• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Military Family Divided By Women’s Role

female-marines

Greg Jaffe has an outstanding feature titled “In one Army family, women in combat evokes two different perspectives.”

Hours after the Pentagon lifted the ban on women in combat, Valerie Warner typed out an ­e-mail to her grandfather, Volney Warner, a retired four-star general who helped oversee the integration of women into the Army in the 1970s.

Valerie Warner, an Iraq combat veteran, excitedly laid out her ­detailed plan for incorporating women into infantry units.

A few hours later, her grandfather replied, writing, “I remain convinced that women are better at giving life than taking it.” He added that although women play an important role in the Army, he thinks that they have no place in combat units.

No family better captures the flurry of debate triggered by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta’s historic announcement this week than the Warners. The decision alters decades of military tradition and opens new opportunities for women and a new debate on their role in the military.

Four of Warner’s eight grandchildren — two of them women — have fought in the Iraq and Afghan wars. In 2005, one of his granddaughters, 1st Lt. Laura M. Walker, was leading her engineer unit in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb detonated beneath her vehicle and killed her. The 24-year-old was the first female U.S. Military Academy graduate to die in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Their family story shows the progress made by women in the military in the past decade. But it also highlights the significant ground women must still cover to win acceptance in the military’s last all-male bastions.

As a general commanding the 9th Infantry Division in the 1970s, Warner oversaw the integration of women into hundreds of non-combat arms-support jobs. “There was little time to prepare,” he said. “They just started to arrive.”

Soon, he found himself officiating disputes over whether hair should be tucked under steel helmets and how to handle crying female soldiers.

After a few months, he decided that his initial doubts about the women were misplaced. “Their job performance was what surprised me,” he said. “The first group of women were better than the men. They really wanted to be there and knew they were part of an advanced guard.”

Decades later, as a grandfather, he suggested that all of his grandchildren consider a career in the Army. “I encouraged them to take on something more important than themselves and told them the military is a good place to do it,” he said in an interview Thursday.

Two granddaughters, Laura and Valerie, took his advice. They were smart, athletic and eager to prove that they were just as capable as their male counterparts. While Laura was at West Point, Valerie attended George Mason University and enrolled in ROTC.

Before the two deployed in 2004 — Laura to Afghanistan and Valerie to Iraq — Warner offered them the same advice: “Follow in the tracks of those ahead of you. . . . Keep a round in the chamber. Take care of your soldiers. Do not try to be a hero.”

These days, a painting of Walker in her uniform hangs in the hallway of his home in McLean. Warner, 86, calls her death a “personal tragedy” but insists that his opposition to women in combat jobs is driven by his experiences in fighting wars, not the loss of his granddaughter.

When he was a lieutenant in Korea in the 1950s, he and his men spent months in the bitter cold and endured killing on a scale far greater than the losses faced by U.S. troops in Iraq or Afghanistan over the past decade. Under such conditions, he said, he is concerned that male soldiers would be more likely to worry about the safety of female soldiers. A gender-integrated infantry company, he said, would become “a less effective killing machine.”

A decade of combat has chipped away at the support for Warner’s stance inside the military. In Iraq and Afghanistan, female soldiers have operated heavy machine guns on Army trucks in combat and inflicted casualties on the enemy. They have led patrols to clear roads of buried bombs, one of the most dangerous missions in the military.

While I have my doubts that large numbers of women have the brute physical strength required extended light infantry duty, I’ve long since dismissed the “men will protect the women” notion that worries General Walker. Women have been fighting alongside men in real combat–not just service and support–roles for the better part of two decades no and there’s just no evidence for it. The fact of the matter is that warriors take extraordinary—some might say heroic, others might say stupid—risks to protect their comrades—even the dead bodies of their comrades—regardless of sex. That’s the nature of esprit de corps, especially in infantry and special operations forces.

Laura Walker’s story belies the notion that women aren’t in harm’s way now. The days of trench warfare and even true “front lines” of combat are long gone. That’s especially true in conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan, where “major combat operations” are over rather swiftly but followed by years of murky counterinsurgency and stability operations. While it’s still more dangerous in the infantry, where the goal is to seek out and engage the enemy, pretty much everyone is vulnerable to IEDs, blue-on-blue attacks, and the other asymmetric attacks that have killed most of our forces.

