Women in combat jobs discussion continues

| January 28, 2013

Our buddy, Tequila Volare, sent us this missive to clear his own head on the subject;

Putting pen to paper, okay fingers to keyboard, to express my thoughts on those arguing in defense of the recent announcement from outgoing defense secretary Leon Panetta to open up combat arms to women. I am doing this more out of frustration then anything. In stating my opposition to this decision I of course have been subjected to all of the obligatory name calling from the liberals and many an indignant female. My frustration stems from the fact that I spent 22 years in the Infantry meaning I have slightly more knowledge and experience in this particular argument then my critics. One can not convey the true meaning of what it means to be a member of the Infantry in 140 characters on Twitter or in some anonymous comment on a blog which gets swallowed up in the cacophony of others voicing their opinions.

Today I have also been treated to others who have worn the uniform ranging from truck drivers to helicopter pilots who support the lifting of the ban. While I respect their service they can not equate their jobs in the military to what a grunt does day in and day out. Listening to somebody who served as a hatch gunner on a HMMV and may or may not have gotten shot at while riding around doesn’t just quite match somebody who spends days, weeks, months living out in the environment exposed to the elements with no relief in sight. The things which bind an effective Infantry unit together are all of the intangibles which aren’t taught. When you upset that delicate balance you are inviting disaster. You can not ignore the physical differences, which are obvious to anybody and while that particular aspect has been beat to death I won’t belabor that point here.

What I want to address is that unseen bond which forms in combat teams who are forced to depend on each other for their very survival. It is not enough to merely dismiss such concerns by saying service members are expected to act as professionals. They are humans too. As such they are prone to such things as emotions and normal human behavior. What follows next will inflame feminist everywhere, but when you insert a female into a cluster of testosterone laden young males they are going to act like young males in any species on this planet do. There will be fights to establish dominance. Jealousy and envy will infect the ranks. If you are more worried of getting into a firefight because your rival may use it as an excuse to get rid of his competition you have a real problem. Often times the issue of chivalry is raised. Some discount this by saying once the bullets start flying you don’t care about the sex of the person next to you. For those with chivalrous tendencies that will not be the case. Somewhere in the recesses of their mind they will be keeping an ear and eye out and therefore not concentrating on the task at hand. Lastly, in what I call the “Hey Bubba watch this” Syndrome, which can be witnessed at any coed social gathering there is always going to be the guy who does some stunt to attract attention and therefore the eye, he hopes, of the females. Doing such a stunt while on a mission can lead to disaster. You can not regulate this sort of behavior out of existence for to attempt to do so is mere folly.

One of my other favorite arguments that has been thrown at me has been that women that live in such conditions would become unappealing to their male compatriots to which I respond have you ever been in a bar at closing time? I would like to see some reporters go ask some of the wives of married service members what they think about their husband sharing a foxhole with some woman for an extended period of time. I don’t think a lot of them would be on board with that idea.

Regarding the physical difference, without getting into the weeds on that particular aspect but in keeping in the vein of this missive does anybody think there might be just a wee bit of resentment in the ranks because the female is not expected to carry the machine gun, or radio, or mortar tube? She will still be eligible for promotion provided she meets the other criteria without having fulfilled all of the duties her male counterpart would have been expected to do.

Anyway that is what I wanted to say. Go ahead, call me a chauvinistic, misogynist, pig but it doesn’t change the points I brought up for to do so would be to refute the very essence of human nature since they first appeared on the planet.

While we’re on the subject, Dejah Thoris at the Victory Girls had this discussion with her significant man, and you should read it;

I know he feels passionately about this, because he has dedicated most of his adult life to making sure that I can sleep well and live free and he feels like they are taking the last thing he had that was really “his” away. This is one of the reasons I love him so much.

ADDED: Our buddy, Kira Davis, has another view from a former Marine female pilot;

Are there a handful of women who are capable of executing ground combat jobs? Yes…in fact, my husband and I came up with a list of five women that we knew personally that had the physical aptitude and mental temperament that would fit the bill. We have 24 years of military experience between us. Should America open up 230,000 ground combat jobs when there are only a handful of applicants that are qualified?

Category: Military issues

Comments (76)

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  1. 68W58 says:

    Chauvinistic, misogynistic pig! I mean, you’re absolutely correct in all your points, but you made the mistake of letting reality intrude on political wish fulfillment, and for that you must be chastised.

  2. USMCE8Ret says:

    Here’s another perspective, from 1991. It’s kind of long, but well worth watching.

    Gen Robert H. Barrow, 27th Commandant of the Marine Corps, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Women in Combat, June 1991.

