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[Rosemary Mariner, guest-blogging, December 22, 2007 at 11:19am] Trackbacks
The Americanization of the Armed Forces-How Many Women Does it Take to Make it Worthwhile?:

As with men, who wants to serve in ground combat and qualifies, depends on the individual. Right now, men volunteer for ground combat positions. One way to estimate how many women would be interested, is to survey serving female Soldiers and Marines, including officers. Of those, you could establish who is qualified.

The only way to know how many of these women could actually complete the training programs and perform well in the field, is to do it. Even then, these women would only prove their individual ability and determination.

The more immediate issue is the colocation (proximity) versus collocation (proximity and interdependence) interpretation of the current Army policy restrictions. Compare what the Marines are doing. My recommendation is to do a serious review. However, this is something the active duty force has to figure out.

As to how many it takes to make "it worthwhile", that depends on how you define "worthwhile" and the standards. Just how many "accommodations" are really necessary, and how many are the result of paternalism? When the chips are really down, like with the Soviets in WW II, you do what it takes to get the job done.

Which comes back to the larger issue of peacetime versus wartime mobilization. For military manpower planners, defining "worthwhile" is a function of demand and supply.

In peacetime, the vast majority of American men are not interested in military service, let alone the infantry. In wartime, it depends on the cause. If the cause is compelling, men have volunteered in droves. During both WW I and WW II, the War Dept. eventually prohibited volunteering so that men had enter the military through the Selective Service process.

In these mass mobilizations, Selective Service was used as a way of scientifically managing manpower, while ensuring enough men were available to work in the mobilized economy. Who fought in the infantry, artillery, aviation, Navy, or whatever capacity, was determined by the services, needs at a given time, and individual attributes. A man made his preferences known, but his aptitude scores, education, and theater needs drove the assignment process.

Since these wars were predominately fought with conventional forces, the major requirement was for a large number of ground forces. Another driver was the requirement for men sufficiently intelligent and educated that could operate and maintain the benefits of technology. The mechanization of the armed forces fundamentally altered the manpower equation.

This is not to say the nature of war has changed, but technology certainly influences the conduct.

Despite the limited warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Total Force is smaller today than during the Gulf War. By the end of Desert Storm, there were over 500,000 forces in theater. In Iraq, the number of forces is roughly a third of that. Yet the Army, the service most heavily invested in Iraq, has had to lower its standards to barely meet recruiting goals.

The difference is the cause. While some men are motivated to join solely by a desire to prove their masculinity, the reality is that most young American males are sitting on the sidelines. If the Taliban invaded the country, women might push men out of the way to fight. In America, cause greatly influences the "worthwhile" analysis.

Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Historical fact: women DID serve in the infantry during the civil war. About 300 are known to have, as I recall. I found the history of one while researching the 2nd Michigan Infantry. Sarah Seelye or maybe Seeley, I believe was her name, you can prob. Google it. She served for about a year before being discovered (she fell ill and was hospitalized). She was then up for promotion to corporal, the officers having noted the pvt. Seelye was a reliable soldier who didn't get drunk and visit the cathouses like many others. She wrote a book about it, which I have yet to read -- think she later served as a spy, it being handy to have an agent who could switch from male to female roles whenever she wanted to.

I'm told Clara Barton discovered another, when she took the shirt off a wounded soldier and noticed the person had for some reason wound their chest with cloth -- to flatten out their breasts.

If a women had a halfway masculine look (a deeper voice was handy but not necessary, some males enlisted before puberty, so whiskers and a deeper voice was not a reliable test), they could easily enlist.

Medical tests consisted at best of verifying that a soldier could walk, had teeth to tear a cartridge, and wasn't terribly bad of vision (I read of one test that consisted of jumping up and down a bit, and looking at a forest and describing what you saw). As the joke went, they didn't examine your limbs, they counted them.