Women are flying fighter jets and attack helicopters. They’re serving on submarines and aircraft carriers. They’re dying in our wars. The only real barrier left is ground combat arms, especially infantry. Again, I’m skeptical that a large number of women have the physical makeup for that duty. But, so long as we don’t lower the standards to make a gender quota, I’m not sure why that’s a problem.

Related Posts:

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. steve says:

    I agree. Many women are already de facto infantry combat soldiers in many ways. If they take the risks, and can do the job, they should have the benefits. Keep the standards the same.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. superdestroyer says:

    The most interesting questions are how the Infantry will justify their current physical requirements and what actions will be take in women fail out of infantry Advanced Individual Training at a higher rate than men.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. Andy says:

    The days of trench warfare and even true “front lines” of combat are long gone.

    If only that we’re true.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Andy says:

    ” were”

    Stupid iPhone.

    BTW, this site blows when it comes to mobile devices. Seriously, have you tried it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. markm says:

    Again, I’m skeptical that a large number of women have the physical makeup for that duty.

    As am I….but I was talking to a retired soldier that was one of the first one’s in on the second go at Iraq (2003). He said he’s fought along side women back then…..real combat….real ‘front line’ stuff.

    I don’t have a prolem with it if they can cut it. I just wonder what happens when one is taken hostage and brutalized on video (it will happen). We’ve become a bit numb to some of the atrocities of war. They happen, we react and then we move on to the next Kardashian pregnancy or some other trivial nonsense. I think the reaction back home would be different to a women being hacked up for opposition propeganda.

    Maybe I’m wrong.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Franklin says:

    I haven’t given this issue a whole lot of thought. But I just worry that some of the truly women-hating adversaries we face (like the Taliban) may be particularly cruel to any female POWs that they manage to capture.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. edmondo says:

    ….I just worry that some of the truly women-hating adversaries we face (like the Taliban) may be particularly cruel to any female POWs that they manage to capture.

    Yeah, they might send them to a remote camp in a foreign country and torture and waterboard them. Thank God we are more civilized!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  8. JKB says:

    I’d have to say this grim reality is probably the signal reason women in combat infantry is a “problem.” Not an insurmountable problem. Men and women can come to terms even with bodily functions in close quarters.

    But sadly, the standards are already on the chopping block. Perhaps, instead of dual standards, they’ll just lower them for all?

    Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday that with women now eligible to fill combat roles in the military, commanders must justify why any woman might be excluded – and, if women can’t meet any unit’s standard, the Pentagon will ask: “Does it really have to be that high?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. michael reynolds says:

    @Franklin:

    They may be. But we had Jewish soldiers fighting the Nazis. It just points to the additional courage women who make this choice will have displayed.

    In any event, women are already in combat. That’s why the Joint Chiefs recommended this. All we’re really doing is ratifying what has become a de facto policy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  10. bookdragon says:

    Women are already facing the risks; they’re just not getting the same acknowledgement and opportunity for advancement because they cannot technically be said to serve in combat roles.

    I’ve got no problem with keeping physical standards as long as they make sense. Worried a woman can’t heft a 50 lb shell? Okay. (Although this one is a myth as far as women’s strength goes. Maybe some can’t manage that, but as mother of two, I’ve hefted a struggling 60+ lb kid plus a bag of groceries farther than most soldiers would have to carry that shell. Just saying).

    I’ll also say that I’m in martial arts and can throw guys a lot bigger and stronger around the dojo. Training counts more than size and strength. On average men can develop greater upper body strength, but (again on average) women can develop greater endurance. Find where each gives the best advantage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  11. michael reynolds says:

    I hate to break this to you boys out there, but soldiers in combat all face being killed, having limbs blown off, having their faces melted to goo, having chunks of their brain scattered around, and if captured they all face torture, summary execution and . . . yes, even for men . . . rape. If you think only women are raped when taken by savages you underestimate some of our foes. The Syrian secret police routinely use rape of male dissidents to break them. So do the Iranians.

    And don’t forget: sexual degradation of male prisoners was carried out by this country under those macho men George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  12. superdestroyer says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Technically, they were not prisoners of war under international law. Since there were not part of an organized military, were not wearing uniforms, and were not part of an organized military, they are not prisoners of war.

    However, most people did not understand there is a differences between being in combat and being in a front line combat unit. maybe people should want something like the movie “Restrepo” and decide what percentage of women are capable of being trained up to do that level of combat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  13. Tony W says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Technically, they were not prisoners of war under international law.

