Four women looking tired

Here are More Reasons Why Women Have no Place in Combat Units

In my first post on the women in combat subject Women Shouldn’t Be in Combat Units!, I received an outpouring of “hate” mail and tweets. As I sorted through them, I attempted to understand why folks believe women shouldn’t be in combat. I am honestly interested in everyone’s thoughts.

I put together a list of reasons provided to me and followed up with a second post, Reasons Why Women Shouldn’t Be in Combat Units.  Very quickly I received another volley of reasons why I was wrong about this—why women REALLY should not be in combat units.

Really?    

I’m good with admitting I’m wrong when I am, but you have yet to convince me on this subject. So let’s take a look at what else folks have told me is their reasoning is for excluding women in combat units.

“I don’t want to see a woman service member die in combat.”

Really?

Hey, man, it is way too late. Plenty of women have come home from Iraq and Afghanistan in wooden boxes. You know why—because they were warriors who fought and died for their country. They paid the ultimate sacrifice so you could continue to patronize them freely.

As an officer in the United States Army I don’t want any service member to die in combat. But this isn’t a reality.

 

“Women aren’t physically capable of handling the stresses of war.”

Wait, what, really?

Here is a quick funny story. It is 2004 and I’m a company commander stationed in Germany. My boss tells me there is some reorganization about to happen. He tells me to choose three of the four lieutenants I have to deploy with the company to Iraq. At the time I have two female and two male lieutenants.

So let’s talk physical strength. I have a lieutenant I’ll call Boris. Boris was a beast—He could run faster than almost anyone in the company. In the combative pit he was unbeatable unless we sent two or three people in there to take him down.  Guess what, though—He couldn’t lead anyone to the bathroom.

I’ll never forget the conversation when I tell him I’m choosing a female lieutenant over him.

“Boris, you need more development as an officer and leader,” I say. “I’ve chosen to take Lieutenant Velazquez with the company to Iraq.”

He has a look of shock on his face that turns to disgust as he says, “But, Sir, she’s a girl. You are choosing a girl over me?”

I’m perplexed by his response but remain firm as I say, “Yes, I am, Boris.”

As a company commander the gender issue wasn’t even taken into consideration. I wanted the best officer to lead my soldiers.

What happened to those two young officers? One deploys successfully to Iraq, is awarded two bronze stars (one for valor) and skillfully leads a platoon of 36 young Americans for an entire year. The other deploys to Afghanistan with my buddy’s company and is subsequently fired as a platoon leader. Guess which one is which.

Let me give you a clue: a lesson to be learned in this case is that physical strength is only one facet of a Warrior.

“Women aren’t emotionally or mentally capable of handling the stresses of war.”

Really?

Have you told this to the thousands of women serving in Afghanistan today? What I love about this comment is that it is being proven wrong every day, but for some reason there are people who still believe this. So, if you are one of those people who believe this, I’m here to tell you that you’re dead wrong. How do I know? I’ve seen women perform exceptionally well under the stresses of war with my own eyes.

My challenge to those of you that still don’t believe me: Show me an example of your position. Show me an example of a woman not emotionally or mentally capable of handling the stresses of war. Who knows, you may be able to produce one. But I can produce 10 times as many examples of men breaking down because of the stresses of war. War affects every single person differently—female or male, it doesn’t matter. It is an individual reaction.

So really, guys, I mean really?

Maybe it is time to stop typecasting service members because of gender. What I see in the “hate” comments is nothing but people’s (mostly males who think like Boris) assumptions based on zero supporting evidence.

Am I wrong here? Please tell me why I am wrong or not.

I’ve heard from firefighters and police. Are there other jobs facing similar societal stereotypes?

Does anyone have any examples to share of good or bad experiences with men or women service members during enemy contact?

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90 thoughts on “Here are More Reasons Why Women Have no Place in Combat Units

  1. Rhianon Etzweiler

    Beautifully written, and well said.

    Leadership isn’t just about brute strength and force. And one’s resilience and survival in a combat zone is as related to gender as it is to race, religion, or age, which is to say, not at all. (I’ve read stories of grizzled old CSM’s rushing in to save lives where butterbar’s fear to tread, in fact.)

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Thanks so much Rhianon. I really believe that this os one more “boys club” that needs to open their doors. Funny when I was writing this piece the big hoopla about the female CEO of IBM not be allowed to join Augusta was all over the news.

      I can remember when was a young platoon leader in the 82d Military Police Comapany in th late 90s and there had never been a female officer chosen to be in that company. As we look back at that…..how silly was that?

      Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Thank you Barbara. I also think women bring a very good dynamic into an organization. Now the multiple tasking thing….. Honestly I’ve seen good and bad by both sexes.

      Reply
  2. APearson

    I was in the military many years ago with guys were never going to see combat, who were saying that women couldn’t handle being taken as prisoners of war because they’d be raped. I laughed and explained that IF we were to become prisoners of war we know damn well that’s going to happen and we knew it when we signed up. What most of us didn’t expect was the possibility of being raped by our own fellow servicemen. We were at a small base in Germany where American G.I.’s were raping women and we had to be briefed to be careful. Not saying that always happens but I love the arrogance of some people.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Hi Amy. Check out this piece on BG Cornum who was taken prisoner during Desert Storm…see what she has to say about the sexual molestation during captivity.

      http://www.army.mil/article/54136/

      You are very right….we def have to educate our own troops on respect and dignity.

      Reply
  3. Tim

    Open it up…

    But make sure you do the following –

    1) Non Gender Biased PFTs (what the USMC is considering). Strength is not necessarily required, but there is a reason why the NFL doesnt have women playing in it. Additionally, the infantry is a roll that should be reserved for someone that has ALL the leadership traits.

    2) NEVER have a quota system for infantry school that says you need so many women to graduate. If they do that, you are only making our military service weaker. However, based on the argument that women want this because the want a chance at more prestigious positions in their perspective services, I already see it coming.

    You seem to draw your conclusions based ONLY on your perspective of what you saw. That is not the way to play with statistics.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Hi Tim. I’m interested in this non gender APFT. Can you pontificate on it? What is the MC considering?

      The infantry isn’t reserved for people with all the leaderships skills now so why would that make a difference?

      I agree with 100% on quotas…they are crap. You want something or a certain job? You earn it or you don’t. But I think folks should’t be precluded from a job because or gender, race, ligion, etc.

      Reply
  4. Tim

    Right on brother!

    I trained with a number of women going through college who would have been fantastic in a combat command, and I’ve trained with more than a few men who wouldn’t be.

    You nailed it on the head perfectly, a person is a person gender does not determine leadership ability.

    Reply
  5. Lt. KW

    While its true that some woman do not belong in combat units, it is also very true that some men do not belong in Combat units, all individuals male and female need to know their limitations and the military should also recognise this fact. Physical & mental standards should be the same for all and only one standard not graduated for age or sex.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      I dig what you are saying. Equal standards = equal rights.

      I do think we need to take a look at the standards though so they reflect attributes needed to perform the job.

