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Pentagon Opens All Combat Roles to Women

women-marines

While everyone was paying attention to the Benghazi hearings, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta ordered a lifting of the ban on women in ground combat.

AP (“Panetta opens combat roles to women“):

Senior defense officials say Pentagon chief Leon Panetta is removing the military’s ban on women serving in combat, opening hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs after more than a decade at war.

The groundbreaking move recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff overturns a 1994 rule banning women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units. Panetta’s decision gives the military services until January 2016 to seek special exceptions if they believe any positions must remain closed to women.

Coming as this does completely out of the blue, I don’t have a strong opinion on the merits of the call. I’m highly skeptical of women in the most physically demanding roles, but there are certainly at least a handful of women who would be capable of performing them. So long as standards are not lowered—and, again, I’m highly skeptical of that—the policy may make sense. Women have exceeded our expectations over the last decade of deployment. So, frankly, have the men; the widely held notions that they wouldn’t be able to cope with women in close proximity have been disproven in practice.

Aside from questions about the wisdom of the policy, I’m not all that clear on Panetta’s authority. David Burrelli put out an excellent CRS backgrounder, “Women in Combat: Issues for Congress,” last month. While Congress rescinded most legislation on gender roles, authoring the SECDEF to make these sort of decisions, the law would seem to require Congressional approval on changes of this scope.

If nothing else, this will likely move Benghazi off the lead position in tonight’s newscasts and tomorrow’s papers.

UPDATE: For an argument in favor of today’s action, see Megan H. MacKenzie’s “Let Women Fight: Ending the U.S. Military’s Female Combat Ban” in the current Foreign Affairs.The article is temporarily available to non-subscribers. I would note that she was calling on Congress, not Panetta, to make the change.

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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. ernieyeball says:

    The article is temporarily available to non-subscribers.

    All I can access for free via your link are the first three paragraphs. Maybe I am too late.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The groundbreaking move recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff overturns a 1994 rule

    that is the part that surprises me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. mantis says:

    I’m highly skeptical of women in the most physically demanding roles

    Women have exceeded our expectations over the last decade of deployment

    Considering your admitted record of underestimating women’s abilities, maybe you should adjust your level of skepticism. This is also known as learning.

    I would note that she was calling on Congress, not Panetta, to make the change.

    So….never.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  4. michael reynolds says:

    I agree entirely that this works only so long as standards are not lowered. A male soldier has to be clear on the fact that the woman next to him has endured identical training and has met identical standards. If we come at this from a quota point of view, complaining ten years from now that only 5% (or whatever) of combat roles are filled by women it will be bad for women and bad for the military.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  5. Rob in CT says:

    Yes, the standards have to be the same and therefore we should not be looking for a 50/50 split, or anything close to it. That aside, bravo. If a female soldier who is qualified wants to fight, she should be allowed to fight.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  6. sam says:

    “I’m highly skeptical of women in the most physically demanding roles, but there are certainly at least a handful of women who would be capable of performing them.”

    Maybe, but see, Get Over It! We Are Not All Created Equal. This from a woman Marine who led troops in combat:

    I was a motivated, resilient second lieutenant when I deployed to Iraq for 10 months, traveling across the Marine area of operations (AO) and participating in numerous combat operations. Yet, due to the excessive amount of time I spent in full combat load, I was diagnosed with a severe case of restless leg syndrome. My spine had compressed on nerves in my lower back causing neuropathy which compounded the symptoms of restless leg syndrome. While this injury has certainly not been enjoyable, Iraq was a pleasant experience compared to the experiences I endured during my deployment to Afghanistan. At the beginning of my tour in Helmand Province, I was physically capable of conducting combat operations for weeks at a time, remaining in my gear for days if necessary and averaging 16-hour days of engineering operations in the heart of Sangin, one of the most kinetic and challenging AOs in the country. There were numerous occasions where I was sent to a grid coordinate and told to build a PB from the ground up, serving not only as the mission commander but also the base commander until the occupants (infantry units) arrived 5 days later. In most of these situations, I had a sergeant as my assistant commander, and the remainder of my platoon consisted of young, motivated NCOs. I was the senior Marine making the final decisions on construction concerns, along with 24-hour base defense and leading 30 Marines at any given time. The physical strain of enduring combat operations and the stress of being responsible for the lives and well-being of such a young group in an extremely kinetic environment were compounded by lack of sleep, which ultimately took a physical toll on my body that I couldn’t have foreseen.

