Women Allowed In Combat Arms

For a long time Mondays were dedicated to female training topics, and recently this topic was requested (by females). 

Image from SOFREP.com

Recently Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, signed an order that opens combat arms jobs to women. Previously, women were barred from jobs that were tasked with combat involvement, though they could serve in support units that often found themselves in combat (mostly in the Iraq war).

It’s a little known fact that women have not only been fighting, but dying in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of the 6,600+ service members that have died, 152 have been women (not including non-lethal casualties). Now they will have the opportunity to qualify for combat arms jobs.

Allow me to point out that I don’t think I’m fully qualified to have an opinion on this topic since I am neither an active duty service member or a combat veteran. Take that into context when reading my opinion.

Personally I don’t have a problem with women serving in combat roles, so long as they can meet the standard — a standard that has not been lowered for their benefit. It would be a disservice to both women and men in a combat unit if a woman was pushed through training without having to meet the same minimum standards of everyone else, regardless of sex. It would put the woman and her teammates in jeopardy. Pentagon officials agree and have repeatedly expressed that standards will not be lowered to facilitate female prospects.

In truth, I think most or all women would agree with that sentiment (and the military women I know have echoed this). Women make up 14% of the 1.4 million active duty force. Of the available women, there is probably only a small percentage of them that would physically qualify for a combat arms job. But what does “qualify” actually mean? Right now it means passing the course (e.g. infantry school) while passing the official physical assessments in the course. But the Pentagon is asking the services to define what the actual physical requirements of each job are (e.g. infantry may require pulling a 300 pound load x distance in y time — turning these expectations into actual graded events). I interpret that as solidifying what “the standard” is so that a woman (or man) knows exactly what is expected of them and if they do not perform up to that standard, they will not pass the course. It will prevent law suits (that have previously occurred) from women arguing they were removed from training simply because they are female — quite an ambiguous and difficult argument for either side.

It’s useful to obtain the opinion of women who have served in combat, especially women who have worked in a job where combat was more prevalent than a support element getting ambushed. I read an article the other day where a female NCO who has been in combat said something along the lines of, “I hope that women will join combat arms because they truly want to instead of doing it just because they can.” (My apologies, I know this is shitty reporting to not cite my source, but I couldn’t find the article). It’s a fair point — do it because it’s what you desire, not because you want to make a point about gender issues.

The most poignant female opinion I’ve seen on this topic was from an interview with a woman serving on a Cultural Support Team (CST) on SOFREP.com — men are at times barred from interacting with women and children in Afghanistan, so a CST woman is attached to a special operations team to do so. She was attached to a 3rd Group SF team and was trained for and saw combat during her deployment. She dispels the typical reasons men bring up about women in combat roles (protecting women, cleanliness, sex, etc.) and talks about her experience.

But the most important thing she stresses — more than once — is that standards should be equal for men and women. The women aren’t stupid and know that this is important, and it seems that the DoD is following suit.

To make this quasi-relevant to training, there are obviously different demands between combat arms and desk jobs. Women who aim to perform to standard will need to be strong and emphasize proper technique to make the most out of their likely smaller statures and lack of absolute strength (with respect to a strong male). In other words, if she needs to put things overhead, she’ll need to know how to push-press it. If she is going to drag equipment or a teammate, she’ll need to know to use leverage by dropping her hips low. This strength foundation should be built with compound barbell movements like the squat, press, deadlift, pull-ups/chin-ups, and push-press. Strength and technique will be critical for these women.

Personally I know women who could successfully meet these standards, but the reality is that muscular women who are strong and can ruck all day are not common. A skinny, weak male can get through infantry training by virtue of sucking it up, but a female may need to sharpen her physical attributes to be effective. Nevertheless, I’m sure there will be many good female role models when the changes officially occur.

The change will be slow, but this will be a transitional era for the U.S. military. They will join many other countries in allowing women in combat roles despite being late to the party. It seems like Leon Panetta has the right idea in fairly implementing this policy by saying, “Not everyone is going to be able to be a combat soldier, but everyone is entitled to a chance.”