      Reply
  6. Jared

    Having seen both sidesFA, MP and BCT, female leadership throughout the ranks adds a humanity and decency that is rare in a male only unit. Not to be confused with soft.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      I feel the same way Jared. I really felt like my women Soldiers “rounded out” my unit’s dynamics.

      Reply
  7. Julie

    Kevin,
    Interesting, thought-provoking article about a subject that will never reach a conclusion.

    I appreciate the women who have served this country and made the ultimate sacrifice.

    I believe that women are strong, intelligent, organized & capable beings. That being said, I believe there are certain responsibilities & tasks on this earth that men are better equipped for, and combat to me is one of them. I also put football, race car driving and firefighting on that list.

    Combat, as my father (who served in Korea & was awarded a Purple Heart) has told me many times, is hell. It’s physically, emotionally and spiritually draining. I believe that women are God’s perfect creation of empathy, compassion & caregiving and we lack for the most part, the ability to separate those emotions in critical situations. Men on the otherhand, tend to emotionally detach themselves and address the task at hand. Women in combat also present a much more frightening possibility if they were to be taken as prisoners of war. I shutter to think of the depths of degredation and depravity that a “holy warrior” might go to break a female soldier. We’ve seen & heard what happens to our male military members taken prisoner. I can’t imagine the special hell they lived through and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

    I know there are exceptions to every rule and by your commments, there have been women who have excelled in the military and in combat units. But for me, I leave that work to the menfolk.

    Respectfully,
    .

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Hi Julie. Thank you for your thought provoking comments.

      I do thinking that there are plenty of women firefighters… and also Danica Patrick who would disagree on your examples though. But I do understand what you are saying and appreciate your point. My thing is to allow folks the opportunity and not to preclude them because of their gender. As Jarod mentioned before…. this is America….we live in a democracy.

      Our freedoms are provided by the men and women that have given that last full measure to allow us to have these rights.

      Did you see the link I provided with then Major and now Brigadier General Cornum’s POW experience? Honestly, I shudder to think about any POW in this holy war. Those heathens are cutting our troops heads off. While deployed I was ready to fight to my death rather than be taken prisoner. I never wanted to be a propaganda tool for them.

      Reply
  8. Paul Robichaux

    The Marine Corps Times article announcing this change (http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2012/04/marine-corps-women-infantry-combat-dunford-amos-041812/) just says the following:

    “Additionally, new functional fitness tests are being developed to help Marine Corps leaders determine how women and men perform in, and cope with, various combat tasks. The goal is to establish “gender-neutral” physical fitness standards. Details are scant, but the Marine Corps’ Training and Education Command is looking to purchase a variety of new equipment specifically for these tests, suggesting the tasks associated with them will closely mimic combat-essential duties such as operating and moving heavy weaponry, and carrying casualties from the battlefield.”

    The Marine Corps is already pretty diligent about using PFT and CPFT scores to screen people, so I think they will probably do this right. (Disclaimer: I’m a Marine.)

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      You know…the Marine Corps always seem to be on the tip of sphere with this stuff. (OK, a jealous moment from this Army guy)

      I was just talking to my father-in-law about functionality testing for certain jobs……tailor it towards the job. I like the idea.

      This is a really interesting concept. Thank you for posting the link Paul.

      Reply
      1. Paul Robichaux

        I am probably typical of most Marines in that I don’t especially like the idea of women serving in direct ground combat billets like infantry. It’s not what we’re used to, as Marines or as Americans or as men. It is uncomfortable, as change often is.

        Having said that, I hope I am typical of Marines in that if the Commandant, Secretary of Defense, POTUS, or other properly constituted authority tells us to integrate women into ground combat that we will do so with traditional Marine excellence.

        I’m reminded of this WSJ piece quoting the current Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. Barrett, as saying “Get over it. … We’re magnificent, we’re going to continue to be. … Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines.”

        http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2011/06/21/straight-talk-from-top-enlisted-marine-on-dont-ask-repeal/

        Semper Fi!

        (obtw, Kevin, thanks for raising this topic, and thanks x 2 for writing about military working dogs, a topic of great interest to my middle son– glad to have found your blog!)

        Reply
        1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

          You are so right about change Paul. Anything that is different is foreign and unknown…..therefore uncomfortable.

          I love what Sgt Maj Barrett said….awesome stuff. That kind of stuff has to come from the top. I was very moved sitting in Afghanistan and watching every single Joint Chief of Staff tell Congress that they wants to repeal the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Law. It inspired me to echo their message to every service member I encounter.

          Thanks. I’m glad you found me as well. Have a great weekend.

          Reply
  9. DLC

    As a female Marine combat veteran (of multiple Iraq deployments from 2003 onward) THANK YOU for writing this piece!

    I distinctly recall my Senior DI informing a Rifle Instructor that some of the best snipers in the world have been women, after he made a comment about the futility of teaching females to shoot (and that was after 9/11). The range-record holder at Parris Island was a female from our platoon, actually.

    It amazes me that some of the most highly decorated Canadian and British soliders are women (happily the American servicewomen are catching up to them in recognition now) and that historically some of the toughest combat veterans of earlier wars were women too (see especially “Heroes of the Soviet Union”), yet still some Americans persist in trying to play the “weaker sex” card.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Thanks for your comment Dana. That is really cool how your Senior DI stepped in to educate your instructor. I find that those have served with women have a greater appreciate for our female troops. Those that are haven’t don’t normally have this holistic view. I am by no means saying this is always the case.

      Reply
  10. Mariah

    Kevin,
    Just wanted to say thank you for writing this post and the ones that preceded it. I am an active duty female military police officer with five GWOT deployments, including one in the 82nd, and two with the 716th MP BN (in support of the 101st). The support of our brothers in arms, like what you have voiced here, means the world.

    Over the years, reading articles online related to women in combat, I have stopped reading the comments. I can’t bear to read the hate fest that ensues from our fellow citizens and the numerous comments promoting the belief that an entire gender has a pre-determined level of potential and ability that isn’t sufficient to serve our country as warriors and leaders. Many times I’ve read those very comments in some TOC on some deployment, when I’m coming in from some mission, and jumping on a computer for the first time in days to tell the family I’m OK and catch up on news from the rest of the world.

    I have to believe that things are slowly but inevitably changing for the better, thanks to the hard work, sacrifice, and teamwork from countless PEOPLE. That incremental steps will continue to be made that allow for opportunities to serve and excel based on overall individual ability, and not limited by blanket discriminators. That future generations will have different, evolving perceptions about the roles of women. Voices like yours give people the courage to keep fighting the good fight.
    Thanks again,
    Mariah

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      It is truly an honor Mariah. I believe very deeply in what I am saying and my message. It sounds like we probably crossed paths here and there!

