The women in combat discussion continues

| January 24, 2013

I’m still in my pajamas because I haven’t stopped on this discussion all day. Not that I’m complainin’, I’m just sayin’. But I’ve run across some real moron statements in my reading today. For example, Tammy Duckworth, the newest Congresswoman from Illinois and former VoteVets associate felt the need to endorse the Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s decision to allow women in the combat arms specialties. Of course, there’s not much chance that she’ll get called back into the service due to her position and the fact that she’s a double amputee, but she makes the most moronic statement I’ve read all day in Stars & Stripes;

As a combat veteran I know the inclusion of women in combat roles will make America safer and provide inspiration to women throughout our country.

I’d like her to explain to her constituents how this will make the country safer. And in light of the two women who washed out of the Marine Infantry Officers Course, the only two who volunteered, how does that inspire anyone? But generally, the only people I’ve read who are whooping and hollering about this decision are women who will never serve as combat soldiers.

And, yes, she has a Purple Heart for wounds received in combat, but what does she know about real close up combat? She was wounded when the helicopter she was flying was shot down, so she never humped a ruck, never kicked a door down, never pointed her weapon at someone who was trying to kill her. Never maneuvered a squad or platoon in a firefight. So that “As a combat veteran…” thing rings a bit hollow.

Earlier today, when I read one of my Facebook friends of the VoteVets variety celebrating the decision, I asked if she was going to reenlist to take advantage of the new policy. I got the sound of crickets in return. Another, of the IVAW variety (not Army Sergeant), who I asked the same question, made several excuses as to why she wouldn’t.

And then I read, thanks to our buddy Adam Weinstein at Mother Jones, that idiot who calls himself the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Marty Dempsey, says that allowing women in the combat occupations will cure the sexual harassment problem;

If the United States had previously allowed women to serve officially in military combat roles, including special operations forces, there might be fewer sexual assaults in the armed services, the Pentagon’s top general told reporters Thursday.

Having studied the issue of rampant sexual misconduct in the ranks, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted that he has concluded that the phenomenon exists partly because women have been subordinated to men in military culture: “It’s because we’ve had separate classes of military personnel.”

Really? This ranks right up there with his conclusion that the green-on-blue attacks were the result of cultural insensitivity on the part of our troops in Afghanistan. How are we separate classes? I’ve seen women at all ranks, including General Officers.

Dempsey and Panetta went on to tell the media that the service chiefs were all behind the policy. They said the same thing about the DADT policy change, too. Then we found out that not all of the service chiefs were particularly happy about it. Then the Secretary and Chairman said that the services can request opt-outs for some jobs. I don’t see that happening. Demi Moore did a great job at BUD/S, so that’s proof that women can handle any job, right?

“We want to make sure we get the standards right, and we don’t overengineer them either,” Dempsey said.

What? The standards are already policy, what do you have “get right” if you’re not lowering the standards, either for the entire force or just women?

Asked whether the military’s elite Seals and Green Berets might soon see female recruits, Dempsey said he had discussed that with Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno and Marine Commandant James Amos, both combat veterans themselves. “I think we all believe that there will be women who can meet those standards,” he added.

Yeah, if you bring the standards to their level. It’s not the women’s fault, it’s the fault of the social scientists and the Tammy Duckworths who are going demand to see numbers that justify their efforts, and the military being under the command of civilians who don’t understand how important training standards are to the entire force, just collapse like a Kmart lawn chair. Again, the folks who are going to make the most noise are the ones who don’t have to do the job.

And, yes, I understand that women have performed admirably in the last couple of wars when they have “found themselves” in contact with the enemy, but, you know unintentionally bumping into the enemy and engaging in a firefight, is a damn sight different from actively seeking and pursuing an enemy hoping that it will result in a firefight. You’d think that Dempsey would be able to tell the difference and explain that to his boss.

Category: Big Army, Military issues

Comments (127)

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  1. AJ says:

    As a female in the military, this is one of the worst decisions that has happened since I have been in. If they pull me into a combat job, which I do not want, I’ll be out. There are just some jobs we don’t need to be in. I don’t want a man to be distracted by a female and lose his life for it and if they think that sexual assaults will go down…yeah, I doubt it.