58 thoughts on “Women Allowed In Combat Arms

      • He may have also meant non combat related death. Those are accidents that occur like when someone is moving a bradley fighting vehicle without 2 ground guides and runs over a soldier walking through the motor pool or training accidents. They happen alot more often than you think and tend not to make headlines.

  1. I think psychological differences will come into play as well, not to say great warrior women won’t come to the forefront…just hope that their training includes getting inoculated to men self pleasuring…

  2. I was hoping you’d write about this. I’m also not a veteran but I don’t see much difference between this and letting a girl play on the football team. If she can hack it, why not. I’ve also heard various Pentagon spokesmen, spokeswomen and Panetta himself say over and over again that standards will not be lowered.

          • As they stand, right now? No, they aren’t. Are there women out there that could train for those events, and pass them? Yes. Are there women who, at the end of a selection, an 8 month boot camp, 3 long weeks of intense physical and mental pressure could do the same thing? Absolutely not.

            I say this all the time- I can take any high school senior and teach him how to make the graduation standard of my career field. That’s not the point. The point is that standard has to be met long after your “physical prime” has passed. No sleep, weeks upon weeks of max effort every day, bad food, no warmth. It’s a different ball game.

            Now, I will say this. The only reason we have not had a single woman display the physical traits needed to perform a combat job is because there have been no women allowed in combat jobs. I will give you that a lack of data is the main argument against my point- but I simply don’t see it today, right now.

            • I think this is a fair point. But now we’re talking about the difference between conventional military units and special operations (amlove21 is in the latter). That means his important is worth more than anybody else’s because I know he has worked in the field for a while and has experienced the true demand of the job.

              • Except that’s what a deployment with a regular infantry unit its like. No sleep, limited food, limited water, and in many cases no opportunity to train. Look at pictures of grunts from Vietnam, most of them look like skeletons by the end of a 1 year rotation. Imagine what would happen to a woman in those same conditions.

          • Some women probably are capable of passing the physical tests but it isn’t a sport like I was saying. A girl on the high school football team is nothing like being in the military. After practice, you can’t go home to mommy and daddy. There are a bunch of other factors too.

            Even in sports, passing a physical test doesn’t mean you can play. I can bench press 225lbs X number of reps, run around, and jump but that doesn’t mean I can just join the NFL.

    • Great point! There isn’t much difference between war and sports. Btw, if basketball was played to the death on an international level, would you want to be on the coed team, or the all man team?

      I would want to be with the women too. Great fundamentals.

  3. It won’t work. The physical standards will be lowered and there will be NO change in how physical training is conducted, at least in the Marine Corps. PT has consistently pushed further and further down on the priority list to fit in more sexual assault, hazing, suicide prevention and cyber awareness training. So not only will you have weak male grunts, but weak female grunts. And as far everyone being entitled to serve in a combat unit, that’s bullshit. Nobody is entitled to shit, being a grunt is a priviledge.

    • I wouldn’t be so pessimistic, as the Marines have already made PT harder for women – they’re replacing the flexed arm hang on the PFT with pull-ups, despite plenty of complaints.

      • True, but it’s still not the same. It’s like Justin said (and I’ve ranted about numerous times in my company office), real strength tests need to be put in place for individuals across the board. Until the military gets away from their 1950s take on physicality, grunts will continue to flounder.

    • I can’t speak for what the physical standards will be, but yes, the overall standards of the military are alarming.

      I see it like this: Women can have the chance. If they can hack it, then they will and should be a pretty badass chick. That, however, will constitute a low percentage of women.

  4. Anyone see GI Jane? Justin’s 4th paragraph is pretty much the storyline of that movie. Woman’s desire to be treated the same as men while going through bootcamp/training.

  5. I agree with a lot of the negative comments. I’m former 3/75 Ranger, and as much as they say they won’t lower their standards….the Army will. Someone will sue, it’ll happen.

