Wanted: Women in top military roles
February 22nd, 2012
11:14 AM ET

Wanted: Women in top military roles

From Paula Broadwell, Special to CNN

Editor's Note: Paula Broadwell is the author of “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus”

The Department of Defense announced last week that 14,000 combat-related positions in front-line support units and combat battalions would soon be open to women. In part, that simply recognizes what women have been doing for the last decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan .

The announcement is a small step in the right direction, but female military leaders need more opportunities – now. The Pentagon needs to expand experimental programs for women to gain leadership experience because most current openings are filled by candidates who have experience leading combat brigades and battalions, e.g., male officers. Women are qualified to serve as officers in combat units that will prepare them for senior levels of leadership, and they want to. Without that experience, however, the pathway to the top is a very narrow one.

On six book-writing reporting trips to Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011, I interviewed female medics who had saved men on the battlefield, female officers on "cultural support teams" who supported Special Operations night raids, female military police who manned machine guns atop Humvees, and female helicopter pilots who flew into "hot" landing zones taking enemy fire. I saw women in Afghanistan effectively plan and oversee ground assaults, air operations and artillery strikes in Kandahar this past year. Recognizing their courage and the valuable skills they bring to improving combat effectiveness is important. Yet with 34 percent of the jobs in the Army and 32 percent in the Marine Corps still closed to women, work remains to be done. Opening more of these combat support positions for women is important for increasing the opportunities they have to lead at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels - and thus help them advance to senior levels of leadership.

Change has come slowly in the military. In the early 1970s, women made up less than 2% of the Army. Now it’s roughly 14%. After a decade of war, 280,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan ; 141 have died, and 865 have been wounded. In spite of representation at lower ranks, women only make up 7% of our general officer corps. Army General Ann Dunwoody, the highest-ranking woman in our military, was promoted to four-star general, the first woman so elevated, in 2008. The Air Force, which has opened 99 percent of its jobs to women, including those of fighter pilots, nominated Janet C. Wolfenbarger this month to become its first four-star general. A thoughtful and measured process will ultimately lead to broader support for these advancements. Over time, undoubtedly, there will be more opportunities as the organization recognizes how much women can contribute.

As a West Point graduate and an Army intelligence officer (now in the Army Reserve) involved in counterterrorism missions after Sept. 11, 2001, my first assignment was in an infantry division and I've also worked in the elite, largely male Special Operations Command. My experiences in these male-dominated units were positive, perhaps in part because I was capable of holding my own physically. Many of my sisters-in-arms have served in similar units and proved themselves capable, too. According to a Pentagon study, “research evidence has not shown that women lack the physical ability to perform in combat roles or that gender integration has a negative effect on unit cohesion or other readiness factors.” Most of us do not understand why, if we have proved ourselves physically, mentally, and tactically capable of leading on the frontlines, that we’d not be qualified for certain opportunities.

The 2011-2012 Pentagon review of the 1994 ground combat exclusion policy looked at five issues related to women’s roles, concluding that some changes were necessary, and others required more study. The review dictated that women should still not be allowed to serve in many combat positions for three reasons: berthing and privacy issues were cost prohibitive; long-range reconnaissance and special operations activities were too dangerous and involve combat; and the inherent tasks would be too physically demanding for women. The review did rescind two of the five constraints that restricted women's roles in combat – allowing women to now serve in direct combat units below brigade level and to be located with combat units. Pilot programs such as those allowing women to officially be assigned to direct combat units, less the infantry, for example, will test the former. Restrictions on co-location were already obsolete; in Iraq and Afghanistan women have out of necessity routinely been filling intelligence, military police, engineer, staff roles and other positions in close proximity to – and often directly on – the front lines. In reality, neither change is a bold stroke. Without opening up more positions on the frontlines, women will not gain the necessary exposure to leading in combat that the Pentagon has deemed necessary for strategic leadership assignments.

This debate is not about equal opportunity, however; the true metric here is whether a woman’s contributions improve combat effectiveness. These wars have shown they do, as gunners, medics, or engineers, according to many of my male colleagues who have served alongside women in war. To ensure that they are contributing to combat effectiveness, the standards of performance should be “gender neutral.”

Although I am a fierce advocate for women's opportunities, I understand why the Pentagon has not fully repealed the military's prohibition on women serving in artillery, infantry and tanks units engaged in "direct" ground combat, at least not until pilot programs allow them to prove their mettle. The “big Army” is taking longer to review these changes in part because there are not a lot of women who are both interested and capable, but that’s not a reason to exclude those who are.

This debate is not unique to the U.S. military. Many of our allies have shown more forward thinking than the Pentagon, including Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, and Australia. In these countries, women serve in various “close combat roles” defined as "engaging an enemy on the ground with individual or crew served weapons, while being exposed to hostile fire and to a high probability of direct physical contact with the hostile forces personnel." Though women’s representation is small, they contribute. The Australian contingent in Afghanistan has demonstrated that women add value and have not disrupted the emotional dynamic of units on the frontlines.

What should DoD do? First, as we draw down in Afghanistan and begin adapting the force for the next fight, it makes sense to accelerate the pilot programs while we are still at war and there are real world opportunities to test women, including in infantry units. Additionally, one area where pilot programs for is in elite, small, highly disciplined special operations units, organizations which pride themselves in adaptivity and agility. Women have, in fact, demonstrated their abilities in this community through their work on all female cultural support teams and as operators attached to Special Forces and Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan . These women are not trained as “fighters,” per se, but they do receive enhanced training in self-defense, tactical exploitation, and the physical requirements associated with getting into and out of target sites.

Opening the 14,000 jobs, and others, will give women the opportunity for further service on the frontlines and create more opportunities for advancement. They will help burnish women's combat credentials and give them the experience of fighting or commanding in combat situations. And as the Pentagon study pointed out, opening these jobs to women will alleviate some of the deployment pressures facing men in these fields.

The Pentagon should move swiftly and in broader strokes to accelerate these pilot programs and expand them to include leadership opportunities in more combat arms positions.

Here’s the bottom line: mentally and tactically, we are capable. Establish the physical requirement for being an infantryman and allow women who meet it to prove themselves. We as a nation want the best and brightest to attain these jobs, but so far the U.S. military has not allowed our best and brightest women the necessary experience.

Now is the time to correct that course by expanding the experimental programs in front-line support units and combat battalions.

Paula Broadwell graduated from West Point and had assignments with the U.S. intelligence community, U.S. Special Operations Command and an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. She is the author of the recently published All In: The Education of General David Petraeus and spent months embedded with U.S. forces in Afghanistan.


Filed under: Afghanistan • Justice Department • Military
soundoff (117 Responses)
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    November 11, 2012 at 8:19 am | Reply
  2. mpbeane

    G.I. Jane....I rest my case....

