The topic is the Pentagon’s mandate the as of 1 Jan 16 all military units must be open to women. Yes, the different services can ask for exceptions, but no one expects any waivers to be granted for any reason. So, unless something happens, when the new year kicks off women will be allowed in to Marine and Army infantry and armor, Army Ranger and Special Forces, the Navy’s SEALS and other special ops units in all the services.
The issue is not about women being in combat. Women have been and are serving in combat and are doing a professional job. The issue is in being in the “tip of the spear” units—those units that take the fight directly to the enemy on the ground. These are currently the only male-only units.
There are two real issues here. The first is the fact that men and women are different; their bodies are different—almost every part is different. Not better or worse—just different. I learned this personally a few years ago when my wife and I both had knees replaced. The doctor who did the surgeries explained how very different our bodies are in many ways. So, given that the main purpose of the military is to fight and win wars—the focus must be on having military units that are a combat efficient as possible. So, are there some physical tasks that men can do that women—or most women—can’t? Virtually everyone knows that most men have much more upper-body strength than most women. And, one more example, men’s legs are built to handle more physical work. Then there’s lung size—which affects endurance; it goes on and on.
Then there’s the issue of sexual tension. Despite the military’s lengthy attempt to train this away, boys like girls and vice versa. If there’s a female in my infantry unit and I like her, but she likes you—we now have sexual tension. All kinds of bad things can happen here because our lives depend on each other and the team is dissolving into sub-groups. A male and a female who do like each other are alone in a fox hole; one is always supposed to be on the alert for enemy patrols, but they both might be making whoopie on the floor of the foxhole—and their whole unit is now vulnerable… Or, I’m the team leader and I really like one female trooper, and I have a very dangerous mission and that female is the best qualified to go on the mission—but I send someone else because I want to protect her.
Then there’s the issue, in close combat units, of the additional sanitary and medical support that women need
Does this sexual tension thing really happen? Well, the navy is a good example. Women have been on Navy ships’ crews for years now. One of the major problems that the leadership has on deployed ships is—pregnant female crew members. At some point, if her job is more physical than paper pushing—maybe refueling aircraft, she’s not going to be able to do her job—so the rest of the sailors on her team have to do it for her. And there have been a huge number of ship’s captains and executive officers who have been relieved for matters involving sex in their commands. Does this affect combat readiness? How can it not?
All of this being said, when the time comes to brainstorm issues, the more diverse the people involved in the exercise the more likely that a better result will emerge—because diversity challenges the boxes we all like to think in. Industry has proven this over and over again. Let me make it clear—diversity is good for every kind of group. The challenge comes when we have to trade physical capability or add sexual tension to get it.
In military police units and fighter squadrons and communications units—units that may well be in combat, but are not at the “tip of the spear”, women are serving well—because physical strength and endurance is not an issue. And there are normally plenty of places for female sanitation and medical support– and the troops aren’t likely to be sleeping in foxholes our under trees together.
The elephant in the dining room—that no one in Washington will discuss—because we can’t admit that it’s there—is Political Correctness. All the sexual challenges I described between males and females will also occur between homosexuals. Part of the sexual tension thing is rape; there are more males reporting being raped than females. By the way, this is not because most homosexuals are somehow freaks; most of them are just people like all the rest of us. But the in-your-face, something-to-prove jerks, who want to make trouble for all people not like them—they are the problem, and apparently many of them have joined our military.
Again, the only reason we have a military is to kill people and break things. That’s called war. We have a military so that hostile nations will not attack us for fear of being engaged by our great military—or so that our military can take on and whip whoever decides to oppose us militarily. Of course, all this falls apart if our national leadership has no goal to win a given war—as is the situation in our nation now.