    There’s a lot of other logistical factors to consider also. Our unit was male only (the entire unit, not just combat MOS’s). We didn’t even have a women’s bathroom or living quarters. Typically women are required to have their own living quarters, so you can pack an 8 man squad into a single hut and then the female gets her own. They’ll get their own shower, etc. WIth an all male force, it’s nothing to just piss on the ground, change your pants in front of everyone, etc. Not so once a woman complains about it.

    Then there’s the whole psychological side. Israel had women in combat and the men fell apart when they saw wounded women. This is not to mention all the coping mechanisms and jokes that men make when women aren’t around. You won’t be able to call someone a “pussy, sissy, etc” anymore, and if you let it slip out you’ll lose your job. That’s not to say these are great things, but the reality is that the military is a boys club, and the boys need to be able to operate comfortably to do their job.

    I have no doubt that there’s qualified women, but they’ll need to have the demeanor of Vasquez from Aliens, and there’ll need to be a relaxation of EO complaints if it’s to work.

    • Fair points. I don’t see many SOF units bringing women in. Brandon Webb of SOFREP (former SEAL) has proposed creating women-only units to eradicate the logistics argument.

      But, again, part of this gets into conventional vs SOF arguments, and I would think that argument shouldn’t be tested for five to ten years (to let the current policy go into effect).

      • There are a few females in Navy EOD, which is a great program. I just havent ever heard of them getting attached to a SOF unit. They’re in the desert though.

      • Logistics is a big deal with beddown and ensuring there are female areas isn’t a SOF-only issue. Women’s-only units would eliminate a lot of problems.

    • You can sure as shit bet that a lawsuit will be incoming…the justice department already ruled against a police department cause not enough women could pass the PT test..so instead of saying get your shit together if you want to be a cop they have to lower their standards.


      An Ohio dept, canton maybe, had to lower their written test standards on the sgts test cause not enough minorities could pass it…instead of tutoring the minorities the department gets dipshit supervisors.

      In summary: we’re fucked

    • Ex-1/75. I think the Regiment is safe. What is the percentage of men who try and succeed in making it to a Battalion? But hey,if 3rd ID wants ’em, they can have ’em. Women won’t ever wear a scroll, though.

  6. I’ll throw my two pennies in here. I currently serve in a special operations job. This question has been raised many, many times. I am all for justice (not equality- that’s different). The seemingly politically correct answer of “If they meet the standard- and not the lowered standard, but the standard as it stands now- then they are in.” is pretty solid. I believe that, if a woman was to pass the selection and then have no problems when they get to the teams- fine. Throw a ruck on her, put her in the fight.

    But the psychological piece here can not be ignored. Women change the dynamic of every team I have known. Hell- think of a close group of guy friends that has a woman enter the picture (wife, girlfriend, just a girl)- what happened to that group? Even having a woman as an unrelated support entity- commanders secretary, supply, medic, IT, etc- changes the way the team operates. Is that change for the worse? I can’t say definitely yes or no. What I can say is the psychological trauma endured by males when an accepted female is hurt/wounded/killed is a real thing. If you have never treated an injured female in front of her male counterparts, well, you’re in the deep end of something you don’t understand. It’s unnerving.

    Living in close quarters, training every day in close quarters, being forced to depend on the person next to you for your well being- it’s serious business. Not saying there aren’t some tough ladies out there that could possibly make it happen. What I am saying is that, in my time, I have never seen one.

    Just my opinion.

    • If I may ask, what’s your MOS? I’m guessing 18D.

      I deployed to Tal’Afar for a year with an SFODA – I’m not an 18 Series myself, but we directly supported them.

      With respect, I would like to disagree with you about no woman being able to meet the physical requirements. I have met a handful of women (typically in the “genetic freak” category) who could hack the physical aspect of selection no problem. It has been my observation, however, that such women tend to also be the sort of person who would get peered out of selection. I’m sure there are some women out there, however, who have both the genetics and the attitude to do it. The broad variation in human physiology practically guarantees that there is at least one woman, somewhere, who can do it.

