On Future Warriors: Women in Combat

This is a guest post by Thomas Wein, War Studies grad, and an occasional commenter on this blog.

Dr. Martin van Creveld is a distinguished academic and skilled controversialist. His recent article at SWJ on women and the military, however, is neither correct nor skillful. Kings of War’s own Jack McDonald offers a critical take on the “wreck of an article”, and quotes Bill Hicks as a bonus. Here, I round up the other online reactions to both the article and to the original announcement, and trace the logical flaws of some of van Creveld’s curious arguments.

Reaction

The Small Wars Journal comments section is intermittently edifying, noting the contrary lessons of Israel, and citing a careful 2011 article arguing the opposite case by Traci Swanson and Sheila Medeiros, also on SWJ. Meanwhile, Fabius Maximus provides a handy list of background sources and further reading, and notes that this is ground van Creveld has trodden before, in an exchange in the journal Millenium:

  • “The Great Illusion: Women in the Military”, Martin van Creveld, MillenniumJournal of International Studies, 2000; 29 (subscription only here; free Scribd PDF here)
  • “`Shooting’ at the Wrong Target: A Response to Van Creveld”, Bethke Elshtain (Prof Ethics, U Chicago Divinity School), Millennium – Journal of International Studies, 2000 #29 (subscription only here; free Scribd PDF here)

Crispin Burke of Wings Over Iraq demolishes the argument using memes, contradictory quotes from van Creveld’s own work, and a comparison of the actual quality of recruits in the 1970s and today. Bing West, writing for The American Interest offers a still wrong, but more thoughtful and historically grounded, argument against including women in infantry units; he attempts to trace the dynamics of combat in the field, and looks skeptically at the reasoning behind the change. Tom Ricks’ blog hosts a succession of takes on the issue, here, here and here.

Meanwhile, Spencer Ackerman explains at Danger Room how integrating women will work in the coming years. The LA Times reports that the public support the change. Feminist blog Jezebel recalls that there have been plenty of women in combat before this announcement. And finally, The Atlantic’s Noah Berlatsky argues that plenty of feminists are pacifists, and would rather focus on keeping everyone out of combat

The arguments, such as they are

We should leave aside his limited and biased history of women in the US military, peppered as it is with lines like “[the forces] tended to roll over at the first sign of a feminist demand” – a judgment that neither feminists nor officers nor historians would recognize. Rather, we shall focus on his arguments. He offers two: that there is a causal link between the recruitment of women and the decline of the US military; that women have inherent failings that make them unsuitable soldiers.

The first argument runs thus: that there is a correlation between a decline in the US military’s fighting power and the rising proportion of women in the ranks. He explains that the reduction in fighting power is due to a reduced quality of recruits, a phenomenon occasioned by the reduced prestige of the military caused by the ‘feminization’ of the role. This is plainly hokum, with every stage questionable.

The US military, in the judgment of most analysts, can boast more fighting power than in 1945, because of the incredible increases in the quality of weaponry; defeat in Afghanistan does not prove a lack of fighting power – and if it did, the comparative decline would still be unproven. If the alleged decline in fighting power could be charted, it would most likely not correlate clearly with the rising participation of women. It is equally not clear that the quality of recruits has gone down: plenty of recruits could not read in 1945, and every generation of officers has complained that the recruits were better in some mystical past. If it could be proved that the quality of recruits has declined, it is not clear that this is due to the reduced prestige of the military; there are now more options open to an ambitious young man who does not fancy farming. Indeed, van Creveld does not demonstrate that the prestige of the military has declined; flag-waving patriotism seems about as popular as ever. And finally, if it could be proved that the prestige of the military has declined, there are countless factors that might weigh more heavily than a dubious process of ‘feminization’, from a relative decline in a diverse economy, to defeats in Vietnam, Somalia, Afghanistan and beyond, to outbreaks of indiscipline and inhumanity in Abu Ghiraib, My Lai and every atrocity in between, to the changing social mores of the 1960s and after.

The second argument holds that women make poor soldiers. He argues that once they have children, they can only be deployed within limits, without acknowledging that all soldiers can only be deployed within limits, and that the relationship between tour length and PTSD is presently the main limiting factor on deployability. He notes that many men are fitter and stronger than many women, and that women are more likely to get injured. Leaving aside the dubious medical diagnosis that women are inherently more susceptible to injury, this is a case for stringently enforced fitness criteria – not for gender-based discrimination. He notes that female retention rates are lower than male, but while he implies that this is due to some inherent quality in women – flightiness, perhaps – the more likely explanation is that women leave because they are fed up with an institution that does not allow them equal chances or equal risks. Finally, in a rhetorical move that is somewhere between the laughable and the obscene, he notes that women are less likely to die in combat than men, and writes that this because the women “have found a thousand ways to avoid going where the bullets are”. He calls them cowards, in short, because they do not die as often, when the reason they do not often die is that they are not permitted to serve in frontline roles.