    Therefore not human and not entitled to a basic level of decency in their treatment? Hard to defend Guantanamo and other overseas torture/indefinite incarceration. What happened to Reagan’s shining city on a hill?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  14. superdestroyer says:

    @Tony W:

    Technically, there were suppose to be treated according to the law of the country where they were captured. However, the Law of War has a hole in it because what happens if the country where the combatants are captured is not a functioning country and does not really have a government.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  15. Rafer Janders says:

    @Franklin:

    But I just worry that some of the truly women-hating adversaries we face (like the Taliban) may be particularly cruel to any female POWs that they manage to capture.

    They’re already cruel to the male POWs. Any American male soldiers or marines captured in Afghanistan or Iraq have almost surely been raped.

    And, to be fair, we’re also particularly cruel to people we capture. A large number of people captured in Afghanistan and Iraq have been sexually assaulted, raped, or otherwise tortured by American forces.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. Rafer Janders says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Since there were not part of an organized military, were not wearing uniforms, and were not part of an organized military, they are not prisoners of war.

    So under the same logic, any CIA operators working in Afghanistan are also not prisoners of war if captured.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  17. Rafer Janders says:

    @superdestroyer:

    However, the Law of War has a hole in it because what happens if the country where the combatants are captured is not a functioning country and does not really have a government.

    it really doesn’t have such a hole. The standards in the various Conventions are quite clear, and it’s a lie to pretend otherwise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  18. matt bernius says:

    Again, one problem currently facing women who are serving in combat zones (even if they are not specifically in combat) is that most of their kit was optimized for male bodies. And optimized is a key word here. Lots of research and money has been spent on designing equipment that will distribute weight, prevent chafing, and in general protect in was that are most efficient for the average male frame.

    If anyone here backpacks, for example, they’ll know that women’s packs are different from men’s packs because of the very real biological differences in the general construction of each gender’s bodies.

    I find it somewhat ironic that so many of the people who are “concerned” that women are incapable of doing the work tend to gloss over the fact that those gender differences mean that’s they’re trying to make the grade in equipment that is actively working against them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  19. superdestroyer says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    That is correct. The CIA operatives would not be considered prisoners of war. POW status is a legal standard that most people refuse to understand.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  20. anjin-san says:

    If we can’t get real warriors like Super, Jenos, and bithead on the front lines, I don’t see how we can hope to remain free.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  21. Just a Soldier says:

    When it comes to discussion or debate on this topic, I truly believe that – no offense – but those who are up in age or retired have absolutely no skin in this game. They are trying to reference the military of the past in understanding the pathways for the military of the future. Simply put, if you are old enough to have served in Vietnam or earlier, your comments/opinions don’t count. For you are not the one who is going to combat these days, the combat that soldiers are facing is 5th generation full-spectrum operations, and this is the sign of the times for a modernization of thought process for today’s military.

    I would like to qualify my comments – I have served in the military for over 25 years now (in Desert Storm and Iraq). And I think that we are (finally) tackling some of the issues that have been holding us back from modernization – such as allowing gays to freely serve and allowing women in combat roles.

    Oh how history so ironically repeats itself as you had the “old guard” up in arms decades ago when they were fretting over the idea of allowing (gasp!) ‘colored’ soldiers to serve in combat roles. Since then we’ve seen a line of leadership never before attainable up to the levels of four-star general (with Colin Powell being the first black chairman and chief of staff) and Command Sergeant Major of the Army. It’s sad to think that it was only two years ago when Marcia M. Anderson was promoted to Major General (and became the first black woman in the history of the U.S. Army to make such a rank, and is the highest rank yet attained by a black woman in the U.S. Army). Maybe one day we’ll see

    - a black woman attain the rank of three- and four-star general
    - a woman (whatever race) serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff (no woman ever has)
    - a woman graduate from U.S. Army Ranger School
    - a woman graduate from U.S. Navy SEAL School
    - a woman serve as Command Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army (the only one who has served in a similar capacity is Michele Jones, who served as Command Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army Reserve
    - etc.

    Until then we’ll have to deal with the comments who those who either don’t know or are limited by their capacity to accept equality. As long as the standards remain, there WILL be women who are strong enough and brave enough to – for example – make it through SEAL training or graduate from Ranger school, let alone serve in the Infantry.