      And that’s just in the realm of SOF. I was an 11B in a former life, and I can tell you that there are a lot of Infantrymen out there who scrape by with 60%’s on their PT test and help themselves to an extra fattie cake every day. We also had the “hard gainers” – I knew a guy who was basically skin and bones. My point is, the argument that you need to be able to throw your comrade over your shoulder and carry him 100 meters through withering fire in order to be in combat arms is… not very convincing to me, at best. So I personally cannot use this argument against females serving in combat arms.

      Every argument (except for one) that I’ve heard fails for similar reasons – either they’re flat out absurd (I heard one guy say women can’t be in combat arms because if they’re taken prisoner they might be raped. The fact that women are already serving in roles that put them at risk of capture did not phase him one bit.) or they are the worst, most insidious form of sexism in that they treat women (not just women at large, but female soldiers – people who have volunteered to put themselves in harm’s way in defense of their nation) like wilting flowers who must be protected from their own mistakes, in the same way that a husband in the 1920’s might have felt the need to protect his wife from learning about “these darn women’s libbers and their confusing ideas”. Silly soldiers, you don’t *really* want to serve in combat arms – you just think you do. (That said I absolutely agree with the sentiment, expressed earlier in this thread, that the reasons for wanting to serve in combat arms are important. You’ve got to want it for itself, not simply because you can or because you’ve got something to prove.)

      Anyway. I’m getting off track. The only argument I have against women in combat arms is the psychological one leveled by amlove21. Not that women are psychologically frail, but that the group dynamic of fighting men changes irrevocably when a female is introduced. I seldom raise the issue, because it’s so ephemeral – there’s barely anything there to point to. I say “barely anything” not because it’s a small thing (it isn’t small – it’s huge, and it’s important) but because the signs and symptoms are difficult to identify. Not only are they difficult to identify, but they are invisible to 50% of the population; a female, by her very presence, destroys the dynamic that exists in her absence.

      Call it bullshit if you want, but I’ve seen it happen. This is a real thing, and it is not less important or smaller because we do not have a name for it.

      • The first part of dcrookston’s post means he thinks that some women CAN hack the SOF requirements, but that they are typically the type that would be peered out.

        Before that amlove21 was saying that if she can hack it, and wear the ruck for weeks on end in miserable conditions, then do it. But he was also saying there’s a psychological element that changes everything — and dcrookston agreed.

        I would think there is a stark difference between “women in combat arms” and “women in SOF”. The former is the primary discussion. It sounds like you guys emphasize that the “women in SOF” part is the real issue to be concerned about.

      • I’m not an 18 series guy. I am a Pararescueman (PJ) in the AF.

        I have no issue with your disagreement. I think we are both speaking from different points of view, and I am fine with that. I will say this- you say you “know females that could pass selection” without passing that selection yourself. I don’t think it would be unfair of me to say that you are out of your lane there. I think a lot (a LOT) of SF guys would phrase that much more harshly than I did. I will say that I do not think a woman would be able to pass selection, in any service, with the male standard and no concessions made. I say this from the 0% rate until now. And yes, there have been “trial runs”. Most notably, the first two female Marines offered the Infantry Officers Course. Both failed. Early in the course. The number one reason was “physical ability”. I would, however, respect that accomplishment and accept them on a team like I would any other military member.

        The point keeps getting made about “there are tons of not-fit infantrymen out there”. While that may/may not be true, that’s a moot point. Not the issue. The issue is “Should women serve in combat arms jobs?” The fitness level of the infantry or other combat arms jobs, the cost of tea in china, the shortness of Justin’s shorts- those are all not related to this discussion.

        So, to sum up. I don’t think any woman today could complete a selection/assessment in the SOF world as it stands. If a woman, however, in any military unit- SOF or combat arms- COULD complete the physical requirements and was physically able to complete the duties associate with that, then I think they should be allowed.

        But I don’t think thats going to happen any time soon.

