Last week, activists floated the balloon that the Congressionally appointed "Military Leadership Diversity Commission" would recommend that women would be allowed to serve in Combat Positions. The report is due to Congress in March, so the leak allows them a chance to tailor their arguments to overcome the ensuing opposition. The concept of the argument for the change is that its about "equal opportunity," but the proponents have the advantage of keeping their specific arguments secret while observing what the opposition will say. [FETeam in action.]
As is typical of this kind of debate, the proponents of the change dismiss any that oppose them as "male chauvinists," "sexists," or "immature." In doing so, they are able to ignore the actual discussion and evidence against their position, while failing to actually produce evidence that a change is needed. The arguments against a change in policy are far from unified and run the gambit from enemy actions to human realities.
Typical of the debate is the attempt by one of the most capable, Uncle Jimbo, to discuss the pitfalls with activist Eve Chase on Russia TV, with a moderator who clearly favored Eve's argument. Uncle Jimbo is as capable on the battlefield as he is in a battle of wits, but his argument was undermined by the fact he was distracted by the woman in front of him. He allowed the two women to railroad and ignore him while proudly proclaiming he was able to secure drinks afterward. While, it was apparent to all but the two women involved in their own discussion, his words and style of argument may have been gentlemanly, but his eyes were focused on Eve's attributes, whenever the pair weren't paying attention to him (which was pretty much the entire "debate").
Let's look at the primary arguments of the proponents of women in Combat MOS's (Military Occupation Speciality, ie. jobs):
"Current policy prevents awards recognizing the Valor of women." Also false. Two females have already received the Silver Star in the War On Terror. One earned the Medal in Iraq and the other in Afghanistan. There are mulitple awards of the Bronze Star for Valor to females.
The Medal of Honor has or has not been awarded to a woman depending on who you ask. There is a case of it being awarded to a Civil War female civilian and revoked as it is not authorized to civilians. The brass are desperate to do so and I still contend that Jessica Lynch would have been the first if it weren't for her integrity. She was the one that stepped forward to tell the world the DoD storyline was untrue. Compare SGT Leigh Hester Silver Star to MSG Anthony Pryor Silver Star. Compare MSG David Miles Silver Star to SGT Monica Brown's Silver Star, both medics.
"Women are already serving and dying in combat." This statement is true but it implies a falsehood. Women have served in combat zones since before Desert Storm. Most MOS's are open to women and the positions those MOS's fill are open to females at Combat Brigade and higher level commands throughout the military. They are open to females in all non-Combat Brigades throughout the military. Many of those units (and hence females) do in fact see some combat.
An example of an MOS open to women but a position that is not is Combat Medic in an Infantry Squad. A Combat Medic on an MP truck is open to a female, and that medic is very likely to see combat action, but does not operate in the same conditions, nor are MPs (regardless of what they like to think) designed to "close with and destroy the enemy." An MP is almost always in a "mounted patrol," i.e. riding in a vehicle, whereas an Infantry Patrol, even Mechanized Infantry, must have the capacity to carry their life on their backs. Infantry and other combat positions are the units that conduct combat as a way of life, rather than responding to combat when the enemy gets bold.
There is a big difference between manning a machine gun in a turret and carrying a machine gun for days and miles at a time before assaulting the objective.
"The military records cheat those women out of noting their combat experience." Patently false. The military maintains a record of the units and places served. As with the medals, women are also authorized to be awarded the Combat Action Badge. The individual Soldier receives a copy of all orders of assignments and can further document their roles if they lack trust in the military paperwork system. (I recommend that they do, as all military paperwork is prone to loss in the bureacracy.)
"Women are denied combat training because they aren't in Combat MOS's." Partially true. Because women are not assigned to Ranger or Special Forces positions, they are not authorized to attend those schools. These schools are not open to the peers of women either. It costs a lot of money to send a Soldier to those schools, so there must be an Army need to do so. Unless you're the supply clerk at a Ranger Company, you're not going to go to Ranger School as a supply sergeant and even then, you'll be at the bottom of their list. The supply sergeant at a Special Forces Company is not going to the SF Qualification Course, unless he's changing his MOS to 18 series. Neither do women compete for promotion against those MOS's, so it doesn't effect their career progression.
Women get 100% of the combat training that every other person in their unit gets. They go to the same Basic Combat Training as men and the same Advanced Individual Training as every other person in their MOS. They don't have to pass the same physical fitness standards as men, even in the same MOS.
"FET (Female Engagement Teams) prove women are already in combat." No, FETeams are not combat operations. They are patently not combat operations. They are particularly important because of culture and cultural myths involved in the War in Afghanistan. They engage female Afghans in conversation and may even search females. The moment a FETeam attempts to search a male Afghan, things would go south quick. Every Soldier/Marine is trained for certain aspects of combat and these teams require particular attention in such training due to their nature, but their mission is NOT to seek out and destroy the enemy. Here's one story of a FETeam. Feel free to search the site for more (upper left sidebar).
"Today's assymetrical warfare is different than historical linear warfare." Yes, it is, but regardless of what pundits and politicians want to say, the current war does not define the next war. Linear warfare can break out on the Korean Peninsula, the Island of Taiwan, or even the Border with Mexico. In fact, the Iraq War began as linear warfare and Iran threatens war of the same traditional style of combat, before it too would turn into assymetrical warfare. Even in the strategy of US COIN operations, Infantry go on long foot patrols climbing mountains before assaulting an enemy objective. That is far different to reacting to an IED or SAF(small arms fire) ambush on a mounted patrol where the heaviest thing worn is body armor.
I cannot explain what the real reasons are that there is again a push to put women in combat MOS's, but none of the arguments I've heard hold water. This is not about "equal opportunity." But I can tell you that if EO programs were not abused by women, there would be much less opposition to putting women in Combat MOS's.
And I will straight up call any Veteran a liar that says they don't know of multiple cases of EO being used as a means of retribution of a leader someone didn't like or to get out of UCMJ action for breaking regulations, unless that person never served around women. It is a rampant abuse of the system and undermines true equality in the military. Even an allegation of an EO complaint can ruin a Soldier's career, hence even the threat of a false allegation can and does get violaters of UCMJ out of trouble.
The false allegations in the EO complaint system are particularly detrimental to equal opportunity. The sheer volume casts doubt on every case brought up in the minds of those that are aware of the case, as well as those that must adjudicate it. Real cases of sexual harrasment or sexual discrimination suffer because EO is so often used as a blunt assault against good leaders or to escape punishment that is deserved.
With the arguments for a change in policy holding no weight, I will in a later article discuss the arguments for maintaining the current policy. In a third article, I will provide examples of the current system as relates to the debate.
Originally posted in Perspectives. Tomorrow: Discussing the arguments AGAINST the change.