    The key in the approach for integration is not to have a “sampling” like they did at the Citadel years ago with only 3 women. The key is to have the first ever integrated class (in Infantry school, for example) of well-qualified men and women as a 50/50 mix.

    There is one caveat to all of this, however. We must also include women in the Selective Service, starting as soon as they can freely serve in the Infantry. After all, equality IS equality – and there is no way around this for Selective Service, IMHO.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  22. Just Me says:

    I think the lines of what is or isn’t front line combat have blurred to the point that it no longer makes sense to exclude women from combat units.

    That said, I think the move should assume the vast majority of women will wash out. You can’t train out biology and women aren’t on average as strong or fast. More women than men are going to fail and that should be okay. Plenty of men wash out too.

    Opening these units to women makes sense, but the standards shouldn’t be lowered to as to be meaningless. There shouldn’t be a quota system for how many women pass the training. I am okay if the army asks the units to reevaluate the standards for why they are set there, but the goal shouldn’t be to adjust them so women can pass them so the army can say “look we have lots of women in this unit.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. JKB says:

    @Just Me: I am okay if the army asks the units to reevaluate the standards for why they are set there,

    The standards are set where they are because they are greater than minimally needed but less than where it becomes impossible to attract or retain enough soldiers and Marines. Any lowering to what can be justified is still a lowering of the standards compared to current unit members.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. bookdragon says:

    @Just Me:

    Can’t train out biology? What ‘biology’ are you referring to?

    You say strength and speed, but the military standards on speed aren’t requirements most women can’t meet and pure physical strength stopped being primary requirement for a successful warrior sometime around the invention of useful firearms (in fact, probably after rapiers replaced broad swords). Men have (on average) lower endurance and lower tolerance to pain. Strangely, I’ve never heard that as evidence that men are unsuited to any physically demanding job (except giving birth).

    The concept of women as soft and unathletic is somewhat dated. Girls growing up in today’s world compete is rough-n-tumble sports, more and more in co-ed sports too. Assumptions about what women are ‘biologically’ limited to are far too often based on stereotypes that arose from socially conditioned roles/ideals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  25. superdestroyer says:

    @bookdragon:

    Anyone who claims that strength has nothing to do with being in the military these days is not paying attention. Front line combat units such as infantry carry a huge amount of weight into combat. Weapons, body armor, protective gear, communications gear all weigh. As the military makes equipment lighter it just means that front line combat units can carry more stuff.

    A 155 mm artillary weight 98 pounds. the percentage of men that can be trained to easily load the shell is much higher than the percentage of women that can do it. Considering that the U.S. military currently has different physical fitness standard for men and women, I doubt if the military will do a very good job of maintaining standards for front line combat units.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. Just Me says:

    The concept of women as soft and unathletic is somewhat dated. Girls growing up in today’s world compete is rough-n-tumble sports, more and more in co-ed sports too.

    I have a daughter who is a rough and tumble girl. She was the best defenseman on her soccer team in the boys division (her high school was too small for a girls team so they played co-ed in the boys division). She would still be at a disadvantage if asked to carry 60 plus lbs in the infantry.

    I think it is ridiculous to pretend like the average woman is just as strong as the average male-the reality is that she isn’t built that way.

    There are exceptions and there probably are some women who can meet the high standards for combat arms. But if the military is going this direction what they shouldn’t do is lower standards in order to prevent the women who can’t meet those standards from washing out in training.

    This isnt’ the place for PC quotas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  27. bookdragon says:

    @Just Me:

    Nowhere did I say that the average woman is as strong as the average man. I have repeatedly acknowledged that on average men are stronger (at least in upper body strength). However, in terms of carrying 60 lbs, there’s strength and then there’s endurance. Women (again, on average) have greater endurance. Again, I’ve carried heavy kids, plus a backpack of water, snacks, etc. all over Disney. Not the same as combat certainly, but in terms of strength and ability to bear a load, representative of what a woman in her 40s with only a moderate level of fitness can manage.