      Thank you for keeping the faith. As a society we are slow to change. The Army is no different. Of course we are hamstrung by our politicians who won’t allow women to be in combat units. Hey now problem guys in Washington….. we will just have women “supporting” combat units. If that is what makes you sleep better at night then fine. Guess what though; we as a military have already moved passed this issue. (WOW! I just went on a soapbox…..sorry)

      It will take some time Mariah so keep the faith….we will get over this and laugh about it when our grandchildren are serving.

      Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      War stinks Nikki and you are right about those scars. Unfortunately war is a reality though. I never want to go to war but will if my country calls.

      Reply
  11. Adriana Johnson

    Kevin,

    Being a woman I can highly relate and agree with you from a different perspective regarding stress and emotions. I have stories of my own that I have survived in that area; and testimonies of other women being heros in their own way under tremendous stress, trauma and emotion. I have not experienced war and combat in the military field but I know my gender has many warriors. I have seen tremendously strong women as Fire Fighters, and of close friends of mine survive severe situations and not break down. Great post Kevin and thank you for sharing your thoughts in this angle giving some praise to women and how our gender can endure. Honors to all Military People and their dogs:)Blessings..

    Sincerely,
    Adriana Johnson – Tempe, Arizona

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Thank you Adriana. Strength comes in many forms and varieties. Variety is the spice of life and really gels a unit of service members. Women make military units better.

      Reply
  12. Nikki Broadwell

    another thought about this–possibly with women in the military there will be more possibility of war coming to an end–they are not there for the same reasons as many men are–at least I don’t think they are. Being connected to their emotions more readily might help a lot in certain precarious situations that can be bungled very easily by men…am I being too sexist?

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Hi Nikki. I absolutely think that having women in our ranks makes us all a little more human in a combat zone. It really rounds out a unit. I love the dynamic that women add to an organization.

      I honestly don’t know if a women’s presence would stop some of our “bungling” but I think it would help.

      Reply
  13. Jerry Dunne

    Hi Kevin,

    First, whether women should serve on the front line or not is no longer a moot point. It is, as you say, a fact. The front line is not just a line drawn across the sand. It is far more complex than that. But whether women should serve in EVERY unit or not, is another consideration entirely. I’m led to believe that certain units have such rigorous fitness testing that only the very fittest can get into them. Of course, they are also a means of weeding out those who psychologically can’t make the grade, but we have no means of knowing whether women or men are stronger psychologically to one another on AVERAGE.

    However, with consideration to the fact that men’s and women’s sports are divided up into two separate camps, and for very obvious reasons, it is hard to see how any but a very small pool of women could enter the toughest units. So I don’t know if this would be practical or not. As for women entering units that are not so tough, but still very tough indeed, (marines, for example) the overall AVERAGE difference in women’s and men’s physical capabilities can’t be ignored. Is it possible to get women as physically tough as the best men when you can’t find them in sport? Not to mention that you need a much more all-round fitness in these tough regiments, a lot of which is concentrated on physical strength combined with endurance. Even were you to get the odd one or two women who can manage the same assessments as the men, is it practical to fit a small number of women into the regiment? Or are you to work harder at trying to balance the sex ratio? But if so, why so?

    Unfortunately, these sorts of arguments become quickly polarised between hardcore opinion makers at each end of the political spectrum. This makes it more difficult to sit down and discuss everything openly and rationally.

    This leads on to the real reason why I am replying to your article. This is slightly off topic but I think it’s very relevant and is one of those things that can arise unforeseen out of a previous action. If you allow women to serve in many conventional frontline regiments then it goes without saying that if conscription ever arises again you will have to conscript women in equal numbers to men. If you don’t, how do you explain to the conscripted men that it is okay to discriminate against them? What would be your rationale? Because of the way women are already integrated into many regiments, it is hard to see how future conscription of women would not be a strong possibility, at least into these regiments.

    The point I’m making here isn’t whether they can serve as capably as the men, but that many dead and wounded, including those with dreadful physical and psychological wounds, will be female, who were sent off to war whether they wanted to go or not. And there may be many such tragedies over a long period of time, far more than what is happening at present. Individuals may or may not accept this. But can a country? Amongst other things, women’s struggle for equality is about freedom of choice. Here choice ends and some of the unforeseen consequences of equality begin.

    Anyway, it is nice to hear from an experienced soldier’s opinion on this, so well done Kevin for writing this informative article. I think it is a worthwhile contribution to the overall debate, a debate that no doubt will rage on like a little war itself.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      All great points Jerry. Thank you. It isn’t as simple as just changing the law. There are societal, cultural and logistical implications that will certainly need to be addressed.

      One of the main things that will have to be looked at will be exactly what are the physical requirements to serve as an Infantry Soldier, Special Forces Soldier, etc. Also, ss physical strength and endurance more critical than the other facets required to perform these jobs. I’m honestly not sure….. does anyone have any thoughts on that?

      I absolutely think women should be drafted alongside the men. There are many countries that require mandatory service to the country and it applies to women and me. However in some cases military service isn’t the only choice. I personally think everyone should serve this country….however I also think they are many ways to serve.

      Reply
  14. Julia Hugo Rachel

    I am going to be provocative here on a few levels and talk about what few seem to say in public. Morale was lowered when women were sent into combat. (Particularly the USAF) Long deployments, lonely nights, etc. made for some aduturous adventures. These situations were tough for many ton avoid. Males and Females being thrown together in stressful situations, add in the adrenaline and hormones and this was a recipe for mutual encounters. Many of those that participated in these activities, went home to husbands and wives. This was awkaward. We also have the groupies that will do ANYTHING to seduce an Officer, which is against regs. This is a game for many young gals. They are hot and will stop at nothing to gain a “win”. Officers must rise above this, no pun intended.

    On a more serious note, our leaders have grossly underestimated the power, influence and role that women on the opposing team play in the war on terror. I see no female names on our “high profile target lists”, yet powerful women are active in roles of financing, communications, strategy, logistics and more in terrorist activities. heck out the 63 sisterhood in play in the U.S. We have grossly underestimated the cunning abilities that women naturally possess.

    Men are stronger than women, Men are more fierce warriors and have more stamina, yet there is a place for women in combat. I don’t think that “place” has been fully realized as of yet. A woman can walk through doors that a man cannot. A woman knows how another woman thinks, therefore levelling the playing field.

    These past wars on terror and the more serious wars upcoming (think Lebanon and the rolling up of the CIA), may just utilize women in a capacity unique to past warfare. I am not talking about a “white Mouse” scenario. Infiltration and outsmarting and close combat are a woman to woman strength.

    Just My Opinion.
    Julia

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Thanks so much for your thought provoking comments Julia.

      I’m not quite sure I agree with you on the lowering of morals though. Personally I believe that adding women to the mix of a unit bring a level of humanity. No I’m not naive to believe there aren’t some liaisons occurring in my unit but honestly I’m don’t consider myself the morality police. When it starts to interfere with the good order and discipline of my unit then you have my attention. Now if it brought my attention and I catch you then I will crush you because it is against regulation.

      Officers/ Non commissioned officers are in positions of power and should be above reproach. To not be compromising your standing amongst the troops. I know idealistic…..but it is what I believe in.