  3. Twist says:

    The link was a long read, but I now want to buy that man a beer.

  4. DefendUSA says:

    Tequila V…You are spot on and as a chick, I see nothing wrong with your line of thought. None. But, naturally, there will be women who want to believe they can make a difference-i.e. They can “handle” it. Like I’ve said in previous posts, I am pretty tough, but not so tough that I could do what you grunts have done and will do. No way. I got over myself. I was the best at the job I had instead of trying to be what I was never going to be.

  5. Hondo says:

    ‘Fraid you can’t, Twist. GEN Barrow passed away in 2008.

    GEN Barrow held the distinction of having been awarded both the Navy Cross (Korea) and the Army’s Distinguished Service Cross (Vietnam). I’m guessing that’s a relatively exclusive “club”.

    May he rest in peace.

  6. Joe says:

    As usual with conservatives, a lot of speculation about what might happen, and since we don’t know, we shouldn’t even try it. They have been using that same stalling tactic to quash new ideas for millenia. After all the bluster and pontification, the only way to find out is try it. Then we’ll have a better idea, one way or the other.

  7. Twist says:

    Hondo, I was talking about the Kira Davis link. Sorry for the confusion.

  8. Tequila says:

    Joe maybe you don’t realize actions have consequences and when you go messing with what has up to this point been a pretty good formula it results in real life and death situations, none of which are hypothetical. You want to flirt with your own life, fine go do it but don’t jeopardize the lives of hundreds of others just so you can try out some grand social engineering scheme. What are you going to say to the families of those that lose loved ones. “Oops, my bad”.

    And why do you start off with saying conservatives? This is concerns voiced by those serving and who have served with no political consideration given other then the impact it will have on mission accomplishment and unit readiness.

  9. Twist says:

    @6, Says the person who has never served and doesn’t know what he is talking about on the subject. Not that it has ever stopped you before.

  10. Hondo says:

    The problem with “trying it”, Joey-boy, is that it will result in additional bodies coming home in boxes. Even a dim bulb such as yourself should be able to see that, fool.

    In 2010, the average 19 y/o male was 70″ in height and weighed about 175 lbs. The average female? 64.3″ and 150 lbs. And the standard deviations were different, too – 4.27″ for the males and 3.02″ for females.

    What that means is that only around 2% of US 19 y/o women were even as tall as the average male. The rest were shorter.

    Here’s the data: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_11/sr11_252.pdf

    Strength is generally directly correlated with size, dipstick. Ditto endurance while performing strenuous work. And on top of the average size advantage, men have a higher fraction of muscle mass. That’s due to something called “testosterone”. It’s the original anabolic steroid.

    I’m guessing you’re probably academically familiar with the concept of testosterone, Joe. Even if you don’t bother to acknowledge its existence in your daily life.

    My point: you do not design a large, human-based system (like a military) to depend for proper function on having exceptional physical specimens to do the work. You design it for the average case, then you select from that to get your elite units.

    For many military specialties, women possess the physical aptitude to do the job as well and in some cases better as a group than do men. For a select few specialties, however, as a group they do not; biology prevents it. And those select few specialties happen in general to be the ground combat arms specialties.

  11. Joe says:

    You guys are not going to stop the march of progress with hand ringing. Yeah, there is risk involved, just like when we sent men to the moon. I suppose you would have put the kibosh on that too along with anything else that was scary? I don’t think the integrity of the armed forces is at stake any more than with integration in 40’s-50’s. A lot of doomsayers then too. And if a person is not comfortable with the idea, they don’t have to enlist or reenlist.

    I’ve seen interviews with active male and female soldiers who are in favor of it. Why should I believe you and not them?

  12. Hondo says:

    Twist: my bad, amigo.

  13. Ex-PH2 says:

    Since Joe doesn’t know his flabby behind from a hole in the ground about women in combat, I will hereby post this link to a photo of someone I greatly admired as the only woman doing combat photography that I had known of in 1965. (Army nurses were not getting much publicity at the time.) She was one of the reasons I went into the Navy in the first place. I had hoped to follow in her footsteps.


    This is what happens to men and will happen to women in combat.

  14. Joe says:

    “….biology prevents it.” Over the course of time, women have heard that a lot, usually as spoken by a man.

  15. Hondo says:

    Joe: you prove yourself less intelligent each and every time you open your mouth here.

    You do know what drove integration in the Army, right? No, it wasn’t basic fairness or the concept of equality.

    It was freaking military necessity. During Korea, we needed more combat troops pronto. We couldn’t train them quickly enough using a segregated unit model for the combat arms. That introduced inefficiencies we simply could not tolerate on the battlefield. We were in danger of getting our asses kicked.