        • Obviously we have a fundamental disagreement over what’s physically possible for women and what’s not. I’m interested to see what the outcome of this policy change is. I will be very disappointed if they lower the physical standards.

          I do think it’s interesting that you point out that I haven’t gone through SF selection (and therefore my opinion is invalid)… but you haven’t gone through SF selection either.

          • Perhaps you missed the part at the beginning where he states that hes a PJ. Assuming this is true, that puts his opinion about any selection process in a much higher order of magnitude than yours. In other words, his counts, yours does not.

            • No, I saw that. PJ’s are cool and fall under the Special Operations Forces (SOF) umbrella but they don’t go through Special Forces (SF) selection.

              The terms can be confusing, but in a nutshell: SOF is an umbrella organization that includes a lot of groups, including SF.

              I’m not interested in getting into a dick-measuring contest, so I won’t post my own resume here. Suffice it to say that while I was not awarded an 18 series MOS, I am nevertheless very familiar with the SF selection process.

              But that’s beside the point. He was calling me out for having an opinion on the SF selection process when I “hadn’t been through it” despite not being through it himself.

              Regardless of either of our opinions, I can present you with this fact: There are women in the world – a lot of them – who are stronger and tougher than your average SF selectee. It’s not the rank and file by any means; not even (perhaps especially not) within the armed forces. But they are certainly out there.

              • Well, I disagree with my opinion counting more than anyone else’s. Even IF we assume I am a PJ, that doesn’t mean my opinion is any more valid than anyone else’s. It might hold more weight in certain topics, that’s all.

                And, for the record, I never said or implied that your opinion was invalid. I told you that I would be careful how/who you said that in front of, because the ODA teams I have worked with were very confrontational about that. So are my teams in comparable circumstance. I don’t care how many teams you have supported- unless one of those teams was at the Course, and you were an instructor, then your experience with SF selection can only be one thing. That makes your opinion on SOF selection still valid, but not necessarily weighted. Just a heads up.

                I think Crook and I have had a productive conversation thus far, and I don’t want to lose the value of it.

                I think Crook point brings up something interesting also. So, I will give you your assertion. That somewhere, there are women stronger and tougher than the average SF selectee, we just have to find them.

                Logistically, is it feasible is it to open the doors, spend time, money, and resources to find that “diamond in a rough” genetic freak that can make it through? How much time and energy are we spending on a 1 in a million shot when we could be focusing on the statistically more probable recruit (the male)? What if we have a woman that “could have made it”, but got injured? Recycle? Is the investment of time, money, and effort enough of a return to get- how many actual combart arms Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines out of the deal?

                Couple that with the psychological impact of women in combat (which we agree on), it raises the question. Is allowing women in combat worth the time?

                • “Logistically, is it feasible is it to open the doors, spend time, money, and resources to find that “diamond in a rough” genetic freak that can make it through?”

                  That’s a good point. It will be interesting to see how the SOF community, as a whole, handles this entire issue.

                  • I totally agree. I wish the issue was solely “We want everyone to be able to serve in whatever job they want”, but there are entire rooms of people going “What’s this going to cost again?”. Just like with everything else.

    • I’ve had gender integrated training in the Air Force and have had gender segregated training with the Marines. The camaraderie in the all male platoon I was in was leaps and bounds more than what I experienced in the Air Force.

  7. Agreed. I also have not served, but I do see some similarities to my experience working in a physically demanding, male-dominated job, as a wildland firefighter for two summers. The test standards to get the job, both mental and physical, were the same as the mens & we were all happy about that. I lived with these men for months in camps of several hundred men and maybe a dozen women. I did just as many pushups in morning lineup, I wore the same shitty oversized shirt, I got the same food portions, I pissed in the woods, I carried my 50 lb pack & did more than my share of time carrying the 45 lb ‘bladder bag’ on top of that during the 16 hours a day we were on our feet. I was just as responsible & efficient at not getting myself or my crew killed by being vigilant & smart.