On only one point does this second argument have some merit. He notes that women get pregnant, putting ‘one-tenth’ of them out of action. He does not say how he arrived at the rather high figure, but this is certainly an additional complexity that will have to be adjusted to. Yet because he gives equality between the sexes no value, every obstacle seems insurmountable. We, who start from an assumption that equality has inherent value, need not be so easily deterred. Van Creveld makes a constructive point at last, but it is not a clincher, and to demonstrate that all female participation represents “a gross waste of resources” will require rather more evidence than he adduces.

Finally, van Creveld includes a curious coda, in which he seems to suggest that since men have done the fighting since the Iliad, and since women make up a slight majority of the population, it is really their turn to take up arms. It is not clear how this supports his argument.

One would not normally engage with a man who implies that the cause of the Tailhook scandal was the presence of women, rather than the presence of rapists. But Martin van Creveld has had a glittering career. He is listened to in many quarters. It is therefore gratifying to read that even his admirers see this piece for the bigoted tosh it is.

Tom Wein is a defence analyst, an alumnus of KCL War Studies, and a feminist. His writing is collected here.

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39 thoughts on “On Future Warriors: Women in Combat

  1. Oh, Lord, I can’t understand anything from your British (North style, I assume) texts and snobe too over-complicated linguistic style(no offence, I beg you please!!), whenever I got tired or I stop being ‘in my moods’ anymore…God, what a not-easy text to read, for me, contrary I’m a best-top still not-native English speaker in Bucharest and Romania, here!!!!!!!!
    Your devoted, Amy N.

  2. W4rlord says:

    I beg your pardon but this Bravo Sierra is NOT about women participating in firefights, draggin’ 100+ lbs Bergens and so on.

    It is about the greatest social engineering project since communism. Van Creveld sees it better than anybody. Men and women are equal, yet different. Period. Birthing babies, nurturing them is a female task. Killing people is a male one. Period.

    You are completely wrong if you think you can change human nature. Trust me I now how it was in the communist states. They all spoke of the new ‘socialist type of humans’ and at the end it was the greed, the selfishness, and the hubris of these carefully bred and educated ‘special socialist’ types, that utterly destroyed this, otherwise sympathic idea.

    • Tom Wein says:

      Like I say, I can imagine good arguments against women in the military. They’re unlikely to convince me, but I can imagine them. Screaming COMMUNISM isn’t one of them.

    • Dear WarLord no.4, thank you for your comments which are so close to my private SPECIAL-AND-UNIQUE ROMANIAN views, indeed, still let me ask you sms. very straight, too. All in all, please forgive me, but are you a handicapped? And I’m asking you these because 2 reasons I have: first, I’ll be 34 the end of the spring and I live in the Capital of Romania as I’m both single and a not-corrupted native Romanian(with no money but with full and very long and trustworthy honest Academical studies indeed), and secondly you say ‘you know a child carried out by a machine is not human’.
      All in all, contrary I know there are politicians and administrators and neighbours(I hate them all, with few exceptions) to know everything I do on the internet(opposite to my will and legal status and human rights too), your statements remember me so much, of videos which had been created by mr. Rowan Atkinson himself..and of the number 4 used by the Romanian policy of a handicapped, and by the handicapped in ‘The Sanctuary’ too..

    • Technical independent diplomat on YouTube says:

      Would you please forgive me for i reply to you so late, in the same time i must make you aware that i,m an experimented and very ‘well-breeded’ female of 35, and that makes me know a little more than you do, about the issue. In other words, what you say about the communism and the rise of the political ‘Left’ with its unhappy consequences for the humankind is real according to me, you..and other professionals in the Academic discipline of Foreign Affairs’, too. Contrary to these, your proposal of ‘turning back to nature’ may be as dangerous as the Left/Socialist or Republican, Conservative and/or Royal ideas, too.For the simplest reason the turnout of the industrial revolution and its consequences in what we erroneously name ‘Capitalism’ today, had gone mad.#All in all, we all know there are only a very few upright mind and spirit-healthy people living today who can demonstrate their mental health by all medical and scientifical means and tests too, but do you know how many from them do their tests regularly, and why? And what about the others who were nevero obliged to do some complex medical and neurologic research to test their health, and they,ll be permitted to consider themselves ‘healthy and good people’, contrary they’re not!???? Would you please give me a solution for making the good laws only, win…Always.-.

  3. W4rlord says:

    I bet you can imagine, and I am also sure you are not likely to accept any.

    Why on earth has not been any female, or mixed fighting units in military history? There were some states in the direst need.

    G. I Jane is a REALLY good movie. This issue is as much about (if not more) some politicians’ and dreamers’ desires as about getting equal rights.