    The result was a decision to integrate that was driven by military effectiveness and efficiency. Politics did not drive that decision. And the result worked – because while there is a modest difference in physical size, etc . . . , along racial lines, the difference is not particularly significant.

    The difference between men and women IS significant. Only about 1 in 50 women on average is as large as the average male. True “Amazon warriors” are incredibly rare.

  16. Twist says:

    “Yeah, there is risk involved”

    Would you care to enlist and share the risks that you want us to take? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

  17. Hondo says:

    Yes, Joe – biology prevents it. Just like biology prevents us from seeing female NFL players, NHL players, and so on. And from having unisex Olympics.

    Want all you want to, but you aren’t going to overcome literally millenia of mammalian evolution just because you say “I want that.” And even a Mendelian selective breeding program (not a viable choice for humans, obviously) takes generations to have a substantial impact on population characteristics.

  18. Joe says:

    We’ll see if your protestations are valid.

  19. MAJO says:

    Thanks for the video USMCE8Ret. I concur with the good General. The bond among soldiers is what makes them effective. Playing with that bond will damage or destroy units.

  20. Twist says:

    I’m still waiting to see if Joe is willing to take the same risk that he is oh so happy for us to take.

  21. Sarge says:

    Puts me in mind of Heinlein’s commentary about “When women demand ‘equality’ with men, they are invariably selling themselves short.” Or words to that effect.

    Gender-desegregate all military barracks, berthing, toilet and shower facilities.

    Desegregate all training commands and require all female applicant pass exactly the same basic training requirements as men are now required to do, in mixed units, and with mixed-gender instructors.

    Eradicate female-specific uniforms from utilities through dress uniforms. One service, one uniform code, including haircut requirements and prohibition against jewewlry or makeup on duty.

    Do this 100% throughout ALL services, and grandfather (grandmother) No ONE from recruit to General/Admiral…

    THEN let’s talk about women in combat arms.

  22. Ex-PH2 says:

    Oh, yeah, the astronaut program. It was all men. Actually, the people who were chosen for the astronaut program in ther Mercury, Gemini and Apollo stages were qualified fighter pilots, some of whom were test pilots.
    Women were not unqualified to apply at the time, but there were no women in fighter pilot training. When they did begin to apply, they were required by the program to take flight training in fighter jet aircraft. And they were mostly civilians.
    Sending ‘men’ to the moon had less to do with sexism or chauvinism than it did with the military aspect.

  23. Joe says:


    I am well into my 7th decade – I don’t think they’d take me under any circumstances. SO you’re on your own.

  24. Ex-PH2 says:

    In addition, Sigourney Weaver, who wrangled the flame throwers and other weapons in the “Alien” movies, is 5’10”, which is well above the average height for women.

    Just because, as an actress playing LT Ellen Ripley, she had a big mouth and and aggressive personality (which I’m guessing Joe gets off on), and fought off the giant cockroaches, it doesn’t mean she does that kind of thing in real life.

  25. Pandora says:

    Kira Davis made an interesting point ….. exactly how many women could actually do the job? I spent 8 years in the Army, and came up with the exact same number she and her husband did. However, unlike all too many radical feminists I actually included myself.

  26. Pat says:

    Joe, we already know what will happen. I’ve done three deployments as an MP. Women are never held to the same standard.
    Each deployment, we sent a half dozen or so females home because of pregnancy. Those are jobs that the guys had to cover down on. Oh and do you know how bad it can fuck up morale of a young man in Iraq who has the joy of hearing the married Army couple have sex all night? Totally mission focused. How about when a relatioship goes south when both are in the same platoon? Lots of fun to spend my time hearing some couple agrue while trying to do the job.
    I loved working with my guys, because they were funny and industrious and if they screwed up I could actually discipline them., and the would usually square themselves away and all would be forgotten. With a female, there are EO complaints, threats, manipulation of other NCOs. Good times. Oh, and good luck to my Combat Arms company grade officers and 1SGs. Their time will now be spent dealining with issues that stem from sexual relationships, not training. And a bonus. On all three of my deployments, my CO has been relieved because he banged a pretty E4 or at least was accused of such. Great for the combat effectiveness of a unit.

  27. USMCE8Ret says:

    @23 – “Knock knock…?”

  28. Tequila says:

    Alright Joe let’s play it your way. What level would you consider acceptable losses before you realized the folly of this decision? 1, 10, 100 maybe 1,000? I guess your excuse then would be well they knew what they were signing up for, huh? Maybe we could try this theory out in a less threatening environment, like say the NFL?

