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well, they wanted equality

I have absolutely no problems with women serving in “combat units” in the military…  

… so long as they meet exactly the same, already-established standards that everyone else serving there already met.  

Simply put, having separate requirements for women and men in a combat unit is absolutely idiotic; it is not like an M240B will care whether the person humping it 10 miles over a mountain has breasts or not, and neither will the people on the other side. 

15 comments to well, they wanted equality

  • Gaston

    I am all for gender equality and gender blindness in support of combat operations. My concern is when the 90th percentile (big and heavy) combatant is injured under fire and the only person available to pull them out is a 10th percentile (small and light) combatant. The military doesn’t have the luxury of pairing up matched “battle buddies” in every scenario.

    Right now the Army uses a standard for human factors to support from the 10th percentile female up to the 90th percentile male. It would be a benefit if for example combat systems could be designed to support a narrower range, such as the 50th percentile to the 90th percentile. Of course this does nothing for the existing systems in inventory. Given this age of financial constraint it is extremely unlikely, that existing systems are going to be updated to meet the new human factors requirements. I also doubt that the military will increase the minimum physical standards across the board. So by assigning 10th percentile soldiers to combat units will have far ranging unintended consequences. Remember the first level maintainers of most combat systems are the operators. Currently doctrine for example, requires the crew of am Abrams tank to be able to repair and replace track links. This requires the elbow grease of the entire crew to barely perform this job. These jobs are all combat arms (Armor/Cavalry) positions increasing the pool of crews to potentially less strong individuals will only reduce combat effectiveness.

    Note that I have been careful in being gender neutral.

  • the dude

    We’ll see how women like registering for the draft, too. Even though they’ll just make excuses and get out of it. I predict a loooooong line of BS regarding this bass-ackwards decision.

  • Volfram

    I pretty much agree with your first statement. Requiring less of any demographic to meet any set of standards should be regarded as insulting and offensive.

    That means no Affirmative Action in education or employment, and no double-standards for women in the military.

    I mean hey, in Gears of War 3, the two female characters are every bit as tough as the male characters. In Mass Effect, Femshep is just as capable of headbutting an adult Krogan into submission as Male Shepard, and Samus Aran is one of the heavier hitters in the Super Smash Bros. series.

  • Rich Hailey

    You want to see the real fun? That happens when they realize that the number of women who can actually meet the physical standards is so low that the percentage of females in the military actually decreases as a result of this ruling. That’s not altogether a bad thing as the ones who stay in will be the ones who can hack it, leaving the slackers to be RIFed out of the service.

    Can you picture mixed sex combatives with no special rules for females?

    Sadly, this is only a dream as women will be brought to the front lines without adequate preparation. They will be weaker, slower, and less deadly that their opponents, who will show no compunction about killing them.

    The rottenness of this decision will be exceeded only by the incompetent way it will be implemented.

  • @ Gaston: On the other hand, since my contract with the United States Navy has well and truly expired, I do not have to be gender neutral :).

    Women are, on average, less strong than men. This is simply a physiological fact, and anyone who claims otherwise is an idiot. This is not to say that there are not women who are as strong as men – I have met some, and they truly can pull their own weight – but their average is simply measurably lower than the male average.

    And I say that as a male who is probably below the male average as it is. There is a reason I went Navy, after all.

    So, yeah, simply saying that we are going to shove women into combat billets without any material, technological, or logistical changes (none of which are coming, given that the military is clamping down for the seemingly inevitable sequestration) is going to have disastrous effects on the military’s mission, which, when you get right down to it, is to break things and kill people.

    @ the dude: Oh dear Lord… good of you to mention that. I was driving home yesterday listening to a news channel for information regarding our ongoing ice storm, and they were discussing this whole thing. A woman called in, absolutely horrified that her “baby girl” might have to register for selective service in a few years. And I mean “horrified” at the “oh my god, what are we going to do?” level.

    This woman also had a boy in high school, and her response to him filling out the card was, “oh, yeah, I guess we need to do that some day.”

    *blink* I sincerely hope your son was not listening to that news broadcast, lest he learn what relative values you place on him and his sister.

    Which, I guess, is part of the problem.

    @ Volfram: I have never understood how “african americans” do not view Affirmative Action as racist and insulting, personally.

    @ Rich Hailey: Having served on ships that had mixed officer genders (but not mixed enlisted genders), I know full well the military will not even consider holding women to the same physical standards. I likewise know that the men will be expected to pick up the slack left by those who physically cannot perform in the same way, and I know the entire military service will suffer for it.

    Thankfully, shipdriving is one of the few places where those physical standards hardly matter (until it comes to damage control, of course). Guys out in foxholes? I feel genuinely sorry for them.

    Query: do the Israelis have separate standards for their mixed combat units?