  2. Nik says:

    [i]there might be fewer sexual assaults in the armed services, the Pentagon’s top general told reporters Thursday.[/i]

    Absolutely fucking insane.

    I have no problem with the concept of a XX-er serving with XY’s in combat roles, that is if they meet the exact same physical standards. Sadly I suspect, as I’ve noted is the prevailing wisdom in these parts, the standards won’t remain the same for women as men.

    Or worse. They’ll lower the standards for men too, just so they can say “No. See? They’re treated the same.”

  3. MAJMike says:

    APFT scoring is already gender normed. Will these be retained or dropped for combat arms applicants?

    Just asking.

  4. Stacy0311 says:

    to paraphrase Snake from “Fields of Firs”- war is hell, but infantry is a motherf*cker”.
    for Tammy Duckworth and her ilk, I recommend watching Restrepo, a la Clockwork Orange style. Then I would like them to clearly, logically and coherently explain why allowing women in ‘ground combat roles’ is a good thing

  5. Tequila says:

    Further beclowning from a local tv station in which a LTC in the Air Nat’l Guard tells us how being a medic on Bagram Air Base is just like combat.

  6. Jonn Lilyea says:

    #3 MAJMike – My argument to the media all day has been that there are two winners in marathon races – male and female.

  7. OldCavLt says:

    This all reeks of scummery.

  8. Just an Old Dog says:

    Where did this idiot Dempsey go to get his brain removed and replaced with a non-functioning Anus?

  9. Mr Wolf, non-Esq says:

    Um, coincidence??

    Unintended pregnancies on the rise in servicewomen

    By Genevra Pittman

    NEW YORK | Thu Jan 24, 2013 5:15pm EST

    (Reuters Health) – Just over ten percent of women in the military said in 2008 they’d had an unintended pregnancy in the last year – a figure significantly higher than rates in the general public, according to a new study.

  10. Ex-PH2 says:

    Stop!!! “Having studied the issue of rampant sexual misconduct in the ranks” — oh, don’t get me started on this!

    Does Dempsey even have a clue that this is nothing new? Or that is was an issue back in the 1960s and 1970s? Has he been living underground all this time?

    For pete’s sake, sailers have been bullying women since we put on the uniform. The worst offenders were guys coming in from 90 days out. I couldn’t figure out if they were just being obnoxious and rude, or stinking homosexuals who REALLY hated women, or just a bunch of horny-assed men who didn’t know how to act around women. Who the hell would want to date someone like that, anyway?

    It was nice to be able to tell them to dry up and blow away, or I’d turn that wharf rat in the middle of the airfield loose in their barracks.

    Of course, I have a different perspective now. And I would say other things.

  11. Joe says:

    #6 – The men’s world record for the marathon is 2:03:02, the women’s 2:15:25. To continue with your analogy, the average very fit male soldier might run, say, a 2:40 – 3:30. Using your metric, there are a lot of women with fitness levels as high or higher than the average male soldier. I know, I run into them in out here all the time, they just don’t happen to be soldiers. If they recruit from that pool at the top of the pyramid, the women will do just fine. In fact, they’ll keep some male soldiers honest.

  12. AndyN says:

    @6 – Dempsey and all but one of the service chiefs are graduates of their respective service academies. Perhaps before forcing this on the military as a whole, they can test their plan’s effectiveness by combining the male and female sports teams at their almae matres. The consequences of a woman not being able to hang in an infantry battalion are just a tad more serious than the consequences of a woman failing at linebacker for the Midshipmen or having to sit on the bench behind all the taller, faster, stronger basketball players.

    I have a question that may have been covered elsewhere, but I haven’t seen it… What happens when a female E-6 requests an MOS change to 11B? There won’t be any issue with her becoming a squad leader, I’m sure. Or what happens when the difference in promotion points between a female E-4 and a male E-4 who can each do 46 pushups and run 2 miles in 15:36 (both max on the APFT for 22-26 year old women, low enough to be practically unacceptable for an infantryman) is the deciding factor in who becomes the new fire team leader? I can’t imagine that will foster any ill will.