  29. Pat says:

    Sloppy spelling. Shoulda typed that comment on a keyboard. My bad.

  30. Twist says:

    I understand that because of your age you cannot serve, however I find it disconcerting that you have no problem putting as at a risk that you will not have to take. This is my life and the life of my friends and Soldiers that you people are toying with for a social experiment. You are not the one that will have to knock on my wife’s door and tell her that I am not coming home.

  31. MAJO says:

    Every time I read Heinlein I am amazed by his social and political insight. It is as if he could remove himself from the emotional argument and view problems without the cloud of feeling. A brilliant man.

  32. MAJO says:


    Were you drafted? If not, why not?



  33. Ex-PH2 says:

    I’ve given this a lot of thought. Well, a little bit of thought.

    Joe actually hates women. If they go into combat and get gruesomely killed (see link I posted to photo on Flickr) there will be fewer of them around.

  34. Isnala says:

    @14 Yes that argument has been used in the past (unjustly I might add) to prevent women from many jobs/activities. HOWEVER in this case it is true. Most if not all of us on here are not saying or disagreeing with the thought that “some” women “could” do these job(s). What we are saying is the “average” women could not. If you look closely we are saying that most of the jobs in the military can be done by the “average women” but ground combat centric jobs i.e. infrantry, art, armor, are not one of them. When looking at a large organization you must look at the averages not the special cases. Much like Hondo said you do not design a large organization based on “exceptional physical specimens to do the work. You design it for the average case, then you select from that to get your elite units.” When talking about ground combat you must take into account the physical rigors involved. Such as being able to carry 75% or some times more of your own body weight over long distances over a protracted period of time. Or being able to break track in the field to conduct field repairs on a M1A1 or Brad. Those things require a certain level of ability that the average female of our species just dosn’t have. We are talking averages here not special cases ala G.I. Jane (which is a movie btw not real life). I’m sorry of basic science and biology are getting in the way of your PC crusade but all the hoping in the world won’t change the hand nature has dealt us. Until science/enginering advances to the point allowing us to create power armor ala Iron Man and Starship Troopers [book not movie] these basic facts won’t change.

    Also like many on here have said unless they are going to revisit Selective Service registration and the draft this issue is nothing more than a PC publicity stunt/pay back campaign doners that will unfortuatly, more than likely result in good folks being hurt.


  35. Jonn Lilyea says:

    Joe’s excuse for the draft is that his number never came up, but he has no problem restarting the draft, even though he never served, he thinks it’s a good idea to have people forced into the service. Kinda like his situational “support” of the Second Amendment before Newtown. As long as he has no skin in the game.

  36. USMCE8Ret says:

    @19 (et al) – You’re welcome.

  37. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    I seldom ring my hands, and I like dealing with reality for the most part. There is a small town in Western Mass that has a law about stopping for any pedestrian. They’ve taken that law to the extreme so that the pedestrians now believe anytime they step in the roadway cars are obligated to stop. It’s a great idea because we don’t want motorists killing pedestrians, the problem is that the laws of man still don’t overcome the laws of physics. Stepping into a crosswalk with a vehicle traveling 25mph 50 feet away means the car will stop 30 feet after it runs you over…even though the law dictated the motorist stop for the pedestrian standard reaction time and physics dictate a different outcome.

    Similarly with the laws of biology that many have mentioned you have the average woman incapable of physically matching the average male in performance of those tasks most appropriate to combat arms, strength and endurance. Regardless of the desire of the sponsors of this activity to proclaim us all equal in every regard, reality dictates otherwise. Of the 2% of women who are the same size as the average man, how many actually intend to serve? And under what circumstance?

    A lowering of the standards will most inevitably ensue when the numbers in combat arms don’t meet the expectations of the people forcing this standard on the military. At that point the ability of the force will be lessened due to weaker standards, that’s a truth whether it’s a comfortable on or not.

  38. Sarge says:

    “My number never came up” is not an excuse for lack of service; it is at best an admission of an unwillingness to volunteer for service.

    Which refusal is anyone’s right, of course – – until they then choose to opine that it’s just fine for OTHERS to be forced to serve, or they consider themselves qualified to dictate the terms of service for others who do volunteer.

    At which point they are still within their rights (as protected by others), but far outside the realm of ‘credible opinion.’

  39. MAJO says:

    Kinda makes me wonder if Joe’s mommy or daddy had pull to get Joe a high number in the draft? With no frame of reference and no skin in the game and absolutly no facts, Joe’s argument is like Joe. Empty.

