding to the many thoughtful commentators on these threads.


This is the feeling I am getting also - that she is not even reading the comments.
12.20.2007 9:47am
Al Maviva (mail):
In tasks that objectively require physical strength, quantifiable standards should be established. The argument that too few women would qualify to make it worth while begs the question, by what standard?

The two problems with this is that a meeting bare minimums for strength approach isn't good enough in combat situations, and that Uncle Sam is basically in loco parentis of soldiers, insofar as being responsible to take care of soldiers who get broken in training or combat.

The 'objective standards' problem is straightforward - minimal strength to do the job is good, but being stronger than the job requires (as a bare minimum) is much better. I served in a mech infantry division in combat. Many tasks - moving some of the communications systems from vehicle to vehicle, breaking and fixing HMMV wheels, breaking track on tanks, armored personnel carriers and other tracked vehicles - specified "two man lift" or "three man lift." That's because the objective standard has already been 'dumbed down' as far as it can go. The Army considers ~ 50 pounds to be the most a soldier is required to lift. Yet in practice, a single soldier needs to be able to horse around an 80 pound communications system, a 100 pound backpack, or a 240 pound section of track for a tracked vehicle. Sure, you can put three or four soldiers on the arduous task of hauling track sections from then end of a long line of tanks in the motor pool up to the tank that is being worked on, but it's a lot more efficient if your soldiers far exceed bare minimum standards. So too in combat - it's great if an exceptionally well-trained and naturally strong woman can do a lot of pushups with her own body weight, but the weight of gear (other than a minimal portion of personal equipment) bears no relation to the size of the user. In the mech infantry division I served in, we did "Army PT" - the usual calisthenics and running - two or three times weekly, and the other workday PT sessions were taken up with organized weightlifting. The typical soldier in my company could easily benchpress 120% or more of his bodyweight for 8 or 10 repetitions, just as an example. Consequently, one soldier could do many maintenance tasks that were considered two or three man jobs under the minimum standard - hauling track sections, busting HMMV wheels, moving around multiple radio communications systems. Yep, you could gender norm it and then require additional soldiers be put on the task, but the already long days working on gear would be doubled or tripled in length. Note, even in a very fit unit, that trained very hard to meet these demands, we still worked very long days, and still had trouble meeting all the operational requirements - there was always much more work to be done than we could get finished. The same principle would hold true in other combat arms aspects - an unusually strong, highly trained woman who meets the *minimal* standards for strength in men would still likely have trouble route marching with an 80 or 100 pound pack all day then digging a fighting position at the end of the day, because very few infantrymen are at the "minimum standards" level of fitness, most far exceed it.

The other problem is the manner in which people are 'tested' for jobs in the military. Meeting minimum standards can only get you in the door, it can't keep you there. Most combat arms jobs aren't easily reduced into "lift this weight 'x' times." The entry level tests - minimum standards - do that. For instance airborne physicals have at times included a bench press requirement and there has been a chinup requirement - those are job specific. But they are only minimum requirements, they just get a soldier in the door. The real test comes after they are in the job, when the stress and strain is constant and repetitive, and soldiers break down physically. Most men can handle the strain, and I never served with any woman who could - one came pretty close but when doing infantry type tasks, we still had to break down her equipment and share it among the squad in order to allow her to keep pace with the rest of the unit on marches. (The other women were typically excused from those types of tasks, more later). I noticed that commanders who demanded the same physical performance in infantry-like tasks from females as from males did so at their risk. Females carrying packs with similar (unbelievably heavy) loads to males, over similar distances, at the same pace (4 miles per hour standard marching pace) simply broke. They suffered stress fractured hips, blown out knees and shoulders, and in fortunate cases, mere muscle exhaustion. One soldier - who is still a close friend - destroyed her hip on a series of route marches. She still has problems that the government is paying for, 15 years and numerous operations later. These female soldiers were fine doing most aspects of their job, they PT'ed alongside the men and were comparably fit given their body composition, but when asked to carry, on a routine basis, the loads that much bigger and stronger men carried all the time, even most of the very fit female soldiers were mowed down by joint injuries, and the fittest woman I ever served with - fittest by soldiering standards - could still only handle about 60% of the insane load the rest of us carried. Now, the fact that a woman wants to try to meet the standards, as a matter of personal choice, is fine with me. But it isn't fine with me from the standpoint that leaders have responsibility for the lives and health of soldiers that they lead. It's a grave decision to send soldiers out under fire to accomplish a mission, and the decision to risk soldiers' health in training should be taken with similar care, even though the threat to their health isn't as sensational and does not appear to be as immediate. The question for me, then, is how many female soldiers' bodies are you willing to break, in order to prove the point that some truly exceptional women can make it? Because when we talk about failure here, it won't occur during the PT test, it will occur later in some task that is not calibrated to the subjective size and ability of the service member, but to some objective standard that can't be easily altered - a 240 pound track section, the movement of a breaker bar as a tanker tries to drive up onto that track to install it, or God forbid under the exceptional physical load of combat where one soldier's failure may amount to the unnecessary death of other unit members. Similarly, while soldiers will gladly bear each others' burdens, it degrades unit effectiveness when they have to do so to keep a lagging unit member on mission. If a typically very fit infantry unit - fit far beyond the minimum standards required for bare job performance - needs to haul butt to get up a hill to set up a hasty ambush, and can do so 50% faster than would be absolutely required by minimum job performance standards, why should they be slowed down by soldiers that meet the bare minimum?

I had no problems serving with women who could perform their occupational specialty to a high standard (same as I expected from male soldiers), including female pilots. Nor do I have a problem with female ground forces troops fighting when they need to - all soldiers have to be capable of fighting as infantry when necessay. And I have to say that I am still friends with a number of female soldiers with whom I served, and to this day I admire them and how they performed their jobs. But as a routine matter it seems to me it would be *incredibly* hard to find women who could meet not minimum standards, but the real world test of a light infantry platoon or a field artillery battery or a Cav troop, and I think we'd waste the bodies of an apalling number of otherwise very talented female soldiers in order to find a very few minimally ones, in the interest of vindicating a particular political viewpoint. It's interesting to note that the leap of faith we're being asked to make is that adding women to combat arms units would not degrade effectiveness too much, whatever that means, rather than the more plausible arguments that (officially) adding gay men (or in the case of 1947, African-American men) would improve the effectivenss of those units. It seems to me the argument for gender integration takes a much larger leap of faith.

As in a lot of military endeavors, you should probably ask yourself ahead of time how much money and blood are you willing to invest to prove your political point.
12.20.2007 9:48am
SFCMikeJ:
"The RAND and GAO reports that Professor Mariner cites are badly flawed, according to what I have read. For one thing, my understanding is that they were based on reports prepared by unit commanders. This is sort of like basing a study of corporate effectiveness on the brochures handed out before an IPO. No unit commander in his right mind is going to report that he cannot produce a strac outfit."

This means nothing to someone who is not familiar with military culture and history. It is none the less true.

A more empirical example of this culture would be the old annual Enlisted Evaluation Reports for NCO's. A max or perfect EER was 125 if memory serves. A score of 124 or 123 would adversly effect your promotion potential. Anything lower would be career ending. The worst EER I witnessed was 119 and that was for a completely worthless NCO. One of the reasons for this behavior was that it would reflect badly on the evaluator to give true and honest scores. Telling the world he had a substandard NCO under him would mean he failed to train that soldier properly.
12.20.2007 10:00am
Randy R. (mail):
"You point out that "[n]o tests are given to measure courage, spirit, motivation, commitment, aggressiveness, maturity, affability, or other character traits." But doesn't that fit right into Professor Browne's point, that these traits are not testable and thus we should rely on gender stereotypes?"