  13. OWB says:

    That Dempsey quote must be one of the most ignorant things I have ever read! But Duckworth’s is not much better.

    All this is just too stupid for words. Going back into the cave to attempt to get the BP down a couple of hundred points. (Not that this nonsense on top of yesterday’s nonsense has me upset or anything.)

    Did anyone notice that while everyone was looking over here that they started talking about banning weapons and that Hillary didn’t say anything but did testify before Congress? Course not. Too busy being focused on this mess. There might even have been a couple of other appointments made, too. But who noticed?

  14. Tequila says:

    Hey Joe, if your Army is running a marathon it means one of two things. 1) Our word for that is full scale retreat or 2) You’re French in which case you are trying to catch up to somebody to surrender to.

    Being able to run a marathon don’t mean you can hump a ruck cross country.

  15. AndyN says:

    @11 – I was going to say that perhaps a better example would be that there are separate male and female decathlon winners, because decathlon is a test of strength, speed, endurance and agility, which would probably be more analogous to the physical traits you’d look for in a soldier. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work either, because the women’s equivalent has 70% as many events, the shot and javelin are lighter and the hurdles are lower.

    But yeah, incredibly fit women can be about as fast as really fit men.

  16. 68W58 says:

    Joe-the women’s world record in high jump, long jump, shot put and many of he sprints are all good boy’s high school times and distances.

  17. Robert says:

    I never had to do it myself, I was a helicopter guy so take my opinion for what it’s worth. Women in the infantry is a moronic idea. I think one quick reading of House to House” or “War” would convince anybody that hasn’t experienced it and has an open mind on the subject would quickly tilt them away from the idea. If you can’t read, what’s your opinion worth anyway?

  18. MRV says:

    I’m a woman and I think this is a terrible idea. And, if they make different qualification levels for the different sexes, I’m going to be downright livid. If I was a man I wouldn’t want some woman (<– see what I said right there, ha!) who couldn't physically perform her job to what the standard is and should be watching my back. That's a good way to get more soldiers dead. What were they thinking!?

  19. Common Sense says:

    I have never served, but I have become a true account junkie, having read at least a dozen books from guys who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    I have no doubt that there are women who can pass the PT tests and there are some who can probably get through training, but from what I’ve read, real life combat frequently demands far greater strength, speed, and endurance than those tests measure.

    Throw in all the other issues like unit cohesion, distraction that gets people killed, and increased sex assaults and it’s just a bad idea all around.

    I have yet to read one account from a woman currently serving who is interested in volunteering for combat. Every account I’ve read says it’s a bad idea.

  20. Mr Wolf, non-Esq says:

    Headline you’ll NEVER see:

    ”First, Women in Combat, Now: NFL to announce Women in the League”

    ”Roseanne to try out for Patriots center…”

  21. WOTN says:

    They set their sites on this, as soon as they were sure they were going to push through the repeal of DADT.

    The next iteration is to ask: Why are sexual problems soaring?

    They’ll hide the fact that male Infantry are required to carry the load for the PC females assigned them but they won’t be able to hide (completely) the “overengineered” standards Dempsey changes.

    I wonder if they’ll ban the question of PC females, of whether they are rushing for an 11B position, or if they’re going straight for the sexier 18 series.

  22. UpNorth says:

    And, what happens to the infantry company when a female squad leader or three ends up pregnant just before a deployment? Oh, that’s right, AQ is irrelevant, the wars are over, there won’t be any more deployments.

  23. malclave says:

    Given this policy, is there any reason why women should be excluded from having to register for Selective Service?

  24. Hondo says:

    Once again, Comrade Joseph, GHRCGGSRD, your “shining intellect” shines through – glowing as brightly as a burned-out light bulb.

    First: there is no generally recognized “world record” for the marathon, male or female. This is because marathons are run on road courses; there is thus no standardized course for a marathon. Each course has a different mix of hills, flat ground, etc . . . . . Instead, there are recognized course records for the marathon. So off the bat you’re wrong.