    There are some hardcoded or genetic postures like it or not. Humans are NOT that much above animals, we still have instincts, and other illogical behaviour motives. After tens of thousands of evolution it is men who have fighting instincts and women who have nurturing instincts. And no cruel or serial killer females or mom-dads do NOT change it.

    And at the end of the day who can be sure that there will be no more wars of attrition? If all or most women are fighting who will be mothers? (you know a child carried out by a machine is not human!).

    • Ahem…

      First of all, just because something is old, it doesn’t logically follow that it is better… the spear being a case in point. At the very best, we can conclude that it may have been appropriate for the time.

      Next: the fighting instinct is one of four primordial reflexes (as Pavlov had operationalised it), or the Four Fs; the other three being feeding, flight and making jiggy. There is nothing to suggest that these reflexes are gender specific and as it is, there is a strong argument to be made that creatures, regardless of gender, are more likely to adopt flight when confronted by a fight/flight scenario.* However, I will concede that during an intra-species dispute on the matter of territory or ‘making jiggy’, the males of the species are more likely to posture than the females (the howler monkey being but one example).** That conceded, (with the possible exception of David Grossman), nobody accepts posturing as a primordial reflex. J.P. Scott on the other hand, proved that intra-species aggression can be taught to individual creatures – to any gender and for even the most docile and sociable species. It is a simple matter of conditioning (once again in the Pavlovian sense) – repeatedly proving to that individual subject that aggression is a viable response to social situations.

      Finally: nobody is suggesting that all of the women would set off for war now. I also observe a tension between the previously argued physical weakness and retention problems of females, (man, am I glad I am not MvC), and the now implied anticipation that all women will not only automatically be eligible for combat duty, but also be forced to join up and then be marched towards the guns for a slaughter-fest that will render this species single-gendered as a result. We are not about to go extinct because of this initiative. At our current head-count of more than 7 billion, I think that it may be a while before that becomes a problem…

      * From various studies and experiments, we have a reasonable understanding of the neurotransmitters required for fight/flight responses for various species (being serotonin for the former and octopamine for the latter – dopamine acting as an inhibitor to either) and their flow. There is currently nothing to suggest that the distribution and flow of these transmitters differ from one gender to the next, ergo: the ‘passivity’ (hahaha) of the females of this species is in all probability due to social conditioning as well.
      ** As a general rule, this observation is reversed when there are young present in the herd – the elephant being but one example. Aggression is aggression – the rationale for it is detail.

    • W4rlord says:

      Oh man, this issue is NOT about scientific verification of a concept. By far not.

      It is about core values. What is more, it is in my eyes one of the final steps of creating an unnatural, inhumane society. The sacrosanctum of progress cannot be questioned, all the things its hight priest(ess)es say ex cathedra are right and therefore true. Ore vice versa.

      While I cling to most achievements of our 2 000 years old judeo-christian culture, I cannot and will not sit idle, when it is threatened, either by outer (such as muslim) or by inner (such as extreme liberalism like above) factors. And before you start a strawman argumentation, equal rights is one of them. But things (wo)men CAN do they should not be things MUST be done. If equal rights are so g**damn*d important why have different championships in sport? Why are there no female race car drivers? Why men cant have babies?

      Maybe we are different? Und es ist gut so. – says the homosexual Berlin mayor and I agree with him.

    • Oh man, this issue is NOT about scientific verification of a concept. By far not.

      Sorry W4rlord – but it was not I who had led this thread into the dark recesses of science – I merely followed your lead and am picking up those instances of bad science… you know – stuff like After tens of thousands of evolution it is men who have fighting instincts…, or MvC’s assertion that women are physically and mentally inferior to men. They are not so genetically – they are so by social choice, a conditioning that society subjects females to from birth.

      But it does not have to be that way – these achievements of our 2 000 years old judeo-christian culture…, according to MacCulloch, Diarmaid (2009), A History of Christianity, (London: Penguin), only really started with the conversion of St Augustine of Hippo to the Christian faith in 386 AD. It was he, who during the process of the self-cleansing of his pre-conversion life, associated sin with sex, celibacy with virtue and women (Eve) as the raison of Man’s Fall from Grace.

      Now, as I have stated before – just because it is old, it does not automatically mean that it is better. Far be it for me to dictate to others whether or not they should subscribe to the guilt-originating values of a man who had lived such a long time ago that most people who subscribe to his values do not even know about him (did you?). But I will tell you this much: St Augustine treated the women in his life like dirt. In the spirit of the teachings of Christ, there are significant parts that he simply did not get. I am not suggesting that you should read Dan Brown for edification on this part (I am not a fan), but do yourself a favour: read the Gospels again, and make a note of all the instances where Christ had treated any women by any other way than love. Please feel free to point these out to me.

    • W4rlord says:

      There it goes again. Strawman again. Who said women are inferior to men. They are less likely (much less) to be a good combatant. As simple as that.

