pageok
pageok
pageok
[Rosemary Mariner, guest-blogging, December 20, 2007 at 5:54pm] Trackbacks
The Americanization of the Armed Forces-Response to Comments:

As always, a lively discussion. I appreciate the courtesy and will clarify a few points.

First, Soviet women in the Red Army went all the way to Berlin. While women fought in other occupied nations, notably Poland and Yugoslavia, only the Soviets sent military women outside the country.

As to why the Soviets "de-integrated" after the war, there are several theories. Some attribute it to sexism; it was O.K. for women to fight when the chips were down. Under peacetime conditions, they should return to traditional roles, like building roads for the state.

I think the greatest factor was the overwhelming desire of men and women to go back to a normal life and raise families. The vast majority of combatants in the Great Patriotic War were citizen-soldiers, not professionals. In the aftermath of a horrific German occupation, with an estimated 20 million dead, few veterans wanted anything more to do with warfare.

Both men and women were tremendously proud of their wartime service. It was common for civilians to wear their medals for public events.

This gets to the issue of motivation, especially the distinction between "cause" (why people join up to fight) and "comrade" (what motivates people under fire).

Second, the issue of recruiting standards. While the basic standard is gender neutral (everyone takes the same test and is categorized the same) under combat exclusion policies, who is actually enlisted is a different story. With separate assignment policies for men and women, recruiting goals are often driven by gender because women aren't universally assignable. This leads to all kinds of differences in the way people are accessed and assigned.

For example, if there is a "pink" quota for female truck drivers, but few takers, then a man with a higher AFQT might well be passed over in favor of a woman with lower scores. Conversely, if a woman in the 99 percentile wants to drive tanks but is prohibited by gender, then a man in a lower category might fill the slot. This is just one example why I think these policies are as unfair to men as they are to women.

Hence my fundamental conclusion that service should be predicated on individual merit, not group identity. Segregation practices that create separate forces and assignment criteria (based on race, gender, or whatever) are antithetical to cohesion.

Third, the issue of strength and fitness standards. Again, I recognize that there are positions, especially in ground combat, that require significant strength and fitness. Then define the standard and apply it equally. If few women qualify, then fine.

However, there are reasons why the services are hesitant to do this, and they have nothing to do with women.

There have been numerous studies over the years that attempted to quantify strength and skill requirements for various military tasks. It is not an easy process. Among the most difficult things to get a lock-on is the "heart" factor; sometimes the little guy can do the job better than anyone else. Also, technology is constantly altering the equation.

Perhaps the major reason senior leadership is uncomfortable with establishing strength standards is because service chiefs must also plan for mobilization. In unpopular wars, especially under conscription, strong men (and women) could deliberately fail tests to avoid service. When the services need to expand the force rapidly, standards of all sorts become elastic.

Fourth, the use of psychometrics to screen character traits. Prof. Browne turns the work of psychometrics on its head. The field is all about individual differences and rejects group membership as a substitute for estimating psychological attributes.

Five, the Roman Republic and her citizen army. Throughout most of the Roman Republic's history, citizenship had a property requirement, which was a condition for military service. The backbone of Rome's citizen army was the independent yeoman farmer who provided his own equipment.

Marius's enrollment of the Head Count --a landless mob in Rome that received a grain dole-- into the legions constituted a major departure from the citizen army that conquered the Mediterranean world. This created an effective but highly politicized professional force that gave allegiance to individual generals, --not the Republic. They played a central role in the Roman Revolution, which eventually led to the destruction of the Republic, loss of political liberty, military dictatorship of Caesar Augustus, and the imperial Roman Empire.

Finally, the larger issue of who serves and how, must be viewed from the strategic level as well as the tactical. In peacetime, the services can afford to be exclusive. In wartime, especially when the "cause" is not motivating enough people to enlist, the size of the pool is critical.

Today's forces, including the infantry, are the finest the world has seen. It is an affirmation of the All Volunteer Force that we can debate restricting women because the quality of the force is still high. How long that is the case remains to be seen.

Carolina:
<blockquote>
Five, the Roman Republic and her citizen army. Throughout most of the Roman Republic's history, citizenship had a property requirement, which was a condition for military service. The backbone of Rome's citizen army was the independent yeoman farmer who provided his own equipment.

Marius's enrollment of the Head Count --a landless mob in Rome that received a grain dole-- into the legions constituted a major departure from the citizen army that conquered the Mediterranean world. This created an effective but highly politicized professional force that gave allegiance to individual generals, --not the Republic. They played a central role in the Roman Revolution, which eventually led to the destruction of the Republic, loss of political liberty, military dictatorship of Caesar Augustus, and the imperial Roman Empire.
</blockquote>

Am I missing something here? What in the world does the Roman army's recruitment of non-property owners have to do with this discussion? I am lost.
12.20.2007 6:04pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
I would not want to characterize the good Captain's intent as being deceitful, but this statement is horribly misleading.


Second, the issue of recruiting standards. While the basic standard is gender neutral (everyone takes the same test and is categorized the same)


No one has implied that women have to meet lower intellectual test standards. In fact, women frequently have to have higher test scores to enlist because of the demographics and limitations on their use in the military.

Since I'm not going to accuse a Captain in the US Navy of being intentionally misleading, I'll charitably point out that the wrong conclusion might easily be taken from her statement, that women are held to the same standard as men when enlisting.

Happily for women, this is not the case. Women do not meet the same standards as men to get past the initial recruitment. There may not be a physical fitness test prior to enlistment, but it is a requirement to graduate from recruit training, and the standards are markedly different.