    By the fifth month into the deployment, I had muscle atrophy in my thighs that was causing me to constantly trip and my legs to buckle with the slightest grade change. My agility during firefights and mobility on and off vehicles and perimeter walls was seriously hindering my response time and overall capability. It was evident that stress and muscular deterioration was affecting everyone regardless of gender; however, the rate of my deterioration was noticeably faster than that of male Marines and further compounded by gender-specific medical conditions. At the end of the 7-month deployment, and the construction of 18 PBs later, I had lost 17 pounds and was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (which personally resulted in infertility, but is not a genetic trend in my family), which was brought on by the chemical and physical changes endured during deployment. Regardless of my deteriorating physical stature, I was extremely successful during both of my combat tours, serving beside my infantry brethren and gaining the respect of every unit I supported. Regardless, I can say with 100 percent assurance that despite my accomplishments, there is no way I could endure the physical demands of the infantrymen whom I worked beside as their combat load and constant deployment cycle would leave me facing medical separation long before the option of retirement. I understand that everyone is affected differently; however, I am confident that should the Marine Corps attempt to fully integrate women into the infantry, we as an institution are going to experience a colossal increase in crippling and career-ending medical conditions for females.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  7. grumpy realist says:

    @sam: yeah, well, it’s like demanding the ability to do 50 pull-ups as the deciding factor. How often do you do pull-ups in actual life?

    My feeling is that if women are at the same risk of getting shot at, then they can bloody well be paid the same amount. The distinction between “in combat” and “not in combat” (roles in which women already are) has become near-non-existent.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  8. legion says:

    Considering that the US Navy has allowed women to serve on submarines for over a year now, I’d say any argument about the psychological issues of co-ed units is completely debunked. Once you make that leap, there is no longer any honest bar to women in all combat roles unless you can determine some reason no – not just “some” or “most” “a few” but no – woman could conceivably perform the task. If a 50-lb artillery shell has to be moved from A to B in so many seconds, I’m sure there are some women who can do that just as well as a man could.

    Just as an example, I can actually imagine some circumstances where a man has to do the job – there are some tasks Special Forces do deep inside foreign countries, dealing with native groups that may simply not be approachable by women. But that just means they wouldn’t be qualified for _that assignment_; it’s no excuse to bar women from the SF field.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  9. tps says:

    @michael reynolds:

    That was the issue some of the first women combat pilots had. Most were great but there were a few that seemed to have gotten through the pipeline because they needed more women pilots then through their skills. It didn’t matter if it was true or not, the stigma was there for awhile.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. Rob in CT says:

    A possibly dumb analogy… bear with me:

    Are women actually banned from playing Major League Baseball? I do not believe this is the case. Yet there are no women players at present. In the future, if a woman has the physical ability to play (say, a knuckleball pitcher), she could. As yet, none have.

    Obviously the army isn’t a baseball game. Point is, however, that there is no need for a ban if you adhere to requirements that align with the required job. If a small % of women clear that bar, a-ok. If none do, also a-ok.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  11. tps says:

    @legion:

    Rumor had it that Delta Force had a number of women assigned to it for awhile. They worked in the intelligence side of things but could go on operational missions that involved scouting targets. It was felt that sending one of the guys with a ‘wife’ didn’t attract as much notice as sending two guys. They didn’t go through the full training the men did but could hold their own if the shooting started.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. mantis says:

    Are women actually banned from playing Major League Baseball? I do not believe this is the case. Yet there are no women players at present. In the future, if a woman has the physical ability to play (say, a knuckleball pitcher), she could. As yet, none have.

    What about the minor leagues? Surely some women are good enough to make some of those sad sack teams. It’s not a simple case of “none of them are good enough.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  13. Rob in CT says:

    @mantis:

    I don’t know, actually. Maybe some indie league A-ball level team should try it out. Much of the minors functions as a direct pipeline of talent for MLB, though, so they’re disinclined to mess around with something they don’t think has a snowball’s chance in hell of working out. Baseball is pretty traditional, though that has changed some recently.

    I think one significant barrier is HS and College sports have it divided up between baseball and softball (for perfectly ok reasons, mind you), such that you don’t have much chance of a female baseball player even being available for a minor league team.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Mike says:

    @tps: I think that was a Brad Thor book.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. James Joyner says:

    @michael reynolds: @tps: I’ve written about this pretty extensively previously but the two keys from my experience are 1) the same standard regardless of sex (and it would be okay to “lower” the current standard if it’s stupid) and 2) having a critical mass of women such that failure of individual women is an option. If you only have one female pilot in the class, she’s under the microscope as a test case for all women. That’s unfair to everyone concerned.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  16. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    If nothing else, this will likely move Benghazi off the lead position in tonight’s newscasts and tomorrow’s papers.