    Second: as Tequila said above (and others have said clearly elsewhere), running a marathon tells little about one’s suitability to be a soldier in combat. The decathlon would probably be a better benchmark for comparison.

    Well, it would be if the men’s and women’s decathlon were the same. As AndyN observed above, they’re not. The women’s version is substantially less demanding.

    However, let’s go ahead and look at the 2011 NYC Marathon results anyway, just to see how they sort out. Results were obtained from

    Male winning time: 2:05:06
    Female winning time: 2:23:15

    That’s a difference of about 14.5% – which isn’t far off the conventional wisdom that men have 15-20% greater endurance due to biological differences than do women.

    Number of male finishers faster than female winner: 19

    Number of male finishers <2:20 - 16
    Number of female finishers <2:20 - 0

    Number of male finishers <2:30 - 30
    Number of female finishers <2:30 - 10

    Number of male finishers <2:37:25 - 100
    Number of female finishers <2:37:25 - 16

    Time of 100th male finisher: 2:37:24
    Time of 100th female finisher: 3:05:44

    Let me be clear: I'm not trying to slam anyone here except Joe the Idiot. I'm also not trying to denigrate the athletic ability of these ladies; I tip my hat to anyone, male or female, who can even finish a marathon much less do it in 3 hours or so. Rather, my point is that basic human biology gives males as a group a significant inherent advantage in cardio-vascular (CV) endurance. Ignoring that fact is, well, stupid.

    And the average gap between CV endurance in males and females is probably smaller than in most other facets of athletic performance (strength, speed, explosiveness, etc . . . ). Flexibility is about the only athletic performance trait I know of in which women are generally regarded to be superior.

    Basic biology dictates all of that. We ain’t gonna change that any time soon.

    In most endeavors – to include most military specialties – that relatively smallish difference doesn’t much matter. But in direct combat, it does matter. Greatly. Such small differences often determine who lives and who dies.

    Yes, Joe – there are a few women who can physically “hang with the boys” in combat. But we’re not likely to get too many world-class athletes to join the military of either gender. Counting on being able to do that is a fool’s bet.

  25. AverageNCO says:

    Okay, Depmsey’s argument that opening all MOS/AFSC/RATES to both genders, will eliminate sexual assaults is so idiotic, that it questions his capacity to serve in his position. Here’s why
    Over the last year or so, the Air Force has been blasted for it’s rampant problem with sexual assault. Between incidents and the Academy & Lackland, we’ve generated those studies Dempsey is talking about. But unlike the Army with Infantry, the number of jobs unavailible to female is TINY. PJ’s & Combat Controllers are about the only two I can think of, and they make up a small portion of the force. Please tell me how opening up these two small AFSC’s is going to solve the Air Force sexual assault problem? I know first-hand, some of the training instructors involved in the mess at Lackland, come from AFSC’s that have historically had high percentages of females. One issue has ZERO to do with the other.

  26. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    Jonn: Wait a second! You wear pajamas?

  27. FatCircles0311 says:


    Jessica Lynch has released a press release that the announcement of this new change in policy is good for the US military.

    The same disgraced lynch whom didn’t fire a shot because her weapon was inoperable due to negligence all the while allowing the government to play up her non heroics. Marines died in her rescue to lure the enemy away from her position so SF/SoF could rescue her after a wrong turn at Albuquerque.

    Apparently pilots are now ground combat NCO’s that are experts on the subject now too. They shot a scary looking gun during basic training and thus are walking battlefield terminators with ponytails that can birth children.

  28. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    Follow Up to Cmt26:

    Pajamas? (Say it like Jim Mora says “Playoffs” in the Coors commercial.) Pajamas? Pajamas? Are you kiddin’ me? Pajamas?

    So, big boy, are they the short pants kind? Flannel? Silk? Button or pullover? Solid color? Matching slippers?

  29. NHSparky says:

    I think we all believe that there will be women who can meet those standards,

    Dear General Dempsey,

    As a former squid who managed to pull OUTSTANDING on all PFT’s from the time I was lowly E-4 all the way until I got out, might I suggest you’re out of your fucking mind?