Even for the medical requirements, the standards are different. Women are allowed a noticeably different body fat percent, height standards and any number of other standards.

To imply that male and female requirements are gender neutral is wrong by any definition of the terms and the good Captain should be more informed about such basic information.
12.20.2007 11:10pm
swg:
Of course using gender as the decider will be over- and under-inclusive (unfair to men and women, as you say), but shouldn't you address whether that over- and under-inclusiveness is so great that it outweighs the benefit the military (especially elite groups like Rangers and SF) gets from an easily administrable standard? Seems to me the over- and under-inclusiveness, while clearly present, is so small (at least for those elite groups) that there's simply no case to be made unless the way you want to do an individualized assessment is really easy, simple, and accurate!

Also, don't you think it would help your case if you distinguished between elite groups such as ranger and SF and all others from which women are excluded? Your points are stronger for cases where the over and under-inclusiveness is greater; if you act like all military groups that exclude women are the same, you leave yourself open to the criticism that you haven't really looked into the degrees of over and under-inclusiveness.
12.20.2007 11:14pm
Anthony Mirvish (mail):
Captain Mariner's reply to the various comments are disappointing boilerplate talking points. A more relevant question would be why whenever anyone actually tries to create gender-neutral, objective standards for various MOS, military women (officers usually) object. Clearly, many of Captain Mariner's sisters have a problem with a situation in which only a very small number of women would qualify. Since that would confirm that one sex is, in this context, superior to or better suited for military service, (and since this is the conclusion that the overwhelmingly male members of the military would draw under such circumstances), the coed project would fail. Hence, the need for a critical mass of women and whatever changes (to standards) are required to achieve it. That's why the "we're in favor of one standard" argument rings so hollow to so many critics of Captain Mariner's position.
12.20.2007 11:39pm
MarkField (mail):

In unpopular wars, especially under conscription, strong men (and women) could deliberately fail tests to avoid service.


It seems to me this is likely true of pretty much any standard. I suspect I could fail the psych tests if I had the incentive to do so. Or the physical tests.

It also seems inconsistent with the argument you made that a single standard should apply to individuals and not to groups. I don't see how we can apply such a standard if there isn't one.

While I didn't think very much of Browne's arguments, I think yours were lacking also. Among the issues you didn't directly address are:

1. Whether women could be integrated into air units. This seems to be the strongest argument for integration, and an issue well within your personal expertise, but you didn't say much.

2. The extent to which women in support units should receive combat training. Such training seems essential as preparation for the ill-defined battlefields we've seen in pretty much all wars since Korea. It also seems that, over time, good data could be gained from the performance of women who find themselves forced to use that training.

3. What you think the strength, etc. standards for combat should be (and why, of course). For example, suppose someone needs to lift shells repeatedly. Surely you could find women to participate in a test to see if they could match the weakest man (or even a below average man).

4. Data on unit cohesion. Frankly, I'm skeptical of this argument against integration because there's a good deal of self-fulfilling prophecy to it: men don't trust women, so they don't allow them into positions where they could prove themselves deserving of that trust. Also, the argument that women destroy unit cohesion seems rather one-sided; it's not clear to me why it's their fault rather than the fault of the men. In any event, you didn't supply any data.

There probably are some additional issues I've forgotten right now, but these are the ones which stand out. I think most people believe you have the burden of proof here. You can't just rely on Browne's weak arguments, you need more of an affirmative case.
12.21.2007 12:19am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Interesting points. I would point out, tho, that while driving an armored vehicle may not require strength, maintaining it does. That is one argument against reducing crew size by automatic loaders. Tracks are a lot heavier than auto tires, and have to be maintained and tightened!
12.21.2007 12:42am
Hey Skipper (mail) (www):
CAPT Mariner:

I find your citations of the Soviet Union's use of female soldiers very unpersuasive, because they are completely devoid of factual content. The little that I was able to come up with -- Soviet female Aces -- might have shown that women under-perform in aerial combat.

Or, it might not, since there was no information available on number of missions, or where/when the women flew them.

On balance, though, I find it striking that both Russia and Israel have chosen to exclude women from direct combat roles. If it wasn't broken, why fix it?

Perhaps the major reason senior leadership is uncomfortable with establishing strength standards is because service chiefs must also plan for mobilization.

I have a different answer.

The major reason is that doing so leads to unpalatable results. If across the board strength standards were set at the 25th percentile male, I doubt even one female would qualify. All but the weakest men are stronger then all women.

What to do when you can't stand the answer? Don't ask the question.

Per Skyler, who has provided more sense on this subject than anyone, women should be excluded from all ground combat roles. If they exhibited the same physical capabilities as men that they do as women, they would never make the cut.

It is almost axiomatic that standards will be weakened until some representative number of women can make the cut -- Fire departments are classic examples of this -- because there is political pressure from people who haven't yet learned there is no such thing as a good theory that doesn't work in practice. I have personal experience. In the late '90s, DACOWITS intruded into the workings of my pilot training squadron because, in their "have you stopped beating your female students" view, insufficient numbers of women were going into combat aircraft. (DACOWITS finally backed off when they could no longer avoid the conclusion that very few women performed well enough in pilot training to succeed in fighters, and scarcely any of those who made the cut chose fighters over heavies).

Providing a gender exemption for ground combat units is dangerous both to them and, when push comes to kill, the men in their units. Not only in terms of relative capability, but also in terms of human nature (more below). Men will not make the same decisions under fire regarding their female compatriots as they will other men. Because those decisions will be informed by ineradicable instinct and emotion instead of tactical exigencies, they will be, by their very nature, bad decisions.