    It’s already working here at OTB. No Benghazi thread to be found…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 7

  17. ernieyeball says:

    I remember seeing a sports/news story on TV 1965-66 or so. It was about a semi-pro football team in Florida. One of the players wives was about to play with the team for the first time. She was to be the holder for the place kicker in a field goal attempt.
    One or two of her team mates were interviewed for the report and basically thought it was a great idea, so they said.
    When an opposing team member was asked about it, I distinctly remember him saying “I’m going to try to take her head off.”
    Never saw the post game report…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. ernieyeball says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Don’t see where you too distraught when there was no mention on OTB of the Lone Star College shooting recently. But then it was in Texas so who cares.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  19. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @ernieyeball: That omission surprised the hell out of me, I must confess. Perhaps because no one was killed…

    But considering how much the authors here specialize in foreign policy, the Benghazi omission is more surprising.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  20. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @James Joyner: the two keys from my experience are 1) the same standard regardless of sex (and it would be okay to “lower” the current standard if it’s stupid) and 2) having a critical mass of women such that failure of individual women is an option.

    Those could very easily become conflicting goals. The pressure for one to be adjusted to accommodate the other could be quite intense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  21. C. Clavin says:

    @ Indiana Jones…
    It’s your obsession with Benghazi that’s suprising troubling. Your sense of proportion is way, way, out of whack.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  22. @michael reynolds:

    A male soldier has to be clear on the fact that the woman next to him has endured identical training and has met identical standards.

    I completely agree. Just understand that what this actually will mean is that the “identical standards” both men and women will be required to meet will be what the majority of women can pass. Which is to say, the standards for men will be lowered.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  23. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    I just did a quick check. The shell for the largest artillery gun currently in service (155mm) weighs about 95 pounds. So there’s one objective measurement point (can the service member in question handle the shell?) for admission into artillery.

    And the shells for the Abrams tanks come in close to 50 pounds. Women’s smaller size (on average) would give them an advantage in a tank, I think, but that’s still a lot of upper-body strength to move around quickly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: I didn’t bring it up, our host did. And just because that you’re cool with the administration sending out the UN ambassador to lie to the American people on five TV shows, doesn’t mean all of us have to be.

    After all, at the time Obama was bragging about how he’d finished off Al Qaeda. Admitting that they’d just scored that kind of a victory might have adversely affected his re-election campaign…

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 17

  25. aFloridian says:

    @grumpy realist:

    My feeling is that if women are at the same risk of getting shot at, then they can bloody well be paid the same amount. The distinction between “in combat” and “not in combat” (roles in which women already are) has become near-non-existent.

    This is the best point I’ve read here.

    Other than that, I really worry that this has the potential to be a troublesome from the public relations standpoint. I agree with the others about the need for equal standards and avoiding any sort of quota system.

    A quick Google search informs me of two women, at least, who were captured by enemy forces in the last few decades. Jessica Lynch, and a Brigadier General from the Persian Gulf War. Both were, apparently, subject to sexual assault. Fortunately American troops don’t have a habit of becoming POWs, but the capture of female troops is always going to play out differently in the media and likely evoke a much more emotional reaction.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @aFloridian: It’s not just the general public, I’m worried about the reactions of male troops on the battlefield when a female troop is wounded. The “protect the women at all costs” instinct is hard-wired into us men…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10

  27. @Rob in CT:

    I quickly skimmed the MLB Rules and couldn’t find a specific ban on female players. I’m not sure what the rules are for the NLF or NBA.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. swbarnes2 says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The “protect the women at all costs” instinct is hard-wired into us men…

    That’s hilarious, given the sky-high rates of rape in the military.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 2

  29. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @swbarnes2: Just what are you calling “sky-high?” Care to cite a statistic or two?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  30. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Your ignorance is astounding. You think human males are hard-wired to protect women? I refer you to the entire history of the human race, during which women were subjugated, raped, beaten, enslaved, mutilated, scapegoated and simply slaughtered.