    My point, its ignorant to say women are equally qualified for positions that are physically demanding. Many may men are not qualified to work in combat, that’s why these tests are in place. BUT, some women are & deserve the opportunity to work in that field they want to. Just as many women, I suspect, will have equal or superior decision making skills in life or death situations (think of the nursing & EMT workforce). Will they have to deal with ‘self pleasuring’ & other taboo gender-issues? Yup, but anyone that can be trusted to make life-or-death decisions better have the mental capacity to deal with gender decisions. Ending the ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ sort of opened the flood gates on the good ol’ boys club, or at least the illusion of it. I think the more we think about our work force/ armed forces as ‘qualified people’ vs genders we’ll really find truly gifted people in the jobs they are meant to work.

    • I was thinking of smokejumpers while reading Justin’s post. I haven’t served, but I am the son of a Vet and LEO, and grew up surrounded by LEOs, many of whom are Vets. I agree with you. If women can pass the exact same standards, which are a matter of life and death, they’re in. Women have managed to thrive in fields that were at one time completely dominated by males, including Law Enforcement as well as Smokejumping/Wildfire Fighting.

    • An additional comment. I notice several people have said that passing these tests is not the same as surviving in the field. This is not a fault of women, but of the tests.

      Secondly, I will agree to this, the dynamic of a force will change with women in their ranks. As a woman in a crew of men, I found it fell strongly on me to set the ‘high bar’ and to determine the ‘low bar’. Men looked to me to respond to the low-handed remarks/behavior & that dictated our future relationships, working and casual. It wasn’t always easy but I think it was positive for our crew as a whole to learn how we could work comfortably & respectfully with eachother under stressful situations. The crew boss didn’t call attention to my gender but he also set clear rules of engagement & we all worked smoothly. And to those men who could NOT handle my presence, the were asses to their male counterparts too & never made it through and entire season anyway. Their character flaws went well beyond sexism & we were better off without them.

      • “An additional comment. I notice several people have said that passing these tests is not the same as surviving in the field. This is not a fault of women, but of the tests.”

        I think that’s a fair point, but where do you draw the line? Make training way worse than anything that could ever be experienced in combat? That arguably happens in SOF training, but conventional units don’t do this (unless attending something like Ranger School).

        Their tests may suck right now, but what would be a good way to test to see if someone can be in a shitty environment with shitty food with shitty emotional and physical stresses and still perform at the highest level?

        • I don’t know the answer to that. Nor do I necessarily suggest they make testing more rigorous/involved. I just don’t think its a valid argument for why a woman’s capacity can’t be tested outside the field; as this obviously would also apply to men.

          I do think, however, the military (or at least, what I know from my husband’s 8 years in the Marines) has a good amount of money, research and time behind them and they’ve probably figured out a decent array of physical/emotional stressors that eliminate the weakest links already. The rest will have to be determined on the field as it is now.

        • I think this raises another point – the current standards (meaning, for the Army, the three-event PT test) are basically arbitrary. Someone in an office decided how many push-ups a person “should” be able to do in order to be “fit”. We’re making a lot of noise about ensuring that women can meet the same “standards” as males (and I assure you, I know women who can and do surpass the Army’s standards for males – a standard which I personally believe to be too low) without stopping to question whether the standard set in place actually measures a service member’s ability to serve effectively.

        • The slightly less junior members of a unit are the ones responsible for picking up the slack that exists in training. Be a boot with an infantry unit and you will become fully acquainted with sleep and food deprivation, as well as excessive amounts of physical, mental, and emotional stress. Being a boot in the fleet (Marine Corps term) is far worse than boot camp or SOI. Your seniors whole purpose is to weed out the non-hacks and make them either go UA or threaten/attempt suicide. It sounds terrible, but that’s what needs to happen for mission accomplishment.

    • You mention gender decisions. This is a good one. Let me propose a scenario:

      You are the leader of a team inside of a Humvee under a close ambush. The gunner is killed, and you need to send another soldier up into the turret and grave danger. Eliminating all other variables, one is male the other female. Who do you send?