Which means, unavoidably, more casualties.


[Psychometrics] is all about individual differences and rejects group membership as a substitute for estimating psychological attributes.

That's as may be.

However, the University of the Bloody Obvious has long since taught that, on average, those suffering testosterone poisoning are way ahead in competitiveness, aggressiveness, and disregard for personal safety.

So, by weight of sheer numbers, group membership is an outstanding proxy for these essential psychological attributes.

Which are singularly resistant to determining on the individual level, before the fact.

Finally, the larger issue of who serves and how, must be viewed from the strategic level as well as the tactical.

Precisely.

Yet you have ignored the single most important reason to exclude women from combat roles: human nature.

I am not talking about soldiers here, but rather Americans in general.

The US military exists, primarily, to advance US national security interests when diplomacy fails. Anything that detracts from that goal is bad.

Women in combat roles run the risk of seriously undermining that goal, for reasons having nothing to do with aptitude.

I am sure everyone here is familiar with both Jessica Lynch and Rhonda Cornum.

Anyone know who Jeff Tice is?

There is a crucial, ineradicable, reason why those two women are so widely known, yet virtually no one (other than those that know them personally) can name even one male POW whose name isn't John McCain.

People react far more viscerally -- and the imagination is only to happy to muse on the privations -- when faced with the capture of women than men.

Consequently, should any significant number of women be captured, where significant is any integer greater than zero, it will immediately make non-stop headline news.

Thereby providing the enemy with a lever we have handed them.

It is already difficult enough to commit democracies to war, the absolute last thing we need to do is hand any enemy a very powerful motivation to seriously undermine our war effort through the expedient of capturing a few women.

Consider the impact of an enemy distributing videos of our women POWs being violated, or beheaded.

Consider the tactical decisions we would make, which we would never consider otherwise, in order to recover those women.

Your advocacy of women in combat roles fails at the tactical level (Excluding combat pilots; I was one, and Skyler is right, flying a fighter doesn't count as real combat). But what is worse, through ignoring human nature, it fails completely at the strategic level, so much so that you didn't even think to consider asymmetrical warfare aimed at the home front.

(BTW, I a retired USAF Lt Col with combat experience, 3 years at the Pentagon, and three years leading pilot training squadrons)
12.21.2007 1:04am
Rob Perelli-Minetti (mail):
swg wrote:

Also, don't you think it would help your case if you distinguished between elite groups such as ranger and SF and all others from which women are excluded? Your points are stronger for cases where the over and under-inclusiveness is greater; if you act like all military groups that exclude women are the same, you leave yourself open to the criticism that you haven't really looked into the degrees of over and under-inclusiveness.


Captain Mariner cannot concede the special case of the elite ground force/close combat units (especially Airborne/Ranger/Special Forces/SEALS/ReconMarines).

I think the reason is that there are two fairly distinct groups who are pushing for women in combat:

One group are the 'movement' feminists who believe that 'equality' is more important than any potential effect on combat effectiveness. The people who hold that position, by and large, are not going to be entering the service under any conditions short of a draft. Very, very few 'movement' feminists are pro-military to begin with, and, I suspect, even the ones who might enlist would not be looking for combat arms jobs. I don't think those who make policy concerning women in combat should take them seriously.

The second group consists, as I have mentioned on other posts, of women officers (such as Captain Mariner) who plan military careers and know that the most effective career path to flag rank requires progressively more responsible (and successful) tours in command of combat units, from the platoon level through brigade command. These women are pro-military, are in many cases serving or planning to serve, and I think we should listen to them, take their concerns seriously, and respond to these concerns thoughtfully.

At least in the Army, almost any serious career-oriented combat arms officer, and many who are in combat support or combat service support branches, consider airborne qualification and graduation from Ranger School to be essential professional qualifications, even if one is not assigned to an airborne or ranger unit. In a world where there are fewer available slots at each higher rank, any factor that can distinguish one officer from his or her peers becomes desirable.

What that means is that to concede the case that women should be excluded from the elite schools and elite combat units, means those women officers will not have the same opportunities as male officers to create the kind of service record as junior and field grade officers that will make them highly competitive for below the zone promotion in those grades and, ultimately, for promotion to flag rank.

I think that is a valid concern on the womens' part. Whether it outweighs the arguments against permitting women in the elite schools and combat arms units is really the question I think we should be addressing here.

I would begin thinking about this problem by assuming that military effectiveness, both at the immediate unit level and at the larger service level, is the most important criterion: if assigning women, whether officers or enlisted personnel, to any particular combat slots or types of units would (be highly likely to) diminish military effectiveness to any perceptible degree, then I would consider the case against women in those slots or units to be made.

This approach seems to be the one taken by most commentators who are concerned about differences in physical, and to a lesser extent mental, ability to perform above the median standard in elite combat, and even 'ordinary' combat units. The evidence seems (I have not reviewed it independently in recent years) to show that by and large, even elite women athletes do not perform above male medians, women suffer more stress injuries under the exigencies of the kind of physical training undergone by elite combat (and perhaps even regular infantry) units, and are not clamoring in significant numbers to joint combat units. The one elite school that does admit women, airborne school, uses significantly lowered physical standards for women, and women do suffer more injuries in airborne training. I don't know if there are differences in the escape, evasion and capture training undergone by male and female air force or navy pilots.

Given the statistical differences in performance between men and women, I don't think that anyone who has any serious concern about military effectiveness generally would argue in favor of assigning women who had not expressly volunteered for combat arms assignments (whether officers or enlisted).