    September 5, 2012 at 4:24 am | Reply
  3. Military Tops

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    April 20, 2012 at 8:18 am | Reply
  4. Tereza

    Helen:I will beg to differ with you:but cranig for our parents and grandparents is the right thing to do and if we as a culture learn to interact with those who are older as people first regardless of their age, it will go a long way in making life a lot better for all of us who are lucky to live long enough.Not so fast. Caring for aging parents might have been a great idea 50 years ago and before that, when one started to require in-home care the end was pretty much near. A family would care for a loved one for 6 months or a year tops, and then the loved one would pass on and everybody would go about their business. But much has changed in the medical community since then. We have machines, respirators, ventillators, heart transplants, defibrillators, medications and a host of other devices that can make living last a real long time. A person's untimely demise might have lasted 6 months in 1940 now can last 10, 15 or 20 years. People live much longer and the care-giver themselves can be up in age. My mother was 73 when my 98 year old grandmother finally passed on, and mom had a host of health problems of her own. Grandma languished in a vegetative state for most of that 10 years, was my mother expected to take her into her home and become a 24/7/365 day care-giver? Was my mother expected to quit her job where she was busy socking away money for her own retirement in order to take care of her mother?In an ideal world taking care of a loved-one in their final years is a great idea, but in practice in can be a debilitating process. Sometimes "care" is best left to the professionals in certified nursing homes that are equipped to deal with the complex issues that arise.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:05 am | Reply
  5. OIF Veteran

    I am a 23 year old Female! I deployed in a war time! in what was one of the most dangerous places of Iraqs history when the war first began. I along with every other female in my Brigade 1st CAV! Stood at the gates of my FOB, I wore my IBA and used my M4! I checked Iraqi's and their vehicles for threats and stood on guard! When I went to the range I was always one of the first Soldiers done! I had one of the highest accuracy rates when it came to my shot group! I have perfect vision, I can run with the fastest males! I am 5'1" and 104 pounds but I can still do it all! This is not me praising what I'm capable of! This is showing all of the ignorant and biased people that I a very small female did everything a male was capable of during my deployment just as well as they did! Before anyone passes judgement on this! You need to wake up and realize we are there! We are doing it all! Guarding FOBS, Camps, Posts, Flightlines! We are there with our M4/M9/M16 and handguns! We are there in the convoys! We are there driving fuel trucks! We are there! We are doing it all! So how dare anyone speak out against any women who is "Man Enough" to put on shoty protective equipment and stand in the front to take bullets, shrapnol, RPG's, Gernades, incoming of any kind! How dare you! Because I am a woman! A young woman! With a lot of life to live! Who took a year of my life of my own will! Who had a lot to lose and did! This is my Selflessness! To stand guard on a FOB in Southern Baghdad when my job title is in communications! First and foremost we are taught! WE ARE SOLDIERS FIRST! We are SPECIALISTS LAST! Don't ever speak out against an American Soldier who put their life LITERALLY On The Line! For you and people like you will always be remembered in history as biased, ignorant or flat out just stupid, arrogant fools! You will always be the laughing stock! Not the women who faught with everything they had so that the people using freedom of speech in this free country could speak out so rudely and carelessly against them! The very people defending those very rights! I am not one of those Woman who is "Woes me I am a woman I deserve everything a man does blah blah!" I am however an Individual who stands for the rights of those deserving of them!

    February 27, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Reply
    • Lim

      Feb22 OMG! Cool. Id love to read those too, if only to know how men really think, and then some. VS dont turn men on? Really? im soooo reielved!

      April 3, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Reply
    • Easymode

      Hate to break it to you, but there are a shit ton of inept people I've met in the military. To say you can run, jump, and play with the males in your unit while the standards aren't tough to begin with isn't a testament of the capabilities of women. But this is just a side note from the point I want to make.

      The military as it stands prides itself more on being a social project rather than building combat effectiveness in it's organization. I hear way too many times about how much "progress" is being made and how awesome it is that women and other minorities are landing certain jobs and other bullshit when in reality the standards are being tweaked (usually lower) to ensure those types get those types of jobs to begin with in order to fill a quota. Is this something to be proud of? Fuck no.

      Truth is I've seen too many women and minorities in the military who were promoted because of a quota that needed to be filled, and when they were asked to perform, they couldn't. You can say that you've been deployed X amount of times and pew pew'd your M4 the bestest but that doesn't mean shit when you've yet fought an opposing force on equal standing with our military (China's getting there, though). Once we get into a shooting war with a foreign power on equal standing I guarantee that all this political social engineering bullshit is going right out the window, and lots of lives are going to be lost because people who were promoted because of quotas that needed to be filled can't perform. I would say 60% of our military as it stands today would be destroyed if this scenario happened.

      We need to end the idea that everyone is equal and promote based on achievement rather than quotas, stop funneling women and minorities into jobs by lowering qualifications just to say we're fully integrated, and start reorganizing our military to where resourcefulness, adaptability, endurance, and asymmetrical thinking are the top priorities. Maybe then we'll start to become the the formidable fighting force we were meant to be that doesn't need technology to compensate for our shortcomings.

      May 12, 2012 at 4:47 am | Reply
  6. Captain Gail Harris, United States Navy (Retired)

    Thought I would weigh in on the physical standards stuff. During my time on active duty the Navy had two sets of standards for men and women. The standards were also modified as you got older. I'm not particularly athletic but in order to make a statement as I got older I made it a point to use the standards for a male my age to pass the physical fitness tests. For instance, once a woman hit 30 or so you only had to do 5 push ups. To make a point I did 5 push ups with one arm. That requirement was insulting. Have the same standards for men and woman but based on science.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Reply
    • izy

      im proud to see women serving for our country...and not to sound like the typical male, but they sure look great in uniform. :')

      February 25, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Reply
  7. Bill

    Until the military (and proponents of opening up all branches to women) is prepared to (1) make entrance requirements and standards gender-neutral regardless of phyiology or women's sensibilities and (2) admit the shortcomings of women as readily as it ready to laud their performance, then this should not even be up for discussion.

    If we are constantly skewing the data in favor of women so that the public–which is as unfamiliar with military life and culture as it has been in 100 years–does not fully understand what they can and cannot do, then we are doing a disservice to both military men and women. Because some women do well and hold their own (I defy the author to demonstrate that women "improve" units they are part of by virtue of being a woman) in a variety of units partaking in a low-intensity counterinsurgency is not proof in and of itself that women are desired or needed in combat arms units. It's not enough to discuss the successes, we must examine how and why they fail and be honest about it.

    If we cannot get to that step without worrying about the morale or self-esteem of women, then it would seem that they do need protecting after all, and they have little business in the profession of arms.

    February 24, 2012 at 3:52 am | Reply
    • Maya

      "Why they fail"? That is ridiculous. Our military hasn't even given the opportunity to even ATTEMPT to succeed. You assume that they will fail without any hard evidence that they will do so. Sexism is still sexism, even when you try to pass it off as practicality.

      February 25, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Reply
      • Bill

        It's not ridiculous, Maya. Since they've integrated women have largely been given different standards then men. When they are compared directly to men, they come up short, particularly in physical ability. Generally, I'm talking about whenever women fail, individually or collectively. Jessica Lynch was believed by the gullible to be a hero but it turned out she couldn't even clear her weapon and sat there and cried.

        The military has given women plenty of attempts to succeed...this is merely the latest iteration of trail blazing. Despite your assertions, I do not assume they will fail but the entire history of women's integration of the armed forces since 1976 has been fraught with double standards and refusal to admit almost any shortcoming . There is little evidence to suggest they will ever *be allowed* to fail.

        But you're right, sexism is sexism which is why I'm opposed to women being given easier standards just to allow more of them to serve as if this were some kind of jobs program.

        February 26, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  8. Joe

    Without that experience, however, the pathway to the top is a very narrow one.

    The path to Flag officer (General or Admiral) is a very narrow one, regardless of sex. Between 0.39% and 0.49% (varies by service) of officers are selected for flag rank.

    It is also a lengthy one, taking between 22 and 30 years to make that first star. Why bring up the time it takes to reach that level? Because the filtering and selection takes place all along those years. The number of female flag officers in place today reflects the policies and personalities in-place between roughly 1986 and today. Attributing the percentage of female flag officers extant to today's policies alone is ignorant at best, but could be seen as intentionally stacking the deck against the Army based on the writer's preconceived notions of fairness.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:31 am | Reply
  9. Joe

    Change has come slowly in the military.