Hold on a minute. Are you saying that Browne relied upon gender stereotypes? I don't recall his arguments right now, but I thought several commentators were defending him precisely because he didn't say that no women should be allowed to serve? Or am I missing something here?
12.20.2007 10:07am
Drill SGT (mail):
A Quick response in the three topic areas posed by the auther.

entry standards:

All recruits must pass a basic physical fitness test and medical exam. While Army positions are assigned a physical demands rating, this is only used to give recruits an idea of what the job entails. The Army does not submit male recruits to physical strength tests before assigning them to ground combat positions.


I would phrase it thus. The Army does not submit male recruits to strength tests before assigning them to MOS producing schools (vice ground combat position). Jump school, Ranger school and I assume SF basic school are exceptions that prove my point rather than the authors I think. Anyway, once at MOS school, the actual training serves as the test. jerking at pressing 40, 42 pound 120 mm heat rounds to load your tank, or being able to break track or hike 12 miles in the time limit with full gear for the EIB test serve as the MOS related physical tests. fail tests and get reclassified.


No tests are given to measure courage, spirit, motivation, commitment, aggressiveness, maturity, affability, or other character traits. Waivers may be granted for certain criminal records.

again those long strolls with 60-80 pounds of gear measure these well. Ask any ranger


The inclusion of women, a majority of the military age population, to the recruiting pool enhances the military effectiveness of the force by maximizing the human capitol that can be drawn from.

Wmomen may be the majority of the population, but they are not the majority of the pool.



While female propensity to enlist tends to be lower than men surveyed, the addition of women to the pool is significant. This is especially true in a difficult recruiting market; it would be that much more important should the nation face a full mobilization.

this is highly unlikely




strength


In tasks that objectively require physical strength, quantifiable standards should be established. The argument that too few women would qualify to make it worth while begs the question, by what standard? How many women is enough, according to whom? When individual capability is the criteria, the degree of overlap doesn't matter.
again, the individual rights canard rather than unit effectiveness. unless a fair number, say 5% of the pool can match the performance of the 50th percentile men, they are going to be viewed as "weak sisters"


Many demanding military tasks involve skill, not strength. Training programs teach skills as well as establishing if a person is strong enough to do the job.
yeah, so?


An individual man or woman who completes flight training or Ranger school is strong and skilled enough by virtue of successfully completing the course. These difficult programs also provide the important "gut checks" which test spirit and commitment.
has any woman finished Ranger school?


Prof. Browne's example of a male pilot requiring all his strength to land a damaged airplane as justification to exclude women from combat aircraft is just plain silly.
agree. Browne went overboard in making his case. just as this author does. the real sticking point is women in ground direct combat, not pilots

Cohesion


Prof. Browne's assertion that having women in military groups adversely affects cohesion is not supported by research. A 1997 RAND study conducted to assess military effectiveness after the expansion of women's roles concluded "that divisions caused by gender were minimal or invisible in units with high cohesion." A 1999 GAO report on perceptions of readiness in selected units opened to women in 1993 concluded: "most men and women agreed that women either affected readiness no differently from men or affected readiness positively or very positively."

The published research suggests that gender itself has no affect on cohesion in military groups.


the RAND study was on MOS's that were much less stressful. If women can keep up, gender isn't a big barrier. in combat arms jobs, women won't be able to meet the 50th percentile standard, none of them, and because they can't gender difference will matter to cohesion
12.20.2007 10:21am
AK (mail):
As soon as there is one - just one! - female player in a regular-season NFL, MLB, NBA, or NHL game, even in the wuss positions, you can talk to be about women's abilities to serve in combat alongside men. Until then, all the talk about the inapplicability of physical performance tests not reflecting the true comparative abilitis of men and women is a bunch of horse hockey.
12.20.2007 10:21am
john w. (mail):
Capt. Mariner wrote: " ... gender is not an excuse for misconduct...."

Depends on how one defines 'misconduct' I suppose. Other commenters pointed out in previous threads that a male soldier who deliberately incapacitates himself to avoid unpleasant duty is court-martialed. But a woman who contrives to get pregnant recieves a free ticket home, and can then have an abortion without facing any adverse consequences.

So much for "equality."

P.S.: We are *still* waiting to hear Capt. Mariner's explanation of why the Israelis experimented briefly with the idea of women-in-combat in 1948, and then dropped it like a hot potato.
12.20.2007 10:29am
Tracy Johnson (www):
Since this is a law blog. I'd like to point out the American Military does enlist groups. Particularly in the case when it converts en-masse, a Title 32 group to a Title 10 group! (I think they have to re-swear, and get new ID-cards too, if I recall correctly.)

Of course it all hinges on what was meant by group. I'm just having fun parsing the word here.
12.20.2007 11:08am
Humble Law Student (mail):
The Captain wrote, "Fitness standards are designed to ensure a person's health; they are properly age and gender-normed. If more fitness is required, than raise the standards for everyone."

That is exactly the problem. If the women were held to the exact same standards, then I wouldn't have as much of a problem with women in combat units. But gender norming establishes that we hold them to lower objective standards.

In a perfect world, our women soldiers would fight other women soldiers, so "gender norming" would ensure that we had physically fit women who could take on their own.

However, women in combat units are likely to be confronted by other MEN. So, while the women may be physically fit and strong for a WOMAN, she, as many pointed out, is very unlikely to have the same strength, stamina, etc. that another man would. That is the problem with gender norming.

Now if the woman is just a physically fit and strong as any man, then we don't have a problem. But, this ISN'T what the good Captain is defending or proposing.

Her arguments are utterly disingenuous.
12.20.2007 11:17am
Humble Law Student (mail):
The only way that the good Captains gender neutral army could really work is if everything was gender normed.

Smaller packs, lighter weapons (with the same effectiveness), and women enemies. Until then, give it up.

On the other hand, many liberals get such hard ons about "lawfare." Perhaps that can be the next great international movement--gender accomodating warfare. Each side pits its men vs men and seperately, the women vs women. Only then would the good Captain's wishes every truly be attainable.
12.20.2007 11:21am
Skyler (mail) (www):
The good Captain wrote:

The Army does not submit male recruits to physical strength tests before assigning them to ground combat positions.


Because they don't need to. Any healthy male can reach a state of conditioning appropriate to what the infantry does. That's what men are. Women can't do it except in extremely rare cases.


Finally, physical fitness tests do not measure strength. Fitness standards are designed to ensure a person's health; they are properly age and gender-normed. If more fitness is required, than raise the standards for everyone.


This is exactly correct. It's because strength will vary according to the current physical activity of the individual. As a 44 year old man, it's harder for me to stay in shape, but with a brief period of intense training I am at ease going on forced marches and other military ground combat activities. Name one 44 year old woman that can do that. There were a lot of us older men in my Marine reserve battalion. Younger men are the same. So long as they're healthy, we can know that they will rise to the level of strength needed.

Women simply can't do this.

I don't think the good Captain has a realistic understanding of the physical requirements of the military, nor an understanding of the physical capabilities of the average man.
12.20.2007 11:24am
lurker-999 (mail):
Her arguments are utterly disingenuous.

I suppose it would be really, really snarky to point out that the Captain's unwillingness to confront her enemy (i.e. us) head-on says a lot about the suitability of women for combat roles. She keeps going for the capillary when a man would be going for the jugular.
12.20.2007 11:27am
Uncle Fester (mail):
Nobody is sticking up for CAPT Mariner here. When Browne was up, people were pitching for both sides.

I was really hoping for a more powerful response from the Captain (and her allied commenters). Even though I have a strong opinion on which way this argument goes, I wouldn't mind being proven wrong.
12.20.2007 11:41am
Drill SGT (mail):

I don't think the good Captain has a realistic understanding of the physical requirements of the military, nor an understanding of the physical capabilities of the average man.

Skyler,

while I agree with all your other points, I think you were unfair on this one. I would say:

I don't think the good Naval aviator Captain has a realistic understanding of the physical requirements of the direct ground combat requirements military,
12.20.2007 11:43am
Point of Fact (mail):

Capt. Mariner: In tasks that objectively require physical strength, quantifiable standards should be established. The argument that too few women would qualify to make it worth while begs the question, by what standard? How many women is enough, according to whom? When individual capability is the criteria, the degree of overlap doesn't matter.