So, I think what we're talking about is whether to permit women service members of all ranks to volunteer for assignment to elite combat and combat units.

The first question to ask in considering this should be: how big is the universe of women we're talking about? I don't know, and I don't know if anyone has seriously looked at the question -- surveys alone don't count for much since it's easy to say you would do it. Perhaps all women service members should be asked to indicate (1) I do not wish to be assigned to close combat, or (2) I will accept assignment to a close combat unit being judged entirely by the physical performance standards expected of male members of the unit, or (3) I hereby volunteer for (a) airbone, (b) ranger, (c) SEAL training, in each case being evaluated on exactly the same criteria as males, without gender norming.

With those numbers in hand, or similar information however derived, we can see how many people we're talking about.

Then, we can look at how many of the women who want to be in elite schools or combat units meet the entrance criteria. My own suspicion is that the number is very small.

In that case, I would be willing to support giving those women a fair shot at it: let the volunteers who can meet the criteria go through the schools (without any gender-norming, e.g. at airborne school go back to the original male PT requirements). Let's just see how many women graduate, and how many are injured, and how the women perform.

I suspect such an experiment would show that women would have significantly more injuries than men in training, and that far fewer women who begin the courses can complete them. But, without the experiment, we just don't know. It's all speculation.

However, if, at the end of the day, there are a few women who can make it through the unadulterated training programs, then I would let them be assigned to actual units and see how they fare. If they do well, they'll be golden, if they fail, their careers (for the officers at least) will be over and they'll go do something else.
12.21.2007 8:24am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
It occurs to me on reviewing my brief military experience that one thing has been overlooked--or perhaps taken for granted to the extent it was not mentioned.
It is easy to get around regulations. It is very difficult to get around what one (all) is generally expected to do, and nearly impossible to get around what one expects of oneself.
Unfortunately, examples of such are invariably sad to the point of being maudlin, concern death, wounds, terrible risk, and sacrifice. So I'll let examples I know about remain unspoken and you can remember those you experienced yourselves.
Fundamentally, the military needs a certain set of expectations for instances where regulations do not apply.
Men and women are socialized differently. Are we sure that the difference does not have different results in terms of expectations of self and others? Are we sure?
Do we have to socialize men and women in the same fashion in order to succeed in this project?
Extreme feminists, those who don't want to drown baby boys at birth, insist all would be well if boys were raised as girls are.
Others think a more gender-neutral socialization process is desirable.
Nobody has suggested raising girls as we raise boys. Odd.


The great French war leader, Turenne, remarked that the human heart is the starting place in all matters pertaining to war. Which is to say, in an era of treating soldiers as expendable cogs and with savage discipline, expectations of what one should do and others should do and what others expect me to do still mattered. IOW, no matter the structure and discipline, the human heart was the limiting factor.

Hanson has more on the subject.

Robert Graves, a platoon commander in the Royal Welch Fusiliers in WW I, quoted a fellow officer who remarked that the Highland regiments "ran too fast, both ways", unlike British units which, although lacking some of the ladies from hell aggressive charges, were steady, a quality Napoleon thought the most important in soldiers.

Culture matters and that means socialization matters and since we socialize men and women differently, the difference may well matter.
Perhaps those who think women need to be on the combat arms should think about changing society so that the questions--aside from physical strength--mentioned in this discussion are answered before recruitment begins.
12.21.2007 8:26am
fishbane (mail):
I suspect I could fail the psych tests if I had the incentive to do so. Or the physical tests.

Just ask Ted Nugent!
12.21.2007 8:32am
Lugo:
I suspect I could fail the psych tests if I had the incentive to do so.

Don't try jumping up and down and yelling, "Kill, kill!"... the shrinks are wise to that one.
12.21.2007 9:45am
William Oliver (mail) (www):
When I was in the military involved with forensic issues, three problems kept coming up. All of them may be solvable and are not necessarily any reason to keep women out of combat roles, but I would have been interested on hearing how Captain Mariner would have the military deal with them.

First, there is the issue of fraternization. One of the things that I noticed, being an older officer upon entering the military, was that gender issues were treated very differently among my peers (middle aged physicians) and young enlisted folk. I think that those of us who have a more mature and less hormonal approach to sexuality may forget some of the issues we had when we were 18. Frankly, in dealing with cases where all this went very wrong, it seemed to me that the motto of the new military should be "the Army that sleeps together stays together."

And, in fact, one of the units that I was involved with was essentially destroyed by a fraternization issue — in order to avoid prosecution for fraternization, an officer made accusations of wrongdoing in a way that kicked in whistleblower protections. The accusations were vacuous, but for almost a year, the unit was paralyzed, and leadership to the level of the Pentagon was not able to get around various regulatory barriers to a swift resolution of the issue.

Further, when members of a unit are sleeping with each other, there is inevitably conflict. In spite of Captain Mariner's contention, this *does* affect cohesion, sometimes fatally, and all the discipline in the world will not keep young men and young women apart.

The second issue derives directly from this. It is the cost of false accusations of sexual assault. Repeated studies of rape accusations, for instance, show an approximately 40% false accusation rate — not "unproven," mind you, but demonstrably false. Unfortunately, virtually *all* of those falsely accused have their careers destroyed.

Let me give one example from an investigation I was involved in. I will not stand by the details because this is from memory, but the gist is correct.

A young male sailor and a young female sailor from two different ships met while on liberty in Bahrain and had sex. The next night, the young man went to the ship on which the young woman was stationed and asked the NCOIC if he could speak to the young woman because he wanted to ask her out again. He was arrested and charged with rape.