    Until your esteemed reporter is prepared to investigate the US Military (Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard), she should contain her judgements to the area she has investigated (the US Army, in this case). One sentence on the Air Force and none on the Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard does not make an argument which applies across the military as a whole.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:13 am | Reply
  10. MSG Chica

    My point is, everyone should be trained equally, no exceptions because of the job we do. Whether is physical training, weapons training, ruck marches, all standards should be equal... and the same opportunirtes to train should be equal. When I deployed, I had some trouble with the 9mm... Why, because it was not important for us to train in garrison because I was admin... Again.. train equal... then standards can be equal..

    February 23, 2012 at 9:34 am | Reply
  11. MSG Chica

    One of the issues here is that the military does not train everyone the same. When I went to basic I couldn't do 1 push up... I was supposed to go to the remedial pre-training they did back then, but they didn't send me because I was going into a Medical MOS. They said I didn't need it... By the end of BCT I had improved enourmously on my fisical fitness, however, when we got to our duty stations, we had no organized PT like most combat units do. It was pretty much on our own.

    February 23, 2012 at 9:31 am | Reply
    • Chris

      Tell me about it! I was sick of humping past you POG's early in the morning after a 30 mile hump while you were all standing around drinking coffee before formation.

      February 23, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Reply
      • Lord Haw-Haw

        As sick as I was when I was humping your pregnant sister while she carried your toilet baby?

        February 24, 2012 at 1:29 am |
  12. Doyle

    Alot of good comments here already. From my experience as an officer in similar units in Army, there are definitely women who are competent and capable, BUT they are a very small fraction of the 14% of the population the author cites. Most had no aspirations to get to senior office levels and some that did had an axe to grind on "women's issues" that was counter productive to the overall readiness and morale of the unit. Ms. Broadwell needs to quit whining and realize the Army is in place for defense of the country and its interests, not as a vehicle for women's rights.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:41 am | Reply
    • Maya

      You have no proof that allowing females into combat positions would disrupt readiness or morale. You irrationally ASSUME that.

      February 25, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Reply
      • Bill

        The onus isn't on the military to prove that there would be a problem; it's up to the proponents to show there wouldn't be a problem. Unfortunately we have about 36 years of evidence to show there are problems associated with women in units. You are irrationally ignoring the evidence that's there.

        February 26, 2012 at 11:55 am |
      • Katie

        Bill, I think what you're neglecting to mention is that women are not the cause of many of those problems. I have been forward deployed with men and can tell you that no matter how hard the military tries to deny it, "our boys" say and do very nasty things to the women they should view as battle buddies/wingmen. I love serving and will continue to do so, but I shouldn't have to pay for my service with some of the things I have seen or heard. I do though. I have listened to men of much lower rank disrespect me simply because I am a woman. I could report it, and I would never serve in a useful position again. Every woman in the military knows if they want to serve they "shut up and color." We are told by our mentors from day one. Take it. Take the insults, the disrespect, listen to the conversations about other women that are spoken of like animals, just shut up and color. There are problems with women in forward deployed units, they are the fault of both the men and the women serving there. Women need to stop telling the younger generation to shut and color and the military needs to start addressing it's toxic culture. Equalize the standards? Absolutely. I made the male cut-off for a 21 year old every year I was in, why? Because young men always needed a pacer, someone to help them lose a couple inches around the waste, or someone to teach them how to improve their push-ups. i always took the time to run with them, Why? Maybe because I'm a women and I know how to take care of others better than the men in my unit did. I'll tell you a million times that men and women are different and that women need to meet the same standard as men if I'm counting on them to back me up in combat I wouldn't have it any other way, but it's time to admit each others strengths and tell a generation of old men they need to shut up and color. If I can meet the standard and there's still a problem in the unit it's the problem of the men who can't accept a competent woman who challenges their ignorance, not mine.

        April 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
      • Bill

        Oh, I agree with you Katie, it's a function of physiology, sociology, and politics, not the fault of women (or men) as a whole. There's a good line in GI Jane (the screenplay is better than the movie, IMHO) where the chief says "It's not them, it's us."

        But, on the other hand, I'm not sure what women want. They desire to be treated the same as men...but then get angry when they are, as this includes having nasty things said about them (as men do to men whom they may not respect, however deserved or undeserved) As you know the military is a rough and tumble world and if you don't like the heat, get out of the kitchen (no ironic pun intended). While I don't condone disrespect, I understand it. When someone in the group meets lower standards and is treated the same (or better), there is going to be resentment. Moreover, for every incident like the one you cited, I can cite a few in which either the lower ranking woman acted like there was no difference or the higher ranking male didn't, or both, all because they weren't talking rank to rank but rather man to woman.

        But you've illustrated the classic friction of women entering any group dominated by men: women largely want the group adapt to them rather than the other way around. That's not how groups work, especially ones tempered not only by hundreds of years of successful tradition (in our case) but by thousands of years of social stigmatization.

        I've seen the opposite of "shut up and color." I see both women get away with things no man could (Lt Col Martha McSally comes to mind) and men get hammered for stating what I do (in fact, I'm a good case in point)

        I do appreciate your service and your candor here. If more women were like what you portray yourself as (and I'm taking it at face value) , it would be much more palatable. But having come in about a decade after full integration, serving at both ends of the spectrum (all male field and female-dominant one), I can honestly say that if we truly held men and women to the same standard –which I doubt we can (my lord, we cannot even bring ourselves to cut women's hair at BCT the same) we would have more like 2-5% women in the force, not 14% or more.

        April 22, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  13. Bryan

    This whole discussion is a red herring – a false argument. Women can be, and are, generals. With 400 generals in the army there are plenty of opportunties for women to make flag rank, even relative to men. For every woman who does not become a general, there are 10 men who don't either. So much depends on the branch in the service. Infantry officers have more opportunties...barely (remember, there are only 400 generals). People make it sound like, "oh if only women could be infantry, we'd have tons of female generals." It's not the case. Most generals in the army are from the non-combat arms branches of infantry, artillery, and armor. So it seems we are arguing to really strain at a gnat to get one or maybe two more women as generals.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:23 am | Reply
    • nitro

      its the same thing in the navy and chairforce too, the only feild where there isnt a woman admiral is the specwar community. and until women prove that they can perform physically at the same level as men htey dont deserve the same opportunities in a very physically demanding role

      February 23, 2012 at 7:24 am | Reply
      • Kert

        To the fella who refers to the United States Air Force as 'chariforce', I am an aircraft mechanic in the USAF and we do more than sit around in chairs and twidle our thumbs. That is such a silly term and should be retired. We have earned that much. It is our hard work that get those planes up in the air to watch over and protect those guys outside the wire...

        April 21, 2012 at 12:57 am |
  14. Aliasis

    Women are just as dangerous and capable as men. There are a lot of physically strong women out there, more importantly, being a woman is completely independent of mental capability and weapons ability. (Dear men: women are not "more emotional". in fact, pysch testing suggests women think better than men in wartime situations) Most importantly, what we need is committed soldiers who are willing to put their lives on the line and sacrifice everything for their country, with the determination to back up that resolve. Women can do it easily – it's men that are holding them back.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:22 am | Reply
    • JJ

      Right. It's the new millenium. Where women can easily do everything twice as good as men ever could.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:29 am | Reply
    • Whitey0302

      Aliasas: Please link the report or study which confirms women are psychologically able to perform better than men in combat. Here's a link to a UK article that actually contradicts your statement: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/7182514/Women-in-the-Armed-Forces-more-likely-to-suffer-mental-problems.html The real problem for women assuming jobs in the combat arms jobs lies in the fact that the vast majoritry of them lack physical strength and stamina that women need to do combat related tasks. Before you ask, here's a link to the study the British did in 2002: http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/10B34976-75F9-47E0-B376-AED4B09FB3B3/0/women_af_summary.pdf that proves what I'm saying. Please see page 4 of the summary and Annex B for the specific details. Long story short, less than 2% of women can meet the physical standards necessary to adequately perform in combat arms jobs i.e. infantry, armor and special forces. Women definitely have a valuable role to play in the military. However, just because women have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan does not mean they have experienced true combat. Riding in a HMMWV on a convoy that is hit by an IED is not the same as house-to-house fighting for 7-10 days straight in such garden spots as Fallujah, Najaf, Baghdad, Kabul, Marjah or Sangin.