      I definitely think women bring great attributes to the fight and you point out some terrific ones. Thank you for your thoughts

      Reply
  15. Adriana Johnson

    Kevin,

    I agree with you in looking at other military units for example to engage in such a topic. We learn from other people and organizations who have triumphed and failed a like. I believe in teams, teams with in a WHOLE military branch being united, a team of humans: women and men, a team of dogs and soldiers etc. etc., creates strength. In sports a team makes wins. In unity creates success. Yes in sports the genders are separated however war is a different concept. War is life or death, survival. Like the show Survivor, men and women. Sometimes the fittest would surprise what fit means.

    The Israeli Military force is not the same to most military branches in the world. The 2 differences I looked at were: ‘The Israel Defense Forces differs from most armed forces in the world in many ways. Differences include the CONSCRIPTION of women and its structure, which emphasizes close relations between the army, navy and air force. Since its founding, the IDF has been specifically designed to match Israel’s unique security situation. ‘ from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_Defense_Forces. In the animal kingdom the lioness does the hunting. The human race is much more complex than the animal kingdom and the mind, body and spirit is a kaleidoscope of colors and strengths. The Israeli Army is one of the toughest in the world they would have to be to fight as long as they have from centuries of war.

    From my experience I shine when the heat has been turned up. I took 1 karate class and the instructor said you are a natural, in fight or flight situations I fight.I would be honored if I had to be drafted I am grateful for my country and the experience it gave my father to have his career with the FAA. I am very much a patriot.

    The United States has not had the experience for women to be drafted in the military that I have knowledge of. We have been a power house for so long in the world. So were the Romans, Greeks, Persians, etc. too. Sometimes strength is gained when we step out of our comfort zone.

    Israel has HAD to be a specialized military force. All this being said I believe you enter change with great detail and thought. I highly agree with test taking and the weeding out of the fittest it would be a unique tough change to incorporate especially into the US culture. I do know the military women I have met are tremendously honorable and very fit in all areas. Furthermore, Fire Fighter women my husband works with are phenomenal and I know I would want them by my side in a tragedy, defense situation. It is a very coiled subject for the US and one that would have to be spread out with a team of much thought such as Mr. Dunne, you Kevin and many other people (women and men) of experiences. I highly enjoy the provoking thought and the respective opinions and experiences of others.

    Sincerely,
    Honors and Respect to All..,
    Adriana Villafane-Johnson

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      That is a really interesting perspective Adriana….. those countries that need to draft women into their forces do so….those that don’t because they are powerful don’t have that need.

      I read somewhere that women in the IDF performed admirably in combat but Israel removed them from “front line” combat units because the men they served with couldn’t handle women being killed and maimed in front of them. Which led me to one of my conclusions with this whole subject….. guys need to get over it. Women don’t need us menfolk to protect them. That is a hard pill to swallow for some folks.

      Reply
  16. Pingback: Reasons Why Women Shouldn’t Be in Combat Units | | Kevin HanrahanKevin Hanrahan

  17. Eric Duckworth

    Dear Kevin, You are not the only one who has been privileged to lead and serve with women in combat. But I will take you to take because the issue demands it. Your evidence is anecdotal and personal – which has complete merit, as does my anecdotal evidence. But scientific study does support that perhaps Women are less emotionally capable of handling combat. For the record I am for meritocracy – the best deserving individuals, male or female who meet standards are those that deserve the position. However there are two very considerable issues that need to be addressed: 1) you argue against “Women aren’t emotionally or mentally capable of handling the stresses of war.” However, the American Psychological Association will take you task – http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/11/ptsd-rates.aspx “Women’s higher PTSD rates were not solely attributable to their higher risk for adult sexual assault and child sexual abuse, explained Tolin. PTSD rates were still higher for women even when both sexes were compared on the same type of trauma.” 2) Pregnancy and Readiness, a 1997 RAND study of pregnancies and deployments determined that”When compared with the effects of training, operational tempo, leadership, and materiel, gender is not perceived as affecting readiness. Pregnancy can affect the deployability of a unit when the unit has a disproportionate number of women or is understaffed. In terms of the quality of women, the majority of officers and experienced enlisted personnel surveyed asserted that women perform about as well as men do. ” – RAND 1997
    “Deployment figures from the Gulf War confirm that commanders of combat service and combat service support units, like a Division Support Command (DISCOM) should anticipate a higher rate of nondeployability among female soldiers. A report from the Center for Army Lessons Learned states that in some units 18 to 20 percent of female soldiers were nondeployable, primarily for disqualifying physical profiles and pregnancy. One senior officer who commanded in the Gulf discussed the problems he had with pregnancies stating 33% of the women in his battalion could not deploy because of pregnancy or they were sent home early because of it.” – MAJ Merideth Bucher (1999)… If the RAND Study holds true should there be consequences or limited billets to those women who will decide to stay pregnant if they get pregnant before or during a deployment? Pregnancy is the great dividing issue.

    Reply
  18. Eric Duckworth

    Julia,
    In 2009-2010, women were indeed on our HVI list. Our Iraqi counterparts arrested a women who was a recruiter of female suicide bombers and on our HVI list.

    Reply
    1. Julia Hugo Rachel

      @Eric:

      Yes I know. I wasn’t sure how “far” I should go with that sentence. My point is made. And women know how to track another woman, etc. Still, there should be more women on that list and I believe leaders are beginning to recognize this.

      Reply
  19. Eric Duckworth

    Kevin,
    To further challenge your request to show you an example of your position. Here is a study that is a bit more supportive that PTSD rates are relatively equal among genders, but that women suffer greater depression, while men suffer greater alcohol abuse. But it did conclude that women injured in combat are more susceptible to PTSD then men. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22172997 The question is will the capability provided be worth the extra cost. The answer now is yes. Please don’t list me as a “hate” response – quite the contrary – but I am a critical thinker on the issue, because it deserves more than flippant support or ignorant denial. I’ve been led by, fought alongside, and have led women to have earned an informed opinion.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Eric. Thank so much for commenting and adding such great info and content to the discussion. I value everyone’s opinion especially when they are constructive to the discussion.

      I will read through all this and get back to you with my thoughts. I have a house full of guest right now and my time is not my own. I have to run and change a diaper right now.

      Reply
    2. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Hi Eric.
      So what these articles say is that women are more likely to report PTSD, receive treatment and be deemed as emotionally weak. While men, don’t report their problems or seek help, are more likely to move towards alcohol and drug abuse. Men are also more likely to commit suicide and then they are deemed emotionally strong? Really?

      They could have just asked me and I would have told them this.

      Besides these studies are not saying that women are less capable of emotionally handling combat. They reflect the different ways men and women react and/or internalize combat. Rand studies have found that approx. 20% of soldiers returning from Iraq/Afghanistan will develop PTSD. Is this accurate? I don’t know but I would guess it is higher. I also think PTSD comes in many forms and levels. But this isn’t a PTSD post so I won’t continue down this road.