Over the next 18 months, each statement by the accuser was proven false by physical evidence. Eventually the woman recanted. It turned out that she had been sleeping with the NCOIC and had established a relatively long-term affair with him. When the second man came to her ship, she was placed in the awkward position of having her one night stand ask her long term lover for permission to go out. When confronted by the NCOIC, she made the claim of rape.

Though the young man was pronounced innocent, his military career was, of course, ruined. For those not in the military, the armed forces have rather strict career progression requirements. You need to do certain things by certain years. If you do not, you get fired. This young man had spent 18 months on a penal detail; no tickets got punched, no promotions were made, and even though everyone agreed he was innocent, he was punished by losing his career.

This was, unfortunately, repeated while I was with the DoD in various capacities, particularly since "rape" is defined to include having sex while drunk — a combination not uncommon among young military folk.

The third issue also derives, in part, from this. How does Captain Mariner suggest we deal with the issue of deployment pregnacies? I am reminded of a case back when I was in the military, of a ship that had 36 women get pregnant on deployment — over half becoming pregnant on board. The attitude of the command chain was of import. From the NYT:


Thirty-six crew members of the supply ship Acadia were pregnant and had to be transferred during the ship's deployment to the Persian Gulf, naval officials say.

More than half became pregnant after the ship was under way, but a Navy spokesman, Lieut. Comdr. Jeff Smallwood, said there were no indications of improper fraternization between men and women on the ship.

"These women have a right to get pregnant," Commander Smallwood said. "The conclusion somebody is jumping to is that the Acadia is a love boat, and that's not the case."

See: this story.

Now, this was some time ago, and things may have changed. Perhaps women don't get pregant any more. But I doubt that's the case, and recent article I found indicated that the percentage of women transferred to shore duty because of pregnancy is increasing, not decreasing (see: this article. )Does Captain Mariner agree with Commander Smallwood that female combat soldiers "have a right to get pregnant" in a combat unit? What is her conclusion about how that will affect unit cohesion and strength, and how does she suggest dealing with this issue, if at all?
12.21.2007 9:56am
Rob Perelli-Minetti (mail):

In unpopular wars, especially under conscription, strong men (and women) could deliberately fail tests to avoid service. When the services need to expand the force rapidly, standards of all sorts become elastic.


I think this is perhaps the most disingenuous of Captain Mariner's arguments. In the first place, should we ever be in a situation comparable to the Soviet Union following the collapse of the Red Army in the face of the German invasion, whatever standards we have used will go out the window and we'll use anyone who could conceivable fight. Politically, the chance of fighting an unpopular war with a conscript force, is just not likely. Even then, it's not clear that conscription would require using conscripts - or at least conscripts who were not willing to volunteer for combat arms - in elite units and direct close combat units generally.

Further, since the majority of women looking to serve in combat/elite units are almost certainly officers (I would really like to see some hard data, as I suggested in a prior post, on the number of women who would be willing to make a binding commitment to close combat unit training and assignment), if they were to want to fail tests, the service is best rid of them sooner rather than later anyway.

More importantly, however, under the current force structure, we're not looking for service members, let alone service members in the combat arms, would would deliberately fail tests to avoid a particular kind of service, or service altogether.

I also found the reference to the Roman Republic and the Marian Reforms a bit strange, unless Captain Mariner wants to reopen the entire question of whether we ought to have an army of citizen-soldiers more on the Roman republican model before the Marian Reform instead of the fully professional regular force augmented by a citizen-soldier reserve/national guard, as we do today.

I think it's certainly true that the traditional political and social elite in the US, as well as the professional classes, especially in the Northeast and on the West Coast, has generally served in the military, either as enlisted members or as officers either on active duty or in the reserves, does not encourage (actively discourages?) their children from serving, and generally do not support the military.

The problem there, however, does not lie with the military and whether or not women serve in combat. Rather, the issue their is the attitude of those elites towards America and its military power generally. Therefore, I think raising the broader question of who ought to serve generally assists us in thinking about who may serve in particular billets.
12.21.2007 10:04am
Rob Perelli-Minetti (mail):
Ooops, preview is your friend:


I think it's certainly true that the traditional political and social elite in the US, as well as the professional classes, especially in the Northeast and on the West Coast, has generally served in the military,


That should read has generally NOT served....
12.21.2007 10:12am
Happyshooter:
I think she is also suggesting that the professional Roman force learned to march better and with heavier loads (so much so they were called Marius' Mules) because they were professional.

Somehow having a profesisonal force will make women stronger--which simply is fantasy.

I also found the reference to the Roman Republic and the Marian Reforms a bit strange, unless Captain Mariner wants to reopen the entire question of whether we ought to have an army of citizen-soldiers more on the Roman republican model before the Marian Reform instead of the fully professional regular force augmented by a citizen-soldier reserve/national guard, as we do today.
12.21.2007 10:41am
pete (mail) (www):
Hey Skipper asked:

can name even one male POW whose name isn't John McCain


James Stockdale and Dieter Dengler. Although that is probably cheating since Stockdale was a candidate for Vice President and Dengler just had a movie made about him. Mike Durant is also relatively well known, but I had to look up his name since I was not sure and again they made a movie and best selling book where he was a major part of the story.

Before these two sets of posts I was mildly against women in combat, but could have been convinced otherwise. Reading through them and especially through the comments by the various veterans has convinced me that intentionally putting women in ground combat is an unrealistic and unwise proposition mainly because of the physical requirements of combat, but to a lesser degree the pyychological and social reasons. Mariner has done nothing to convince me that even a few women could handle the physical rigors of ground fighting and all the other requirments of serving in infantry or armor.