    I’m not trying to be PC. There probably are military slots where a number of women won’t fit (just as there are areas where women may be better then men), but the idea that older men seem to have about what women are capable of strikes me as dated.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  28. matt bernius says:

    @bookdragon:

    Nowhere did I say that the average woman is as strong as the average man. I have repeatedly acknowledged that on average men are stronger (at least in upper body strength). However, in terms of carrying 60 lbs, there’s strength and then there’s endurance

    Note that lifting and carrying are different issues. And at least when it comes to a backpack, everything is about how the load is distributed on the body. Assuming military packs are anything like hiking backpacks, the weight is actually borne by the legs and hips versus the upper body. Which is why it’s so important to have a backpack that is optimized for your frame.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. We are no more likely to see infantrywomen as we are to see women crewing crab boats on Deadliest Catch. Here’s why.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  30. @bookdragon:
    Worried a woman can’t heft a 50 lb shell? Okay. (Although this one is a myth as far as women’s strength goes. Maybe some can’t manage that, but as mother of two, I’ve hefted a struggling 60+ lb kid plus a bag of groceries farther than most soldiers would have to carry that shell. Just saying).

    and

    However, in terms of carrying 60 lbs, there’s strength and then there’s endurance. Women (again, on average) have greater endurance. Again, I’ve carried heavy kids, plus a backpack of water, snacks, etc. all over Disney. Not the same as combat certainly … .

    Well, being a retired artilleryman and also having walked all over Disney a couple of times myself, let me just say that Disney has nothing at all to do with serving in combat.

    First, there are no 60-pound artillery shells. The most widely-used artillery round is the M107 projectile in 155mm caliber, weighing just over 95 pounds. There are 105mm shells used in the 101st and 82 Airborne Divisions. Those weigh about 43 pounds (which is actually heavier than the 105mm shells were when I served in a 105mm unit).

    I believe you, bookdragon, that you have lugged 60 pounds of kids and their junk all over Disneyworld. But I do not believe that you have done it for 30 days (or more) in a row, practically nonstop, with maybe four hours per sleep per day (not four hours in a row, mind, just four hours total), irregular meals, sometimes while wearing full chemical protective gear. And in between loading or stacking the artillery rounds, you have also had to erect and take down very heavy camouflage netting, break and repair the steel tracks on the self-propelled howitzer or the ammunition vehicle, conduct sometimes difficult maintenance on the vehicles that includes replacing heavy automotive parts, and daily put your back to swabbing the 20-foot-long barrel. And much more.

    So family day at Disney is “Not the same as combat certainly …” Now I hope you know just a glimmer of how very much it is not the same. In fact, it is wholly unlike combat. Now that you know the truth, perhaps you could reconsider making such unserious comparisons.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  31. @Just a Soldier:
    When it comes to discussion or debate on this topic, I truly believe that – no offense – but those who are up in age or retired have absolutely no skin in this game.

    ” ‘Shut up,’ he explained.”

    Yeah, that moves the debate right along.

    So being retired from the Army now I should just STFU and let my younger betters lecture me? And having a daughter of military-service age somehow does not get me a chair at the table?

    What country do you live in? ‘Cause it sure ain’t mine.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  32. @bookdragon:
    Girls growing up in today’s world compete is rough-n-tumble sports, more and more in co-ed sports too.

    Please list the names of:

    Women NFL players
    Women NBA players
    Women MLB players
    etc.

    There is a reason, and it has nothing to do with “socially conditioned roles/ideals” and everything to do with height, speed, total mass and muscle mass. Which is to say, inherent differences between the males and females of our species.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. Mikey says:

    @Donald Sensing: Goalie Manon Rheaume was signed as a free agent by the Tampa Bay Lightning, but she only played in exhibition games at the NHL level.

    Manon Rheaume shatters the gender barrier

    Another goalie, Cammi Granato, was extended an invitation to training camp by the New York Islanders, but declined.

    I think if we see any women eventually play in the NHL, they’ll be goalies. Not that the physical requirements of a goalie are “less” than a defenseman or forward, but they’re different. Also, goalies don’t have to be as big as the average non-goalie (6’1″, 205 lbs). There are smaller players (Martin St. Louis is very generously listed at 5’8″) but they are rare.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. @Mikey:
    I think if we see any women eventually play in the NHL, they’ll be goalies.

    I am not a hockey fan and have been to only one NHL game in my life, but it would seem to me that goalie would be the position potentially suited to women because quickness matter there more than mass. In fact, some women may be quicker simply because they and their equipment would offer less at-rest inertia to overcome to respond to a shot on goal. AFAIK, goalies are rarely involved in body blocks and the really physical, one-on-one aspects of the game. Anyone who know more about hockey than I do (which is probably about 80 percent of the country) should feel free to correct me.

