Fair Specimens of Citizen Soldiers
A woman Marine Officer has questioned the wisdom of allowing women in combat units. What say our loyal readers. Before you comment please read her article, thanks.
We live in a society where everyone feels as though they have a right to belong regardless of anything. Politicians believe there no risks of promoting all of the social experimentation imposed on the Armed Forces. What are the chances of a woman on a combat ship getting killed in action?
What are the chances of a woman getting killed in a dog fight? Probably little to none so our national leaders advocate for everyone to have a chance.
The military is being played by the Administration as part of a socio-engineering experiment and not for national security reasons. I think Captain Petronio picks up on this them when she comments “Who is driving this agenda? I am not personally hearing female Marines, enlisted or officer, pounding on the doors of Congress ….This issue is being pushed by several groups, one of which is a small committee of civilians appointed by the Secretary of Defense called the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service…”
I did not expect her to comment on the toll on the female’s body and the lack of studies to address women’s combat effectiveness over time and this warrants serious consideration. (BTW a huge THANK YOU to Katie for her service and sacrifice!!!).
Also, what about the desert beauty issue – I was reminded of recently as I read “The Human Factor” Ishmael Jones (see http://www.amazon.com/The-Human-Factor-Dysfunctional-Intelligence/dp/1594032238 ). Aside from the moral and ethical issues, there are affects on unit cohesiveness and retention.
I would think if it a serious venture that women in the infantry should meet the same standards as men and be deployed separately.
Captain Petronio’s article asks some very uncomfortable questions, and has some highly pertinent observations following not one, but TWO opportunities with the grunts.
Not that it makes any difference to the idealogues. Summa them comments are doozies.
There are hundreds of occupations in this country that limit exactly who can participate. The vast majority base this discrimination on intelligence and educational levels, but the end result is the same. Should medical schools admit and graduate students who are not capable of doing the work? How about engineering schools? If I were to bring a lawsuit against MIT stating it is wrong that it refused me admittance due to low SAT and math ability I would be laughed out of the court. Should a person with depth perception issues be allowed to become an airline pilot, blind people bus drivers, etc.
The same situation is in place with the Marines. A woman’s physiology is simply inferior to a man’s and even if a woman is able to meet the basic physical requirement to enter the field odds are her body will break down well before a man would. There is nothing wrong for this, mother nature simply designed the two bodies to accomplish different tasks and no amount of legislsation can alter that fact.
The other issue is sex, but I will leave that for others to argue.
Hats off to Capt Petronio for nailing the source of the problem (meddling politicos with agendas tied to cash and honors) and for articulating real issues faced in-theater.
May I recommend she be permitted to post here as an Op-Forian?
Something that would be interesting to see – a miracle, no less – is to an actual, scientific, mathematically explainable study of the capabilities required of the Infantry by echelon.
In the Army, we rely on tradition and inertia to develop the infantry to be the same as it was since the Spanish-American War (with the exception of technology, which adds to the weight of the ruck).
The infantry platoon is the cornerstone of force development, and all other branches/arms are based on supporting that platoon. But no one can really, scientifically point to what an infantry platoon is required to be capable of doing.
That, and the continued development of powered exoskeletons may render the male-only domains OBE.
The reason why we uld want women in the infantry has to do with making the most effective use of people–arbitrarily restricting any MOS to one gender or another reduces the services’ ability to use people in flexible ways. We have to remember that too many people in the country do not want to enlist, and we are lucky as a nation that so many women have come forward to serve–otherwise the volunteer military would be a failure. So we have to make h best use of ALL the people we have. This is the real issue, not politics or “social engineering.” In fact, I am dismayed that every argument advanced so far against assigning women to infantry assignments has been made about black and gay soldiers. The physical differences are significant but relatively small, but some of it can be compensated for by better selection and training. The sad fact is that most men are not suited to infantry assignments, either. Some women are more suitable for such duties than some men. The author here uses herself as a data set of one to make this case. Her experience is just that: her experience. And what she offers is largely anecdotal.
We could look at other countries that do have women in their infantry–Norway is such an example. Somehow their women infantry soldiers keep up in tough terrian like snow and mountains–in short, terrain not unlike parts of Afghanistan. Will there be problems? Of course. Are they manageable? Probably. Then again, we have a huge sexual assault problem in the service these days, which indicates that some commanders are not doing their jobs. And that gives me some pause abou endorsing the notion of women in the infantry, not the women, but the inability of some commanders to lead or discipline their soldiers . .
I never saw those female Norwegian and Swedish soldiers leave the compound. The Telemark is a good unit, and Swedish Rangers are pretty okay. But don’t confuse gender integration with combat, please. If so, please use countries that actually employ women in combat as a matter of doctrine and law.