I could still be convinced otherwise about naval operations, but pregnancy on ships seems to be a big unaddressed problem. I have yet to be convinced that women in air combat is unwise.

One last question about disparities in treatment of women in the military that I have not seen brought up is the issue of hair cuts. Will women ever be required to shave their heads when they join the military or if they are admitted to combat roles? That would seem to be something that women could physically handle as easily as men, but has never been required in our military as far as I know.
12.21.2007 11:01am
DC_JAG_Guy:
CAPT Mariner:

Thank you very much for your posts. I think they are well argued and well reasoned, and present a solid counterpoint to Mr. Browne's previous posts.

That said, even assuming that every argument you have made so far is valid, there is one remaining element that you have not yet addressed and that in my view is, in and of itself, sufficient reason against mixed-gender combat arms units: to use the Army vernacular, the "grab-ass" factor.

Anyone who has ever been in command of or otherwise responsible for a mixed-gender unit will tell you: 18-22 year old boys and girls like each other, and will find ways to "express" that in even the worst of conditions. I know first-hand of couples getting caught together in mess-halls, in barracks cleaning closets--hell, I even saw a pair of kids get caught while having sex in a porta-potty. The late COL Hackworth had a great article a few years back that detailed some of the other such situations that Soldiers would not want to write home to mom about.

And this kind of activity is not limited to state-side training; as described in the comments to one of Mr. Browne's, there have been many instances of this in theatre as well (the most (in)famous probably being the pair of Privates (no pun intended) who got caught having sex in their deuce-and-a-half in a combat zone in GW1). The simple point is that regardless of unit discipline, of how harsh a penalty you bring down upon these kids, of how many times you repeat the fraternization policies to them, 18-22 year olds will act like 18-22 year olds if the opportunity presents itself. For those units in which lives are regularly in the balance, we should prevent the opportunity from presenting itself.
12.21.2007 11:10am
George Smith (mail):
I've been following this thread for the past few days. I served eleven years in the Army, including armor and armored cavalry units. The bottom line is that if Tammy Dawn can grab an M-60 and an ammo can and follow her commander on the run, and then drop it and go hand to hand, and if her peers have the confidence that she can do it, thus allowing them to do THEIR jobs, she could qualify for a ground combat assignment. I suspect that, more likely than not, she can't. I'm sure I'll be chided as condescending, but the mission is to close with and destroy the enemy, to do violence on behalf of good folk who sleep quietly in their beds. The comgat arms branches are an environment of backbreaking work and great peril, and are not a area for social engineering.
12.21.2007 11:11am
George Larson (mail):
"The Russian Women's Batallion in WWI gained 50 Meters (or 500, I forget which) more than the Mens' Batallions on their flanks. Which duly embarrassed them, they were subsequently pulled from the front shortly thereafter."

It was called a Battalion, but it was the size of a company. They had a problem getting volunteers.

The women were required to meet all the men's standards including haircuts. There was no gender norming.

Does anyone know if the terrain the women attacked over was more favorable than the flanking units? Were the German defenses the same quality? It would be interesting to compare the casualty statistics.
12.21.2007 11:25am
Drill SGT (mail):
I came here wanting to make a couple of comments, that Rob has already made superbly.

1. Lack of direct combat assignments does hamper advancement to 3-4 star slots. At the 1-2 star level, female colonels conpete on an equal basis today with their CS and CSS peers, and even if they didn't, existing affirmative action goals would drive the same result.

2. For promotion, females can get the same 2 tickets most valued for combat support boards (e.g. service in in a combat AOR, command in a combat AOR). what females, nor their competition get is combat command in a combat AOR.

3. I'm not clear whether Ms Mariner is advocating her "Americanization" because she's a Feminist, a female careerist, or a believer in individual rights, but regardless, she ought to be careful about what she asks for.

4. Let's assume that tommorrow, The Army does:

a. eliminates gender normed standards for PT and for example jump school. Jump school being a clear example of a male standard that is clearly driven from 60 years of understood real job requirements, and a PC female standard designed to allow women to pass. and what if no females can pass?

b. opens up all combat arms jobs to women. and what if nobody shows?

c. sends out an assignment preference sheet that forces hard charging females to put up or shut up about selecting those jobs. you'll probably get some takers, but I suspect you'll get huge washout rates. It doesn't help our female officers careers to either have in their records that they flunked out of jump school, or IOBC or Ranger school as "unsuitable", nor will marginal PT tests and resulting mediocre OER's.

bottom line, today's female officer can appear hard charging and try to buck challenges that her competition, the male CS officer has refused to try. i.e, not her fault she doesnt have a Ranger ta. With an altered policy, she'll have no protective excuse for not attempting a course she is going to fail at.


will her overall career be helped or hurt. I think hurt.
12.21.2007 11:32am
john w. (mail):
Capt. Mariner wrote: " ... Again, I recognize that there are positions, especially in ground combat, that require significant strength and fitness. Then define the standard and apply it equally. If few women qualify, then fine ..."

Let's suppose, then, that the use of strictly gender-neutral standards results in combat units that are, say, 98% male and 2% female. Are you seriously suggesting that the costs (unknown, but probably huge) of accomodating that tiny group of women are outweighed by the advantage of a two percent increase in the size of the enlistment pool???

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

Is this Capt. Mariner's final post? If so, it has been a very disappointing debate! She consistently refuses to address the hard issues. For example, she insists on muddying the distinction between ground combat roles vs. support roles, even though the former is much, much more controversial than the latter.