Translation: I cannot respond to the criticism. Therefore, I will not attempt to do so.
12.20.2007 11:54am
Skyler (mail) (www):
Drill SGT, you're right, I wrote that line while trying to hold a crying baby. Sorry for not being clearer.
12.20.2007 11:54am
Point of Fact (mail):

I wrote that line while trying to hold a crying baby



This totally destroys the "people who reject Capt. Mariner's arguments are sexist Neanderthals" meme.
12.20.2007 12:02pm
A.C.:
My understanding of the whole strength issue is as follows:

1. A given quantity of muscle performs exactly the same way whether it is on a man or on a woman. There's no difference in that respect.

2. A woman and a man of the same size and the same level of fitness will have about the same lower body strength.

3. A very fit woman will have about 60% of the upper body strength of a very fit man of the same size.

4. Women tend to be smaller than men, although of course there is a lot of overlap in the middle.

5. A lot of women don't train routinely to develop upper body muscle, and therefore start at a lower level relative to their theoretical capabilities. It doesn't mean they can't improve dramatically, but it does suggest that reaching full potential may take longer than it would for a man.

6. Even fit women carry more fat than men as a secondary sex characteristic (breasts and hips), and this reduces the amount of extra gear women can carry for a long time without exhaustion. The fat does have survival benefits, but the cost is that it has to be lugged around all the time. Some energy is required for this.

This is all pretty persuasive to me. It doesn't suggest women should be in the infantry, given the demands that people have cited here, but neither does it suggest that women are delicate creatures who are no use at all in an environment requiring physical work. A lot of women are stronger than the people around them expect them to be, and many have the potential to be stronger than they themselves consider possible. The question for me is how best to develop and use this capability, and it makes no sense to either attempt to argue it out of existence or to magnify it until women start looking like an entirely different species.
12.20.2007 12:10pm
Drill SGT (mail):

but neither does it suggest that women are delicate creatures who are no use at all in an environment requiring physical work

AC,

I would add my observation and others that young female soldiers run up far more joint and tendon stress injuries during the regular PT or training regime. This is significantly increased when loaded with packs and 80 rucks.

knees, ankles, hips, arches, shins.
12.20.2007 12:23pm
rarango (mail):
I am more than willing to give both Professors Browne and Mariner credit for trying to get at this issue using an analytic approach. The issue itself points out to me the limits of scholarship. The real test to which many of the commenters, including me, have cited is the effect that gender integrated units would have on unit cohesion in ground combat. That is an environment that does not lend itself to neatly designed controlled experiment. Perhaps Army Ranger School or Navy SEAL training come close, but even those are not perfectly analgous to ground combat and I have been thru both ranger school and ground combat in Viet Nam. The question, I think, is what kind of scholarship could get at the question. The answer to that is qualitative versus quantitative research.

If we go the qualitative route, then we will be reduced to using anecdotal evidence which some comments have rejected a priori. And here, both Morris Janowitz and SLA Marshall post WWII and Korea, have provided examples of how that research could be done. Janowitz looked specifically at the disintegration of squad size elements in the wehrmacht in the last days of WW II and is condsidered by many to be the founder of modern military sociology. Modern qualitative techniques have improved considerably in the last 20 years, so I would suggest that a serious scholar design a qualitative study to deal with the question.
12.20.2007 12:36pm
Happyshooter:
Since this is a law blog. I'd like to point out the American Military does enlist groups. Particularly in the case when it converts en-masse, a Title 32 group to a Title 10 group! (I think they have to re-swear, and get new ID-cards too, if I recall correctly.)

I was guardsman who got nailed on a year call up in the mid 90s. Our call up was on orders, and we had to get new ID cards, but we didn't reswear, we kept our same equipment, and our orders specified that the call up was consented to by the state governor and we were not added to the active army list.
12.20.2007 12:39pm
Hans Bader (mail):
The RAND study cited has some persuasive value.

The GAO study doesn't.

While the GAO often does useful reports, on subjects that involve dry financial issues, their reports stop being useful when they address controversial "discrimination" or "civil rights" concerns (race, sex, and handicap), when they sometimes say things that are blatantly false, out of sheer dogmatic political correctness.

For example, the GAO insists with a straight face that the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), which effectively bars discipline of violent kids with learning or emotional disabilities for all but the most serious offenses (by making it extremely costly and slow to suspend them for a significant period of time), has NO adverse effect on discipline AT ALL.

Even the most political school superintendents, teachers, and administrators will tell you that's not true. They may tell you that IDEA is worth the cost, but they admit that it HAS a COST to balance against what they see as its benefits. So do federal judges who interpret the IDEA broadly.

The idea that the statute is a free lunch is ridiculous.

The GAO is not to be trusted on sensitive race, gender, or disabilities issues.
12.20.2007 12:52pm
David M (mail) (www):
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 12/20/2007 A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.
12.20.2007 1:15pm
Al Maviva (mail):
And here, both Morris Janowitz and SLA Marshall post WWII and Korea, have provided examples of how that research could be done

It has to be noted that the accuracy of some of SLA Marshall's scholarship has been questioned, and as for the substance of the scholarship on what loads can be borne in combat - Keegan's work on this too - it may be historically accurate but probably isn't reflective of the current force. The current force is comprised on the whole of larger soldiers, who are better fed from birth, better fed in the field, subject to fewer self-support requirements while deployed and physically trained under empirically better PT schemes. Just like in pro sports, our athletes today are bigger, stronger and faster than they were 60 years ago.
12.20.2007 1:26pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
al Maviva.

The load which is borne in combat is the maximum load a guy can carry and stand up. Nothing is superfluous.
Bigger, stronger guys carry more and that is a very good thing.
Even if, to make a hypothetical, today's women can carry as much as the men of the Civil War--which, given drawings and primitive photos didn't seem to be all that much--that is unsat given the huge advantages of carrying twice as much or half again as much.
They call us--past tense in my case--grunts because we can't stand up without making this odd noise.
We still had WAC when I was in, so my only contact with female soldiers was an assistant S1 in a training brigade. She performed her duties reasonably well as far as I could tell. Nobody messed with her because she was reputed to keep the roster for notification duty.
However, I coached youth soccer for five years. I had more orthopedic injuries in the year I coached 12-13 year old girls than in the other four years (2 mixed at younger ages, two boys at older ages) put together. And they weren't carrying anything and I, as a coach, annoyed the parents by being less demanding than some of them would have wished. The father of one of the girls was a high-school PE teacher of some years' experience and he said there was a knee issue.
Certainly, bone cross-section and joint mass have a bearing on injury likelihood.
12.20.2007 1:46pm
cathyf:
As soon as there is one - just one! - female player in a regular-season NFL, MLB, NBA, or NHL game, even in the wuss positions, you can talk to be about women's abilities to serve in combat alongside men.
This is a silly strawman argument. NFL, MLB, NBA &NHL level performance is higher than the capability of 99.99% of all men. Unless you are arguing that 99.99% of men are not physically qualified for combat!

The argument is that combat is physically beyond the capacities of a large number of men and virtually all women. This is a completely reasonable and plausible argument. No one is claiming that combat is physically beyond the capacities of 99.99% of all men, the way the pro level of those sports is.
12.20.2007 1:50pm
rarango (mail):
Al Maviva: I am much more a Janowitz fan than I am a Marshall fan--as I recall from Janowitz' work on the Wehrmacht, as the going got tougher--esp on the eastern front toward the end of the war, the individual soldier's focus of loyalty got smaller and smaller--down to the squad level--when the squad disintegrated, the men were literally on their own. If anything, I think Janowitz' work really demonstrates the importance of unit cohesion--In successful organizations it was the last thing to go, and when it did, the soldiers were literally on their own.