    As Rose Castorini would say: “What you don’t know about women is a lot.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1

  31. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @michael reynolds: If what you say is true, then why the hell are we even considering putting women into combat roles in the military? Maybe we should have them sign “rape consent waivers” first.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 15

  32. michael reynolds says:

    By the way, the very notion of women as being “protected” is an extremely recent development in human history. There was some sentimentalization of women — only of course rich women of position — in the late middle ages maybe, as the idea of romantic love began to spread, but that’s much too recent to be considered “wired in.”

    And that’s a paper-thin veneer on the deep, deep misogyny of the Catholic church (and other Christian denominations as they developed,) not to mention the idea of women-as-unclean in early Judaism and all through Islam and Buddhism. We could argue about whether or not the religions are to blame, or whether they’re just reflective of the culture, but it’s absurd to pretend that men have typically been protective toward women except insofar as the women were another form of cattle.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  33. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    What in the fwck are you talking about? Jesus. Even for you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  34. ernieyeball says:

    If this “protect women” behavior were actually “hard wired” in mens brains (whatever that means) then one case of rape would be a
    sky-high rate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  35. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The “protect the women at all costs” instinct is hard-wired into us men…

    Sure. That’s why rape and domestic abuse are practically non-existent.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  36. Cd6 says:

    So after all the completely undeserved scorn heaped on the GOP by the traitorous MSM, here we have Obama literally declaring War on Women.

    Double standard?? What else is new with you liberals. I weep for America

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 15

  37. Me Me Me says:

    @Rob in CT: There is a minor league team in Saint Paul called the Saints. It is firmly on the wacky side. Bill Murray is a part owner. They have a pig bring the balls to mound (if you are a Saint Paulite, that makes perfect sense). There used to be a nun who gave back rubs – not sure if she is still there or not. Their stadium is, literally, in a train yard – players are offered a bonus if they can manage to ping a homer off a moving box car.

    The point of this being they had a female relief pitcher on their staff in 1997.

    Or, actually, maybe there is no point to all of this, given that the Saints are in the Northern League (I don’t think their slogan is “winter is coming”, but maybe they will change it), which is not actually affiliated with MLB.

    Although Daryl Strawberry did play for the Saints after he did his cocaine rehab. A few months later he was winning the World Series with the Yankees.

    OK, I’m done now. I doubt any of you enjoyed that little cul de sac, but it sure brings back fond memories for me!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  38. bill says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: i was kinda shocked, and no “gun control” banter that seems to generate 200+ comments? the guys may be working too hard and need a break?!
    all in all, as long as women realize they are just soldiers it’s all good.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. anjin-san says:

    @ michael reynolds

    It seems like a pretty good bet that the majority of experience Jenos has with women is in the theoretical realm, it would certainly explain the romantic fantasy of men alway protecting women.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  40. Dave says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: In 2011 DOD estimates 19,000 rapes with a 6% conviction rate. http://www.sapr.mil/index.php/annual-reports
    And those are just reported instances.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  41. Mikey says:

    So, assuming this change goes through, will women be required to register with the Selective Service when they turn 18, as men are?

    Female officers have pushed for this change because combat experience is a big factor in promotion to the general officer level, and since women have been barred from combat, they are at a disadvantage. If they want the advantage they will get by qualifying to serve in combat, they should also have the responsibility of eligibility for the draft.

    As far as women actually serving in the few specialties now closed, I agree with others who say “no problem as long as standards aren’t relaxed.” Any woman who can survive BUD/S or the training pipeline for Air Force Pararescue would have my sincerest respect.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  42. Lynda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The “protect the women at all costs” instinct is hard-wired into us men…

    How quaint, you probably believe that it is “women and children first” when a ship goes down as well.

    http://news.discovery.com/history/us-history/titanic-women-children-120413.htm

    Elinder and Erixson also found that the crew and the captain had the best odds of survival on average — a rule confirmed by the recent Costa Concordia disaster.

    We found that women have a disadvantage independently of whether the ship sinks quickly or slowly,” the researchers said.What really seems to matter is the behavior of the captain, who has the power to enforce normative behavior.

    Or that the British are chivalrous

    Also, women would have been better off if they had avoided British ships. In contrasts with the notion of British men being more gallant than men of other nationalities, women fared worse in shipwrecks involving Union Jack ships.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  43. @aFloridian:

    A quick Google search informs me of two women, at least, who were captured by enemy forces in the last few decades. Jessica Lynch, and a Brigadier General from the Persian Gulf War. Both were, apparently, subject to sexual assault.