      You cannot unmake 1000s of years social development, and there is no need to do so.

    • You cannot unmake 1000s of years social development, and there is no need to do so.

      I believe that a) we can and b) we already are.

      As for the need to do so, the only constant about values is that they are never constant – history is replete with examples.

    • W4rlord says:

      Wow this “debating culture” of the so called “progressive westerners” never stops to amaze me. It is another sign of our cultural deline. No wonder we are in a deep crisis.

    • Dear W4rlord,

      You may not have noticed, but this is not a debate on whether we can unmake 1000s of years social development… – the ban has been lifted and the path for women towards first-line roles has now been cleared.

      Caldwell originally stated: Theory cannot be accepted as conclusive when practice points the other way… and though yours can hardly be described as a theory, Caldwell’s statement remains applicable – the converse of your statement is being implemented in practice as I type.

    • W4rlord says:

      It is YET to see if this was a wise decision or a folly such as K-class submarines or the light battlecruisers of the Glorious class, to name a few.

      Oh my, do you REALLY think that if it is “progressive” it cannot be anything else than a success?

      Were not this experience be paid for by blood, I would like to say: I’d like to be there when you are proven to be wrong.

    • First of all, please let me remember you ‘the social developement’ gtoday means women atre generally paid less for the same job of a man, worldwide. What is more, if you were talking about me, I remember you I’m not a military and I don’t inted to become one..as a man with combat training experience since his teenage is, at least. And I’m sorry for you that you cannot easily comprehend, my diplomatical communications, as they are indeed. But I’d love to be helped with the gun-shooting, instead. Do you think I could start making it, soon?

    • W4rlord says:

      Like I said equal rights, equal salary, I have no problem with that. But NO double standards. If men and women are THAT equal, then no discrimination in ANYthing.

      No different championships, no different deadlines for retirement and all these stuff. I do not mind if you MUST teach gender philosophy for small children aged 3, but I WANT an option to stay out of it.

    • Oh, I see now: you’re 3 or you’re over-concerned about the health of your mother…aunt..even father and whatever it takes. Please excuse me, I really did not mean to offend you with my(not paid @all) official concerns over the policy and foreign affairs, with their developments in diplomacy and military(international and national security, in all). But you should wait until you start going to school, in the meanwhile and I’ll be glad to communicate with you on-line too, after you graduate your Academy of Military studies, first..maybe you’ll also change your policy, afterthat…Good luck!

    • W4rlord says:

      Wow, that was rude! Even from a Romanian. Especially since you do NOT know anything about me.

    • Please excuse me if I’ve ever commited errors in talking to you, Sir, with both the diplomatic and the military protocol too. And contrary I’m a diplomat, my latest studies and examinations had been in the Business Protocol(the American but the British one, as they are known to be different, when the law protocols in these countries are, too). Contrary to that, from both my diplomatic and political-military communications, you should have understood I’ve always been honest and..in the policy of foreign affairs as your British collaboratives from ‘Kings of War’do, on-line too, the honesty will be more important for the inter-national security, than the military or diplomatic strategies of communication, themselves.
      In these circumstances, I recall you my ‘Diplomatic professional/public communications’ by SquirrelAmy, on YouTube, with the details about my 2 blogs, along with my channel, too.
      All in all, would you please forgive me (Your Excellency or Sir or Mr. or Mr. General or Col.), but I’m not fully and officially engaged in the political communications, as the retarded in the Romanian Government and other institutions are, too, in the same time I’ve had, the continous and repetitive ugliest and rude and most brutal experiences with the political representatives and members of their families who rule over my Romania, nowadays, as they’ve started to, since decades ago; and they’ve been also completed with the actions of the international people worldwide, who have never been far from the rude and abnormal and perverted and corrupted or stupid and mean and primitive actions, of the Romanian persons(with their gypsies) too. But..we were talking about war and killing here, am I right?
      (Add note: would you please be so kind and watch my YouTube channel and read the entire content of my blogs too, and I’ll be happy to show you I havent and I’m still not permitted to make official war, by both common people in different social positions and parties, worldwide).. And I’ll be glad to find out more about your real nature, in order not to commit any errors in the law protocol and moralty, first…

    • ..with their gypsies and other ethnic(like the Jew, the Muslims and all other not-pure Romanian are too). In the end, the real military and strategic alike efforts I made, in my not-human still more military female life of 34, are the first to stand against the ‘professional religions’ of some Swedish(for example) former Ambassadors who slept with Romanian young women, contrary they’ve been already married or simply engaged, indeed. And this not-Roman Catholic more is similar to what is named ‘communism’ in policy, so I don’t believe you should be excused for your foreign behaviour to me, in this intimate manner, first. Best regards..