You mentioned John keegan--well done, and I am remiss in not citing one of the few military historians who has looked at battle from the perspective on the private soldier. (Face of Battle, 1976) and many other fine works.
12.20.2007 2:08pm
Aegis of Blogistan (mail):
The argument is that combat is physically beyond the capacities of a large number of men and virtually all women.

Thanks, Cathy. I'm sure Capt. Mariner will be sure to ignore your cogent formulation, like she's ignored everyone else's comments, too.
12.20.2007 2:25pm
Pol Mordreth (mail):
cathyf,
I think that you are missing something. The analogy is apt because we are talking infantry. For example, there are about 600000 soldiers in the regular army. of those, about 140000 are infantry / mech infantry, the rest are combat support personnel. that means, since there are about 300 million US citizens, that combat capable persons are about 0.05% of the population. Now, if you remove women from the calculation, you get to 0.1% of the population. That is who is capable of combat. (both mentally and physically, since we are a volunteer army.) So, yes, 99.9% of men are not combat capable.

(Tongue ever so slightly in cheek)

R/
Pol
12.20.2007 2:25pm
Drill SGT (mail):

This is a silly strawman argument. NFL, MLB, NBA &NHL level performance is higher than the capability of 99.99% of all men. Unless you are arguing that 99.99% of men are not physically qualified for combat!


yes Cathyf,

that is a bit overblown as an analogy, but it is fair to make a comparision to a football game that goes on for 24 hours straight in 110 degree temps or 0 degrees, and then after a 4 hour break, start again for 10 days straight. and carrying 60 pound loads while you play.

and I would say that the level of play ought to be that of NCAA Div 3. or a good HS team.

the point is both strength and endurance requirements are huge for a light infantryMAN. I spent a year with the 101st near Hue. And remember, just making it on the march by gutting it out above your endurance threshold means that you arrive at combat overly fatigued and likely to get yourself or others killed due to inattention.
12.20.2007 2:38pm
Drill SGT (mail):

For example, there are about 600000 soldiers in the regular army. of those, about 140000 are infantry / mech infantry

that many?, I would have thought fewer, and don't foget us support types in the Cavalry and Armor. :)

and yes, the toughest of the tough are light infantry.

a combat vet from the 101st :)
12.20.2007 2:47pm
Pol Mordreth (mail):
Sarge,
Those are rough numbers from the Army's website. 42 combat brigades of approx 3600 men each, and I took 10% off the top for HQ personnel. Not really accurate, but decent enough for approximation. And that includes Cav, mech inf and Stryker. Dont think it includes armor, tho.

Respectfully,
Pol

(just a navy remf - submarine engineroom mechanic);-)
12.20.2007 2:58pm
SeaLawyer:
The top women's NCAA cross country runner this year could only run 6000 meters (3.7 miles) in 19:30. You can find male high school JV cross country runners that can do better than that in every high school in the country.
12.20.2007 2:59pm
Drill SGT (mail):

Those are rough numbers from the Army's website. 42 combat brigades of approx 3600 men each, and I took 10% off the top for HQ personnel.

ah,

using old math and old TOE's I come up with the same 60k which would include Armor and infantry.
600 men (avg beteen 500 folks in tank bn and 700 in infantry) x 10 BN in a Div x 10 Divisions
600x10x10=60,000

that's why I questioned where my tankers were :)
12.20.2007 3:06pm
A.C.:
For those who comment on female athletes and joint injuries, I've heard about that in the context of the WNBA. The problem seems to be that women tend to be slightly more knock-kneed than men, and so land at a different angle after jumping. Sports trainers are working on ways to train women so as to eliminate this problem.

Interestingly, it seems that ballet dancers don't suffer the same kind of injuries. You certainly can't be knock-kneed in a turned-out ballet pose, but maybe there are other things to be learned from dance training. That's definitely one area where there's a lot of experience in how far women's bodies (or legs, at any rate) can be pushed.
12.20.2007 3:10pm
Randy R. (mail):
A little off topic, but I think this is interesting. Anyone care to defend this?From a blog called Obsidian Wings:

If you actually read the Army's Standards of Medical Fitness (pdf), you'll discover that the Army seems to have a truly bizarre devotion to the idea that only men and women with absolutely, completely normal genitalia and reproductive systems can possibly defend us in time of war. Among the people who do not meet its standards:

Women who experience unusually heavy menstrual bleeding, or bleeding at irregular intervals, or no periods at all.

Women born without a uterus.

In men, "Current absence of one or both testicles, either congenital (752.89) or undescended (752.51) is disqualifying."

And, for both men and women: "History of major abnormalities or defects of the genitalia such as change of sex (P64.5), hermaphroditism, pseudohermaphroditism, or pure gonadal dysgenesis (752.7) or dysfunctional residuals from surgical correction of these conditions is disqualifying."
Undescended testicles??? Unless I am very, very wrong about what exactly service in the military involves, I can't see that an undescended testicle would affect a soldier's ability to perform his duties. I checked to see whether undescended testicles might lead to some more severe problems later; apparently, they reduce fertility, which is hardly the Army's concern, and increase the odds that one will get testicular cancer. But since the Army accepts smokers, I can't see that this explains why they disqualify recruits with undescended testicles. As far as I can tell, the only remotely plausible explanation is that the Army has decided to constitute itself as a Defender of Binary Gender Norms. And that seems like a pretty stupid thing to do during wartime. Or ever, for that matter.
12.20.2007 3:11pm
rarango (mail):
Randy R: to the extent the army accepts soldiers with congenital health issues it is inviting more medical attention for those soldiers during their period of active service as well as the prospect of service related claims downstream VA. Although I certainly don't know this for a fact. One reason the military health system functions as it screens a young, very healthy population into the force minimizing soldiers down time due to illness during their tours.
12.20.2007 3:25pm
rarango (mail):
"...military health system functions as it DOES because....."
12.20.2007 3:29pm
Drill SGT (mail):
Randy,

In response to the gender norms standard, perhaps that could be read "both testes" undescended.

It looks like they are disqualifying a few folks that may or may not have issues that result in unforseen medical costs.

alternately its simply a case that the Army is not (see many of our comments i reply to capt mariner) and institution that values "individual rights to enlist" over the basic cost/benefit calculation to the organization

my personal story. While in ROTC, I went down for a pre-commissioning (regular army) physical from a USAF REMF Doc. He wanted to disqualify me because of what he called "moderate-serious acne on my shoulders/back. Since it wasn't a problem to me, and didn't alter my appearance, I had the gaul to object. He explained that it might hinder my ability to carry a pack and thus prevent me from being qualified for all duties in my branch (armor).

Politely I pointed out to this useless drone that my medical records that he was holding had not prevented the Army from sending me to Vietnam with a pack, nor me returning. He explained that the requirements were different for officers. I left and my Colonel got me a Doc who had a clue.
12.20.2007 3:34pm
SenatorX (mail):
I know many will hate this but what if I bring in the morality of it? I've been being obtuse about it but on this website I think I should be able to point out the moral highground of creating institutions that honor individuals. There are perhaps other benefits too such as an example to other nations, a lure to the best women in the world to desire immigrating, the advantage of being able to create uniquely advantageous all women combat ready groups (I think the female frisking argument was valid), having a larger and more resilient civilian inactive reserve force, or even the benefits of getting poor uneducated women off the street and putting them back into society after service as much more productive citizens.

The strength thing may be relevant but I'm not sure it's the trump.
(Commence predictable comments about the evils of social engineering and egalitarian morality mixed with some "strength matters when the dude is trying to stick his K-Bar in your gut girly").
12.20.2007 3:37pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
X.
How many dead guys is your morality worth?
How many dead women?

And why the attempt to pre-empt the fundamental issue, life and death hand to hand?
Because you know it's the key and you can't afford to ignore it, so you would attempt to ridicule it.