Once the military, bathing was rare (and the more shy males did it alone, too). You wore long underwear and rarely took anything off, since they believed that illness came from swamp air sinking into your pores and that clothing protected against that -- so the hotter and more humid the day, the more likely you were to keep your shirt and coat on. (One reason why on a hot march the ambulances were busy picking up the heat stroke victims). So a woman with a passably male face could just show up before the enlisting officer, give him a male name, and be undiscovered unless she got hospitalized.
12.22.2007 11:48am
MarkField (mail):
I think this post raises an important point. Much of the discussion seems to involve a certain image of the military. That's fine, but today's military isn't necessarily what we need tomorrow. It may be we need fewer soldiers, in which case it makes sense to demand higher standards all around. It may be we need more, in which case we're going to have to relax the standards.
12.22.2007 4:30pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: MarkField
RE: So....

"Much of the discussion seems to involve a certain image of the military. That's fine, but today's military isn't necessarily what we need tomorrow. It may be we need fewer soldiers, in which case it makes sense to demand higher standards all around. It may be we need more, in which case we're going to have to relax the standards." -- MarkField

When did you graduate the Command &General Staff College?

Or, to put it bluntly....

...it's a crock.

But, how does it relate to the discussion at hand? How do these two 'observations' impact on how we [pardon the expression] 'man', the infantry force of tomorrow?

Please be 'specific'.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[When the dust settles, all there is is 'you'. -- Some First Sergeant I encountered.

He was talking to some sorry soldier who had just told an obfuscation, as I looked on.]
12.22.2007 4:59pm
Zacharias (mail):
I've studiously avoided military service my entire life, so I cannot speak directly to the topic of fitness of women for military service. I do know, however, that if I were to start a chess, math, physics, cabinetmaking or welding club, I would be hard pressed to find any women capable of contributing or competing, and none of those enterprises require height, strength, or inclination for risk-taking. Throughout my long life, I have seen that women excel only in nurturing and shopping, as well as breeding, dancing, acting, sex and other positions that cannot properly be filled by a man.
12.22.2007 5:37pm
swg:
This is all just a bit too abstract to be persuasive, I think. E.g. of course "cause greatly influences the worthwhile analysis" - but can't you give us some concrete numbers, maybe based on circumstances right now?

This one is even more abstract and hard to grasp:

The more immediate issue is the colocation (proximity) versus collocation (proximity and interdependence) interpretation of the current Army policy restrictions. Compare what the Marines are doing. My recommendation is to do a serious review. However, this is something the active duty force has to figure out.

I suppose if all you want is a "serious review", then maybe all you need to do is point out current inefficiencies, without providing any concrete solution. But come review time, I hope you have a method of integration whose costs are justified by the marginal increase in number/quality of soldiers.
12.22.2007 5:50pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: swg
RE: Indeed

"This one is even more abstract and hard to grasp:


The more immediate issue is the colocation (proximity) versus collocation (proximity and interdependence) interpretation of the current Army policy restrictions." -- swg

As Harry Truman put it...
If you can't convince them, confuse them.


Regards,

Chuck(le)
[The Truth will out.]
12.22.2007 6:10pm
dew:
Historical fact: women DID serve in the infantry during the civil war.
Also in the American Revolution. Not as many of course, and most were discharged when they were discovered (usually when wounded). At least a few demanded and received pensions after the war. Occasionally they even turned up in the British forces.
Once [in] the military, bathing was rare (and the more shy males did it alone, too).
Regular bathing in the 18th c. was also the exception, not the norm. Not always though; I seem to remember reading that while camped in NJ, Washington put out an order forbidding troops from running around naked in public after bathing (presumably while drying off) after a number of local residents complained.
12.22.2007 6:18pm
West:

Despite the limited warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Total Force is smaller today than during the Gulf War. By the end of Desert Storm, there were over 500,000 forces in theater. In Iraq, the number of forces is roughly a third of that. Yet the Army, the service most heavily invested in Iraq, has had to lower its standards to barely meet recruiting goals.


And the size of the Military (and specifically the Army) before each conflict started was.. ? Without this data, it's difficult to decide if this data is bad or not. If the size of the Military right before Desert Storm was 3x the size of the Military right before the current conflict, then your data point sounds bad, but in reality means nothing.
12.22.2007 7:03pm
Wondering Willy:
Just a brief criticism. Captain Mariner, this may be your last post, so it may be irrelevant, but your unusual paragraphing structure makes it very difficult to read and understand your posts. I'd suggest you write a bit more, for lack of a better word, normally in the future.

