Ed's Blog

"Some people know everything, but that's all they know."

WOMAN IN COMBAT: The Long-term Implications

The U.S. Armed Forces are on the verge of allowing women to serve in ground combat units beneath the brigade level. Women already are serving and dying (over 110 in Iraq and Afghanistan) in many hazardous military jobs. They serve as fighter, bomber and helicopters pilots; and they serve in ground combat-support units that put them in harm’s way. Why shouldn’t they serve in front-line combat units? (More)


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13 Responses

  1. I support an all volunteer force that includes women. The fact that even combat support and combat service support in which women serve, including as commanders (e.g., Military Police), has already resulted in significant combat action and consequential deaths, wounds, and captures is as much a factor in support total and complete equality for women to be assigned to infantry units, and that should include Special Forces and Rangers.

  2. mikey says:

    You are right Ed, women are serving in positions of great danger. The current situation that the Army finds itself in combat is different from many years ago. It is not a high intensity conflict and requires all to serve as infantrymen. I have served with women and most of them can serve with me anytime but there are some physical limitations that women can not do. As an artilleryman, I don’t think women can pick up 100 lbs shells nor could the ruck 10 miles with 60 lbs or more. But I’m with you Ed, cheers to men and women in our military.

  3. John Moseley says:

    Let them go/do what they want voluntarily….no draft into combat units. My experience with women soldiers in combat units has alwasys been good.

  4. Bob says:

    Women serving in ground combat has always been a subject of controversy. If that is what they choose in today’s all volunteer military, so be it. In the past, before certain new concepts were adopted by the military, they were thoroughly tested. New concepts, ideas, vehicles, aircraft and weapons are tested and proven to be effective before they are adopted, and the use of women in direct ground combat should be too. I have no problem with the concept as long as it is proven to be successful and doesn’t pose any additional danger to troops of either gender. Unfortunately, an on the job test is the only way to really find out.
    We fought against women soldiers in Vietnam that were effective in direct and indirect combat roles.

  5. Bob Hoelle says:

    I have no problem with women serving in ground combat if that is what they want. This isn’t a survival game or track meet competing against men though. The idea has always been a controversial one and should be tested as the military does every other new weapon, aircraft, or field concept. Unfortunately an on the job test is the only real one. Just extended periods of time in certain combat environments have tested the combat troop’s stamina, morale, health, and hygiene in addition to the actual combat. I say go for it so long as it doesn’t pose an additional danger for friendly troops of either gender.

    • EWRoss says:

      Actually, it wasn’t your fault. I shouldn’t have to approve your comments each time, but for some reason your first post got hung up waiting for my approval. My apology.

    • mikey says:

      Lets put aside the fact that women can do the same job as men. How about the fact that they are mothers, not saying that fathers are less important. I personally would have difficulty having a female soldier die next to me, knowing she is a mother.

  6. Bob Hoelle says:

    Sorry about the double post, I thought the first one didn’t make it.

  7. (Mr.) Whitney Galbraith says:

    One man’s studied opinion.

