First, I went over the arguments used to call for allowing women to have any Military Speciality they desire. So far, no one has provided any arguments I missed, nor provided any rational debate that I was wrong in those discussions. That article is the place to discuss those arguments.
There is an outstanding point I need to elaborate on and that is the nature of Female Engagement Teams. They're important but they don't have a combat mission. They are better trained in combat than most non-combat teams. While I need to elaborate on that, that's a different article, all its own, so if you want the scoop on them, I recommend using the search bar in the upper left which will give you links to stories we've published as well as other military related sites. "FET" or "Female Engagement Teams" will give you focused results.
The focus in this article are the arguments used against putting women in Combat MOS's. All arguments I've heard rest on the principle that National Defense and the lives of Our Troops are more important than Political Correctness or the personal desires of individuals to claim glory. Let's look at those arguments and again, if I miss one, feel free to let me know.
The fact is that there are a few that could meet the current standard, but certainly not many. This is not "sexist." It is the physical reality. Women have smaller lungs and less muscle mass than men. The amount of muscle mass and relative strength of that muscle determines how much weight a person can carry. While the Army uses body weight to determine how much a Soldier is required to be able to put in a ruck on their back for qualification purposes, Combat Patrols often go over that requirement and fat does not increase the load capacity.
Another physical fact is that women have a higher fat percentage than men. This is not derogatory. It is a physical fact. Mammary glands are in fact mostly composed of fat and men don't have them. An 160 lb man is going to have considerably more muscle and less fat than a 160 lb woman of the same height. The Army allowances for fat percentages and height/weight tables take this into account. The closest exception to this rule would be female body builders or marathon runners, but apples to apples, the male body builder of the same height/weight will still have lower body fat percentages.
To be absolutely fair, there do exist a small number of females that could attain the current physical standards. And there are many men that cannot attain the current standards. The men that can't hack it are not part of the equation, because they are already disallowed. So far, I haven't heard of any arguments that they should be "given a right" to join the Infantry, just because they "want to."
A team is only as strong as its weakest link. A combat patrol carries a lot of weight for a number of days, with everything on their back. Everything on your back adds up quickly, to the point that a combat infantryman will often pack a "poncho liner" rather than a sleeping bag, knowing that they will still be cold at night, but that those few spare ounces add up quick. Everything in that rucksack is rationed to meet necessity.
Even the most fit of infantrymen are tested to their abilities with the excesses of risk-averse requirements they must carry. Wearing body armor and helmets means they cannot carry as much ammo. Water alone weighs a lot. By the time one strips down MRE's, there just is not much load capacity left and this is before batteries, radios, and weapons are added. Seventy-five pounds would be a light load before including body armor or adding the weight of a M240B over the weight of an M4. The result is generally well over half the body weight of a male and is approaching the total body weight of many females. Now, climb that mountain.
So, what about the argument "if they can pass the current standard, let them try it?" Most making this argument are not serious about letting them in. They "know" few would cut it. The problem is that it wouldn't be the current physical standards for entry, but the current dual physical standards, which recognizes physical differences and sets the bar lower for females. A further problem is that if a single standard were developed, it would not be the current standard, but a lower bar that would accommodate the physical capabilities of women. (The current standard for a combat MOS is a male standard. The current physical standard in the military is based on sex and is considerably lower for females. A perfect score on a PT test entails considerably less of a female vs. a male of the same age group.)
At Airborne School, the black hats will tell you that the standards have never changed, that the first person to earn their wings passed the same standards as the graduates last Thursday. It is a certifiable lie. The paratroopers of World War II had much tougher standards than today's generation. The lie is based solely on the requirements of jump week, ie. that every graduate has properly (sortof) exited an aircraft five times. Previous generations had to crawl through animal intestines, had to run a 7 minute mile in formation in combat boots and was tossed from the school if they fell out or failed to sound off properly. Those standards have been lowered, right or wrong, in order to accommodate females who don't generally have the lung capacity to run a 7 minute mile.
"Attached to is not the same as assigned to a combat unit." This argument is used by both sides of the debate which confuses the validity and meaning. The attached soldier is recognized for their combat experience, in their records, in the award of their combat patch, and in the medals they are authorized. An attached soldier is not expected to perform outside of their MOS.
All Troops receive combat training and are expected to react to combat, but attached soldiers are not expected to kick in doors and put two rounds into the hearts and minds of the enemy. An attached soldier is in effect shielded from the combat specific duties. It's not their specialty and they aren't expected to have the same proficiency. They are expected instead to perform the duties they have been trained in, and they'll no doubt get some extra training to minimize their risk to that unit.