Mike burke now equating this argument to the gay/black argument is exactly the same “it’s ok, you’re ok, can’t we just all get along, and accept everyone for everything” dementia that definded the selfish and ultimately devisive social policies that should have died a swift, whimpering death at the close of the 70s. Now we have a whole generation of Mike Burkes who have been inculcated with this cancer that slowly but surely eats away at the muscle of our country. Differences are good and are there for a reason – 99% of which have been developed over eons – how about we call a spade a spade and acknowledge that women will never be able to hump a baseplate and 4 mortar rounds in addition to their ruck and that men should not be putting their gear in another mans rear. Come on… really burke?
Let me clarify that the issues with black soldiers was not right. That sad chapter has no bearing whatsoever on the social issues that are being foisted upon us now.
Mike, the difference between integrating women into infantry units vs. blacks or homosexuals is a matter of logistics. When the US military desegregated, it actualy *saved* money by being able to bunk white and black soldiers together in the same barracks and to use the same showers and chow halls. When homosexuals were allowed to serve openly in the US military, it was made very clear that NO specific faciities would be arranged for them or those who did not wish to share bunks or showers with them. So you increased your manpower pool and either made money (desegregation) or broke even (repeal of DADT).
The US Navy is now experimenting with putting women aboard. At present, this means bunking four women together in what used to be a junior officer room. But what happens if you need to add a fifth woman to the crew? She can’t (at present) bunk with the male sailors and if you kick other junior officers out of their bunk just so you can add one more woman to the crew, you have reduced your overall total manpower, or at least, unnecessarily disrupted the morale and welfare of those junior officers who have now lost their room.
So it comes down to logisitics and gains. How much is it worth to add women to combat units? How much do we gain from it? The second answer is easier than the first…apparently nothing. As the good Captain pointed out in her post, there is no shortage of men who want to be Infantry Officers. So we don’t *need* to recruit from the *marginally* larger pool of bodies represented by women in general (and much, much smaller pool of those who might even be qualified). Flying combat aircraft, studies have shown over and over, that women actually excel in the high g environment and the ability to deal with the multitude of systems. And because on Air Force bases (a different case on carriers) you don’t have to worry as much about billeting, it costs you nothing to add a pilot who may in fact be better than the average.
Now the repeal of DADT points the way. If 18 year old homosexuals can be trusted not to violate General Order Number 1 down range and can be allowed to bunk and shower together and still purport themselves professionally, why can’t the average the 18 year old heterosexual? Of course, your own comment and the documentary “Invisible War” suggests that this may not actually be the case.
I don’t care one way or another if women *should* be allowed to serve as Infantry Officers. I’m just curious about two things: what is this going to cost us and what do we get out of it? Its not about fair, or setting a shining example for the rest of the world, or modifying standards or any of the rest of it. It’s about economy of force and from my perspective, it doesn’t make sense to modify combat unit living facilities for the *possibilty* of a very few select group of women to join combat units.
Whether women in combat arms MOSs is for better or worse, it should have no, zero, nada bearing on “fairness”. The military exists for the singular purpose to protect and defend the Republic. The Founders realized that permitting the freedom, rights and equality that our Constitution seeks to protect in the military would lead to the end of the very freedom, rights and equality for the rest of the nation. That’s why the military is somewhat “extra-constitutional”. Service members are restricted in their rights of free speech, assembly, movement, to bear arms, search and seizure etc. etc. the Constitution says that Congress gets to make the rules for the military. Fairness has NOTHING to do with it.
I think that Captain Petronio hit the nail exactly on the head. There are physical differences between men and women that refuse to be legislated away. The physical demands for an infantryman are tremendous. (I was an infantry officer – platoon leader and company commander.) There should be a place for the common sense observations that she has made in this discussion. And – I did not know the “drop” rates for females at OCS that she writes about.
I had written some time ago, that in my civilian pursuits, I was a high school track coach for 18 years. A high school girl who runs the 800 meters close to 2 minutes will get a college offer. But there are hundreds of high school freshmen boys who run this time. It’s not a matter of training or preparation. Boys are faster and stronger. And men are faster and stronger – in general.
I salute Captain Petronio for speaking out so clearly.
Actually, I don’t think fairness has anything to do with this. Nor do I think it is a matter of “gender integration”–that horse left the barn long ago. In fact, without women, the volunteer military would have failed by now.
I think it is simply an issue of making the best use of all the resources the military has. I do not think this has anyting to do with what might have been in the air in the 70s, mainly because there’s no longer a draft–stopped in 1972, as you all know. That shift has given us this issue–if you want an all-volunteer military, with soldiers paid living wages and expensively recruited and trained, then you have to be willing to assign people to the duties where they can serve best. The cuntry certainly doesn’t want a draft (and those of us who had draftees as soldiers would not like a return to that–forcing youg men into military service is anti-democratic, I think).