    • Excuse me, but it looks like you pretend to be a Christian-jew, as you have stated before. But did you know there are 3 sorts of Christian convictions-practices-religions or whatever you may call them, in the world?
      And me, for example, I growned up in one but I’ve been educated and I developed myself, in another from these 3, while afterthat, I have discovered from my professional and law and political and diplomatic and military studies first, Jesus had not been a Jew as many in Israel and elswhere too, forced us to believe.
      All in all, you’ve mentioned the word ‘different’ ,in the speech of a normal..still different man, who happens to be a gay politician, YOU say.
      Contrary to that, in my view he’s neither ‘normal’ nor ‘different’ from the normal developed bodies like the majority on Earth still may be(I really hope for that). And in my Western(Romanian/Balkanic/still European and NATO member’s )eyes, he’ll only be a handicapped and abnormal and maybe evil person too, just like the perverses and (sexually)perverted people are, worldwide. And I’m sorry you’ve diverted me from the topic(or maybe, not), but I guess you intend to turn out all here, to that famous ‘freedom of expression’ issue and ‘the patient’s rights’ in the U.S., recently, am I right?

  4. Dear WarLord no.4, thank you for your comments which are so close to my private SPECIAL-AND-UNIQUE ROMANIAN views, indeed, still let me ask you sms. very straight, too. All in all, please forgive me, but are you a handicapped? And I’m asking you these because 2 reasons I have: first, I’ll be 34 the end of the spring and I live in the Capital of Romania as I’m both single and a not-corrupted native Romanian(with no money but with full and very long and trustworthy honest Academical studies indeed), and secondly you say ‘you know a child carried out by a machine is not human’.
    All in all, contrary I know there are politicians and administrators and neighbours(I hate them all, with few exceptions) to know everything I do on the internet your statements remember me so much of videos which had been created by mr. Rowan Atkinson himself..and the number 4 in the Romanian policy of a handicapped and on ‘The Sanctuary’ too..

    • W4rlord says:

      While I am eastern european too, I am not handicapped (at th same time feminists probaly disagree). ;-)
      In my nick 4 stays for A, and number 4 is for death in asian mythology.

    • Dear Sir, I really thank you so much for your insurances related to the number 4(because I’m so badly stressed by this large nmb. of Romanian people who believe they’re honest and smart and healthy too, and by the handicapped who were or are paid to make policy for normal people like I am.
      What is more, you’re aware I have similar views with you, but I’ve been left both single(with no intimate and private experiences which is the worst thing that could occur to a smart woman like I am), and jobless too, since…8/9 years ago!?
      In the end, it will be enough to watch those Russian and Ukrainian in FEMA and other feministic organisations worldwide too, to disagree with the modern concepts of feminism, indeed.
      Contrary to all these, please let me assure you I’m a rather more ‘protocol still not strictly protocol educated female’ than a conservative or traditionalist, as you seem to be. And contrary I’m 34 only, please let me assure you it will be not only the Academical honest education I have, to make me stand over the middle class of society(in some papers only, but in money and full political and financial status too). And that means I’ve experienced myself and G.I.Jane may become very real in more female cases you could imagine about, contrary this will only occur in so little cases, as the biology will always make us different and this is the reason for diplomacy exists, too. In the end, thank you so much indeed for your reply to me, and please let me complain I hate I’m not permitted to communicate with people like you are ‘live’, indeed. Let’s have a nice day!! Amy Neagoe, ‘Diplomatic public/professional communications’ by SquirrelAmy, on YouTube

  5. W4rlord says:

    Do not let yourself be decieved Amy. Progress is important but not more than staying human. If you take a look at all the world’s religion you will find that eachj share the same common values. Family, love, tolerance and so on. My grandfather used to say to me: My son we are the real liberals, because we do NOT hate those who disagree with us.

    Neoliberalism, or what you see of it today, has turned against the mankind, just as communism and fascism, and nazism have done. An attractive idea for the disillusioned masses at the beginning and an oppressive monster at the end. It is only a matter of time, and a short one at it, until it becomes obvious to most people in the Western World. Humans have the same basic desires since we’ve come down the trees. Security, to be loved, a secure future and so on, you know Maslow pyramid. Liberalism started like promising more of it yet delivered much less.