  • Unknownsailor

    From CNO’s message traffic, released today:
    D. WORK WITH NAVAL SPECIAL WARFARE COMMAND AND U.S. SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND IN A DELIBERATE, MEASURED AND RESPONSIBLE WAY TO ASSIGN WOMEN TO CURRENTLY CLOSED BILLETS AS PHYSICAL STANDARDS AND OPERATIONAL ASSESSMENTS ARE COMPLETED.

    The standards will be reduced, if not now, in time.

    411 days to Fleet Reserve, thank God.

  • Rich Hailey

    AS far as I know, since the law changed in 2000, opening up combat roles to women in the IDF, the physical standards are identical.

    But the problem goes deeper than that. Even in the IDF, women have to volunteer to be placed into a combat unit; men are not given that luxury. They go where the IDF tells them to go, just like in the US military. What will happen to unit cohesion when there are two classes of people in the unit, some forced to be there, and others given the option not to be there?

  • Heather

    Physical standards for combat units should be the same. For non-combat units? Where the PT test is really just to keep people healthy and make sure they look good in their uniforms? Doesn’t seem necessary or reasonable to have the same PT standards there.

  • Alanatswbell

    When I was in from 72-84 the double standards were there in reality even though the Army denied it. For example during Reforger (living in a tent for 60 days or so) the males got a shower once a week if that and the females (same mos, unit and assignment) got one at least every other day. When it came time to do vehicle maintenance the females never seemed to be around and we (the males) ended up doing their maintenance even though the female was the assigned vehicle operator. Etc, Etc, Etc. There is no way that the standards will not be changed to allow the women in!!!!

  • @ Unknownsailor: Believe you me, with every passing news report, I get all the happier I am already out and gone. Which, honestly, is a damned shame when you stop and think about it.

    And, courtesy of Unknownsailor in an email:

    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?”

    Combat readiness? What combat readiness?

    @ Rich Hailey: Well, that at least answers your question of ‘what would a combat unit look like if the standards were the same’, though :).

    Had not heard about the double standards for deployments, though… convenient, that.

    @ Heather: Well, the problem becomes, define “combat unit”. Neither of the vessels I served upon fired a single shot in anger, but both served in areas where it was a distinct possibility. As I said, shipdriving is not exactly the most strenuous physical activity, but shoring up a bulkhead after an IED-laden small craft slams into your boat? And how many logistical trains have been ambushed in the history of warfare?

    I am not saying you are wrong, just that it is more complicated than just that.

    @ Alanatswbell: Yeah, I heard the same thing on the radio – Army units would go out for month exercises with no facilities, but women would be shuttled back periodically for showers, due to “feminine hygiene” or whatever. I will not deny that our bodies work tremendously differently, but, again, that creates the separate-but-equal mentality that will fracture a military force in a heartbeat.

  • Heather

    Linoge, indeed. Define combat unit, and how many women have already been in combat in the “non-combat” roles to which they have been limited? It certainly is complicated, but in both directions.

  • Derek D.

    Weren’t Jessica Lynch and Lori Piestewa in non-combat units?

  • @ Heather: Unfortunately it would appear as though General Dempsey is considering simplifying the problem in the worst possible way…

    @ Derek D.: According to Wikipedia, both were logistical types.

  • CoreyR

    My problem with this is in three parts and I speak as a twelve year veteran, Airborne Infantry.
    1st. You know the US military will NEVER require the same standards of women as they do of men. C’mon! This is a no brainer. They never have, they never will, no matter what they say. If they do “implement it,” they will change it in months after they discover only a tiny handful of women can meet it. After all, it “is not fair” now is it? I am sure the ‘ruck will get “fairly” lighter for them.
    2nd. I was an Arctic Paratrooper for a good chunk of my time. Each squad had to haul an ahkio with a ten man tent, yukon stove, and all the gear for that tent and stove. It took a squad to haul the tent. Do you really imagine that women will not DEMAND separate quarters everywhere they go? If they do not, do you really think that having one or two women in a tent with eight or nine guys is ever going to work? Every time a guy bumps into one of them if is going to be “sexual harassment” and in those quarters you simply CANNOT get worked up about being on top of each other. Then, if they want their own tent, who is going to haul an extra for one or two people? It takes a whole squad to haul the one for the base squad in the first place! Arctic troops are hardly the only ones to face such situations. This is not going to work with our current “sensitivities.”

  • I did phrase my post the way I did intentionally, y’know ;).

    As a veteran, I know all too well that the standards are wildly different for men and women, and are likely to not only stay that way, but probably get worse. That is why, given the current disparity, I have a huge problem with putting women into combat roles – hell, I have a huge problem with putting any person into any role wherein they do not meet the same standards as everyone else. Weakest links break.

    If a person can pull the same load as everyone else, then by all means, they should get the chance to prove they can work alongside everyone else. If they cannot, they need to find a new profession.

    But, these days, that attitude is racist / sexist / ageist / whatever the going -ist is today.