      February 23, 2012 at 10:34 am | Reply
    • Chris

      Have you served in the military? I understand your point but if you have never gotten up at 4AM, strapped on over 100LBS of weapons and gear and hiked 30 miles at a fast pace you don't have a clue what it takes to be a grunt. I served 8 years in the Marine Corps as an 0341 so I'm speaking from experience. I saw female Marines on those fun little 10 mile regimental humps we would do and the majority of those FM's would be dropping like flies while the grunt units in the back (the Regimental Commander would never let an infantry unit lead one of those hikes) were laughing and joking because this wasn't even a challenge for us it was nothing more than a walk in the park. Forget all that crap you said about shooting and being emotional its more to it than that.

      February 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Reply
      • Lord Haw-Haw

        Bullshit!

        The only thing you ever 'served'.....was time.

        February 24, 2012 at 1:31 am |
  15. VRage13

    I'm all for this IF women have the exact same physical requirements as the men without the standards being lowered from the standards of today. Just like men must meet these physical standards 365 days per year so should women. That means if they get knocked up, they are not meeting standards they need to be kicked out. With BO slashing the number of people in military, everyone needs to be held to the exact same standard. Also do to that, I strongly recommend that American citizen arm themselves because the military is already overtasked and the shrinking numbers means it is going to get worse.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:41 am | Reply
  16. colton

    Let's not forget that even boot camp is easier for women. They don't yell as much cuz they emotional. No joke. Female Di told me that. So if they aren't mentally broke at boot camp how can they be ready for war?

    February 23, 2012 at 2:47 am | Reply
    • James

      It is your 1940s mentality of what the military should be which is the reason why we failed to meet our objectives (which is the PC way of saying WE LOST) in both Iraq and Afghanistan. We went in there with superbly trained killers with fantastic equipment – and totally missed the point. We sent in people that were trained for warfighting and not a heck of a lot else, and as a result, we're getting out of both places with our tails between our legs and with both places increasngly looking like South Vietnam, 1973. I encourage you to look at the experience of more modern militaries, such as the UKs, which prove that while of course todays soldiers need to be warfighters, they actually need to be a heck of a lot more, and than a 1940s "DI break em down" mentality will only lead to more LOSSES like in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      February 23, 2012 at 3:18 am | Reply
      • Shaun Chittick

        It certainly sounds like you've never served in our military, or at least not recently. You talk about not meeting objectives, but that is a huge onion to peel. Our average young soldier wants to come back in one piece, with honor intact. Thankfully, nearly all of them do just that. Our fighting men and women don't set national policy–rather they execute whatever is laid out for them. Whether we agree with the policy or not, very few of my active duty counterparts regret deploying overseas to do our nation's bidding. It's easy to sit back at home and digest what the media feeds you in between your reality TV shows, but it's quite another to commit yourself to helping struggling people from different cultures, or going toe-to-toe with those who have vowed to remove "The Great Satan" from the face of the earth. It's very difficult to quantify the impact our military has on the American way of life on a daily basis, but most of us feel it is best to keep the fight off of our shores.

        February 23, 2012 at 6:11 am |
      • James

        Shaun, while I appreciate your attempt to hijack the discussion and to do the usual thing of blaming "the higher ups," I'm not buying it. The fundamental problem is that our military went into Iran and Afghanistan with a "war" mentality. From the moment they arrive in country, the majority of soldiers, including the officers, are culturally shellshocked and adopt an extreme defensive attitude – because they are out of their element and just, as you correctly point out, want to go home. The idea of actually contributing positively would be nice if it happened, but is far from the day to day reality that most soldiers think about, and, more to the point, remarkably few have anything approaching a normal social relationship with anybody in either occupied country. There can be little wonder that we lost both conflicts as a result. Now, don't get me wrong – I understand that iraq and afghanistan are not places to discuss wittgenstein while playing hackey sack as on a college campus. but, our soliders' utter lack of cultural understanding other than was given to them on the two week course poisoned our chances. Our stock of young people – or, at least, the sort of young people who join the military, is simply does not have the international experience to effectively implement the wining of the peace in 21st century conflicts. Therefore, I am not opposed to following the leads of other countries who have had more success through more varied approaches in the deployment of their forces, including several very successful european deployments in africa where only a small fraction of the total military deployment could be considered analagous to the sort of 100% warfighters that the majority of posters here view as the military ideal.

        My experience includes more development work in more hellholes of the world than most people here have ever been in. This has included work with militaries, governments, and NGOs, and has included work in Afghanistan, Iraq,and elsewhere. At one level, I do appreciate the effort that American military has put into those places, but in another, it has been clear to anybody with eyes who has been to such places that the US approach has been entirely wrong for a very long time and at some level you can't just blame the higher ups – you have to blame the men on the ground to some extent for simply not having what it takes in terms of being able to operate effectively beyond a strictly military mindset.

        February 23, 2012 at 9:36 am |
      • Chris

        I have no clue what James is talking about and I served two tours in Iraq with 2/6 WPNS Co.

        February 23, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
      • Lord Haw-Haw

        Chris is a lying chickenhawk, chickenshit, bullshit artist.

        February 24, 2012 at 1:32 am |
      • Buzzer

        James: For all your "in sight" on what's wrong with the U.S. military mindset in this "new battlefield"...have a little insight in who you are conversing with, Shaun isn't a "higher up" and you're BOTH talking right past each other on who the "higher ups" are. Shaun is defending the enlisted and officers in the field and you're talking about the folks (inside and outside the Pentagon) back in D.C.. Regardless, it IS the "higher ups" (the U.S. State Department and think tanks) responsibility (coupled with top leadership within the U.S. military) to recognize what they expect of the U.S. military, recognize the flaws in relation to the geo-political arena and direct the change. If the U.S. military was so ill equipped to deal with this new type of conflict, the "higher ups" in D.C. (inside and outside the Pentagon) had the responsibility and should have recognized the "issues" before they ever sent the military in.

        February 27, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • iseezyogrammerz

      "cuz they emotional. No joke." They say it don't be like it is but it do...Lol@u

      February 23, 2012 at 4:28 am | Reply
  17. Joe

    Does anyone remember what happened when the female Citadel applicant forced judicial action to get her in? That didn't work out too well either. Honestly, if women truly want equality, quit blabbering about how you should get special treatment but still be considered "equal". Make PT tests MOS based, not "gender" based. If you can't perform physically or mentally at your job, see ya. Saying women are just as good as the men in combat is about as rational as saying women are just as good as men in sports. If that was the case, why do we have a WNBA and an LPGA?