    • First of all, thank you so much for your empathy,but as the world has never changed and that happened because both the policies(with the international marketing and the diplomacy economics too), and the brains worldwide, which cannot be ‘cleared out’ only by educational means, anymore. And you say, dear Sir ‘It is only a matter of time, and a short one at it, until it becomes obvious to most people in the Western World.’ But, come on..I’ll be in my 34 very soon, and I hate to be part from the same ‘groups’ worldwide who did nothing else in the past, but destroying my honest and willing life, indeed!!So..I don’t care about others, but me(www.myproblemsinromaniaandabroad.wordpress.com; Diplomatic Professional/Public Communications of squirrelamy, on YouTube and the blog with my name, too)
      All in all, I’ve always thought and felt like you do, now : ‘Humans have the same basic desires since we’ve come down the trees’, but there are the majority from us, still loving to live in the trees, in the same time there are only a few from these all, to work hard and always do their best, in order to get off the trees in which they continue to be kept in…So I don’t believe in these general medical assumptions anymore and I prefer to watch SF movies, like the children do, instead..
      All in all, contrary I share the democratic and liberal general views, all I notice politicians from both genders, should have been rised up in an Advanced military education, first, but also combined with a high realistic and so very honest mind education, too.. In these circumstances, maybe plagiarism, fake degreese, ordinary-life and mass-media perversities and other dishonesties and ‘political communication techniques’ didn’t exist….

  6. Callum Lane says:

    It does seem strange that we are integrating women into combat roles, but not integrating women into all sporting roles.

    Tom Wein in his article mentions female retention rates. The most likely reason for low female retention rates is that they tend to get married and have children. Certainly of all my female peers at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst who commissioned with me, the only two still serving have no children, most left within 5 years on getting married.

    Women in combat roles can be made to work, although I believe that it will have a considerable impact on the ethos of such units. The track record of progressive western liberal regimes is that of gender neutrality and not of absolute standards so I suspect there will be a drive towards this. We have already seen this in combat support units.
    My biggest concern however remains in what this says about us as a society.

    • W4rlord says:

      Sports, good question. Have you heard of double standards? Well this case is a shining example. Coincidence or not it is mostly applied by liberals.

      I have seen some GI Jane type women (they have had a long list of crimes, and jailed for many years), I bet they were tougher than most men. But they were hardly anybody to be called a lady. Or a woman. Or even a human. Cruel, brutal, selfish without a trace of emotions or thought. And yes the jail has not made them significantly worse.

      As of our society. Read the above discussion and see for yourself where is this society headed.

  7. MA says:

    Civilians always like to make war seem as complex as possible. This blog is the best example. The problem however is simple, as is the solution.

    In combat, the physical and emotional are tightly bound. It is why the very best infantry units pride themselves on the rigorous physical requirements neccessary to be inducted. A female will know on the battlefield that if her fourteen stone section leader is hit she will not be able to hoist him over her shoulder and run him two hundred metres to cover. Her section leader and all other members of her section and platoon also know this. This physical discrepency will have a huge impact on the emotional strength of that whole organisation. As will the inevitable lowering of physical standards required for induction. Unit morale, the most important weapon on a battlefield will begin to decay before the first blows are even exchanged.

    As i said, simplicity is key in combat, and the emotions running through the heads of the soldiers should be kept as simple as possible and usually are through the confidence imbued by rigorous training and doctrine. Throwing women into this equation will only sap from the strength of our forces to satisfy the purely theoretical plane upon which almost all civilians exist when it comes to war and combat. Van Crevald has it right, this is an ongoing social experiment, for an avaricious and obese society wallowing in relative luxury and comfort.

    No women in combat roles as a general rule is the simple solution.

    • A female will know on the battlefield that if her fourteen stone section leader is hit she will not be able to hoist him over her shoulder and run him two hundred metres to cover.

      Two points: one physical and one cultural…

      Physical: Of course she will not be able to do so prior to that rigorous training and doctrine. That is the point of it. How many guys do you know who can sprint 200 m with 88 kg over the shoulders prior to rigorous training and doctrine? In fact, I know of quite a number who’d not be able to do so even after rigorous training and doctrine.

      Cultural: And while we are all sprinting around with section leaders over our shoulders, who is fighting the enemy again? The best way to ensure the safe and rapid casevac of an injured buddy is to defeat the enemy and consolidate the area. We do that first – now that is simplicity. So fight through and let the reserve (in-depth) section deal with casualties (and PoWs). That way, nobody from the skirmish line has to run around with anybody on their shoulders and we can all just get on with the primary object – to defeat the opponent.

      The Civilian

    • MA says:

      Of course she will not be able to do so prior to that rigorous training and doctrine. That is the point of it. How many guys do you know who can sprint 200 m with 88 kg over the shoulders prior to rigorous training and doctrine? In fact, I know of quite a number who’d not be able to do so even after rigorous training and doctrine.

      Who said anything about this being prior to a rigorous training? Women generally cannot do this. Men can. It is a requirement during training for units like the Royal Marines for example. You seem to have completely missed my point. Which was that the physical and emotional are tightly bound, which is why the very best infantry units pride themselves on physical requirments prior to induction. The many men I am sure you know cannot carry out such a task is why they would not be serving in such a unit. Which in turn, stripped of the fat possess such a high morale and confidence in one another. Forcing women upon them by lowering physical standards which would have to happen would destroy this. (Even in such physically undemanding services as the Royal Navy and Air Force, the discrepency between physical requirements for men and women is huge and frankly, embarassing.)