Regarding the merits of the arguments, I think Prof. Browne has won handily.
12.22.2007 7:28pm
Chuck Pelto (mail) (www):
TO: Captain Rosemary
RE: Risk Assessment, Anyone?

"How Many Women Does it Take to Make it Worthwhile?" -- Captain Rosemary

I think the question is REALLY 'How far are you willing to gamble the fate of the nation?'

But then again, as I stated in one of your earlier post comments—and was corroborated by another commenter—you're not really interested in the fate of the nation.

Your only interest—and based on the abysmal lack of solid evidence you've provided here, is substantiated—is self aggrandizement. And the devil take everything else.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Reality! What a concept? -- Robin Williams]
12.22.2007 8:02pm
Richard B. Frank (mail):
"In peacetime, the vast majority of American men are not interested in military service, let alone the infantry. In wartime, it depends on the cause. If the cause is compelling, men have volunteered in droves. During both WW I and WW II, the War Dept. eventually prohibited volunteering so that men had enter the military through the Selective Service process."

With respect to this comment, I wish to note the following.

While experience in World War II if often cited for one proposition or another concerning the effectiveness of American armed services since that time or manpower/womanpower policies, the actual facts about the distribution of enlistees as opposed to draftees in World War II generally run counter to popular sterotypes.

While roughly one-third to at most forty percent of WWII service members were enlistee "volunteers," these individuals overwhelmingly used the advantage of enlistment to exercise a choice to serve in the Navy, Marine Corps and Army Air Forces--and avoid the army ground forces. The Navy and the Army Air Forces exhibited great ingenuity in securing or stockpiling the best quality manpower in terms of demonstrated qualities like college attendance and performance on aptitude tests. The Marine Corps excelled in recruiting (through its elite reputation)a disproportionate share of the teenage volunteers who actually sought direct combat with the enemy.

The elimination of enlistment as an option for those age 18-35 by executive order in December 1942 reflected the army's belated recognition that army ground forces, which did most of the fighting and dying in WWII, were not getting a fair distribution of the nation's quality manpower. (Numbers somewhat differ, but battle deaths among the services ran roughly 19,000 Marines, 36,000 Navy, 52,000 Army Air Force and about 190,000 Army Ground Forces, overwhelmingly infantry.) It has been noted often that when the army dismantled the Army Specialized Training Program of college level education in 1944 and reassigned these men to divisions about to be deployed to overseas theaters, the performance of these divisions outstripped those of divisions deployed earlier with a less fair distribution of quality manpower.

From this it follows in my veiw that contrary to much popular misconception, the manpower (and womanpower) quality of the American armed forces today, particularly the army, and even in light of supposedly or actually reduced enlistment standards, is actually much superior to the army's general experience in WWII.

One final note in this context. Of the men in the generation that collectively (if not individually) carried the combat burden in WWII, the six men who became president included not a single individual who served in the army ground forces. Five were naval officers (Kennedy, Johnson (just barely), Nixon, Ford and Bush) and one nominally at least an Army Air Force officer (Reagan). If you understand what was really going on in the distribution of quality manpower, these numbers provide little surprise.
12.22.2007 8:54pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Capt. Mariner: "When the chips are really down, like with the Soviets in WW II, you do what it takes to get the job done."

Exactly. And in that case it's far easier to simply elimnate women from combat roles than to spend the time and resources necessary to give each individual all his or her opportunities as citizens. Numbers and probability will trump individuality. In peacetime we might have the time to have a cadre of lesser qualified Pink Rangers, but when the chips are down, nobody really cares about letting the women officers punch their tickets for their next promotion board.
12.23.2007 2:09am
Curmooodgeon (mail):
Am I the only one who is jarred by the modern use of the word "forces" as a synonym for "troops"? It's one thing to say "U.S. forces landed near Tripoli" but quite another, I think, to say "over 500,000 forces".

I have this image in my head of the world's biggest battle, with some half a million separate armies....
12.26.2007 9:48am