      Its all well and good to argue that clearly you shouldn’t of eliminated the other variables, and I would send the ______ (most qualified/most expendable/one with the least children) up into the turret and that would be a logical argument. However this question is one of personal opinion, and I can guarantee you a large percentage of the male infantry world would have both grave reservations about sending a female into danger whatever the variables and/or would experience far more distress if the worst happened to a female he decided to send.

      Is it fair to the leader of the Humvee who has to make this decision fairly? Or to the male private in the back seat who just had his survival chances bumped from 50-50 to something more along the lines of 90-10? Of course women won’t be very worried about this question, its a win-win for them. If anything they are safer from the existence of this imbalance and are in a position to deny its existence/use it as an example of how they would make “better” decisions then their male counterparts.

      The example doesn’t even have to be so extreme. Instead of sending somebody into danger it can be something as mundane as deciding who has to take diesel and burn the shit in the shit can.

      I think the military needs to do extensive research into hypothetical questions like this to see the mindset of its current force and I haven’t seen any proof it has been done. I want to see people stop asking “Can women do this?” To a more basic question of “Should women do this?” Women and men are NOT treated equal in our culture, and that will of course spill over into any other place such as women in combat.

      I have been in all male airborne infantry units, all male mechanized infantry units, and co-ed communication units.

  8. While I won’t get into whether or not women could or should, I’ll say that the Pentagon’s and advocates’ claims that physical standards will not be lowered, or that they will not be different, doesn’t hold a lot of water when you consider that they are held to a different standard in every other MOS. Whether or not the events are the same, as they are in the Army PFT and now the Marine Corps test, the scoring is completely different. So now servicewomen who choose to join combat arms will adhere to the male standards? And if so, why is it important enough that they meet the same standard in combat arms, but support personnel such as military police and combat engineers do not have to? Are their abilities not as important or lives not as precious once an engagement occurs? As proponents of opening combat arms continue to point out, in the current asymmetric environment women are exposed to combat quite often. So why is a diminished standard in one instance acceptable and unacceptable in another?

  9. Long and late reply to this:

    Anybody who has been in the military knows how this will pan out. They will set quotas for each unit to meet, and when they see that those quotas aren’t being met they will lower standards: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/gen-dempsey-if-women-can-t-meet-military-standard-pentagon-will-ask-does-it-really-have

    They’ve already been kicking around the idea of a “gender neutral” PT test in all the services for a while now. What is a “gender neutral” passing score for pushups? I have a feeling it’s less than the current standards for males. One of the ideas I’ve seen mentioned was to base it off of exertion, so a 200 lb male will ruck with X load and then that load will be scaled for a 115 lb female. But the thing is an actual combat load doesn’t give a shit how much you weigh. As someone who has passed Ranger School and SF selection, I can tell you the cadre didn’t change anything to accommodate my being 5’6″ and 150 lbs. Why not? I had a harder time sometimes than the bigger guys. I should have been given a “physical size neutral standard” to meet right? Where do you draw the line once you start down this line of thinking?

    People throw all these examples around of women who could physically handle it and there may or may not be some, but the fact is the army isn’t getting those women, at least not in large numbers. Just like the males it recruits, the army is filled with physically average women. The male standards the army uses for physical testing are too high for women already, and are nowhere near being high enough to accurately reflect combat. A lot of women can pass a 2 or 5 mi. run, but that doesn’t mean they’re prepared to carry their body weight on their back for miles.

  10. USMC friend posted this:

    While people who think Zumba and a long line at Starbucks is hard day continue to debate the role of women in the infantry I lend the below article for thought. I also note that the Crossfit Games, UFC, and the Olympics are all separated by sex and no athletes are crying to change that-so why in game that plays for keeps are screaming that equality is needed. Show me a gender neutral Olympics and I’ll reconsider my thoughts. This is a competition for who can kill the other first, not gold medals and your reward is your life. It’s violent, demanding and deadly. Standards cannot slip and pointless political games should be left at the door.


  11. Pingback: PR Friday, 1 FEB 2013 | 70's Big

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