      Cultural: And while we are all sprinting around with section leaders over our shoulders, who is fighting the enemy again? The best way to ensure the safe and rapid casevac of an injured buddy is to defeat the enemy and consolidate the area. We do that first – now that is simplicity. So fight through and let the reserve (in-depth) section deal with casualties (and PoWs). That way, nobody from the skirmish line has to run around with anybody on their shoulders and we can all just get on with the primary object – to defeat the opponent.

      Again you completely miss my point. Forget the tactical armchair lecture you have given above and go back and read my post. I am comenting on the emotional strength of that fighting unit and its connection to the physical. The morale and emotional strength of that unit is the most powerful weapon it posesses. The ability to throw your oppo over your shoulder and haul them out of harms way to medical aid is a central tenet of the confidence you share in one another. This confidence can range from the above example to others such as knowing as you advance the section laying down suppressing fire will do so accurately and skillfully and vice versa. It is an issue of complete trust and confidence in one another, the symbiosis of which forges an efficient and deadly combat unit. Forget any strawman on tactical variables for any of your imagined hollywood warry scenarios and understand my point which concerns the morale.

    • You state: Women generally cannot do this. Men can. But then you continue: The many men I am sure you know cannot carry out such a task is why they would not be serving in such a unit. What percentage of RM hopefuls get binned during selection and training? And what percentage of these are males again? Are we talking SF or are we talking combat units in general – your RM example points towards the former? And why do we have to assume that standards need to be dropped? What would your objection be (if any), if the standards were left in place and enforced regardless of gender?

      You state: The ability to throw your oppo over your shoulder and haul them out of harms way to medical aid is a central tenet of the confidence you share in one another. And that is why I specifically tagged my second point as cultural – where I am from, the central tenet of confidence in the basic infantry unit is that the man next to me will advance when I do. I still like mine better.

      And then you state: Forget any strawman on tactical variables for any of your imagined hollywood warry scenarios and understand my point which concerns the morale. It seems that you did not get my point either. A number of posters to this blog are serving or have served, (as have I), or have worked alongside the forces, even in combat zones. To swing by a forum of this nature on the assumption that we are all civilians and only civilians (and presumably lack some core understanding as the result of a limit in combat experience, ready to be illuminated by someone who has?), is a bit myopic (to be kind and considerate). For whatever my experience, I can assure you that it was not gleaned from Hollywood, nor acquired in an armchair. What is more, my strawman on tactical variables (what do you call your oppo over your shoulder then – standard practice?) is the antithesis of the general Hollywood fare. But you know that already, don’t you?

  8. MA says:

    You state: Women generally cannot do this. Men can. But then you continue: The many men I am sure you know cannot carry out such a task is why they would not be serving in such a unit. What percentage of RM hopefuls get binned during selection and training? And what percentage of these are males again? Are we talking SF or are we talking combat units in general – your RM example points towards the former? And why do we have to assume that standards need to be dropped? What would your objection be (if any), if the standards were left in place and enforced regardless of gender?

    The example does not point to SF at all, merely those units, the excellent espirit de corps of whom is based in a large part on the very high standards of physical ability based upon battlefield reality. If the standards were left in place and enforced regardless of gender there would be no issue. But that will not happen, has not happened with induction of women in all other non-combat roles because this is not about ability or efficiency it is about a social experiment and the ever growing disconnect between civilian and military spheres of life. (And by military I refer to the reality of the ground and not the theoretical pondering of intellectuals.

    And then you state: Forget any strawman on tactical variables for any of your imagined hollywood warry scenarios and understand my point which concerns the morale. It seems that you did not get my point either. A number of posters to this blog are serving or have served, (as have I), or have worked alongside the forces, even in combat zones. To swing by a forum of this nature on the assumption that we are all civilians and only civilians (and presumably lack some core understanding as the result of a limit in combat experience, ready to be illuminated by someone who has?), is a bit myopic (to be kind and considerate). For whatever my experience, I can assure you that it was not gleaned from Hollywood, nor acquired in an armchair. What is more, my strawman on tactical variables (what do you call your oppo over your shoulder then – standard practice?) is the antithesis of the general Hollywood fare. But you know that already, don’t you?

    This answer is merely dodging my point. You can intepret civilian not merely in the literal sense but as an individual who has little to no combat experience and so must project their theories onto an idea of what they believe combat is actually like or what others tell them it is like. Why don’t we call it a pedestrian mentality and these people pedestrians. Merely serving in the armed forces does not mean you have seen combat, or have had any great exposure to it, in fact it can mean quite the opposite. This debate concerns women in combat roles. So the debate should centre upon combat which is the whole point of such roles. Inevitably, whether the pedestrian likes it or not, such theories will be tested within the reality of combat and the integration of women into effective fighting units that are able to close with and kill the enemy whilst incurring as little damage to themselves as possible. This requires the physical fortitude to carry out both the former and latter activities. If this is lacking and the unit posesses a weak link, then the morale of that unit, which exists for these activities will be severely jepordised. You could compare it to an aircraft, a certain component of which may be weaker than the rest and jepordise the integrity of the airframe during stressfull manuevre.