How many dead for your morality?
12.20.2007 3:41pm
Brennan:
Sealawyer:

The top women's NCAA cross country runner this year could only run 6000 meters (3.7 miles) in 19:30. You can find male high school JV cross country runners that can do better than that in every high school in the country.


As a former high school and collegiate runner, I have to respond to that one. 19:30 for 6K is 3:15 per klick pace. The news coverage says she passed 4k at 13:01. That means she very likely would have passed 5K around 16:16. A 16:16 5k is quite good for high school boys; I'd bet that at most high schools, that kind of 5K time would make a boy his team's number one runner - it would have at mine. It is highly unlikely that there are many JV high school boys that can match that. It's possible there are a few, but I'd bet money that their schools would have varsities who were top team finishers at state championship - certainly not average teams.

That said, the strength disparities between men and women are very significant (so no exaggeration should be needed). For instance, my recollection is that the difference in performance at the world-class level has pretty consistently shown over the last 20 or 30 years (a period when both men and women were running professionally) that men are 8%-11% faster than women at events from 100 meters to the marathon.
12.20.2007 3:44pm
rarango (mail):
SenatorX: the issue, as I see it, is that apparently your concept of morality is rooted in individual rights; My response would be that you have the moral issue wrong; it isnt that individual rights arent important; it's that the moral issue is in fact embodied in achieving and maintaining a high level of group performance given the particular mission assigned to a military force.
12.20.2007 3:45pm
Temp Guest (mail):
SEnatorX: The function of the military is not to "honor individuals" . It is to win wars. This usually involves killing as many enemy soldiers as possible, while trying to keep alive as many of your soldiers as possible. Introducing unqualified persons into combat increases the likelihood of their death and the deaths of their comrades and reduces the likelihood of killing enemy soldiers. What is moral about reducing the functional effectiveness of an organizatrion and increasing the likelihood that its members will die horrible deaths?
12.20.2007 3:51pm
Drill SGT (mail):
I agree with rarango.

to restate it in simple obvious terms for those that have served, but which may be news to those that haven't:


Mission first, then Men


The mission always comes first regardless of the cost or comfort of the men. Once the commander is confident the mission is being met, taking care of the troops is his second highest requirement.

Group goals always trump individual rights in the military
12.20.2007 3:53pm
r78:
Unfortunately (or fortunately), Ms. Mariner does not discuss what I see as the primary obstacle to integrating women into the armed forces: It will deny former military men the chance to posture and strut (in forums like these and elsewhere) about what tough guys they were/are.
12.20.2007 3:53pm
Toby:
Female Soccer players have a highh proensity to knee injuries during certain portions of their monthly cycle. A kee function of some female hormones is the gradual loosening of ligaments to allow birth to heppen; a smaller version of this occurs every 4 weeks. This may be a large reason why the coach cites larger knee injuries in his piost-pubescent girls.
12.20.2007 3:54pm
Brennan:
Aubrey

"How many dead for your morality?"

That's not much of an argument. IF including women in combat was morally necessary, then the answer should be "sadly, some." We could win a lot of wars against non-nuclear opponents by just nuking the bad guys -- and their families, neighbors, etc. It would be immoral so we don't do it. (OK, there are practical reasons too, but this is an example to make my point.) But the price of our moral bias against tossing nukes around is that our combat troops take "unnecessary" losses.
12.20.2007 3:57pm
Drill SGT (mail):

This usually involves killing as many enemy soldiers as possible, while trying to keep alive as many of your soldiers as possible.


Maybe not kill as many enemy, but at least strike hard at his confidence and wilkl to fight.


Though I walk in the valley of death, I fear no evil, for I am the meanest sumbitch in the valley.


That's why our buffed 6 foot, fully decked out combat troops with wrap-around shades are so intimidating standing on a street in Bagdad. Nobody wants to f__k with the winners.

but some 120 pound girl out there and I know some Arab is going to be challenged by his friends and bad things happen
12.20.2007 4:01pm
SenatorX (mail):
How many dead for your morality?

I don't know Richard, how many dead for any morality?

And why the attempt to pre-empt the fundamental issue, life and death hand to hand?

Because it's not a fundamental issue but instead an emotional and vivid strawman? I wonder how much hand to hand combat has occured in Iraq lately vs. trigger pulling ranged killing? I have no idea but it's not a given that allowing women in combat is going to have us losing wars because of all the lost knife fights.
12.20.2007 4:18pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
I think those arguing from the standpoint of superlatives for either gender are distorting the issue.

A world class female runner is going to be faster than most men in this world. That's inarguable. Even faster than me, and I was pretty quick when I was young.

A world class football player is going to be so far beyond the level of all but the tiniest minority of men. That's what makes them world class.

You can't build a military from either standard. You can't even use the standard of a "6 foot, fully decked out combat troop with wrap around shades" in Iraq. Most Marines and soldiers will not meet that standard and it's absurd to suggest they should.

The standard is, and should be, the generally healthy male. That is the requirement for combat arms. The trick is that men can rise to the exceptional rigors and demands of combat while women can't. That's it. There's no more of an argument than that.
12.20.2007 4:27pm
Lugo:
There are perhaps other benefits too such as an example to other nations,

But do we really want to be an example of a nation that's fundamentally not serious about war?

a lure to the best women in the world to desire immigrating,

Later you say the military is for our "poor and uneducated" women. What a great lure! "Best women of the world, come join our loser women in the US military!"

Why are these women going to be lured in particular by the desire to serve in combat forces? Is there any evidence at all that even US women - apart from ambitious careerist officers - let alone foreign women, actually want to be in combat?

the advantage of being able to create uniquely advantageous all women combat ready groups (I think the female frisking argument was valid),

Alas, there are no such advantages.

or even the benefits of getting poor uneducated women off the street and putting them back into society after service as much more productive citizens.

If this is all about jobs for the indigent, we don't need to put them in combat units at all. The existing military serves the same purpose, and may even serve it better insofar as women are, very likely, more likely to enlist if they are not going to be sent into combat.
12.20.2007 4:40pm
SenatorX (mail):
"That is the requirement for combat arms. The trick is that men can rise to the exceptional rigors and demands of combat while women can't. That's it. There's no more of an argument than that."

So why don't we make our weapons even bigger and heavier so that only bigger, better, stronger soldiers need apply?
12.20.2007 4:40pm
SenatorX (mail):
"Later you say the military is for our "poor and uneducated" women. What a great lure! "Best women of the world, come join our loser women in the US military!"

How about, look at how our country works and is inclusive of women across all spectrums of government. Does this example contrast with how you are being treated under sharia law? Maybe you should start to question the way things are and the Americans might not be so evil after all. IMO a valid method of winning "hearts and minds" but we can stick with our current method. What is that again? Lollipops and free weapons?

Also being poor and uneducated doesn't make you a loser. The military has long been a great place for a person down on their luck to get some experience, discipline, and yes, money (for college or not).
12.20.2007 4:50pm
cathyf:
I brought this up on another thread, but unfortunately it was near the end and nobody really wanted to discuss it...

Are there any physical advantages that women have in present-day warfare? Or, to look at it another way, are there any physical requirements in modern-day warfare which no men or few men can satisfy?

So, I can think of one task: frisking one or more women who probably are civilians but who just might be suicide bombers or other unlawful combatants. It seems to me that in an Arab country this is a job which has only one physical requirement -- being female.

I brought this up on another thread, and was told quite tartly that this job "isn't combat." Ok, fair enough. But that suggests that what has been going on in Iraq since April, 2003, has not been combat, and that the tens of thousands of men who are in Iraq today as part of all-male combat units have no business being there because they do not satisfy the physical requirements of the not-combat task which the military has been tasked for there.

