[Rosemary Mariner, guest-blogging, December 18, 2007 at 1:24am] Trackbacks
The Americanization of the Armed Forces-Overview:

My thanks to Eugene for the invitation to guest blog and to Prof. Browne for a copy of his book. Also, my thanks to all for considering a different perspective on gender integration in the military and the much larger issue of how to best provide for the common defense of the republic.

My central premise is that military effectiveness is enhanced by the inclusion of the best qualified individuals in a gender integrated force, including combat roles. Participation should be predicated on individual performance and not presumed group traits. Women are neither inferior nor superior to men; we are all individuals first and foremost, accountable for our actions.

Not only does this make for the best defense, it is consistent with the oath that all servicemembers take to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.

I emphasize the word republic (from the Latin res publica, or the people's thing) because the connection between citizenship and military service is as old as the concept of self-government; those who govern themselves protect themselves. Conversely, warrior aristocracies claiming a monopoly on the use of force based on their inherent superiority (birth into the nobility) are long viewed as antithetical to republicanism. This is in part because the reciprocal of protection is often obedience.

In the American example, the debate over the nature of the armed forces and who serves predates the republic. Issues of inclusion and exclusion are a constant thread in U.S. military history, both in (and between) the professional "regular" army and America's various citizen-armies. The same is true of the Navy. Military historian Alex Roland argues "that personnel is the most important topic...Who is going to fight, under what terms, and with what consequences? This is the fundamental question of American military experience."

Thus, the so-called "feminization" of the military over the last one hundred years is really part of what I call the Americanization of our armed forces.

In addition to teaching military history, the focus of my research is on the connection between military service and republican citizenship, --not gender issues. While I normally don't get into the "women in combat" debate for reasons that Mark Grimsley pointed out, I've decided to engage this time for several reasons.

First, the protracted limited war in Iraq will eventually force a new debate on the composition of the U.S. armed forces. The impact on readiness of current ground combat exclusion policies is but one facet of a much larger public discourse that needs to take place.

Some of the most contentious issues will include the use of armed mercenaries, integration of the Reserve Component, and conscription. While I am adamantly opposed to conscripted military service or labor (national service), there are advocates on the political right and left who are already pushing hard for both. Invariably, the proposals include some degree of female liability.

Secondly, there appears to be widespread misunderstanding about what constitutes military readiness and how it is measured by the armed forces. It is difficult to have a serious debate until such terms are understood in the context the military uses them.

Last, but not least, Prof. Browne's central justification for excluding women from combat seems to be the notion that women are inherently inferior to men, based on "new evidence" drawn from evolutionary psychology (EP). In other words, the individual doesn't matter. Yet, as Edward Hagen of the Institute for Theoretical Biology explains EP, "nothing in evolutionary theory privileges males over females, however, nor does evolutionary theory prescribe social roles for either sex."

This appeal to natural superiorty is reminiscent of Social Darwinism, where proponents of racial superiority misappropriated the work of Darwin to advance their social agendas. It was used to justify Eugenics and a lot worse. Arguments of supposed innate superiority (as opposed to demonstrated individual ability) have no place in prescribing the participation of adult citizens in America's public institutions.

Hopefully, in addition to addressing Prof. Browne's arguments, I can add some illumination on these and other larger issues central to providing for the common defense.

Finally, a few points of clarification on my background. On the issue of how to abbreviate my naval rank, it is well estabished that the Navy does not speak English. Having been retired and in the academic world for some time, Eugene's use of Capt. is fine with me.

The relevant point is that I am a practitioner who retired as an O6, not an O3. In addition to my aviation and shipboard experience, I have significant experience from while I was on the Joint Staff in how military readiness is evaluated on the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of warfare. My Joint Staff tour included various field assessments of Joint Task Forces which made it very clear that the Navy and Air Force have it much easier than the Army and Marine Corps.

That being said, there was nothing extraordinary about my career outside of the first female context. I was not a combat pilot nor do I claim to have any first hand knowledge of ground combat. My career spanned the years when Navy and Air Force women were prohibited by law from flying aircraft actually engaged in combat missions. We could get shot at, but not shoot back.

However, having lived through the "pink and blue" military force that Prof. Browne advocates a return to, I know why there is no going back. The risk rule and other paternalistic policies were as unfair to men as they were to women. They proved unworkable in the Gulf War. The issue now is whether we change (and if so, how) the ground combat exclusion policies.

There are many valid concerns about introducing women into direct ground combat forces. There are also many valid concerns that current exclusion policies are making it more difficult for commanders to get the job done while maintaining a legal fiction that women aren't in combat. It is time to review the current policies.

My next post will provide a brief historical overview of women in combat and address some of the current issues in Iraq and Afghanistan. I look forward to reading your comments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[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.


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.

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

[Duplicate post deleted. If you commented on this post, please repost the comments on the post immediately above this one, since it makes sense for the comments to all be one thread. -EV]

[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.

[Rosemary Mariner, guest-blogging, December 22, 2007 at 12:02am] Trackbacks
The Americanization of the Armed Forces-Recap of Prof. Browne's Arguments:

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?

[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.

[Rosemary Mariner, guest-blogging, December 22, 2007 at 10:11pm] Trackbacks
The Americanization of the Armed Forces-Closing Comments:

My thanks again to Eugene and the thoughtful commentators for an interesting discussion.

In November of this year, General George Casey, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In his remarks, he described what was at stake in a war against a global extremist threat as "the power of our values...whether the authority of those who treasure the rights of free individuals will stand firm against ruthless and pitiless men who wantonly slay the defenseless."

It is significant to this debate that General Casey identified "the rights of free individuals" as part of what the United States is fighting for.

Prof. Browne has constructed an argument for legal discrimination, built on the premise that evidence from the theoretical field of evolutionary psychology justifies gender classification because of inherent sex differences.

Yet this field of research cautions that nothing in evolutionary theory privileges males over females,nor does it prescribe social roles for either sex.

If this line of reasoning is adopted (again), then an adult female citizen's individual status is secondary to class membership. Gender classifications also work the other way around by discriminating against men, notably in the areas of parental rights and conscription.

The analogy to racial discrimination in the military is absolutely relevant. While the pernicious stereotypes were different, proponents of racial segregation argued just as ardently that black men couldn't fight, be trusted, and impeded cohesion because of inherent racial differences. The individual rights of African Americans were viewed as contrary to military effectiveness.

In the end, it was military effectiveness that finally ended racial segregation in the Army. During the Korean War, desperate for replacements, General Matthew Ridgeway formally asked the Army to racially integrate the National Guard and Army divisions under his command.

We can argue in circles about cohesion, pregnancy, double standards, physical strength, political correctness --dueling studies; down in the weeds-- but in the end it comes down to a fundamental choice: Do adult citizens participate in the public sphere as individual human beings first, equal before the law, or our group affiliations paramount?

There is no inherent dichotomy between a gender-integrated force and military effectiveness. The traditional principles of military leadership apply to gender integration as they do to everything else. The inclusion of women enhances military readiness by increasing the overall pool from which to draw the best recruits. Men and women have successfully served together, including under combat conditions, for years.

There is an additional benefit to a gender-integrated force which goes back to citizenship. The more American women are equal participants in the armed forces, the greater stake they have in the common defense. It is American citizens, through the constitutional process, that ultimately determine what constitutes military effectiveness.

Happy Holidays to All