    Most of the combat arms officers I spent time with at ILE were extreemly physically fit. As I told my Swiss officer buddy, who was infantry, be careful trying to keep up with our guys. He was very fit, but not at the same level as some of our infantry types.

    I do know of a few women who could deal with the physical aspect of humping a ruck with the infantry, and be better than quite a few I have met and served with, but that is not the point. The cohesion required to operate effectively as an infantry unit is paramount. This is what General Barrow discusses in the video posted by USMCE8Ret, above, explains.

  40. Joe says:

    Well, I guess if conservatives hadn’t been against:
    – Ending slavery
    – Women’s sufferage
    – The Civil Rights movement
    – Integration of the armed forces
    – Marriage Equality

    (and by the way, any of these would apparently result in the end of civilization as we know it) and on and on, they might have a better track record and more credibility.

  41. Virtual Insanity says:

    “Wait! I’m losing! Racist homophobes!” <- Joe

  42. Ex-PH2 says:

    OK, for Joe’s edification, and to equalize the playing field, let’s reinstate the draft, eliminate the top-end age limit, and extend it to both sexes.

    That means Joe’s number comes up and he has to serve, right along some old gart (int.) like me who has no patience with maroons like him. He’ll have to put in his six.

    I guess I’d have to finish mine. Oh, who cares! I could use the extra cash right now.

  43. Just A Vet says:

    Well… you held up pretty well Joe, but now you have taken up the liberal talking points on subjects that have absolutely nothing to do with the subject matter of this thread! You have now lowered your standards to just whistling out of every orifice you have. Good luck to you.

    US Army Veteran SSG E-6 66-70
    Vietnam Veteran 69-70

  44. WOTN says:

    Not to worry, Joe’s APFT requirements would be similiar to those of a 35 year old woman. I’m just guestimating that, since research demonstrates an 18 year old female has similiar APFT requirements as a 55 year old man.

  45. Hondo says:

    Uh, Joe . . . “there you go again”.

    1. It wasn’t “conservatives” who were against ending slavery and the Civil Rights Movement, idiot. Rather, it was the southern wing of the Democratic Party, plus a bunch of racist fools and tools in other areas. Both liberals and conservatives from other areas of the country supported both ending slavery and the Civil Rights Movement.

    In fact, without help from that “nasty, conservative” GOP – none of the Civil Rights Acts would have passed.

    2. I’ve already address the integration of the military. You’ve already been proven to be an idiot on that count.

    3. The first state to grant women’s sufferage was Wyoming. Not exactly a liberal area, then or now.

    4. Since inter-racial marriage was a Civil Rights issue, well, you’re wrong about Marriage Equality too. Now, if you’re talking about the current push to redefine marriage to allow same-sex marriages – that’s a different issue. But don’t claim that as “marriage equality”. That is not “marriage equality”; it’s the redefinition of an existing institution to be something it never previously was. (Although expecting honesty from you on such matters is probably foolish, I’ll at least point out the fact that you’re lying above in your choice of terms.)

  46. Jonn Lilyea says:

    Joe, you’re an idiot. The Republican Party was founded on ending slavery, even Lyndon Johnson acknowledged that he couldn’t have passed the CRA, 1964 without Republicans, Eisenhower got the CRA of 1957 passed with a majority republican Congress. Marriage Equality? Really? From the guys who passed the marriage penalty tax without a single Republican vote? The Democrats filibustered against the vote for women. More Republicans voted for the act than Democrats, and your enlightened president Wilson was the chief opponent of women’s right to vote. I guess you’re living proof that wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age.

  47. NR Pax says:


    Gender is a biological fact, not a construct. The only way women will be able to perform as equally as males in the combat arms field is if the standards are lowered to get the “correct” amount of integration.

    Lowering the standards is going to get a lot of people killed. There is nothing preventing women from climbing the ranks in the military right now. But thank you for playing.

  48. USMCE8Ret says:

    @40 – Check your history again, Joe. You’re wrong AGAIN!

  49. OWB says:

    @ $40: Now I will stoop to calling you the lying bastard that you apparently are. DO NOT DENEGRATE MY FAMILY AND MY ANCESTORS! You and your kind are the ONLY idiots in our history who have enslaved other people. It is conservatives who ended slavery, passed Civil Rights legislation in spite of the progs, and pretty much the rest of your stupid list. Don’t EVEN attemot to explain that Truman ended segregation in the military – he had to be made to do so out of necessity.

    What you have done in the past is not good enough for you – now you want to send women into combat? And you accuse others of waging a war on women?

  50. jonace says:

    @23 “I am well into my 7th decade”. Well, hurry up and die.