The argument that I see here is that women should be excluded from units where they are physically incapable of doing some of the tasks which the unit might need to accomplish, but at the same time none of those people cares if soldiers get killed because all-male units are physically incapable of doing other tasks which their unit might be required to do. As long as those tasks are not combat tasks, it's ok if our military get killed by an all-male unit's inability to accomplish a task that requires a female soldier.
12.20.2007 4:51pm
Aegis of Blogistan (mail):
As long as those tasks are not combat tasks, it's ok if our military get killed by an all-male unit's inability to accomplish a task that requires a female soldier.

Again, the idea that Muslims will better respond to being occupied by female soldiers is batshit crazytalk.
12.20.2007 4:56pm
Drill SGT (mail):

If this is all about jobs for the indigent, we don't need to put them in combat units at all. The existing military serves the same purpose, and may even serve it better insofar as women are, very likely, more likely to enlist if they are not going to be sent into combat.


a topic that hasn't been raised yet is that in my experience, the Army has had trouble getting female enlistees to chose "non-traditional" career fields. and I bet the re-up rate for those "cutting edge" guy jobs that we allow women to take (those individuals that Capt M speaks about), things like MP's and truck drivers is much lower than for things like clerk-typist and medic. This implies to me that it will be hard to find women that want to be riflemen, beyond two USMA cadets that have visions of 4 stars.

I find it interesting that no female vets have identifed themselves here yet and given us their feedback on how eager they are to be riflemen
12.20.2007 4:58pm
Aegis of Blogistan (mail):
Unfortunately (or fortunately), Ms. Mariner does not discuss what I see as the primary obstacle to integrating women into the armed forces: It will deny former military men the chance to posture and strut (in forums like these and elsewhere) about what tough guys they were/are.

Yes, because the nonexistent women who will Americanize the military forces will bring shame on it. What, they'll be perfect soldiers? Of course they will. They're hypothetical.
12.20.2007 5:01pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Senator.
You "wonder". You ought to find out.
But, to be more generally in line with the comments, how about discussing the inability of women to haul the heavy loads required? Is that too primitive for your consideration?
We had an example of an NCO in a leadership class falsely accused of inappropriate touching because he grabbed two women--and the men--by their harness and gave them instructions. He had to do that because the women delayed them arriving at the ambush site. The women thought he'd been rude.
If there is any way to avoid this, keep the current incarnations of Pat Schroeder well supplied with cases of harassment, and have women in the unit, please tell us.
12.20.2007 5:01pm
Drill SGT (mail):

The argument that I see here is that women should be excluded from units where they are physically incapable of doing some of the tasks which the unit might need to accomplish, but at the same time none of those people cares if soldiers get killed because all-male units are physically incapable of doing other tasks which their unit might be required to do. As long as those tasks are not combat tasks, it's ok if our military get killed by an all-male unit's inability to accomplish a task that requires a female soldier.


cathy,

you are talking about an MP function. Lots of good women doing that. they interact with the populace , searching and shooting as needed.

The difference is that MP'S operate within feet of their hummers. they don't carry 80 pound loads 80 miles.

they are not the jobs that all of us sexist vets are declaring are too tough for women
12.20.2007 5:06pm
rarango (mail):
R78: you do understand that women are integrated into the armed forces and have been so for a generation? They have not, however, been integrated into combat units. Do you have anything other than an ad hominem argument to put forward?
12.20.2007 5:11pm
D Palmer (mail):
It would have been worth mentioning at the beginning of this post that it was 3 of 3.

I kept reading waiting for a point to be made for it. Then it started to reference studies by people as if i would get the reference. You need to tie your posts together better.
12.20.2007 5:34pm
r78:
rarango - pls reread my post and also several in this thread which exemplify the type of needy behavior I was discussing.
12.20.2007 5:34pm
SabreRedleg:
There seems to be some confusion among a lot of commenters. The AFQT is not a physical fitness test, it's a multiple choice test, also known as the ASVAB.
12.20.2007 5:36pm
Tern (mail):

Many demanding military tasks involve skill, not strength. Training programs teach skills as well as establishing if a person is strong enough to do the job.


Perhaps, although there are few military tasks indeed that don't involve strength at some level. And fewer still the military occupations that are made up solely of tasks which involve only brains and not brawn.

And, of course, the fact is that even some admin pogue might end up with a rifle out on patrol, or asked to do tasks outside of their job description. I've cleaned my share of Avenger fifty-cals despite being a radioman.

Senator X, where I take offense to the whole "morality" issue is that you're dealing with people's lives here. Specifically, you're dealing with MY life, as a Marine, and the lives of my fellow Marines. Morality ought to touch on reality, but morality discussions also include ideology and theology.

When the morals of those who believe it moral to require full gender integration of the military are satisfied, it will be MY ass out there on the line, not yours, in danger because some of my fellow Marines can't hack it. So let's remember that this is not just a theoretical issue, but literally an issue of life and death.
12.20.2007 5:54pm
HBowmanMD:

Carolina:
While I find Captain Mariner's posts interesting, it appears that she is writing in a vacuum -- that is, without reading or responding to the many thoughtful commentators on these threads.

This is the feeling I am getting also - that she is not even reading the comments.



Of course not. She is by-god a CAPT (Ret, thank goodness), and a PhD, and a Professor, and a grad of canoe-U, and none of those require her to pay any attention to anyone who disagrees with her.
12.20.2007 6:05pm
john w. (mail):
Morality?????

Deliberately putting women and children into high-risk situations as long as there are still any able-bodied males available is the most immoral thing imaginable.

There is a famous Robert Heinlein quote on that, but I'm too lazy/busy to look it up right now, so I'm going to paraphrase:

"Morality is to the society as self-preservation is to the individual ... and 'Women and children first' has to be the First Commandment for any society that wants to preserve itself ."

In other words: If you think that your Country/Society/Civilization is worth preserving, then you need to base your moral code on whatever contributes to its preservation. And (as it should go without saying) turning your young women into human sacrifices on the Altar of Political Correctness and 'Equality' is *NOT* the best way to achieve that.
12.20.2007 6:30pm
Elais:
Skyler

The standard is, and should be, the generally healthy male. That is the requirement for combat arms. The trick is that men can rise to the exceptional rigors and demands of combat while women can't. That's it. There's no more of an argument than that


Boy, you can't get more offensive than that. You make a blanket statment that ALL men can rise to the challenge while sayin ALL women can't.
12.20.2007 6:31pm
HBowmanMD:

Elais:
Skyler


The standard is, and should be, the generally healthy male. That is the requirement for combat arms. The trick is that men can rise to the exceptional rigors and demands of combat while women can't. That's it. There's no more of an argument than that



Boy, you can't get more offensive than that. You make a blanket statment that ALL men can rise to the challenge while sayin ALL women can't.



No, he said 'generally healthy male'. Not all males.
12.20.2007 6:32pm
rarango (mail):
R78: this was your post that struck me: "Unfortunately (or fortunately), Ms. Mariner does not discuss what I see as the primary obstacle to integrating women into the armed forces: It will deny former military men the chance to posture and strut (in forums like these and elsewhere) about what tough guys they were/are." Now the way I read that is that is that the attitudes exhibited by military folks are the primary obstacle to integrating women into the armed forces. Now that looks like an ad hom comment to me that ignores the fact that women are already integrated into the armed forces, albeit not completely if you add combat units. Please correct my reading of your post, and if I misread your post, my apologies.
12.20.2007 6:45pm
Swede:
"So why don't we make our weapons even bigger and heavier so that only bigger, better, stronger soldiers need apply?"

Confirming to everybody that you are insincere and have no valid argument.

As well as no clue.
12.20.2007 7:32pm
LTDan (mail):

I wonder how much hand to hand combat has occured in Iraq lately vs. trigger pulling ranged killing? I have no idea but it's not a given that allowing women in combat is going to have us losing wars because of all the lost knife fights.


Google SGM Bob Prosser and look at the images you get.
That's him after having to beat an insurgent with his helmet after he chased the insurgent who shot his Lieutenant Colonel and suffered a weapon malfunction. It happens every day.

