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Women in Close Combat Units 2

This is the second in a four-part series on the danger to our nation if we implement the new policy of allowing women in close-combat units. Last week we discussed that women do make very good soldiers and can handle combat. However, they do have hygiene and other sanitation needs different than men. Further, we noted that professional sports teams are all male—if women can handle the strength and endurance requirements of men—why is that so?

I’ll begin today by noting that recently two female enlisted Marines trained with male Marines, to qualify for assignment to infantry ground combat units; both failed miserably and their video interviews are truly revealing. One of the trainees said they couldn’t keep up with the males during the sustained and long period of training required to qualify, that their legs gave out, that their stamina was not up to their male counterparts, and that they could no longer carry their heavy packs; these ladies weren’t under the added pressure of being under enemy fire along with the knowledge that their fellow Marines’ lives depended on them doing their jobs.

The average military female is about five inches shorter than her male counterpart and has half the upper body strength, lower aerobic capacity (at her physical peak between the ages of 20 and 30, the average woman has the aerobic capacity of a 50-year-old male), and 37% less muscle mass. She has a lighter skeleton, so the physical strain on her body from carrying the heavy loads that are the lot of the infantryman may cause permanent damage. Anatomical differences between men and women are just as important. A woman cannot urinate standing up. Women, particularly those under the age of 30 (as are 60% of military females) often become pregnant.

Indeed, each year, 10-17 % of servicewomen become pregnant. In certain locales, the figure is higher. James Webb noted that when he was Navy Secretary in 1988, 51% of single Air Force and 48% of single Navy women stationed in Iceland were pregnant. During pregnancy a woman is exempted from progressively more routine duties, such as marching and field training. After birth, there are more problems, as exemplified by the many thousand uniformed-service mothers, none of whom fairly could be called ready for front-line duty.

Women also suffer a higher rate of attrition than men from physical ailments, and because of the turnover, are a more costly investment. Women are four times more likely to report ill, and the percentage of women medically non-available at any time is twice that of men.

Then, we have the American culture of men being protective of women. Suppose a female soldier is wounded; will a male soldier feel comfortable tearing her clothes off to find and treat the wound? Do we want men comfortable doing this? And if the male is not comfortable, might he be slower or less efficient, thus delaying needed treatment? How about when a female is captured? Knowing what virtually all of our recent enemies would do to her, might not our male troops take unreasonable risks to rescue her—do things they wouldn’t do for a male? Isn’t this protective feeling desirable? If it’s not, how do we get rid of it?

Then there’s the issue that when young men and women are together, there will almost always be sexual activity; it may be as simple as flirting or as much as intercourse resulting in pregnancy. I know personally that the real strength of our combat units is what some call the “Band of Brothers Syndrome.” I came back from Vietnam over 45 years ago, and I’m still in contact with some of my troopers; we still care for each other.

In a rifle platoon in combat, we must totally trust each other. If you tell me we have enough ammunition or that the hill to our front is covered, then it is. If you say you’ve got my back, then I know it’s covered. To survive we absolutely have to trust each other totally. And it works.

Now take a rifle platoon; it might have about 40 troops. Put in some women infantrymen—trained as well as the men. We now have sexual tension. At least some of the men will at least attempt to flirt with the women—and some women will flirt with the men. Now we have competition. If Female A likes Male B and he likes her, we now have a sub-unit in the platoon. If Male C also like Female A, at the very least he’ll think poorly of his rival, Male B. Or, if Squad Leader D also likes Female A, he knows he shouldn’t approach her, but he may well get jealous of Male B. I could go on and on. The result is a unit with little trust and lots of bad feelings—one that will end up with a lot of casualties. They certainly will not have the “Band of Brothers” commitment and support for each other, and that means more casualties and failed missions.

Or, suppose a male and a female end up in a foxhole together; one is supposed to be awake and on guard at all times; the other can sleep at night. Certainly there will be the temptation for some playing-around; the result might include noises the enemy could hear and/or no-one on guard; that spells dead soldiers.

Suppose the jealous squad leader has to send a soldier on a dangerous mission; he would at least be tempted not to send out the female he likes—even if she were the most appropriate for the mission. It’s likely that the soldier who was flirting with her would be the one to go. And everyone in the platoon would know who was picked and who was not and why. We all read these kinds of situations quite well.

Sexual tension would render that unit virtually ineffective. It’s not that women are bad—it’s that boys like girls and vice versa, and there’s no way to turn that off. But ineffective units equal a defenseless nation. I’ll continue this topic next week.

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