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Tales of Amazons and Roman stories of barbarian women defending their villages not withstanding, war has been the bastion of men for all of history. Even in modern times the role of women has not gone far beyond the shield carriers and water bearers of old. President Obama has decided to change all of that. For the first time in U.S. history combat forces are to be a coed affair.
The move is not totally without precedent in the modern world. Today’s soldier is not measured by brute strength but by weapons, technology and tactics, none of which can be seen as sex specific. From such a point of view women represent a vast underutilized military resource.
Those applauding combat roles for women often point to the success of many women in doing combat support missions. Missions that often have meant taking on the enemy alongside their male counterparts. If they can hold their own guarding bases and protecting convoys, to the uniformed mind, assignment to field units is a no brainer. Such superficial thought does not come close to telling the whole story.
To start with the modern foot soldier is part pack mule part warrior. Carrying forty to fifty pounds of gear is routine with upwards of a hundred or more common. Women with their smaller bone structure and lower muscle mass are prone to injury at these weights; that is if they can handle them at all. Lower standards to get more women to qualify only makes the situation worse, the women arrive in theater woefully unprepared and end up adding tremendously to the burden of their already strained male counterparts. Not exactly ingredients for success.
Even when women are able to handle the weight and have the endurance to keep up with the men the obstacles are formidable. One Marine told riding cramped in armor personnel carriers and being “forced to urinate in empty water bottles …hold an MRE bag up to his rear, and defecate inches from his seated comrade’s face”, not pretty but field combat isn’t meant to be. Privacy, forget it. Marines and infantrymen share all the stench and misery of warfare as a unit.
Add to this the fact man to man combat is still a fact of modern warfare. Men, who are quite rightly admonished to protect women, are faced with an impasse: rely on those physically weaker to cover their backs, protect them or leave them to fend for themselves and die. Those that think this unfair might want to see how long a mixed team of male and female boxers would last against an all male team. The movies and TV notwithstanding, women are on average half as strong as men. A fact of nature it seems many think irrelevant.
If as if all of this is not enough, there are the dynamics of young men and women sharing close quarters under extreme duress. Sex, jealousy, mistrust and even pregnancy all come into play and all are destructive to unit morale. Reality is not Hollywood, soldiers do not just magically appear on a battlefield and just as quickly return to base. It is weeks of being in the field or protecting some God forsaken piece of real estate with moments of fighting for your life. It is in those moments that unit cohesion, trust and mutual dependency decides life or death.
As the main stream media debates whether Obama’s orders mean women should be drafted or if mothers can be forced into combat the real issue is left out. The question if this makes the military more or less effective is mute in their minds. Unfortunately as the liberals drink their lattes and pat themselves on the back for being so progressive it is soldiers in the field that will be taking rounds and dying for the sake of their deluded vision. Advocating for women in combat serves a higher purpose in their mind, so much so that its impact on troops is not given a second thought. It appears fantasy trumps reality for the progressive mind even in matters of life and death. As usual, they are degrading what they purport to lift up to the detriment of us all.
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Opinions of combat veterans can be read here (includes analyses of Russian failures with mixed units in Afghanistan)
Warnings by the Center for Military Readiness can be read here