She insists on talking about the Soviet experience instead of the Israeli experience, even though the Soviet experience was very atypical (i.e. the Russian people at that time were trapped between two of the most brutal dictatorships in modern history, and they were fighting a last-ditch effort to preserve their very existence.) Surely Israel is much more similar, politically and culturally, to the USA than Stalinist Russia ever was.

She hasn't said a word about the pregnancy problem, nor about the ease with which false accusations of 'sexual harassment' can be used to undermine the chain of command. She seems completely unaware that the sex drive -- especially in young males -- is one of the strongest forces in the living universe, and is capable in many cases of outweighing *ALL* other motivators, including patriotism and even fear of death.

She hasn't addressed psychological issues. Most people instinctively believe that men are predisposed to 'kill people and break things' whereas women are predisposed to nurture. Perhaps that is just an old folk-tale. But, if so, the burden of proof ought to be on her to de-bunk it.

Several days ago, she she said that she was going to divide the debate into "can" and "should" components. Then she proceeded to make some (very weak) arguments to support the "can" position, but she still hasn't addressed the "should" part. And even if one accepts her "yes, women can fight when they are pushed hard enough" arguments (which of course wasn't in dispute anyhow: E.G.: "The female, when in defense of her young is deadlier than the male."), she certainly didn't prove that they can fight well enough to justify the enormous costs and risks of trying to incorporate them into ground combat units. A dog *can* walk on its hind legs, but it's never going to be very good at it.

I could go on and on -- but why bother?
12.21.2007 12:05pm
Drill SGT (mail):
nicely put John,

I had been too polite to say that I was disappointed that her "response to comments" appeared pre-made and indicated a lack of understanding or denial of the issues raised in the comments.

Normally VC posters are much more interactive and responsive.

all in all not a very cogent argument, though I thought the other side (Browne) used soe pretty bogus statements as well.

What I am disappointed in is the lack of perspective from any commenters who a female combat vets. All I have to fall back on is my wife, who has no deployed service herself.
12.21.2007 12:38pm
rarango (mail):
Having read the (admittedly self disclosed) educational accomplishment of Volokh Conspiracy commenters, I remain struck by the number of educated and intelligent people who apparently have no conception of military service in general let alone military service in combat. I continue to believe that this ignorance of the military one of the more serious consequences of the all volunteer system.

it has been an interesting discussion, and I appreciate Professors Browne and Mariner's willingness to lay these arguments out and wish them every success as they continue to research these issues.
12.21.2007 1:33pm
Tracy Johnson (www):
I also recall in the same article about WWI it said that a battalion member and her male liaison were summarily shot for having sex on the front lines. I'll be digging up that article in about 3 hours.

P.S. Is it any wonder this month's issue of Proceedings is the "Women in the Military" issue?
12.21.2007 3:11pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"I continue to believe that this ignorance of the military one of the more serious consequences of the all volunteer system."

Amen. Charlie Rangel was both right and wrong when he thought that reinstituting the draft would cause people to want to cut and run in Iraq. He was right in that having everybody in harm's way would make people a little more thoughtful about deployment. He was wrong in thinking that it would turn everyone into a code pink Democrat. If everybody knew something about it, they would not engage in so much magical thinking about what combat is, what being in the military entails, or about who and what our enemies are. The latter realizations, I think, would be more persuasive than the simple appeal to cowardice.
12.21.2007 3:14pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Drill Sgt.

Your point about the career-killing potential of full integration--or the attempt thereto--is most interesting.
As a retired O6 with an obvious concern for such things, it is inevitable that Capt. Marriner has thought about them.
I wonder what her answer to the problems provided by full integration and fully equal expectations would be. She must be anticipating something of the kind.

Perhaps she has the "disparate impact" argument printed, bound, and resting on the shelf.
12.21.2007 3:18pm
Pyrrhus (mail) (www):
I'm pretty confident that any attempt to incorporate Rome into the discussion will not be useful.

I take it that the reference to Rome is supposed to support the Captain's assertion that we need a citizen army, which will be compromised by the exclusion of large parts of society.

I think the first obvious point is that Rome never relied on female soldiers (or citizens), so its unclear how it could ever be used as evidence that we need gender integration. Neither the conscripted nor professional Roman army was gender integrated.

Second the problem with Rome's professional army indeed had to do with their allegiance to particular generals. But this allegiance was due to actual dependence on that general. Poor soldiers needed the general who hired them for nearly everything. Sometimes the general himself payed for his troops armor. Often he represented them to the senate when they were settled on farms after their service. Usually he was responsible for distributing to them the plunder of the city. In the imperial era generals and emperors were expected to hand out non-scheduled "bonuses" (bribes) to ensure the loyalty of their troops.

American soldiers will never rely on specific commanders the way Rome's ad hoc system did. No instability faced by the modern soldier can meaningfully equate to that which forced the massive personal clientelism of the ancient soldier.
12.21.2007 3:54pm
Pyrrhus (mail) (www):
Some of these arguments don't seem seriously thought through.

"
Segregation practices that create separate forces and assignment criteria (based on race, gender, or whatever) are antithetical to cohesion.
"

If men have a hard time bonding with women AND if we exclude (segregate) women from the military, then obviously obviously obviously the men who are allowed in will be more cohesive than the mixed alternative force. It just isn't relevant to the discussion that the non-soldier women may resent some of the serving men. It is meaningless rhetoric to say that non-soldier resentment will interfere with the cohesion of soldiers.