    February 23, 2012 at 12:49 am | Reply
    • James

      Well, I don't see how the women would be much worse, given that the predominantly men that we sent to Iraq and Afghanistan failed to achieve our stated objectives. Your sports analogy is bankrupt – modern wars are not A vs B affairs like world war 2. We've known this for a long time – since we lost in Vietnam, for sure. And yet, we went into both Iraq and Afghanistan basically not having learned anything, and with morons claiming that we'd do better if we only had MORE billion dollar equipment and bigger bombs. Rubbish! Had we spent 1% of the effort in those places effectively communicating our message of democracy and hope, we may have come out of there as winners. Instead, we leave as losers – and losers who wasted a lot of blood and treasure in the process. In other words, it's broke – let's fix it.

      February 23, 2012 at 3:22 am | Reply
      • Chris

        James you really sounds stupid SORRY. Most of the people commenting might be wrong since I doubt many of them served as grunts but non sound as stupid as you. What objectives in Iraq are you even speaking of? Do you know what objectives my unit had? No so you don't know what your talking about.

        February 23, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Domber

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      April 5, 2012 at 10:09 am | Reply
    • Fabien

      Hi Gretchen! I'm doing 4 at a time, because I'm leuustaniomsly adding them to Flickr, and didn't want to overwhelm my Flickr stream with photos of my feet :) And yes, I'm using my 28 everyday to try to get some continuity with the placement of my feet. In hindsight, I probably should have used my 20mm, but it's manual focus (old lens from my Dad) and not sure I'd always want to focus manually! Thanks for the nice comments :)

      April 7, 2012 at 3:51 am | Reply
  18. MS

    In the Army, take a look at the left shoulders of those of the rank of colonel and above within combat arms. Most of them have at least 1 tab. I've met many women that do well on PT tests, even by male standards but would not be able to acquire any of the 2 possible. There's a reason they don't take you by submitting your latest PT test.

    February 22, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Reply
  19. Tare

    We do not need women at the top ranks of our military. The premise is false. We do not need to over promote to fill quotas either, we've already been doing that since the 70's and to no avail. All the Demi Moore's of the world do not equate to reality!! Hollywood can make it look like woman have great combat experience but that doesn't make it so!!!

    February 22, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Reply
    • James

      You're right – there is no justification for promoting unqualified people when people's lives are at stake. On the other hand, we have lost the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan by failing to achieve our objectives of leaving free, democratic, peaceful places in our wake. So, by consequentialist logic, if those women aren't fit to serve because of their lack of experience, then surely our current military leaders–and I'm including basically much of the officer corps and not just the generals in washington–who have utterly failed to win the hearts and minds of the people, surely shouldn't be there either.

      February 23, 2012 at 3:25 am | Reply
  20. Bert

    I think that women's roles in the military can and should be expanded. The military is an organization, comprised of hundreds of thousands, millions of well-trained, well-disciplined service personnel, and like the civilian world, has people in various roles with various specializations, and countless scores of people behind them that serve in all the necessary support capacities. Now, behind the .50 cal.? Or the grenade launcher? The bazooka sight, the aircraft bombsight? Now you're talking about people directly acting to kill others in a wartime situation. Even strong men sometimes fold up like cheap kites in such situations, their nerves failing, hesitating, that kind of thing. Are women capable of staring death in the face, and taking aim anyway? Women are reputed to have a much higher tolerance for pain, are very practical and pragmatic thinkers, highly organized, intelligent, and capable. What would happen if women proved to be SUPERIOR warriors, using their wits and talents to fight and win more intelligently than with brute force? The Amazons were feared, sacrificing their looks to become better warriors by having surgery on their breasts to better facilitate archery. And, it's been said more than once that women are the more lethal of the species. Women have been national leaders, CEO's, presidents, highly successful in both business and politics, and mayhap will again prove themselves as fully able and capable, this time on the front lines, as leaders, organizers, and looking through the sniper scope. Maybe a woman might not win hand-to-hand combat against a man, who might naturally be stronger, but war is much more than a contest between two shirtless macho men as portrayed in the movies. Hell hath no fury...

    February 22, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Reply
    • Allen

      A military organization is more than a collection of individual specialists, it needs to function as a single cohesive unit. This is not something the U.S military has done very well historically. I do not know where you get your ideas from. The only time a womans tolerance for pain is better than a man's during pregnacy. this is an evolutionary response to the pain of childbirth. Your statement about the amazons also makes little sense because the amazons are mythological creatures. They were no more real than the cyclopes or unicorns. You also ignore the fact that the infantry combat training is to separate the weak from the strong and eliminate men who will "fold up like cheap kites." All militaries exist for the sole purpose of killing people and blowing things up and anyone who says otherwise is full of shit. It is also not a corporation so women being good executives is irrelevant. In Vietnam the military was run by civilian corporate executives in uniform and look how great that turned out-58000 US dead and several million vietnamese and a US defeat. We made the same mistake with Iraq and afghanistan. We should not risk US lives and a defeat in major war just to perform feminist social experiments. Women are only the more lethal under certain circumstances such as assassinations. this is because men are more likely to let their guard down with a woman as a result of evolution. Men instintively perceive women as less of a threat because of their less violent nature.

      February 22, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Reply
      • Katie

        For the record Allen, the actual Amazons were a myth, but there were tribes of warrior women that were considered fierce and capable of savage warfare. Of course they eventually lost out to the European/Arabic conquerors, as did their male counterparts, but that had to do with inferior technologies, smaller numbers and less reliable food sources not their gender. Google the "amazons" of Dahomy if you're looking for white male verification that such women existed. Of course other tribes are verified by local tribesmen but not by Europeans so we don't count those. The truth is women and men have their roles defined by society not by any actual biological limitations. The article states that admittance into these fields will require an equal physical battery, as did my career field in the military as well as my current appointment in law enforcement. I recall clearly twelve years ago my standards for admittance saying that all applicants must lift 175 lbs above their head. Not men will lift ... and women will lift ... Despite my vagina and rather unimposing physical stature I believe I lifted that weight above my head. Twenty years ago women weren't welcome in our board rooms, they couldn't handle the cooperate life according to convention, thirty years before that we weren't smart enough to go to higher colleges and universities, we were also too emotional to be trusted with a ballot less than a hundred years ago. The real problem men have in this country with women in combat is that we'll show you once again that we can do it just as well as you not that we can't. Why not give us the chance to prove ourselves, tell you what if we screw up you can send us but to the kitchen. Scared?

        April 21, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
      • Bill

        It's laughable Karen that in the same post you would (1) claim proof of Amazons by citing Google (2) assert that there are no biological factors that have play in their functions in society (did "society" impose the birthing and raising of children on women?) (3) state with certitude that "tribes of warrior women" (not tribes which had women warriors mind you but tribes *of* them) did not meet their demise due to effectiveness and (4) claim that a standard for a test was 175 lbs over one's head. But when you lash out at "white male verification", then it's easier to see the chip on the shoulder.

        The reality is that the military will be hard pressed to require equal physical tests because it knows it will severely cut into the numbers of women admitted...and we can't have that, can we? The Army, in revising its PT test, without a hint of irony, stated that it wanted to keep the test "gender neutral" in explaining why it did not go with a pull up event, citing that while it is probably the best measure of upper body strength, women would not be able to be effectively measured in it (presumably because the average woman cannot even do one)

        I do not doubt that, despite your anatomy, you "believe" that you lifted that weight above your head. Please post a video of you lifting just 80 lbs over your head and I'll consider believing you.

        I assure you that the vast majority of people (both men and women) who don't think women in combat is a good idea do so because it has nothing to do with attitudes toward women (most of us grew up taught men and women are equal) but rather because they believe military effectiveness is rather more important than politically correct social agendas that have little to do with that effectiveness.

        And as for your deal, I'd gladly take it if I didn't think that imposing standards across the board that did not reduce that effectiveness would not lead to accusations of misogyny and the subsequent lowering of those standards. But by then feminists would have their foot in the door and it would be hard to close, no matter what practical evidence were presented. But that's the idea, isn't it?