    Another sport where it makes no sense to segregate men and women into separate competitions is shooting sport – target rifle or shotgun sports. I have been shooting competitively since 1973 and routinely shoot alongside women, but usually scores are listed separately. (This was not the case in rifle matches in college, however.) But there are still separate men’s and women’s shooting events in the Olympics, even though the scores are indistinguishable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. Mikey says:

    @Donald Sensing: A bigger goalie does have some advantage–he covers more of the goal opening. But quickness and flexibility are paramount, and in those areas there isn’t much difference between women and men.

    Perhaps it’s some outdated notion of chivalry I’m holding on to, but I am not sure how people would react to seeing a woman on the receiving end of this kind of hit.

    It’s been my experience, both in the military and in civilian life, that women are often better marksmen (markspersons?) than men. I certainly agree with you that segregating shooting sports by gender makes little sense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. @Mikey:
    It’s been my experience, both in the military and in civilian life, that women are often better marksmen (markspersons?) than men.

    That was my experience, too, though not with handguns. But with rifle? Yep.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. Mikey says:

    @Donald Sensing: I remember the first time I took my wife shooting. Her first time ever with a handgun. I gave her a quick run-down of the basics. Her first shot was straight through the ten ring. It was amazing. Better than I did my first time, for sure.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. James Joyner says:

    @Mikey: @Donald Sensing: I was looking into Audie Murphy a little the other day for some reason and noted that, among his many impressive medals, was the lowly Marksman badge. Unless they’ve changed the qualifications process radically since 1942–and that’s certainly possible–he was a mediocre shot. (He was also smaller than most women I know at 5’5″ and 110 pounds.) He somehow managed to kill a whole lot of enemy soldiers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  39. Mikey says:

    @James Joyner: Yeah, but could he have taken that Kronwall hit I linked to? (LOL…)

    He called in a lot of artillery., you don’t have to be big to succeed with that. Could be an argument in favor of allowing women to be forward observers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. @Mikey:
    I remember the first time I took my wife shooting. Her first time ever with a handgun. I gave her a quick run-down of the basics. Her first shot was straight through the ten ring. It was amazing. Better than I did my first time, for sure.

    Hmm .. come to think of it, my wife is probably a better pistol shot than I am, too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  41. @James Joyner:

    [Audi Murphy] was a mediocre shot. … He somehow managed to kill a whole lot of enemy soldiers.

    Most of his medal-winning shooting was with automatic weapons (he earned the DSC with a BAR, for example) and he earned the MOH with a .50-caliber.

    Audie Murphy was 5’5″ and weighed 110? So? Are you suggesting that we now make national policy based on a one-off soldier?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  42. @Mikey:

    Could be an argument in favor of allowing women to be forward observers.

    Nope – they live with the infantry and have the same physical requirements as the infantry.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  43. Mikey says:

    @Donald Sensing: It really depends on the type of unit. I mean, technically the Army has uniform fitness requirements for everyone, but your average soldier in an armored unit doesn’t have the physical demands of someone in a Ranger battalion.

    My specialty during my active duty time in the USAF was TACP airman, basically a forward observer for close air support. TACPs are almost all stationed at Army forts, train and deploy with their aligned Army units. 13 years of active duty, zero at an Air Force base. Loved just about every minute of it. I was sad when I transferred to the Reserve and had to cross-train.

    Now the big question is whether the Air Force will push to keep the TACP “males only” or allow females. I can tell you that creates no small amount of anxiety in a career field that’s been males only for its entire existence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  44. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    (He was also smaller than most women I know at 5’5″ and 110 pounds.)

    Yeah, but was he much smaller than other men born in the 1920′s and raised in the Depression? The widespread poverty and malnutrition of those years really stunted everyone’s growth compared to what we now think of as “normal.”

    Take a lot at Weegee’s famous photo of a large group of Coney Island bathers in the 1930′s and you’ll be struck by how skinny everyone looks — there isn’t one fat person in the entire picture, which, I can tell you, is not the case at today’s Coney Island.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  45. James Joyner says:

    @Rafer Janders: Murphy was rejected several times by the Army and Marines because he was so puny. He eventually got in and had to fight like hell to get Infantry duty.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0