      I’m sorry man but talking about a study that was done pre 911 is silly and irrelevant. Most kids don’t even know what a DISCOM means. Yes, there are women that are pregnant that can’t deploy. Some even become pregnant in order not to deploy. However there are plenty of men who suddenly become non-deployable for physical or mental issues when that deployment date gets closer. Unit readiness is not a gender issue.

      But back to my original point….women can emotionally handle the stresses of war. Show me they can’t.

      Reply
      1. Eric Duckworth

        Kevin thanks for the time to contemplate and you bring out the points. I have been and am in agreement. I would like to see statistics post 9-11 regarding readiness and pregnancy, but have yet to be able to find any. Those statistics would be more helpful in the conversation.

        In the most stereotypical of terms, I believe men and women in the ranks compliment each other. Using Dr. Barbara Tannen as my foundation – Women are communal in their leadership, Men are physically protective/domineering in their leadership. With that math women and men working together build a stronger/protective community team – which is what you want out of a combat force.

        I still have concerns about the proper balance on pregnancy. Readiness actually can be a gender issue for units who have women who will choose to stay pregnant if they come up pregnant while in a READY/AVAILABLE cycle. If I know the conditions that increase my risk to readiness, can I not mitigate those risks? I screen for all kinds of conditions, and probabilities. To state the obvious – men and women are different and pregnancy is entirely outside the male condition. As a military we don’t want to address mandatory birth control, or abstinence, or abortion or disciplinary action for self-inflicted wounds/malingering due to pregnancy as a means to mitigating readiness. The difference from pregnancy versus other unplanned medical losses is that there is a medical procedure to be able to return that soldier to duty faster than going through the birth cycle or there can be a Chapter 8. We issue all kinds controls to protect and enforce readiness, and we flag/penalize personnel who fail to maintain readiness. What makes pregnancy different? In no way am I saying women can’t be in combat – I know they can and should be. But there are considerations that we as leaders will have to manage/evaluate and if warranted, discipline, our soldiers if they used poor judgment in the conduct of their duties and maintaining readiness. All the best.

        Reply
        1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

          I really believe you are right about genders complimenting one another. I think I said it a little different in a prior comment but I really believe it is fact. My first real experience with a female officer was when I was a Captain in Germany. Major Gillian Boice taught me persistence, how to work different angles to get things done and displayed a work ethic I greatly admired. Plus she was caring and personnel with the troops. It was my first time ever working for or with a female officer. She grounded my foundation of respect for female officers in reinforced concrete. A the time I was the Battalion Logistsics Officer and my battle buddy was a female Sergeant First Class, SFC Cheryl Wilson, and she was awesome. So I went from never having worked with a female leader to working for and side by side with one. That was a defining year in my life.

          I understand what you are saying with the pregnancy thing but it strays from my initial point so I am going to leave that one alone. I appreciate your thoughts and comments Eric. Please stop by the site anytime.

          Reply
          1. Eric Duckworth

            Yeah – I saw the pregnancy issue was actually outside scope- women should/are going to be in combat- the pregnancy issue is more about how do we best manage the force and find that balance to get at that optimal team of talent. Keep up the great work and best of luck.

  20. CB

    Julie,
    Things have changed since your daddy’s war.
    I spent last year as a GS employee with an infantry unit to which was attached a small group of female medics and a female doctor, one of whom was on her fifth deployment. Like their male counterparts, these women often went outside the wire into harm’s way, displayed “empathy and compassion,” and when circumstances called on them to do so, demonstrated that they could also “emotionally detach themselves and address the task at hand.” I saw them do this not once but many times, whether saving a fellow soldier or treating a member of the Afghan National Police or Army. To claim that women, because they are women, can’t “emotionally detach” to do the difficult job that war requires dishonors the service of these well-trained and dedicated individuals.

    Reply
  21. Kelsey

    It’s people like you that give me hope that mindless idiotic sexism will one day be a thing of the past. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Thank you Kelsey. Change never comes quickly and is always resisted….many folks hate change. This is just a natural evolution of our society.

      Reply
  22. Jim Thacks

    Could you say “really” a few more times? I haven’t gotten it quite yet. haha.

    You do raise some good points and it is good to see it from someone with actual combat experience.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      I’m really not sure Jim. But I will really try just for you!

      Thanks for your kind words. We shall see what happens but I do believe I am correct with my position. apparently the Marine Corps does as well.

      Reply
      1. Adriana Johnson

        Kevin,

        I had to pipe in on this comment back to Jim. Instead of the word “really” I say “seriously” a lot in my head or in communication. Thumbs up Jim for viewing in an obsveration of words/character. I enjoy that too because that is how I communicate a lot of the time, “you are serious”, “seriously”, “you are joking”, “get out of town” , “get the heck out of here” and so forth…Smiles from Arizona, Gentlemen., for real bahahah:)

        Sincerely,
        Adriana Johnson

        Reply
        1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

          I think everyone had their thing Adriana. I always say. “You know what I means,” when talking. :)

          Reply
  23. Hannah Davis Adams aka a hopeful Megan Jayburn

    Ok, I have no personal experience with any enemy combat; however, one of my very good family friends has been in the air force now for a while (I’ve lost count of how many years, it’s been at least 5 tho), and she has come back just as chipper, happy, and stable as she was prior to deployment. I also know a man who has served 3 tours with the army, and he was as messed up as anyone when he first came back. If a door slammed he’d hit the deck, if you startled him he’d pin you to the ground. He’s mellowed a bit since then but at first he was a mess.

    Just goes to show women can cope just as well if not better with war and the stresses that go along with it.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      I so agree but would caution you on that comparison. Everyone’s deployment is a very different experience. Some never leave the relative safety of the base camps. Some never see the base camps except when they first arrive and then depart country. I’m certainly not saying this is the case in your example though.

      My deployments were all very different. The one that sticks with me the most is when I spent every day outside the camp as a company commander. Those are my memories that never fade.

      Reply
  24. Julia Hugo Rachel

    I realize I replied to this thread earlier; yet I must add an inuendo I think may have been passed over. Intelligence, combat, etc…….women have ALWAYS been involved. The statements that “women don’t go outside the wire” was sweet, but as women were defending their positions iin firefights next to their truck that broke down in the hot zone, well, they were in combat. Same with our pilots flying UH-60′s etc. The innuendo I mentioned the 1st go around, Is noteworthy. Nancy Wake aka White Mouse. With the million dollar price on her head by the Nazis, killing with her bare hands, jumping into enemy territory and leading 7000 men (plus drinking any man under the table:-) puts to rest the ridiculous notion that women are not excellent or fit for combat. I think she deserves some credit in this discussion, as do many others I’ve known.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Hi Julia. You are so right. Woman have been fighting and dying in our nations wars for a very long time. That you for mentioning this.

      I just wrote a new piece in this series yesterday explaining why I wrote all these pieces. While I don’t go back to WWII I did a lot of research of women in combat. Maybe I’ll write a historical piece. I’ll add that to my list of ideas. Thanks Julia.