        April 21, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
  21. Dave

    They are not equally in top military roles because many have never been in real combat as they would get abused much worse than a man if captured. Many also think more with emotions than on what makes sense. So instead, we should bypass those with real combat experience with those who are less qualified just to make things equal. Good luck.

    February 22, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Reply
    • USMC/CPL/OIF/OEF/0311

      Where are people getting this perception that combat = promotion? I met plenty of higher ups, both enlisted and officer, black and white, male and female, who never saw any combat yet still kept getting promoted over the years, and I knew guys who had seen combat, and still got out as E-3's or O-2's. If they are judged and treated the same as their male counterparts, 99.99% of female grunts will never become NCO's. I'm glad I got out before they started using it as a political experiment. I love the OIF VET girl at the top of the comments because she basically says "I CAN GUARD A GATE AT A FOB I CAN BE A GRUNT NOW" no bitch, sorry, but standing guard and searching people isn't the same as going on a 6 mile hike, get into a 4 hour firefight, and walk the 6 miles back home. Stop trying to compare FOB security to the real thing, thats like comparing a mall cop in Wisconsin to the LA SWAT team.

      April 19, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  22. Mary

    Allowing women in combat roles is simply a matter of principle i.e. equal opportunity for all interested in serving their country. Women are not asking the military to lower its standards, nor do they plan to flock and join the military en masse.

    February 22, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Reply
    • Allen

      The very essence of military service is sacrifice. The military needs to embrace policies that contradict the values of civilian society in order to be effective in war. Civilian society tolerates a level of freedom that would destroy any military force.

      February 22, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Reply
      • James

        This "essence of military service is sacrifice" is nonsense. members of the US military are EXCEPTIONALLY well compensated. When you add up the low base salary with the generous retirement, mortgage, educational, housing, food, preferential employment, and other benefits that the US military members get, the average total compensation package for the lowest grunt is well over $100,000. almost all people who join the US military as enlisted men do it because it is their best option given their relatively limited education and skills. They view it as a way to gain them. With officers, the situation is not much different: because of right-leaning voters, it will soon be a prerequisite to have served in our failed wars in iraq and afghansitan to seek political office. our officers live well, get real skills, and are compensated very well all told (again – the actual BASE salary is low, but you get to keep most of it - as much as or more than what a typical civilian person would keep in a similar job after all the expenses are taken iinto account). This isnt to say that soldiers arent patriotic – of course they are. and, they work hard and are brave and so forth. but, the idea that they are 'sacrificing' is, for the vast vast majority of military members, something that is simply not true.

        February 23, 2012 at 3:31 am |
    • Allen

      James, what you say is true but is that the way it should be. The integration of women and all the PC BS that has accompanied it has made the military into just another job. That has had the result of discouraging enlistments of men who want more than just job. The military has become so desperate for recruits that they need to bribe people with those un affordable benefits. It is only because of the economic downturn that the recruitment situation is not worse.
      Its also interesting to note that the Marine Corps has had the least trouble meeting its recruitment goals over the past 20 years precisely because they have not abandoned the one advantage that gives them an advantage over civilian employers- the elite warrior image. Another important question to ask is whether it is healthy for a democracy to have a force of mercenaries like we have now. The nature of military service IS SACRIFICE whether it US military adhers to that ideal or not.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Reply
    • Bill

      Actually women (and their male advocates) have and continue to ask for lower standards. If women were held to male standards for fitness and height/weight alone, I estimate that women would be less than 2% of the military. But you're right, they will never flock to the military.

      February 24, 2012 at 4:02 am | Reply
  23. AndreaM

    If they're going to make the jobs open to all, then the standard needs to be the same. Fact of the matter is a lot of women can't deal with the incredible physical demands. However, with strength training and such, a lot of women could very well do it. It's simply a matter of strengthening the body and a woman with the strength of will to strengthen the body can do it, no questions asked.

    February 22, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Reply
    • Allen

      No amount of remedial physical training can close the gap. Many forget that men in the combat arms are in significantly better shape than civilian men so women would not only have to catch up to the average man but also to the much stronger military man. Women do not compete against male athletes at the olympics because they are incapable of matching the mens performance. Women would never win any medals.

      February 22, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Reply
  24. Allen

    Everyone seems to completely miss the point of excluding women from combat. The reason is not some chivalrous notion of protecting women but to protect men from women. Women are a liability in major fight. We can only get away with it now because of the relative weakness of our enemies. America has not fought an enemy as strong as us since world war 2. The fact that only 141 women been killed in Iraq and afghanistan over ten years is proof that have not been exposed to same level of war that the men have. The vast majority of women killed have been by IED's and mortar bombs. How many have died clearing buildings full of Jihadi waiting to martyr themselves? All women have proven is that they are mortal, which was never in doubt. My 63 year old father can do what most women are doing in afghanistan. Should we let men his age enlist? Another thingthat needs to be clarified is the defintion of combat. Being exposed to some danger is not combat regardless of what the definition the pentagon uses. Combat is verb, the act of seeking out and fighting the enemy. It is a biological fact that the vast majority of women cannot meet the same physical standards as men and sound categorical rules should not be abandoned just because a very rare woman can meet the minimum standard. Some 12 yr olds are smarter then some 18 yr old, so should we let 12yr olds vote?

    February 22, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Reply
  25. FingerBang

    This guy is odd. Everyone knows that if you want to see if a woman wants some action you stick your hand up her dress or down her pants. If it feels like a horse is eating oats out of your hand, she is ready.

    February 22, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Reply
  26. Eli Dyal

    Its all well and good for women to be on the front lines but what will happen when they engage in hand to hand combat, will they have the physical strength to over power an average male

    February 22, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Reply
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      April 4, 2012 at 3:21 am | Reply
    • Pancracia

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  27. 13 Series

    either change the draft to men and women, change the rules to read that all positions are open to everyone based on merit or get off the podium. I don't care if you went to west point or the naval academy or where-ever else. Combat is about people getting killed, its blood and guts, living like a dog, kill or be killed. Where are the female enlisted soldiers?

    When female enlisted soldiers are assigned to combat units and they have to play by the same rules and live in the same crap and carry their own weight...then bring on the female officers.

    If you don't make the sandbox equal for everyone, with no special exemptions, no exclusions, the same standards...then you are going to have problems.

    Military is still playing games...bring on the females, but don't change the standards, don't lower the expectations, and it applies to enlisted and officers, no special quarters, no special latrines, no special nothing...live like a dog with the rest, pull your own weight, Even the Army wants to be PC. Not saying females can't do it...but if you want to play in the kill zone then you better be qualified and had better be based on merit rather than other factors. Ground combat is not flying around in a plane, its not surfing along on a ship, its on the ground, its nasty, its the crudest form of human vs. human there is...its might and force, its death and destruction, its living on the edge, and dying as well. PC has no place here! Army and Marine Corp Ground units deserve no less.

    February 22, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Reply
    • SFCBHoward

      I totally agree. Have the same APFT standards, same expectations, same everything... If that person meets all of the standards (for the MOS) then so be it. However, you can't have it both ways.

      February 23, 2012 at 4:43 am | Reply
    • Joshua Deal Former Combat Engineer US Army

      i think its a good idea but the problem is that in combat it comes down to human vs human do u realy think the enemy is ganna say o its a woman im fighting let me give her a few extra shots at me so we will be equal... no they arnt so y should the standards be differnant if a woman can hang with the same standards that a man has to go through then sure give them a chance but dont coddle them they wont be coddled guy the enemy

      April 23, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Reply
  28. dexter

    Forgeting one major factor. Any man worth a damn is going to instinctly want to protect a woman. I served, with women. Some were ok some were not – its that way with anyone in the military. But you put the mission and other lives at stake if you try to protect a woman.