    Except for the fact that the Iraqi doctors that treated (and saved) Jessica Lynch said that was a load of bullshit. And since everything else the United States military said about Lynch’s capture and “rescue” was shown to be false, I’m not inclined to believe them on this either (see also generally Pat Tillman).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  44. michael reynolds says:

    I should point out that my last comment above was in response to a comment that Jenos apparently took down. I accept that. Everyone has moments when they cross the line and later think better of it. But the cause if my comment is no longer there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  45. C. Clavin says:

    Nice to know Indiana Jones is not only a racist…but sexist too.
    And I thought he/she was one dimensional.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  46. tps says:

    @Mike:

    lol No, I heard about the ‘funny platoon’ as the rumor said it was called back in the 90’s. I guess it had been disbanded even by then. Or maybe it was moved over to the Intelligence Support Activity/Centra Spike/Gray Fox/whatever they call it now that provides on site intell for Delta or Team 6.

    The British Special Reconnaissance Regiment has long had women members.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  47. michael reynolds says:

    Wait. No. Now I’m tripping. His comment is still up. Okay, time for me to stop.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  48. Just Me says:

    The distinction between “in combat” and “not in combat” (roles in which women already are) has become near-non-existent.

    This is true.

    I generally have no issues with this as long as standards aren’t lowered and the military is willing to let 95% of women wash out if they don’t meet the standard.

    Combat roles shouldn’t be barring women from serving but they also aren’t the place for quotas and political correctness.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  49. Rafer Janders says:

    @aFloridian:

    A quick Google search informs me of two women, at least, who were captured by enemy forces in the last few decades. Jessica Lynch, and a Brigadier General from the Persian Gulf War. Both were, apparently, subject to sexual assault.

    Let me tell you, if you’re a male soldier captured by enemy forces in North Africa, the Middle East, or Central Asia, the odds are non-zero that you may be subject to sexual assault as well. It is a major hazard of warfare there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  50. ernieyeball says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I’m not sure what the rules are for the NLF or NBA.

    Per WikiP:
    In 1980, Ann Meyers made NBA history when she signed a $50,000 no-cut contract with NBA’s Indiana Pacers. She participated in three-day tryouts for the team, the first by any woman for the NBA, but eventually was not chosen for the final squad.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  51. de stijl says:

    @Me Me Me:

    the Saints are in the Northern League (I don’t think their slogan is “winter is coming”, but maybe they will change it)

    You’re awesome.

    I used to live about a mile from the stadium (near Hamline University – Go Pipers!). Going to the games was a great baseball experience. Summit beer from concessions, Half Time Rec after the game – aah; hell, just outdoor baseball in the Twin Cities made it great.

    Thanks for the shot of nostalgia.

    I’m not a fan of publicly funded sports stadiums (stadia?), but, my dear Lord, using the Metrodome for baseball was an abomination.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  52. Tony W says:

    @Mikey: Such a requirement would be theoretical anyway. We will never see the military draft again in our lifetimes – too great a possibility that a person outside the “military class” would end up having to fight our wars.

    Can you imagine the son or daughter of, say, the CEO of General Electric getting called up? How could we ever maintain public support for a war if rich white people were fighting against their will? It would be like the Vietnam days – and believe me the military has learned their lesson from Vietnam (although not the lesson they should have learned).

    Nope, military service is reserved for those with a long family history of such, and those without other employment options.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  53. Tony W says:

    @de stijl: I was at a conference a few years ago in the Twin-Cities region – we tried to get tickets to the St. Paul game, but they were long ago sold out. We had to settle for MLB.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  54. matt bernius says:

    @sam:

    Maybe, but see, Get Over It! We Are Not All Created Equal. This from a woman Marine who led troops in combat:

    One thing that should be noted, and might have contributed to that woman’s injuries — is the fact that the majority of military personal gear being used by women was designed for the “average male” body.

    If we are going to emphasize the differences between the sexes, it’s fair to note that women may be negatively effected by being required to used armor and packs that are optimized for members of the opposite sex. And that can have HUGE implications when one thinks about the effective distribution of weight across the body or the way that ridged parts rub against the body. It also has implications for firing a weapon (if the rife cannot properly be braced against one’s shoulder).

    This, btw, is something that is starting to be addressed — http://www.military.com/daily-news/2012/09/25/army-designs-body-armor-for-women-and-batteries.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  55. Rafer Janders says:

    @aFloridian:

    A quick Google search informs me of two women, at least, who were captured by enemy forces in the last few decades. Jessica Lynch, and a Brigadier General from the Persian Gulf War. Both were, apparently, subject to sexual assault.