      Reply
      1. Julia Hugo Rachel

        Have you read the discussions on SOFREP. Goos women replying there as well. This is a “hot topic” that is not going away. Thank you for your intrepid reporting!

        Reply
        1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

          Thanks Julia. I skimmed the site. It seems to be a bit of a boys club. It is an interesting site though. I had never heard of the site before. Thanks for the lead.

          Reply
  25. Lisa Cash Hanson

    I have absolutely no desire to be in combat- But I am so thankful for those who are. Without them I would even have the freedom to type these words. Most of my family are military and are serving right now. All of my uncles and my step father ( a Marine) went to Vietnam. I have so much respect for the soldier whether that soldier is a HE or a SHE. I do think it’s a fact most men are stronger but I don’t know that that is an issue in combat it’s not like they have to carry a tank on their back.

    I think it’s very admirable that you are standing in the gap and helping people to see that women can serve, they are very effective and capable.

    All I know is I always thank the soldier. ALWAYS. I went to see Act Of Valor and as I walked out I just started weeping. I’m sure they thought I was crazy or I had just lost someone I loved- I didn’t. But I did have a newborn at home and I just couldn’t imagine how these wives make it through those times.

    So to every soldier male or female- I am so thankful that you serve and many have paid the ultimate price just so we can continue to be free. I will always be grateful and I will always pray for our soldiers.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Hi Lisa. Thanks so much for your kind words. I just wrote another piece to this series. It speaks about how I got to this point with my perspective. I really do believe it is time for our society to evolve.

      I haven’t seen AOV yet. You bring up a great point though. The military is only as strong as our spouses. Without that support network the military would be a shell of itself. So remember to thank a military spouse as well! Thank you for giving us your thoughts on the subject. Have a wonderful weekend.

      Reply
  26. Pingback: There’s A Military Loophole No One Talks About That’s Already Sent Women Into Combat | Meslema

  27. John

    Here’s something I’ve wondered about.
    If you’ve ever been in the infantry, you understand the kind of conversations that go on. Guys talk about what they want to do to girls they like back home, they talk in graphic detail about personal things, they do things to each other that some would be shocked to hear, all in the name of a good prank. In Iraq, one game that was played a lot was “flacid to proof of life.” It was a race. I think you can guess what it was. Guys have a certain way we build comradery in that kind of environment, even if back home we never talk about it. Its something that sounds gross to some and shocking to others, but its what Marines and soldiers do.
    All of this goes away with the presence of females. I don’t mean that term to.be derogatory, by the way, but when you put a female in a group of infantry Marines, the atmosphere immediately changes.
    Then you bring in to account the relationship factor, where servicemen and women fall in love, affecting the military machine and reducing someones combat effectiveness. All of a sudden they aren’t worried about the mission first, but their love instead. You also get into the emotional trauma of seeing a female die a brutal death. It affects a man more than the death of a fellow male. Its inlaid in our instincts, we can’t help it. Its in our nature.
    Now we get into physical reasons. When a woman gets sent on a week long patrol, and its her time of the month, and she runs out of tampons. She is now bleeding through her Cammies, and cramping, the first, while not a large problem can be seen a health issue, and an issue of sanitation, and the other reduces ones effectiveness in patrols and combat, being distracting and possibly disabling, given the right ammount of stress. Its the same of a male had a stomach virus and was expected to go on the same patrol. He could just tough through it, but it would not be smart on his part for the same reasons as the females. And you can’t just give females a free pass from patrols for. Menstruation.

    All these issues are just some of the very unsteriotypical reasons why I think that the rules should stay the same way they are. I believe strongly in women’s rights and in women being equal to men, but as someone said before, there’s a reason women aren’t allowed in the NFL, and its not because they are weak or can’t handle it.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Hi John. Sorry…just realized I didn’t respond to ya!

      Here is what would happen John….your leaders would tell you to cut the shit if you were making a female Marine or Soldier uncomfortable. You and your buddies…being good Marines or Soldiers would follow orders. Then you would build a new organizational dynamic. Would it be better or not…..I can’t answer that. But neither can anyone else because we haven’t done it in our military yet.

      Sure they are worried about their loved one……but so are the rest of the troops and their spouses back home. Sure they are a bit closer to the action but if you are dual military it is something you accept. I worried greatly about my ex-wife during the ground war into Iraq. The fear didn’t stop me from doing my job….nor her.

      I think if we can bring enough water and food then a female trooper will bring enough personnel hygiene products. Not sure if that is something you need to worry about…..

      Thanks for your service and thoughts!

      Reply
      1. Jani Muhlestein

        @John. Sounds like it’s time for these guys to grow up a bit and realize that their behavior is more than just a bit teenage. There are other things in life to discuss.

        I have worked with men my entire career. And I have seen them go from tasteless children to professional, intelligent adults. It sounds like you could use a few women.

        As for menstruation, women have been dealing with it for a long time now. In all sorts of situations. Even long patrols. Ask the Israelis.

        Reply
  28. Tim

    Kevin, we spoke about this on twitter briefly, I enjoy reading your articles, they are insightful and well written.

    I will quote Paul Ryan in a different context, “we offer equal opportunity, but not equal outcome.” I stand firm that many of the physical standards were put in place for a reason. There are many males serving in combat units hitting minimum standards that are honestly a liability to their fellow service members which I witnessed first hand when a corpsman could not pull a Marine who had been shot to cover.

    Unfortunately it has been seen as socially acceptable for a long time to portray women as weaker, I do not believe that is the case, the old honey can you open the jar of jelly is not as common as I’m sure it once was. Women are strong, I say let them try out based on the exact standards that are in place. Do not put restrictions on billets, let a female carry the M249, or be a 240g gunner. Do I think a lot of them would be able to? No, in fact I think a vast majority would fail, just my opinion, but I am open to the idea of letting them have a shot at it! And if the succeed the garner the same respect as anyone else, just as they do now. No praise for being “badass, or tough…. For a girl.”

    My unique perspective says open selective service up for women as well, in the case that America would ever have another draft, throw the names in the hat.

    This is a touchy subject for a lot of people, and there is no way to make everyone happy, but it needs to be as fair as possible while maintaining the efficiency and abilities of our combat units!

    Just my two cents,
    Tim

    Reply
    1. Jani Muhlestein

      Tim. You. Rock. And you’re absolutely right. I’ve seen the 14-year-old do stuff that none of the boys in her school can do, let alone the boys her age. She’s 5’10, will most likely be 6′ when done. She’s like slender steel. And if she can physically do something, I don’t want anybody telling her that she can’t because she’s just a girl. Not only because it would be wrong, but because her Krav Maga instructor would hurt them.

      Reply
  29. Captain Mike Thomas, United States Army 2001-2007

    If women are so equal and as able as men to serve in infantry combat units whose only purpose is to destroy the enemy then why are they not held to the same physical standards as men? The top 5 percentile of female Army recruits would barely qualify if they were held to male standards. The vast majority would fail to qualify at all if held to male standards.