    I know even at the shape I was in during my mid-20’s, had I shown up at BUD/S in that condition I would have been bounced by the end of the first week, if not the first DAY. And to say that the women can meet those standards?

    Surf entry mean anything to you? Or the Q-course? Hell Week…oh, that’ll be just AWESOME if your prospective SEALs are menstruating.

    And what fucking color is the sky on YOUR planet?

  30. USMCE8Ret says:

    @11 – I challenge you, Joe to look deeper into the reasons why the 2 female Lieutenants dropped from the USMC Infantry Officer’s Course. I’ll even get you started:

    What the articles don’t specify is why one or the other dropped. I can tell you that one dropped due to her loosing an incredible amount of weight that was otherwise unhealthy for her, coupled with the fact that due to the physical rigors of the training, she also experienced buckling knees from the strain of the sheer weight of the gear she carried and the distances of the forced marches, coupled with a myriad of other ailments that precipitated her drop. While one of the female candidates was physically fit and (as you put it, had a “fitness levels as high or higher than the average male”), she did not have the physiological endurance or body strength to complete the course. While I’m sure she is a fine Marine officer who is also physically fit, it stands so far that the only way the Marine Corps will embrace females serving in this role is that future candidates will have to pass all the requirements, WITHOUT LOWERING THE STANDARDS.

    Infantry training is physically demanding, and eventually takes its toll on the body beyond any initial school. Even MEN oftentimes cannot endure the training, as there is a high attrition rate for them as well.

    Your arguement is moot, particularly since you have no idea what you’re talking about…which is usually the case. But since you keep coming back, we’ll continue to educate your dumb ass.

  31. FatCircles0311 says:

    @29: Female military members are so fit they simply choose to overwhelming perform lower and thus have to require lower fitness results as to not make the males feel bad. Once they are allotted BUDs slots they’ll actually put out and meet the demands never before asked from them.

    That was me being facetious.

  32. Bam Bam says:

    As an aviator who serves in gender-mixed units, the idea that there won’t be mass f-cking on a biblical scale is insane. I’m sorry, but having male soldiers who…well…are horny bastards, and females who after a while of being away from big daddy back home… Yeah it’s gonna be epic. I’m so tired of these ass clowns who MUST know better just being willfully ignorant of what is GOING to happen.

    I have flown with some great female aviators and I think there are absolutely combat roles for women. But agreed, the inevitable lowering of standards will be terrible, and flat out, there just ain’t places women need to be on the battle field. This, coupled with 18 year old joe who gets a crush on his new fire team member and then sees her head explode from an AK round… Yeah, it’s gonna be great for the unit morale. Have seen THAT last effect my damn self with male-female relationships in combat and one gets hurt… It’s a fucking mess.

  33. Anonymous says:

    A: I want my daughter to be able to be all that she can be and have the opportunity that I did.

    B: IF the standards were kept high, the zin loi (sp) if she failed at Ranger school/ BUDs.

    C. But alas, they will not be enforced so as to make their women/gay/lesbo quota (is that not PC?)

    D. There are a whole bunch of pencil necked geek males (Manning comes to mind) who should have never passed out of basic who could not do what many women could.

    E: If the women can pass a Ranger/Buds cycle without lowering the standards (that I could not meet…pull ups suck), then Hooah!

  34. Anonymous says:

    I’m SJ, not “Anonymous”. Don’t know why that happened.

  35. Ex-PH2 says:

    I’ll put this in the same perspective as female firefighters. The number of female firefighters is low because they can’t meet the strength and stamina requirements. The women applicants want those standards lowered. Where safety is concerned — particularly mine — the standards should never be lowered.

    Ditto for the infantry. If you can’t hack, that’s it.

  36. Stacy0311 says:

    I’m bored and feel like preaching to the choir. PT is not the end all be all for determing if females can hack in the infantry (or other combat arms). I went to Iraq last time around with an FSC. 20 females in the company. 1 outdid everyone on the APFT. More pushups, more situps and the fastest run time. And she would be an absolute disaster in the infantry. Mainly because she’s 5’3″ 115lbs. Her basic load would be more than half of her body weight. During our pre-deployment training we had a 6 mile road march. IOTV, SAPI plates basic load and assault packs. Out of the 20 females in the company, everyone of them was straggling. And yes I was setting the pace. I’m 45 y/o (at the time) and smoke (heavily) so if 20 something can’t keep up with an old guy, they sure as hell can’t hang with the younger ones. Talk amongst your selves…..