    February 22, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Reply
    • Aliasis

      Sounds like that's your problem, then, not yours. You being misogynist could cost military lives, maybe you should work on that..

      February 23, 2012 at 5:16 am | Reply
  29. James

    Sounds good but it will never happen–Nice try though guys–

    February 22, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Reply
  30. Dana

    They will need to prove their meddle before I ask them to be in charge. They are to weak and use to many excuses to be excused from combat.

    February 22, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Reply
    • Beelzabubba

      Soviet and Israeli women had no trouble killing the enemy. Hell, a ten year old kid in Africa, toting an AK-47 could grease my ass.

      Weapons are a great equalizer.

      February 22, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Reply
      • Allen

        194 you are right but you also the enormous casualties the soviets suffered during WW2. At least 10 soviets died for every one german despite outnumbering the germans significantly. The use of women by the soviets was out desperation because even a 70 year old man is better then nobody at all. The french army in 1940 was also capable of killing too but they still got their asses kicked in a few months. The Israeli won its greatest victories in 1958, 1967 without any major contribution by women and has declined in quality ever since- coincidentily since the increased use of women.

        February 22, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
      • Beelzabubba

        Allen; Of Germany's estimated 5.3 million military deaths, approx. 2.7 million occurred on the Eastern front. Another 2 million were POW's.
        Population of the Soviet Union in June, '41; 196,700,000. – @ end of '45; 170,500,000, for a total of 26 million (or so) killed.
        Of that total, approx 8.8 million were military.
        Now, your 10:1 ratio, while at first glance appearing accurate, keep in mind that the Russian people had to contend with their own psychopath, Stalin, and that he could reasonably be held responsible for up to half that number himself.

        As for the French 'getting their asses kicked', it's only fair to point out that the Germans also pushed 200,000 British back to the sea (140,000 French troops also were evacuated to Britain, and would continue to fight....and die)
        Contrary to popular belief, the French, with a total of about 500,000 dead (half military, half civilian) didn't exactly get off 'easy'.
        And, approx. 400,000 Russian women served in the front lines. They also had decent female fighter pilots, as well.

        February 23, 2012 at 12:01 am |
      • Chris

        I think a lot of you have watched GI Jane a few too many times lol. Take the most in shape female Marine and let her do a regular 15-20 mile hump with crew served weapons with an infantry unit followed up by a week in the field and than hump back to the rear and I'm not going to even get into unloading heavy ammo crates and digging fighting holes and mortar pits. I don't think many of you know how much the tube, by pod and base plate of an 81mm Mortar weights or how much a 50cal receiver weights, you add all that up along with whats inside your pack (extra uniforms, extra boots, poncho and liner, cold weather gear, rain gear, water proofing materials, survival gear ect) your body armor, Kevlar helmet, 782 gear, a full butt pack, your personal weapon, batteries for the radios ect. That is a lot of gear for a very strong man to carry for the distances infantry men in both the Marine Corps and Army have to hike just about every week while in training. The grunt life is not like it is in the movies it really isn't, its not just as simple as pulling a trigger their is a ton of hard physical work that needs to be done day in and day out. I have no doubt that women can handle many of the stresses of combat but their are certain things as a former grunt that I question and one of the main things is would this female be able to carry me out of harms way with all of her gear on and all of my gear on? Also stop comparing us to Israel and other countries who allow women to serve in the infantry because those countries are not required to leave the homeland the way American forces are so its a little different i.e. the IDF isn't doing cold weather training and hiking up Mt. Fuji like an American grunt.

        February 23, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
      • Allen

        Stalin's abuse of the Russian people is irrevelevant. Ask any WW2 historian, the German army outperformed the Soviet one throughout the war. The only reason the germans suffered so many deaths is because of the mistakes and megolomania of Hitler and the German high command. Even in 1945 the germans were inflicting much heavier casualties then they were taking. The Soviets won because of attrition. Th Soviet use of women was not recognition of womens allegedly equal value as soldiers but because of a shortage of men. Womens ability or willingness to die does not mean that they are as good as soldiers as men. Much more is required. Also, the U.S airforce should not have to settle for decent pilots. A interresting fact; since WW1 roughly 5 percent of fighter pilots account for about 70 percent of all destroyed aircraft in air combat. The ability to pilot a fighter aircraft effectively does not make one a good fighter pilot.

        February 23, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
      • Bill

        Yet neither Israel nor Russia employs women to the same degree as they once did in times of national emergency.

        February 24, 2012 at 4:04 am |
  31. Portland tony

    The title of the article should have read Wanted: Women in top Army or Special Ops roles. And that will take some doing. The military selects their leaders from a prescribed set of criteria such as time in grade, various command positions held, and educational background (various war colleges attended, as well as formal degrees). The author's main point is that women don't get the requisite command positions and are therefore left out the selection process when it comes to senior leaders. For example, an aircraft carrier skipper usually comes from a naval air background, with ticket punch as an executive officer of a carrier, maybe
    staff to an airwing command and have
    the rank of Commander. So it's doable
    but normally women don't follow that
    career path....so you don't see any
    women as carrier CO's. But women have broken through and been selected as commanders of other Navy ships..So their time is coming especially with Jr. officer positions opening up on submarines etc. With the defense department moving away from ground wars and the transitioning to battleship diplomacy in the Pacific, there will be more opportunities for women in all command structures.

    February 22, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Reply
    • Allen

      You have entirely to much confidence in the U.S military officer selection process. Just because women been selected to be in command positions does not mean that they are competent. U.S generals bungled the korean war,Vietnam, grenada, somalia, Iraq 2, and afghanistan.

      February 23, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Reply
      • Bill

        And you have no confidence in it. They also bungled WWII, WWI, the Indian Wars, the Civil War, War of 1812, and the Revolution. Doesn't mean they aren't comptetent either.

        February 24, 2012 at 4:28 am |
    • Carlos

      I could, I suppose, iedntify myself as an abused man. I think if I were self-pitying enough to really feel that way, I\'d just call myself an abused person. It\'s not that I was the victim of a termagant with an irrational hatred of men, just a woman with her own mental problems whose extreme anxiety, mood swings, and paranoia were equally successful in driving off family members and friends.I don\'t take Helen\'s stance to be one in which men necessarily are expected to adopt more feminine modes of coping with emotions. Just a recognition that men are also abused in relationships, and the ways our society deals with abusive relationships should be able to accomodate them. Alcoholics Anonymous is not just successful because guys sit around and spill their feelings, it\'s successful because it creates a brotherhood (or, in more recent terms, a fellowship).Boots-on-the-ground, your average man doesn\'t have it so bad. But I\'d probably say the same thing of a 1962 woman, who I consider to have enjoyed enormous social privilege, even if she was also forced to bear other social obligations willing or not. The trouble comes in courts and classrooms.Courts with double standards, and double standards in law itself, need to be addressed. And despite braggadocio about men not needing academia, academia needs men, and it impoverishes itself with consistent hostile attitudes towards them. A poverty of ideas and a poverty of men themselves is not a healthy situation for academia.