    Leave the Military Alone

    The Gazette, April 1, 2010

    Mr. Laugesen, in his applause of Defense Secretary Gates’ relaxing of “don’t ask, don’t tell” (“Gates weakens ban on gays,” The Gazette, March 27), shows a fatal lack of understanding of and respect for the social culture and personal imperatives that enable our armed forces to achieve what they have in our history and for which they should be highly honored, not subjected to the fashionable political agendas of the day. The military should not be casually tossed off as just another component of society.
    That military culture, Mr. Laugesen, has always been a cut above much of the rest of American society in its individual discipline, group cohesiveness and personal deportment, without which we would have no effective military at all.
    To suggest that a military member’s sex habits, and by implication his or her personal behavior more broadly, don’t matter is worse than naive – it is foolhardy. To imply that a soldier, sailor or airman should be held to no higher standards than other members of society and that no more need be expected of him or her is to indulge in a contempt for the military profession that is patently destructive.
    Service in the military is not a ”right” that may be exercised by all – it never has been. A commitment to military service is prima facie evidence of a person’s willingness to rise above much of society, a dedication to accomplish what others cannot, or don’t choose to, and that demands a very close affinity to an respect for his comrades that must stand the test of challenges that you, Mr. Laugesen, and most Americans will never have to face.
    As a young officer in the U. S. Navy, now decades ago, I held a collateral duty as Summary Court Martial officer, a typical offense for which was a young sailor coming down with the “clap” and for which a typical punishment was loss of pay and a reduction in rating. This was not so much for moral reasons as it was to drive home the imperative that when a crew member is medically sidelined for whatever reason, someone else would be required to do his job for him – violating the most sacred trust of military service. We have now seen a corrosion of this interdependency with pregnant, front-line women in combat. That is evidence enough that we need to leave the military alone and to stop inflicting our social experiments on it and allow it to do the job we ask and expect of it.

    Whitney Galbraith
    Colorado Springs
    CO 719-633-2740

    • Gale says:

      You make excellent points rarely raised by Sec Gates or the talking heads of the news media. Thank you for your service.
      As a women, I believe it is time we do see women in combat positions for which they have volunteered. I certainly hope women do not look at this as a “right” to serve, but as acknowledging the same call to service which other Americans feel when they enlist in the military. That said, I do feel if this priviledge is awarded, it should be backed intensely by anyone in a command position without the discord and danger experienced from unit members by the first women allowed into service. Discipline needs to be severe and rapid for anyone attacking women in any position in the military. Military court marshalls for dissenters as well as mandatory 10 yr brig sentences for anyone not honoring the decision.
      I agree with other comments that combat positions should be voluntary, but more for the preservation of family units. The military needs to do a better job of helping families when both parents serve willingly or even in circumstances where a single parent wishes to serve, but events beyond their control change after they volunteer. Surely, a military with the excellence and brilliance of the American military can add a few mediators to help members deal with unexpected family issues that leave children without caretakers. Solving such issues would ease the burden on both women and men with combat deployment issues.
      As far as dealing with pregnant, front-line women in combat, that is a decision to be solely made by the women on whom that life depends. Pregnancy is an issue which we can decide for ourselves. Hopefully, most of us have the common sense not to be on the front lines after our stomachs prevent our ability to take cover in a foxhole.

  8. EWRoss says:

    Reposted from LinkedIn Group: Defense VIPs


    I am concerned with the constant social experiments that are imposed on the military. As a retired cannon and fire support guy, in both light and heavy forces, and a combet veteran, I’ll tell you that women generally cannot manage the physical demands of Combat Arms. I know that is not politically correct and will cause outrage, but you know the argument…100 lb ruck sacks, 95 lb artillery rounds, road wheels and drive sprockets that are tough enough for men to manage. Wha tis not as often discussed is the secondary set of tasks….struggling to raise the camo nets, carrying half the load of 5 gallon water cans up the hill, accomodation for litters that require two men but 4 women, etc. At bottom line is combat trust….it doesn’ tmatter how dedicated or motivated a young woman is, if I have to be lifted out of my burning track and she is my only hope, I’m gonna die right there. Motivation does not make up for capability.

    So, one might reasonably ask, what about those women that CAN manage all that. should they be “penalized”? Sorry, the population of women that can manage ALL tasks and requirements of combat units are too small and once accomodated, the standards will contimue to change. So – no they don’t get included. If they want a front line combat job like the guys, join any Urban police force….and oh by the way, the physical tasks are less a hurdle.

    My experience aside, I have no doubt that this will happen – very probably under the current political leadership. this is a POLITICAL, and not a military issue and decision. But the reality is tha twhen it happens, the carreer opportunities for women will not radically change…we will not see in my lifetime a female Chief of Infantry, Armor, SF, and probably not of Artillery.

    Robert Beerche

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