"
Third, the issue of strength and fitness standards. Again, I recognize that there are positions, especially in ground combat, that require significant strength and fitness. Then define the standard and apply it equally. If few women qualify, then fine.

However, there are reasons why the services are hesitant to do this, and they have nothing to do with women.

There have been numerous studies over the years that attempted to quantify strength and skill requirements for various military tasks. It is not an easy process. Among the most difficult things to get a lock-on is the "heart" factor; sometimes the little guy can do the job better than anyone else. Also, technology is constantly altering the equation.
"

This block gives its own contradiction. If commanders are unwilling to draw strength limits because they might weed out a small minority of capable people, then they must be writing them to allow a majority of less-capable people.
12.21.2007 4:04pm
Kolohe:
CAPT Mariner-
FWIW, a few more facts regarding female military quotas that I did not see in your posts.

In the US navy, there is an overall limit of 15% for female enlistments per fiscal year (note: this was the case at the beginning of the decade when I was involved in naval recruiting; it may have changed in the past five yars)

Officer recruiting is different. There are no limits on direct acessions (i.e. college graduates going to OCS), and AFAIK no limits on ROTC or academy appointments. The only limit is that there are certain designators (subs &seals) that are not open to women.
12.21.2007 4:14pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: Captain Rosemary
RE: Say WHAT!!!?!?!?!?!!!

You call THIS a 'Response to Comments'????!?!!!!

I call it just more of the sameo-sameo.

I do believe a number of commenters here asked you direct questions. I believe I was one of them.

However, in what I've seen here, I've not seen a direct answer to a number of the questions asked of you about your previous postings here. [Note: At first glance, at least.]

More obfuscation. And typical of the feminist agenda and modus operandi.

When you DO come out with direct answers to direct questions asked of you....THEN I'll begin to respect you....more than I do now.

'With All Due Respect', M'am.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. When you hear some soldier say, "With all due respect", you know they mean exactly the opposite. It's a 'code'.
12.21.2007 4:42pm
HBowmanMD:

.....yet virtually no one (other than those that know them personally) can name even one male POW whose name isn't John McCain.


Lance Sijan
12.21.2007 5:17pm
Enoch:
Can women serve in elite units?

Of course they can!

But much like a popular music icon, no entourage is complete without the right women. For Qaddafi, that means a menacing group of 30 female body guards. Easily mistaken as hopefuls for "America's Next Model," his unit of gorgeous, gun-toting women are actually trained killers. The bodyguards, who are also reputedly virgins, made their Parisian debut in stylish blue camouflage fatigues.

Qaddafi's elite female corps mark him as controversial an Islamic figure as he is in the West because these women directly challenge the role of women in Islamic society.

Weapons training, the right to carry weapons, the right to use weapons and entrusting women with the physical protection of the head of state are all pretty revolutionary moves for an Islamic country.

Qaddafi's female bodyguards provocatively dress in Western fatigues, heavy black boots and shades instead of the veil and head-to-toe black chador that is traditional dress for Muslim women.

The lipstick, nail polish, Western hairstyles, bright colors and even high heels enjoyed by Qaddafi's ladies are radical freedoms forbidden to many Islamic women under the restrictive regime prescribed by law.
12.21.2007 5:20pm
swg:
john w. wrote:

Let's suppose, then, that the use of strictly gender-neutral standards results in combat units that are, say, 98% male and 2% female. Are you seriously suggesting that the costs (unknown, but probably huge) of accomodating that tiny group of women are outweighed by the advantage of a two percent increase in the size of the enlistment pool???

That's right on, I think. Doesn't Capt. Mariner have to tell us exactly what those costs would be, and weigh them against the cost of the under-inclusiveness, for her argument to have real persuasive substance? Without such concrete evidence, seems to me she's just resting on an abstract platitude: "Under-inclusiveness is bad".
12.21.2007 5:49pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Capt. Mariner: "Third, the issue of strength and fitness standards. Again, I recognize that there are positions, especially in ground combat, that require significant strength and fitness. Then define the standard and apply it equally. If few women qualify, then fine."

Where else in our society has this standard been maintained regarding women and minorities? It is hardly accepted as "fine" for women or minorities to be under-represented in all kinds of situations. Affirmative action programs lower standards for various groups because they can't meet the common standard. If the Army now has a "pink" quota for truck drivers, how long would it take before we had a special requirement for Pink Rangers?

If it is fine for few women officers to qualify for ground infantry, is it fine to give special weight in promotions to officers who have served in ground combat units?
12.21.2007 6:02pm
Tracy Johnson (www):
Eureka! Found the article. p80 of the Dec 1997 issue of Command. It had a byline of "Russia's Amazons" titled "The Women's Battalions of Death in the Great War". Being 10 years ago, I missed some details. I covered the exploits of the only such unit to enter combat. 1) They DID advance at the same speed as the men on their flanks. 2) However men in the flanks were not willing to advance until challenged by the women. 3) 2,000 German prisoners were taken that day. 4) One German Captain attempted suicide rather than be captured by women. 5) At the second trench line that was captured, the men on the flanks captured some vodka and beer and stopped. 6) Later the women's battalion got ahead of the line because the flanks retreated but the women held their ground and were almost cut off. They were able to retreat under cover of night a few days later. 7) Of the pair that were caught in the act I mentioned earlier, the male got away, but the female was bayoneted, not shot.
12.21.2007 8:28pm
libertarian soldier (mail):
Mea Culpa.
the author's comments on the Roman army may be in response to one of my comments on her initial post about using res publica when the people that coined the phrase had a very restrictive standard for participation in the military until the Marian reforms.
12.21.2007 9:55pm