    Just to be clear about this, American forces have sexually assaulted both men and women we’ve captured in Iraq and Afghanistan, as the pictures from Abu Ghraib and survivor testimony make plain.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  56. stonetools says:

    My understanding is that the push for opening combat roles came particularly from female aviators. That makes some sense-physical strength is isn’t an advantage when it comes to flying jets.
    Infantry is a different kettle of fish, though. I just don’t see many women qualifying for front-line infantry,artillery, or armored units.
    The issue, though, is WHY women pushed for opening combat roles. The problem is that COMBAT officer positions are preferred for promotion. In reality, LOGISTICS can be just as important, or even more important to military success. The adage is that amateurs talk about tactics, while professionals talk about logistics. Maybe the military should change its promotion policies, in light of the modern understanding of war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  57. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    Greetings:

    On the one hand, I see this as an example of “it takes a village to hollow out a military”.

    On the other, why should the sexual dysfunctionals have all the fun. Let the heteros have a chance.

    And somewhere in the deep, dark depths of Indiana, which are very, very deep and really, really dark, a look of stunned shock makes its way across the face of former Pvt. Jessica Lynch (and formerly all of 5’2″ and 90 lbs)

    What’s left now ??? Anyone want to double down on the midgets/dwarfs/littler people ???

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  58. Rob in CT says:

    sexual dysfunctionals

    Stay classy.

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  59. @Rafer Janders: Just ask T. E. Lawrence.

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  60. An Interested Party says:

    What’s left now ??? Anyone want to double down on the midgets/dwarfs/littler people ???

    What you fail to realize is that people like you are now the freaks…people like you are no longer the norm…the sooner you realize these things, or the sooner you drop dead, the better off the rest of us will be…

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  61. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: “Admitting that they’d just scored that kind of a victory might have adversely affected his re-election campaign… ”

    That would be the re-election campaign you spent months claiming was doomed… that he’s lose by double digits. That was going to see the Republlicans retake the senate.

    How’re those predictions working out for you?

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  62. grumpy realist says:

    @matt bernius: Sort of like how a lot of medical testing has been done on men only, because women have periods and eww, nasty stuff like that. And then the results get extrapolated to both sexes.

    I’m not joking.

    (When I was growing up we still had the “menstrual cramps are all in your head” mentality out there from a lot of doctors. Luckily I never run into one of those dinosaurs, because I would have jumped on his balls a few times and then pointed out that “that’s all in your head, too!”)

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  63. Mikey says:

    @Tony W:

    We will never see the military draft again in our lifetimes

    I agree. However, the registration requirement for males reaching age 18 still exists, even for those who are already part of the all-volunteer force.

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  64. Franklin says:

    @mantis: There are a number of female placekickers in high school football around the country, right now. If I’m not mistaken, there might have been a couple in college over the years.

    But I think the point stands that not enough females play baseball or football to really know how many would actually be able make teams legitimately. Basketball or soccer would provide better comparisons because many females play those from a young age.

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  65. Pharoah Narim says:

    The small percentage of women that could handle the rigors of combat are olympic and division 1 level athletes. That group isn’t looking to shoot it up with America’s enemy du jour like males are. Combat is a male thing (and frankly most of them can’t handle the rigors of real combat roles). Started by males, perpetuated by males, and glorified by males. That said, women have had no problem mixing it up in short fire fights they’ve encountered in doing their non-combat roles. Let’s not get this confused however, if you’re driving a supply truck and get ambushed you’ve got to perform for an hour WORST CASE before the cavalry comes a kills the stragglers IF you haven’t already killed and scattered them first. That’s a whole ‘nother galaxy from being an actual ground combat troop where you’ve got to hump 100lbs of gear 20 miles to an objective THEN launch and sustain an assault. This group needs to be able to fight it out 3-6 hours dismounted. Sure they’ll get air support but they are expected to win and as such, if they get their a$$es kicked it can be hours before another team can get to them to save them. The last thing you need is your wingman (or women) not able to perform because their body has given out–and don’t get me wrong…MEN can barely handle this. The VA hospitals are full of broken soldiers who were once strong and fit. Bottom line is combat will break everybody down–the question is how fast. The rigorous training is to help slow the rate of deterioration. Its not the fighting part–its carrying the gear, weapons, ammo, and water and maneuvering WHILE fighting. I’d like to think the standards will be kept the same–but I fear they will not and somebody will get hurt because of it.

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