CathyF, I see what you are getting at. Whenever possible (meaning when we are doing things like traffic control points, or permissive searches) we attach a female to line squads so that local beliefs can be adhered to. However, for offensive operations (like raids, or clearing operations, going house to house looking for bad guys), we do it if we can. Security of our forces always comes first.

Senator and others, the point about effectiveness really does trump all. As others have stated, mission comes first. When social goals can be accomplished, great. But only when they don't put lives at risk.
12.20.2007 8:13pm
SenatorX (mail):
Tern, I understand that point of view and acknowledge it has validity. I think any attempt at integration better take into account current war time realities and combat soldier morale. I am just trying to add to the debate really.

Swede, the point was are we really going go with the "men fit the equipment" argument as the reason to keep women out of combat? To argue the cost of including women (in terms of equipment)would be to ignore a whole lot of pork spent elsewhere. If you fall back on the "at some point some heavy lifting is going to be needed" then we are back to who can say if that is a greater negative than the positives of inclusiveness. You may think to have the answer already but to me it's still up for debate.
12.20.2007 8:20pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Senator.
How about the positives of inclusiveness.
Get specific. The idea that, say, women from other countries would be inclined to join the US military more than the are today because of a chance they could be a grunt might need some empiricism.
America's positives and negatives are so huge on the world stage that the fit of women into combat units would not seem all that important. And it might be a negative. What if the macho cultures thought it meant we didn't have enough men (real men) and it might be worth taking a shot?
Big deal with small results and the results, if any, are expressed in moonbeam terms.
Just say it. Gender equality is a higher goal than combat efficiency and lowest possible casualties. Somebody--maybe Dilan--already did. You'll feel better.
12.20.2007 8:57pm
cathyf:
you are talking about an MP function. Lots of good women doing that. they interact with the populace, searching and shooting as needed.

The difference is that MP'S operate within feet of their hummers. they don't carry 80 pound loads 80 miles.

they are not the jobs that all of us sexist vets are declaring are too tough for women
Fair enough -- but this means that we are talking about restricting women from activities which, over the last 35 years, our military has spent a grand total of time measured in weeks. Somebody up there had an estimate of 60,000 men in combat units -- is it really sensible to arrange a full 11% of our troops focused around an activity for which they were only needed for a few weeks in 2003 and a few weeks in 1991?

What about this? What about having the military run in two modes, a non-combat mode and a combat mode -- kind of like how a reservist has a civilian job and a military rank. An arrangement where year-in-and-year-out, everyone in the military, whether active duty or not, is in non-combat units, with those men who are physically qualified for combat also having an alternate assignment to a combat unit. These normally non-combat troops would spend one weekend a month and two weeks a year in an alternate all-combat (and all-male) unit. Then, when combat breaks out, all of the combat-qualified troops go to their combat assignments. A week or two later, when the combat is over and the occupation starts, everyone goes back to their non-combat (and co-ed) units and they spend 12-month or 18-month deployments in their non-combat units doing their non-combat counter-insurgency tasks. At least a few of those tasks being things which no man is physically qualified to do.
12.20.2007 10:10pm
SenatorX (mail):
LTDan, see Brennan's comment for the refutation to your theory.

Richard, that's not exactly what I said. Are you arguing in good faith? One of my off the cuff suggestions was having a gender inclusive society in regards to government would be an example to the world. This might increase the desire for women to immigrate to the US. Certainly not the strongest part of my argument but also not going as far as saying the lure is to be a grunt.

I'm still trying to decide if the "what will the macho arab men think" argument is serious or not. I think we might want to stick to superior fire power, training, and quality soldiers over this macho force. Does the U.S. have the most macho men?

Anyway is it a good idea to let other cultures dictate the composition, principles, or behavior of our military forces?
12.20.2007 10:42pm
cathyf:
Anyway is it a good idea to let other cultures dictate the composition, principles, or behavior of our military forces?
Suppose you are going house to house, and you need to search lots of women. Have the American female soldiers do it, and the men are not unduly offended. Have male soldiers do it, and turn the whole town into insurgents and insurgent sympathizers. This is easily the difference between getting Americans killed and not, and repeated enough times, between winning and losing.

To paraphrase: you go to war with the enemy you have, not the one you would like to have...
12.20.2007 10:54pm
K Parker (mail):
Cathyf wants to restructure the entire military. I move she does it first with some other country's. Do I have a second?
12.20.2007 10:56pm
Skyler (mail) (www):

Suppose you are going house to house, and you need to search lots of women.


Yeah, but this is not combat, Cathyf. This is cordon and search and the military does that using women already. Unless they think there will be shooting, in which case, women are excluded again.
12.21.2007 1:16am
cathyf:
Yeah, but this is not combat, Cathyf. This is cordon and search and the military does that using women already.
Ok, we are back at -- geez, if virtually nothing the the US military has done over the last 35 years is combat, why are 11% of our forces combat forces?

(35 yrs, 52 wks/yr = 1,820 weeks. Or troops have been in combat, what, about 10 of those weeks?)
12.21.2007 1:42am
cathyf:
It seems to me that the entire impetus to have women in combat units is that many non-combat higher-up positions are not open to soldiers who have not served in combat units in their pasts. I'm challenging the logic of that. I see the logic of preferring combat veterans in certain positions. But having been in combat (as opposed to being in a "combat" unit that never saw any actual combat) is pretty hard. You have to have been in exactly the right place at the right time and be the right age to have hit the right "window of opportunity" either in 2003 or 1991. So most of the senior officers running this military today have never been within a thousand miles of combat. Their "combat" experience has been pretend simulated training exercises.

Once you give men the career paths of combat veterans based upon pretend combat, why can't you give women the career paths of combat veterans based upon pretend combat? When you are talking about real combat, then it's absurd to talk about gender-norming the standards. But this isn't real combat, it's an artificial exercise, a mixture of real combat requirements and play-acting. We don't require pretend-combat soldiers to shoot people or blow up people, nor does anybody die if a pretend-combat soldier can't hump 150 lbs of equipment. So why do we say that killing people is optional for "combat experience" while carrying as much weight as the average man can is not optional?
12.21.2007 1:53am
Randy R. (mail):
"When the morals of those who believe it moral to require full gender integration of the military are satisfied, it will be MY ass out there on the line, not yours, in danger because some of my fellow Marines can't hack it. "

Interestingly, I have seen quite a few arguements about how important the ass of men are in the army. I have not seen a single person say that a woman's ass is just as important, regardless of the 'rightness' of whether she is out there.
12.21.2007 2:50am
Randy R. (mail):
Also, there is another issue. General Patton believed that the only requirement for a soldier to be in the field was to have the courage to fight. He couldn't stand cowards, either on the field or back home, and all he cared about was whether a soldier had the guts to do what was necessary on the battlefied. He thought all the 'moralists' back home who believed that blacks shouldn't be in the army or even integrated where the cowards, because they could hide behind the pulpits when they spewed their ignorance. But a real soldier couldn't hide behind anything.

Patton didn't care whether a soldier was black or gay or anything else --- he cared only whether you had the courage to fight. I believe he wouldn't have cared a hoot about this issue either.

Source: A sermon from Pope John Paul I delivered in 1971 recalling a speech by Patton.
12.21.2007 2:57am
HBowmanMD:

cathyf:

Yeah, but this is not combat, Cathyf. This is cordon and search and the military does that using women already.

Ok, we are back at -- geez, if virtually nothing the the US military has done over the last 35 years is combat, why are 11% of our forces combat forces?

(35 yrs, 52 wks/yr = 1,820 weeks. Or troops have been in combat, what, about 10 of those weeks?)