  37. Virtual Insanity says:

    What has NOT been addressed here is the naturally higher level of aggression in males compared to females.

    What is it we want grunts to do?

    (Full disclosure: I was an infantryman before I became an aviator.)

    I agree with Bam Bam–I, too know and served with great female aviators. Females are actually physiologically better pilots than men…greater tolerance to altitude, finer motor skills, in general more mature.

    But, with a few exceptions (one is a great friend) they are much better lift/cargo pilots than gunship pilots. For the same reason i mentioned above: men are more aggressive.

  38. Mike says:

    I’m more worried about the women who will have the standards adjusted to allow them to make it in combat arms jobs. Yes I know, Panetta and JCS Chairman Dempsey said that wouldn’t happen, but I just don’t believe it.

    Currently the services are reevaluating their Physical Fitness Standards as well as the physical fitness standards for each Military Occupational Specialty to justify what standards should be required for each military job. I’m pretty sure the standards will be tweaked until the Pentagon can get what they consider the right number of women into combat arms jobs.

  39. Pat says:

    Never been infantry, just an MP. In Iraq, we lost 4 females. Not to combat, but pregnancy. In cuba, we lost five. Those jobs still had to be done. How is that fair to the guys? I

  40. Former SSG says:

    One of 1000 meets current standards. One of 100 of those wants a combat assignment. One of 1000 of those has the right attitude to fit into the unit. Not worth the effort expended. Unfortunately, they will lower the standards, encourage (bonuses) women to apply, and refuse to screen for psychological fit. (And I was a female in the SO community.) This is a stinkingly bad idea.

  41. Green Thumb says:

    Register for selective service.

  42. Green Thumb says:

    “Declaring that it would strengthen both the military and the country, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday lifted a ban on women in combat and said that it was “the responsibility of every citizen to protect the nation.”

    Selective service.

  43. Nik says:

    Well yah, on the draft registration bit. The reason for exclusion was their ineligibility for combat roles. Now that reason is gone, so…

    Look, if they can do it exactly as is, great. Let them join selected units. But don’t lower the standards one iota. Hills don’t get flatter for women. Bullets don’t hit softer for women. Bayonets (LOL) don’t get blunter for women. Standards shouldn’t get any easier.

  44. YatYas says:

    This is going to be an expensive experiment that is most likely to fail. Women are an integral part of the military these days, but I doubt many will want to be combat arms and most that try will probably drop out.

  45. Devtun says:

    If Gen James Conway were still the CMC, he would have told SECDEF Panetta and GEN Dempsey to stuff a sock in it. Oh yeah, thats basically what he did to fmr SECDEF Gates and CJCS ADM Mullen at a congressional hearing over DADT. The WH got their dander up and Gen Conway would be offered no further assignments. I’m sure this JCS will be very compliant…no rocking the boat dammit!!!

  46. RandomNCO says:

    I knew guys who scored 300 on PTs who couldn’t hack it road marching at Drum. And who couldn’t hack it in Iraq.

    Being good at PT doesn’t equal combat effective.

    Sad that the people making these rules are going to set up the few women who try for failure.

  47. Looks like Barry and Panetta watch Starship Trooper too many times.

  48. Daniel says:

    Can’t wait for my first batch of female 13Bs. I’m sure they will do just fine lifting the 155 rounds up to the loading tray with no issues.

    If they can’t, I’m sure I’ll be able to negatively counsel them like I do the male 13Bs who can’t complete the task.

  49. sitrep says:

    1st woman to lead in combat ‘thrilled’ with change
    “The Army refused to grant her and other female soldiers who fought on the ground in Panama the Combat Infantryman Badge. She was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for Valor, an award for meritorious achievement in a non-combat role”.

    Note: Most of you already know this…