    • If the standards were left in place and enforced regardless of gender there would be no issue. But that will not happen…

      We do not know that for sure. Why don’t we agree to wait for the jury to return?

      You can intepret civilian not merely in the literal sense but as an individual who has little to no combat experience and so must project their theories onto an idea of what they believe combat is actually like or what others tell them it is like.

      Should we only voice an opinion here if we can back it up with evidence of combat experience in a manner of “show me yours and I’ll show you mine”?

      Back to the debate: can women be trained to the same level of endurance, knowledge and skills as men for the purpose of combat? I believe they can, and that it is a matter of training schedules and standards and instructors. I do not believe that all women could be trained to such required standards (just as not all men could be trained to these same standards – but we’ve already determined that), and the drop-out percentage during training and deployment will be higher among women than men. So be it. But if a woman wants to serve her country in this capacity, and she can “walk the walk”, then why not? As long as the will is apparent, the ability can be taught (as can aggression). Combat is not Zen… it is, as you state, very simple.

  9. MA says:

    Should we only voice an opinion here if we can back it up with evidence of combat experience in a manner of “show me yours and I’ll show you mine”?

    The voicing of an opinion and its value are to different things. An opinion backed by combat experience is far more valuable because this is war my friend. This is exactly my point about the theoretical applied to reality. If you have ever served in a frontline infantry regiment you will know that is a hive of grunting, aggressive, sometimes brutal testosterone. It is necessary because battle is life and death, it is blood and guts, horrific violence and the apotheosis of the human experience, the wielding of force on the most primal level. It is not the air conditioned debating chamber or the coffee shop, it is not punctuation and logical fallacy, nor is it rules and regulation. It is uncomfortable and it is unfair and it is certainly not civilised. It is survival of the fittest. So yes it is about phallic comparisons and thuggish competition that is exactly the point. Battle is not a polite debate and never has been.

    Back to the debate: can women be trained to the same level of endurance, knowledge and skills as men for the purpose of combat? I believe they can, and that it is a matter of training schedules and standards and instructors. I do not believe that all women could be trained to such required standards (just as not all men could be trained to these same standards – but we’ve already determined that), and the drop-out percentage during training and deployment will be higher among women than men. So be it. But if a woman wants to serve her country in this capacity, and she can “walk the walk”, then why not? As long as the will is apparent, the ability can be taught (as can aggression). Combat is not Zen… it is, as you state, very simple.

    Then the debate becomes whether we lower the physical standards for women in combat roles. Or we throw huge resources at finding the miniscule percentage who can meet the same standards as the men.. and then convince them to join the infantry, which every serving female I know would not dream of doing. It just seems so complicated.

    For me it comes down to this. The life of an effective infantryman is one of intense, you could even say brutal physicality. It requires intimidating presence and purpose. A unique type of endurance, and the ability to take heavy physical punishment. The majority of these things occur not in the battle itself but in the hunting out and closing with the enemy. My argument is in no way a denial of female bravery or professionalism. It is about the inherent physical inequality of male and female and the effect this will have on the morale of infantry units, this being perhaps the most important weapon they posess in carrying out their purpose.

    I think it is most telling that women cannot and do not even compete at the same standard as men in the highest level of truly physical team sports, and yet we are talking about them having a role in combat?

    It doesn’t matter. These are all just words, and mean nothing. Only action will answer this question. It is just infuriating that the most vociferous proponents of this theory will not be taking part in the brutal experiment when it eventually occurs.

  10. W4rlord says:

    Based on the above comments one question surfaces.

    Why turn the military world upside down for a handful of able women? Just for the sake of change?

    Keep your change.

    • Technical independent diplomat on YouTube says:

      What is the military world, if you don’t mind??You mean killing people and living in the hardest conditions for a period of time, or what??? ‘I’m asking you because we all kill each other daily within our city/urban worlds and nobody cares about…and we,re doing these as nobody has been born equal and nobody will ever be identical with another person, contrary to the ‘Left’ thinking which has the Communism as its ancestor, indeed.But don’t you see i’ll be Right, in your TV shows??? People in other countries have started to pay and to be paid for watching ‘deadly live T.V.shows’, so the attempts of the Catholic Church to abolish the death penalty may be useless, in this politized and economic world today…And what is more, please be honest with me: haven,t you ever felt the thought to kill a person who made you an enormous injustice, for so many times? What sort of people do you believe the intelligence officers and the military are, if not ordinary bodies with smarter brains which make them learn to shoot others dead, in their schools???

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