"A woman has specific personal hygiene issues that preclude extended time in the field." I have to be honest here. I'm not an expert on the specifics of what will happen if a woman can't wash for a week. I have seen many females that supported the argument. Here's what I can say. A week long or month long patrol does not allow for showers, for disrobing, or personal time. Even when changing socks, one does one foot, one boot at a time, because the situation can change that quickly. What little rest one gets and what little hygiene one is afforded is done inside the patrol, in view of the patrol.
Hygiene, rest, and any other activity that reduces alertness from 100% focus on potential threats is minimized and must be conducted within the watchful eye of teammates. The most conscientious units take this to the Nth degree of putting human waste in ziploc bags and bringing it home with them. A combat patrol isn't a camping trip. If you're not doing the bare necessities, you are on guard, or on the move and on guard. There's no time for extra bathroom breaks, a long shower, or washing your hair. Every set of eyes, every minute of time is precious to staying alive and completing the mission.
You don't get an hour to get ready in morning. (This is not to imply that every woman needs an hour.) You must be able to go from sleep to firefight in seconds and you have to be able to have your home on your back, with everything you took out for rest, in a matter of minutes after you wake up. Any hygiene time you get comes out of that sleep time you want, but on a combat patrol isn't alloted. Before your hygiene time is taken out, your sleep time is reduced to the bare minimum you can survive on. So, ladies, you tell me if your hygiene can be reduced to a swipe of baby-wipe in full view of every man on your squad.
While you're at it, consider the extra hygiene requirements that come monthly. It's part of the equation and you still don't get extra time or resources. Combat patrols are not planned around a monthly cycle, so every soldier has to be ready for every patrol. I'm not here to tell you that you can't do what's necessary, but I am saying that taking a week off every month is not an option. Patrols will be reduced enough by injuries without adding scheduled maintenance.
"A putrid odor" resulting from the above considerations. Smell is an important thing on combat patrols, both yours and theirs. For this reason, the most professional combat units don't allow smoking on patrol and don't like smokers being on the team. For this reason the most professional combat units will avoid the use of laundry soap and find hygiene products devoid of all smells. Many teams have adopted host nation cuisine to further mask their smell.
Ladies, if the hygiene routine outlined above does not allow you to prevent that smell, then that smell becomes a detriment to the patrol. And the question is not up to you. The question of smell is up to a brutally honest individual next to you. I know of some women that cannot mask it in an office envirornment. Like I said, I'm no expert on this, so I can't say that there are or are not women that could pass the smell test on a month long foot patrol.
"Women would be brutalized if taken prisoner." Given our current enemy, this is true. There are forms of torture, ie. rape, that are atrocious and specific to females. This enemy considers it a right of "war booty," so rape should be an expected outcome of capture. I find rapists to be some of the most despicable animals on earth. I cannot promise any mercy, or any bounds of law from exacting justice should I encounter one, regardless of what clothes he wears.
We've been very lucky in our current wars, as very few of our own have been captured. It's not a pretty scene in any war, even when the enemy fought holds the Geneva Conventions as a standard, but in this war the enemy is most atrocious.
"America is not ready to see a female POW brutalized." It is really difficult to quantify this argument. Would you and the people you know call for surrender should they see a woman raped and battered by the enemy? Do you know of people that would? It doesn't matter if they would be wrong. It matters only if National Security would fall prey to a single hostage situation.
"Women cannot take the pain of torture." Again, this is hard to quantify. I haven't experienced childbirth and never will. I can surmise it's pretty painful. Women do have a different set of tolerances for pain than do men. I have taken some serious blunt force trauma as well as penetration injuries without a sound. And I haven't witnessed people who could not take a small cut without loud lamentations. There are some people that can push through injury and illness better than others, but the counter-argument that men turn into babies when they get a fever is not valid.
Few people have ever known when I was "under the weather." And this is replicated by many men that I know. It is demonstrated by the statistics on doctor visits by men and women. So, while it is an individual characteristic, the fact that a man is incapacitated when ill in itself is not an indicator. If the individual is incapacitated with a hangnail, or a broken nail, it is far different than if they become incapacitated after 2 days of pneumonia. Whiners of any type are unwelcome on a combat patrol.
Combat MOS's are not known for sympathy to comrades that get sick or injured, unless it is very evident that it is real. For this reason, Combat MOS's are known for worsening an injury or illness until ordered by a superior to take a trip to the doctor and quarters (bed rest). The combat leader making this decision usually does so because the Warrior's abilities have deteriorated to the point of being a risk to the unit. I know people who went through multiple Airborne jumps with broken or sprained limbs, because they refused to go to the doctor and lose their chance to get their wings. I know of an NCO that broke his back because he refused to not jump on a sprained knee, so he could go to combat. This is more pronounced at the Q Course and Ranger School, where the misery is greater, the school longer, and the tab of greater pride.