      March 5, 2012 at 12:22 am | Reply
  32. YM3

    While i agree that women have been serving in critical combat support roles and some, not most, do a very good job, i will have to agree with most of you that should women want to serve in the infantry they need to be as physically capable as any man. i myself only weighed in at 130lbs while serving in the marines. i had a first class pft but that didnt matter when we were in the field training any i was required to carry, due to the nature of the job, more than the recomended 30% of body weight payload. As someone else put it and i'll figure in the math. i wiegh 130 lbs, 30% of my weight would be 39 lbs. That is just the weight of my body armor, then include ammunition, water, food, batteries, weapons, and other gear required and now im carrying well over 50% of my body weight. While i didnt have as much of a problem with it as some people there were others that struggled with it, and they were carrying a lower percentage than i. The idea of women serving in direct combat roles is still a novel idea. Require women to be capable of the exact physical and mental requirements that frontline grunts are under, run that through some test phases and youll find out that its not what you thought it would be.

    February 22, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Reply
  33. titus americanus

    Audie Murphy would have had a hard time lifting a 200 pound man. Hell for that matter so would Bruce Lee (weighting in at 115 lb).

    February 22, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Reply
    • Draft Dodger Newt

      Even everyone's favorite war-lover, John Wayne, could carry around a 200lb barrel of Scotch.

      February 22, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Reply
  34. 79TransAm

    A person who is bot capable of rational thought for a week every 28 days is not fit for military command

    February 22, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Reply
    • 79TransAm

      *not

      February 22, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Reply
    • Aliasis

      lmao are you trying to suggest that women are "not capable of rational thought" while on their periods? What a moron. I bet you have lots of friends who are women... just kidding, I bet you live in mom's basement.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:18 am | Reply
  35. CB

    I have a feeling many women are going to be hesitant to join the armed forces until the armed forces starts prosecuting soldiers of rape and not just giving them a slap on the wrist (or completely ignoring it all together).

    February 22, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Reply
    • ArmyMedic

      Are you trapped in 1970? I'm active duty in combat arms and its no "slap on the wrist". Please stop spewing nonsense about our armed forces when you are uninformed.

      February 22, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Reply
      • Sy2502

        Don't be disingenuous! Women in the military are more likely to be harmed by their fellow soldiers than by the enemy. How can it be so widespread? Because there's no deterrent. If the guys knew they'd get in a world of trouble if they did it, they'd think twice about it. But since the higher levels of the military are an ol' boys club, as little as possible is done about the problem. It disgusts me that I am held to infinitely higher standards of professional conduct at my work place for what concerns harassment than people who are given guns and a license to kill in the name of this country.

        February 22, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
      • craig

        Army medic is right...sy2502 I have never seen a more retarded and uninformed reaping on here. Just because it doesn't make.nation news or even local news doesn't mean proper action want taken. Get your facts straight and get out of your bs femnazi state of mind and peddle your idiocracy somewhere else

        February 22, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
      • Bill

        Sy2502,
        That's how you define "harmed" and if you believe the stats. When the military starts prosecuting for false accusations (speaking of no deterrent), I think you'll see that number fall. But even if it were true, what sense does it make to grant more responsibilities for a group of people who cannot defend themselves from their fellow man, never mind someone trying to kill them.

        February 24, 2012 at 4:08 am |
    • Cindi

      Oh CB, did you strike a nerve there ! The military is " all over it " with rape cases. Especially when the military will be allowing women to serve on the front lines so to speak, rape cases will be pouring in. One can only wonder, how many are actually real rape cases ? How many more military careers will be in ruins ? Male soldiers fighting for their careers instead of fighting for their country. You see CB, you sound exactly like the majority of the people who actually believe in their mind, a woman cries rape, the male must be guilty. You honestly have no idea how hard the military comes down on rape cases.

      February 22, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Reply
    • Allen

      In order to prosecute soldiers for rape you need proof of rape. Accusatioins are not proof. I have better ideal to solve the problem- gradually phase out women from army and marine ground forces.

      February 24, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Reply
  36. Joe

    Ok, the average weight of armor and equipment is at least 70 lbs. If a woman who weighs 125 lbs can carry that load for 12 miles, for 3 days in the field (DoD enforces women to have a shower every 3 days), put up with the same rigors that the men do physically, AND not engage in inappropriate sexual relations, then, sure, they can go into combat. Women have easier physical requirements, but we call it "equality"? If you want true equality, make it performance based, not "women should be allowed in the same place as men, so let's force men out and force women in".

    February 22, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Reply
  37. Habte

    Women are really very good in both combat operations and other activities in the army. I come up with this idea depending on the great performance of women warriors in the rebel camps in Ethiopia before 1991.They are really good military commanders too. But these should not be just for they are women but depending on their performance.

    February 22, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Reply
  38. mipolitic

    OK FIRST OF ALL DO NOT get mad at me , i am simply reviewing the facts obama has a FINE LADY as secretary of state, another FIN E LADY as the usa lead at the un and this is not seen as strength in arab nations nor in russia.
    when faced with threats a position of strength is very important, so as a vet this is my opinion . i do not wish to remove the value of women but we must stand with a face of resovle that is enforced with a view of DO NOT MESS WITH ME!
    that results of the un and egypt and syrian support this fact.

    February 22, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Reply
  39. Bob Saget

    Women and their cry for equality is a joke. How does a 125lbs woman expect to carry a 200+lbs man if injured in combat, or perform hand to hand combat with a brooding male. If women are all about equality then why are the baskets in the WNBA lower than the ones in the NBA, lol

    February 22, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Reply
  40. ms

    It's not an NFL game though, is it? So if a woman wants to make that career choice and has the same training a man has she should have the opportunity. We're not ignorant. I'm sure they understand the danger as well as any man. The problem seems to be in the small minds of some men.

    February 22, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Reply
    • craig

      Could you carry your buddy who weighs 180 and has another 40 pounds of body armor and misc gear ok him even after everything possible is stripped away? Unless women and.perform physically the same as men they don't deserve to be in the same positions

      February 22, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Reply
      • ms

        Reread the post. That's exactly what i said. If she has the same training she should have the opportunity. Sheesh the men on here can't even comprehend what they read. Well...if it makes you feel better to think only a man can do it....but when a woman does it..shut up and show her the respect she's due.

        February 23, 2012 at 6:31 am |
      • MSG Chica

        Get over yourself buddy... There's a lot of men that can't do it either... Iv'e seen infantry guys smaller than my 5'2" 130 pound figure...

        February 23, 2012 at 9:26 am |
      • Bill

        MSG Chica. True but the proportion is much much lower. And no one in Congress or the media would be making excuses for the guy but they will for the female. Besides a man you height still has much more strength than you, on average.

        February 24, 2012 at 4:11 am |
    • Bill

      If...but they rarely do make that career choice and never have the same training. We have to remember, too, that what is now an "opportunity" can be an "obligation" in the future. Charlie Rangel made that point by claiming that black soldiers were dying at a higher rate (not true) because they were overrepresented in the military...something that had been lauded as a great advancement prior to 9/11.

      The problem is actually the small muscles and fragile egos of some women and their supporters.

      February 24, 2012 at 4:35 am | Reply
  41. Marlee

    Imagine...

    February 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Reply
  42. Primus

    A woman general would not worry me (assuming the IQ and aptitudes were top notch). A woman along side me in combat, however, would make about as much sense as having women on one side in an NFL game, while the other side had no such restrictions. Combat is no place to play social equality games.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Reply
    • Maya

      Even when she met the exact same standards you did. There is NO reason for that kind of thinking besides sexism. You are a worthless pig.

      February 25, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Reply
      • Bill

        Strange..you add a change to the equation and then make a personal attack. The only pigs are those who ignore the facts and simply accuse others of assuming.

        February 26, 2012 at 11:58 am |
      • Bulldog

        I agree with bill You shouldn't be making personal attacks in a adult debate this is not the playground in fourth grade.

        February 26, 2012 at 6:43 pm |

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