    The reason we have different standards is simple, men and women are not physically equal, and if we forced women to meet the male standards almost none of them would qualify for any military service, let alone infantry service.

    I’d have a lot more respect for the feminist arguments being put forth if they also advocated forcing female recruits to meet the male standard. Doing so would mean you would deny the vast majority of women the chance to serve in the armed forces and you would actually be setting women back, but hey at least you would consistent in your arguments as to why women should be allowed in infantry combat positions and wouldn’t be a giant hypocrite when advocating a woman’s right to serve in combat while not vehemently protesting the unequal physical standards women are held do.

    Reply
    1. Jani Muhlestein

      I agree with you. But then you have to understand that I think that there aren’t very many men who can hold to those standards either. I don’t believe that we should change them for anybody. And with today’s lazy and overweight society, that’s a real issue.

      Thank you for your service. The 14-year-old also thanks you, though she said to tell you that she’s totally going to make it. (I’m hoping for the Navy myself. She’d do just fine on a ship somewhere Maybe with a big dog…) But she is 5’10, and in incredibly good shape and very, very strong. And continuing to work hard on becoming the best she can be. And if, when she’s graduated from college in 4 years, she decides to go into the Army Infantry, then she should be able to do so, if (and only if) she can do so based on the same standards as the men.

      So in other words, I’m agreeing with you. I’m also just pointing out that among the very few human beings who can serve this way, there may or may not be a woman among them. And if there is, then they should be able to serve. Otherwise. Nope. I don’t want our other soldiers being endangered because of a woman who can’t pull her weight. And that includes my daughter. And that is true feminism.

      Reply
    2. Jani Muhlestein

      Oh. I forgot to mention that there are a lot of combat-type jobs that are not Infantry. And there are women who can nicely qualify for them. My cousin is exceptionally grateful for the female pilots who fly him and his crew into combat, and out when wounded. And he says that they’re as badass as he is. And coming from Kev, that’s a big deal. He’s a Green Beret, and I have always looked up to him. In so many, many ways. (I’m 5’1″.)

      Reply
  30. Austin

    So the generally progressive-friendly maxim of all these replies so far (including that of Kevin Hanrahan’s) appears to be:
    “Women who can successfully make it in the infantry and other combat positions are the RULE as opposed to the EXCEPTION.”
    What nonsense. If biology and psychology have taught mankind anything it’s that the reality of the situation is that women who can successfully make it in the infantry and other combat positions are the EXCEPTION and will never be the RULE.
    After having discussions with friends whom have had to take FET’s with them on patrol and after reading that Female Marine’s article about failing out of the Infantry Officer’s Course there is only one way that women will be able to successfully be integrated into the Infantry and other combat positions:
    Through an extremely invasive one-on-one and case-by-case basis.
    In a fully funded military this is going to be extremely expensive and cost-prohibitive and now with Sequestration coming up and our military size being decimated it’s going to cost that much more.
    Say that SOME women make it into the infantry. Another aspect that no one discusses is unit cohesion and camaraderie. My friends that have to take the Female Engagement Teams with them on patrol speak of how they are kept separate and unit cohesion and camaraderie is nonexistent and the FET’s could care less about such a thing.
    Political Correctness has already gained such a foothold in the military that conduct around females can be prohibitively tense. A poorly kept secret of the military is the massive problem of rape and sexual assault within the ranks. Who cares about if a woman gets captured, what about a female soldier/marine getting raped within her own platoon?
    If there’s women going into leadership positions to progressively prove themselves equal in gender and they in turn have no unit cohesion and camaraderie with their soldiers/marines under their command how successful are they going to be in combat?
    Yet another aspect of this is not just the initial strain on a woman’s body but there are a huge number of women that already get into the military and then get pregnant. Sex is already something that tears up military marriages and units without women in combat and infantry positions….let alone if they are included in those combat and infantry positions. Besides that aspect there’s the fact that a pregnant woman is out of the game for up to a year. She can’t train, she might not even be able to be with her unit at all.
    On top of all that a woman’s body changes A LOT during and after a pregnancy. Sometimes a woman is unable to the same things after the pregnancy that she was able to do before the pregnancy. So in an era where we’re going to have an already decimated military we’re going to let women into key positions in which the military invests millions of dollars in their training and then that might just go up in smoke when they get pregnant.
    There are so many things that have not been discussed or that people refused to discuss…..everyone wants to say:
    “Oh hell yeah, modern women today are all the rule and not the exception. We’re also a modern civilized progressive society so we’re going to put the military on a gender-neutral platform and we’re going to be just as successful as we have been in the past.”
    Then there’s that progressive double-speak: “GENDER NEUTRAL”. Which all that actually means is “LOWER THE STANDARDS”.
    Great. So now, after they cut our military force size drastically we’re going to go ahead and lower the standards of what’s left. That’s awesome, we’re going to have a smaller military that is an average of the lowest common denominator just so we can feel good about ourselves being a more modern, progressive, politically correct country.

    Reply
    1. Jani Muhlestein

      Austin,

      If you look above, you’ll note that I am agreeing with a lot of what you’re saying. But there are some things that kind of missing out on.
      1. Men get raped too. By the enemy, and by their own troops. The difference is that it doesn’t get reported. same thing for harassment, sexual and otherwise.
      2. Men call in sick too. And they fail to keep up physically too–they gain weight, get lazy, and basically lose their ability to do the job. Kev is dealing with a situation like that now, and it’s driving him nuts. Pregnancy isn’t the only reason to drop out, so to speak.
      3. Yes, women’s bodies change. And after a pregnancy, it may take her a while to recover, if ever. But there are other life events that do the same things to men. I’m not saying that it won’t be an issue, because I think it will. But I’m also saying that you have to realize that men are vulnerable human beings as well. And not all women are unable to come back as strong as they were before. A lot of it has to do with priorities. And those priorities really should be set before entering the military.
      4. Age hits us all, Austin. And it will hit you too. And someday, your knees are going to hate you as much as mine hate me. Though I hope it takes you longer to get there. In the meantime, realize that gender equality is never going to be gender neutral. It just means that women have a chance to serve the same way. Doesn’t mean that they can. There is a difference.

      Reply
      1. Austin

        Well, i guess under the guise of “gender equality” then it’s certainly fair enough to open it up for women.
        Except the political philosophy of “gender equality” doesn’t come from biology, physiology, or psychology and the political philosophy of “gender equality” is a development outside the realm of scientific fact.
        Women aren’t men and men aren’t women. The term “gender equality” is a nonsensical term in and of itself because the intricate physical and psychological aspects of men and women will never be “equal”.
        God, evolution, or gaia didn’t make man and woman identical in any way, shape, or form.
        Eventually, this progressive experiment will fail, based on the fact that a minuscule & infinitesimal percentage of the population believes that the political philosophy of “gender equality” will somehow positively manifest itself even though science says that it cannot. It will fail, also based on the fact that a minuscule & infinitesimal percentage of the population believes that we need to push this progressive political correctness philosophy onto every aspect of our society even though doing so sets the progress previously already made back even further.
        But hey, whatever. Political Correctness apparently is the most important thing to be able to win on the battlefield, right?
        So YAY to “Gender Equality” because men are truly identical & “equal” to women in all ways and women are in all ways truly identical & “equal” to men.