Eight hundred milligram Motrin is called "Ranger Candy" for a reason.
If you believe that physically the above is achievable by women, and in all honesty, there are probably a few exceptional women that could overcome those physical barriers, the next argument is "men would be distracted by the presence of women." There are various ways this argument is presented, but the bottom line is that humans are a part of the animal kingdom. Regardless of what anyone wants to say, or believe, humans have not evolved that much beyond those basic animal instincts. Ninety-nine percent of all human behavior can be traced back to animal instincts, and is best analyzed by those base animal behaviors.
In this case, we're talking about sex. In the rest of the animal kingdom, sex is simply a means of reproducing. In the human animal, sex is also a form of entertainment. In other words, sex is more prolific in humans than anywhere else in the animal kingdom. We don't "screw like rabbits," we just don't reproduce as often as rabbits, but they only screw to reproduce, which is far less often.
We've "evolved" to enjoy it more, not to resist those urges. Humans enjoy sex so much that they attempt to prevent reproduction so they can enjoy it more. Prides of lions can hunt together without sexual desires, because unless the lionness is biologically ready to reproduce, there is no desire on the part of either. Still, the pride has already determined who will get lucky in more violent versions of the male competition.
Conversely, the human desire for sex is ever present. There are almost no humans that don't like or desire sex. The competition between members of the same sex for the best specimen of the other sex doesn't necessarily even end when the object is married. Infidelity in marriage is a persistent reality (well over 50%) and polls in women's magazines show it is more prevalent with females than men. In other words, neither men nor women have "evolved" beyond acting upon sexual desires. Laws, Financial detriment (divorce), or even Eternal Damnation (church) has been able to stop humans from having sex.
Would a woman be less desireable while stinking at the end of a 7 day patrol, wearing body armor and carrying a weapon? Probably so, but a few hours later the collective stench of the patrol would be washed away, and the thought of that perfumed shampoo would be present in the minds of men who've seen no other woman for months at a time, before and after they hit the showers.
I've only seen one woman in a combat zone that was so ugly that I did not believe she was getting laid. All the rest are "deployment queens." Women don't have to be the prettiest woman in the world to get laid. They only need to be the prettiest woman available. That's not sexist. It's reality. I know of one very ugly woman that had a parade of different men exiting her door doing the walk of shame in a civilian envirornment where many beautiful women lived and partied loosely. Why? She was available and she let them know. Those were the civilized, evolved men of the civilian world who fell prey to their basic human instincts.
The ratio of women to men in the Army is somewhere around 1:10. Available takes on a whole new meaning in a combat environment and men will compete for those odds. That's not chauvinistic. It is basic animal instinct. It occurs throughout the animal kingdom and humans remain members of the kingdom. Even if the ratio is 50:50, men will compete for the best specimen. Women do the same thing, but are much more cutthroat about it.
Men and women interact differently. It is just the way it is. I know countless women who will openly state their distaste for female interaction. Men are generally just confused about female interactions. But the differences in the thought processes and relationship "styles" cannot be denied.
Decades of political correctness has not changed those basic differences, even if it has suppressed the expression of them. Millenium of women polishing those diamonds in the rough have not changed basic male norms. It just means that men suppress the norm while securing the relationship. We don't fart on a date, while we do while watching the romantic video on the marital couch.
Some have suggested that the example of sex in the corporate workplace demonstrates things can be different. I will say that the problems of the corporate workplace demonstrate that it has not been changed. Sleeping with the boss or co-workers is detrimental to teamwork and fairness in the workplace. In combat, it can get people killed. Orders must be based on killing the enemy, not protecting the life of who you're sleeping with, or want to sleep with. Even King David fell prey to ordering battles based on putting in danger his competition for a woman.
Men and women are different and that is a good thing. Men and women have different strengths and weaknesses which make them better at different things. They bring different things to the table and that's a good thing. But basic human and animal instincts are part of the mix. Basic physical differences are fact. Combat is as base animal action as there is in the modern world. It is physical and its participants cannot ignore or suppress the human realities of it.
The Military has already sacrificed enough standards to achieve political correctness, in the name of human evolution. There are already too many double standards to the detriment of "equal opportunity." The realities of physiological differences and basic human/animal impulses means that the combat unit would be negatively effected by the attempt to change the composition of a combat squad.
There was one argument I missed, but I don't really have any discussion points on it:
Thor said: You failed to mention that women tend to be more of the "nurturing type". That, in itself, presents a problem while on patrol or doing any type of Ops.
It's not that the point doesn't address a natural distinction between male and females, but that I'm at a bit of a loss in how to address this. It is the reason why more women than men are nurses. And they do a great job of it. I'm pretty sure I couldn't match their abilities in that field. It is why it is our mothers care for us when we're sick, not generally our dads.