Well, then the (il)logical extension of your premise is that we don't need any military at all. After all, we haven't been in combat more than 10 weeks in the last 35 years.
12.21.2007 7:56am
HBowmanMD:
cathyf:
It seems to me that the entire impetus to have women in combat units is that many non-combat higher-up positions are not open to soldiers who have not served in combat units in their pasts. I'm challenging the logic of that. I see the logic of preferring combat veterans in certain positions. But having been in combat (as opposed to being in a "combat" unit that never saw any actual combat) is pretty hard. You have to have been in exactly the right place at the right time and be the right age to have hit the right "window of opportunity" either in 2003 or 1991. So most of the senior officers running this military today have never been within a thousand miles of combat. Their "combat" experience has been pretend simulated training exercises.

Once you give men the career paths of combat veterans based upon pretend combat, why can't you give women the career paths of combat veterans based upon pretend combat? When you are talking about real combat, then it's absurd to talk about gender-norming the standards. But this isn't real combat, it's an artificial exercise, a mixture of real combat requirements and play-acting. We don't require pretend-combat soldiers to shoot people or blow up people, nor does anybody die if a pretend-combat soldier can't hump 150 lbs of equipment. So why do we say that killing people is optional for "combat experience" while carrying as much weight as the average man can is not optional?
12.21.2007 7:57am
HBowmanMD:

cathyf:
It seems to me that the entire impetus to have women in combat units is that many non-combat higher-up positions are not open to soldiers who have not served in combat units in their pasts. I'm challenging the logic of that. I see the logic of preferring combat veterans in certain positions. But having been in combat (as opposed to being in a "combat" unit that never saw any actual combat) is pretty hard. You have to have been in exactly the right place at the right time and be the right age to have hit the right "window of opportunity" either in 2003 or 1991. So most of the senior officers running this military today have never been within a thousand miles of combat. Their "combat" experience has been pretend simulated training exercises.

Once you give men the career paths of combat veterans based upon pretend combat, why can't you give women the career paths of combat veterans based upon pretend combat? When you are talking about real combat, then it's absurd to talk about gender-norming the standards. But this isn't real combat, it's an artificial exercise, a mixture of real combat requirements and play-acting. We don't require pretend-combat soldiers to shoot people or blow up people, nor does anybody die if a pretend-combat soldier can't hump 150 lbs of equipment. So why do we say that killing people is optional for "combat experience" while carrying as much weight as the average man can is not optional?



You conflate a tour in combat arms with combat. The ticket punching you seem to be so confused about is this:

During peacetime, command of a combat arms unit is considered (good or bad) essential for promotion to high rank. This is because it's the closest we have to 'real' combat experience.

During war, command of a combat arms unit in combat is considered even better. This is the test of the individuals actual ability to actually do their job, real time.

Given two otherwise equally qualified officers, one who commanded an infantry company in Afghanistan and one who commanded an infantry company at Ft. Riley, Kansas, the more reliable leader is the one who actually commanded in combat.

Unless you think that a 12-year old playing "Medal of Honor" is as qualified to command men (yes, MEN) in battle as a Brigade Commander (approximately 4000 people) as an individual who has actually commanded a Company or Battalion
12.21.2007 8:03am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
cathyf.
We already do that. The Marines have a formal--sort of--organization called "Lioness". AFAIK, it is women pulled from other duties for search, checkpoint work and similar activities. The Army makes the same efforts.
The idea that a squad of grunts kicking in doors should have a not-up-to-it female along for searching purposes does not fly.

We are pretty inclusive of women--see Condi Rice--as a nation. Filling in the last blank by putting women in rifle squads is probably not going to impress people.

Some Iraqi men are insulted--have said that the Americans send women soldiers to insult Iraqi men--with the situation as it is.

In Afghanistan, the proud, old goathumpers were unhappy that American men dealt with their women and didn't believe that women soldiers were actually doing it. Until some female soldiers would, upon reaching the objective, strip to their sports bra and ruck back up to begin dealing with the local women. That seems to be allowing the foreigners to dictate US military tactics.

Mussolini and Hitler fooled themselves and their nations, with help of the pacifists, into thinking the west was weak, a mongrel race(s), incapable of fighting. Took a bit of work to convince them differently, as I recall reading. So the idea that some wackjob, strutting dictator might think a woman--think Thatcher and Elizabeth--couldn't or wouldn't fight and so could take a shot at an invasion cannot possibly start a war is, by historical standards, false.
Since there are no good reasons for integrating the combat arms, we may as well look at the downsides to see what, exactly, we gain.
Mostly it satisfies a very few women who would not be doing it.
12.21.2007 8:39am
Skyler (mail) (www):
cathyf said,

Ok, we are back at -- geez, if virtually nothing the the US military has done over the last 35 years is combat, why are 11% of our forces combat forces?

Cathyf, if you're going to be purposefully ignorant in your statements, then there's not much point in paying attention to you.
12.21.2007 9:19am
rarango (mail):
Randy: re your comment about not caring about women's asses--that is patently absurd; a commander, male or female, cares about every soldier in his or her command. After accomplishing the mission, it is the second imperative for a commander.

The issue that many of us, who posture and strut, keep trying to point out is that we are talking about the non-desirability of gender integration in a combat unit. That is a small subset of the military as a whole. Women, and gays for that matter, have acquitted themselves very well in military service. None of us posturing and struting neanderthals object to women in the military. And in fact, they have been integrated into the military for a generation. It is women in combat units that we object to. It isnt about aviation, combat support, or combat service support--It is about units who are charged with closing with and destroying the enemy by close combat fire and maneuver. Why is that so difficult to understand? You may not agree with that sentiment--but at least acknowledge the issue.
12.21.2007 9:34am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
rarango.

If he does, everything he's said is toast.
12.21.2007 10:51am
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: r78
RE: So Much BS

"It will deny former military men the chance to posture and strut (in forums like these and elsewhere) about what tough guys they were/are." -- r78

Seems to me that you've got a target fixation issue going on in your life. Sounds like it relates to low self-esteem.

Frankly, men don't need to 'strut', at least deliberately. The point here being that what they do or have done demonstrates they are men.

But, as I pointed out down the hall from here, you seem to have serious issues that cannot be expressed in terms of this topical thread. Instead, because you cannot address the issues at hand, all you can do is your sophomoric ad homs.

Maybe. Just MAYBE. If you were to bring forward any real evidence to support Captain Rosemary's position, you'd contribute something useful. Otherwise, you are coming across as someone who needs negative strokes to get any sort of attention at all.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[If it weren't for bad luck, you'd have no luck at all.]
12.21.2007 4:31pm
SFCMikeJ:
CathyF:

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

BAM!
BAM!
BAM!
BAM!
BAM!

That is me screaming, pulling my hair out and banging my head against the wall.

Get real and get a history book not issued in a college or public school. The fact that the military has seen 10 weeks (your number) of actual combat in the last 35 years is a testament to the effectiveness of our military. The purpose of which is to defend our intrests and to win our wars. (Break things and kill people) We have been SO effective that almost no one during that time has been willing to test us.

In the modern world we demobilized too much after major conflict which in turn helped lead to the next major conflict because some bad guy calculated that we would not/could not fight. This led to war and excessive casualties at the beginning of the conflict. See "Task Force Smith" during the Korea War and "The Battle of Kasserine Pass" during World War Two. Hell by your standards we don't need nuclear weapons or an airforce since we have not had a war that truely required them since 1945. Think of the TRILLIONS of $$ we could have saved. (Sorry Airforce Folks, but remember I know that I can't do without you.)

I am able, and believe it or not, willing, to listen to reasonable arguments to include women in ground combat units. You have not presented any. I find it interesting that NO combat veterans, male or female, have come forward to support the idea of women being assigned to ground combat units.

Last, but certainly not least, I have not seen from the posts or from the good Captain WHY we should put women in ground combat units. Can anyone tell me why?

Mike Johnston, SFC USA (RET)
12.21.2007 9:17pm
HBowmanMD:
Because doing so will help Capt Mariner feel better about herself.
12.21.2007 9:48pm