        Reply
  31. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

    Hi Mike. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    The only Army standard join the infantry is a height and weight, ASVAB score (I believe 90 or around there) and you must be male. There are no other physical standard to join the infantry.

    There can only be one standard for all. I’ve said this countless times in my posts.

    That is why the services are looking at what standard makes sense for these specific MOS previously closed to females.

    Reply
  32. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

    Hi Austin/ Jani. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    I don’t believe that gender should prevent a person from a job if they meet the standards. Nor race, religion, ethnicity, etc

    That is why the military is looking to establish standards (which include physical) to determine what it the baseline tanker, infantry, etc soldier needs to be able to perform.

    The only current standard…. for say….. an infantryman per Army regulation is height, weight, a score of 95 (I Believe) on the ASVAB and to be a male.

    There has been a lot a talk about weakening standards for combat arms. Those people have no clue what they are talking about. The standards above are the only approved Army standards.

    One standard….open to all….if you make it then great. If not then try something else. That is what I believe.
    There may be jobs that women never qualify for. But it isn’t because they are female……it will be because they couldn’t meet the requirements.

    K

    Reply
  33. Pingback: Military Dog Video of the Week(August 9th, 2012): K9 Healers | Kevin Hanrahan

  34. Patricia Anne Pierce-garcia Schaack

    Hi,
    Just wanted to let you know I read your article and totally agree with everything written. I am prior service, spent three years active duty and 13 years active reserves here in Germany. I also wrote an article as a Yahoo contributor on this same topic when it was announced that women would be able to serve in combat specific jobs. It is about time, I thought and applaud the fact that you support this.
    Thanks for a very interesting article and keep up the good work.
    Ciao,
    Patricia

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Hi Patricia. Thank you very much. Thank you for your service. I do miss Germany….i was stationed there from 2001-2005…. Hanau.

      This is happening….people can disagree with it all day long….. but in the end the powers that be know it is the right thing to do…..so do many of us.

      Reply
      1. Patricia Anne Pierce-garcia Schaack

        Hi,
        I live exactly ten minutes away from Hanau in Grosskrotzenburg. All of the bases in Hanau and in the entire Main-Kinzig-Kreis have been closed. Sometimes, I feel like the lone American over here in this area. Now they have also closed Heidelberg and it is slowly being moved to Wiesbaden. The military presence in Germany is declining.
        Have a nice weekend and keep on writing.
        Ciao,
        Pat

        Reply
  35. Iron

    What would a woman do about her period? Weeks stuck in a hole in a mountain with no showers would be extremely unhealthy and can lead to infections. Everyone going to stop while on patrol to let a woman change her tampon? This is a major factor to think about because anyone who holds up everyone else could be a deadly situation.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      I’ve been told my many female soldiers that their menstruation cycle is not an issue…….though I’m sure every person is different…..the thousands in Afghanistan today seem to be doing okay. I think there are more pressing issues to dissect on this topic.

      Reply
      1. Iron

        More pressing issues than a woman’s health? Why should a woman get preferential treatment as to which combat duties she can engage in because she MUST have more frequent showers than a man needs. I’m not talking a 72 hour patrol. I’m talking about getting dropped off somewhere and it’s months before getting back to “civilization.” No civilian bathrooms and no PX to get feminine products. Bleeding through uniforms. Getting in a firefight for hours or days and oops, need to take an AF break? Not to mention a woman soldier captured as a POW. She will get more than just a beheading, that’s for sure. I think it is a very legit question to pose.

        Reply
        1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

          There can’t be any preferential treatment….equal rights means equal treatment…..this is a leadership issue. Leaders will have to do their jobs to ensure all soldiers, regardless of gender are cared for properly. I don’t know a fellow leader who things that soldiers should be treated any different based on gender alone. The gender issue is a societal bias.

          What is the rate of male to female POW that have been raped and tortured? Is rape any worse than torture? Men are raped as well. This is an all volunteer force….no one enters this world with blinders on.

          Reply
          1. Tiscue

            I just had to stop by and say that the whole “a woman shouldn’t ____ because her period will get in the way!” is an idiotic argument. Iron, you do realize there are contraceptives that can remove periods for however long a woman wants, right? I’m on one of those kinds of contraceptives right now, and haven’t had my period in months. And that’s just *one* of the many ways a woman’s period can be removed.

            That said, great article, Kevin!

          2. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

            I completely agree….what is the ironic part about the whole argument is I have a guys telling me this…..in fact just had one on twitter yesterday use this argument. I think we should leave that concern the ladies and the medical doctors!

  36. Kehaulani Punilei

    You know, times have obviously changed. Women are taking on key rolls all over the business/military industry. They are extremely smart (men too) and “most of the time” have their heads on straight and think clearly and logically. However….every industry still does and probably always will have the societal stereotypes between men and women and where their place is in the hierarchy system. I think that is just a fact of life. I’m a very independent woman and my husband to this day, even though he says it jokingly (there are truths in what we joke about, especially if repeated often) tells me on different occasions “you can’t do that, your a woman!” Which…at times, is like setting off a ticking time bomb with me. I was raised by two different fathers..one was Military..the other was a cop. Both taught me to take care of myself because there will be a time when nobody will be around to do what I need done. Trust me, woman can handle a lot more (physically and mentally) than “most” men give then credit for. On the same note, I also believe there are SOME woman who can’t handle anything. So, it’s all based on the actual individual! :)

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      That is absolutely my position….evaluate the person as an individual and not on gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. I continually get this lack of physical strength and women can’t be in austere environments for extended periods of time argument……

      This is the Spartans and today’s troops aren’t part of the 300….get over yourselves. We win battles, wars with the collective group….not a handful of Roman Warriors.

      Yes women can go without indoor plumbing just like the men….. I find it quite funny that we have so many male menstruation experts out there.

      Reply
  37. L W Wedgwood

    Great blog, Kevin. You’re quickly becoming my favorite military blogger. I can always count on you to rock the boat with the controversial stuff. It astonishing how in this day and age how many people still cannot see women as an equal force in the field. Keep up the great work.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Thank you very much. I’ll never say that all women can handle being an infantry soldier but, not all men can either. I truly believe a person should be judged as an individual. Though there are many folks out there who still hold on to when women stayed at home while the men went out to hunt and gather to provide for the family.

      Reply
  38. Becca

    Well, I do agree that women aren’t especially suited to be in the army or in combat. I’m not an anti-feminist but it is really undeniable that men and women were made differently and the biological differences prevent them from becoming completely equal. And therefore, a higher percentage of men will naturally be more suited for combat than women. It’s the works of nature.

    Reply

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