In the draft days, soldiers were paid less and were recruited at low cost, and thus could be malassiged because the overall cost of doing so was relatively low. We cannot afford that any more. It may well be that there are some women who would be capable of carrying out all the duties of infantry soldiers–which are very taxing and diffiuclt (which is why not all men can be ifantrymen). I imagine that relatively few women will be able to meet the challenges. But arbitrarily restricting this specialty–or any other– solely on the basis of gender is, in the long run, unsustainable.
Requiring young men to perform military service has democratic roots that span from ancient Athens and Rome, through the Anglo-Saxon fyrd, English Yeoman, Colonial Militia and drafts in place for the majority of the 20th century. I’d say it is essential to democratic civic responsibility, but that’s a discussion for another day / post.
On the other hand, this discussion has everything to do with fairness. Every argument put forth by proponents of females in combat arms always comes back to the idea that it is not fair that women are not permitted. They argue it interferes with career advancement (unfair), equal opportunities (unfair) even that females cannot receive the CIB (unfair). I stand by my above comment that fairness should play no role when it comes to the defense of the nation.
As to the assertion that an AVF means assigning people where they can best serve, I agree. However you will never convince me that the disruption, effects on morale, good order and discipline, infrastructure changes and money spent on recruiting and training the VERY small number of females capable of performing the physical demands of combat arms will be beneficial to the good of the service.
For reference, I have served in combat arms, combat support and service support units, all male units and integrated units.
When you say the draft has been in place most of the 20th Century; while conscription has been the norm in many countries, in reality except for the two World Wars and the period from the late 40′s through the early 70′s; the US has used an all volunteer force. I am with you that a discussion on the draft is warranted.
Townie, you are correct, majority of the 20th century is not. When adding the years 1917-18 and 1940-1972, it comes out to about 1/3 of the 20th century. However, the mechanisms for the draft (Army-Navy Boards and Selective Service) were in place for virtually the entire century.
Militia service was compulsory in many colonies/ states, that is also a type of conscription.
Finally, both sides used conscription in the War between the States. The numbers of conscripts were comparatively few because volunteerism was so high, but both sides used it to bring in the last 5% of qualified men.
And in the Civil War.
This link has Capt Petronio discussing on CNN. Although I agree with Capt Petronio substantively, I am not sure about how I feel about her giving her OPINION on TELEVISION in UNIFORM (I use caps because there is no italics option). Opinions from officers are appropriate in the appropriate forum. I’m not sure if CNN is the appropriate forum. I feel as though I am beginning to see more and more behavior from other company grade officers from all services (and on multiple occasions from the Marine Corps) regarding political questions (women in combat, DADT, etc.). I say this as a company grade officer of the Marine variety who happens to agree with Petronio’s major premise. I wonder if the Corps is going to now permit those with dissenting views to voice their opinions on CNN in uniform. If not, I see trouble ahead….
It is perfectly acceptable, even heroic, when Missy Mullen gives his unsolicited personal opinion on a political matter (DADT repeal) while on television, in uniform, and then declares anyone in disagreement to lack “integrity”, but Captain Petronio cannot?
Mullen should have been severely reprimanded. That he was not is forever to his and Gates’ shame. And it opens the doors for Captain Petronio.
That goose and gander thing, and all.
Capt Petronio’s chain of command, up to the base CO, may have failed her.
She should have received a PAO and JAG briefing on her appearance on CNN. Period. If she did, then she’s legal and no complaints. If she did not, or chose to disregard that advice, I recommend immediate Court Martial for all the officers involved (since Marines hiding behind a woman should be a hanging offense), followed by recruiting her to run for Congress.
ADM Mullen position, whether as CNO or as CJCS, is strictly political in nature and whomever is in that position is required to make public, political statements. Mullins should not be ashamed – it’s part and parcel of the job.
You are very much mistaken regarding Mullen. He offered his PERSONAL opinion on a political matter without prompting, while wearing a uniform, on television, and then frosted the cake by adding that anyone who disagreed with him had an “integrity” problem.
Watch the video. They never asked for his personal opinion. Had they done so, it was his duty to tell them that his personal feelings on a political matter were not for public statement. Like EVERY OTHER OFFICER is supposed to. Or, at least was.
He is despicable and shameful. What he did was political toadying and currying favor. Nothing more. It sure as hell wasn’t his job.
and when I say political–I mean politically charged. All of these questions have real-world ramifications that resonate beyond mere political advantage
While I couldn’t watch Cpt. Petronio’s video right now, I don’t imagine there is much of an issue if her view supports USMC/DoD policy/Federal law. People get in trouble when they criticize policy in uniform.
Below article was written in 1997 – timeless.