In his book, Prof. Browne recommends 1) reinstating a "risk rule" excluding women from combat positions and from positions presenting a substantial risk of combat or capture, 2)reinstating the exclusion of women from combat aviation, 3)barring women from warships, and 4) considering closing additional support positions.
He does not specify whether these exclusions should be policy or statue. He offers no estimate of how many men it would take to replace these women.
The basic rationale for this discrimination is 1) the vast majority of women can't fight because of intrinsic physical and psychological sex differences, 2) women are less deployable than men, 3)women impede cohesion, 4) women impede men's combat motivation, and 5) the presence of women inhibits men from fighting as well because they don't trust them.
While acknowledging that there are individual women who are strong and fit enough for combat, he contends they are too few to justify inclusion and their very presence is disruptive to men.
He offers no positive example of a military woman. If women are doing well, it is because they are getting special treatment and political correctness. If they do poorly, it is because they are women.
Asserting that war is a manly thing, he concludes that gender integration reduces military effectiveness.
In his book, the primary evidence for these assertions is 1) negative anecdotes from unnamed individuals, 2)selective citation to various studies, and 3)pubished and unpublished work in the theoretical field of evolutionary psychology.
He starts off with the following juxtaposition: military effectiveness versus sexual integration. As if this were a zero-sum equation and the two genders are akin to matter and anti-matter. This is a Rambo vs. Private Benjamin straw man.
His interlocutors are dismissed as seldom acknowledging that there is a trade-off between the two, --as if this was the only possible conclusion.
The idea that the inclusion of women might enhance military readiness, or their removal damage it, is never considered.
Arguments versus Evidence.
1) Women can't fight due to intrinsic physical and psychological differences. As discussed earlier, the premise that women can't fight well--with or without men--is counterfactual. The empirical evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. The Soviet example is the largest case, under conditions that are as "real" combat as it gets.
Deborah and Judith in the Bible; Artemisia, Queen Boudicca, and Joan of Arc are just some of the better known individual examples. Modern examples of irregular warfare include China, Yugoslavia during WW II, the Israeli War of Independence, and Vietnam. Current examples include female suicide bombers in the Middle East.
Israeli women were barred from combat positions until 1997, when combat aviation was opened. In 2000 the Knesset opened all branches and services of the IDF to women. In 2007 an internal IDF commission reportedly recommended opening all infantry, armored corps, and special forces positions to women.
In Canada, women have served in combat aviation and the infantry since 1989.
Whatever average sex differences may exist, they have not stopped large numbers of women from fighting and killing.
2) Women are less deployable than men, for reasons including pregnancy. Pregnancy is a clear difference between the sexes. Unplanned losses can be a problem with junior enlisted women, although whether it is problematic varies greatly by command. The most recent published data that I could find was a Navy study dated 1999. It indicates that pregnancies for CY97 made up 6% of total unplanned losses of women assigned to ships; however the rate was 2.5% higher for women then men. In commands with senior female enlisted leadership, the rate was significantly lower. However, personnel lost from ships because of pregnancy were more likely than other losses to stay in the Navy and return to a ship.
Colonel Martha McSally, USAF, an A-10 pilot and former combat squadron commander, offers her views on pregnancy and paternalistic policies in the current issue of the Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy. Prof. Browne has an article in the same issue.
3) The presence of women impedes group cohesion for men. As discussed earlier, the published research suggests just the opposite; the presence of women does not affect cohesion.
Prof. Browne attempts to dismiss this research by claiming analysts are motivated by gender equality and not military effectiveness. The policy analysis literature clearly focuses on readiness.
We live in a gender integrated nation where men and women not only compliment one another, they perform extraordinarily well in life and death professions, like medicine. Mixed gender warships and aviation squadrons operating under dangerous conditions have received numerous awards. Why would the combat arms be any less professional?
4) Women impede the combat motivation of men. Much of this discussion focuses on men wanting to "prove themselves in battle" and be recognized as courageous. I don't dispute this as a powerful motivator for some men, just as it is for some women.
Here Prof. Browne makes a bold assertion that men are more courageous than women. The evidence he cites mainly comes from psychometrics. Again, this field is about individual differences and rejects group membership as a substitute for estimating psychological attributes. Other evidence he cites is a certain commission which gave more men then women awards for valor, --as if this might not say more about the commission than anything to do with biology.
This not only ignores the empirical evidence of women across the ages who have demonstrated acts of courage (most recently the female security guard that shot a crazed gunman in Colorado), but it categorizes a human trait as masculine.
One example Prof. Browne cites is the refusal of a group of Army Reservists to drive in a fuel convoy. He speculates that since women were not part of the group, men were less likely to be shamed by their behavior. Regular officers might have focused first on the group's identity as Reservists.
In military culture, the desire to be recognized and respected by one's peers is an overwhelming force for both men and women.
5) Men don't trust women in combat. It is clear there are men who haven't been in combat with women, who don't trust them. There are also combat veterans who feel the opposite way or just want the best qualified person.
Again, I make the point about individuals. There are men who don't trust other men, not because of gender, but as individuals. The same applies to women. Trust has to be earned.
I go back to the empirical case. In WW II, Soviet men fought with, and in some cases, under the command of women. Today, men and women are doing an outstanding job together in combat aviation and aboard warships.
Impact on Military Effectiveness
Prof. Browne claims his goal is military effectiveness. However, if implemented, his recommendations would do nothing but harm combat readiness. They would undue over 13 years of gender-neutral policies in combat aviation, combat support, and aboard warships. Depending on what support positions were identified, positions that women have filled successfully for 35 years could be closed.
There is nothing reasonable about these proposals.
The number of men that would have to replace women is unclear. In Iraq alone some 11% of Army personnel are female. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps women would be sent home. At a minimum, tens of thousands of women, ranking from E-1 to O-8, would have to be replaced. The perturbations caused by a mass removal or reshuffling of experienced service members, including senior enlisted and general officers, would cause major personnel shortages and confusion.
How many men stateside would have to return to Iraq or Afghanistan if female combat support personnel were redeployed? Morale across the services would be severely damaged by removing women who want to serve, while men were forced to take extra tours in Iraq.
The Army, having already lowered its recruiting standards, is attempting to add 74,000 soldiers over the next 5 years to meet its higher authorized end strength. If the number of positions opened to women were harshly curtailed, thus shrinking the pool of available candidates even further, where would these men come from?
Related Posts (on one page):
- The Americanization of the Armed Forces-Closing Comments:
- The Americanization of the Armed Forces-How Many Women Does it Take to Make it Worthwhile?:
- The Americanization of the Armed Forces-Recap of Prof. Browne's Arguments:
- The Americanization of the Armed Forces-Response to Comments:
- The Americanization of the Armed Forces-Response to Comments:
- The Americanization of the Armed Forces-Entry Standards, Strength, Fitness, and Cohesion:
- The Americanization of the Armed Forces-Historical Perspective Women in Combat:
- The Americanization of the Armed Forces-Overview: